2002 Legacy Outback Wagon head gasket failure with 13k miles?

Discussion in 'Subaru Legacy' started by Ender, Feb 17, 2004.

  1. Ender

    Ender Guest


    Well, a quick search indicates to me that lots of people seem to be
    enjoying this head gasket failure feature with their recent vintage

    During a routine service call on my 2002 with 13,000 miles on it, my
    dealer spotted the L/S head gasket seeping and has scheduled me to
    have it replaced this Thursday under warranty. The dealer says we win
    the prize for the lowest mileage vehicle with this failure, most seem
    to be above 20k when they start to fail. The service rep mentioned
    that they average one or two each week.

    My question is, has anyone been successful with getting SOA to
    authorize having both head gaskets replaced with the improved
    replacement ones while it is still under warranty? I assume when the
    other one goes, probably the day after my warranty is up, that it will
    be expected that I will fork over $1000 for the repair. To be honest,
    my dealer has been outstanding with this kind of stuff. (They
    supported my request that SOA cover my Impreza wheel bearing
    replacements, and SOA did come through.)

    Anyone have any luck with SOA on this issue?



    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke
    Ender, Feb 17, 2004
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  2. Ender

    DRM Guest

    Can anyone tell me what years and engines are afftected by this
    issue? Seems I read somewhere that only the 2.5 DOHC had
    this problem and has since been corrected with an all-steel gasket.
    Is that correct? I plan on buying a 2004 model forester or baja
    soon and this issue has me concerned. Maybe it's too early to
    tell if the the "fix" actually works?

    As always, thanks for any input!


    nothing." Edmund Burke
    DRM, Feb 18, 2004
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  3. Ender

    Ender Guest

    Can anyone tell me what years and engines are afftected by this
    Hi Dale,

    I don't have any "hard evidence" information for you, but you might
    enjoy looking at the links below. There is some interesting history
    in the reported failures, and some conjecture that the head gasket
    failures were most common with the Phase one EJ25 DOHC models.
    However... in at least one forum I found reports of unexpected
    failures with the Phase 2 EJ25 SOHC head gaskets. I honestly don't
    know what to expect with the 2004 models. I would definitely dig deep
    into whether they have addressed it by moving to the steel gaskets.
    My dealer assured me that they would be installing the new "fixed"
    version gasket in mine this week. I have had excellent luck with my
    dealership in every instance with my 7 subarus over the years, but...
    I think the 2002 will be my last Subaru. There have been just too
    many nagging little problems that seem to indicate to me a pattern of
    cutting corners a too much in the quality of the parts they are using
    throughout the powertrain. (I can't even remember how many CV joints,
    CV Boots, wheel bearings, and assorted wingnuts I have replaced since
    my first Subaru in '79.)




    I found the site below interesting as they had cool photographs of
    blown EJ25 DOHC head gaskets, as well as the preferred replacements,
    which are of steel construction just as you mentioned.


    Good luck!


    (79, 82, 84, 88, 91, 98, 02 Subarus throughout the years!)

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke
    Ender, Feb 18, 2004
  4. Ender

    Mike Guest

    I had my Phase 2 '01 OBW headgaskets (both) replaced in December @
    41,000 miles. The dealer also resealed the oil pump while they were in
    there. Oh yeah, the piston slap is "normal".

    Mike, Feb 18, 2004
  5. Ender

    Jeff Guest

    Is this covered by the 5 year 60,000 mile warranty for engine and drive
    train? Thanks Jeff

    nothing." Edmund Burke
    Jeff, Feb 18, 2004
  6. Ender

    Ender Guest

    I had a discussion with my dealer about that yesterday. The answer is
    yes. Head gasket replacement is covered by the 5 year 60k engine/drive
    train warranty.. Additionally, if you purchased the Classic
    maintenance plan, coverage for internal engine parts (including
    gaskets) is extended out to 6 years or 80,000 miles. I don't know
    about the Gold plan, but I assume the coverage probably extends out
    even further.

    My dealer indicated that SOA will absolutely not authorize replacement
    of the other head gasket on my engine as a prevention against future
    failure. So... I am glad I grabbed the Classic plan in the deal when
    I purchased the vehicle. I usually don't grab those plans (it was
    around 300 bucks) but it looks like it may pay for itself...



    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke
    Ender, Feb 19, 2004
  7. Ender

    R Guest

    Me too, though only one was visibly leaking. did the oil pump and rear
    main seal, too, which was leaking. mileage: 16,000
    R, Feb 19, 2004
  8. Ender

    LC Brian Guest

    Congratulations, you have the world's worst made Subaru. Adam
    Sandler's "Ode to my car" is being played for you now. Can you hear
    it? "It's a piece of **** car!"

    As I listen I look out at my own dead Subaru parked in the street with
    bad head gaskets. I cannot drive it, I cannot afford to have it fixed
    and it is beyond the extended Gold warranty plan I purchased. Since I
    drive about 25K a year, I've come to believe the extended warranties
    are worth a lot less than what they want you to think.

    If you had to fix the gaskets yourself, you would be lucky to have it
    done for less than $1000 in the US. It appears that because of
    Subaru's flat engine design the engine has to be removed from the car
    to repair this problem. This makes head gasket replacement a very
    costly endeavor.

    One estimate I received from a small independent shop was $2400. The
    two dealers I talked to in Southern California are quoting anywhere
    from $2900 to nearly $5000 for a worst-case scenario. They say the
    cost depends on what they find and if the heads need to be replaced or
    if they can be reused. A quote for a replacement engine to be shipped
    to my door was going to cost about $3000.

    Luckily for you the problem has been acknowledged and you didn't get
    stuck in the wilderness like my wife was. I think it is unlikely
    Subaru will go around replacing head gaskets on all the affected
    Subarus. Personally, I'm going to replace BOTH head gaskets. It just
    doesn't make sense to me to replace only one side.

    It appears that SOHC engines are known to fail between the water
    channel and the outside of the engine. It appears that the older DOHC
    engines are more likely to fail between the water channel and the
    engine cylinder. This leaks hot gas from the engine into the coolant
    causing the engine to overheat, overflow the plastic coolant reservoir
    with a grey sludgy liquid and render the car useless with very little

    Subaru has changed the head gasket design since my 97 was made,
    presumably to eliminate this problem, but problems with new cars like
    yours makes me wonder if they really have a handle on this at all. I
    haven't seen specific information on which engines are affected, which
    engines contain which head gaskets, what the failure rates are with
    original engines and with rebuilt models. As you read Subaru
    newsgroups at Edmonds.com
    (http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/[email protected]/2598)
    or on Yahoo (http://groups.yahoo.com/search?query=subaru) , it's easy
    to overstate the problem, however, I'll say it does appear as a very
    common theme.

    To see a picture of head gaskets and get a good idea of the problem
    you have, go here:

    To see a guy who replaced his own head gaskets go here:
    http://mysite.verizon.net/vze730qe/Head_gasket_replacement.html. You
    can add your name to his list of people with bad Subaru head gaskets.

    To register your car with Subaru and see the recalls that affect your
    car, go here: http://my.subaru.com/login/login.jsp

    I suggest that anyone affected by this write Subaru, describe the
    problem with bad head gaskets, make your request for remediation and
    get an official acknowledgement in writing.

    Good luck.
    LC Brian, Feb 19, 2004
  9. Ender

    Alan Guest

    Does the H6 3.0 have the same problem?

    Alan, Feb 19, 2004
  10. Ender

    Ender Guest

    Thanks for the link above. The post with the WWP-99 Service Campaign
    information was extremely interesting. If you can believe what was
    posted, it looks like the Phase II head gasket failures (like mine)
    result in a low pressure (14 psi cooling system) external seepage type
    leak rather than the more lethal Phase I type internal leaks that tend
    to induce the nasty surprise engine failures as coolant/oil/gas mix in
    ugly ways. Interesting that if you let the dealer add the "Official
    Subaru Cooling Conditioner/sealant" that they will extend the head
    gasket warranty out to 8 years/100k miles. I will certainly discuss
    this with my dealer today.

    Good luck with the rebuild of yours. As a side note, my dealer
    indicated that they do not remove the engine to do head gasket
    replacements in their shop. I wonder if they remove the front quarter
    panel instead? It looks awfully tight in that engine compartment...

    Thank you again for the timely post.



    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke
    Ender, Feb 19, 2004
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