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Hey I was wondering if I could get some second opinions from yall. I plan on purchasing one of these two cars, and cant decide which is the better option. Here are the details:

 

-98 Subaru Legacy, 2.2L, 240k miles, newer trans/head gaskets/timing belt, very well maintained.

 

VS

 

-98 Outback, 2.5L, 185k miles, newer head gasket/timing belt, original trans, also very well maintained.

 

Both are automatic, and being offered for $2000. I know the 2.2 is much more reliable, but is 240k too much miles?? The 2.5 has much less miles and the head gasket replaced, but is the trans likely to go out soon? I can't make a decision. Any thoughts??

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2.2 legacy

 

still interfernece, but if the HG's been done, and the trans is newer, it will run forever.

 

The outback you will be doing HG's again in the next 3~5 years.

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Once headgaskets go, they will likely fail again unless the heads and deck were checked for warpage and machined if needed. Less likely to fail repeatedly on an EJ22. The 4EAT transmissions are generally pretty solid as well.I have '98 Leagacy with an EJ22 with 129K miles that I'm hoping to still be driving at 300K. 

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i have a 2002 Forester with the 2.5 & 4EAT with 234,000 miles and counting - headgaskets had been done at around 108K (long before I got the car).

 

Trans shifts smoothly through all gears, no problems at all. As far as I know, it is the original trans... no records of it having been changed.

 

I have had this car on several longer road trips since I got it (at 219K) and have never had a problem with either the engine or the trans to date.

 

If both cars have been well maintained, and you have seen documentation to back that up, then flip a coin and pick one.

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I’d wait for or travel for a 2.2 that hasn’t had the headgaskets replaced.

 

Easy to find and worth the effort.

 

If you prefer rolling the dice:

 

*** Both of those engines first symptoms are usually overheating, so the main question is how bad we’re they overheated? You can nearly guarantee that they were, definitely the 2.5. That would be my determining factor - how much can you learn, or not, about that?

 

Previous posters 2002 usually leaks externally and doesn’t overheat initially and so is more benign than the two engines you’re talking about in terms of headgasket failure modes.

 

I’d lean towards the 2.2 but verify headgaskets parts/resurface and try to find out how badly each was overheated before being repaired.

 

2.2 has a few pluses for longevity, practicality, and cost as well.

 

As an example - If one is original owner and they fixed it right away when symptoms started years ago I’d feel better about that, than one which someone picked up cheap on craigslist and repaired to flip it last week.

 

1. What brand headgaskets were used? Needs to be OEM or *maybe* another high quality.

 

2. Were the heads resurfaced. “Checking” them is frankly stupid, they should be resurfaced every time.

 

3. Does either come with a warranty? - 12 months-12,000 miles is normal shop repair warranty if this is a shop that’s flipping it.

 

4. They’re interefernece and need a complete timing belt kit - belt, tensioner and pulleys. Can you replace those (they’re easy) or ask about it. A shop will charge $400-$800 for that job.

 

If any of the pulleys or belt fail you’ll have bent valves.

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I would go with the 2.2.  I've have/had four 90's subarus with the 2.2 engine.  It's a little surprising that the 2.2 had the trans changed [they are usually bulletproof] but if it is shifting fine when you test drive it, then buy it.

 

Just check for bubbles in the coolant reservoir while it idles after driving it which checks for internal HG leaks.  External leaks won't be a problem for you since you won't have much invested in it.  Otherwise, there is no problem with paying $2000 for the car with 240K+ miles.

 

I would never buy a 90's 2.5 engine unless it only cost $100.   

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Doesn't really matter - the 2.2 no matter how well maintained will need HG's sooner or later - usually somewhere between 250k and 300k. 

 

When the 2.5 needs them, just swap pistons for 251 slugs and use 770 gaskets. 10.6 compression and no more HG failure. The 25D is a great engine if maintained and swapped to 251 pistons. 

 

GD

Edited by GeneralDisorder

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Doesn't really matter - the 2.2 no matter how well maintained will need HG's sooner or later - usually somewhere between 250k and 300k. 

 

When the 2.5 needs them, just swap pistons for 251 slugs and use 770 gaskets. 10.6 compression and no more HG failure. The 25D is a great engine if maintained and swapped to 251 pistons. 

 

GD

 

I disagree.  Not that it's terrible always, and certainly with the updated parts it's better.  But the 95-98 25d still use the small 48mm rod journals, and they lack the capacity in the cooling jacket around the cyliders that the 2.2 has.  2.2 has thicker cylinder walls, less of a "Notch" in them for case bolts.

 

I personally love the 2.2, and I've seen very few HG failures on them.  And when they do, the heads pop off with 6 bolts...don't even really have to take the VCs off.  The composite graphite gasket is more forgiveing of imperfections, so I ussually don't even resurface them just clean em well and check for straight....which they always are.

 

also, just apples to apples, the HG job to repair 2.5 and install new pistons and rings is way more expensive and labor intense than replacing the HGs in the 2.2

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Best of luck making the decision; I have had many 2.2 Subarus and a few 2.5s;  the 2.5 has a lot more power, I noticed when I had a 2.2 engine put in my Outback that originally had the 2.5, a little loss of power especially going up hills.  Do your own thorough DD. and then treat the cars with TLC once you make your decision.  Quality motor oil and preventative maintenance can go a long way in maintaining the car.

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I haven't seen that the 48mm journals make any difference if the 10mm pump is in good condition and quality oil is used. The journal width is the same and so it's load carrying ability is very similar. 

 

As for the cooling jackets dimensions - they are the same as the 255/257 which don't overheat at 500 HP so I'm not really inclined to believe this is a weak area. 

 

While it is more work to install pistons, it's not overly difficult, and the increased compression will yeild a bit more power - further widening the gap in performance between the 2.2 and 2.5.

 

I guess working on and building the turbocharged engines has made the differences between the single cam and dual cam less important to me from a maintenance standpoint. I see them both as non turbo engines and so consequently much less labor intensive. And since I have a solution to the head gasket issue (just use the 251 pistons or complete bottom end), having the dual cam heads and increased performance is a no brainer to me.

 

And FWIW,  I would put new rings in a 2.2 if I had one apart. The 2.5 is just easier because you can knock out the wrist pins with a long 1/4" rod from the opposite side. 

 

GD

Edited by GeneralDisorder

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I would like to offer my perspective on this subject. I have owned a handful of late 90s and early 2000s ej25s. They are excellent engines but at least for me, a head gasket failure was inevitable. Every one I had had a HG go on me.

I also own several 2.2s, although never a phase 2 engine like you are considering buying, although I understand they are essentially the same engine save for the valve interference differences. 

I have never had a head gasket failure on a 2.2, and I once overheated the piss out of one, rod knocking and all. I still drive her to this day, all I did was change the oil and get a replacement heater bypass hose.

I am the kind of person who maintains his cars well, but almost never does preventative maintainance, such as changing head gaskets on a 2.5 if I don't know the history or it has been x amount of miles since the last set. I always wait to experience a failure or signs of failure before I do anything. The one exception was when I bought a ej22 for my 86 GL, and resealing one is very easy. The timing belt is cake too. Parts are plentiful and cheap.

 

If I were you, or had a budget of $2,000 for a car I would buy a phase 1 ej22 car and drive her silly. You won't break anything if you have a timing belt failure and if you are anything like me that is good peace of mind because I won't change a timing belt unless the car starts running goofy from a skipped tooth or a complete failure.

I just saw a clean 95 legacy (one of the better phase 1 ej22s because some of them have obd2 diagnostics) for $550 on CL here in CO that just needed a clutch, if you can find a deal like that, then you would have money left over for some boss snow tires or another car or what have you. :-)

 

Either way you go, I think you will be pleased with your new car, Subarus are great cars and even the 2.5s which I think kind of have a bad wrap as far as the head gasket issue goes are quite fantastic.

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And FWIW,  I would put new rings in a 2.2 if I had one apart. The 2.5 is just easier because you can knock out the wrist pins with a long 1/4" rod from the opposite side. 

 

GD

 

i agree but i use re-use the pistons unless damaged.

 

i just use a hooked tool in my 2 or 5 lb slide hammer to pull pins on my engines

 

 

 

 

Phase ii 2.5 absolutely has different cooling jackets.  actually shallower.  meaning the "pots" are not so tall. The inside of the cylinder is obviously the same stroke and bore, but on their cylinders outer water jacket side the portion around the top that is open is a more even ring, higher up on the pot.  This makes them less likely to vibrate with harmonics than the earlier, taller pot phase I 25d.   And then to compare to the semi-closed deck EJ255/257 is an even greater difference than the full open deck EJ251/3.  It isn't about changing the cooling amount, but it's uniformity and a more rigid block.

 

Portions of the outer wall of the cylinder are actually visible on the OUTSIDE of the block, exposed to air.  these changes make the jacket a more uniform flow rate over the entire casting, rather than the deep pockets of weird dimension around the base of the 25d cylinder.

Edited by Gloyale

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