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2005 Outback 3.0L H6 LL Bean
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey all,

I have a diagnosis of a leaking valve cover gasket on our 2005 LL Bean 3.0 H6 Outback… from the local dealer.

I have searched the forums and read that I should plan on replacing spark plugs and tube seals while I'm in there.

Just wondering:

  1. Is there anything else that I should check myself before accepting the dealer’s diagnosis of leaking VCG (I did already do the "rubber glove test" to check the PCV, and did not find positive pressure);
  2. Assuming I go ahead with replacing the VCG, I found a few videos on YouTube that walk through the operation for unidentified Subarus in general: is there anything specific I need to watch out for in this model (or anybody have a specific video or guide that they know is correct for this model?)
  3. Is there anything else besides spark plugs and tube seals that I should think about doing “while I'm in there”?
Appreciate any insights—thanks!

EDIT: Forgot to mention: the vehicle was taken in to diagnose what turned out to be a blown rear strut, but the CEL had also just turned on with the dreaded P0420 code – which of course means the dealer wants to replace the catalytic converters, at a cost approximately equal to the car's KBB value… but that's another story…
 

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I simply cannot abide useless people.
2006 2.5i and 2002 3.0 wagons.
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This is for a 2nd Gen 3.0, but the process should be nearly identical.

 

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2006 Outback XT
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8 Posts
Tube seals should be considered part of the valve cover change you dont want to get it all back together to see your spark plug chambers fill up with oil and have to clean that out. ( I inherited my first subaru that way pull the plug wire and oil shot out with it.)

Spark plugs are a maybe. if you dont know how old they are I would replace them so i do know how old they are. if they have been replaced recently and I think for that model the should be iridium?(Standard I think) if may just be fine to leave them be. unless some sorry bas**** put copper core conventional ones in there (I have found those in a turbo WRX)

only thing i would caution is hoses. I got bit last week with hard broken hoses the go into the valve cover breaking after I changed the valve covers on my 2006 turbo outback. if they feel hard(almost brittle) you might want to get some before hand.

on a super rare case you might need the "half moons that go on the rear of the engine head. I have only replaced them once on a subaru that had about 300K during a head gasket job and rear baffle replacement/ rear cam seal but i have heard of other replacing them as well.

good luck though I'll stick to my 4 bangers at least i can still get to most of the stuff i need with out pulling the engine.
 

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2005 Outback R LL Bean 3.0 H6 w/ 5 speed sport shift
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597 Posts
I've seen recommendations of changing plugs and such from under the hood instead of under the car. My experience has been that it's much easier from under the car.
You'll need a 6 to 8 inch extension, ratchet, wobble, plug socket & 2 to 4 inch extension. You'll figure out the process as you go.......you have to assemble the socket and extension as they go in the valve cover on the ones near the front. Just the plug socket, wobble and extension for the back ones.
Pull the splash shield off, if it's still on there. 12mm end wrench to get the coil packs loose.
The back plug on either side is a tight fit but patience will get you there.
I would do new plugs too since it's not much fun.

Good luck!
 

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2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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2009 OBW 3.0R Limited (5EAT) w/ lift & other mods
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222 Posts
I changed my plugs from the top. It was doable, probably easier underneath. Changing the valve cover and tube seals was a PITA and I only ended up doing the passenger side so far. The rear lower bolts that hold the covers on are really difficult to reach with anything but a box-end wrench. I was doing mine on a 100-degree day and gave up on the driver side because I was tired, hot and frustrated (had done a few other things already that day as well). I've read reference to loosening the engine and lifting it up a couple of inches to make it easier, which I did not try. I did not bother with the half-circle seals as they were nearly impossible to reach and I believe you are supposed to use a silicone sealer on those particular ones. There was no way I could get my hands in there to clean the old material out and get the new ones on. They don't appear to be leaking anyway, on mine.

Sixdeuce062 has a really good point about hardened hoses. You might want to check em all out and figure out which ones seem liable to crack (or already have) and just plan on doing those at the same time. Better that than breaking one by accident and being stuck dealing with that when you weren't planning to. I've opted to replace several of mine, not least to try and resolve any vacuum leaks that might have been happening.

I also agree that if you're in there you might as well change the plugs and then you'll know what condition the current ones are in (for diagnosis) and know that you have new ones in there going forward.

Finally, if you're having a P0420 code it's really likely there are one or several things going on that are making your engine run poorly and those are what are causing the code. If you're lucky your cats haven't failed and you can get away with fixing the other stuff for far less than the cost of replacing those. It's going to take some diagnostics though, to determine what's really going on and which (if any) sensors need replacing. If the car has high miles on it and hasn't been running premium the whole time (and maybe even if it has) and/or it gets lots of short trips with not much warmup time, you likely have some carbon buildup internally that's creating problems. Take eagleeye's advice and only replace cats if there's no doubt they've failed.
 

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2013 OB 3.6R (former)
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Same here. I am finishing the pax side of the TB at 140,000 miles and I doubt I will have any desire to do the driver side, which is a completely independent job anyway.

That bolt, the bottom innermost, was easy to get out since it can be reached from behind, at least on the TB. Getting it in was another story. I used pliers, with enormous difficulty, until I could get a wrench in. Oh, and then there is the coil above it to put back on.

The spark plugs are bad enough but pale in comparison.
 

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2003 Outback LL Bean H6 3.0
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5 Posts
By all accounts those vacuum/PCV hose assemblies are always very brittle, easy to tear and break (and expensive to OEM replace).!

On my 2003 LL Bean, while changing the valve cover gaskets, I broke one, then found these parts, and what I'm really wondering is if one cant just use some sort of high quality (high temp) stock hose from a NAPA instead.?

Has any body tried that with long term success? What size (diameter) and type hose (radiator/heater?)

Part # PCV hose assembly is 11815AB083 - $36
Part # Breather Hose(?) 11815AB062 - $20
 

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2003 Outback LL Bean H6 3.0
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The best way to get at those bolts and plugs from underneath is to jack the engine up 1-2 inches after removing the two center mount bolts in the support yoke.
 

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2005 Outback R LL Bean 3.0 H6 w/ 5 speed sport shift
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The best way to get at those bolts and plugs from underneath is to jack the engine up 1-2 inches after removing the two center mount bolts in the support yoke.
Word of Caution:

If you use a floor jack to raise the engine, be certain you get some type of blocking under the engine so it can't slip and smash your hands!
I would even do this if I were using a hoist, that engine weighs over 400 lbs!
 

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2003 Outback LL Bean H6 3.0
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Word of Caution:

If you use a floor jack to raise the engine, be certain you get some type of blocking under the engine so it can't slip and smash your hands!
I would even do this if I were using a hoist, that engine weighs over 400 lbs!
Good point about safety. I should have mentioned that the tutorial I was referencing cautioned to only remove one of the bottom engine mounting nuts (sorry not bolt) at a time - and to raise only that one side of the engine at at time. In part I think that is to help reduce the crush danger of the engine slipping on you:

"...there are two nuts that need to be removed that secure the engine or motor supports. Now one side at a time, the engine may be raised. Here I used a bottle jack placed on a few blocks to elevate the bottle jack. You must find a solid place to jack the engine from, then SLOWLY raise one side of the engine, I said one side at a time! ; ) This will raise the engine and the spark plugs to where they can be more easily accessed. More easily, not necessarily easy ; ) Now don’t go crazy thinking you can raise the engine higher than necessary~ there are hoses and other things connected to the engine as well. Just go slowly and only as high as needed.
Note: the nuts that hold the engine supports are a shallow nut, and your socket can easily slip off. Use a good tight fitting socket."
 

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