Subaru head gasket problems explained and Subaru head gasket replacement cost Repair

Subaru Head Gasket Problems Explained( Repair & Replacement Cost)

Last updated on January 13th, 2023 at 07:31 pm

Subaru Head Gasket Replacement Cost, Repair (Subaru Head Gasket Problems Explained)

Is your Subaru car showing some signs of a blown head gasket, if yes then this post is where Subaru head gasket problems is explained.

We talk about the history of issues down to fix, repair and Subaru head gasket replacement cost including the Subaru forester head gasket replacement cost.

Subaru is a popular and reliable car brand that has been in existence for decades. They have loyal customers that continue to patronize them year after year.

However, their 2.5-liter engine is widely known to have leaking head gasket problems.

This problem started in the 1990s and has been consistent in their models till date.

What is a head gasket? It is a thin metal strip that has various holes in it. During the assembly process, it is placed between the cylinder heads and block.

Its main function is to absorb all the energy between the metal components besides the engine. They keep the oil and coolant in the right passages.

The gasket works with the engine and changes position as the temperature of the engine fluctuates between cooling and heating function.

If the gasket gets damaged, the car engine will not be able to contain all the pressure it has inside.

The oil and coolant will then get into the wrong places.

This head gasket problem has been noticed in some of their models like Subaru Outback, Subaru Baja, Subaru Forester, Subaru Legacy, and Subaru Impreza.

When this problem arises in a Subaru, it needs to be fixed so that the car will continue running. The average repair cost of the head gasket is about $1100 to $1200.

Related articles: Jeep Wrangler Blown Head Gasket Symptoms & Signs

Subaru Head Gasket Replacement Cost, Repair (Subaru Head Gasket Problems Explained)

To get his post fully  here are some other subtopics and frequently asked questions that we will cover within this post.  

  • Explanation to Subaru head gasket problems  and issues;
  • How to tell if subaru head gasket is blown
  • How do I stop my Subaru head gasket from failing
  • Head gasket repair cost subaru / Subaru head gasket repair estimated cost?
  • subaru head gasket replacement cost
  • subaru forester head gasket replacement cost


  • What year Subaru has head gasket problems?
  • Do turbo Subarus have head gasket problems?
  • How hard is it to replace a Subaru head gasket?
  • what’s a car worth with a blown head gasket subaru?
  • how to fix a blown head gasket without replacing it
  • how long does it take to replace a head gasket Subaru?
  • blown head gasket symptoms

 So with those in mind let’s get to down to it.

Subaru head gasket problems explained

The head gasket issue for Subaru has affected lots of their models over the years. The ones it affected most are the Legacy, Impreza, and Outback from 1999 to 2004.

 They all use the 2.5 SOHC engine so that is the main reason why these models are affected. Their engine causes loss of coolant, overheating, and black colored coolant.

Lots of engines Subaru engine might experience this gasket failure but there are some that are widely known to encounter it more often.

They are Subaru Impreza (1999 to 2011), Legacy (2000-2009), Outback (2000-2011), Baja (2003-2005), and Forester (1999-2010).In 2011, the Impreza was the only model encountering the head gasket problems.

It was redesigned the following year and its entire leaking problem was fixed.

The first designed Subaru 2.5 engine gives symptoms of a damaged head gasket. There is usually an oil residue and an exhaust fuel in the bottle or it smells like sulfur.

Once you notice this, the temperature gauge will start reading higher which will cause overheating.

The second generations of Subaru with this problem are the Subaru 2.3 and 2.5 liters. The major sign will be a coolant leak or external oil leak at the left head gasket.

These symptoms are most common to these second-generation engine.

How to tell if Subaru head gasket is blown

If you are using an older Subaru model, the symptom that your head gasket is blown will be overheating.

When most of the materials of the head gasket are damaged, you will be able to see certain signs that the head gasket is blown.

The obvious one is that you see a white exhaust from the tailpipe. This white smoke is due to the lack of heat in the combustion chamber.

This means that the fuel is not burning at its correct proportion. However, the white smoke sign can be because of a damaged or obstructed fuel filter or if the diesel is contaminated.

In their petrol cars, it can be because of a burning coolant while black smoke can be a symptom of oil-burning inside or a failed engine.

Some of the other symptoms to look out for in older models are:

  • Engine overheating
  • Exhaust bubbles
  • Vapor in the coolant reservoir
  • Overheating

For newer models, the symptoms include:

  • A very high temperature while it is working
  • Overheating when traveling a long distance
  • Low coolant
  • The block and head near the engine will start dripping oil.

How do I stop my Subaru head gasket from failing

When it comes to Subaru, you can find various ways to decrease the probability of the head gasket failing.

When you do this, you reduce the chance of damages and increase the lifespan of your Subaru car.

Change of Oil

The first thing you need to do is always change your engine oil regularly. The compressed air-fuel in your car meets a  spark from the spark plug in the combustion chamber. This leads to an explosion and then power.

During this process, all the fuel that enters the chamber is not burnt. The leftover fuel will mix with the oil and the solvent fuel will erode the gasket.

If the oil gets to its proper temperature the fuel will evaporate into the manifold where it mixes with the combustion chamber air.

When you change the engine oil regularly, the risk of the fuel leaking in the wrong places will reduce.


Another way to prevent this problem is to watch the Subaru battery very closely. The battery should last about 3 to 5 years before it starts leaking acid.

The battery powers the car accessories when the vehicle is not working and also starts the vehicle.  

When the alternator cannot endure the load, it drains power from the battery. Since it is close to the radiator and also the electrical system, it can influence the cooling system voltage which can make the coolant corrosive.

When the battery is not taken care of properly can lead to a corrosive cooling system. This corrosion will eat the metal, seals, and head gasket.

If you are using a newer engine of Subaru, it usually affects the left side head gasket. A leaking battery can cause damage to the head gasket. Therefore, you need to keep a proper eye on your battery.

Changing the coolant

When the coolant in the Subaru takes too long, it can become corrosive and damage the seals and gaskets.

Therefore, you need to change it regularly. If you are using a second-generation engine, then you can make use of antifreeze.

Check your Subaru regularly

Make sure you regularly inspect your vehicle by taking it to a Subaru specialist. When you do that, you are making certain it gets the best care possible. With this you can avoid head gasket problems.

Head gasket repair cost Subaru / Subaru head gasket repair estimated cost?

The cost of fixing a Subaru depends on the configuration and year of your Subaru 2.5 liter engine. The base head gasket for parts is about $1100 to $1200.

 When you include other parts like tensioners, idlers, water pump, seals, and timing belt, that will add another $700.

A Subaru with an automatic transmission will cost about $2500 to $2700 to fix or repair. Then the gasket repair for a manual is high at about $300 to $500. The labor cost depends on the repairer or mechanic you use and the damages involved. Fixing the head gasket of a Subaru in most cases will take about 2 days.

Subaru head gasket replacement cost

Like I have mentioned above, the factor that determines the cost of your Subaru head gasket are the configuration of the engine and the year.

The base head gasket job is around $1600 to $1700 including labor and tax. Then you might need another $700 for the idler, timing belt, tensioners, seals, and water pump.

Subaru forester head gasket replacement cost

It might cost about $1200 to $200 depending on your location. You might need to add money to purchase the necessary parts. Your repairer will inform you if you have to do that.


What year Subaru has head gasket problems?

The Subaru head gaskets are in every model except for the Baja. It affected Forester and Impreza in 2011. As of 2011, the only model with the head gasket problem was Impreza.

Do turbo Subaru’s have head gasket problems?

No, they do not. The turbo model does not suffer from the head gasket problem. However, this does not in any way guarantee that it might not develop the problem. However, it will not be because of its design.

How hard is it to replace a Subaru head gasket?

Replacing a head gasket does not really require various types of equipment. However, it is a long and difficult job. If your technician has not done this before, it can be very tedious.

What’s a car worth with a blown head gasket Subaru?

If you want to sell a car with a blown gasket, then you should be looking a selling for round $1000 to $4000.

And that is because depending on the car original worth before gasket is blown, the mileage, how much it will cost to fix it and lot of other factors including current status of the car engine.

How long does it take to replace a head gasket Subaru?

Fixing a Subaru head gasket can take 48 hours. The repairer needs time to fix, recheck, and then take it for a test drive.

Blown head gasket symptoms

  • Exhaust gasket leaking coolant
  • Car hood overheating
  • A whitish smoke coming out of the exhaust
  • Coolant depleting without leakage
  • Bubbles in the radiator


In summary, this post explained some of the symptoms to look out for in order to discover head gasket damage in your Subaru vehicles or how to tell if Subaru head gasket is blown.

We also explained how you can avoid getting this damage, Subaru forester head gasket replacement cost and some common FAQs on Subaru head gasket problems. Remember to check your Subaru car regularly.

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