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I'm replacing my head gaskets; should I go with Subaru or with after market replacements?

I’m replacing my head gaskets; should I go with authentic Subaru gaskets (the original ones were not up to snuff!), or with after market replacements? One blog recommended Six-Star® Head gaskets Are they really top notch or is someone just trying to sell me something? In general when is it best to go with “authentic” manufacturers’ parts, and when is it better to go with after market parts?

I would suggest the OEM parts.
The replacement head gaskets that Subaru now supplies are of a different design/material than the original ones. I don’t know whether after-market mfrs have modified their original designs.

Definitely OEM.
The ones I put in (SOHC) were lots beefier than the ones that came out.

Sounds like a nice little weekend do-it-yourself project…


I see nothing but good comments about six-star, but this is one place where I’d stick with OEM - if someone figured out a better way, Subaru would adopt it quickly, because they don’t want repair costs…

(and as RemcoW notes, Subaru has beefed up their OEM gaskets, just like six-star did)

@PapaMoose - which year/model do you have?

For me it was a 2001 Forester with a SOHC, my daughter’s car.

Edit: oops. Now see that texas asked the question, not moose.

Thanks anyway @RemcoW - we have a 2007 Forester, and I’m just wondering how much trouble its head gaskets might turn out to be.

It’s going in for th 60k service, wonder if I should have them re-torque the heads?

I had the engine out because I replaced it so it was easy. Not sure how hard it would be with the engine in place. There are sites out there that describe procedures on how to to a head job with it in place so it can’t be super difficult to just retorque the heads.

Not sure whether a dealer would do that because the bolts are not supposed to be retorqued because they are stretch bolts, one time use. You torque them in a very specific sequence to a specific number, first a lower number and then repeat the procedure, torquing them a higher number. When that’s done, you then eek them another number of degrees, again in a very specific sequence.
Between us, retorqing is a good idea but a dealer may not bless that procedure.

Thanks everyone! It seems that there is a consensus; I will go with the OEM parts! Safe Driving All! Joe

I wouldn’t go with OEM head gaskets. You just might get the exact same head gaskets that originally came with the vehicle.

I would go with high quality aftermarket head gaskets. These are the guys who figure out what are the weak points of the original head gasket design. And then redesign the head gaskets to address those issues.


The main issue is that the job is done correctly and the bases are covered. I’ve used both OEM and aftermarket and never had a problem with either one.
Some things you might consider are:

Thoroughly cleaning both heads and block with single edge razor blades and possibly an aerosol gasket remover. Do NOT use a gasket scraper or sanding disc on a drill.

Once cleaned, check the heads diagonally with a straight edge to see how much warpage exists if any. The maximum allowed is .002 and one would think that a stubby Subaru head would not be prone to warping at all but in many cases the warpage will exceed that .002 of an inch. Once reassembled and the head gaskets fail again the blame is laid on the gasket rather than someone not checking the heads.

Subaru at one time recommended coating the head gaskets with Fuji Bond. Whether they still go by this recommendation is unknown to me (likely not) but I’ve always adhered to it on any aluminum head and/or aluminum block engine. I do not use overpriced Fuji Bond but aerosol Copper Coat from the parts house instead.

I always go back and recheck head bolt torque after the engine has been sitting for 6 hours, overnight, etc. to allow for gasket crush and the gasket relaxing a bit and in a perfect world prefer to recheck them again in about a 1000 miles along with valve lash.

A new thermostat should be part of a head gasket job also; at least in my humble opinion. Just my 2 cents for what it’s worth. :slight_smile:

Thank you for your very thorough comments! I will take my time with this important repair. I really like my car and hope to have it for another 100,000 miles or more! Thanks again, Joe

Let me add this. That aerosol gasket remover will help tremendously in removing pieces of old gasket but use this stuff with care. Do NOT allow any wind or air current to blow it back on you, avoid brushing bare forearms against treated areas, and do not inadvertently wipe your brow with the back of a hand unless those hands have been washed first.

On bare skin it will create a burning, prickly feeling inside of 5 minutes that will drive you crazy and send you running for the cold water tap. Even the faintest non-visible mist can make one climb the walls. :frowning: