If you own a Subaru, you might be familiar with the infamous head gasket issue that plagues many of their models.
When the head gasket fails, it can cause serious damage to the engine and result in costly repairs.
Traditionally, fixing a head gasket requires removing the entire engine, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
However, there is a solution that can save you both time and money: Subaru head gasket replacement without removing the engine. Keep reading to learn more.
Subaru Head Gasket Replacement Without Removing Engine
Subaru head gasket replacement without removing the engine is technically possible, but it is not a practical solution in most cases.
It is easier and quicker to remove the engine and place it on a stand to replace the head gasket.
Here is a step-by-step guideline:
Step 1: Preparation
The first step is to prepare the engine for the head gasket replacement.
This involves removing the battery and washer tank to make it easier to access the engine components.
You will also need to drain the coolant and disconnect all the hoses from the heads and exhaust.
Step 2: Remove the Intake Manifold
Next, you’ll need to remove the intake manifold.
This involves removing the intake hose, fuel lines, and throttle cable, and unplugging harnesses and connectors.
Once you’ve done that, you can take out the intake manifold.
Step 3: Remove the Valve Covers
The next step is to remove the valve covers.
Start from the top and work your way down, making sure to label everything you remove and take pictures to help put it all back together.
Step 4: Remove the Timing Belt
With the valve covers removed, you can now remove the timing belt and camshaft sprockets.
Step 5: Remove the Head Bolts
Once the timing belt and sprockets are out of the way, you’ll need to clean the bolt holes that tighten the head to the block.
Then, you can remove the head bolts and the old head gasket. Make sure to keep track of the bolts and label them according to their location.
Step 6: Install the New Head Gasket
With the old head gasket removed, you can now fit the new head gasket onto the block.
Be sure to use gasket sealant as specified by the manufacturer, and only use the directed amount of sealant in the recommended places.
Step 7: Reassemble
The final step is to reassemble everything you’ve taken apart.
Start by reinstalling the camshaft sprockets, timing belts, valve covers, and intake manifold.
Then, reconnect all the hoses, electrical connections, and fuel lines.
How long does it take to replace Subaru head gaskets without removing the engine?
The time it takes to replace Subaru head gaskets without removing the engine can vary depending on the level of experience of the mechanic and the specific tools available.
However, it can take anywhere from 12-24 hours for a professional mechanic to complete the job, while an experienced DIYer may take longer.
How much does it cost to replace Subaru head gaskets without removing the engine?
The cost of replacing Subaru head gaskets without removing the engine can vary depending on several factors, including the location, the mechanic’s hourly rate, the cost of parts, and the level of damage to the engine.
The cost of the parts alone can range from $200 to $500. The labor costs can be significant since it is a complex job that requires a lot of time and expertise.
Sometimes the labor costs alone can range from $1,500 to $3,000 or more, depending on the location and the mechanic’s hourly rate.
Therefore, the total cost of replacing Subaru head gaskets without removing the engine can range from $1,700 to $3,500 or more, depending on the specific circumstances.
It is recommended to get a detailed estimate from a reputable mechanic before proceeding with the repair.
Pros And Cons Of Removing Vs. Not Removing The Engine For Head Gasket Replacement.
Here are some pros and cons of removing vs. not removing the engine for head gasket replacement:
Pros of removing the engine for head gasket replacement:
Removing the engine provides better access to the cylinder head and makes it easier to replace other components such as the timing belt, water pump, or oil pump.
With the engine out of the vehicle, it is easier to inspect and clean the engine block and cylinder head for any signs of damage or wear.
This can help prevent future problems and prolong the engine’s life.
Removing the engine can be safer than trying to remove the cylinder head with the engine in the vehicle, especially for inexperienced mechanics.
It reduces the risk of damaging other engine components, and it allows for better working conditions and tool access.
Cons of removing the engine for head gasket replacement:
Removing and reinstalling an engine is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process that can increase the cost of head gasket replacement significantly.
The cost of replacing an engine is even greater than that of a head gasket.
Removing an engine requires specialized tools and knowledge, and it can be a daunting task for novice mechanics.
It also increases the risk of damaging other components or causing other problems during reinstallation.
Removing an engine can take several hours or days, depending on the vehicle and the mechanic’s experience, which can lead to longer downtime and inconvenience.
Pros of not removing the engine for head gasket replacement:
Replacing a head gasket without removing the engine can be less expensive than removing the engine.
It also reduces the risk of damaging other components or causing other problems during reinstallation.
Replacing a head gasket without removing the engine can be faster than removing the engine, which can lead to shorter downtime and less inconvenience.
Cons of not removing the engine for head gasket replacement:
Replacing a head gasket without removing the engine can be more challenging and time-consuming, as it requires removing other components such as the exhaust manifold, distributor, and timing belt.
It also limits access to the cylinder head and makes it harder to replace other components.
Replacing a head gasket without removing the engine can make it harder to inspect and clean the engine block and cylinder head for any signs of damage or wear.
This can increase the risk of future problems
How to prevent Subaru head gasket failure in the future after replacement without engine removal.
There are several steps that Subaru owners can take to prevent head gasket failure in the future after replacement without engine removal.
Follow Subaru’s Recommended Maintenance Schedule
One of the most important steps to prevent head gasket failure is to follow Subaru’s recommended maintenance schedule, which includes changing the coolant every 30,000 miles.
Have the Coolant Changed by a Professional
It’s also important to have the coolant changed by a professional who is familiar with filling Subaru cooling systems.
In some cases, improperly filled coolant can lead to engine damage, as seen in two completely warped 2.5L DOHC engines due to overheating.
Watch for Signs of a Blown Head Gasket
Knowing the signs of a blown head gasket can also help prevent future issues.
Common signs of a blown head gasket include an overheated engine, exhaust gases in the cooling system, and coolant leaking into the cylinders.
Be Aware of Common Problem Years and Engines
According to oards.com, the most common engine to have head gasket failures is the naturally aspirated (non-turbo) Subaru 2.5 L four-cylinder engine, commonly known as the EJ25 motor
However, the single overhead camshaft (SOHC) variant experiences failures much more frequently than the dual overhead camshaft design (DOHC).
It’s also worth noting that head gasket problems generally affect Subaru’s EJ25 engines, which initially had faulty composite-style gaskets.
Address Other Related Issues
While having the head gaskets replaced, it’s a good idea to address other related issues as well.
According to subaruclinic.com, it’s recommended to replace the thermostat/gasket, valve cover gaskets, and head gaskets, and to have a filter and oil change.
Additionally, they recommend replacing the timing belt, tensioner, and timing idlers at the same time, as well as inspecting the water pump.
Can You Change Subaru Head Gaskets Without Removing The Engine?
Yes, it is possible to change Subaru head gaskets without removing the engine.
However, it is not the most practical approach as it can still be a challenging job and may require significant disassembly of the engine bay.
Is It Recommended To Replace Other Parts Along With The Head Gasket During The Replacement Process?
Yes, it is recommended to replace other parts along with the head gasket during the replacement process, such as the thermostat/gasket, valve cover gaskets, timing belt, tensioner, timing idlers, crank and cam seals, water pump, filter, oil.
This is because these parts may be affected or damaged during the head gasket failure and can lead to future problems if not replaced.
What tools and parts are required for a Subaru head gasket replacement without removing the engine?
Some of the tools required for a Subaru head gasket replacement without removing the engine include a sturdy screwdriver, a set of socket wrenches, torque wrenches, pliers, a coolant drain pan, and a gasket scraper.
The necessary parts may include the head gasket, valve cover gaskets, thermostat/gasket, timing belt, tensioner, timing idlers, crank and cam seals, water pump, filter, and oil.
What years and models of Subaru are affected by head gasket problems?
The years and models of Subaru most affected by head gasket problems are 1996 through 2004, and the naturally aspirated (non-turbo) Subaru 2.5 L four-cylinder engine, commonly known as the EJ25 motor, experiences head gasket failures more frequently than the dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) variant.
Subaru head gasket issues can be a real headache for car owners. Fortunately, thanks to advancements in technology and techniques, replacing a head gasket no longer requires removing the entire engine.
By opting for a Subaru head gasket replacement without removing the engine, you can save time and money while ensuring your vehicle stays in top condition.