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1998 forester s
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4 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hows it going everybody? I have a question that may sound like a stupid one but I am a newbe to Subaru's. I have a 98 forester that I am embarking on replacing the head gaskets. I have been shopping for the best price on parts and am completely lost. Buying the Subaru brand head gasket set and head bolts or a Felpro head gasket set and bolts run $300-$400 whether I buy online or locally. But if I go on E-bay I can get a set with head bolts and shipping for around $100. Is there that much of a difference in the quality? Has anyone tried these other gaskets with any luck? The car has 150k on it and overheats really bad after about 40min of driving. It's a long story but I got suckered with the car and am on a limited budget fixing it. It seems to have been taken care of fairly well. The timing belt is almost new and the tensioner, idler pulleys, and water pump are actually in nice shape so I am going to skip replacing them. But I am worried about any damage the previous owner did from driving while overheating and the temp guage pinned. Is it critical I get the better gaskets? If so can I buy the cheaper gasket set and just get the head gaskets from Felpro? That would cost about $180 and still save some money. Any info anyone could give would be appreciated.
 

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NA No more! :(
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8,529 Posts
not sure what to say about gaskets.. im in the same position as you but due to overheat (i haven't overheated my engine yet) then you definitely should machine the heads flat and check the block as well. warpage will make any good HG job go bad if they aren't flattened and the RA brought to spec.
 

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1998 forester s
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4 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I am planning on having the heads machined because of the overheating but how do I check the block and what am I looking for?
 

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Premium Member
2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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8,073 Posts
The block is treated the same as the heads. If it has been over heated you may as well count on the heads being warped and there is a good chance the block will need to be machined as well.

I wont advise on what brand gaskets to get for the sole reason of if I say get gasket "A" and it fails you may look back at me:shrug: I have used OEM, the STI gskt, Cometic, Autozone and Napa gaskets all with success.

However a successful HG repair on a EJ25 is equal parts of:

1. Flat/straight heads and block
2. Good gaskets(you get what you pay for)
3. Proper prep
4. Proper assembly

A lasting HG repair on a budget can be a costly mistake. Spending the money to do it right the first time may save you money over skipping steps the first time and having to do them right the second time.
 

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2002 forester l
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8 Posts
i bought ebay set for 90 dollars 2800 miles ago.ipulled my motor this week for bad head gasket .both gasgets were badley seperated.please do not make the same mistake.BUY QUALITY HEAD GASKETS and save yourself headaches and a lot of work
 

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2001 SOLD!
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1,420 Posts
I did my wifes head-gaskets on a 98 DOHC Outback. It overheated. When I removed the heads, I checked for warpage. They were fine.

-You don't need to change the head-bolts.
-Go OEM if you can. They use them, why shouldn't you.

Why do people always insist on machining heads during a head gasket change. I have done a lot of them and have not had any one coming back.
 

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NA No more! :(
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It's a just in case measure because there are also lots of stories about no machining and leaking heads again.
 

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1998 Forester S
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20 Posts
I've send both head to the machinist but not only for resurfacing... i ask them to make an air leak test on both head...

Just to be sure there was nothing else, so now i know that my head are perfect and that if i have compression proble it came onl from ring
 

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Premium Member
2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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8,073 Posts
I did my wifes head-gaskets on a 98 DOHC Outback. It overheated. When I removed the heads, I checked for warpage. They were fine.

-You don't need to change the head-bolts.
-Go OEM if you can. They use them, why shouldn't you.

Why do people always insist on machining heads during a head gasket change. I have done a lot of them and have not had any one coming back.

Most machinists I know would agree that the use of a straight edge and ~.002"(.0018" IIRC) feeler gauge is a inadequate method for checking for flatness on these heads/block, despite that being the method in the OEM service manual. I would be willing to bet most of them would tell you a test indicator would be more appropriate.

The majority of heads off EJ25s I have checked with a test indicator have been out buy more then .003". Proof enough for me to skip wasting time checking them and just get them machined.

Why do people always insist on machining heads during a head gasket change?

Simple, if you are doing it out of your own pocket on your time, it is cheap insurance(~$200) to do it while the engine is apart the first time, then to have to rip it all apart a second time to spend that ~$200 you were to cheap to spend the first time. The great part about doing it the second time you get to buy all those gaskets all over again. So a couple extra hundred dollars spent now can save you several hundred later. If you can't afford to do it right the first time, can you afford to do it right a second time.

If you are doing it as a side job or as a shop now you have to eat the cost of doing it all over again right. Any HG jobs I do for people I explain the reasons why they should be machined and the risks of not doing them. If they decide to not have them machined, I simply wont warranty the repair. In my mind you have chose to skip a critical step in the repair and I don't feel I should be the one financially responsible for a repair you chose to go cheap on. Many of the motorcycle shops I have worked at had a variation of this policy and I have carried it with me in my side work.
 

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2001 SOLD!
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1,420 Posts
I did a ****load and never had a problem. And yes I am a tool and die maker by trade. I even have a lathe and a milling machine in my garage.:icon_wink:

Gaskets are there for the fluctuations in surfaces between block and head. We could go into detail with metallurgical properties associated with heat cycling and the differences in material.
 

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Premium Member
2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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8,073 Posts
We could but there is no reason to. As I said it is cheap insurance to spend ~$200 the first time you are doing the job VS doing every thing a second time. Thus spending twice the amount of money to do the same repair. Just because it hasn't happened to you yet doesn't mean it wont. Not to mention if you have the equipment(mill) why not do it, your not out any thing.

For the record, after leaving the motorcycle industry. I'm a Swiss Machinist in the medical field at a shop that specialises in the small. By small I mean I spent this last week making .007" diameter(+/- .00003") parts with a .003" diameter counter bore. A large thread for us is a 000-120. So yes I spend my days around lathes, mills and exotic materials too.
 

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2001 SOLD!
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1,420 Posts
We could but there is no reason to. As I said it is cheap insurance to spend ~$200 the first time you are doing the job VS doing every thing a second time. Thus spending twice the amount of money to do the same repair. Just because it hasn't happened to you yet doesn't mean it wont. Not to mention if you have the equipment(mill) why not do it, your not out any thing.

For the record, after leaving the motorcycle industry. I'm a Swiss Machinist in the medical field at a shop that specialises in the small. By small I mean I spent this last week making .007" diameter(+/- .00003") parts with a .003" diameter counter bore. A large thread for us is a 000-120. So yes I spend my days around lathes, mills and exotic materials too.
Yeah I did my fair share of high-precision machining. Waveguides and other parts for Satellites (Radarsat, Inmarsat etc.) and the International Space Station.

I also had to drill a 0.010" hole in 5/8" thick SS plate. With a compound sine plate. I had 3 angles to calculate. Gotta love that high-precision work!!!:icon_wink:
 
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