Subaru Outback Forums banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,573 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
all--
there are a few Qs i'm not clear on, and i'd like to solicit input:

1. what models, years, engines generally have the head gasket problems?

2. any preventive maint one can do to stave off problems? if i were assembling it, i'd be sure both surfaces were perfectly flat and use a gasket dressing, but for already-assembled car...??

3. any signs of it about to go or in process of going but not wasted yet? other than exh bubbles in the coolant or coolant in the oil?

4. if it is starting to go, has anybody had any success with a fix to stave off impending doom?

5. if it does go, what parts does one usually have to replace?

MIL GRACIAS!! :1:
 

·
Tokyo's between my toes
Joined
·
6,696 Posts
As I understand it, there are two different failure trends.

The older engines like my 98 tend to lose the gasket at the #4 cylinder (left rear) allowing exhaust to blow into the coolant. When cold, you get bubbles appearing at the filler neck; when hot, the overflow bottle overfills with foam.

The newer ones - 2000 or so - leak coolant externally, and these are the ones with the recall for the coolant additive. AFAIK they still run right but lose coolant gradually and make a mess.


cpt, I tried to respond to your PM but the server said your mailbox is full.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,009 Posts
Totally serious: I had a dream (nightmare?) last night that I drove somewhere and my car was acting funny so I looked under the hood and my overflow tank was full of bubbles, looked like someone poured Mt.Dew and chocolate milk in there and shook it up. I was all freaked out.
Glad it was just a dream.
 

·
OBS Obsessed, ,
Joined
·
251 Posts
Is there a definitive answer to this? I am considering buying a vehicle with the 2.5L DOHC with about or more than 100k miles and am curious.

I can't seem to find definitive info. Is the HG failure with these engines a foregone conclusion, is it preventable?
 

·
Tokyo's between my toes
Joined
·
6,696 Posts
Many people motor along happily without getting the problem, but I guess it's like a heart attack; you don't get one until you get one. Then you've got one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
This guy's weblog might be of use to you - http://scott.mcgerik.com/2004/02/18/subaru-outback-head-gasket-leak/.

Here is a snippet that I pulled from his weblog which was pulled from nasioc.com:
Phase II EJ25 Head Gasket Leak

WWP-99 Service Campaign - Cooling System Conditioner

Subaru has determined that certain 1999 through 2002 model year 2.5L equipped Subaru vehicles may experience an external coolant leak from the cylinder head gaskets. This is the result of normal relative thermal expansion and contraction variations of engine parts. As a precautionary measure, SOA is recommending that a special conditioner be added to the engine cooling system to prevent leaks from occurring or to correct existing leaks.

Only early Phase II 2.5 liter engines are affected by this campaign. Phase I 2.5 liter engines (some 1999 model year and prior years) are not affected. Countermeasures applied to the manufacturing process for those 2002 and later VINS not affected by this campaign have eliminated the need for this campaign to be performed on those vehicles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts
Is this the kind of leak that can be almost impossible to see while looking from above the engine (with a flashlight)? Ours has a stinky smell of something burning every %@#*(^ time we drive somewhere. I'm ready to drive it straight up a mountain in first gear to get the thing so hot that it burns the **** off.

I looked at it as best I could today with a flashlight (in full sun that looks odd to passersby) and found nothing. The only thing was a burning (oil-like?) smell in the corner of the engine bay nearest the passenger door. Other than some road water down below, there wasn't anything to see.

Is it normal for a coating of oil / grease to be on the green outer area of the front drive shafts, just as they come out of the transmission? It was on both sides, so I figured it was fine. Maybe in the spring (like, May) I'll be able to climb under it and have a look. My boyfriend swears he's about to trade it in just to get rid of this smell that no one can locate.
 

·
Tokyo's between my toes
Joined
·
6,696 Posts
Way back when there was a known problem of the wrong grease (too thin) being used in the front inboard CV joints - it would get past the seals and sling onto the exhaust, causing that burning-oil smell.

The other possibility is a front crank or cam seal leaking, and the oil blowing back onto the pipes.

Scroll to the bottom of this page:

http://www.toad.net/~rrubel/bulletin.html
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts
Are the CV joints of this car closer to the transmission, then? I'm going to take a picture in a little while and post it. Nearest the transmission are green 'shafts' that are shiny with an oily residue, and of course coated with road sand.

I ask because I had always thought that the CV joints were going to be right behind the brake disc area where the steering "joint" would be.

It's nice and sunny right now, which should help with my picture-taking experiment. If only I had a small video camera that could snake through below the cam covers. Will post the pictures within an hour or so.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts
With a little reassurance, I think I can safely say that this is the CV grease burning. My camera fought me tooth and nail over these pictures, but I think they turned out okay.

Right side (Symptomatic)
{Click to Open 1.4 MB JPG.}

Left side (Normal Condition)
{Click to Open 1.2 MB JPG}

If I get a good opinion on this, I'll print this thread and pictures and walk it into the dealership for the third time. Maybe I should refuse to leave until they find the problem zebra in my heard of horses?
 

·
Tokyo's between my toes
Joined
·
6,696 Posts
Sure looks like that's what's happening.

Funny thing is, I noticed that same problem on my 98 for a few months when it was new, but the problem went away and the CV joints are still fine - go figure.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts
OneOBS said:
Without getting a better look, I'd say the transmission seal is leaking. You should really clean it up and see where its coming from.
Would a solution of dish soap and a gentle stream of water with some scrubbing be effective? I'll have to take water to it with a pitcher, since it's too cold to use a hose. I wash the engine of my PT Cruiser every year, so I'm sure this is nothing different. Fun fun!
 

·
Tokyo's between my toes
Joined
·
6,696 Posts
I frequently was my engine bay at the car wash, the degreaser setting is good for this kind of thing - soap it, let it rest while you wash the rest of the car, then blast-rinse it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,007 Posts
1. 96-early 99 Phase I 2.5L
2. No. The heads are refinished during a HG job.
3. Any unusual spiking of the temp gage.
4. No. Most people seem to drive them until they blow, often destroying the engine in the process and requiring a rebuild instead of a HG job.
5. Most folks replace all the front seals, which are prone to leaking; the O Ring in the oil pump; and install a new water pump. The heads are machined to be true and new HG instlled.

I replaced mine at 140K miles, before it blew. The car would have been worth nothing with a blown engine, and was otherwise in great shape. It now has 164K and no worries about the HG problem.

Ultimate Subaru.net - New Generation - has many threads on the HG.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
98 Posts
I've got a 99 OB with the 2.5L engine, and based on what I've read so far, I could fall into two different head gasket problem areas. Sounds like there's a 96-early 99 issue with internal leaking/blowing, and a different 99-2003 issue with external leaking.

How can I tell which engine I have? Is it somewhere in the VIN or engine ID? I bought the car in July 1999, but don't know exactly when it was built.

No signs of a problem yet, but I'm gonna keep an eye on things now that I know the problem is relatively common.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
783 Posts
Your car is a first-generation Outback, so it definitely has the Phase I (DOHC=twin cam) 2.5 liter motor.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Phase 1 vs Phase 2

My research found that the twin cams from '97 & '98 (not sure about 99) could have either a phase 1 or phase 2 engine block. This can be confusing because Subaru Marketing refers to a Phase 1 and Phase 2 engine, this is a designation for the entire engine, not the engine block. In reference to the HG prob., it's the Phase 1 engine block (only because of weak factory gaskets) that is notorious for internal HG breaches. There is a way of seeing which you have, there is either one (for phase 2) or two lines (for phase 1) cast into the block. Check the earlier postings for pics and descriptions.
Most people seem to drive them until they blow, often destroying the engine in the process and requiring a rebuild instead of a HG job.
I don't know about most people, but my experience and many accounts I've read, did not destroy the engine. A small breach occurs between the cylinder and the coolant passage. As the engine heats and things expand, this small breach allows the smaller molecules of exhaust gas (as opposed to the larger ones of the coolant) to invade the coolant system causing air pockets, overheating, puking coolant and bubbles. If no coolant has entered the compression chamber, a HG job will be enough.
More info:
http://www.troubleshooters.com/tpromag/200005/200005.htm
 

·
Tokyo's between my toes
Joined
·
6,696 Posts
I'm still running the same block and heads, though I strongly suspect at least one head isn't completely right. No problems, though, just a touch of roughness.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
About this Discussion
18 Replies
11 Participants
The_Lizard
Subaru Outback Forums
Welcome to the Subaru Outback Owners Forum, we have tons of information about your Subaru Outback, from a Subaru Outback Wiki to customer reviews.
Full Forum Listing
Top