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Old 11-26-2004, 03:28 PM   #1
corsairjon
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Vehicle:
1996 Legacy Outback

Question Replace '96 2.5L Engine with '95 2.2L? (Head Gasket Problem)

Hi All,

I'm new here and in need of some experienced advice with a problem that involves an engine swap.

The short history is that we have had our 1996 Legacy Outback with 2.5L engine for about a year, and are quite happy with it (it now has 120,000 miles). About 2 weeks ago, my wife said that the engine temp had gone high (but not overheated). When we drove the car the next day, I noticed that the air from the heater was cool when we were stopped, and would heat up immediately when we started driving again. Later that day I and noticed that there was oil in the coolant overflow tank, and the engine was low on oil. Of course this indicates a head gasket leak, though the car runs fine. I have thoroughly flushed/refilled the cooling system, changed the thermostat, and changed the engine oil and filter. The car runs fine now, though the heater blows very warm (hot?) while driving and somewhat cooler (though still nicely warm) when stopped. Presently, there is no oil showing in the coolant overflow tank, but the walls of the tank do look a bit "dirty", but don't feel oily on the inside.

I have read much in this excellent forum regarding the head gasket problems of the 2.5L engines from the latter half of the 1990s, and know that it is only a matter of time before my head gasket problem becomes severe enough to warrant immediate action.

I have done some research on having the engine repaired and have arrived at the conclusion that our best bet (since the rest of the car is in good shape) probably is to get a rebuilt engine. My research also seems to indicate that the 2.2L engine is less trouble-prone than the 2.5L. I have been told that a 1995 2.2L is pretty much a "plug-and-play" replacement for our 1996 2.5L (with the exception of the intake manifold), and would cost us about $1,000 less than replacing the 2.5L with another 2.5L.

Does anyone out there know anything about doing this sort of replacement, whether it really CAN be done, and what problems we will run into? I'm not looking for guesses as I can guess pretty well myself. Our Outback has the Automatic Trans, will the 2.2L bolt up to it? Is all the "plumbing" and wiring the same? Will the Engine Computer have to be changed or reprogrammed? Anything else?

Thank you in advance for any solid information that you can provide.

Corsairjon
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Old 11-26-2004, 03:31 PM   #2
Homemade WRX
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I would stick with the 2.5 and just put on better head gaskets...besides, with the 2.2L you will miss the power and torque the 2.5 has over it.
either way you are pulling out the engine so just fix what you have, it is the better engine IMHO
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Old 11-27-2004, 03:12 PM   #3
kermit
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Subaru did put a 2.2 L motor in the 1996 Outbacks. It was available only with the manual transmission. All of the 1996 automatics were equiped with the 2.5 L.
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Old 11-27-2004, 03:24 PM   #4
rogue
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I have a 96 outback, manual with the 2.2. I've also got a 2.5 longblock waiting to go into the car. The 2.2 is very weak, you would miss the torque. Just fix your headgaskets.
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Old 01-05-2005, 12:06 AM   #5
lotus2843
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogue
I have a 96 outback, manual with the 2.2. I've also got a 2.5 longblock waiting to go into the car. The 2.2 is very weak, you would miss the torque. Just fix your headgaskets.

weak?... TORQUE wise maybe, but not reliability wise!
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Old 03-30-2005, 11:32 AM   #6
corsairjon
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1996 Legacy Outback

Default We Did It!!

Well, after much research and conversations back and forth with Emily at Colorado Component Rebuilders (CCR), we decided to replace our '96 2.5L with a CCR Rebuilt '95 2.2L and did the swap about a month ago. Of course, our local Subaru dealer said that we would run into all sorts of problems, but I expected that. We had a local auto shop do the swap.

I'm VERY happy to report that the only problem we ran into was that a few of the hydraulic lifters refused to pump up, which didn't prevent the car from running, but did get us strange looks from anyone nearby due to the constant ticking. Emily at CCR was very pleasant and helpful in resolving this problem, got replacement parts out to us quickly, and in short order the problem was fixed, and the engine now runs strong and quiet!

I have to say that it truly has been a pleasure dealing with CCR!

The only other part that needed to be replaced in order to switch from a '96 2.5L to a '95 2.2L was the intake maifold, which was also supplied by CCR.

As far as performance is concerned, we are noticing better gas mileage with the 2.2L, and we have no problems with acceleration for getting on the highway and passing other vehicles. Cruising, of course, is also fine, and hills are no problem.

In short, we are quite happy with the engine swap, would recommend the same to others who are looking to replace their broken 2.5L, and would not hesitate to deal with CCR in the future.

corsairjon
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Old 03-30-2005, 02:39 PM   #7
Matt Monson
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Yep,
Emily knows her stuff. She is about 60 and drives an LE Legacy Touring wagon and goes by the screenname of Turbogramma. CCR doesn't want to play in ther performance arena, but if you are ever looking for a stock replacment engine, they are one of the best places in the country to work with...
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