5 Signs Your Subaru Head Gaskets Need To Be Replaced

Are you worried about the head gasket on your Subaru? Maybe you’re seeing lots of white smoke coming from your exhaust, or you have to add engine coolant all the time. If you think your head gasket needs to be replaced, you might need to know when to do so.

The head gaskets on your Subaru will typically last around 100,000 miles, depending on the year and model you own. You may also need your head gaskets replaced if you notice that your vehicle is running rough or your engine oil develops a milky color.

In this article, I will describe multiple symptoms of head gasket failure. There will also be more information about costs, other parts that might have to be replaced, and how long the repair will take. For info on how to replace your Subaru head gasket, read more here.

When To Replace or Repair the Head Gaskets on Your Subaru

There are various ways to tell that your head gaskets will need to be replaced. You could be seeing excessive white smoke coming from your tailpipe. Your Subaru may be running rough and have a check engine light on. It could also be consuming engine coolant, causing you to keep adding more. The engine oil might also get contaminated by the coolant, causing it to have a milky appearance and consistency.

1. Excessive White Smoke

If you start your vehicle in the morning and tons of white smoke comes out of the exhaust, it could be due to failed head gaskets. When the head gaskets fail, they allow engine coolant to leak into your engine’s combustion chambers. Engine coolant will turn exhaust smoke very white when it is burned inside the engine. 

2. Running Rough/Misfiring

Your engine compresses a mixture of air and fuel when it is running, causing combustion when ignited by your spark plugs. If engine coolant is getting into the wrong parts of your engine, it will cause efficient combustion to become very difficult. This can cause your engine to start misfiring, causing it to run rough.

3. Check Engine Light

You may notice a Check Engine Light illuminated on your dashboard. When coolant enters the combustion chambers of your Subaru, it will affect the way your engine runs. Typically when this happens, the engine computer will notice something is wrong and turn on the check engine light.

4. Low Engine Coolant Level

When your head gaskets fail and let the coolant enter parts of the engine it is not supposed to be in, your coolant level will get lower. If you are not noticing any puddles of coolant where you usually park your Subaru and your coolant level keeps getting low, it is going somewhere else in the engine. The coolant could be getting burned in the process of combustion or mixing with the oil used to lubricate the cylinder walls of your engine. 

5. Milky Engine Oil

The oil used in the engine should have a light golden color when it is clean and new. Engine oil is used to lessen friction of moving parts in your Subaru. When head gaskets fail, they can let coolant mix with the engine oil. If you remove the engine oil dipstick and the oil looks milky white, there is a good chance that head gasket replacement or repair is needed. 

Subaru Head Gasket Repair And Replacement

When it’s time to fix the head gaskets on your Subaru, it usually takes multiple days to get it done. Depending on how much damage has been done and how long engine coolant has been getting into places it shouldn’t, more parts or further repairs may be needed. Your cylinder heads will need to be inspected for damage and might need to be repaired. Many parts need to be removed to replace your head gaskets, and if those parts aren’t in tip-top condition, it will be a good idea to replace them as well. 

Common Items To Be Replaced Along With The Head Gaskets

  • Timing belts
  • Water pumps 
  • Spark plugs
  • Any oil seals that came into contact with engine coolant

Cost To Replace/Repair Your Subaru Head Gasket

The typical price range to replace or repair a head gasket on a Subaru can be $1,500 to $3,000. The final cost will depend on your vehicle’s make and model and which parts are needed to complete the job. You will want to have the health of your vehicle’s entire engine and cooling system inspected by a Subaru specialist to ensure nothing is missed and will cause further issues down the road. 

Final Thoughts

The head gaskets on many Subaru’s have a high rate of failure. They should last 100,000 miles in ideal conditions. When the gaskets fail, the mileage on your vehicle will vary depending on many factors. This includes what year and model Subaru you own. 

You will know there is an issue with the head gaskets if you see; excessive amounts of white smoke, your engine is running rough, the check engine light is on, low coolant levels, or when your engine oil starts to get a milky appearance.

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