Subaru Head Gasket Replacement FAQ

Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Uncategorized | No Comments

So you are trying to decide whether or not to replace the head gaskets in your Subaru…

Here are some important questions to ask yourself before making that decision. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making this big decision.

1. Have you taken relatively good care of this car up to this point?
It seems like a silly question, but it isn’t. If you have changed your oil regularly, kept up with maintenance and any other mechanical issues that puts your first check mark in the pro column. Head gaskets are a major repair, but performing this repair isn’t going to undo previous neglect or damage. If your car has been consuming oil, it will not improve after the head gasket replacement. It’s important to be honest with yourself about how the car has been cared for.

2. Are you due for timing belt, drive belt or clutch replacement?
If so, put another check in your pro column. The engine comes out of the car to replace head gaskets – drive belts and timing belts can be replaced for the cost of parts while some timing components and clutch replacement add a minimal amount of labor.

3. Do you like this car? Does it do what you need it to do?
If it’s been working well for you before the head gasket failure, it’s likely worth fixing.

4. Are there unaddressed concerns looming with this car?
If you’ve been putting off repairs or ignoring a problem it may be easily addressed along with the head gasket repair. The best thing you can do is to voice these concerns to your Service Advisor before authorizing repair. Some underlying issues combined with head gasket repair may deem the car not worth fixing, while others may be part of the head gasket job.

5. Has your car been severely overheated?
If you’ve repeatedly run your coolant temperature gauge into the red, or continued driving while overheating you may not want to have your head gaskets repaired. Overheating can compromise the engine, and cooling system. It’s possible that the damage wouldn’t be evident until after repair is completed. Just like question #4, it’s important that you discuss overheating history with your advisor before starting repair. The more detailed information you can provide your advisor, the better equipped he will be to help you plan your repair.

Once you’ve decided to move forward with a head gasket replacement, here are some frequently asked questions:

1. How long does the repair last?
Typically we see head gaskets fail between 100,000 and 150,000 miles on Subaru 2.5 engines, and we expect the replacement gaskets to last about as long.

2. What other things are included and what should I consider doing with my head gasket job?
A head gasket replacement includes head gaskets, valve cover gaskets, thermostat/gasket and an oil and filter change.

We normally recommend timing belt replacement, along with timing idlers and tensioner. Cam and crank seal replacement is also highly recommended. If you aren’t sure whether or not your water pump has been replaced this would be a great time to inspect and/or replace that as well. If your Subaru has a leaking or old style baffle plate, this would be the time to get the new updated plate installed. We may also come across deteriorated exhaust gaskets, hoses or other small parts such as spark plugs, or sensors that could use replacement. Generally speaking, such repairs when done with the head gasket job will save you money.

3. How much should I expect this to cost?
Depending on the year and engine configuration of your 2.5 Subaru, the base head gasket job for parts (including tax and labor) costs between $1500 and $1600. Adding the timing belt, idlers, and tensioner adds about $400. The typical total cost for an automatic transmission car runs between $2100 and $2300. The typical head gasket job on a manual transmission car including a clutch runs $2400-$2600. This isn’t to say yours could be a little more or a little less, but these are the numbers we are used to seeing.

4. My car isn’t even worth that much, why should I fix it?
That’s a great question. We will always tell you if your car is or isn’t worth fixing in our opinion. If it isn’t clear whether or not the car is worth putting a significant amount of money into, we will do our best to help you make an informed decision.

The formula we recommend for deciding whether or not your car is worth fixing is simple: take the amount the repair is going to cost, plus whatever you could get for your car without fixing it and answer the question: “Could I buy something better for this amount of money?”

5. How long does the repair take?
In most cases, a Subaru head gasket replacement takes two full days. This gives us time to repair, road test and recheck the vehicle. Every so often we run into a parts problem and the repair could take longer. Ask your advisor about our loaner car program if you need a car while yours is being fixed.

6. Does this repair have a potential to cause my car other problems?
The head gasket replacement doesn’t cause other problems, and usually the job goes very smoothly. Occasionally we see a knock sensor or cooling system component fail shortly after head gasket replacement. You should know it’s a possibility, but don’t expect post head gasket replacement issues.

7. What if something does go wrong?
If after head gasket replacement you notice something amiss the best thing you can do is call us and bring the car in as soon as possible so that we can address your concern.