In early 2012, I stumbled upon a local Craigslist ad for a used, running 2.1L VW waterboxer engine. It was dirty, and had sat for a year after being pulled (running) in favor of a Ford Zetec swap. I spent months of what little spare time I have replacing hoses, gaskets, and cleaning the engine up. As it came from an automatic Vanagon, I also had to swap over a few parts from my old engine to run this one with my manual transmission.
Anyhow, I crossed my fingers vis-a-vis the head gaskets. I could see that the passenger side had already been replaced. In July, I got the van to start, run, and drive again. I've driven it sparingly in the past year, but learned early on that the driver's side head gasket had a leak. I tried a few stop leak products that only slowed it down.
So, now that the Outback is on the road and reliable, I'm starting in on the head gasket job. I'm going to try replacing them without taking the engine out again, and hope to have the job done in under a month. Once again, I work slowly and have limited time to do the job. The new engine does run well otherwise. The leak is external, and the oil and coolant weren't mixing. I can't wait until it's done and reliable again, so I can take it camping.
Hopefully, I'll have it done before Memorial Day. I bought the Vanagon in late May, 2003, so next month will mark ten years. I can't think of a better way to mark the occasion than to drive it again.
After a wash and wax last week:
The offending coolant leak:
Back into the garage:
Intake manifold off: