Help needed for old beat up Marine that plans on rebuilding the engine.


Asked by Feb 21, 2016 at 09:21 AM about the 1998 Subaru Legacy 4 Dr Outback AWD Wagon

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

98 Legacy Outback that needs the HC replaced. The wife and I want to
pull the engine and put the gasket and make sure we replace everything
we should while doing this. Help with the parts list, kit's over single parts,
price is important but we will use OEM. This may end up being a part time
deal for me, been thinking about buying up some older Subaru's and
bringing them back to life. I have noticed people let them run down and
sell them? Great car and will last a life time if taken care of, that's where I
want to come in.

7 Answers


Your plan may work with the really old Subarus- from the 80s- but rebuilding those 90s and 2000s Subarus just sounds like a frustrating, money-losing proposition- you can't resell them for enough to cover your costs- even if you can do the complicated engine rebuildin' correctly-

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I'm very sorry, but your odds of longterm service from the flawed DOHC 2.5i used in 1995-1999 are VERY slim. The problem is that the heads are too thermally unstable to prevent breaching of high pressure exhaust gases from broaching its gasket to percolate the cooling system. We indies have all wasted our time carefully resealing these motors after careful head checking and rarely does the block NOT fail within a year. It seems that it can't come fully back after being so thermally stressed. (The simpler ensuing SOHC 2.5i used in 2000+ is much sturdier in this regard, accepting fresh gaskets in stride on to a very long life.) There are many thousands of 96-99 OBs in bone yards here in New England because their motors blew up soon after a pricey (and PITA) gasket replacement. Please do NOT waste your time. Far better that you chase a clean '00+ and start over. I suppose ou could chase a '00+ SOHC motor, but you'd have to replace the ECM, some exhaust stuff...gets way too pricey. Take a deep breath and move on....

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Jamnblues and TheSubaruGuruBoston, thanks to both of you for the things said. No one till now has said anything in regards to it being a waste of time. I like the older models but with the words of wisdom from you two I will start looking around for under 95 and over 99. So glad to hear these words before I put the money into the more expensive OE parts. I still plan on pulling the engine and replacing the head gasket, valve cover gaskets, timing belt, and water pump. It will give me some needed experience working on the engine. Again thanks for the honest truth, makes your face light up like Clarks house at Christmas. Thanks, Jerry


Ok. If you want to play be sure to use the full OE kit with new head bolts. Don't waste money on a water pump. Also make sure the heads are flat and straight and NOT shaved more than 0.006". Getting at the plugs later is a bitch so use the new iridiums. Torque the heads VERY carefully, using the prescribed sequence. Upgrade to 16 or 17" wheels so that your finished project at least handles much better! Good luck. Ern

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

You mentioned working on the motor for "needed experience". Anything you learn from the old DOHC is NOT really transferable (except using tools!) to the newer SOHC, which is more rugged, clearly quicker, more fuel efficient, and simpler. Aside from the fragile motor my biggest gripe with the '95-99 OB was the very compromised handling because of the soft 205/70R15 tire/wheel setup. A VERY successful cheap upgrade is to grab some used 16s from an '00-'05 OB and mount their 225/60R16. Tremendous improvement in handling. Even better would be the 225/55R17 used in the best OBs of the '06-'09 period, but your old suspension doesn't warrant it. IOW, if you're going to rebuild the DOHC you might as well dump it back in its carcass, upgrade the wheels, and enjoy the car until it throws a rod later this year or next...which is likely. Because of significant rust in the rear quarters that isn't abated until the '05-'09 body, chasing an '00-'04 can be VERY much because of "softer" HG issues too. But if upgraded to 17 wheels/tires an '00-'04 is arguably even better handling than a softer (but more comfy) '06-'09. (Avoid '05 as it's a "hybrid" stuck between the two eras with flawed emissions and lacking the '06 VVT.) I have a feeling we'll hear from you again....

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Yes I will be around for awhile and with the lack of knowledge on Subaru's I'll most likely be your best buddy before I'm done. So with all you have said the best thing I could do is find me a deal on an 00-04 model and make a few mods, will a 00-04 engine fit into a 98 OB, or would that be wasted of time. The 98 we have is rust free, int in great condition, just the issue with the engine. I could do the tire thing and change the motor if possible and drive this for awhile and keep my eye's open for a new model deal. Thanks, Jerry


Yeah, spend a deuce on bigger wheels and another $400 on stiffer tires and you'll LOVE the new-found handling AND the pride in having rebuilt your oldster. Ern

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

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