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Old 12-09-2020, 06:15 AM   #1
Scooby Newbie
Member#: 399419
Join Date: Aug 2014
Default JDM swap better and cheaper than repair, long-term?

I just bought a 2010 Outback with 200k. The body is pretty good, and the car is the Premium model with nice extras. I think I got a good deal.

Downsides to this car: Engine has 200k. I now know that it needs it's second timing belt/tensioner replacement, and I found oil in one of the spark plug galleries, so I know that the oil seals or valve cover gaskets are probably the cause. Boot of the only coil pack I removed had some oil saturation. At 200k and no mention of head gasket replacement from the owner, I'm nervous about putting money into something this tired. The car sometimes gets boggy when first getting going. Parking lot areas, etc. I've only had the car for a week. Runs fine everywhere else so far. Other major issue that I know of so far is rust on the underside. I was told that this was mostly from highway mileage, and I'm going to sandblast and undercoat.

Timing belt kit with waterpump should cost at least $400 installed, by my mechanic, and I'm not sure how much it'll cost to fix the oil leakage around the heads. There's still a chance of head gasket failure, right? I looked online and found tons of used engines for sale, some JDM and some U.S. with 40-60k miles and prices averaging $1400-2400. Fully rebuilt engines for ~$3500 with old engine core. *No fancy swaps, i.e. turbo, just a direct-swap of the SAME engine code, with less wear.

I have a great mechanic, and I think that $1400-1800 would save me a lot of trouble down the road, with the perks being:

1. Much fresher engine.
2. Several years before moderate/major maintenance jobs expected.
3. I can sell the 200k engine as is and recoup some good money. Not sure how much though.
4. Now is an excellent time to divert "repair" funds into this purchase.

5. ?? Better gas mileage? More HP/greater engine efficiency, lower emissions?

Please let me know what I don't know. Also, please confirm if this is good idea. I pretty much know from early 2000's Subaru swaps that engine layout must be verified (egr valve placement, manual/auto donor, transmission cooler, fuel injector color, etc.), but I always like to assume I don't know anything and relearn it from scratch. THANKS!
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Old 12-11-2020, 11:58 AM   #2
Samurai Jack
Scooby Guru
Member#: 21145
Join Date: Jul 2002
Chapter/Region: NESIC
Location: Not in my own time
2002 Enemy of Aku


You seem to have a fairly good grasp of your situation.
If you trust your mechanic, listen to his advice.

Engine swaps in these cars are fairly straight forward, whether USDM or JDM.

Better gas mileage? More HP/greater engine efficiency?
- A proper tune will help here. Don't forget better gas mileage is directly related to your right foot.

Lower emissions?
- Not really unless your engine has emission issues now.

When doing an engine swap, that is a good time to change water pump, timing belt, associated pulleys, valve cover gaskets, all hoses.
- Maybe head gaskets but really should not be an issue with a 50K mileage motor.

All this would be done BEFORE installation as it is much easier.

Don't forget to include the labor cost for all this.

Check over the car for rust before making this investment.
Check the whole frame
Check the wheel wells.
Check the strut towers.
Check bottom of doors.

No point making this investment if there is so much rust you have to dump the car in short term.

You don't say where you are or where this car came from.

Please fill in your profile as it helps others to help you by knowing what region of the country you are in
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