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good job on the resurfacing and block prep and reusing the old head bolts - that is all proper procedure, well done.

i would not have used no name headgaskets on an engine with such prolific head gasket issues, but who knows that's purely speculation on my part, there's nothing quantitative available, but i wouldn't want to guess on this motor.

Fel Pros are coming as MLS, you have to check which years i'm not sure the break down yet - in some varieties and only cost $33 with online discounts from advanced auto parts, etc.

did you use Subaru's coolant conditioner?
I have not put any conditioner in it yet. I might consider it though.
 

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Update to my last 2 entries. I have put about 1500 miles on the car since I did the HG job. There has been no loss of coolant in the the overflow bottle, but I just did a thorough examination of the engine for any leaks. I have found what appears to be a miniscule external coolant leak at the HG seam. This is on the passenger side top, right below the upper radiator coolant hose. My first thought was the hose, but rubbing my finger below the hose and checking the clamp and hose did not produce any evidence of a leak. As I look at the head to block seam, I see tiny, almost crystaline evidence of dried coolant. I believe the leak is from the HG. I will now be adding the conditioner and monitoring this closely.
Vehicle: 2001 Outback, 2.5 SOHC
 

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Update 1 year later: Those headgaskets mentioned in my earlier post have developed an internal leak from the cylinder(s) to the cooling passageways. I have coolant filling the overflow bottle, smell of exhaust in the bottle, debris in the bottle, and some bubbling. The engine has not overheated yet and there is no cross contamination of coolant to oil evident. There may be a slight amount of white smoke/steam in the exhaust but since it has been cold out, it could be normal condensation. I'm also getting rough running right after startup on a cold engine accompanied by misfire codes. Wires and plugs are new so I suspect that the plugs are getting wet with coolant. The conditioner was added but does not seem to be helping.

I'll probably re-do the HG's with six star or dealer purchased MLS gaskets.
Thanks to all who posted with recommendations. I wish I had seen all this earlier but we live and learn, and I have to move on.

If there are any further recommendations that have come up in the last 12 months or so, I'd greatly appreciate any comments. Happy New Year!
 

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OK, I settled on the newly designed Fel-Pro headgaskets. I had to get this job underway today and get the car back on the road. The Fel-Pro's were only available at the NAPA warehouse in Tampa (70 mile RT) without ordering.

I started at 9:30 AM draining the coolant and got the 2nd headgasket on and properly torqued by 6:00 PM. The valve cover gaskets are on and the engine closed up. It is a lot of work to get done in one day. Fortunately I had my son help me position the heads in-place and direct me through the torquing sequence without me having to get up and check the manual.

I'm not working on this tomorrow but should be done on Monday. BTW, the gaskets I took off looked like crap and Fel-Pro's look awesome. We'll see how they hold up.
 

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1989 Subaru XT6, 1989 Subaru RX, 2004 Outback 3.0 SUS
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Well, seeing as I work with the Six Star MLS gaskets all the time, I can chime in:D

Like it was said before, the OEM gaskets for the '00-'09 2.5 SOHC are a single ply with a special coating on both sides. The coating will eventually start to wash away like it did originally, just possibly a different mileage or time span then the last set. In my opinion, the major reason why they leak is because of lack of maintanence. Usually, the cars that have had the regular coolant changes and 3k mile oil changes last longer and eat less oil at higher miles.

I've installed all 3 different versions that have been mentioned into these engines and only the OEM single layer gaskets will leak externally (unless they were installed improperly). Only time I've seen issues with either the OEM MLS turbo gasket or the Six Star MLS gasket have been internal failures. All of which have been failure of a radiator and improper installation/prep of the gaskets.

I have also seen quite a few internal failures with the Fel-Pro Permatorques on the EJ25D but i haven't really looked into why unless it was improper prep work.
 

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I wishI could have used the Six Star gaskets, but I didn't have the time to order them. I had to get this car up and running in 2 days. Honestly, the old gaskets I pulled off were crap. These were advertised as MLS gaskets, but there appears to have been some fiberous material in between the steel layers and some of that had broken off and pushed into the coolant passageway. These heads were re-surfaced and were flat when I did the job a year ago. When I first noticed a problem, it was gurgling in the heater core, followed by coolant pushing out, accompanied by some debris, into the overflow tank. I never let it get hot. I very careful to sequentially loosen the headbolts and did a thorough clean up. The torquing procedure was followed exactly, which is really a PITA.
Right now the vehicle is up and running good, so only time will tell how the Fel-Pro's hold up. These new designed gaskets appear to be 3 steel layers rivited together at the edges, with a distinctive recessed ring (fire ring) just outside where the cylinder walls are. It is quite a different design from the OEM and the cheap first replacement gaskets. The vehicle now has 117,000 miles on it.
 

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2000 Subaru Outback 5MT
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Decissions....

I'm reading thru the threads about the HG's and came to the point that I'm confused more than anything.
I have a quote form indie shop for 14hrs of labor plus parts. The HG kit they quoted for $300 is OEM. I don't feel like paying their marked up prices and not sure I want to go OEM. I can use my parts but they will not guarantee their job then. And their guarantee is a joke anyway.
So, should I use Six Star MLS or Turbo OEM HG?
Or maybe I should go with a new Fel Pro for my 2000 OBW 5speed?

I want to get this car running and be somewhat sure it will last another 2-3 years with 20K on average per year.

Sorry for yet another HG post:rolleyes:
 

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I own 4 Subarus. A 95,97,02 and a 14. The first two are 2.2 and the last two 2.5.
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I would use either one of which your shop is comfortable with. Of course, the guarantee is a joke [assume it's 12 mo or less] but if you supply the gasket and it leaks in the first week, they will say, "Oh it's the gasket." So you have to go with the one they are used to.
 

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2003 Outback Limited 2.5L H4 5MT Regatta Red Pearl w/ lift and audio system
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Or maybe I should go with a new Fel Pro for my 2000 OBW 5speed?
That's what I used on my 2003. Fel-Pro Permatorque MLS. No leaking yet... only 5k miles. I feel pretty confident in the gaskets. I couldn't tell ya why, but they just "felt right." :29: :rolleyes: Don't take my advice.
 

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2006 needs HG

My son says dealer told him his 2006 outback 2.5 needs HG. We will see, he is bringing it up to Wi. from Florida.

Any reports on how repairs are holding up?

Archie
 

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That's what I used on my 2003. Fel-Pro Permatorque MLS. No leaking yet... only 5k miles. I feel pretty confident in the gaskets. I couldn't tell ya why, but they just "felt right." :29: :rolleyes: Don't take my advice.

Fel-pros have failed at approximately 25000 miles post-repair. (EDIT: THIS MAY NOT BE CORRECT. SEE POST #34 BELOW) Combustion is leaking into the coolant. (EDIT: SEE BELOW) It could have been a job done wrong by me, or it could be bad gaskets. Heads were resurfaced and block was meticulously cleaned of old gasket material and sanded with high grit wet sandpaper. A straight edge and feeler gauges indicated that the block was flat, though i somewhat doubt the accuracy of my measurements because im no machinist. The engine was not overheated.

When I get the engine out I will see if there's any telltale evidence either way (e.g. my mistake or faulty hg)
 

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I own 4 Subarus. A 95,97,02 and a 14. The first two are 2.2 and the last two 2.5.
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Thanks for posting. I had my 02 HGs replaced with Six Star at a indy shop. But I only have 2 years and 10K on them, so, even if the HG or installation was bad, I wouldn't even expect a leak until this year at the earliest.

In a way, it's too bad that it take so long for a HG defect to become apparent and a lot of years to know if one can stop worrying about it.
 

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So true. I thought I had it all solved until they suddenly developed a leak. I wasn't expecting an internal leak because the previous failure was limited to external leakage, which is oodles better than failure of the "fire ring". Oh well, I'll give it another go.
 

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UPDATE: Revision to my previous update (see above). I now do not think that the head gasket is blown, at least not between the water jacket and cylinder. I did a compression test with the following results:

Cylinder 1---204 PSI
Cylinder 3---199 PSI
Cylinder 4---200 PSI
Cylinder 2---199 PSI

Clearly I am not losing compression anywhere. I also drained the cooling system and flushed it twice (just with water). There was a some doo-doo in the coolant, but not as much as I thought there would be given the buildup under the cap.

So where did the black sludge under the radiator cap come from so suddenly? I have no idea. To reiterate, there were no recent fluid changes that could have caused the sludge build-up. I filled it again with water only and we will see where this goes.

I am withholding judgement on the Fel-Pros for now. The only thing I can definitively say about them is that I have ZERO external leakage, which is good.
 

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'06' Outback 2.5i w/ 5MT; '98' Forester L w/ 4EAT; 2017 Volvo XC60 T5
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UPDATE: Revision to my previous update (see above). I now do not think that the head gasket is blown, at least not between the water jacket and cylinder. I did a compression test with the following results:

Cylinder 1---204 PSI
Cylinder 3---199 PSI
Cylinder 4---200 PSI
Cylinder 2---199 PSI

Clearly I am not losing compression anywhere. I also drained the cooling system and flushed it twice (just with water). There was a some doo-doo in the coolant, but not as much as I thought there would be given the buildup under the cap.

So where did the black sludge under the radiator cap come from so suddenly? I have no idea. To reiterate, there were no recent fluid changes that could have caused the sludge build-up. I filled it again with water only and we will see where this goes.

I am withholding judgement on the Fel-Pros for now. The only thing I can definitively say about them is that I have ZERO external leakage, which is good.


Tibug,

I have a '98' Forester with the Phase 1 DOHC 2.5L and almost 150k on the odom., and I am just starting to see signs of HG failure of the original OE head gaskets (I know, I'm lucky to have gone almost 150k and 15+ years on the originals!). It is an internal failure, evidenced by slow loss of coolant, some black (gasket material) particles in the overflow reservoir, and bubbles (1-2 dime-sized bubbles every 5-10 seconds) in the overflow reservoir when car is warm and at idle. I just discovered this last week, so am kind of in the beginning stages of my investigation/research.

Observation # 1 worth noting: when the car is cold I do not get the bubbles in the coolant (I look for this by removing the rad. cap itself, since the cap won't let anything past it into the overflow reservoir until pressure builds in the system). I know coolant is not yet cycling since the thermostat is closed, but you would still think the bubbles would be making their way to the top of the radiator and out the filler neck if they were occurring (but who knows, maybe they get stuck in the system somewhere until coolant flows).

Observation # 2 worth noting: when I increase the engine RPM's up to about 1500 or so (car warmed up, coolant flowing, in driveway so no engine load), the periodic bubbling stops. I think this could be because the coolant is circulating faster while there is no load on the engine at the same time, so the coolant/engine temp.'s have decreased a little bit.

Conclusion thus far: the leak appears to be showing up only when the car is truly warm and experiencing normal driving conditions/temperatures.

Main reason for writing: I wanted to pass on to you that I have done quite a bit of research on various forums, and I have come across a lot of posts from folks saying that when they did compression tests (engine cold, of course) everything checked out fine. Based on my obervations thus far and from reading various posts on compression tests not being conclusive, I am theorizing that in the very early stages of an internal HG failure it is very possible that the leak isn't able to be detected when the engine is cold.

One other thing worth mentioning: I used Fel-Pro when I did my valve cover gaskets just a few thousand miles ago (followed the FSM directions to the tee - little bit of selant in the corners of the camshaft half-moons, torqued cover bolts to spec. even the bottom corner bolt that is a PITA to get a wrench on) and they are not providing a perfect seal (no drops in the driveway though, so can't complain too much).

When it comes time for me to do my HG's, I will be going with either the updated Subaru MLS for the phase 1 DOHC or the Six-Star set (haven't decided which yet). I am also considering the Beck-Arnley set, as I have always had good luck with Beck-Arnley products (unfortunately most of their stuff is made in China, but believe it or not it is good quality).

Good luck with yours. Let us know what you find with the Fel-Pros.
 

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Tibug,

I have a '98' Forester with the Phase 1 DOHC 2.5L and almost 150k on the odom., and I am just starting to see signs of HG failure of the original OE head gaskets (I know, I'm lucky to have gone almost 150k and 15+ years on the originals!). It is an internal failure, evidenced by slow loss of coolant, some black (gasket material) particles in the overflow reservoir, and bubbles (1-2 dime-sized bubbles every 5-10 seconds) in the overflow reservoir when car is warm and at idle. I just discovered this last week, so am kind of in the beginning stages of my investigation/research.

Observation # 1 worth noting: when the car is cold I do not get the bubbles in the coolant (I look for this by removing the rad. cap itself, since the cap won't let anything past it into the overflow reservoir until pressure builds in the system). I know coolant is not yet cycling since the thermostat is closed, but you would still think the bubbles would be making their way to the top of the radiator and out the filler neck if they were occurring (but who knows, maybe they get stuck in the system somewhere until coolant flows).

Observation # 2 worth noting: when I increase the engine RPM's up to about 1500 or so (car warmed up, coolant flowing, in driveway so no engine load), the periodic bubbling stops. I think this could be because the coolant is circulating faster while there is no load on the engine at the same time, so the coolant/engine temp.'s have decreased a little bit.

Conclusion thus far: the leak appears to be showing up only when the car is truly warm and experiencing normal driving conditions/temperatures.

Main reason for writing: I wanted to pass on to you that I have done quite a bit of research on various forums, and I have come across a lot of posts from folks saying that when they did compression tests (engine cold, of course) everything checked out fine. Based on my obervations thus far and from reading various posts on compression tests not being conclusive, I am theorizing that in the very early stages of an internal HG failure it is very possible that the leak isn't able to be detected when the engine is cold.

One other thing worth mentioning: I used Fel-Pro when I did my valve cover gaskets just a few thousand miles ago (followed the FSM directions to the tee - little bit of selant in the corners of the camshaft half-moons, torqued cover bolts to spec. even the bottom corner bolt that is a PITA to get a wrench on) and they are not providing a perfect seal (no drops in the driveway though, so can't complain too much).

When it comes time for me to do my HG's, I will be going with either the updated Subaru MLS for the phase 1 DOHC or the Six-Star set (haven't decided which yet). I am also considering the Beck-Arnley set, as I have always had good luck with Beck-Arnley products (unfortunately most of their stuff is made in China, but believe it or not it is good quality).

Good luck with yours. Let us know what you find with the Fel-Pros.
I would caution you NOT to wait on your 2.5DOHC to do head gaskets. from reading here they seem to get overly damaged quickly leaving you will little options outside of going with a (specific to 1995?) 2.2 SOHC or a over priced replacement 2.5 DOHC.

I replaced the head gaskets on my EJ251 in my 2002 car, with mostly subaru gaskets and a few fel-pro to make a whole set. six star would have worked out also but are not popular around my neck of the woods as far as a label. (this engine is similar to Tibugs)

lots of threads here on working with the EJ25D like you got though, just don't wait.:(
 

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Compression readings will not be affected by an internal HG leak. The leaks are too small to make a measurable difference of a couple turns of the crank.

You need to perform a block leak test. Engine should be hot, and rev up to 2500+ RPM.
 

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I would caution you NOT to wait on your 2.5DOHC to do head gaskets. from reading here they seem to get overly damaged quickly leaving you will little options outside of going with a (specific to 1995?) 2.2 SOHC or a over priced replacement 2.5 DOHC.

I replaced the head gaskets on my EJ251 in my 2002 car, with mostly subaru gaskets and a few fel-pro to make a whole set. six star would have worked out also but are not popular around my neck of the woods as far as a label. (this engine is similar to Tibugs)

lots of threads here on working with the EJ25D like you got though, just don't wait.:(

Thanks for the advice - it is well-taken and appreciated. The wording "when it comes time to..." in my post was probably not the best. I have no intentions of waiting too long to do the HG's, especially since this is my wife's car and she would probably just be annoyed with my instructions: "by the way honey, you need to glance at the temp. gauge every 10 seconds or so while you're driving from now on, because it could start to overheat any day now...". :)

Am just super-busy with work right now, and then taking the family on a road trip for a week (yeah, we won't be driving the Forester on that trip). On top of that I just finished doing a bunch of work on this car (new timing belt/idlers/tensioner, new struts at all 4 corners, RR wheel bearing replacement, new ball joints, complete rebuild on back brakes, installed "Raxles" halfshafts... the list goes on)... so it's always hard to finally get it off the jackstands only to discover the coolant is low by a half-quart and you have the telltale signs of internal HG leakage... and now you need to pull the engine.

I definitely won't let it go too long though... the car will be driven minimally (if at all) until I have time to pull the engine and do the HG's.
 

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In my experience 6 star head gaskets are about the best you can get.

The OEM 610's lasted around 120K miles in our DOHC. I replaced them with 6 stars and ARP Studs this time. And used 6 star in the SOHC

6Star HG's and ARP studs will keep the DOHC heads water tight for the life of the motor.
 

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Another thing that I suspect really helps with HG installs: I went out an bought a 14"X14"X1/2" piece of plate glass. I contact cemented a piece of 1500 grit wet/dry sand paper onto one side, and a handle on the other. Then, I pulled the alignment dowels out of the block and 'surfaced' the block deck to a point that it was almost mirror like. The same was done in the head surfaces.

With 300K miles on the 98, I believe the HG's will last longer than the engine will last?
 
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