Click and Clack Tappert Car: Subaru


#1

Are Subarus the only cars known to regularly blow head gaskets? How can it be prevented? OR can it? Mine (2002, not purchsed new) is needing a second. Would a rebuilt engine perhaps be a better route than just repairing the gasket (and timing belt)?


#2

almost all car makers have had a model or two that suffer a comparatively high number of head gasket failures. subaru has been a bit more trouble-prone than most. i’ve got an old subaru tech. service bulletin stashed away somewhere and this old bulletin (dated about 1976) refers to chronic head gasket failures even back then, with the obligatory denial of the problem included of course.

some more info on your car would help. were both head gaskets replaced? were the heads checked for flatness and surfaced as needed? were the head bolts replaced?
the reason for bringing this up is because one would think that since the heads are so short in length warping would be next to impossible. not so, and many techs may not even check them for this problem.
the head bolts are TTY (torque to yield) and this means they should not be reused. they CAN but with a few precautions.

jmho, but i think the main reason why head gaskets may be a problem is for the following reason. subaru engines are all-aluminum and quite a few years back subaru discontinued the practice of re-torquing the head bolts at the 1000 mile mark. there’s a lot of thermal expansion involved with aluminum and this allows the head bolt torque to relax a bit, to put it one way.
this problem even occurred with some models of nissan.

while seldom done, subaru head gaskets should always be sprayed with copper coat before installation. this helps greatly in the sealing. subaru even makes a product for doing this but why spend big bucks on that.

in a nutshell, a properly done head gasket job should be fine and if these replaced gaskets have failed with comparatively? low or moderate use, with no overheating involved my opinion would be that the job may not have been performed correctly.

hope some of this thesis helps anyway. pardon any typos, lack of punctuation, etc. shoulder has been opened up surgically in a big way and i’m typing with a pencil eraser. :frowning:


#3

You’ll have to evaluate who drives the Subaru and how is it driven. For example, I have a '68 muscle car with a huge engine but I will not let my 19 year old Son drive it until he is in his 30s…OK, I drive it like a teenager sometimes but I know how to fix what I break and know what the car can take. If, in all honesty, you know there are no extreme driving conditions, then share your frustrations with the Subaru factory representative of your area. Under normal driving conditions things just don’t go bad. Just keep in mind that there are several manifestations of extreme use to a mechanic.


#4

Cars that start with an S have been known for head gasket problems, except for Scion. Saturn and the Saab engines made for General Motors are the others I mean. Not sure about Suzuki.


#5

Sadly you have the last year of this notorious engine(2.5L) from 1996-2002 that was poorly designed. They did admit somewhat to the problem and revised gaskets (hopefully mechanic used them) and had an extended warranty for 2000-2002 for 8yrs/100,000 miles against the problem for coolant leaks. The last time it occured did they replace just one side(there are two sides) or is this another failure of same one?

Its too bad because there 2.0Lturbo(WRX) and all other turbo engines, 2.2L(Legacy/Impreza of 90’s), 6 cylinder engines never encounter this in any regular occurrence.

My father actually had a notorious 1990 Toyota engine V6 3.0L that blew it twice with Toyota paying twice for new head gaskets in extended warranty and finally him a third time. I think its simply a bad design. Ford 3.8L were notorious for this failure and the list goes on.


#6

Hope you recover quickly. Takes real dedication to type with an eraser.
Yes, your information is extremely helpful. I don’t know about the previous repairs, it was before my time.
Thank you again.


#7

back again… better to put in a rebuilt engine at 110,000 miles or just have the gaskets replaced or sell the car? Any ideas? Not knowing the full history of the car makes it difficult.