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New member curious about head gasket issues

3534 Views 13 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Joester
Hello everyone,

I'm looking for a nice winter beater and daily driver as I complete my BMW project, and I was thinking about a Subaru.

Later today I am going to look at a 1997 Subaru Outback 5 speed with 200k miles. According to the current owner drives fine. I don't know what engine it has, the ad didn't say. He's asking $1800.

Doing some research, I've found that the 2.5L engines are not very reliable when it comes to head gaskets, but I'm not sure about the 2.2L models... One site I read said that 1997 didn't even come with the 2.2L option, and another site I read said that the 2.2L came in 1997, but only with the 5 speed transmission, so I'm pretty confused at this point. As far as I can tell, the 2.2L in 1997 was actually really reliable, but I wanted to confirm this. Seems like the 2.2L engines started having HG issues in 1999.

So what I would like is clarification on what engines came in 1997, and what engines are reliable.

I'm sure this information is out there, and I have done some searching, but I was hoping maybe someone could give me a cold hard answer to this issue.

P.S. - I am very mechanically inclined, and I'd have no problem doing a head gasket myself if needed, but I'd much rather not. The 2.5L is pretty much out of the question for me as far as I'm concerned. I'm just trying to find a cheap, reliable, AWD car for this winter and to drive while I'm working on my other car, so if you can think of any other cars that fit those requirements, let me know.

Here are some of the sites on which i was reading about head gasket issues

Subaru Head Gasket Problems Explained. - Seattle Subaru Repair

Head Gasket Problems - Subaru 2.5 liter engine - Phase 1 and 2

Thanks for any help.
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I thought there is no torque bind on a manual transmission car, that issue is for automatics only.

I'm looking for a nice winter beater and daily driver as I complete my BMW project, and I was thinking about a Subaru.
Funny you state this as I was in exactly the same search a couple a month ago.

The only wagons I found with the EJ22 were Brightons and the base trim level sucked, the odd Legacy surfaced but it was not well maintained.

Lots of EJ25 Legacys and Outbacks and I was about to give up and just buy a well maintained, one owner Legacy GT when a well maintained 1996 5speed Outback popped up and I bought it right away.

My suggestion is to wait for one as they do exist, or find a Legacy GT wagon with an EJ22. Easiest way to see what the engine type is, is to look at the metal plate under the hood. It will have EJ22 or EJ25 stamped on it with a bunch of other letters and numbers.
Thanks for that information and I will keep it in mind if the symptom ever surfaces.
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