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Discussion Starter #21
Not sure about the experience of others but the head gasket failures I have seen on the EJ25 SOHC motors have never involved the compression area of the cylinder. The ones I have seen have always involved either the water jacket leaking to the outside of the engine and/or the oil galleries leaking to the outside of the engine.

This is why texting for combustion gases in the coolant is not a good test for failed head gaskets in EJ25 engines.

I am aware that some people report a failure in the combustion chamber part of the head gasket but I have never seen one myself, maybe because I choose to replace the head gaskets when there are signs of coolant or oil leaking.

Seagrass
Maybe, but it seems quite logical to me that the coolant and oil are being forced out because of combustion chamber leaks. I just read a post on the forum the other day where the OP complained of foaming oil as well as oil leakage.
 

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The oil issue is due to the vibration as mentioned but also because the material on the SLS gasket from the factory is eaten through by the corrosives in oil. Old cars were put together with cork mix gaskets that would allow oil to seep out and eventually crack due to the heat from the block and head over time. At this point the oil leak accelerates. It's the same with the blend on SLS gaskets.

Use of various blended materials has improved component sealing and the longevity of the gasket. But the HG remains a weak spot even though it's believed that the gasket is a "forever gasket". It's not and neither is any other gasket on the engine. Even GM blocks have seeping HGs by 100k miles and I'm referring to V6 and V8 engines. It's not a Subaru thing, it's an all manufacturers thing. It's physics and mathematics. You'll not escape from it, you can only do what is known to improve the situation and increase the life of the engine.

At least it's not a Bimmer. When owners slack on maintenance, oil leaks start and they don't stop until you've changed every gasket on the car. Because you fix one leak and the next weakest leak gets heavier. And when one of these has a gasket leak, the engine runs like shite. MB is the same way. VW, Audi, Porsche; an oil leak is a vacuum leak.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
Re: adjusting the valves. After I get the heads resurfaced, can I adjust the valves off the car? The shop manual assumes the heads are installed, but one need only to make sure there is no load on the springs, so I don’t see why you couldn't do it before you install. I am thinkng it would be much easier if I end up not pulling the engine.
 

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You will want to pull the engine. It makes things soooo much easier, especially torquing the head bolts. Those last 3 turns on the bolts, (1 90° and 1 45° on all 6, then the last 45° on the center 2), can be a PITA with the engine in. Having the engine out also makes valve adjustment easier because you can rotate the engine easily and you can see the gauge better. Engine in means jacking up one side at a time and unless you get the engine braced up solid, when you go to torque the heads it may move on you. Just sayin', sometimes the long way is easiest and more productive.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
You will want to pull the engine. It makes things soooo much easier, especially torquing the head bolts. Those last 3 turns on the bolts, (1 90° and 1 45° on all 6, then the last 45° on the center 2), can be a PITA with the engine in. Having the engine out also makes valve adjustment easier because you can rotate the engine easily and you can see the gauge better. Engine in means jacking up one side at a time and unless you get the engine braced up solid, when you go to torque the heads it may move on you. Just sayin', sometimes the long way is easiest and more productive.
Thanks for the input, sounds like you may have done both ways. I have a 4 post lift, but no cherry picker. I borrowed one before, so I would have borrow again. Not having the best back in the world, I’m leaning towards pulling it again, but I’ll likely want some help dropping it back in there in order to get everything lined up. That’s kind of why I was thinking about doing the job without yanking it. I’ve watched YouTube vids where they shifted the engine side to side to give more clearance when doing the head bolts. Like I said, I don’t think my back would be happy with me if I went that route.
 

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Thanks for the input, sounds like you may have done both ways. I have a 4 post lift, but no cherry picker. I borrowed one before, so I would have borrow again. Not having the best back in the world, I’m leaning towards pulling it again, but I’ll likely want some help dropping it back in there in order to get everything lined up. That’s kind of why I was thinking about doing the job without yanking it. I’ve watched YouTube vids where they shifted the engine side to side to give more clearance when doing the head bolts. Like I said, I don’t think my back would be happy with me if I went that route.
I have a good back and dive all over a racquetball court all the time, doing headgaskets in the car is painful on the back. it's possible and maybe not annoying if you have time to spread it out in steps. pulling the engine means lining things up, supporting the trans, getting those lower 14mm nuts off which are always round on older rust belt cars....so that's not always a walk in the park for a first timer. but pulling makes the rest of the job so much easier and that's the part you need to get right - keep it clean, straight, good visibility, prep the surfaces, etc.
 

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Re: adjusting the valves. After I get the heads resurfaced, can I adjust the valves off the car? The shop manual assumes the heads are installed, but one need only to make sure there is no load on the springs, so I don’t see why you couldn't do it before you install. I am thinkng it would be much easier if I end up not pulling the engine.
It's more accurate to adjust the valves after the head is bolted to the block. It may not seem like it should make a difference but once you've bolted the head to the block, the head will "tweak" slightly.
 

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I work on these engines a lot.

To get the lower 14mm nuts off, with the car hanging, pop the CV axles out or the front diff. This will give you clearance to get a socket on the nut. When you have everything together, make sure you hear that joint snap on the stub shaft before you try to drive it.

Auto trans cars, pull the intake to make it easier to get to the torque converter bolts. You have a straight shot to them. On manuals, pull the engine with the intake on it.

Clean every area that uses a gasket prior to assembly. Roloc disc, medium #07481 works great on the heads, block, intake and exhaust ports.

besides having a torque wrench, have a 3' breaker bar handy for breaking the head bolts loose and getting those final turns on assembly.

MLS gasket 11044AA770 is the Subaru part number. It's an HG for the EJ255. Fits perfect and seals great.

It's been my experience that Fel Pro gaskets don't fit proper.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
I work on these engines a lot.

To get the lower 14mm nuts off, with the car hanging, pop the CV axles out or the front diff. This will give you clearance to get a socket on the nut. When you have everything together, make sure you hear that joint snap on the stub shaft before you try to drive it.

Auto trans cars, pull the intake to make it easier to get to the torque converter bolts. You have a straight shot to them. On manuals, pull the engine with the intake on it.

Clean every area that uses a gasket prior to assembly. Roloc disc, medium #07481 works great on the heads, block, intake and exhaust ports.

besides having a torque wrench, have a 3' breaker bar handy for breaking the head bolts loose and getting those final turns on assembly.

MLS gasket 11044AA770 is the Subaru part number. It's an HG for the EJ255. Fits perfect and seals great.

It's been my experience that Fel Pro gaskets don't fit proper.
Big help with all your advise. Will the axle pop out without removing other suspension parts, like ball joints or control arm? I believe I just left the axles and auto tranny all intact last time. I just used a razor blade and scraped the surfaces before. I didn’t use a tool where I could dig into the surface, but just used to edge in kind of a brushing motion, no chance of gouging. I think I read that using a scuff tool such as roloc could cause problems with the surface.
 

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Yes on the axles. You just pry them out of the diff. They will not come off the stub shaft but will move out of the way enough to get the tranny nuts. It also gives you more flex when you lift the engine/trans to separate them so you don't separate the CV joint.

I use roloc all the time. They are made for aluminum surface cleaning. You can get a finer roloc than medium if you want. The problem with using them is that if you use too much pressure or scuff one area too long you will leave a gouge or low spot in the surface. Light pressure to remove gasket material and shine up the surface a little. Use a variable speed drill or die grinder that can utilize the roloc adapter and run a slow speed. There is actually less chance of gouging the surface with a roloc than with a blade.
 

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You'll have to pull the suspension apart to get the axle out. Either by separating the knuckle from the strut or the ball joint from the lower control arm.

Better, and easier, to pick up a set of these to get that lower nut off. The $30 you'll spend on the flexible sockets will save you hours of work, and, if you forget to mark the bolts, an alignment as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
You'll have to pull the suspension apart to get the axle out. Either by separating the knuckle from the strut or the ball joint from the lower control arm.

Better, and easier, to pick up a set of these to get that lower nut off. The $30 you'll spend on the flexible sockets will save you hours of work, and, if you forget to mark the bolts, an alignment as well.
No way that I would take apart the suspension to do this. I don’t remember having a big issue unbolting everything 5 years ago. Besides @cardoc just stated that it was not necessary. Sounds like you need the weight off the tires do accomplish the axle release, though.
 

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I've never had any luck getting enough lateral play in the axles to be able to get a decent, straight socket, even with a wobble extension on the lower two nuts of the bell housing. Everyone's mileage will vary but here in California I don't have much issue pulling apart the suspension--not that it's hard in the first place.

Of course, all doing all that nonsense was prior to buying those swivel sockets. Now I don't have to pull **** apart or even mess at all with the axles. It has literally become a non-issue and I completely forget about that lower nut even being at all problematic until someone on here brings it up.
 

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You'll have to pull the suspension apart to get the axle out. Either by separating the knuckle from the strut or the ball joint from the lower control arm.

Better, and easier, to pick up a set of these to get that lower nut off. The $30 you'll spend on the flexible sockets will save you hours of work, and, if you forget to mark the bolts, an alignment as well.
That's just it, you don't have to take them out. You just pop them loose and slide the inner joint away from the diff and you have room to get the lower nuts off the trans with the shaft still partially on the stub shaft. It comes away far enough that you also don't have to worry about the joint separating when you support the trans. Do it all the time. Never even take a wheel off. I just turn the wheel all the way right to give me room for the floor jack to hold up the trans while the engine is out.
 

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That's just it, you don't have to take them out. You just pop them loose and slide the inner joint away from the diff and you have room to get the lower nuts off the trans with the shaft still partially on the stub shaft. It comes away far enough that you also don't have to worry about the joint separating when you support the trans. Do it all the time. Never even take a wheel off. I just turn the wheel all the way right to give me room for the floor jack to hold up the trans while the engine is out.
TIL. I'll give it a shot next time I pull an engine. Thanks
 
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