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99 Outback Head Gasket question-advice?


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15 replies to this topic

#1 michelle

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 10:15 AM

I've read a bit about this...I have a 99 Outback I'm trying to sell (to get a smaller car w/ better mileage). My question is:
Has anyone replace a head gasket on their Subaru and what did it cost? I'm thinking $1000-$1500 but want to get an idea. I need to decide what I will disclose to the buyer...no problems as of now, but the car has overheated a couple times. Replaced the thermostat. Only overheated one time since then and in 3 days, the check engine light has NOT come back on and the car has NOT overheated (knock on wood). My mech. has put some coloration in some fluid in there so if it's a head gasket leak, he'd see it and would know if it's just that and which of the 4 it'd be. If it turns out to need a new head gasket, I feel like I should tell the buyer, even though it's driving fine right now. Just wanted to get a sense of cost and how much to drop the price for someone if it looks likely to need a new gasket. It has 152K miles, bluebookes for $5210-$6025 (Kelley: fair/good) and I originally was asking $5800 and now am asking $3800 to get it sold and move on. What are anyone's thoughts? Thx.

#2 northguy

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 11:39 AM

SOA's standard "fix" for headgasket problems is to add a little bottle of black goo that seeps into and breach in the H/G and seals it up. I know the community (and I) am skeptical of this practice, but my mechanic affirms that it really does work. Cheap fix = a couple of bucks.

#3 jon38iowa

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 11:43 AM

SOA's standard "fix" for headgasket problems is to add a little bottle of black goo that seeps into and breach in the H/G and seals it up. I know the community (and I) am skeptical of this practice, but my mechanic affirms that it really does work. Cheap fix = a couple of bucks.

I agree, this seems to have worked for my Forester as well.
John

#4 cookie

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 12:13 PM

except the 99 Outback should have a phase 1 and the goop will not work. It only works with a phase 2.

#5 michelle

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 12:56 PM

SOA's standard "fix" for headgasket problems is to add a little bottle of black goo that seeps into and breach in the H/G and seals it up. I know the community (and I) am skeptical of this practice, but my mechanic affirms that it really does work. Cheap fix = a couple of bucks.

Hm. Michelle again here...thanks for the tip. Any specifics on that this "little bottle of black goo" may be called? Did you do this yourself or have a mech. do it? I'll stop by my mechanic's today and run the idea by him....

#6 cookie

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 12:59 PM

Michelle, the black goo does not work for your car. Odds on the Subaru place will know enough about it to realize that your car is a phase 1 engine.

#7 michelle

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 01:27 PM

Michelle, the black goo does not work for your car. Odds on the Subaru place will know enough about it to realize that your car is a phase 1 engine.


Thx. I don't go to the dealer (they rip you off here), but good to know it's a phase 1 engine, so much for black goo. Any ballpark sense on what a head gasket replacement would cost? I'm thinking $1000-$1500 but haven't gotten any official quotes b/c no one can determine that I need one (at this point). My mech. put some coloration in the system yesterday so that IF 1 of the 4 gaskets is leaking, it'd show up in a few days, if that makes sense. Thx, for the help. -M

#8 The Dude

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 01:58 PM

Michelle. the cost of replacing the head gasket varies from shop to shop and from location to location. I would say from reading the posts on this board, the average is about $1,500. You could probably say under $2000 with a clear conscience. Of course, that is IF there is no damage to the heads. The "goo" is for Phase II engines ONLY. Generally Phase I engines, like the one in your car, suffer from an internal head gasket failure. All the "goo" in the world will not repair an internal head gasket failure. Only a head gasket replacement will permanently fix such a failure. When the head gaskets are replaced properly, using the lastest genuine Subaru head gaskets, very few Phase I engines have additional head gasket problems.

#9 Wayne Boncyk

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 02:03 PM

Michelle, the colorant may not show anything definitive. Phase 1 engine HGs usually fail such that the coolant jacket leaks into a combustion chamber. So during high compression (like right after ignition in the cylinder), hot exhaust gas is pushed into the coolant loop. That's what causes coolant loss (from local boil-off) and overheating.

The phase II engine HGs ususally blow such that a channel opens up between the coolant loop and the outside edge of the head. Only in that case will you see a colorant stain at the place where the head meets the block. As someone else noted here, the Subaru Goo fix only works on this phase II failure. Nothing except HG replacement will work for the phase I repair. What's worse is that the problem usually only shows up during periods of high mechaincal load on the engine, so the usual checks (like compression tests) won't tell you which side has failed -- you usually are better off if you get both HGs replaced. Your guess at around $1000 for the job is on the low side of the estimates that I got to do the job for my '96 OBW (which ranged from around $1200 to over $2000), so I ended up spending a few weekends doing it myself.

#10 michelle

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 02:50 PM

Thanks for the info. (Michelle again here). I guess this all leaves it all at:
Keep an extra supply of coolant (and oil) in the car, and keep your eye on the temp. gauge, especially w/ a lot of weight in the car or going up long steep hills (aka working the engine). There's really no way to confirm if a head gasket(s) need to be replaced b/c the tests aren't all reliable under the conditions in which they test them (w/o working the engine). SO, you just have to do the above and brace yourself for an impending overheating situation and clearer sign of a leaking hg and a bill of $1500-$2000 depending on the shop and # gaskets needing replacement (unless you can do it yourself, which I imagine is far less folks like yourself than more).

I've got someone looking at the car tomorrow (who has a wife and kids = safe car). I'm thinking telling him the scoop (above) and reiterating that I'm asking nearly $2000 less than bluebook (asking $3800 and blue book is $5210-$6025 (fair-good) so that leaves some slush room for gasket work...maybe I'll go down to $3K to leave more space for the possible impending gasket repalcement. I'm ready to move on to a new car.

Does all this sound reasonable in Subaru world? Thx again for all the input, it's really helpful. -M

#11 cookie

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 02:53 PM

Michelle,

It sounds good to me as I would rather buy that car with leaking gaskets and have them replaced. An honest owner like yourself means the person will not get a surprise, and with new gaskets that car will be good for years.

#12 michelle

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 03:08 PM

Cool beans. Sort of. Out of curiousity, is the bulk of the cost of replacing head gaskets in the access/labor to them, in which case is the cost won't differ considerable if you have to replace 2 (or 3 or 4) vs. 1? ex-it doesn't cost twice as much to replace 2, I'd imagine! Again, thanks. -M

#13 cookie

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 03:27 PM

The problem is all the stuff you have to remove. You have to tear the engine down nearly to a bare block to remove the heads. Most folks remove the engine first for clearance. While you are in there many seals are usually replaced and the timing belt is off so you may as well change that. This stuff all adds up but when you are done you have an engine ready to go for a while.

#14 michelle

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 03:44 PM

Thanks a lot. We'll see how it goes...have a good weekend!...-M

#15 michelle

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 03:56 PM

1 last question before I head out...my ABS light came on 2 days ago. Any thoughts on this? I think it's no big deal and I never liked Anti-Lock Brakes anyway and it's not something that needs to be tended to unless for some reason someone's really set on anti-lock brakes...

would anyone agree? -M

#16 cookie

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 04:01 PM

Most of the time it is just a sensor but it can be anything in the system. I suspect the new owner will be working on the car to tidy things up anyway.
Most of us get a car and spend the next several weeks if not years restoring it.




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