Did Subaru Finally Fix Their Head Gasket Issues? A Comprehensive Look at the History of Subaru’s Engine Problems.

Subaru is a popular car brand known for its reliability and longevity. However, in the early 2000s, Subaru owners began experiencing head gasket issues with their vehicles. This led to speculation about the quality and durability of Subaru engines, causing concern in the automotive community. So what did Subaru do to address these issues? Did they ever fix their head gasket problems? Let’s take a closer look.

The History of Subaru Head Gasket Issues

In the early 2000s, Subaru owners started to report instances of head gasket failure in their vehicles. The head gasket is a crucial component that helps seal the engine and prevent oil or coolant leakage. When the head gasket fails, it can cause major engine damage and lead to costly repairs.

The problem was particularly common in the EJ series of engines used in many Subaru models, including the Forester, Outback, and Impreza. The issue stemmed from a design flaw in the engine’s cylinder head gaskets and engine block that led to premature failure.

Subaru’s Response to Head Gasket Issues

Subaru eventually acknowledged the problem and started offering extended warranties and other forms of support to affected car owners. In 2002, Subaru issued a technical service bulletin (TSB) to its dealerships regarding the issue, acknowledging that "internal engine leaks can cause the engine to overheat, and this, in turn, can lead to head gasket failure."

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In 2003, Subaru began using an improved multi-layered steel head gasket design on its newer models, such as the Legacy GT and Outback XT. However, the older EJ series engines still had issues with the head gaskets. Subaru continued to offer help to owners with head gasket problems during this period, including paying 100% of the labor costs for head gasket repairs for a limited time.

Subaru’s Current Reliability Record

Since 2003, Subaru has continued to improve its head gasket design, and more recent models have not had the same level of head gasket-related issues as earlier models. According to Consumer Reports, recent Subaru models exhibit excellent reliability and satisfaction records, suggesting that the company has rectified the problems experienced in the past.

Preventive Measures and Solutions for Head Gasket Issues

If you own a Subaru with an EJ series engine, it is essential to take preventive measures to avoid head gasket problems. Regular maintenance, including coolant flushes and oil changes, can help prevent head gasket failure. However, if you do experience head gasket issues, it is best to have a professional mechanic repair it.

When repairing a head gasket, some owners opt for aftermarket head gaskets since they are generally cheaper than OEM parts. However, it is important to note that using an aftermarket gasket could lead to problems with the engine in the future. Therefore, it is recommended to use OEM parts.


Q. Is it safe to buy an older used Subaru with an EJ engine?

A. While EJ engines are known for head gasket issues, a properly maintained and cared-for one could last for miles. However, it’s best to avoid older models that have not had head gasket repairs or those that show other significant mechanical problems.

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Q. How much does it cost to replace a head gasket in a Subaru?

A. The cost of replacing the head gasket in a Subaru will vary widely depending on the severity of the problem and the number of extra problems found during the diagnosis process. Expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,000 for a head gasket replacement.

Q. Should I use aftermarket head gaskets for my Subaru?

A. It is not recommended to use aftermarket head gaskets for your Subaru. OEM parts are generally of higher quality, which helps ensure that your engine is reliable.


While head gasket issues were once a concern for Subaru owners, the company has made significant strides in addressing the issue. Newer models have reliable head gasket designs, and the company has offered owners of affected vehicles support and help. With proper maintenance, care, and preventive measures, older Subaru models can still provide reliable, high-quality transportation for their owners.

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Davis Bellew

As a Subaru owner and enthusiast, Davis has a deep understanding of the needs and concerns of Subaru drivers. He specializes in writing informative and engaging content about Subaru maintenance and repair, and his articles are always well-researched and easy to understand. When he's not writing, he enjoys hiking and photography.

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