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Subaru 97 head gasket, worth fixing?


I have a subaru outback 97 with 150000. The head gasket recently blew, and the repair will be at least $2400. The car is probably worth $4,000 if the head gasket is replaced (maybe). Is it worth fixing, or should I get a different car?

At this mileage, a lot depends on the condition of the rest of the car, and you don’t tell us much. I would do some pricing at a couple of trusted mechanics to see if this price is reasonable.

If this car is otherwise in good condition, then spending this amount should buy you quite a few miles. If the vehicle has reached the “maintenance/reliability headache” stage, then consider selling or junking the car. However, there are quite a few Subarus who have gone much further than 150K easily, with proper care and repairs.

Only you can decide. What shape is the rest of the car in? If you fix the head gaskets and the car lasts another 100,000 miles, then it’s probably worth it. We can’t see the car, so it’s hard to judge.

Who gave you the estimate of $2,400? You may be able to find someone to do this job for less.

A lot depends on whether everything on the car has been maintained according to the mfr’s maintenance schedule. For instance, the timing belt was supposed to be replaced at 105k, and every fluid and filter was supposed to be replaced at 90k.

If all of these things have been done, and as long as the car is in good running condition, then it would probably be a good idea to fix it and keep it for another 20,000 or 30,000 miles. If the timing belt was not replaced, the engine could self-destruct tomorrow.

However, only you know the actual condition of the car, other than the head gasket issue, and only you know about the car’s state of maintenance–so this is a decision that you will have to make, based on these circumstances that are unknown to us.

If you are fairly handy you could try and replace it yourself, I would guess a head gasket cost of 75 bucks, and if it fails do the 3 grand trade in for push pull or drag!

At 150k miles and if the engine oil was contaminated and IF the engine was seriously overheated, I’d be a bit antsy about performing this repair. Especially at 2400 dollars.

Contaminated engine oil can wash out crankshaft bearings and then you have a knocking, low oil pressure engine with new head gaskets.
Serious overheating can seize piston rings or remove their temper. This can lead to oil burning.

If you do this repair, I’d price it around as 2400 sounds a bit pricy. At that mileage it would be foolish not to send the heads out to the auto machine shop for a valve job (and valve seal replacement) along with surfacing the heads.
Those cylinder heads may be short in length but they’re prone to warping. One would not want to ignore the surfacing and have the new gaskets let go again in the near future.