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Old 08-21-2012, 08:53 PM   #1
Bad Noodle
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Default 99 Forester Head Gasket Replacement - Could use some advice, chime in

Bought this guy about 3 weeks ago:



Barely got it home as it ate all the coolant in the radiator on the 40 mile drive home. Hooray Craigslist.

So pulled the engine and found the right head was leaking coolant into the combustion chamber and the left head was leaking oil.

So the heads have been disassembled for getting decked.



and here is what the block looks like:











the plan from here is:

get heads decked
clean up block
replace oil pan gasket
clean up valves using brass wire wheel
lap valves
clean everything like hell
reassemble

So here are some things I'm not sure about:
how do you clean the block for a new HG?
should I get a new timing parts?
can I reuse the head bolts
how is the fel-pro gasket set?
anything else I should do while everything is out?

Thanks,
-BN
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:23 PM   #2
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You can use scotch brite for cleaning the block. I use a razor and take my sweet time making not to nick the aluminum. You can reuse the tensioner. If the idler pulleys are making noise, replace them. Some people replace them just to make sure, some also replace the water pump since it a slight pain to get back in there should it fail, but few do fail.

Head bolts are reusable in my experience. Check the rear main seal and the funky shaped access cover for leaking, re-seal as necessary. You could open up the exhaust ports and match up to the headers while it's all out. You can chase all the threads to make sure they're all clean for reassembly.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:23 PM   #3
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If the heads were that bad, the crank case probably needs to be trued flat, too.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:32 PM   #4
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Napa sells a green nylon brush for your drill that is made specifically for cleaning off aluminum. It works awesome on heads/block and is super easy with a drill. I can't find it online but they will know what you are talking about if you go in. It leaves a polished/smooth surface!
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:38 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yarrgh View Post
You can use scotch brite for cleaning the block. I use a razor and take my sweet time making not to nick the aluminum. You can reuse the tensioner. If the idler pulleys are making noise, replace them. Some people replace them just to make sure, some also replace the water pump since it a slight pain to get back in there should it fail, but few do fail.
By making noise, you mean free spin them in my fingers and see if the bearings rattle?
And will check rear seals. Good idea.
Do you know if I need a new rear cam hole plug for the heads. Will be using new seals for the front of the cams, but for the back, can I put some gray stuff on the plug and tap it in?

Quote:
Originally Posted by yarrgh View Post
Head bolts are reusable in my experience. Check the rear main seal and the funky shaped access cover for leaking, re-seal as necessary. You could open up the exhaust ports and match up to the headers while it's all out. You can chase all the threads to make sure they're all clean for reassembly.
Is there any easy way to check if the bolts are Ok? Every place I was going to buy a head gasket set says you need new bolts? Snake oil?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RaceFaceXC View Post
If the heads were that bad, the crank case probably needs to be trued flat, too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by geronimo81 View Post
Napa sells a green nylon brush for your drill that is made specifically for cleaning off aluminum. It works awesome on heads/block and is super easy with a drill. I can't find it online but they will know what you are talking about if you go in. It leaves a polished/smooth surface!
Sounds awesome. Do you just shove rags into the coolant and oil passages to keep them clean?



It sounds like the only thing I need is a head gasket set and a timing belt. The belt I took off looked fine, but the car has got 111k on it so it's probably a good idea to replace.
I was gonna go all out and get new stuff, but since I don't know if the block is warped or how this whole thing will pan out, might as well only pick up the necessities.
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:01 AM   #6
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Use a sanding block and some 220 grit sand paper and gently run that across the deck. This will help ensure a nice flat surface for the heads to match up to and will help remove some of the crud that may have built up. For the cylinders I use a rag and solvent.

The head bolts are reusable as long as the threads are not mashed or warped. Just remember that the there are 4 specific bolts for the corners and the 2 in the middle...the 2 middle ones are painted black i believe. Also, look up the torque pattern for the head bolts. If they are not torqued properly you likely have problems in the future.
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:35 AM   #7
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Tighten cylinder head bolts.
(1) Apply a coat of engine oil to washers and
bolt threads.
(2) Tighten all bolts to 29 N'm (3.0 kg-m, 22
ft-Ib) in alphabetical sequence.
Then tighten all bolts to 69 N"m (7 .0 kg-m, 51
ft-Ib) in alphabetical sequence.
(3) Back off all bolts by 180" fi rst; back them off
by 180" again .
(4) Tighten bolts (a) and (b) to 34 N'm (3.5
kg-m, 25 ft-Ib).
(5) Tighten bolts (e), (d), (e) and (f) to 15 N'm
(1.5 kg-m, 11 ft- Ib).
(6) Tighten all bolts by 80 to 90" in alphabetical
sequence.
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Old 08-22-2012, 02:34 PM   #8
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Thanks for the info. This is awesome, gonna be much less expensive than i thought
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Old 08-22-2012, 02:56 PM   #9
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I'm a new guy, but I too have a 99 fozzy. I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but I've been told they put 2 different engines in the 99 foresters. I'm just trying to make shure you didn't get info for the wrong engine. Of course, I'm NOT an expert, and you experts might be able to identify which engine he's got from the pic's. Do you have the SOHC, or the DOHC engine?

Ok, while I've got your attention I'd like to ask everyone a quick question that might help him out. We all know about the problems these have with head gaskets. I've seen a few threads where people reccomend you use a gasket for a turbo engine in a non-turbo car. It's supposed to be much less likely to leak again like a stock gasket. I noticed no one here reccomended this solution, so I thought I'd ask if the info I read earlier is correct, since it could also help out Bad Noodle with this project.
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:29 PM   #10
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It's the sohc. i don't think you can use the turbo gasket as it's probably a different thickness. You can get a mls gasket from felpro, which is the same type but made specifically for the car. I read good things, but haven't heard much from the community here.
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:17 PM   #11
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I am building an engine for mine (04 rs) and I am using the turbo gaskets. I put them right on top I non turbo ones and the are perfect fits. And I figured the 2.5 sohc would benefit from the compression bump. And really the differences in thickness will barely change the ratio anyway. I would say go with the factory 04-05 sti gaskets. That's what I'm using. Hope this helps.
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:25 PM   #12
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That's cool.i saw it mentioned elsewhere. it would make sense that the sti gaskets will work. Anything wrong with the felpro? Their gasket set seems complete for the job and it's pretty cheap
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Old 08-22-2012, 05:59 PM   #13
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For the head bolts, you can inspect them for stretching. One method is to simply mesh ones threads with another (heads facing opposite) and give it a thorough look. There have been many arguments about reusing head bolts, there's a long thread on rs25.com about it. Since they seem to be torqued in the stretchy zone of the stress/strain curve, that points to re-use them to me. Others will have different opinions. The factory service manual says to use new, and the only downside to that is cost.

As for the pulleys, yes just spin them by hand and listen/feel. If they spin for a long time and are pretty quiet, that's good enough for me. You may be different in your criteria for replacement.
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:36 PM   #14
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Awesome, thanks for all the advice.

yarrgh, good point about the rear cover. It was leaking quite badly. I thought it was the oil pan gasket, but it turns out it's that cover. +1 on getting a new one.

I'm not sure about the pullys.
the one with teeth spins freely but is loud like a skateboard wheel
The other ones are quieter but seem slightly off axis,
The tensioner seems ok. Doesn't spin for a long time
Water pump seems a little jerky when you spin it

but the good news is that the block mating surfaces are flat.
the bolts all mesh really well, no problems there. the only defect I found on them are:

I think they should be ok to be reused. It looks like a manufacturing defect rather than threads getting warped.

So how's this for a shopping list?
- fel-pro gasket set
- rear crank case cover
- pully set (no tensioner)
- timing belt
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:41 PM   #15
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Looks good. I think you can reuse the cover by just re-sealing it. I think lol
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mstolz View Post
Looks good. I think you can reuse the cover by just re-sealing it. I think lol
can you? I was going to buy one and it's out of stock everywhere. So I can just take it off, clean it, throw some gray stuff on it, and put it back on? It's the crappy plastic one...

Are the cam plugs for the back of the heads reusable? Do you put any type of sealant on them?

Last edited by Bad Noodle; 08-23-2012 at 06:44 AM.
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Old 08-22-2012, 11:25 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bad Noodle

Are the cam plugs for the read of the heads reusable? Do you put any type of sealant on them?
Yea you can reuse those. Seal them with the hardening "grey stuff" you use on the valve covers
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Old 08-22-2012, 11:57 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J.Gibbs View Post
Yea you can reuse those. Seal them with the hardening "grey stuff" you use on the valve covers
You use liquid gasket on valve covers? That's interesting.


You could reseal the plastic cover but it will leak again. You should probably buy a new stamped steel/aluminum one. I have a nice aluminum one off mine that you can have. Only catch is that there's no mounting screws for it, and it uses tapered head screws (can be found at hardware store). It was not leaking - I only replaced it because I ruined the screws getting it off and I had a new steel plate laying around to use. The aluminum plates, by my research, are the best. Just offering...I don't want any money for it.

As for the pulleys, they do seem to wear at different rates and it's interesting to see which one is the worst. I used the same criteria for diagnosing pulleys as Allwheeldriveauto.com uses. That is, if it spins quietly and not for very long, it's got life left. If it spins loudly and/or spins for a long time (meaning its grease is now mostly absent), it's nearing it's end. It only makes sense to do the water pump.

Finally, I reused my head bolts but ended up wishing I didn't. They weren't in good shape. It doesn't seem to have bit me yet, but I can only blame myself if it ends up that way. I'm not saying you should replace yours...just saying that if you have any doubts that the bolts are good enough....you know...do watcha think is best.
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Old 08-23-2012, 02:00 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by upDUHcreek View Post
... I've been told they put 2 different engines in the 99 foresters...
Hey wait a second....



this guy has an oil cooler....
I don't have an oil cooler on my fozzy



is yours an auto tranny?
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Old 08-23-2012, 06:37 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonthesloth View Post
Hey wait a second....



this guy has an oil cooler....
I don't have an oil cooler on my fozzy



is yours an auto tranny?
You are correct sir.

and in terms of the water pump, is that supposed to spin freely or feel a little notchy?

Last edited by Bad Noodle; 08-23-2012 at 06:42 AM.
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Old 08-23-2012, 08:58 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tibug

You use liquid gasket on valve covers? That's interesting.
Book calls for "tri-bond" on the front cam mounts, the plastic filler piece for the cam slot in it the back of the head, and a small amount on the valve cover gaskets. Tri-bond is basically the same thing as the grey hardening permatex fyi
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Old 08-23-2012, 01:31 PM   #22
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I wanna say you can. Aslong as its not cracked or defective. If your sealing surface is flat I think you should be one. I just bought can seals and they were pretty cheap I would just replace them.
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Old 08-23-2012, 07:08 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J.Gibbs View Post
Book calls for "tri-bond" on the front cam mounts, the plastic filler piece for the cam slot in it the back of the head, and a small amount on the valve cover gaskets. Tri-bond is basically the same thing as the grey hardening permatex fyi
Ah yes, I knew about the cam cap but I had no idea about the valve cover gaskets. I guess I don't follow the FSM all that close, lol.
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Old 08-23-2012, 09:01 PM   #24
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Yes, you can use EJ257 headgaskets if you have an EJ251. I just did a headgasket/seal/timing component overhaul on my 2000 Forester and that is what I did after researching a lot. They are multi-layer steel gaskets and like someone mentioned, are supposed to hold up really well. They are also the same shape and have the same passages as the EJ251 gaskets. They are slightly thinner I believe, which raises the compression a hair, but nothing noticeable (that is what I have read).

I didn't want to take a chance with non-OEM gaskets and figured the STI gaskets were the best ones. Don't get the OEM gaskets Subaru lists for that car, as even the "Updated" gaskets are single layer steel.
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Old 08-23-2012, 09:12 PM   #25
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How do you guys feel about cleaning off the valves with a brass wire wheel? It should take the carbon off and make things nice. But could there be any side effects I'm not aware of?

lapping them a good idea?
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