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2006 Outback 2.5i
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Discussion Starter #1
Our Subaru Outback 2006 experienced a loss of power. The repair shop found out that the catalytic converter was plugged, and they were plugged because of the valve guide drop. The car is about 165k.

"The valve guides are falling out of the engine heads which is why the catalytic converters are plugged up on your car. Recommend replacing both engine heads and both catalytic converters. There may also be a few hundred dollars of miscellaneous items that would be recommended to be replaced when the engine is apart. If the clutch is worn that may be recommended. At that time you may consider replacing the engine block with the heads. "

Is that the best solution, ie replacing the engine heads? Is it necessary to replace the engine block? He was saying that the engine typically lasts for about 200k.

Any advice?
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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You might consider replacing the engine with a complete used unit from a crashed car. There would be considerably less labor involved in that.

The blocks can last a half million miles, usually something else makes the car uneconomical to repair before they wear out. However, this assumes perfect lubrication.

Consider: If the cats clogged up because the car was burning oil passed through a worn valve guide, did the engine always have enough oil to protect everything else? If you were regularly topping up the engine oil to offset the trickle lost through that bad valve, then you maintained proper lubrication for the rest of the engine.

If you weren't topping it off frequently, then the engine has probably suffered from less-than-perfect lubrication for x number of miles. I think it might be wise to look for a used engine rather than spending money to rebuild the current one.
 

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2006 Outback 2.5i
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Discussion Starter #3
rasterman, thank you for your quick response.

I don't know how long we have suffered this situation, but when we found out that the car was loosing oil, we started checking and topping it every month. I replaced the oil myself and seems it usually still have plenty of old oil when I replace them. I didn't measure how much are actually left.

The car is currently in the repair shop. I don't know whether they will look for a used engine. I don't think I'll be able to do the engine myself.
What about just replacing the engine heads. It seems to me it's a good compromise and not spending a lot of money. I got the quote of $2700 for the engine heads versus $5500 for the whole engine block.
 

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2016 WRX, 2017 BRZ, 2017 Legacy
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I would question whether it is worth putting $3k into an 06 OBW with 165k. More so if you're due for a clutch ($1500) or snout repair ($300) or if your suspension is shot ($1000) or if you've got any rust on it.

In my experience, and a few of my friends, putting in a different engine, the just "isn't the same" afterwards. Sensors go bad, ground points aren't happy, etc. and the resale value drops too.
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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Depends on the type of repair shop. Independent mechanics (broadly speaking) would have no trouble installing a used engine and typically they maintain relationships with wrecker/recyclers for just this reason.

A Subaru dealer won't do that. They've committed to a policy of using new parts only, and generally they are under contract to buy all of those parts from Subaru.

New heads will solve your problem. Another alternative: A machine shop can rebuild your existing heads to 100% capability. (This may in fact be what they are proposing, read carefully)

It will work, it just isn't usually the least expensive option.
 

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1999 30th Anniversary Legacy Outback DOHC 2.5L 4EAT, 2008 Impreza WRX 2.5L 5MT, 2008 Impreza Wagon 2.5L 4EAT
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Some shops that do lots of Subaru heads have developed fixes for the dropped valve guides. One knurls them before installing and one cuts a thin groove and installs a circlip to hold the guide in position.
 

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2006 Outback 2.5i
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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you for the reply rasterman and Norskie,

This is an independent repair shop, but they specialized in Subaru.
I just asked them and you are right.
For the heads engine, it is a rebuild. They do give warranty of 18 months or 18,000 miles.
For the engine block, it is a brand new from Subaru.

I also asked about the valve guide, and they reported there are already 4 valve guides that dropped, and could be more. So replacing valve guide only could be more expensive.

Any additional advice?
 

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2006 Outback 2.5i
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Discussion Starter #8
miker104,
It's probably hard for me to know whether this heads have that kind of fix. I did ask about whether the engine rebuild will have the similar problems, which then he mentioned about the warranty.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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to me, if the replacement car option would just be another 12-10-8 year-old used car (which is also likely to need struts, clutches or other work), I would prefer to repair the car you have IF it is likely to continue to meet your requirements.

But, if for some reason you feel you could use a different type of vehicle soon, this may very well be the time to consider replacing the car with something new or new-ish (lease return, or CPO , etc.)
 

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2006 Outback 2.5i
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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you for all of your advice and input. I'm not at a position to finance another car at the moment, so I'm taking the middle ground to replace the heads engine. Hopefully, it won't become a costly fix with other things that they will mention, or that the engine block needs replacement in a year. Thanks again, really appreciate the input and the new knowledge for me.
 

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2006 Outback Wagon 2.5i
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to me, if the replacement car option would just be another 12-10-8 year-old used car (which is also likely to need struts, clutches or other work), I would prefer to repair the car you have IF it is likely to continue to meet your requirements.
Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know. And the cars been paid off for awhile, yes? It's ok to give it some love and spend some cash on it.
 

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2006 Outback 2.5i
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Discussion Starter #12
Yup, paid off for a while. Gave the TLC, and as a quick report, end up paying about $3200 for the heads cylinder, rear cat converter. No clutch replacement. So far so good, plan to use it for long drive in couple of weeks.
 
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