97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

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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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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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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.

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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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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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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. :( :(

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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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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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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by 91Brumby » Sat Dec 18, 2021 1:53 pm

Okay so.....

Decided to proceed. Yesterday, the engine shop calls me up to confirm how my valve buckets appear. Turns out they are non hydraulic so they need to be ground. More $$. More regret. Apparently Subaru released these motors with several different valve bucket configurations. Yep... lets go with a fancy, modern dual cam set up but use fixed valve buckets instead of hydraulically adjusted ones like other cars had been doing for a decade. Mildly pissed. A bit pissed the engine shop didn't mention it until AFTER they did the work on the heads, but these things happen.

Today, I did some more work preparing the block, however I noticed the corrosion in the bore is way worse than it first appeared. I have cleaned the bore as best I can, but not I really think I am wasting my time. Is there anything I can do here without splitting the block, removing the pistons and honing it cause even at this point, that is just too much...

I've removed the water pipe that runs along the top of the block and changed the o rings, cleaned out any corrosion etc. It was sitting for a while with just water in it I think :(

I have attempted to seat the torque converter. The Haynes manual is frigging useless. It didn't mention about a second part of the shaft that needs to be fished out. Subaru sorted me out with a new clip for it and I have fitted a new front seal. The front seal doesn't appear to go in very far. It seems to sit flush with the end of the curved section. Should it go a little further or is that about right?

I am not 100% sure if the torque converter is all the way home. It looks pretty close. I sat the starter in and there is maybe a 1-2 mm gap between the starter and the ring gear. It spins freely but sometimes grabs on the bottom of the casing. It won't grab it all when it is all bolted up but still a little concerned it isn't entirely home.

I have some pics. Thoughts?

https://www.dropbox.com/s/apb01uetz4x0m ... 0.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/xdoyxveik3uwd ... 0.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/5t1q5i9i9o350 ... 8.jpg?dl=0

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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by El_Freddo » Sun Dec 19, 2021 11:36 pm

Image

^ that was a BIG code! All I did was copy the image and drop it into the new post editor, then add the usual [img] at the front and [/img[ at the end but with the last bracket reversed. I did this to show the code to you.

Bummer about the solid buckets! That’s painful to find out. I wonder if the hydraulic units could be shoved in. By the time Subaru got to this engine I think there were three different variations of the bucket over valve setups. Solid, hydraulic and shim under bucket. Former and later don’t sound like fun to setup!

Back to the torque converter, I can’t answer your questions about the internal bits or the new seal as I’ve never pulled the TC out of one of these to replace it again.
From your pics I’m on the fence as to whether it’s seated properly. Did you turn it and gently push it as you put it back in? It could take several turns for it to really seat home properly.

If you can measure off the back of the crank to the edge of the bell housing, then do the same on the front of the TC and the auto’s bell housing, you should be able to work out if you’ve got some space between the two. If so you’re sweet. If you’ve got some negative distance then you need to get the TC fitted in place correctly.

When the engine is bolted in, the TC should have a few mm between it and the flex plate. Let the flex plate to TC bolts bring the TC out by doing them up a few turns each time before moving on to the next bolt to do the same. It might slip forward easily on one of the bolts so you can tighten up and move on to the next bolt - making the process easier.

I was hoping that you had a pic of the cylinder corrosion you’re worried about to see what the damage is there. If it’s really bad one option could be an EJ251 block with your EJ25D heads fitted. You would need to check the piston to deck relationship at TDC to ensure they’re the same though. That’s the sticking point. Otherwise it’s swap pistons time and new rings while you’re there. And that’s headed down the good old rabbit hole :mmm:

Cheers

Bennie
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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by 91Brumby » Wed Dec 22, 2021 10:05 pm

Yeah apparently there is some debate as to if you can swap the buckets or not... the engine shop didn't want to say one way or another.

Yeah have tried turning it to make sure it seats properly. I removed and refitted it a few times. I think it is right, but not 100% sure.
I'll take some measurements and see.

As for the corrosion... I think this block is done for. This pic was taken after I tried cleaning it up with some carby cleaner, ATF and fine steel wool.
Image
https://www.dropbox.com/s/rahb4za6t8nkg ... 5.jpg?dl=0

At this point, I might sell the heads and cut my losses. The heads have cost me a lot of money, but fixing this block will cost me a lot more.
The different variations in the engines makes the prospect of getting a new block a little scary....

I guess my options are:
i) Reassemble with current block - doubt it will last too long?
ii) Have the block honed, new rings fitted - costly..very costly.
iii) Find another block - risky?
iv) cut my losses - depressing and shameful.

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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by El_Freddo » Fri Dec 24, 2021 1:40 pm

Yeah that’s a fair mark. Any indication of detonation/fuel mix ignition damage to the wall of the cylinder where that corrosion has done it’s damage? Typically seen as pitting from what I understand.

Options:
1) shove rings only in and “send it” as they say. Watch oil usage.
2) find another block with good bottom end as previously mentioned. EJ251 could do this.
3) sell heads, part out the vehicle.
4) find cheap model that’s the same that had dead HGs

Personally I’d probably look at option 2 if you’re not keen on option 1. Option 4 - make the best of two vehicles, part the one you’re not going to use. Option 3 - last last resort!

It all comes down to how far you’re “invested” into this and how much further you’re willing to go.

Cheers

Bennie
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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by 91Brumby » Sat Dec 25, 2021 7:43 pm

G'day Bennie,

Thanks so much for your feedback and advice. Hope you're enjoying a nice Christmas.

Could you possibly provide me with any more info about the correct type of block to source?

It seems there are many different variants of the EJ25D. You mention an EJ251 block. If I am interpreting this correctly, the EJ251 is the 'next model up' but only used SOHC? Or did they put dual cam heads on it and call it an EJ25D despite it being based on the EJ251?

I can't find much pertaining to the Australian market. Could you possibly advise which sort of vehicles I should be looking at? Will the heads be direct fit and for all intents and purposes everything else be the same as the motor that was in it? If I go down the replacement block path, I am keen to avoid any unnecessary complexities.

Thanks again.

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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by El_Freddo » Sat Dec 25, 2021 11:35 pm

Gday 91Brumby,

There was only ever one EJ25D - it came in the Gen2 Outback (US calls it a Gen1 to confuse things, it’s definitely in a Gen2 body shape and styling!). Off the top of my head this is the only DOHC NA 2.5L subaru produced around this time.

The EJ251 is the phase 2 engine. Not too much changed. Bell housing has 8 mount bolts (including the two lower studs). The DOHC heads will bolt to this engine no worries. There’s an EJ253 too. This had AVCS (or something like that) heads that manipulate the valve timing etc for better performance across the rev range and loads. Pull those off and you’ve got a 2.5L block again.

Only thing to check is any differences in the TDC piston to deck height. This is where the piston is at its highest point, measure the difference between the top of the piston and the head mating surface. Compare to your standard EJ25D for differences. Same for the top of the piston - check for any differences in shape etc. pistons can be pulled out, reringed and dropped back in again. Best practice is to measure up and match to the cylinder that works within the specified tolerances.

Essentially, any EJ block can be used as it will physically bolt up no worries and the standard cam belt kit for your VIN will fit straight on. The piston changes and HG thickness is where you change your compression ratio and you might need to run 98ron if you’ve bumped it up too much.

This mod with the EJ251 block and EJ25D DOHC heads is discussed over on the USMB. Do a google search about it and you should find a number of threads covering the topic.

EJ251s can be found in the 2000 onwards Gen 3 Liberty RX and Heritage models. The Gen 3 Outback had the EJ251 as standard with the optional H6 on offer too. The SG foz is also a good source for EJ251s, I think all of the SG range is 2.5L. The series 3 started using the perviously mentioned EJ253.

In the states they often bin the EJ25D bottom end (short block) for an EJ22 block. This reduces power a little but apparently gives you a pretty bullet proof engine combination. They seem to have issues with throwing rods out the top of the block over there, I’ve not heard of this being such a big issue over here in Oz.

I hope that helps out with options! Read up on the USMB for the EJ251 block and EJ25D head combo ;)

Cheers

Bennie
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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by El_Freddo » Sun Dec 26, 2021 9:15 am

Here’s a quick read for the EJ251 block with EJ25D heads. Includes the head gasket part number to use ;)

https://www.ultimatesubaru.org/forum/to ... r-sealant/

And another:

https://www.ultimatesubaru.org/forum/to ... 251-block/

Cheers

Bennie
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Re: 97 Outback ej25 - head gasket?

Post by 91Brumby » Sun Jan 23, 2022 8:42 am

Will these heads go on a MY10 EJ25? without any stuffing around?
The block says EJ25 but am I right in assuming the overall motor is an EJ253?

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