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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Short Block Replacement

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6 replies to this topic

#1 SRGAbe


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Posted 02 December 2004 - 10:12 AM


I have a 96 Outback (2.5) with a little over 100,000 miles on it. I had a coolant leak and the dealeship has diagnosed it as needing a new short block. The estimate is $4700 and the blue book on the car is $4100. Is this a wise move or is it the start of worse things to come. I love the car and with winter approaching, I would like to keep it rather than spend more for a late model used one.


It cost me $ 5000 after a 10 % discount!. A dealer installed shortblock, new water pump and timing belt and a couple of heads.

They asked me to break it in by driving at different RPMs, any suggestions from the guru community?



#2 Grimmreaper


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Posted 02 December 2004 - 12:25 PM

Thats a tough call, I just had the heads on my 97 Outback replaced which basically meant overhauling the engine, replacing the radiator and putting in a new clutch for about $3,000. For me it was worth it because my Outback is a known quantity and the shop has an excellant reputation.

The way I looked at it, was do I want to make payments for a new car or do I just want to fix it. If the car is in good shape, it might be cheaper in the long run since getting another outback for that kind of money might be difficult.

I hope this helps.

#3 Setright


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Posted 02 December 2004 - 01:28 PM

Let's see....coolant leak on an EJ25.....external leak? That would be the "common" head gasket failure on later generation EJ25's. Are you certain that you trust this dealer???

A number of engines have had this cured by getting some of the secret additive that Subaru insists on running in new models. Often, they will ask for the head gaskets to be replaced first, if the leak has been around for a long time.

Get a second opinion, unless you really feel that you trust this dealer. Imagine if you could cure your problem with a small bottle of mystery fluid added to the radiator!

#4 cookie


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Posted 02 December 2004 - 05:58 PM

would be pretty unusual. Still possible but odd. We need to know more. Where was the leak? Did the car overheat? Was the usual stuff in the expansion tank?

#5 Dr. RX

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Posted 02 December 2004 - 06:39 PM

Are you going to do the labor or are you going to have a shop/dealer do it? If you can do it, it will save you a lot of money. Too bad you are on the other coast, I could save you a lot of money, my labor cost is only $15 an hour.

#6 NOMAD327


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Posted 03 December 2004 - 10:29 AM

The 97 model is a DOHC which does not leak externally and will not respond to the stop leak stuff subaru uses which is intended for the SOHC engines that leak coolant out onto the ground. The DOHC failure mode is combustion gasses into the cooling system which causes overheating and related problems from loss of coolant and air binding of the cooling system. In both cases, coolant does not normally enter the oil circulating system which would be the problem most likely to require total engine replacement. Unless the vehicle was severely overheated, or operated for a long time with the leak leading to block failure, this problem is usually fixed by a head gasket replacement. At your mileage, a partial disassembly is in order for timing belt and oil pump service, the head gasket service is just one step further from that already required service. As an extreme example, I had a head gasket service performed on my kids car by an independent shop using genuine subaru parts from liberty subaru, parts were $230 last year including a water pump and a thermostat. Labor was $450 for a total cost of $680. This was on a 97 OBW with 99,000 miles. The labor I'm quoting is absolutely the lowest you could ever expect to pay, but even if you double that number the total would be $1130. I would make sure I really needed a complete engine before I spent much more than that.

#7 Grimmreaper


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Posted 03 December 2004 - 12:40 PM

You are right about that, when my head gaskets i was ignorantly unaware of having blown headgaskets until after I had my radiator flushed (the car already had 159,000 mile on it) and taking a 400 mile trip the temperature on my 97 outback would climb to the max level and then come back down to a normal operating temperature, this went on for about an hour or so (being a non mechanic I was trying to nurse the car to the shop I had the coolant flushed) After a while the temperature gauge pegged itself and that is when I puled off the road looking for a place to cool off and try to get the cooling fixed. when I got to the end of the highway exit the engine just quit running and the first thing that came to me mind was that I just blew the engine.

I then had it transported to the radiator shop where they told me that the engine was not blown (apparently there is some sort of a safety kill switch which keeps people like me from destroying their engines), but they told me it was blown headgaskets, so I had it trasnported to a local customization shop that that had certified subaru technicians on site (that and they had a 12 month/12,000 mile warrenty on their work). They confirmed once again that the headgaskets were blown. They also told me if I had not overheated the engine so much then the bill only would have been $1400 which would have included cleaning the radiator, replacing the water pump, replacing the timing belt, replacing the thermostat, and replacing the spark plugs. But the overheating also warped the heads as well as putting stress cracks on the radiator core.

So with the replacement of the heads they also replaced all the seals and gaskets on the engine, they replaced the radiator (at cost) and I figured they might as well replace the clutch (it was still original) since the engine had to be pulled out of the car, they did not need to charge extra labor for it which brought my total to just under $3k. It was very expensive, but I figured the car is already payed for and all this work will easily give me another 100.000 miles at least and I really like the way the car handled. I figured I could not get another car for $3K and have the same level of usefelness as what I have here and it is a known quantity for me.After the work was accomplished and 7 months after the work was completed, the car feels like it is brand new (mecahnically anyway) all I have left to do is swap out the old struts (still original) with new ones and I should be done for a few years anyway.

It is now the second car in family since I have a 05 Baja.

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