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Old 07-19-2020, 06:02 PM   #1
enginewitty
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Default head gasket replacement

Hi everybody,


I'm new here and new into cars from a mechanical perspective as well. I have a legacy but am in need of a new daily but I want something I can have more fun with. I have been going back and forth between various STI and WRX models. I happened upon one that is listed as a mechanics special as it has blown head gaskets. I understand that having this done can cost around $1500 but it seems after reading another thread on here, if you put in the labor yourself, a kit should run you just around $250-$300 and only take a couple days to fix. How feasible would this be for someone with no experience working on cars and what all would I need (other than the kit) to do it?
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Old 07-19-2020, 08:41 PM   #2
wobbletop
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Not...
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Old 07-19-2020, 08:47 PM   #3
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At a minimum, a way to precisely measure flatness of the heads and block. And a good machine shop when you find that they're not flat.

A way to examine other things in the engine. Are the ring lands broken? I'm sure there are other key things you'd want to know so you don't end up with aluminum scrap. Scrap prices are in the toilet.
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Old 07-20-2020, 09:33 AM   #4
Samurai Jack
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enginewitty View Post
I have a legacy but am in need of a new daily but I want something I can have more fun with.

I have been going back and forth between various STI and WRX models. I happened upon one that is listed as a mechanics special as it has blown head gaskets. I understand that having this done can cost around $1500 but it
Sounds like you are saying the Legacy is on it's last legs and you need a new car. Or, are you saying the Legacy is fine but, you want another daily that is more fun to drive than the Legacy you have now?

You also need to describe what you mean by " fun ".

You can modify the Legacy suspension, get a tune and have a much more fun car to drive.

When something says " mechanics special ", that means there is a crap load of work to make this car whole again and, you will be spending a lot of money to get it there. This is not a DIY project for people who are not mechanically inclined or new to working on cars.

BTW, replacing head gaskets is not $1500 it's more like $2500 - $3000. Parts are cheap but almost all of that money is in labor. Engine gets pulled to have access to the heads.
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Old 07-21-2020, 09:24 AM   #5
Elbert Bass
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai Jack View Post
Sounds like you are saying the Legacy is on it's last legs and you need a new car. Or, are you saying the Legacy is fine but, you want another daily that is more fun to drive than the Legacy you have now?

You also need to describe what you mean by " fun ".

You can modify the Legacy suspension, get a tune and have a much more fun car to drive.

When something says " mechanics special ", that means there is a crap load of work to make this car whole again and, you will be spending a lot of money to get it there. This is not a DIY project for people who are not mechanically inclined or new to working on cars.

BTW, replacing head gaskets is not $1500 it's more like $2500 - $3000. Parts are cheap but almost all of that money is in labor. Engine gets pulled to have access to the heads.
And let's not forget the $400+ worth of molded hoses you have to replace on an older turbo engine when you start moving/removing the intake - assuming you want it right...
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Old 07-23-2020, 03:50 AM   #6
bobjr94
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If your worried about money, get the wrx, not an sti. The wrx (not counting 02-05) are nearly the same motor, a new turbo and a tune will get you near sti power levels but the car will run you about 30-40% less. If it's just a driver, a 5 speed vs 6 speed and smaller brakes isn't much of a difference.

But if your new to cars, don't forget the tools you will need...Torque wrench, engine stand and hoist, jacks, stands, specialty tools like camshaft gear holders are nice to have.

And take a look at many of the other posts, saying I did my first headgasket and the car won't run/start/idle....It's not super easy, swapping 2 of the camshaft gears, not lining up the cam gears, leaving one little sensor unplugged, putting an oil seal in wrong...Many things can go wrong
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Old 07-24-2020, 03:52 AM   #7
enginewitty
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I just wanted to say thanks for everyone that chimed in. Your answers were immensely helpful. Unfortunately, I figured any replies would read along these lines but hey, better to ask than not right?
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Old 07-24-2020, 03:54 AM   #8
enginewitty
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai Jack View Post
Sounds like you are saying the Legacy is on it's last legs and you need a new car. Or, are you saying the Legacy is fine but, you want another daily that is more fun to drive than the Legacy you have now?

You also need to describe what you mean by " fun ".

You can modify the Legacy suspension, get a tune and have a much more fun car to drive.

When something says " mechanics special ", that means there is a crap load of work to make this car whole again and, you will be spending a lot of money to get it there. This is not a DIY project for people who are not mechanically inclined or new to working on cars.

BTW, replacing head gaskets is not $1500 it's more like $2500 - $3000. Parts are cheap but almost all of that money is in labor. Engine gets pulled to have access to the heads.
yes, the Legacy is on its last legs more than likely. I'll keep it going as long as I can but I will need a new car.
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Old 07-24-2020, 04:03 AM   #9
enginewitty
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobjr94 View Post
If your worried about money, get the wrx, not an sti. The wrx (not counting 02-05) are nearly the same motor, a new turbo and a tune will get you near sti power levels but the car will run you about 30-40% less. If it's just a driver, a 5 speed vs 6 speed and smaller brakes isn't much of a difference.

But if your new to cars, don't forget the tools you will need...Torque wrench, engine stand and hoist, jacks, stands, specialty tools like camshaft gear holders are nice to have.

And take a look at many of the other posts, saying I did my first headgasket and the car won't run/start/idle....It's not super easy, swapping 2 of the camshaft gears, not lining up the cam gears, leaving one little sensor unplugged, putting an oil seal in wrong...Many things can go wrong
Thanks for touching on the tools. i was wondering a lot about that aspect.

Also, I've looked into this so much and everybody says the same thing you did regarding a modded WRX being just as good if not better than an STI. Despite that, the 6 speed keeps calling me. I don't plan on tracking it regularly but I'm sure I'll take it out there.
can you speak a bit on the major differences between 6-speeds and 5-speeds? I've only ever driven 5-speeds so I really want to feel the difference as well as learn to handle a car with higher gears.
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Old 07-24-2020, 04:51 AM   #10
bobjr94
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The 6 speed is stronger, it can hold more power. It has a slightly smaller overdrive than the 5 speed, so it won't save you gas. Many people assume 6th gear is like an extra overdrive past 5, it's more like 1, 2, 3, 3.5, 4, 5.

You have more gears to select from to keep your engine at optimum rpms for your powerband. The 6 speed is nice to drive, I've had a 5 speed wrx, 6 speed sti, 5 speed baja turbo, and 6 speed wrx (2015, not the sti 6 speed)..Plus a 4eat wrx.

The transmission holds up well, but is very expensive to fix or replace. The clutch fork is a better design, less prone to breaking than the 2006-2020+ wrx.
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Old 07-28-2020, 07:40 PM   #11
enginewitty
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That's kind of interesting that despite a 6 speed keeping rpms in a more optimal range that it wouldn't help with fuel efficiency. I wonder if its because we tend to push it more in each gear anyway.

I've noticed some guys swapping out STI motors and transmissions into other Subies. I wonder how they hold up long-term
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Old 07-28-2020, 07:43 PM   #12
enginewitty
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Subie
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Old 07-29-2020, 11:24 AM   #13
Jack
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An STi 6 speed will NOT help fuel mileage. The gears are closely spaced for performance, not fuel mileage, so an STi running in 6th will have a higher RPM than a WRX running in 5th.

That said, be patient and wait for an STi 6 speed trans swapped WRX. They do come up. I owned an 07 WRX with an 04 STi 6 speed and the trans was absolutely the best thing about the car. Other Subaru 6 speeds are not the same. I have a 19 Crosstrek 6M now and that trans is worlds different from the STi trans (and not in a good way). Same for the 15+ WRX 6 speed. They are not the same.
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