Is Your Subaru Head Gasket Blown? How to Diagnose and Fix the Issue Yourself

If you are a Subaru owner, you may have experienced issues with your vehicle’s head gasket. The head gasket plays a crucial role in the engine’s function, and a blown head gasket can cause major problems. In this article, we will explain what a head gasket is, how it works, common symptoms of a blown head gasket, how to diagnose the issue, and potential solutions for fixing it.

What is a Head Gasket?

The head gasket seals the engine cylinder head to the engine block. It ensures that the engine coolant and oil stay separate, while also sealing the combustion chamber to prevent loss of compression in the engine. The head gasket is located between the engine block and cylinder head and is often made of metal and other materials like rubber or silicone.

How Does a Head Gasket Work?

The head gasket is responsible for maintaining the pressure of the engine’s combustion chamber. It is designed to handle extreme heat and pressure and to keep the coolant and oil from mixing. When the head gasket is working correctly, the engine runs smoothly. However, when it fails, it can cause engine overheating, loss of power, and other serious problems.

Common Symptoms of a Blown Head Gasket

There are several symptoms that may indicate a blown head gasket. It’s essential to address these issues promptly to prevent further damage to your Subaru’s engine. Some common signs of a blown head gasket include:

  • White or gray exhaust smoke
  • Overheating engine
  • Loss of power
  • Engine misfire
  • Milky substance on the oil cap
  • Coolant leaking from the exhaust
  • High-pressure spikes in the cooling system
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It’s important to note that not all of these symptoms may occur simultaneously, and some may be more pronounced than others. If you have any doubts, it’s always best to take your Subaru to a professional mechanic to get your vehicle checked over.

How to Diagnose a Blown Head Gasket

Diagnosing a blown head gasket can be tricky, and it’s best to take your vehicle to a professional mechanic. However, there are some simple checks you can make to help identify the issue:

  • Check the coolant level: A low coolant level may indicate a leak, and you may also notice coolant around the engine or beneath the vehicle.
  • Check the oil level: A milky substance in the oil or coolant overflow tank can indicate that the head gasket is blown.
  • Check the pressure in the cooling system: A sudden rise in pressure after the engine is turned off can be a sign of a blown head gasket.
  • Perform a compression test: This will verify if the head gasket is holding compression or if it has failed.

Potential Solutions for Fixing a Blown Head Gasket

If your Subaru’s head gasket is blown, it is essential to address the issue promptly. Fixing a blown head gasket can be an expensive and time-consuming process, but there are several options available:

  • Replace the head gasket: This is the most common solution, and it involves removing the cylinder head and replacing the gasket.
  • Engine swap: In some cases, replacing the entire engine may be the best course of action.
  • Head gasket repair sealant: These products can help repair a blown head gasket without requiring an expensive replacement. However, these sealants can sometimes cause more harm than good, so it’s important to research the product carefully and consult with a professional mechanic before using it on your Subaru.
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Tips for Preventing Future Blown Head Gasket Issues

Prevention is always better than cure, and there are several ways to prevent future head gasket issues:

  • Regular coolant and oil changes can help maintain the health of the head gasket and prolong its lifespan.
  • Avoid overheating the engine: Keep an eye on the temperature gauge and avoid driving with an overheated engine.
  • Proper maintenance and regular inspections can catch small issues before they become bigger problems.
  • Take care when installing aftermarket parts as using non-oem parts can sometimes cause head gasket failures.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is a blown head gasket a common problem in Subaru vehicles?

It is an issue that has been reported several times over the years. In 2000 -2003 Subaru faced issues with cylinder head gaskets in many of their models.

  1. Can I still drive my Subaru with a blown head gasket?

Continuing to drive your Subaru with a blown head gasket can cause further damage to the engine and lead to more costly repairs. If you suspect that you have a blown head gasket, we recommend seeking professional assistance.

  1. Can I fix a blown head gasket myself?

Fixing a blown head gasket is not a simple task, and we strongly recommend seeking professional assistance. However, if you are experienced with car repairs, you can find instructions online and purchase required parts to fix the issue yourself.

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

The cost of replacing a Subaru head gasket can vary depending on the year and model of the vehicle. On average they can range between $1200 to $2500.

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In conclusion, a blown head gasket can cause several problems for your Subaru’s engine. It is essential to address the issue promptly to avoid further damage to the engine. We hope that this article has provided you with a better understanding of what a head gasket is, how it works, common symptoms of a blown head gasket, and potential solutions for fixing it, and how to prevent future head gasket issues. Remember to take your Subaru to a professional mechanic if you suspect you have a blown head gasket.

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Billy Covington

With a passion for all things automotive, Billy is our go-to expert on Subaru performance upgrades and modifications. He's been featured in several car magazines and blogs, and his extensive knowledge and expertise make him a valuable member of our team. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys playing guitar and writing music.

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