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Head gasket gone on H6 engine.


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Hi

 

I am not a mechanic and I know little about cars in general. I have a 2004 Outback, 3 litre engine 96,000 miles, which apparently is quite rare, and the car is in great condition. I had it converted to dual fuel, LPG/petrol, and it has been a brilliant car for 7 years, drives like a dream, and is so cheap to run. In December, I suffered a major water loss and by the time I realised, the head was cooked. I had the cooling system fixed, and the local dealership sniff tested the coolant and confirmed that there is gas in it. Quote to do both gaskets is £2,800 + vat (if the job is straight forward). I am LED to believe that the H6 is a very robust engine and should have gone round the clock twice easily if not for the coolant fiasco. Question is should I spend the cash, and do bear in mind that there is £2,500 quid’s worth of gas conversion kit on the car. Any thoughts from anyone welcome, but don’t forget that technically I’m an idiot.  Thanks 

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Wotcha and welcome - Sorry to hear you have had this issue, the H6 is a great unit.

For me it would depend on the rest of the car, if it is in good condition and the car is still fit for you purpose I would fix it to have peace of mind and knowledge of the cars history.

How did it suffer the water loss?

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Thanks for your advice. The car is in very good condition and with low mileage for its 17 years, so I think it is worth doing. It was a corroded metal coolant pipe that drained the system, although no engine lights came up. The heater was blowing cold air and I carried on a couple of miles to get home, wish I hadn't!

The car still starts and drives perfectly, but the temp gauge is all over the place, and coolant is displaced from the radiator to the coolant reservoir after a journey of a few miles.

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Nightmare - well feel free to take progress photos and have thread for your motor if you would like - Ev en a shot of the offending pipe might help someone to check their own setup

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Is a shame that as EZ is the unstated crown jewel of subaru engines .
If the car good example it worth doing as you won't buy better  even with 10K in your pocket .
I would say you could get better price on work than that, my guideline estimate without seeing it be around 2200+vat which include all parts/fluids and head machine shop costs .
LPG can be harsh on valves so they need good inspection and heads need proper checks for straightness and cracks .
They not hard to do but quality parts and good working practise are key and preferably mechanics with fair bit of subaru experience as experience saves time and makes better choices on parts and process of the task .

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Thanks Mr B, you also confirm my own thoughts. As for the price I could shop around, but I am mindful that if there are problems, I might be better off with our local dealership who I have some trading history with, rather than a outfit miles away who I won't know from Adam? Thanks for the reminder about the valves. The vehicle does have a valve lube system, but I will point it out to them. I am hoping that this wont turn into an engine rebuild once I am committed! Any thoughts about other parts that it might be worth replacing whilst they are at it, water/oil pumps etc?

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Water pump best done unless it very low miles (use oem pump only, they about £95), they do tend last 200K with ease but I be changing it unless ultra low mileage where it silly throwing totally serviceable quality parts away .
Your problem is if does turn into bigger job the price at dealer get stupid fast and they might not be as flexible at solution paths .
At point of engine build you be better off sourcing used engine or donor vehicle for simple swap . (get a lot cheap thanks to subframe corrosion)
Hopefully they done some due diligence already such as leak-down test so know what head/cylinders at fault and exactly what leaking and bore scoped effected cylinder/cylinders along with oil and oil pressure checks and engine running audio checks to get some idea it likely easy viable repair .
If it low mileage engine and you been good with oil changes and overheating been minimal it good chance be fairly straight forward top end work.
For sure you never know 100% until get into it but you don't want end up with a 5K bill .

You might be wise pondering options such as looking at used 3.0 outbacks in your area for prices on very clean ones or a mot failure for donor engine, and getting a couple quotes elsewhere just to gauge price variations you got locally.
I do agree with you on spending little extra somewhere you got some history and confidence is worthwhile but you also never find the really good independents & specialists unless look .
 

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