2000 Outback Head Gasket



I have a 2000 Subaru Outback, between 114K and 115K miles. I took it in for routine maintenance and they said the tech found that the head gasket is leaking. They said it would cost between $2200 and $2500, a pricey prospect for me! They said $800 for parts, the rest for labor. Is this reasonable? I’ve been starting to suspect that he’s trying to rip me off. I’ve found engine gasket sets for my car online for around $200


I forgot to add: the car is running fine, no observable problems (by sound, sight, smell, feel of the car when driving it). The mechanic said I should periodically check for leaking oil, and if I saw any, the leak was bad enough it would need to be fixed ASAP.


As I recall those cars are a little sensitive in the head gasket area. I do believe I would get a second opinion before proceeding. As for the price, the real expense is not the parts, but the labor. I could be wrong, but that price sounds about right to me. Keep in mind they may be buying more than just a gasket set and they may well be buying their parts from a source that they have found to be more reliable than some others. I don’t know that car, but they may be including something like a water pump that may be a good idea to replace at the same time to save you the labor of replacing it in a few months and repaying for much of the labor.


There may be more seals than simply the head gaskets being replaced as a matter of good measure given the motor is apart. This may include the timing belt, water pump and other various seals etc. Check the estimate if written. Nearly all parts are cheaper online as mechanics mark them up a bit to make a profit.

I would call around however I believe typically it comes in around $1500 for this job at least. It also depends where you live. Also get a 2nd opinion on this from a person who knows Subaru.

I like Subaru’s(I have only owned turbo engines) but this non turbo motor 2.5L (96-2000) is absolutely abysmal record for head gaskets.


My parents lost the head gasket in their outback at around 100k. Apparently it’s a common problem for these engines.


If the only problem is slight oil weepage around a head gasket I would not worry about it at this point if it is not leaving spots and you cannot smell anything burning.

It is a labor intensive job and expensive. You could price it around when and if you decide to do this.

Do not assume the mechanic is going to go on-line, buy parts at the price you found, and then sell them to you at cost.
Capitalism does not work that way.
The parts will be marked up some just like WalMart marks their stuff up.

The parts list should also include a few other things also that you may not be considering; sublet cylinder head resurfacing, cooling system flush and coolant, new thermostat, new spark plugs, new oil filter and oil, etc.
There’s more to it than just a gasket set; at least if done properly.
If the timing belt/water pump has never been changed that is also a factor, AND a must-do type of thing on a higher mileage engine getting head gaskets.

At this point I would not worry about any oil weepage with no drips. It will hurt nothing.
The only advice I can give you is that since Subaru uses all-aluminum in their engine construction that you never drive one while it’s overheating. If it ever overheats, stop right then and there and walk if need be.
That can be the difference between replacing a thermostat or fan fuse instead of replacing head gaskets or a complete engine.