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Head Gasket Job


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20 replies to this topic

#1 L5wolvesf

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 07:23 PM

So I picked up a 1997 Legacy Outback a couple months ago for $500 knowing I would have to change out a blown head gasket (driver’s side). It drives OK, but with a noticeable miss, until you have to go up an incline – then it starts to get hot. Water is not getting into the oil. Lucky for me the majority of the 50 mile drive home was down hill so it only got hot a couple times. The rest of the car is in very good condition. It is not my daily driver at this point, but it may be after I get it fixed.

 

I’m getting ready to figure out exactly what parts to order and I need to figure out a few things. From my reading here so far I should have the EJ25D 2.5L DOHC engine – is that correct? I can verify that by checking the timing cover design – is that correct too?

 

I plan on doing both heads and the timing belt as preventative measure since most everything will be off anyway. Anything else I should replace while in there?

 

Also, are there any simple items I might consider upgrading, or modifying, while I’m in there?

 

Is there anything I should be looking for once I have it apart?

 

Finally, if the head(s) need to be shaved how much is the max on these engines?

 

Links to threads that cover these things would be appreciated along with any other tips or info.

 

Thank you


Edited by L5wolvesf, 17 March 2018 - 07:24 PM.


#2 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 17 March 2018 - 09:32 PM

EJ251 pistons, 2008 STi head gaskets.

Run premium for the compression increase.

GD

#3 lmdew

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 05:43 AM

95 2.2 swap.  Cheaper and will last a lifetime.



#4 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 09:29 AM

95 2.2 swap. Cheaper and will last a lifetime.


Not cheaper if you are doing your own labor. Prior to install you would want to do the HG's anyway. I've seen plenty of 2.2's blow HG's. Just did a '90 with 110k on it, and a '95 with 125k.

GD

#5 matt167

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 09:44 AM

Same here.. However, I would look for another block that has not been cooked at all. '97 LOB 25D has small bearings and depending how hot it has actually gotten, it may or may not start knocking once the gaskets are in and it's driven hard.

 

A coworker of mine has a '96 Legacy Brighton. and the head gaskets blew causing the car to overheat. I knew the gaskets were blown but he tried a number of things which resulted in the engine getting hot a few times. I told him to start with another engine, instead did gaskets in car. Now car does run fine except it has a bit of rod knock, and he's searching for engine options, yet again.



#6 Mike104

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 02:17 PM

Changed headgaskets on a 03 Forester, didn't know about the small oil pump.  Ended up changing the block later due to rod knock.  Save yourself the trouble and get another engine or block that you know hasn't been overheated.



#7 3Pin

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 04:24 PM

How many miles on the 2.5?  if not too many, you can reuse it, but you may have only heated it up 2x, but the previous owner may have done it a bunch more times than that.  The 2.2 is not a bad option either. I like buying a running 2.2 95 car that has a crap body and plucking engine and selling the rest.  The HG parts and timing parts for a 2.2 are cheaper than the 2.5, but you would have obviously have to pop for a new 2.2.  I pulled my 2.5 on a 98, sold it and put in a 2.2 I had in the wings and everyone was a winner as the 2.5 buyer needed one bad. 



#8 mikec03

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 05:05 PM

I should have the EJ25D 2.5L DOHC engine – is that correct? I can verify that by checking the timing cover design – is that correct too?
I'm surprised that no one answered your questions.  First your can have either the Ej2.5D or the Ej2.2.  Subaru made both in 2017.  However, since it's overheating, the odds are 1000/1 that you have the Ej2.5D.  You can easily tell by looking at the shape of the timing belt cover.  On the Ej2.5D, the timing cover has obviously TWO cam pulleys on each side, each about 8" in dia, versus one on each side for the Ej 2.2.
 
As to what you should do now?  If it were me, I would look for and swap in a Ej2.2, without regard to the miles on it.  I'm retired so I would have  a lot of time to work on subaru maintenance, but i have no time to work on a Ej2.5D.  As GD says, the Ej2.2 engine can have a bad HG.  I even had a 95 Ej2.2 which bubbled in the coolant overflow tk. at 217Kmile so I know.  But I'll take my chances with the Ej2.2 anyway.  Right now, I'm maintaining two Ej2.2 cars, one with 175 Kmiles and the other with 250 Kmiles.  Neither has a head gasket problem and I'm sure that both have the original HG.  If I bought a motor, however, I would have the HG changed as well as a complete timing belt kit just to be safe. 

Edited by mikec03, 18 March 2018 - 05:14 PM.


#9 L5wolvesf

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 06:36 PM

How many miles on the 2.5? 

 

184k and thanks for the input



#10 L5wolvesf

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 06:39 PM

I'm surprised that no one answered your questions.  First your can have either the Ej2.5D or the Ej2.2.  Subaru made both in 2017.  However, since it's overheating, the odds are 1000/1 that you have the Ej2.5D.  You can easily tell by looking at the shape of the timing belt cover.  On the Ej2.5D, the timing cover has obviously TWO cam pulleys on each side, each about 8" in dia, versus one on each side for the Ej 2.2.
 
As to what you should do now?  If it were me, I would look for and swap in a Ej2.2, without regard to the miles on it.  I'm retired so I would have  a lot of time to work on subaru maintenance, but i have no time to work on a Ej2.5D.  As GD says, the Ej2.2 engine can have a bad HG.  I even had a 95 Ej2.2 which bubbled in the coolant overflow tk. at 217Kmile so I know.  But I'll take my chances with the Ej2.2 anyway.  Right now, I'm maintaining two Ej2.2 cars, one with 175 Kmiles and the other with 250 Kmiles.  Neither has a head gasket problem and I'm sure that both have the original HG.  If I bought a motor, however, I would have the HG changed as well as a complete timing belt kit just to be safe. 

 

Thank you for the answer and additional input.



#11 L5wolvesf

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 06:43 PM

I've read your responses regarding the 2.5 and I'm going to read/research further on that.

I'll get back on here regarding that.

 

One question: why not just rebuild the existing 2.5? It did 184k (ish) and others have turned alot and lots of miles.

 

Thank you



#12 idosubaru

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 08:17 PM

Yes 97 outback’s are all DOHC EJ25s (also allows Phase I EJ25).

Get an Aisin timing kit. Belt tensioner and pulleys and water pump.
OEM water pump gasket only
Reseal then Oil pump, tighten the backing plate screws and reseal the separator plate on the back of the engine.

New OEM PCV and thermostat and rad cap while you’re at it.

I’d EJ22 swap it as well. If you can find a good one they do run forever.

GD sees them but he runs like two Subaru shops with huge volume and I’d bet those he sees were compromised or overheated at some point in their quarter century of life.

Verifying history doesn’t favor either engine so that’s a nonissue.... Except that you can verify the current one you own has been overheated. As far as headgasket failures, EJ25s fail all the time and their failure life lends themselves to frequent and significant overheats., I’ve never bought, owned, worked on, come across an EJ18 or EJ22 headgasket failure. EJ25s you can buy one every day of the week, even 15 years ago when they weren’t ubiquitous I could buy one daily, they were a dime a dozen. I’d have to make a list of all of them I bought and people that offered me free blown engines.

They throw rods and lower end bearings plenty of times after headgasket failures. Hole in block, yawn, seen it tons of times.

Maybe you can at least have the oil tested via UOA or cut open the filter but I’d move onto to a more robust and easier and cheaper to maintain EJ22.

#13 idosubaru

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 08:19 PM

NGK plugs and wires

#14 3Pin

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Posted 18 March 2018 - 09:38 PM

what if the 97 already had a 2.2 transplant?   I'd confirm the motor type by what Mikec03 said earlier. "On the Ej2.5D, the timing cover has obviously TWO cam pulleys on each side, each about 8" in dia, versus one on each side for the Ej 2.2."

 

At 184K if it is confirmed 2.5, I would agree with the rest and find  a 95 2.2 with decent miles and swap away.



#15 idosubaru

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Posted 19 March 2018 - 06:38 AM

Of course confirm it has the original engine type in it.

Get a Subaru Factory Service Manual, they’re free online with very minor searching. It’ll have torque values and procedure and resurfacing limits.

#16 L5wolvesf

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 06:42 PM

And I’m back after doing some research here and discussing it with a local-ish machine shop. Luckily one of the guys there is a “Subaru nut” and knows a lot about their engines. I also quizzed the owner on a couple items as a bit of a test and he was quite sharp.

 

But first, I did confirm I have the 2.5 – double humps on the timing covers.

 

In regard to the blown head gasket he asked if it had blown coolant into the crankcase. If there was coolant in the oil he agreed bearings can be an issue and the result could be doing the whole motor.

 

But in my case no coolant in the oil so the bearings, while having a lot of miles – but not knocking, should be OK. He did suggest putting a gauge on it to see what kind of oil pressure I am getting. So, next question, is there an easily accessible port I hook a gauge to, for a pressure reading?

 

I read here, and he also mentioned, the small oil pump the 2.5 comes with is a problem. Moving up to a bigger one was his thought too. He suggested if Melling, DNJ or Sealed Power make them for the 2.5 that would be his choice. So, last question (for now) – there seems to be a choice of a 10mm or 11mm pump, is the 11 worth going to on a basically stock engine or is the 10mm the better choice?

 

He said having them go through the engine would be a waste of their time and my money.

 

So my plan, once I confirm there is good pressure now, is to do the heads and related items. It will be $300 to completely do both heads with shave.

 

Thanks guys.


Edited by L5wolvesf, 30 March 2018 - 06:42 PM.


#17 el_freddo

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 07:14 PM

I still can't get over how much of a problem this is in the states.

In a Australia we simply don't hear about these dead EJ25Ds! I believe Subaru Australia did a factory recall for the head gaskets and replaced rings at the same time.

Good luck with your ride L5wolvesf.

I'm also wondering why the later ej251 from the Gen3 isn't an option. It's a good engine if looked after. We've got one in the family with 370k km on it and still going strong. HGs done 50k km ago, don't know if they were done before this.

Cheers

Bennie

#18 idosubaru

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 12:21 AM

the 1997 EJ25 doesn't have a small pump, you don't need to upgrade it.  if choosing i wouldn't go with 11mm unless someone really versed and experienced told me too, there is too much of a good thing. 

 

yeah it's pointless to go through those engines if you mean bearings and rings.  it's prohibitive for quite a few reasons including high cost and high risk.



#19 Mike104

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 11:18 AM

Best option to tap in an oil pressure gauge is at the oil pressure switch it's very close to the oil pump output and should give a good indication as to actual oil pressure.  You can install it as a temporary job or permanent if you want.



#20 mikec03

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 12:34 PM

But in my case no coolant in the oil so the bearings, while having a lot of miles – but not knocking, should be OK.
Ah, No.  What you said doesn't follow.  You bought it used.  It could have overheated 20 times for all you know.  The bearing could be compromised.  It's just foolish for you to spend money on it.  


#21 idosubaru

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 02:03 PM

True. EJ25 failure modes lend themselves to significant and repeated overheats and more lower end failures than most. A $500 blown headgasket EJ25 has a good chance of being one of these.

Signs of severe overheating:
Look for deformed plastic like the timing covers.
Lots of coolant markings around the overflow tank in the engine bay.
Block sealer
Discolored drivers side headlight lens or surrounding paint from overheated coolant spewing on it

No one that’s worked on a lot of EJ25s would be surprised if you replaced thegaskets and then the lower end pukes itself out. It happens. But it stinks to consider each one junk without knowing so for some people it’s worth the gamble.

I would just recommend not putting insane amounts of money in it.

I’d install an EJ22, the last one I bought one was $350 - it would be way cheaper than the work you’re considering on a questionable engine. And more reliable and cheaper to maintain.

I have a complete write up on the EJ22 swap it’s plug and play and way easier than a headgasket job.




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