Newbie - Headgasket versus Junkyard Swap

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Chrisnif
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Newbie - Headgasket versus Junkyard Swap

Post by Chrisnif »

So I have a 2003, 240k on the dash, salvage title but she's our first and not our last Subaru and probably not our last baja either...

I've diagnosed the head gasket problem by seeing coolant levels fall, oil levels rise (even though I've got leaky valve cover gaskets), and this oil change the oil was milky. Should I pull the engine and do all the work (estimating $500-600 in parts -- or swap the engine with a 100k engine from a recycler for $700 -- or get the recycler motor and do a full maintenance on it (with or without head gaskets?).
mike-tracy
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Re: Newbie - Headgasket versus Junkyard Swap

Post by mike-tracy »

I would personally get the engine with less than half the miles, and do all the maintenance on that one before it goes into the car. I'd research the "master gasket kit" that Subaru sells for your particular engine, because it comes with pretty much everything.

If cash is tight, you can just have your own heads machined, and throw in new felpro or OEM gaskets. Then replace other gaskets on an "as needed" basis.
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ZUBAJA
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Re: Newbie - Headgasket versus Junkyard Swap

Post by ZUBAJA »

I agree on the advice to get a lower mileage engine, and do the head gaskets while it is out (MUCH easier). Personally, after doing 2 different engines (SOHC, and a DOHC), I would spend the extra and go with the "Blue Star" head gaskets. They are about 100.00 per side, but well worth it. I would also have the heads surfaced.
While the engine is out, check on the "oil separator" plate (behind flywheel on right side of rear of engine). If it is the plastic one, replace it with the upgraded metal one. Probably a good idea to do the rear seal too (timing belt / water pump sprockets are a given). Dennis
Chrisnif
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Re: Newbie - Headgasket versus Junkyard Swap

Post by Chrisnif »

Okay so the replacement doesn’t have EGR, but I found some info about how to hook up a bypass. Hopefully it goes as easy as the videos but my plan is to put the replacement on the stand and do the head gaskets (properly with the better gaskets) and do timing belt water pump and likely do new belts.

I’ll probably rebuild the old engine to drop into a compatible “blown motor” baja or even outback for myself to drive.
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Re: Newbie - Headgasket versus Junkyard Swap

Post by joedavex »

How was the original engine doing other than the headgaskets? If it wass running fine and not burning any oil I'd go with the repair of the existing. Ballpark price for doing it yourself is about $200 for the timing belt kit, $100 for heads being machined and another hundred for the Felpro MLM (multi level metal) headgaskets.
I just did my on's 03 OBW with the NA 2.5 SOHC last year (same engine) and I logged the job at about $500 complete with fluids etc. I don't remember if the NA engine requires new head studs or not (the turbos do).
If the junkyard engine hasn't had the headgaskets done on it then they should be done while it's out. At minimum you're going to have to do the timing belt and water pump anyway.
You can definitely cut my $500 cost down with some mods but if you're engine is fine otherwise, you may as well stick with the devil you know.
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ZUBAJA
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Re: Newbie - Headgasket versus Junkyard Swap

Post by ZUBAJA »

While Felpro is usually a good product, for a Subaru, I would only use OEM or the "Blue Star" head gaskets. Dennis
Chrisnif
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Re: Newbie - Headgasket versus Junkyard Swap

Post by Chrisnif »

Well interestingly enough I took the car to an import shop that does 90% subies — they changed the radiator cap and found there is a leak in the radiator. They do recommend doing the head gasket when possible - but the radiator is a must. So I’m doing that today or tomorrow and we shall see how it behaves. I have 800 miles on my recent oil change and the oil is not showing any signs of contamination on the dipstick. I’m going to change it 500-1000 miles from now to check for coolant contamination. Thanks for the help everyone - I doubt that engine is going anywhere :) next up 2005 shocks and 1” HDPE spacers — it’s certainly helpful that I have two CNC routers 😂
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Re: Newbie - Headgasket versus Junkyard Swap

Post by ryu »

Hate to bump a mostly-dead thread, but maybe this is worthwhile. Up here in MN, we have a really good subie shop who's kind of the go-to for head gaskets, VCGs, etc. When they do head gaskets on the EJ251, they replace them with the MLS gaskets used on the Forester XT engine. The MLS gaskets supposedly hold up pretty much forever. This shop also cleans the heads and does a valve adjustment at the same time (and in my case, timing belt and VCGs too). I'm curious if the MLS gasket thing is common practice elsewhere in the country. Everyone up here who's gone to this shop says it's the best thing since sliced bread.
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Re: Newbie - Headgasket versus Junkyard Swap

Post by ZUBAJA »

I've done head gaskets on 2 Subaru engines. A 2006 which I used Subaru head gaskets (may have even been the Turbo gaskets), and a 1998 DOHC, which I used the "Blue Star" head gaskets. The 06 had the heads (cracked) completely redone, and the 98 I just had the heads planed. If I was to do my engine (currently at 207K, but going strong), I would either look into the Blue Star gaskets, or do a JDM "low mileage" and replace water pump and timing belt. Dennis
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