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Thread: Worth Fixing 2006 WRX?

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    Default Worth Fixing 2006 WRX?

    Curious to get some opinions from folks here who may have been in a similar spot previously.

    Own a 2006 WRX with ~145k on it. Cars been great and reliable, up until yesterday. Came back to my car after a short drive around the city yesterday to find that I was leaking coolant. Drove the car back home (~5km), parked it and checked under the hood. Reservoir cap had blown open and made a pretty big mess. Temperature gauge was registering as high just as I got it back into the parkade as well.

    Had the car towed to the shop this morning and just got word that it looks to be a failed head gasket which will require pulling the motor out to replace. Along with the work that likely makes sense to do at the same time (timing belt, water pump, etc.), potentially clutch as I'm on the original and regular maintenance of things like pads/rotors - I'm trying trying to get my head around whether it makes sense to repair or scrap the car.

    Kilometers are relatively low at 145k but it has some usual Subaru rust behind the front wheel wells and some chips/scuffs/etc. from daily driving.

    What would be everyone's "magic number" for where it makes sense to scrap the car vs repair in this scenario?

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    Youre probably looking at about 5k for that headgasket job. On the plus side, your car does have about 100k less km than others on the road. Up to you to decide if it's worth fixing. It still runs and drives currently and hasn't been disassembled?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sentry View Post
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    Youre probably looking at about 5k for that headgasket job. On the plus side, your car does have about 100k less km than others on the road. Up to you to decide if it's worth fixing. It still runs and drives currently and hasn't been disassembled?
    Car was running and driving great right up until the leak yesterday - no obvious signs of issues that I noticed, but possible I missed something.

    Car hasn't been disassembled as of yet. As for drivable - doesn't seem like it. Mechanic suggested that the leak was quite bad (which makes sense based on what I saw yesterday in the parking lot) and that he wouldn't drive it beyond just getting it home if I wanted to go that route.

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    Fixing what you have is almost always cheaper than buying a new used car. If you are going to replace it with a similar year/value/type of vehicle I would fix what you already have. Basically every 2006ish vehicle is going to need a bunch of work done to it. A set of tires, brakes, maintenance and some other repairs is going to equal or exceed the cost of the head gasket repair.
    If you replace it with something that is like 5 years old, it will need less work but the purchase cost will be way over the cost of the head gasket.

    But doing the head gasket repair does come with some risks. If the engine was badly over heated, the piston rings will loose their temper and the engine will consume oil after the repair, seeing you just maxed out the temperature gauge it should be fine. If the engine stalled from being too hot, I would not fix it.

    This is a old Subaru, was only a matter of time until you had to do the head gaskets.

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    Personally, I would find a cheap short block, repair and then sell the car. Turbo Subaru engines are ticking time bombs.

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    I have $5k cash in hand to come grab it if you want it out of your hair
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    Yes.. Turbo Subaru engines require regular injections of money. But the 06 WRX is a fun drive, so I vote for fixing it at least until you get to the stage on the cost/benefit after losing a piston rod through the turbo and need to do a full rebuild.

    Your mechanic will be able to help you out on other preventative items while the engine is out. On mine ('07) it was one the gaskets that sit on/near the piston rings which has a replacement improved design, the VVT solenoid - (which is accessible normally, but not the stupid little filters on VVT oil line that sit behind the turbo), and the air pump delete.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flexray View Post
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    Fixing what you have is almost always cheaper than buying a new used car. If you are going to replace it with a similar year/value/type of vehicle I would fix what you already have. Basically every 2006ish vehicle is going to need a bunch of work done to it. A set of tires, brakes, maintenance and some other repairs is going to equal or exceed the cost of the head gasket repair.
    If you replace it with something that is like 5 years old, it will need less work but the purchase cost will be way over the cost of the head gasket.

    But doing the head gasket repair does come with some risks. If the engine was badly over heated, the piston rings will loose their temper and the engine will consume oil after the repair, seeing you just maxed out the temperature gauge it should be fine. If the engine stalled from being too hot, I would not fix it.

    This is a old Subaru, was only a matter of time until you had to do the head gaskets.
    Agreed on it not making a lot of sense to replace with a vehicle of similar vintage - would be looking a whole lot newer if I went that route, just don't have a clear view of what I'd like to replace it with currently. Nothing has really caught my eye.

    And luckily no stalling or anything like that - gauge was registering as hot but that was the extent of it. No warning lights or anything either.

    Quote Originally Posted by richardchan2002 View Post
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    Personally, I would find a cheap short block, repair and then sell the car. Turbo Subaru engines are ticking time bombs.
    Any sense as to where you'd start looking for a compatible short block these days and any particular reason you'd lean this way vs just repairing the current low mileage motor? Re: the ticking time bomb comment, definitely came out of the blue for me. Drove the car Saturday and Sunday morning and everything felt great - then by the afternoon it had this issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gart View Post
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    Yes.. Turbo Subaru engines require regular injections of money. But the 06 WRX is a fun drive, so I vote for fixing it at least until you get to the stage on the cost/benefit after losing a piston rod through the turbo and need to do a full rebuild.

    Your mechanic will be able to help you out on other preventative items while the engine is out. On mine ('07) it was one the gaskets that sit on/near the piston rings which has a replacement improved design, the VVT solenoid - (which is accessible normally, but not the stupid little filters on VVT oil line that sit behind the turbo), and the air pump delete.
    Yep - exactly what the shop is recommending. Seems like if a person is going to go down the road of replacing the head gasket its the right time to do the other items that need the engine pulled as well - timing belt, etc. and save a bunch of labour.

    Biggest question mark for me is: If I get this work done, are there any other likely "failure points" that could crop up to give me trouble in the near future. Anyone have ideas on other aspects of the car that would be valuable to have checked out either before or while this work was being done to avoid something catastrophic in the near term?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrknFngrs View Post
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    Agreed on it not making a lot of sense to replace with a vehicle of similar vintage - would be looking a whole lot newer if I went that route, just don't have a clear view of what I'd like to replace it with currently. Nothing has really caught my eye.

    And luckily no stalling or anything like that - gauge was registering as hot but that was the extent of it. No warning lights or anything either.



    Any sense as to where you'd start looking for a compatible short block these days and any particular reason you'd lean this way vs just repairing the current low mileage motor? Re: the ticking time bomb comment, definitely came out of the blue for me. Drove the car Saturday and Sunday morning and everything felt great - then by the afternoon it had this issue.



    Yep - exactly what the shop is recommending. Seems like if a person is going to go down the road of replacing the head gasket its the right time to do the other items that need the engine pulled as well - timing belt, etc. and save a bunch of labour.

    Biggest question mark for me is: If I get this work done, are there any other likely "failure points" that could crop up to give me trouble in the near future. Anyone have ideas on other aspects of the car that would be valuable to have checked out either before or while this work was being done to avoid something catastrophic in the near term?
    Check the rear strut towers for rust.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrknFngrs View Post
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    Agreed on it not making a lot of sense to replace with a vehicle of similar vintage - would be looking a whole lot newer if I went that route, just don't have a clear view of what I'd like to replace it with currently. Nothing has really caught my eye.

    And luckily no stalling or anything like that - gauge was registering as hot but that was the extent of it. No warning lights or anything either.



    Any sense as to where you'd start looking for a compatible short block these days and any particular reason you'd lean this way vs just repairing the current low mileage motor? Re: the ticking time bomb comment, definitely came out of the blue for me. Drove the car Saturday and Sunday morning and everything felt great - then by the afternoon it had this issue.



    Yep - exactly what the shop is recommending. Seems like if a person is going to go down the road of replacing the head gasket its the right time to do the other items that need the engine pulled as well - timing belt, etc. and save a bunch of labour.

    Biggest question mark for me is: If I get this work done, are there any other likely "failure points" that could crop up to give me trouble in the near future. Anyone have ideas on other aspects of the car that would be valuable to have checked out either before or while this work was being done to avoid something catastrophic in the near term?
    check car-part.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrknFngrs View Post
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    Agreed on it not making a lot of sense to replace with a vehicle of similar vintage - would be looking a whole lot newer if I went that route, just don't have a clear view of what I'd like to replace it with currently. Nothing has really caught my eye.

    And luckily no stalling or anything like that - gauge was registering as hot but that was the extent of it. No warning lights or anything either.

    Biggest question mark for me is: If I get this work done, are there any other likely "failure points" that could crop up to give me trouble in the near future. Anyone have ideas on other aspects of the car that would be valuable to have checked out either before or while this work was being done to avoid something catastrophic in the near term?
    I generally dislike used engines. Mostly because you don't know what you are buying, you don't know how that engine has been treated or maintained and it is a gamble if you are going to get a good one or not. If this gets done through a shop, they are going to call up a wreaker and most likely get an engine from an insurance write-off. The wreaker gives zero fucks, I have seen engines show up with broken oil pans, valve covers, casting broken-off heads and blocks. They cut the wiring harnesses and hoses and pull the complete engine out with a seat belt from the car and throw it on a pallet. Wreakers have a software system that gives them "comparable" engines, you may get an engine out of a Forester or something similar. I have had incidences where you get the engine installed and start connecting the wiring harness and a temperature sensor or something is in a different location or just not there, now you are swapping parts in-between both engines to make it work. Old Subarus wipe out head gaskets all the time, the used engine that you will receive will be no different, I would recommend replacing the head gaskets on the used engine while it is on the stand before it goes into the vehicle so you don't end up in the same spot that you are in right now a few months down the road.
    Wreakers do provide a sorta warranty, but they will pay the shop like $75 an hour. If the shop's labor rate is $170, you will be paying the difference. A complete engine assembly is 9.1 hours and a long block is 12.1. The absolute best repair would be a re-manufactured engine, that is going to be like 10g's.

    I have replaced many, many failed head gaskets and can count on one hand how many times things didn't work out. If the engine has been badly overheated, when you pop the hood you will get the baked engine smell. It kinda smells like burnt plastic, but I don't think that is the case here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Twin_Cam_Turbo View Post
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    Check the rear strut towers for rust.
    I mean realistically its a Subaru.. the entire rear quarters of those rot completely out.

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    I vote EJ207 swap if you keep it. I think some even came with forged internals and twinscroll setups.
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    When my brothers '13 STI died, it was due to a cracked oil pickup pipe. For peace of mind I'd recommend a aftermarket replacement while you're at it. If I recall correctly my brother bought his new block from Rally Sport for way cheaper than the dealer.

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    My gut says "no" and that's mainly due to the rust. Once that rust accelerates, you just need to practically stop doing oil changes or fixing anything to let the car die and stop being that broke fucker on your block.

    Unless you are broke, in which case, that's fine and if your set of circumstances is dealing you this hand, then take that hand and try to keep it going.

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    Appreciate the input and the heads up on both the rear strut tower rust and the oil pickup risk - will want to get those checked out if I opt to get the work done.

    And to your comment Flexray - no burnt plastic smell when I popped the hood, just a bit of a smell from coolant hitting the hot exhaust.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrknFngrs View Post
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    Any sense as to where you'd start looking for a compatible short block these days and any particular reason you'd lean this way vs just repairing the current low mileage motor? Re: the ticking time bomb comment, definitely came out of the blue for me. Drove the car Saturday and Sunday morning and everything felt great - then by the afternoon it had this issue.
    The engine in my Subaru (completely stock unmodified) was replaced at less than 20,000km (fortunately under warranty) so I’m not a big believer that low mileage means much. I would take a higher mileage motor that is driven regularly over a lower mileage motor that is not.

    I’d go with a short block because it usually comes with enough warranty so that you can easily sell the car. Plus you don’t have to worry about any other damage that you might have missed when you repair the issue (it’s not always guaranteed that you know what the issue is the first time around).

    At the end of the day it’s all a gamble. It’s not always a guarantee that a short block replacement will go smoothly either.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve needed to look for a short block but jdmsource came through for me many times (sometimes finding local engines too). I have also used car-part.com a few times with good results - it gets you access to parts all over North America.

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    You can donate the car to me. I'll take it off your hands.
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    LS swap.
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    If you plan to keep this for a while, I would definitely reshim your valvetrain esp the exh side.

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