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Blown head gasket...now what?!?
Posted 02 July 2003 - 08:31 PM
Here are the stats:
1997 Subaru Outback 2.5L (Phase I) with 116,000 miles. First symptoms at around 100,000 miles, just finally got it diagnosed when it started chronically overheating.
The symptoms, for all those trying to find out why their car is overheating for no reason, are, well, overheating. If there are air bubbles coming up in your reservoir tank after it overheats, you most likely have a blown head gasket. Also, a trickling water sound right after you start up the car after it's been sitting are an indication of gas in the system, and as such a blown head gasket is the most likely culprit on these cars from what I've read and heard. Take it in and have your coolant tested for hydrocarbons (CO2 specifically I guess), and if I were you, I'd do this anyway just to check (especially before doing something like the water pump to solve your overheating issues).
At any rate, now I have to do something with this car, and I'm not sure what to do. A local dealer quoted me $640 to replace both head gaskets, but I'm assuming that a complete head rebuild is in order if I want it to last long at all. Is this true?
From what I've seen, a head rebuild is at least $1000-$1200. I know a number of people have had those done; how long will that last? I'm sure it's incredibly variable, so a "worst case I've ever seen" would be nice to all those out there that have experience with these types of things.
As a side note, I called a place in Portland (Oregon--I'm in Corvallis) and they won't even do head-only rebuilds on these engines. They will only do FULL ENGINE rebuilds ($3000-$4000) because they said that rebuilding the heads increases the compression and causes the car a burn oil (blue smoke out the tailpipe) because the bottom half of the engine is still 100,000 miles old and it puts a lot of strain on it to only do the top half. Has anyone seen this happen? Is this condition drive-able or is this something else that has to be serviced to operate the car?
Posted 02 July 2003 - 11:06 PM
I may be wrong, and maybe some of the Subie engine experts here can shwack me if I am, but even if they shaved .020 off the head for warpage, that won't raise the compression ratio much at all.
How many rod and crank bearing failures do the Subie's experience? Probably not that many...
Posted 03 July 2003 - 05:52 AM
You could always fix the heads and then sell the car to some unsuspecting fellow. If it was me, I would put the very minimum in this car to keep it running. I would then run it until the wheels "fell off". If the car goes another 100,000 miles before another head gasket failure , then you got your money out of the car. Also, if you have an AT, the likelyhood of that major component requiring costly service greatly increases after 100,000 miles.
Posted 03 July 2003 - 03:06 PM
My dad knows some guy from way back in the day who happens to be a service manager at a Subaru dealership in Arizona I think (completely unassociated with my car purchase since I live in Oregon). At any rate, this guy told my dad that the head gasket blew BECAUSE it overheated (i.e., thermostat went and then that blew the head gasket). Whether that's true or not, I cannot tell at this point.
Anyway, I suppose my only option at this point is to repair it and keep it, because everything else sounds way to daunting.
Anyone know any good Subaru mechanics in the Portland, Oregon/Eugene, Oregon area?!?
Posted 03 July 2003 - 03:44 PM
Options... The going rate for head gaskets is about $1000 US. This includes machining of the heads, valve regrind, etc. I was told that there is actually very little they can take off the head before it is no longer usable. As pointed out, affect on compression is minimal. The head gasket p/n has been changed by Subaru 3 times (at least). The current one (well, as of a year ago) is a 4 layer affair. I've put just over a year and 45k miles on mine. So far, so good. I'm still worried about the head gasket though. More to do with head bolt torquing (potential) issues than the gasket itself. Fingers crossed.
Used engine... If it's the DOHC engine, you'd better know what you are getting. If it's a SOHC engine, you can do 2 things. While you "can" put it in with the original wiring and ECU, there are some challenges. It has been done. And these engines are also experiencing "some" head gasket failures; usually external leaks. Other option is to steal the short block from it and use the rest from your engine. It would only make sense to do this if you are concerned about the state/age of your current engine. Expensive route to go.
Rebuilt engine... $, but you get a warranty. CCR Engines Inc. has gotten good reports from others on this board. They are a Subaru engine rebuilder. They know the problems and how to mitigate them. Talk to Rick or Emily.
I feel your pain. I've been there.
Posted 03 July 2003 - 06:00 PM
Posted 03 July 2003 - 06:10 PM
Posted 04 July 2003 - 08:05 AM
While it may temporarily fix the symptom, believe me, it will end up causing far more problems in the long run. Aluminum engines do not like stop leak stuff, and Subaru radiators especially.
Posted 05 October 2003 - 03:05 PM
From reading through the forums, I understand that the head gaskets are a problem as well, so perhaps a head gasket/valve job is in order.
Posted 06 October 2003 - 12:26 AM
Valves wear the seats and the valve face down as they run, which is why there must be some form of adjustment, personally I love hydraulic adjusters as I have done more than enough mechanical and shim jobs to last till I die.
Codes can be on for several reasons including simple stuff like loose gas caps.
I hear a lot about camshaft position sensors.
Do you have some place like a Pep Boys locally that will check codes?
If you have adaquate money I do think head gasket and valve jobs are good insurance on these engines.
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