Cost of subaru engine rebuild


#1

my 2001 subaru had the 1-2 punches of blown head gasket and ring failure, so i ended up having the engine rebuilt. what is a reasonable charge for this. the engine is a subaru short block, which cost $2100 and the heads were of course machined, which cost 150. i am told there was 16 hours of labor which seems reasonable, but the 5k final bill seems very high. what’s a reasonable ball park figure for this kind of job.

any particular questions i should ask?


#2

16 hours seems a little low to me for diagnosis, removing and reinstalling the engine, fixing the head gasket and assembling the engine. Is the 16 hours in writing, or was that just someone’s off-the-cuff guess?


#3

The labor time could be about right but there are some unanswered questions.
How is the 5k dollars broken down? Fluids, spark plugs, filters, add-ons such as new belts, tensioners, etc. and sales tax can really add up quick. A high shop labor rate such as found on the east and west coasts can really add up also when multiplied X 16.

I would sincerely hope the definition of machined cylinder heads means that they were not only surfaced but a valve job and valve seal replacement was performed.
Details on the bill might help clarify things a bit.


#4

i’m not sure of all the details on the heads but i know valve guides and seals were replaced. also, new timing belt, water pump installed. not sure about the tensioners. in addition to the short block and valve job there was about a $1000 worth of miscellaneous parts, 1000 labor.
and the shop, a new england chain called VIP, guarentees all installed parts ‘forever’.


#5

Offhand, I would say that the price is about right and the heads were done correctly. The short block alone is almost to the 5 grand halfway mark. Throw in the other stuff, add in sales tax, any enviro fees/shop supplies charge and it’s either at or flirting with 5k.
I don’t know what your sales tax rate is there but here it’s about 9% or better and that’s a chunk when figured on the total.


#6

I wonder if VIP farmed the work out. They essentially a New England(ME) based equivalent of Autozone or other chain mechanic. They seem like they would not have the expertise in house to perform the task.

Nevertheless you have your guarantee which part of the $5k is coming from.


#7

actually, they have a subaru mechanic, a refugee from a local subaru dealer, and he did the work in house. he took me through a guided tour of my car’s motor back in the beginning. they hactually have been quite informative about the nature of the diagnostics and fix.
i feel half crazy putting this much into a 2001 car but i’m hoping to get a few good years out of the car. the body is in excellent condition, so here’s hoping.


#8

I realize that this type of engine failure happens . . . and it confirms my desire to do my own maintnenace and drive sensibly when I see someone put out 5k for a rebuilt engine. I’m curious as to what caused the failure on such a relatively new car. Oil . . . filters . . coolant . . are relatively cheap when compared to this. My two cents is that this price is about right when you consider the guarantee. Get it in writing. Good luck with your new engine! Rocketman


#9

when i bought this car at 94k it had a tap when cold that i attibuted to piston slap but in retrospect i think the cylinder was going 30k ago. my new engine has none of that clicking. over the years many mechanics heard the clicking but no one said check it out.
i can’t commment on the cause. during my watch oil changes have been on time, no oil consumption until recently, and moderate driving style. from conversations with mechanics i get the impression that this kind of engine problem, unlike the head gasket issue, is very rare in subarus, if that is a consolation.
you can believe i’m pampering this engine, including following the severe service oil change schedule because of frequent short trips, etc.
steve


#10

It costs about $2500 to buy a rebuilt engine. Add on the cost of installation($!000+ ?)and
it might have cost less to go this way. What kind of warranty did you get? Some rebuilt engines have a 3 year/36000 mile warranty.


#11

Google “Japan Used Engines” or “Japanese used engines” and see what you find…


#12

Just speculating a bit here, but you may not have needed a new engine. A “clicking” often denotes a defective valve lash adjuster on hydraulic lifter engines and excessive valve lash on a mechanical lifter engine.
Either of those is not that expensive to correct and I hope you did not spend all of that money because of something that could be comparatively trivial. ouch.
Which model Subaru and engine do you have?

If this clicking sound was very rhythmnic in nature then I would suspect the previously mentioned adjuster or lash adjustment.
Piston slap, wrist pin noises, etc are generally more erratic in their sound.
Even a very tiny exhaust leak can make a steady clicking sound.


#13

my mechanic gave me a tour of the death and destruction and it was even easy for me to see the charred cylinder and piston skirt. they checked the valves and they were fine. i was used to a ticking or tapping sound that disappeared with warm up and i attibuted this to piston slap, but now wonder if the sound was the burned piston.


#14

That removes all doubt then; it was toasted. A scored cylinder/piston skirt is a sign of overheating or lack of oil.


#15

I completly rebuild Subarus for used car dealerships all the time . They are afraid to crack the case open and remachine ,also you generaly need a new crank or a good used one . They will not work on ebay and wont waste the labor to rebuild . I rebuild the complete engine for 2300 out the door with a 20,000 mile 2 year warranty ! BEAT THAT !! 207-934-3184


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