June 23

Subaru Head Gasket Repairs

Auto Repair, Subaru


https://pawlikautomotive.com Bernie Pawlik of award winning Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC is talking us through a Suburu Head Gasket repair, and why this is something most Suburu owners will encounter. Pawlik Automotive has been 14 times voted as best auto repair shop in Vancouver, BC.

Mark: Good Morning. It’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. They’re 14 time winners of Best Auto Repair Shop in Vancouver. How’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Doing really well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about Subaru head gasket repairs, so all over to you.

Bernie: Awesome. Well Subaru head gaskets are something we do quite a lot of at Pawlik Automotive and if you own a Subaru with the 2.5 liter four cylinder engine which most cars come with you’ll probably have to deal with the head gasket at some point in your time of owning the car so let’s have a look at a few things. I’ll explain why, where the head gaskets leak from and a few different issues about the head gasket and you can kind of get more of a sense of what goes on with these cars.
So the first thing I’m going to do is share an image, when it comes up, let me know when you see it Mark.

Mark: There it is.

Bernie: Are we there, perfect, good. So that’s a top view of a Subaru engine around a 2000, 2000 model year Forester, 2.5 litre engine. That’s the top view of the intake manifold that runs across the top those nice bright blue things are your spark plug wires, the alternator sits in the front, it’s the wire to the alternator’s got the nice red, bright red cap on it, so that’s basically the top of the engine. Now the head gaskets are down lower, kind of where those blue wires they kind of lead off the side, those go towards the cylinder heads. So what happens typically with Subaru cylinder heads, can you see that image Mark?

Mark: I can see it now

Bernie: Perfect. So this is the underside of the engine kind of a close up view of where the cylinder head gasket meets the engine, so the bright blue arrow that actually points right to where the cylinder head gasket is located and to the right of that is the cylinder head itself. Now the red arrow points to an oil leak and that’s typically what happens with Subaru head gaskets, they leak oil. Sometimes they’ll leak coolant as well and the cylinder head gasket is a very complex gasket, it seals the combustion pressures of the engine. It also seals oil and it seals coolant so there’s a lot going on and there’s an extremely high temperature so it works, the head gasket works really hard. Anyway so the red arrow, that’s the most important thing to look at, that’s where, that’s an oil leak coming out of the cylinder head gasket. You know, typically they can start off very slowly and not much to worry about but after a while they can become quite severe to the point of dripping a lot of oil on the ground.

So moving onto our next image, this is the actual cylinder head gasket removed from an engine that had a leak. The few arrows there point to various things; the red arrows all point to where the cylinder head bolt holes go, the very large holes in the middle, that’s where the pistons basically sit in the valves, that’s the combustion chamber of the engine. The green arrows point to coolant passageways so antifreeze flows through those while the engine’s running and that helps keep your engine cool and from overheating and I only pointed a couple of those passageways out and then the blue arrows point to usually where the problems with the head gaskets lie and if you look on the left side you can see all that black materials basically flaked off. The way cylinders Subaru head gaskets are made its typically a metal gasket and then they have some type of, I wouldn’t say it’s rubberized but it’s a type of coating and the coating through the heat and the cooling process it did, basically deteriorates after time and that’s when it starts to leak oil so typically those large passageways on the bottom will leak oil and that’s basically just the oil returning back to the bottom of the engine, it’s not under any pressure but its, you know it leaks over time. So that’s your head gasket that you’ll probably experience if you own a Subaru at some point. That’s kind of what it looks like when it’s old and taken apart. Just a view, this is what the cylinder head itself looks like from the inside of the engine. This particular engine had pretty high mileage and we actually had the valves redone on the cylinder head because it had, there’s a lot if you look on the left side, those are the valves and the combustion chamber, you can see a lot of blackish thick deposit and if you compare that to what you see on the right hand side there’s a lot of oil getting into that particular cylinder so we had the heads, the valves reground on this particular head and everything cleaned up.

Normally we don’t need to do that, there’s a variety of things that need to be done on Subaru head gaskets, sometimes it’s just a simple matter of changing the gaskets, the head bolts and it’s done, other times the work is a little bit more thorough.

Okay, so moving on, so that’s the cylinder head, just another example the items on the top, the two round pieces on the top, those are the exhaust valves and then the larger ones below are the intake valves and the round thing in the middle, that’s your spark plug. The head gasket goes around, sits if you can imagine from the last picture and I’ll click it on again so can kind of have an idea, that’s the head gasket, that’s the cylinder head. You can see there’s a correlation between holes and that’s how it all works.

Just another view of the top of the Subaru engine, this is with the intake manifold off and this is a job where we had the new head gaskets in, we’re putting it back together so the red arrows point to where the intake manifold bolts on and the actual red arrow actually points to the cylinder heads themselves. The blue arrows point to the timing belt cover and that’s a picture we’ll go into in a second. I just also want to reference that the green arrow which points to the, that’s a coolant pipe which, engine coolant flows through that pipe to the engine block. There are a couple seals in there, we always replace them, they rarely leak but while we’re doing the head gaskets its’ a simple extra jobs so those are some of things we do when we’re in doing a cylinder head gasket job to make sure it’s thorough; six dollars for some gaskets and a couple minutes of labour so it’s well worth doing while everything’s apart.

So the other big component on the Subaru and they can be an expensive maintenance item is the timing belt. These generally last about a hundred sixty thousand kilometers, you can probably push them a little longer, I wouldn’t recommend it because if it breaks pistons and valves collide and it costs a lot of money to fix. So it’s best to do it at a hundred sixty thousand kilometers interval. These, I basically show all the components we normally change when we do the timing belt. The blue arrows point idler pulley, so the timing belt runs along these pulleys and there are bearings inside the pulleys so we always change them because they’re worn, you never know when they’re going to fail and it’s best to make sure they’re all new. The green arrow points to the hydraulic tensioning unit, now it also has a pulley that can wear but it has an oil filled high pressure tensioning unit and it’s critical that keeps proper pressure on the timing belt. The light blue arrow points to the water pump. Again we replace these when we do the timing belt because A. it’s driven by the timing belt and if the bearing were to fail then it would damage the timing belt and cause the whole thing to break apart plus the water pump can leak so it’s best to change it when the timing belt is due and the last black arrow points to I’m not sure if that’s a crank shaft or cam shaft seal but there’s two cam shaft seals and a crank shaft seal, we always replace those when we do the timing belt.

So just kind of getting back to just a question you may have in your mind is well, what if I take really good care of my can, can I prevent the timing belt or sorry can I prevent the head gaskets from leaking and the timing belt is a given, it needs to be done at a hundred sixty thousand kilometers no matter how you drive. Can I prevent the head gaskets from failing and the answer is unfortunately no, it’s just the design maybe we’ll call it a defect which is just a design of the Subaru engine will typically cause the head gaskets will fail and you need to replace them.

So that’s hopefully gives you some ideas about what is involved with the head gaskets on a Subaru; as I said we do a lot of them at Pawlik Automotive, we’ve got some pretty good expertise on doing them. If you ever have any question you can reach us at 604-327-7112. Anything further to add Mark?

Mark: No. Thanks Bernie. Very thorough with lots of detail on how or why it takes so much time, why it’s a big job to change the head gaskets on the Subaru and possibly even why, you can see where the bolts are and where they aren’t so maybe that’s the reason why they fail. So we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. You can learn more at Pawlikautomotive.com or to book your next appointment. Give them a call 604-327-7112 Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark, talk to you again.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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