All Wheel Drive Auto: Independent Seattle Subaru Service


Subaru Changed Their Head Gasket For The 2010 2.5L

I wanted to post a few pictures and let everyone know that Subaru has finally changed the head gasket design for the 2010 models 2.5L N/A (Naturally Aspirated) models.

The gasket pictured below resembles the Head Gasket used in the Turbo models, the Tribeca, as well as the 2nd generation 2.2l and the updated gasket for the 1st generation 2.5L (I know there’s a lot to follow there).

The new gasket is not interchangeable with the older model 2.5L engines.   But it proves what I have been stating all along, a MLS (Multi Layer Shim) gasket is what is needed!

Thanks for reading



51 Responses

  1. Looking into buying a newish Subaru, does the 2011 Impreza 2.5i N/A have the MLS HG or old single layer HG?
    Thank you,

  2. Hi Justin,

    I am getting ready to purchase a 2015 outback, my one and only question is this… has the 6 cylinder ever been known to have the head-gasket problem? If no, why? What makes 2 more cylinders so different?


  3. Just bought a 2010 Subaru Outback 2.5. I’ve had to add a quart of coolant in the past 500 miles. No visuals or smell, no overhesting, just losing it somewhere. Does this sound like a bad head gasket?

    1. Hello Scott,

      It’s possible but not probable, maybe there is a small external leak such as the radiator? the only way to know is to remove the plastic splash an that is currently allowing any coolant leaking out from hitting the ground. Form there if nothing is apparent a cooling system pressure test is whats next.


  4. I have 100k on my 2009 forester xt and reported the typical symptoms to my local dealer at about 75k. They were unable to diagnose but I have had all oil changes and major services done there. 3500 miles ago, they did some troubleshooting again and were unable to find the overheating and overflow tank issue root cause. At that time they performed a block test and all checked out.

    Yesterday I brought the forester in because of more overheating and they called back to inform that my headgasket is now bad. They’ll be letting me know today if my block is warped and what the cost will be to fix.

    If you have any guidance on getting the dealer and/or subaru to help out with this since I’ve had all scheduled maintenance and oil changes done at a subaru certified service center, please let me know.

    This experience is going to determine whether I continue to be a subaru consumer. This is my second subaru and the I had the HG changed in that as well.

    1. Hello Chris,

      You would want to start with a call to SOA at 1 800 Subaru 3, let them know your feelings and that you are a long time Subaru owner, that this is your second and you have been loyal.

      The part I am a little puzzled with is the stared at 75k thing? Has it been over heating off an on for 25,000 miles?

      That would be on the Dealer for not figuring it out and maybe a little on you for not trying somewhere else.

      Not sure if I understood your post but that’s a little troubling if that’s the case.

      Best of luck


      1. Justin – thanks for the guidance. I did call SoA and they opened a case for me.

        The overheating did not start until about 90K but I’ve been smelling a faint scent of coolant since about 75K.

        I agree and take responsibility for not digging deeper with another service center but the surrounding service centers have reviews that are bad enough for me not to take my cars there.

        The others are about 40 miles away.

        The current dealer is willing to help out with the rate depending on what SoA is willing to do.

        Depending on the outcome of how this is handled, my view on subaru’s may change.

        Not only do I have 2 but my siblings also drive Subies because of my recommendation.


  5. I have 2010 Subaru Outback with 93,000 miles and it’s showing all the signs of a bad head gasket. Unexplained overheating and bubbling expansion tank. I guess they didn’t fix the problem completely.

  6. Justin and crew,

    Hello, I’ve been reading a lot of info on your website lately as I was interested in purchasing a 2010 or 2011 Impreza.
    I live in Ottawa, Canada and our winters can be a bitch, so I’d love to get a decently priced AWD.
    I’ve read about head gasket problems in the 2.5 NA engines and have heard that the 2010 engine change and MLS gaskets have fixed this problem in the Outback and Legacy.
    Did the Impreza also get the engine update and new gaskets in 2010?
    Also would the 2010 fix apply to 2010 models (probably built in 2009), or would it only have happened in models built in 2010 ie 2011 model years?
    I do most of my own maintenance but have not yet owned a Subaru so I sure wish I had a shop like yours here in Ottawa.

    Anyway thanks for a great website.

    1. Hello Sam,

      Subaru started using a MLS gasket in the “EJ” N/A 2.5l in 2010 with the Outback and Legacy, but never offered in the Forester or Impreza, knowing they were changing to the “FB” series in 2011 with the Forester and 2012 with the Impreza. Not enough is known about the whole FB series engines yet but so far so good.

      When Subaru changed the Body style in the Legacy and Outback for the 2010 models the MLS gasket followed. 2009 was the older body style and the older single layer gasket.

      Hope that helps


  7. Hi there,

    I am looking at purchasing a 2009+ impreza or forester and was curious if there was still HG issues with these later models? I have read through various posts and websites and havent found a solid answer. I understand the true test is time. I am also considering with just buying a new impreza 2013 or 14 are there issues with their HG? i know its a little early to tell.

    Also ive heard that there is two ej25 engines one being the ej25s which ive heard is more prone to the problem. If true how do we know if the motor is a ej25 or ej25s?

    Thank you

    1. There are no known issues with the 2013-2014 at this time.

      The 2009 Impreza uses the same HG as a 2003 to 2008.

      Not sure where the info about the s is coming from?

      Al EJ2.5l SOHC use the same HG, if you are looking at a 2009, most likely later in life it could develop a external oil leak.

      I hope if you choose to not buy a Subaru, that you do as much painstaking research on anything else you may consider.


  8. Justin, we recently purchased a 2010 Forester normally aspirated 2.5 from a Subaru dealer. It was supposedly a Certified car but since we got such a good deal on it just before it was to be sent to auction (due only to its being a stick shift model) the dealer omitted the certified status. Anyway, after driving mostly highway for 7000 miles, we’ve had to add about a quart of radiator fluid. Two questions: Is that normal for a Subaru (it sure wasn’t for our Acura CL or my Nissan Xterra!) and 2) Is the Subaru fluid essential of will any name brand be OK? Thanks for your xpertise here!

    1. The 2010 uses the Blue super long life coolant and nothing else, it is sold as premixed 50/50 only.

      I would suggest it may have a small leak, or it just hasn’t ever had the coolant topped off in the overflow bottle during the oil changes? May be its been in an accident?

      A good inspection should revel any issues, but its under warranty for 5 years 60k so if there is a leak it should be covered.


  9. Justin,

    Thanks for the information (saw this on

    Are there any aftermarket replacements that are more reliable for the 2000-2004 Phase SOHC 2.5 liter, or are owners of Subarus with those engines stuck with using the OEM Subaru head gasket?

  10. Justin,

    It looks like the new gaskets being used in the 2010+ Outbacks/Legacys is the same gasket used in some of the previous/current turbo models. What do you think the chances are of Subaru just using this gasket on the open block design as some internet forum posts say thats ok to do?

    I recently purchased a 2011 Legacy as I thought the gasket problem was fixed in 05. I’m really glad I found this post to say the least. It sounds like the multi layer gasket in of itself gives me some relief even if its not a semi closed setup, but I hope it is!

    If I ever have a problem I’ll be making the drive to your shop!

    1. Yes the 2010 uses a MLS gasket.

      We dont repair to many head gasket issues on the Turbo models even with the intense heat and conditions of the turbo.


      1. from what i’ve seen most the turbo models already use the MLS gasket, and its thinner. that explains the reduced problems with them i would assume. i’m looking into using THOSE on my SOHC because thinner would also boost my compression a bit.

  11. I have a 2009 Outback Limited 2.5l. I have read that this head gasket problem had been solved for the 2005 – 2009 Outbacks. Is this the case?

    1. Its the Same gasket From late 2002 all they way until 2009, so I don’t know that I would say its resolved until 2010 when they Finally went to a MLS type Gasket in the 2110 Outback


      1. I have a 2010 Suburu with 52,000 miles and my head gaskets are bad! Need replacing. Not sure I agree with your analysis of resolution of the bad gasket problem with Suburu. Will be getting rid of this one, soon.

          1. If you buy head gaskets, go with the FelPro ones. They are these MLS gaskets and they will last. FelPRO replaced their old stock of them with the MLS on their own, before Subaru did, so you can get these MLS gaskets at any parts store, just make sure the parts guy clicks on the details and verifies it is indeed the “updated” part number. I wish I had the exact number for you but you could probably find it on GOOGLE then tell the parts guy to give you THAT felpro gasket set. I worked at OReillys for 3 years and own a Baja so I’ve researched it. Bout to pick up a set soon myself…

          2. Hi Andrew,

            I understand that working for a parts store that caters to the DIY crowd that you may be unfamiliar with the difference in parts from the DIY to Professional grade. And while its true that the company you work for also sells to shops, for the most parts its the general automotive shop they cater too that typically cares more about the lowest price.

            You would be hard pressed to ever find a professional Independent Subaru shop that would ever use the brand gaskets you mentioned, and we have taken several out for failures.

            The head gasket repair will only ever be as good as the care and time put into the completeness of the repairs but also the quality of the components used.


      2. Justin I have a 2010 forester with 162 k on it brought to a shop and the oil is running on to the header we bought car used and the timing belt and water pump were changed but no head gaskets I went to the place before we bought it and they said they don’t change them until they leak I feel I have been misinformed should have they done the head gaskets???

        1. Hey Pete,

          Sorry this has occurred. It takes a lot for the HG to get to the point where it “runs out” so they must have been leaking for a while if that is the leak. A prepurchase inspection would have been helpful in catching that before you bought it. We can’t do anything about that now. I am not sure at this time if you have identified the leak however?

          If the HG are the cause of the leak, yes it would have been better to have had them done.


  12. Justin,

    I’m curious if you were able to visually confirm the semi-closed deck on the 2010 and later OB/Legacy ej253 engines?

    1. Hi Jordan

      I had a core lined up but the wrecking yard decided to do something else with it. I can buy a running used engine but it just isn’t in the budget right now.

      I have a request for a damaged engine but one hasn’t surfaced as of yet.


  13. Darrell, unfortunately the only true test is time. Hopefully this will clear the EJ25 engines once and for all of the headgasket problem. Then, Subarus would probably be one of the most reliable and dependable cars around.

  14. I gotta admit, this gasket issue is making me think twice about pulling the trigger on a 2010 Forester. I get a discount on Subarus, but until recently was unaware of this issue. I’d feel better if someone could tell me the 2010 design had changed for all Foresters and was a good fix.

    1. just purchased a 2010 subaru 32,000 miles,all maintenace recordes available and HG leaks.This is our 5th Subaru.and none of them went past 95,000 without HG leak.I changed oil every 3,000 like clock work.Sold this one last week [owned less than 1 month ] When and purchased Nissan Murano AWD SL

      1. Hi Robert

        Here is some info about your new Nissan Murano, you may have not found when doing research

        These are links to public sites you can access anytime

        If you join IATN you will find a lot more information about the car you just purchased

        I sincerely hope it all works out for you. For the Record the 2010 would have been under warranty and you cost would have been zero, its curious you would have spent 25k to buy a new car rather than let Subaru cover something under warranty?


        1. My 03 subaru baja SOHC went 140k without a leak. now its very very minor drips that usually burn off the exhaust and never touch the ground, and I’m at 160k miles. The previous owner bought it new, and followed the manual to a T. Kept the coolant changed at specified intervals (most people leave coolant in cars for 10 years till the radiator starts leaking or something). I drove it from 128k up to the now 160k and its finally started, but its very minor. I’ve not had any oil to coolant mix and never run low on either, because its almost non-existant of a leak. The engines are great engines, the coolant just needs to be changed because of how it sits in the heads and continues boiling after you shut the car off, for a time. Well miles and miles of start stop cycles eventually turn coolant acidic if boiled like that. That is why its imperative you follow the manual with the coolant changes. That being said, you will love the vehicle. I get 26mpg in mine, it will drive through rain, snow, mud, anything thrown at it, it rides good, and in 160k miles its had a wheel bearing replaced, and I threw new plug wires and plugs in it. THATS ALL! Its been a great vehicle, the interior is well made, the electronics all still work (ask a chevy owner how that goes). Dont be afraid. Just be aware of it and you will love it for years to come!

  15. Can anyone tell me what a non dealer cost would be to replace the valve cover gasket for a 2004 subaru impreza outback with 127,000 mi running on synthetic oil since purchase. I’m losing 1 qt per 6000mi run. Dealer wants $1600

      1. Hello Rich,

        The 2014 Forester uses a newer “FB series” engine, we wont know much about how long things like head gaskets last for years and years to come. Any other conclusion would be irresponsible.


    1. 2011 Outback 2.5i with 31,000 miles. Major service completed 10 days ago at 30,900 miles – including new battery (just to be safe). Dealer supposedly replaced coolant but when I checked 100 miles after major service the reservoir was empty. Service manager said to add no more than a quart of water and keep an eye on it. Reservoir may have lost a few more ounces after driving 50 more miles. Taking it in to have cooling system checked by dealer. WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO HAVE CHECKED TO DETERMINE SOURCE OF COOLANT LOSS? System not fully bled? Head gasket? Water pump? Other? Thanks, Bill

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