Subaru Head Gasket Problems - old or later model car?

My 97 Subaru just blew a head gasket and possibly more. I’ve been driving blissfully unaware of this inherent Subaru problem for years. Now want to buy used Subaru - can only afford around 7K, pushing it for cash on hand for future repairs.

I read in discussions that this head gasket problem should go away with 2005 models. Would it be more advantageous to buy a 2004 reconditioned, with preventative headgasket, timing belt, pump, etc. OR buy a 2005, lesser luxury model, with no reconditioning. About same mileage on both. 99K or so.

It appears that the head gasket problem was finally overcome by 2003-2004, but if I were you, I would go with the '05 model. Even if it is less luxurious, it is a year newer and can be counted on to not have that problem. Also, there were chassis improvements made by '05 that yielded a better handling, better riding car.

I agree, I’d go with the '05.

If you want to reconsider fixing the headgasket, read this:


The subarus that have had problems with them are the N/A 2.5l cars. Have an EJ22? Don’t worry it’s bulletproof. The first EJ25s were especially bad, so if you’re looking at a 96-99 2.5 impreza or legacy make sure they have been changed. Subaru has finally made a new gasket for the cars that will be trouble free (a thicker sti gasket), but for some reason they kept putting the crappy ones in for quite some time. The new gasket hasn’t been out for more than a few years and the part number is 11044AA610 (phase 1) or 11044AA642 (phase 2). The big difference between the two phases is that phase 2 uses SOHC heads which have a bigger volume so the headgaskets are thinner. If your n/a 2.5 does not have those gaskets, chances are they’ll leak at some point.

Apparently there is a fix available for all 2.5l Subarus. (I am assuming you have a 2.5.)

If you’ve got other reasons for replacing it, by all means, proceed.

Get a 2005+ Legacy/Outback. It is a superior car to the previous generations.

I would not even bother with Subaru personally before 2005 myself.