Subaru head gasket repair

I have a 2005 Subaru Outback with only 62,000 miles. I change my oil every 3,000 miles. I don’t do any rough or highway driving. While having the catalytic converter replaced (under warranty) the mechanic said that my head gaskets were leaking and I should get it repaired. My question: Is it normal for head gaskets to be replaced with so few miles on the car? Is there something I can do to help the gaskets lasts longer once it is replaced?

We have owned many cars and this is the first time we have had to replace a head gasket. However, this is our first Subaru.

Subaru has had some level of head gasket issues for some time, especially with the 2.5L 4 cyl engine. However, not every Subaru has the issue at this early a mileage.

Read your owner’s manual carefully about the cooling system and a recommendation to add a Subaru Coolant Conditioner ($4 or less at Subaru dealer) to the radiator when the coolant is changed. As I understand it, the factory coolant comes with it in also.

This has worked for us (2003 Legacy, 135K miles, no head gasket issues) but am not sure if it would have changed your outcome. That is all I can offer.

We really like our Subaru, but two sticking points with us are the general requirement to replace four tires at a time and the possibility of head gasket issues that haven’t surfaced with us, yet.


The trouble could be with the valve cover gaskets which may just need to be retightened.

Here’s the real question:

What is leaking from the head gaskets?

Is it coolant leaking to the outside of the engine?
Is it oil leaking to the outside of the engine?
Is coolant leaking into the oil or vice-versa?
Is coolant or oil leaking into the combustion chamber?

The first thing I would do is take off the valve covers, and re-torque the cylinder head bolts to proper spec, and see if the leaks go away. If the leaks don’t go away, then the head gaskets will need to be replaced.

Typically, when engines are assembled at the factory, there is a plate that contains as many torque guns as there is head bolts that is placed on each one of the bolts, and they are all torqued down at the same time.

If one of those torque guns was off of the spec compared to the others, then that bolt would be looser, and more likely to leak at the same spot on engines from different vehicles over time, until the situation was corrected at the engine factory.

If this occurred, then there is most likely a TSB at Subaru dealers to resolve this issue quickly and cheaply.


Head gaskets have been a problem with Subarus for decades. Have the head bolts retorqued and see if this stops it before spending a lot of money to replace them.

If it ever comes down to gasket replacement then have them make sure the heads are perfectly flat while removed, new gaskets should be sprayed with Copper Coat which is much cheaper than Fuji Bond from the dealer although many put nothing on the gaskets at all. As per the above the head bolts should be retorqued after about a 500 mile run-in.

You’re not alone. Use the “search” feature at the top of this page and type in Subaru head gasket to see what you come up with; and that’s just on this forum.

I did athe search as you suggested. I read where one person called Subaru and got a discount. So this afternoon I did the same. I called Subaru customer service and I will be getting a 20% discount, 10% from the dealer and 10% from Subaru.
Thank you for the suggestion to search!
Happy New Year

That’s great to hear, and is great customer service.
It costs them nothing to make you an even more loyal customer, by doing this.

I’m pretty sure that re-torquing the head gaskets will solve your car’s issues.