97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

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91Brumby
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97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by 91Brumby » Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:36 pm

Picked up a cheap 97 Outback thinking it would be an easy fix up (running rough). Once I got it home, I realised it could be more serious. It sounds like it needs exhaust flange gaskets, but that wouldn't result in it running rough. I undid the radiator cap whilst it was running (not hot) and there was a fair bit of pressure. Accelerate and the coolant level goes down, back off and it all comes right back up. It isn't super bubbly but on other cars this is a sure sign of a head gasket failure. No water in the oil, doesn't appear to smoke. I ran it with cap off for a bit in case it had air in the system. Eventually got warm enough for thermos to kick in. Was still spewing out coolant when I revved it.

Is the coolant behaviour a sure sign of head gasket failure? I could compression test it, but no idea how I would get the plugs out and gauge in with such limited space.

Anything else I should look at here? There is no check engine light on.
Are the head gaskets an engine out job? Guessing so given the amount of space in there (or lack thereof) but looks simple enough overall to pull it out.

Thanks

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El_Freddo
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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by El_Freddo » Sun Oct 24, 2021 9:22 pm

Hey mate,

Given this is the EJ25D it is probably the head gaskets as suspected. They have a very thick gasket to drop compression.

I believe you can do the HGs with the engine in the car, I wouldn’t! Easier to pull the engine and give yourself all the room you need to access the engine on the floor, bench or stand.

As for the radiator observations, I’d say this is just surge, unless it’s puking out like a mini volcano. If it’s just filling the neck and pouring out I’d say that’s normal.

Even though it’s a cheap vehicle, it would be worth your time and effort to swap the HGs for reliability. I did this on my sister’s Gen 3 but failed by replacing the factory gaskets with the known issue. Second time around I used the MLS head gaskets (forget part number, probably wouldn’t work well on the EJ25D) and haven’t had an issue.

Cheers

Bennie
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91Brumby
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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by 91Brumby » Sun Oct 24, 2021 9:39 pm

Thanks Bennie.

I'll see if I can get the plugs out and compression tester in there tomorrow..not a lot of room to work compared to the old Brumby!

Yeah agree engine out seems heaps easier. They don't look too difficult to pull all things considered. Going to try and get a workshop manual and will go from there. It only has 200k on it and the interior is pretty mint. Unfortunately more paint damage than I expected after giving it a good clean but still okay overall minus a small but nasty spot on the roof where likely tree gunk ate right through the paint and the usual clear peel in places like the bonnet.

91Brumby
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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by 91Brumby » Mon Oct 25, 2021 7:11 pm

Subaru managed to take everything that made the older models good....and ruin it.
Well over an hour to get 4 plugs out! Number 4 was nearly impossible. Undo it too far and you can no longer remove your ratchet...

Comp test results:

1: 1150
2: 1050
3: 950
4: 850

Yup, that looks fine. What else could be wrong? :mrgreen: :twisted: :cry: :cry:

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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by 91Brumby » Fri Oct 29, 2021 11:43 pm

So I got the motor out but, had a pretty significant ooops.

Because I was arrogant and figured I knew what I was doing, I didn't read a manual and attempted to remove the motor without first unbolting the torque converter. I also failed to correctly balance the motor for removal.

End result: The motor tilted and wedged itself in nicely between the AC condenser and the bellhousing resulting in a busted condenser (which was real annoying as I went to the effort of NOT disconnecting the AC) and a lot of load placed on the converter and gearbox shaft.

There are some pretty decent scratch marks inside the converter as I was trying to work out where I had gone wrong and coax the motor out. Also, is the inner shaft on the auto supposed to pull right out?

Basically what I would like to know, is how screwed am I in terms of potential damage to the gearbox or torque converter on a scale of 'no worries, she'll be right', all the way up to 'mate - its well and truly f'd up'.

I also damaged the o2 sensor and broke a clip holding the wiring to one of the sensors on the block. The answer to the above will help determine if I put it back together or part it out.

I'm aware I screwed up bad. Should have read the manual instead of just assuming I knew what was up. :( :oops: :oops: Friggin automatics. They shouldn't exist. Every car should have a clutch and a gearstick heh. :twisted: :mrgreen:

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El_Freddo
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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by El_Freddo » Sat Oct 30, 2021 9:44 am

“Bugger”.

If you’re at the point of thinking of parting it you’ve got nothing to loose in putting it back together.

I’d separate the TC from the engine, then refit it to the transmission. Check the seal for damage before doing this. Also re-seat that shaft piece in its gear on the other end of the shaft. Then you’ll need to do the same with the TC - make sure it’s all seated in properly.

Do the engine work, smack it all together and see what happens. If it goes kaput (I don’t think so) then look at parting it out.

Otherwise go and fix the AC condenser and drive the wheels off it.

Autos... while I prefer manuals they do have their uses and are generally stronger than a manual in the long run (teas dependant). Our Pajero is a good example. I’ve come around on the auto in this vehicle and have read about manual Pajero owners complaining that 1st is too tall, which makes hill starts when loaded a clutch slipping affair, same for some steep offroad situations apparently.

All the best with it, I’m hoping it’s a good outcome.

Cheers

Bennie
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Subyroo
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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by Subyroo » Sat Oct 30, 2021 3:19 pm

91Brumby wrote:
Fri Oct 29, 2021 11:43 pm
I'm aware I screwed up bad. Should have read the manual instead of just assuming I knew what was up. :( :oops: :oops:
It never fails to do what it says. :( :(

91Brumby
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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by 91Brumby » Sun Oct 31, 2021 2:34 pm

Edit:

Don't mind me - just continuing the trend of general stupidity. Turns out the mark on the crank is the one at the back, not the arrow on the front.

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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by 91Brumby » Tue Nov 02, 2021 12:35 pm

So I reckon I have wasted my time. The head and gasket looks fine. This is the side with the worst compression readings.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/aluvf9n7ppm0j ... 6.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/9arwny5bdiy4s ... 1.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/fby29yoochj3w ... 9.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/v4xo9li3nzd50 ... 8.jpg?dl=0

It looks to me like the heads were done recent-ish. Timing belt and water pump also look pretty new.

Are those the "good" gaskets or the ones prone to failure?
Thanks

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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by El_Freddo » Thu Nov 04, 2021 7:55 am

Hard to tell about the gasket type without looking at them good and proper. They do look fresh-ish, but in that last pic of the cylinder head there looks like coolant on the inner edge of the HG’s firing ring. This to me suggests a leaking HG at this lower point in the cylinder.

All is not lost - at least you’ll know the history of the HGs since you installed them.

Cheers

Bennie
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91Brumby
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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by 91Brumby » Fri Nov 12, 2021 9:07 am

The engine shop said the gasket had failed even though it was the better quality gasket. They also found the heads were not in the greatest condition (sticky / leaky valves). $1000 to restore the heads and supply new gaskets / bolts.

Thinking I am just going to cut my losses and part it out at this stage which is a real shame as I was looking forward to putting the engine back together and getting it running. The interior is great, but the paintwork / body is 'well aged' hehe.

Other chain of thought is that if I do it properly, I'll at least have a good EJ25D.... but $1000 before buying other bits like timing belt, seals, consumables etc is a bit rough.

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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by El_Freddo » Sat Nov 13, 2021 12:17 pm

That’s a fair call to part it out with the need for that amount of work - if the vehicle isn’t worth anything to you and you can put the money into another one that’s more suitable/reliable/running then I reckon it’s probably the way to go.

Other option is to try sourcing a cheap engine if this is still on your radar. It does come with some risks and will probably still need the cam belt kit etc. I also think it’s good to do the HGs as a matter of course with engines like this.

Cheers

Bennie
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