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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Could water pipe o-ring leak seem like a blown head gasket?

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6 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_RickOregon_*

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Posted 21 July 2002 - 06:09 PM

Hello Subaru People,

Now that I've got the engine out of Kate's '87 Turbo GL-10 AWD Wagon, I can see things much better.

The previous owner said the driver's side head gasket needed replacing, because the head was leaking water.. and when I looked under the car with engine running, water *did* appear to be coming from that general area.

However, I see that the water tube (pipe that goes from water pump to lower radiator hose) is very loose. When I pulled it out of the water pump, the water pipe o-ring seemed pretty sloppy, too. Is it possible that a goodly amount of water was coming out past the o-ring and drain down under the driver's cylinder head (that's the general flow path, it looks like to me)?

If so, then I probably don't have a bad head gasket, after all.

When I turn the engine on it's side (using the engine stand), I see some residue in the area below the head where water from the water pipe o-ring leak would depart the head falling toward the ground. This is possibly further confirmation of the o-ring being the culprit. And I don't see any indication of residue or leaking anywhere around the head gasket.

From what others said in response to my previous posting, it doesn't seem likely that the driver's side head gasket should go first. Note: the previous owner spent about $4K on this car in the past couple years. He had his mechanic install a new rebuilt engine ($2000 from Colorado Component Rebuilders Inc and about $1400 to have his local mechanic install it). The engine had a 3 year 36000 mile warranty on it, and had only reached about 42000 miles when the leak started. I'm thinking maybe he just got disgusted and assumed it was a head gasket leak without doing a full check...

What do you all think? Does this make sense?

Thanks much, Rick

Rick & Kate Johnson
Venice Ranch, Burns, Oregon
1987 Turbo GL-10 AWD (Kate's); '86 GL AWD (Daughter's)

#2 Guest_canajun2eh_*

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Posted 21 July 2002 - 08:16 PM

Your analysis seems to be right on the money.

I'd replace that O-ring, and leave the heads just the way they are. You might want to re-torque the head bolts, but I think that's way too much bother. You have to remove the cam housings and cams to get at all the head bolts. Not worth it, in my opinion.

#3 Guest_ccrinc_*

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Posted 21 July 2002 - 09:54 PM

This is soooo common. You may need to replace the water pipe too: they tend to rust away behind that o-ring.
But, hey, you might get lucky and just need the ring! :lol:


#4 Guest_RoosRule_*

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Posted 21 July 2002 - 10:49 PM

Check closely for the beginnings of oil leaks. The usual culprits are cam seals, front crank seal, oil pan & valve covers. The cam seal especially will leak after a while. It sounds like you got lucky regarding the head gaskets. If you had posted your reason for thinking it was a leaking head gasket someone here would probably have told you about the leak you found. It is quite common.

#5 Guest_RickOregon_*

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Posted 22 July 2002 - 08:49 AM

Hey Gerry, Emily, RoosRule,

Thank you for your words of encouragement and advice.

I've been checking for possible signs of fluid leaks. Much easier to examine engine when it's out on the stand! LOL

Emily, I've heard good things about your rebuilt engines there at Colorado Component Rebuilders. Appears Kate and I have got a real jewel of a powerplant, here -- rebuilt to last! I've ran it for short periods of time awhile back (after filling with coolant), and it's runs smooth and strong.

Looks like the installation back in August of 1998 was done pretty well, too ("Autowerks" of Salinas, California).

So far, the only "error", if you can call it that, was the heat shields around the turbocharger were left out. And I'm not sure if that was an omission by the mechanic or by someone else along the way... I'm going to reinstall the shields when I put the engine back in, once I get proper bolts.

BTW, anyone know of a good on-line source for metric hardware fasteners? Seems like I'm always having to go to the hardware store in town these days (60 miles round trip). Because we live out in the country, I'd prefer to find a place on the Net where I can order bolts by hardness, length, diameter, pitch, etc... any good hardware websites out there? Any favorites you care to share?

Much obliged, Rick (541-493-2212)

Rick & Kate Johnson
Venice Ranch, Burns, Oregon
1987 Turbo GL-10 AWD (Kate's); '86 GL AWD (Daughter's)

#6 Guest_MNSubie_*

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Posted 22 July 2002 - 09:14 AM

Your one-stop site for fasteners should be McMaster-Carr:


If they don't have it- it probably doesn't exist! They stock a ton of stuff in their warehouse (Chicago is the one I deal with). We are an 8 hour drive from there and usually get 1-2 day UPS service on items they have in stock- even ordering up until 3pm or so.


#7 Guest_Bill Putney_*

Guest_Bill Putney_*
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Posted 22 July 2002 - 11:00 AM

Gerry Kroll - For the sake of accuracy, you *can* reach all the head bolts to re-torque them without removing the cam case - you just have to make a "shorty" socket by grinding the length and grinding a chamfer around the top surface so it can fit under the cam. Works like a champ - but I agree that it's probably not necessary.

Steve (MNSubie) is right-on about McMaster-Carr. He said "If they don't have it- it probably doesn't exist!" We say something similar where I work. We say "If they don't have it, you don't need it."

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