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Old 02-13-2002, 11:08 PM   #1
jsnspence
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Join Date: Feb 2002
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1997 Legacy 2.5GT
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Angry 97 2.5 GT Head Gasket update

My misfire in cylinder 2 saga continues... My car’s engine is out and on an engine stand being practically rebuilt. I have found out that SOA has a good idea about the 97 DOHC 2.5GT head gasket design flaw. They have redesigned the head gasket to hopefully take care of the inadequate OEM gasket. I called 3 Subaru dealerships around Minneapolis and with some coaxing, 2 of the 3 service managers admitted to the problem. Morries Subaru just placed an order for 25 new redesigned 97 2.5GT head gaskets…they are expecting to see more of the same problem.

My engine is going to receive as many new seals as possible since the engine is out and accessible. The Subaru “seals and gasket” kit for the 97 2.5 is extensive. I have also decided to replace the H2O pump and the clutch assemble while it is completely assessable. I pray this attention and excess with allow me to get as many miles as I originally hope the car would get.

After looking at the engine with the heads off, I can see why the 97 2.5 would be toast if it overheats. The cylinder walls are about a .5” thick. One of the problems with the head gasket is it narrows the already conservative coolant circulation around the cylinders. I would suggest that all 2.5 DOHC owners take very good care of the coolant system. The coolant system on my car has been flushed before every winter. It was scary to see there was still build up of coolant sludge in the block. If this sludge were to clog any coolant path… you just bought a new engine. I was happy to see zero oil sludge or oil byproduct build up. Amsoil is great stuff!!

I was surprised to see a fair amount of carbon build up on the piston heads. My Tech said it was from higher octane fuel and Minnesota additives. My Tech said to try 89 octane instead of 93. The 2.5GT engine has moderate compretion compared to some other turbo cars and high compression engines. Here and there, the highest octane fuels don’t burn completely at high RPM’s and contribute to build up. My Tech said to use mid range fuel because you still get the detergent additive that help but correct octane amounts for the engine?? Makes since in theory??

So, new and improved gaskets, polished intake, cylinders, pistons heads , new seals, clutch assembly, and H2O pump… Will it last???

This totaly sucks and will cost a ton! I think I will set the car a blaze if it happens again!!!


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Old 02-14-2002, 12:52 AM   #2
Apexboy
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Good to hear the good news , but sad to hear about the costly repairs....

So Subaru admitting the design flaw.... are they going to do anything for you? I figure, since they already re-designed it, maybe it's going to be a recall item?

For this design flaw....:monkey: to Subaru.

Thanks for the info!!!

Rich
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Old 02-14-2002, 01:45 AM   #3
jsnspence
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SOA did not admit to the problem, only a few service managers at dealerships. I called SOA and they had never heard of the problem??? Futhermore, the SOA folks said they do no provide tecnical info, only dealership could help in that department. They also said that they do not consider internet sources such as i-club.com. My Tech working on the car has been working on Subarus for 25 years and has said I will never get Subaru to admit any wrong doing or bad design. The only service Manager that would not admit he had heard of this problem said that "Every car company has had a few problems with design here and there... you have 86K on the car and things like this happen...what do you want us to do?" I asked if this was going to be another Dodge Neon head gasket eating problem?

So NO, SUBARU IS NOT GOING TO DO ANYTHING FOR 1997 2.5 GT OWNERS WITH HEAD GASKET PROBLEMS!!!!!!!!

Perhaps they think they have skirted the problem with a better gasket and new head bolt tighting order.

All you 97 2.5 GT folks, be prepared to spend approx. $1800 on engine work and Subaru will never know anything about it.

What can be done?
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Old 02-14-2002, 09:51 AM   #4
DoughtCom
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Hey man, ironically I live in MN too, I have a 1997 Legacy GT, and I'm having the same crap happen to me, I just rebuilt the engine because of a blown head gasget and now the tranny is going, so I feel your pain. I'm selling my car, and losing 2k in the process after throwing 6k into it.
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Old 02-14-2002, 10:39 AM   #5
HIHO
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Oh well I guess I'm next. I am glad a spent the extra $1000 dollars for the extended warranty. I bought it at 60,000 so I am covered until 108,000. Now I hope mine goes out so I can get the new gasket. Hell, I wouldn't care if the whole engine blew so I could get a PhaseII.
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Old 02-14-2002, 11:23 AM   #6
2.5GT
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Default I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!

I too asked numerous dealers about these "random" occurences with headgaskets and DOHC engine designs. I even went through the trouble of printing out each and every single complain on this forum. No luck . . . kept hearing the same thing. "We haven't heard of any of these kinda problems and haven't serviced many cars for it."

You're lucky, though (compared to me anyway). All of the dealerships in my are are charging $2300-2600 to replace the headgaskets. So . . .

I said SCREW THAT and got an independent mechanic to swap in a 01 SOHC engine for about $2000 . . . INCLUDING THE INSTALL!!! I'd recommend this option over just replacing the headgaskets.

Jason
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Old 02-14-2002, 01:36 PM   #7
jsnspence
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Wow $2000 for SOHC engine. Was the engine new? I did think about going to a SOHC. I was told it would be a huge job and very costly. The tech that is doing the work thinks I will never have the same problem again??!!! I HOPE SO! For $2200 I any geting as many seals replaced as possible, a new H2O pump, polished cyclinders and piston heads , coolant system clean, intake polished, new clutch, presure plate...ect...heads milled, new and improved head gaskets...timing belt.

I am very glad I took my car to a good private tech. He is doing good work and going the extra mile, just as if it were his car. I have been to the shop and watched over his shoulder 2-3 times. I have learned a ton about the 2.5 engine. I am a first time Subaru owner so I feel much more confortable. Ya know I have only owned this car for 3 months!!!!!!!!1
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Old 02-14-2002, 02:19 PM   #8
2.5GT
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The engine was actually out of a wrecked 2001 legacy with only 5000 miles!!! I got lucky, I guess. I got the engine for about $1800 shipped and utilized all of the DOHC engine stock components (ecu, wiring harness, airbox, etc), which saved a bunch of money. Lemme know if you have any other questions pertaining to the swap.

Another interesting sidenote is that the car is A LOT quicker with the newer engine. I dunno if it's just because of a newer engine, or the overall design of the newer engines.

I'm hoping your Subie tech is right about this solving all of the porblems. Only time will tell.

Jason
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Old 02-14-2002, 11:53 PM   #9
etam
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Here is my story:
brought the MY97 car new back in Sept 1997 and around Dec 1998, I could hear loud clicking noise when started in cold. Brought the car in service and then later learned that I needed a new short block! Here is the details of my warranty claim:

Diag. engine major noise cold:
replaced 10103AA810R1 short block C$1570 with 30% discount from C$2042

replaced 1015AA240 gasket/seal kit C$282 with 30% discount from C$367.

Can someone tell me if I have the new gasket kit or not? If not, I will go to dealer to buy extended warranty (now 83000km or less than 52000mile) or think of selling the car before too late.

thanks,

Ernest
edit: I think I don't have CEL and didn't ask for the real reason because it was covered under warranty.
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Old 02-15-2002, 09:14 AM   #10
jsnspence
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etam,
you said:I will go to dealer to buy extended
warranty (now 83000km or less than 52000mile) or think of selling the car before too late.

How much will the extended warranty cost??
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Old 02-15-2002, 09:19 AM   #11
etam
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I don't know how much extended warranty will cost me... I just saw that HIHO has one (US$1000) and I don't have money for new car now.

Actually, one question.. even with the new gasket/seal kit, am I going to survive forever? or just a better design and delay the problem?

Ernest
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Old 02-15-2002, 09:39 AM   #12
HIHO
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etam- The warranty cost $1000. Remember the price is negotiable, it started out at $1500. I told them the most I would pay is $1000 so they took it. I have a 97 and have had no problems. I have only had the car for about 10 months. I doubt EVERY 97 will have the same problem. Remember alot of use are really hard on our cars(high RPMS/Redlines). I redline my car alot but I don't auto-x it. Alot of these guys are using their cars for track events. When you race there is often engine problems.

There has to be a permenant fix for the problem. If a copper gasket was made it would be stong enough to hold at very high rates. I talked to PAECO and they said that they have copper gaskets that would fix the problem. They said they have built many DOHC Phase1 engines with excelent results. They said that it is acctually a very good engine with a few tweaks. I am going to run in my first auto-x this spring/summer. If I have the gasket problems I will talk to my dealer about them installing the PAECO gasket.
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Old 02-15-2002, 10:26 AM   #13
jsnspence
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Yes I agree that the 97 2.5 gasket problem is not pervasive. However, it has become an establish problem. Subaru has addressed it, Cobb has addressed it, PAECO has addressed it, ECT… I think I got screwed on this deal. I don't know if I would pay $1000 for the extended warranty. In retrospect, if I would have known this was a potential problem, I could have diagnosed this earlier. Perhaps you could slip in and purchase the warranty if early symptoms arise.

I would also agree that people have a tendency to drive these cars hard. It goes without saying that this would increase the chances of many things going wrong. I do not drive my car hard. I purchased this car for the long term. I have done everything in my power to keep it in top condition. I am about to get very cynical about all the effort I put into this car. If you are conservative with your car and there is an inherent design flaw… What the hell are you to do!

My Tech has also told me to be careful with warranty work. The dealerships do not pay for the parts, but the techs are paid half time on warranty repairs. Fast fast fast, and cut corners. For a head gasket the dealership would not have taken the engine out. The heads most likely would not have been milled. No polishing, ECT… Off with the heads (maybe leaving the old gasket on) and on goes the gasket and cranker down!

I have not lost faith in the car yet…
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Old 02-15-2002, 10:52 AM   #14
HIHO
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I feel for you jsnspence. I hate to see a car that is well taken care of have problems. Subaru just dropped the ball on the gasket design. I wouldn't give up on it either. If they are replacing the gasket with a new design, maybe that will fix all problems. Remember there is a 1 year warranty on the dealers work. I would request them to remill the heads.

The half paid tech is not the way warranty work is suppose to be set up. The dealer is the one that takes the lose on the work not the tech. SOA will pay a set price for work. They pay for parts and $35/hr. The dealer charges non-warranty work $65/hr. The tech will still make his $35/hr but the dealer loses out on the extra $30. So the dealer is pushing for quick work not the tech. But we all know the dealer is telling the tech to cut corners etc. They have a set procedure when dealing with warranty work. I think every dealer is different some CARE but most don't.
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Old 02-16-2002, 11:04 AM   #15
silverSurfer
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Question

hey, just wondering, i have the DOHC engine and I haven't experienced any problems like you guys mentioned so far. But I will have the heads removed this summer to put in some cams, would it be wise for me to add a copper gasket while it's open???

while on the same topic, what other things could I do while it's open?

tia!

chrisC
SQC #13
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Old 02-16-2002, 12:05 PM   #16
HIHO
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Yes I would go a head an put the copper gasket in.
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