Subaru Head Gasket Problems & Symptoms

Subaru Engine

Have you ever heard of the problems with the Subaru head gaskets?

If so, you may suspect that the gasket on your Subaru has gone bad.

However, this is a significant problem in many Subaru vehicles and should be removed with care, as the head gasket is a critical part of the engine and can cause serious damage to your engine.

First, you will find some necessary information and symptoms of a defective cylinder head gasket. Let us begin!

Subaru Head Gasket Information

Subaru Head Gasket Problems

Subaru, a Japan-based company, is one of the world’s leading car manufacturers. They produce a wide variety of vehicles, but most of their products have an engine capacity of 1500cc. Apart from being one of the top companies, they have a problem with cylinder head gaskets in their cars, which has stained their company’s record in the market.

The problem varies from model to model, but this problem started in 1996 and lasted until about 2011. This problem started when they started using a composite head gasket in some of their models.

This part consisted of a multi-layer steel frame coated with a layer of graphite or even rubber. Usually, they have a lifetime of about 75000 kilometers and usually need to be replaced after that. But if the car is properly maintained and checked, it can extend the life of gaskets and other engine parts.

The manufactured part did not meet the standards and allowed coolant to leak into the combustion and exhaust pressure chambers. The idea was not successfully implemented and suffered losses.

Bad Subaru Head Gasket Symptoms

Subaru Wrx Engine

The cylinder head gasket of the engine is a thin strip of metal with a series of punched holes. They are very thin like a slice of cheese and are placed between the block and the head of the cylinder.

Their purpose is to compensate for the tolerance between two heavy metals. In addition, they carry the pressure in the combustion chamber and are also responsible for keeping the engine oil in place and ensuring that the coolant flows through the coolant jacket.

Tightened with nuts and placed between the two metal surfaces, the gasket seals everything tight.

Head gaskets are generally designed to last the life of an engine, and if they fail, they can only be replaced. Head gaskets don’t appear to move, but they are like moving parts. As the engine temperature changes, they run ever so slightly, as each operating cycle of the engine dissipates the heat at different speeds and pressures through the head and the block effect on the gasket.

When the head gasket fails, the engine’s ability to withstand combustion pressure mixes with coolant or engine oil. Engine oil and coolant leaks are also observed.

1. Oil Dripping Underneath the engine

The purpose of the head gasket is to ensure that two metal blocks are secured together with one hundred percent certainty. This means that if the seal becomes defective, slight gaps will form from which oil can leak. This leakage indicates a possible risk of a faulty head gasket.

Since the cylinders are mounted on the side of a Subaru engine and the oil flows downwards, there may be oil leaks on your engine.

2. Overheating of Engine

The head gasket ensures that it provides a proper passage for the coolant to flow through the appropriate section. This absence of coolant directly affects and heats up the engine, causing the temperature readings on the instrument panel to rise.

A defective cylinder head gasket can cause compression in the cooling system, causing air to get into the coolant. This leads to overheating of the engine. At such high temperatures. One should stop the car and fill the radiator with more coolant or lubricate the engine oil and consult a technician or mechanic as soon as possible.

3. Overheating During Long Journeys

If coolant leaks, it becomes less effective. This may not be a problem for short or medium-distance driving, because the reduced amount of fluid will still be enough to lubricate the car on shorter journeys.

However, when you take your car for a long drive, it will make your engine run, generating more heat. More oil and coolant are needed to counter this heat. Any leakage in the cylinder head gasket leads to more friction and heat.

Testing and Repairing the Gasket

Gaskets are normally hidden under the upper part of the engine. To check them, you have to remove the upper part of the engine, and even then you must be very precise to find them. It is highly recommended to entrust this task to a highly professional mechanic to avoid a possible mishap.

Although there is no problem to do it yourself, the sensitivity of the job favours highly qualified mechanics.

RELATED: How to Check if Your Head Gasket is Blown

Inspection of Leakage

First of all the leakage of coolant must be detected. A leak can occur anywhere in the number of pipes connected to the radiator and from the radiator to the engine. It is therefore recommended to start from the radiator towards the engine. Normally a leak is visible, you just have to find it.

Temperature Checks

Normally a rise in engine temperature indicates a fault in the gasket. The breakage of the gasket is very uncertain and unnoticeable. There is no sound or visible difference, but one of the most obvious signs is a rise in temperature.

If you notice a temperature rise, look for the coolant level in the radiator. If there is no water in the radiator, leave your car switched on and check which gasket is leaking.

Subaru Head Gasket Replacement Cost

For the labor cost of replacing the head gasket, you can expect replacement costs between $400-1500. The costs for the head gasket are between $80-150.

It is highly appreciated if you leave the problem of your gasket to a mechanic. It requires a high level of expertise in diagnosing and then dealing with the diagnosed problem using the right tools and methods to ensure that there is the highest possible likelihood of solving the problem in the right way.

Mechanics may charge a lot of money to repair seal defects because they must open the entire top half of the engine to repair the gasket.

If you have further queries on this subject, please leave a comment below!

Written by: Magnus Sellén

Founder, owner & main author of Mechanic Base. I have been repairing cars for more than 10 years, specialized in advanced diagnostics & troubleshooting. I have also been a drifting driver and mechanic for over 7 years.