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Woody MegaDork
10/14/14 9:17 a.m.

I have a 2005 Legacy 2.5i Limited that I am getting ready to sell. The car has 84,000 miles on it and runs great. It has the EJ253 U5 California engine. Most New England cars got the California engine.

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Yesterday, I noticed that it's leaking a little oil, so I put it up on the lift to take a look. The valve cover gaskets are dry and it appears to be weeping at the head gasket. The car doesn't overheat, and there is no oil in the coolant and no coolant in the oil.

I hate the idea of selling something that could need work in the near future, so I'm thinking about pulling the engine and doing the head gaskets and timing belt. I'm not in a huge rush to sell it, and Subaru values tend to go up around here the morning after the first snow storm, which is about a month away.

I've never pulled a Subaru engine before, or done a head gasket/timing belt on one. I know that there are Subaru experts around here.

Can somebody point me to a step by step head gasket and timing belt tutorial?

Do I need to send the heads out to be machined if it's never overheated?

Is there a preferred brand of head gasket or belts and pulleys?

Also, are there any special tools that I'm going to need? I have a lift and access to an engine hoist. I'd like to get this car in and out of the garage as quickly as possible. I'd just like to avoid any surprises.

ebonyandivory SuperDork
10/14/14 9:54 a.m.




Harvey Reader
10/14/14 9:58 a.m.

My cousin has done a bunch of these and is hesitant to give definitive advice because each car can be different. Mainly you will want to pull the motor and you will want to have the factory service manual for your car as instructions. Whether you need to machine the heads is really dependent on what condition your heads are in when you take a look at them. It's a pretty big job overall.

NGTD SuperDork
10/14/14 12:38 p.m.

You shouldn't have to do the heads if you caught it early.

OEM head gaskets has been what I have heard.

Woody MegaDork
10/14/14 10:18 p.m.
ebonyandivory wrote: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yakX-GAV9uE https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=D6yS1umvsP8 https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=R58MwuhTsQk

Thanks for those links. I watched a bunch of his videos today and learned a lot.

mikeatrpi Reader
10/14/14 10:40 p.m.

Woody, I did this on my 01 a couple of years ago. I kept the engine in the car and twisted / rotated things around to get it apart. I used head gaskets from the dealer, intake / exhaust gaskets from Felpro and a Gates water pump / timing belt kit. Two years and 30k+ miles later its all holding up just fine. I bought a bunch of other gaskets so I'd have them on hand once I got in there, but I didn't use any of them. I remember that it took the better part of a weekend to do this. I also remember that my car has the SOHC design, which is more likely to have external oil leaks and easier to work on than cars with the DOHC.

Here was a thread I had going at the time. I took the pics down but I could package them up if you send me a PM. http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/diagnose-me-leaky-subaru/41886/page1/

This thread was useful: http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f66/how-replace-ej25-head-gaskets-without-removing-engine-57335/

Kenny_McCormic PowerDork
10/14/14 10:51 p.m.

I've never done the heads, but the timing belt (at least on a 02) is a straightforward afternoon job in car with the radiator out. For headgaskets, I'd probably pull the engine and put it on a stand.

Duke UltimaDork
10/14/14 10:57 p.m.

This thread is relevant to my interests. DD#1's 2002 Impreza 2.5 is about to hit the magic 100k mile mark.

ouchx100 Reader
10/15/14 12:24 a.m.

Did the timing belt on my 06 wrx a few months ago and it was way easier than I expected. Took maybe 8 hours working slowly and doing it for the first time. A few bolts and connectors and the radiator pulled right out giving plenty of room. Cam lock tool helped a bunch and I used a gates kit with water pump from rallysportdirect. No idea about the heads though

Woody MegaDork
10/15/14 12:26 a.m.

I've decided that if I'm going to do this, then the engine's coming out.

sachilles SuperDork
10/15/14 10:54 a.m.

Modifying the sti head gasket seems to be the preferred method around here. Engine will need to come out. While doing timing, you should to water pump and cam seals. Not crazy hard, just time consuming, and something that improves with practice. That being said if you like flipping cars, picking up subies with head gasket issues is away to create a hobby that pays. I have a buddy that always has an ej ready to go, for a quick swap and flip, then takes his time fixing the ailing engine...prepping for the next flip.

Harvey Reader
10/15/14 1:28 p.m.
Woody wrote: I've decided that if I'm going to do this, then the engine's coming out.

I think that is probably for the best. Everyone I know that has done these pulls the motor out and it's not hard to pull the motor from what they say.

Ojala HalfDork
10/15/14 1:38 p.m.

I don't usually replace the water pump just because it is so rare to have a bad oem one. The replacements are all pretty rough in comparison. If it's just the oil returns are leaking I usually use the old oiled sandpaper on glass trick to clean them up.

Gates timing belt kit is fine, but don't get their water pump. If you want to replace the pump I would go oem only. For head gasket I would go oem or victor reinz depending on what's available.

Lots of links to every possible engine timing belt and head gasket on nasioc. When you pull the motor watch out for the ground strap by the pitch stop. Very common to forget it.

Woody MegaDork
10/17/14 8:46 a.m.

The more that I research this, the more I think that the real source of the oil leak is the oil separator. Even so, the engine still has to come out to replace it and I'm going to give it the whole while-your-in-there treatment: head gaskets, timing belt and tensioners, water pump, oil pan gasket, oil separator, etc..

All this for a car that I'm planning on selling soon anyway. Which is exactly why they say that you should always buy your next car from me.

dansxr2 Dork
10/17/14 9:04 a.m.

I did an engine swap in my sisters '05 to a JDM EJ20 which ultimately wouldn't work with the '05 electronics due to the fact it had AVCS. Her car stripped the teeth on a foot or so of the timing belt sitting at a bank drive thru. We replaced an intake valve and both headgaskets and the car has had no issues since. Removal is easy and if your remotely handy with a wrench you won't have any issues at all.

Ojala HalfDork
10/17/14 9:21 a.m.

In reply to Woody:

Ah, the good old Indiana plate. The phase ones had plastic indiana plates and those were guaranteed leakers. Not much of a problem on the later ones like you have as they switched to metal. If it doesnt obviously look like its leaking then dont touch it! There is an 0-ringed access plate on the other side of the crank that has been known to leak as the o ring shrinks and cracks with age.

If you take off the under tray you can look up with a light and if there is oil by the exhaust studs. then it is probably the head gasket leaking from the oil return. If its more toward the front then its most likely the pump or filter. If its more toward the sides then its the valve cover gaskets.

Woody MegaDork
10/17/14 11:16 a.m.

In reply to Ojala:

Your expertise is appreciated. Photos forthcoming.

fornetti14 Dork
10/17/14 11:20 a.m.
Woody wrote: I've decided that if I'm going to do this, then the engine's coming out.

My advice is to pull the valve covers and break the 6 head bolts loose before you pull the motor out. Its a 12 pt 14mm socket (not a deep wall). Get out your 1/2" breaker bar.
My go-to head gasket set is the Fel-Pro perma-torque multi-layer steel. I will not bother with the OEM HG's any more. I usually do 2-3 a year and have never had one come back.
I also buy the Gates timing belt kit that includes their water pump & all the idler's & belt tensioner.
I reuse my head bolts, but they are so cheap now that you might as well grab a set on-line to show the future owner how awesome you are at replacing everything.

All of the above are sourced through Rockauto.com

Woody MegaDork
10/17/14 11:21 a.m.

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fornetti14 Dork
10/17/14 11:28 a.m.

I forgot to add that I always have the heads redone at my local machine shop. They come back looking like new and the valve stem seals come with the Fel-Pro kit I mentioned above. It usually runs me $170 for a pressure test, valve job (they can find bad valves) and resurface.
Let me know if they find bad valves and you need some. I have a handful of them.
I've done 3 cars this year (2005 Impreza, 2004 & 2005 Forester) and each one of had a bad valve face without any sign of compression loss or misfire. Most of the time its cyl #4 on the drivers side.

Leafy Reader
10/17/14 11:31 a.m.

Your hardest thing is going to be splitting the engine front the tranny. I did the clutch in my wrx the easy way, by pulling the engine and leaving he tranny in. I would have done it in under 4 hours if the tranny to block locating pins hadnt rusted and locked themselves into the block. Attack those with penetrating oil as much as you can leading up to this, and the nuts for the engine mounts. Cover the mating face and both pins with antisieze when you put it back together.

For setting the timing belt, buy a handful of the smallest size alligator clamps for holding the belt in place. IMO, unless you buy or make the cam holding tool its easier to do the timing in the engine bay because you can put an allen head socket on a ratchet and rest it against the frame rail to hold the drivers side exhaust cam into place.

crxmike New Reader
10/17/14 11:56 a.m.
Leafy wrote: Your hardest thing is going to be splitting the engine front the tranny...and getting constantly rained down on from rallyx debris from that one rallyx event at Stafford

You coming out to Stafford again Leafy?

Leafy Reader
10/17/14 12:02 p.m.
crxmike wrote:
Leafy wrote: Your hardest thing is going to be splitting the engine front the tranny...and getting constantly rained down on from rallyx debris from that one rallyx event at Stafford
You coming out to Stafford again Leafy?

ahahahahahaha I'm not sure I got covered with more debris doing the clutch, or pulling the center diff and driveshaft to replace the driveshaft and do the center diff bearings. I'll probably try ice racing this year. I dont want to push the electrical taped back together koni strut inserts too hard.

Woody MegaDork
10/18/14 9:35 p.m.

I am beginning to compile a parts list for Rock Auto. The plan is to pull the engine, do the oil separator cover, timing belt etc, and possibly the head gaskets. Am I missing anything?

-Head gasket kit

-Timing belt kit with water pump, idlers and tensioner

-Oil pan gasket

-Intake manifold gaskets

-Oil separator cover and screws

-O-ring for wrist pin cover

-Accessory belts

-Front crank seal

-Oil pan gasket

-Oil and antifreeze

Ojala HalfDork
10/18/14 9:49 p.m.

Since you are wanting to replace so much it might make sense to just buy a whole engine gasket kit.

The intake gasket kits don't usually include things like the valve cover gaskets or valve cover breather gaskets so there is that to think about.

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