Subaru head gasket failures

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Coastal South Carolina
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I was considering buying a new one but after reading about the head/gasket problems I got to thinking, what bothers me is not that the problems occurred (seems testing might have uncovered that tho) but rather why did it take the company so long to fix it. are they real low production? and there is no money to do in process changes when dealers said hey the gaskets are leaking??
 
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1,261
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Basehor, KS
Our family has owned three Subarus: --1999 2.2L engine over 100K miles driven (no known head gasket issues); --2003 2.5L engine (140K miles driven before its demise in an accident (in the middle of the head gasket problem); --2011 2.5L 140K miles (no issues to date) In each case we follow the manufacturer's recommendations on coolant changes and additives. The 2003 and 2011 got Subaru coolant and Subaru additive. No issues on any engine. 2011 still running fine. I am monitoring it, because it may have lost some coolant recently. That's our verified history of the problem.
 
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665
Location
WA
The head gaskets on the EJ25 would typically take between 100 and 130k miles to manifest. It takes time to put that many miles on a vehicle and incur enough failures that the problem can be attributed to the design itself and not someone in the assembly line messing up. My gut feeling is they didn't really know about it for a while. Hindsight will always and forever be 2020
 
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76
Location
Scarsdale, NY
My father has an older 2006 Outback h4 and suffers from gasket failure. The head gasket failures were very common with the non turbo horizontal 4 cylinder equipped engines and believe it also effected the previous generation h4 engines. We elected not to repair this vehicle now at 110k miles and was notified at around 65k miles (3 years ago) from the dealer. It will go to the junk yard sooner than later. This is my feeling and while only Subaru engineers know for sure it has left a pretty bad taste in my mouth and interesting converstions with a service mgr asking us if we were interested in purchasing extended plan to cover out of warranty maintenance. My feeling are the symptoms start to show as early as my father's example but just out of the 3yr/36k warranty. The issues were not deemed road hazardous or safety issue related thus no official recall. The design of the head had a less than desirable contact footprint which created an already challenging head gasket shape which was prone to failure when the ‘coating' started to disintegrate and leak paths formed. The combustion gas was forcing oil/antifreeze outside the head as visibly seen underneath car during inspection. The leak typically did not have a leak path towards the combustion chamber and not burning out the exhaust. The 6 cylinder and turbo 4 cylinder Subaru's had a more robust head gasket design and had much much less reported failure rates. I believe these had a stronger MLS gasket design and not the h4 style single layer crappy gasket. My father's car didn't overheat or burned excessive oil/antifreeze until just recently so I believe the end is near. Subaru had and still use an additive for the coolant to try to mitigate leaking. I think the reason why it took so long are logistics and time to failure. The gasket mfg contracted by Subaru probably made a million of these and Subaru was not willing to eat these knowing failures were starting to pop up much later and they could react to circumstances favoring corporate. I've also read with some customers with much higher mileage (200k) were performing head gasket repairs twice because dealers were literally performing this repair at such an alarming rate and not prepping the heads or not even sending heads out for machining prompting eventual failures again even using the newer updated approved gaskets. If not for the fact the cylinders are horizontally opposed thus a pain to get the heads off x2 many people are finding it easier to remove entire engine and gives better access. It's a project that I am not likely to take but the good news is if you are interested in newer Subaru's (<3 years old)...I don't think or read that this failure is happening as my father's generation car. Good luck.
 
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2,960
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Western S.C.
Originally Posted by SubieRubyRoo
This hasn't been an issue for at least 10 years, if not longer. Let it die, quit perpetuating the myth. ...
It's not a myth. More like 7 years, assuming the current generation proves ok. One of my friends had a 2000 Forester, which manifested the typical head-gasket problem somewhere beyond 100k miles. He solved that issue by buying a new one, 2012 or so. The old pushrod Subarus had head gasket issues too, among other serious engine flaws, circa 1973-76. Mine (listed below), being a '72, didn't. My parents' , which was a '74, had troubles only after my mother sold it to a family friend.
 
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pa
subaru has had issues as most do. oil burners trying to meet the EPA mpg's. they are over rated IMO + rely on their AWD to sell. i tested an impreza years ago then the jetta i bought the subie was a tin can in comparison. today the golf sportwagen with AWD is what i would buy, but only manuals on the base with awd available, but lots of other options. 200,000 miles on the 2001 jetta 1.8T when i traded it still running great, but i wanted a roadster + luckily found a 2001 TT 225 with quattro like new + am enjoying it for sure!!
 
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3,649
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Worst Case, Ontario
Originally Posted by ccs368
If not for the fact the cylinders are horizontally opposed thus a pain to get the heads off x2 many people are finding it easier to remove entire engine and gives better access.
Engine removal seems pretty easy on those, there was a thread about it recently where someone posted pics. I'd totally yank the mill the replace the HGs on it at that mileage, that's not even 200k km!
 
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5,301
A 2008 or newer model EJ25 has an updated hg design and if the owner follows the maintenance schedule and flushes coolant every 30,000 miles, puts in the genuine Subaru coolant additive, and does proper oil changes they will likely not experience a hg failure with normal operation.
 
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1,330
Location
Washington for now
Originally Posted by maxdustington
Originally Posted by ccs368
If not for the fact the cylinders are horizontally opposed thus a pain to get the heads off x2 many people are finding it easier to remove entire engine and gives better access.
Engine removal seems pretty easy on those, there was a thread about it recently where someone posted pics. I'd totally yank the mill the replace the HGs on it at that mileage, that's not even 200k km!
easier to pull the engine and put it on a stand then to wiggle all the tight spaces to do it on the car. the dohc had to come out as the head bolts are under the cams. the sohc one could be done in the car. it took me 13 hours to pull and replace the 2 hg on my 99. its my first time doing it on a sub , so there was a lot of reading the manual etc. i bet i could do it in half the time if i did it everyday. once its out do all the timing belt, valve cover gaskets all at the same time . one thing about the older subs is that they leak oil from what seems like every orifice.
 
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25,022
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ON, Canada eh?
They have fixed the Head Gasket failures as far as I know because we haven't seen repeats since the huge amount we did when it was happening. Now you just have to worry about their CVT's. LOL Get a Stick, you're all good!
 
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351
Location
NJ
Originally Posted by JayhawkRoy
Our family has owned three Subarus: --1999 2.2L engine over 100K miles driven (no known head gasket issues); --2003 2.5L engine (140K miles driven before its demise in an accident (in the middle of the head gasket problem); --2011 2.5L 140K miles (no issues to date) In each case we follow the manufacturer's recommendations on coolant changes and additives. The 2003 and 2011 got Subaru coolant and Subaru additive. No issues on any engine. 2011 still running fine. I am monitoring it, because it may have lost some coolant recently. That's our verified history of the problem.
Our experience has been very similar to yours. We owned a 1999 and a 2001 Forester which both had over 150,000 miles when we sold them. We also currently have a 2006 Saab 9-2X (rebadged WRX) with 176,000 miles on it, and my father-in-law owns a 2005 Outback 2.5 XT with 185,000 miles. None have had any head gasket issues whatsoever. I only ever use OEM Subaru coolant or Pentofrost A2 and always add the Subaru Cooling System Conditioner as specified in the manual.
 
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16,695
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NH
Originally Posted by maxdustington
Originally Posted by ccs368
If not for the fact the cylinders are horizontally opposed thus a pain to get the heads off x2 many people are finding it easier to remove entire engine and gives better access.
Engine removal seems pretty easy on those, there was a thread about it recently where someone posted pics. I'd totally yank the mill the replace the HGs on it at that mileage, that's not even 200k km!
I recall that thread. Not sure it tips me over into being pro-Subaru but it makes me wonder if I should write them off as much as I have been. At some point I'm going to need yet another vehicle, and it's likely to be a cheap one. Ease of work is always a plus!
 
Originally Posted by CR94
It's not a myth. More like 7 years, assuming the current generation proves ok. One of my friends had a 2000 Forester, which manifested the typical head-gasket problem somewhere beyond 100k miles. He solved that issue by buying a new one, 2012 or so. The old pushrod Subarus had head gasket issues too, among other serious engine flaws, circa 1973-76. Mine (listed below), being a '72, didn't. My parents' , which was a '74, had troubles only after my mother sold it to a family friend.
Considering that the "official" replacement head gasket that you get from a Subaru dealer is still the same as the revised MLS gasket that came out somewhere around 2006, I'm going to stand by my statement of "at least 10 years, maybe more." The only real problem was that the original engineers did not require MLS gaskets in the first place. If the beancounters hadn't tried to save a couple bucks, there likely would have NEVER been a "Subaru head gasket issue" as we historically know it. Yes, the boxer design has its challenges. But when the proper technologies are used, it is a non-issue.
 
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3,649
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Worst Case, Ontario
Originally Posted by supton
I recall that thread. Not sure it tips me over into being pro-Subaru but it makes me wonder if I should write them off as much as I have been. At some point I'm going to need yet another vehicle, and it's likely to be a cheap one. Ease of work is always a plus!
I feel the same way. They are cheap and have that mystique of costly repairs that make people prematurely dump them.
 
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25,022
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ON, Canada eh?
I know we probably did what seemed like 100 Subbie head gaskets for the course of 2-3 years and then they started to resolve and now I can't remember when was the last one we saw.
 
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1,330
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Kennett Square, PA
Originally Posted by SubieRubyRoo
This hasn't been an issue for at least 10 years, if not longer. Let it die, quit perpetuating the myth. Buy a Subaru with confidence.
I take care of a friend's 07 Outback. She had to replace both HG's 5 years ago at 50k miles.
 
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3,649
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Worst Case, Ontario
Originally Posted by artbuc
Originally Posted by SubieRubyRoo
This hasn't been an issue for at least 10 years, if not longer. Let it die, quit perpetuating the myth. Buy a Subaru with confidence.
I take care of a friend's 07 Outback. She had to replace both HG's 5 years ago at 50k miles.
This board has taken a significant Subaru fanboy turn in the last two years. Subaru wants you to forget about their HG issues and so do their fans!
 
Hmm, Max... artbuc talks about a 2007. Last time I checked, we are in the waning months of 2018, so again more than 10 years. There's no fanboyism, or anyone asking to forget the issue. There was a problem, and a solution, and the remaining vehicles are still extremely viable today. It's not uncommon at all to pass 250k on one of the vehicles you're obviously bashing. We're talking ancient history for the HG issues in the automotive world; discussed with real facts on when it was fixed and even "non-fanboys" only able to provide data which lines up with the official story. A much more recent scab to pick off is the one of your VW... especially considering there are acres of TDIs still parked in North America, former executives in prison for quite some time to come, and a corporate jerk move that has significantly impacted consumer diesels in a negative way enough to make snowflakes want to outlaw diesel altogether... who is the real fanboy?
 
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