All Wheel Drive Auto: Independent Seattle Subaru Service


Subaru Head Gasket Change.

Like I have posted, and will continue to do so as time and information allows is that it seems that Subaru has finally gone to a MLS Head gasket for the 2010 Outback.

above are the differences between a semi closed and open deck block, and while I wont know until we take one apart, it appears that Subaru is also using a semi closed deck block in the 2010 Outback.

Thanks for reading and watching




We have replaced head gaskets around the 120 to 140k mark on another 2010, and one 2011.  The engine block was the same open deck block that Subaru has been using for years, there was increased surface mass on the cylinder head area and the gaskets were not leaking externally but instead had failed internally.  I had made mention on another post that we had done a valve job on a 2010 that was in a front end accident, and did verify that car had a semi closed deck block, I did not however verify the block # matched the Vin.  



31 Responses

  1. Hi. I have a 2009 Outback with a 2.5 NA with only 59k. It was diagnosed today with both head gaskets leaking oil. It will be covered under warranty BUT will they just put the same crappy head gaskets on it or will a MLS from a 2010 fit? What can I do so I don’t have this issue again in another 59k?
    The reason I’m asking is because I had a 2004 Legacy 2.5 NA that had both head gaskets replaced at 110,000 at the same dealer. At 185,000 they both leaked again and I was told that there was nothing that could be done except pay to have another set put on at my cost.

  2. 2003 outback wagon, 116,000 miles. needs head gasket. do you have a recommendation for independant subaru shop in Spokane WA. – I took it to the dealer who diagnosed the leaking head gasket, but now am nervous about the repair after reading your articles & comments! Dealer says head gasket,thermostat & gasket, cam seal & crank seal, plus will trhow in 4 spark plugs, automatic transmission and differential serive for $2,200. deal ? or not good deal ? I have no idea !

    1. Seems high for Spokane.

      No mention of timing belt, tensioner, idlers, cylinder resurface etc.

      We would be closer to $1800.00 and things on that side should cost less for reference. I dont really know anyone in Spokane, but there are a few Subaru Shops there.


  3. Pingback: subaru sti 2004
      1. It is a Semi closed deck like a earlier 2.5l Turbo found in the STI, WRX(2.5l) Legacy GT, Outback XT and Forester XT

        What will be real interesting to see is the Deck on the 2011 Forester Engine.


        1. Justin:

          Thank you. Was trying to decide whether to get the 2011 Outback, and with the current modifications to the bock and head gaskit its a go.

  4. I own a 2002 Subaru Forester with 84k miles. The cylinder head gasket is blown and I understand it will cost around $3,500 to fix. I know the head gasket was not recalled in that model but I am trying to negotiate with Subaru of America for “good will assistance” in the repair costs. Any suggestions?

  5. Thanks for the quick reply. When I financed the car, I declined all extended warranties. Now I wonder if I can and should buy at least an internal parts/drivetrain warranty. Any thoughts would be helpful. One problem that they fixed before I bought was a very hard to move shifter (automatic). That worries me a bit. They said I seal was bad.

  6. Hi Mike,

    You are the perfect example of a head gasket done in a hurry at a Dealership service department.

    Most likely it was done in the car, and was just one side.

    I hate to say it, but the chance of it lasting as long as we would like is probably diminished. But I think you already suspect that.


  7. Justin,
    I just had a head gasket replaced on a 2004 Forester by the dealer that sold it to me. They diagnosed an oil leak as a HG problem right away. The total time it took for the repair was about 24 hours (midday Thurs. to midday Fri.) That seems really fast to me. What is the most they could do in that time?

  8. Hey Justin,
    Have you seen the new 2011 Forester got a new 2.5L engine for NA version? Do have any insight on if that engine has a semi-closed or fully-closed deck? It looks like it’s an entirely new engine block.


  9. Thank you so much Justin! This is extremely helpful.
    I asked the dealer for a breakdown and questioned them about the radiator replacement. Their response was that they didn’t answer my questions and that this is not negotiable, it’s a one time good will, yes or no only deal that expires in one month. They say all components I’m expected to replace have to be done and are recommended by time and/or mileage. This doesn’t explain the radiator. Well, I’m pretty annoyed. If they decide it’s “seepage” as opposed to “leakage” they won’t repair under warranty and will charge me $140. I don’t think that is right, especially for a know issue. I’ll be contacting Subaru of America directly.
    Thank you again for your help.

  10. Hi Ginny,

    Well here is the deal, if it is leaking oil it typically isn’t covered under the WWP-99 Campaign, as it was about the potential for a external coolant leak from the head gasket, the same head gasket can leak oil and coolant externally as well as fail internally allowing coolant into the combustion chamber or combustion temperature and pressure into the cooling system.

    If Subaru is going to stand behind the car for an oil leak out of the 60k power train warranty than that is great, but shouldn’t require you to replace any other items for maintenance to get them to do that.

    I will point out that the way it should work is if they are paying for the right side head gasket repair under warranty, you should have the opportunity to replace the timing belt, tensioner, idlers at the cost of the parts only and the water pump, radiator at the cost of the parts and a significantly reduced amount of labor.

    I would ask for a parts and labor break down of what is being proposed and see how they are charging out the $1300.00 if its $1300.00 in parts and they all need to be done its probably a good deal.

    Hope that helps


  11. I’ve had the WWP-99 Campaign done at 30 and 60K for my 2001 Outback Wagon which now has 83K miles. So, I’m under the 100K but over the 8 years warranty.
    In 4/07 the dealership replaced the lt head gasket due to leakage. At that time they noted some seepage on the right but no action was taken. I had her in again 11/07, service records do not mention rt side seepage. Now, I’ve been told by a different auto repair shop (reputable) that there is oil leaking externally on the right. I’ve contacted Subaru. Their response was: A certified Subaru technician at a dealership must verify the right side headgasket leak. The inspection charge does apply, but this will be waived if the repair is covered under warranty. The estimate for the inspection is $140.00. This is a one-time policy adjustment if the headgasket is leaking. Our warranty representative has requested that you participate by replacing the radiator, water pump and gasket, thermostat and gasket, timing belt, tensioner, idler pulleys, and resealing the oil pump, which would be an estimate of $1,300.00. This offer expires in 30 days of 6/02/10, per Subaru of America.
    I now understand why they want to replace the radiator (the post above). I still want to get a breakdown on the estimate and I don’t want them to inspect and charge me if it won’t be covered due to being over the time limit, or some other reason…it’s external as opposed to internal, etc. I don’t think 1,300.00 is a lot for what they will do but I also don’t think I should have to pay for the radiator, or at least not the entire thing. Does this estimate sound reasonable and am I being reasonable in expecting them to pitch in a bit more?
    Thanks so much.

  12. Dan,

    Thats known as the Subaru WWP-99 Campaign.

    It is a terrible idea, most that have had it done will still have the head gaskets fail, it was merely a way for Subaru to get the cars out of warranty before the problem arises.

    We repair a lot of cars that made it out of the extended 100k warranty only to have the head gaskets fail later, plus some cars that have had multiple doses of the conditioner/ stop leak will end up clogging the radiator and or heater core.

    Hope this helps


  13. I have a 2000 Impreza RS with the 2.5 normally asperated engine. No problems yet and it has 95,000 miles. I’ve been concerned about this problem and my research shows that the Subaru Dealers are recomending a coolant additive (only available at the Subaru dealer) to prevent leaks for the 2.5 engine. Does any one at All Wheel Drive Auto know about this? If so what do you think?

  14. Hi Justin,
    I’ve just spent hours on your site looking particularly at the headgasket sections. Two weeks ago I had just come from my second test drive of a 2010 Forester and thought I finally found a replacement for my 1987 Honda Civic which finally gave up the ghost(I was the orignal owner and would have kept it–the engine was good–but no one wants to work on carburetors anymore).

    I wanted a car that I could keep for a very long time, just as I had the Honda.
    Then I researched Subaru on the ‘net and found that headgasket failure was a pretty common problem. I was heartbroken.

    Luckily I came across your site and feel better about the possible purchase of a Subaru despite the possibility of headgasket failure.

    My question is, does it look like Subaru has changed the headgaskets in the Forester as well? Or is it just in the Outbacks? And have they been changed in every level of these models or just a few. I realize you might not know the answer to that, but if it looks like they’ve only changed them in the Outbacks, I might consider that car instead of the Forester.

    Thank you so much for your time and all the great information on this site. It is an invaluable resource! 🙂

  15. Hello Bob,

    Actually the ports in the head will most also likely be partially blocked by the gasket.

    I have another video shot where I show the newer gasket on the older engine, thats the the point I was trying to make is that the newer gasket cant be installed on the older engines.

    I was trying to show the block showing through the older gasket to help explain why the newer gasket wont work on the older engines, as it will restrict coolant flow, as there are some design changes.

    I had a problem with my little flip video camera and it looks like I need to re shoot the third video, I will probably do this in the coming weeks and post it than.


    1. Justin:

      At this time (March 2011), do you know whether the engine block in the 2010-2011 Outback is open or semi closed?


      1. It’s been over three years since Justin said he would have to wait until he looked at a cylinder head of a 2010+ 2.5 to see if the deck was open or not. I haven’t seen an update so is he still waiting to open one up?

  16. Excellent informative video! I’m looking forward to a teardown video of the 2010 2.5L NA engine block to confirm if Subaru finally moved to a semi-closed deck on the non-turbo 2.5L engine.

    At 1m:35s in the second video, you show where the metal reinforcement on the semi-closed deck is showing through the older style multi-layer gasket. In general, why is that a problem? It looks like the seals would still be intact.

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