Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

1997 Subaru Outback head gasket in remanufactured engines

I purchased a used outback a couple of years ago in which the head gaskets promptly blew. Long story short, because of delays in repairs and further damage to the engine, I have decided the best choice may be to replace the engine with a remanufactured or new one. I will be doing the work myself but, my question is, will the headgasket situation be any better with an engine assembled today? The car is otherwise in pretty much mint condition with 100k miles. It has been on blocks in my garage since the incident.

if you plan to keep it ywo years go for new engine if you repair head gaskets the rest of the engine has 1000.000 miles on it. just do,not take to the same draler the other subaru owners have been going to many other people has been having problems

I would not rip the Subaru dealers up over head gasket flaws. Subarus have been having head gasket problems for over 30 years; for the most part anyway.
The reman is only as good as the rebuilder allows it to be. Properly done, and with resurfaced heads, it should be fine unless you overheat it and continue operating the engine.

JMHO here, but I’ve done more Subaru head gaskets than I can even start to remember. At one time Subaru made a recommendation about coating their head gaskets before installation. The Subaru substance was Fuji-Bond but spray Copper-Coat was far less expensive and worked just as well. Chances are engine builders are not using anything on their gaskets. In theory one should not need any outside help, but it does not hurt. The Copper-Coat helps to fill in any imperfections with the suspended copper particles and the epoxy helps hold it all together.

Another point, and this is also JMHO. I’ve always retorqued cylinder head bolts several times because Subarus are all aluminum engines. I realize that they use TTY (torque to yield) head bolts and should not require another retorquing but sometimes the theory does not match the reality. Thermal expansion cycles can loosen them up a bit and over time the gaskets may start seeping or just flat give way.

I will only say that my method has never failed me yet, whereas Subaru’s method might be considered questionable since their method has allowed many a head gasket to drop. Just my random comments and take them for what they’re worth. Not much?

If you buy a remanufactured engine today it should have the latest Subaru head gaskets, which are not prone to failure. I’d want to know who “remanufactured” the engine before I installed it.

I’m a Subaru owner, and I’ve learned that your choice of mechanic/engine re-builder can be critical.

Subaru engines in 1990+ with one exception albeit most prevalent engine are no worse than any other car makers with head gaskets.

The 2.2L, 2.0L turbo, 2.2L turbo, 1.8L, 2.5L turbo do not have these failures at any significant rate vs any other car maker. With the exception of the 2.2L known to last the rest of engines listed are a minority.

The 2.5L(1996-2001) has a poor head design with hot spots essentially that ruin the head gasket. Unfortunately the 2.5L is the most prevalent engine in all Outback(except first year), Forester, some Impreza, some Legacy’s.

Thanks all for the comments. As for the engine re-builder, I was planning on ordering a unit from CCR in Colorado. I have no experience with reman’d subaru engines or who is good so, i am definitely open to suggestions as to who the best would be. I’d rather pay a grand more now for a good engine then have to deal with issues down the road.

Go with CCR, they are about the best and you will have a 3 year warranty…


Might I suggest replacing the stock Torque-to-yield fasteners with ARP studs?

Although a bit more expensive than bolts, they can be re-used and are made to fairly tight standards. In the civic and WRX racing communities, many drivers running turbos swear by them. I’d think that a stronger fastener and tighter clearance would help this gasket issue.

As others have said, go with quality upfront, and make darn sure the block and head are level.

Good luck.

Your comments make sense… my 2002 is on its second head gasket (110,000 miles). Also, I had a van that went through tires non-stop,until a non dealer mechanic changed the settings and then the tires lasted. Thanks for the info.