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EJ25D valve cover changes & ITM and RockAuto woes

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I apologize in advance for this post. It may seem like a rant, but there is a lot of valuable information on here to help others.


A few weeks ago, I set out on the endeavor of rebuilding my 99 Outback EJ25D due to a bad head gasket at 145k miles. I found a full engine gasket set on Rock Auto for $125 and ordered it. For reference it is the ITM ENGINE COMPONENTS 0901329. During the engine assembly, I noticed minor discrepancies and absences with some of the gaskets.


1.) The head gaskets included were only a slight improvement over stock. In the importance of knowing to have a quality gasket, I opted to use my Fel-Pro MLS head gaskets I had from another build.

2.) The kit was missing the coolant crossover grommets, which ITM listed as included. $3 at Ace Hardware found the correct grommets for this.

3.) The timing cover gaskets do not fit as nicely as the old ones. Since it is not a critical gasket and simply retards the vibration of the covers, I left the old ones on.

4.) Last, and the most aggravating aspect of this whole this, I found out that the rocker cover gaskets are incorrect. More on this below.


The valve cover gasket included has a square spark plug tube gasket and the main gasket is missing 4 tabs that my old gasket had. Chalking it up to a change in design and being that my tube gaskets were good, I used the new main gasket and my old tube gaskets. When I assembled the engine completely, dropped it in the car, I discovered that both valve covers were weeping oil from the front of the cover, ironically where the two sealing tabs were missing on the replacement gaskets.


Here's where my research comes in. Apparently between 1996 and 1999, there are 3 revisions to the EJ25D valve cover. There is a cover made between 1996 and January of 1997, there is one made from February 1997 to sometime in early 1998, and then one made for late 1998 to 1999. The pre-Jan 97 one is distinctly different, but the post-Jan 97 to early 98 and the late 98-99 one are very minor. The following image shows the first difference.




The top example is a post-Jan. 97 but pre-98 cover. The lower example is a pre-Jan 97 cover. The difference is seen by the shape of the gasket for the spark plug tubes. No other differences between the two. The gaskets ITM included would have worked if the I had the lower cover and theoretically would have worked if I reused the tube gaskets. The 1998 and 1999 EJ25D gaskets (mine) look like this:




The highlighted areas in the image above I subsequently filled with sealant, which is where it is weeping from now.


I reached out to Rock Auto on this matter and it looked promising that they were going to take action to remedy the situation. The representative emailed and wanted to know what differences I have in the gaskets I received as opposed to what I needed:


Dear Steven,


I am sorry to hear of the trouble. We haven't had issues with this kit not fitting before. Are the cover gaskets shown in the catalog picture here correct:




If not do any of the cover gaskets here look correct?




Also could you please send a picture showing what you received, so we can see how it is different as we haven't had problems with this kit before.


Thank you,


Jacob O.

RockAuto Customer Service


I sent him the evidence of my research and attempted to help them correct their website:


Thank you for the response.


The main gaskets are missing two important sealing tabs that are critical in proper sealing of the rocker cover. The correct gasket has 4 extra tabs that fit into the grooves in the valve cover and the spark plug seals are oval/oblong instead of square. Refer to the following image of what the correct gasket set looks like:


[image from above attached]


The gaskets included in the kit do not have the highlighted tabs. I originally thought the tabs didn't make a difference and it was a design change, until I put the engine in the car and found out that it leaks from both rocker covers in exactly the spots that the tabs are missing. The gaskets look very similar, but have those minor differences which are almost indistinguishable in the pictures listed on your website and without the rocker cover off.


In my research since noticing this folly, I found the design shown in ITM Part number 0901329 is for pre-January 1997 build EJ25D engines, yet the kit is advertised for use in the 1996-1999 Subaru Legacy. Apparently in late 1996, Subaru changed the valve cover design because they switched to hydraulic roller rockers for 1997 model year, decreasing the size of the spark plug hole and changing from the square design to the oval design but kept the main gasket design. Further, Subaru changed the gasket again for the 1998+ model year, keeping the oval tube gaskets, but changing the main gasket. The gaskets that you carry that are for the pre- and post-January 1997 are very different and for the sake of clarity, it should be listed as such.


The DNJ VC710 is a pre-January 1997 gasket without any grommets or spark plug tube gaskets

The Fel-Pro VS50662R is a post-January 1997, pre-1998 gasket as it has the oval spark plug tubes but not the tabs found in the later models.

The ITM 0931313 and 0931314 gaskets are pre-Jan. 1997

The Fel-pro VS50672R are 1998-1999 gaskets

The Beck-Arney 0362040 and 0362041 gaskets are 1998-1999 gaskets

The DNJ VC710G are the pre-January 1997 with grommets and spark plug tube gaskets


The proper gasket I need is the Fel-pro VS50672R.


I hope this clears up any confusion as to the proper parts that I need and help you guys to improve the website.





The next email I got back from their support has infuriated me. It says the following:


Dear Steven,


Thank you for this additional information. I confirmed with the manufacturer that this is the correct gasket set for your vehicle application. We do have a 30 day return policy for defective products (those that are missing pieces), but I am willing to make a one time exception for you since your set is missing pieces. I set up your return for a refund.


I have sent return instructions to your email address. You will find a prepaid shipping label at the bottom of the return instructions. You will receive your refund within 3 business days after tracking information shows our warehouse has received your return. We will email you when the refund is issued.


Thank you,



RockAuto Customer Service


The infuriating part is that my email was completely disregarded and sounds almost like a canned response.


1.) The gasket set ISN'T missing anything except the two seals I bought at Ace Hardware, IT'S WRONG!

2.) ITM is wrong if they're advertising this kit for compatibility with 96-99 Legacy EJ25 and including the pre-Jan 1997 gaskets.

3.) I don't even think they approached ITM with my findings, they just looked on their damn website to get the information they think is right.

4.) MY ENGINE IS COMPLETELY ASSEMBLED WITH ALL THE GASKETS! What do they want me to do? Disassemble all of the engine to send the kit back?

5.) How hard is it to comp me the $17 for the Fel-Pro valve gasket set that I TOLD them is the RIGHT one?


I'm at a certain loss right now with this gasket set. Methinks that RockAuto and ITM need to make it right since it is an incorrect compatibility. I think I am going to foot the bill for replacement gaskets that are the correct ones and lose even more oil pulling the covers off.

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That is definitely a frustrating find. I am also pretty disappointed in rockauto.com handling this so poorly. I would ask to be put in touch with Mimi's supervisor and escalate the issue, so that rockauto.com knows the issue has neither been resolved adequately nor appropriately. Perhaps given this chance they can correct their error and coach Mimi to handle situations like this differently. I've been buying parts from Rockauto for over a decade. Be a shame if I had to stop because they're advertising parts incorrectly and shafting customers. I do want to thank you for taking the time to share these nuances. I was unaware of these differences and plan on building two motors with two sets of ej25d heads, so this will be useful for me.
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I heard back from RockAuto later in the day after I called to complain. Suddenly when I was on the phone their tune changed about the whole situation. At first the representative on the phone tried telling me, in a roundabout way, that I was lying by saying they've had over 50 orders in the last year with this kit and that they've never had complaints. He also inquired as to why, now, is this issue is coming up; kind of like I was lying or something. It wasn't until I explained the differences that I found that he started to get it. He kept asking me stupid questions ranging from about how I knew that the gaskets were wrong and why the manufacturer of the kit would advertise it as compatible, but I'm the only one who has said anything.


After about 40 minutes on the phone, he comes back from a hold and tells me that they're going to reimburse my $17 from my order so that I can purchase the correct valve covers. It is so frustrating to have this experience, considering I've ordered thousands of dollars in parts over the last 5 years from them.


For future reference, and thanks to all my laborious research, here is my guide to buying the CORRECT valve cover gaskets from RockAuto, considering they're unwilling to change their website, despite discrepancies in the gasket design and manufacturer reporting incorrect compatibility.



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I know it isn't much consolation, but your RockAuto review is now public and should show up on search engines. For example if one were to search Rockauto reviews or Rock Auto reviews or Rockauto.com reviews or Rockauto poor customer service etc potential customers may find your experience and decide to stick with a local parts store for their purchase ;)
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I know it isn't much consolation, but your RockAuto review is now public and should show up on search engines. For example if one were to search Rockauto reviews or Rock Auto reviews or Rockauto.com reviews or Rockauto poor customer service etc potential customers may find your experience and decide to stick with a local parts store for their purchase ;)


Haha, sweet. I just Googled "Rockauto subaru valve cover gasket" and this article shows up as #10 on their search rankings. Being this is the first issue I've had with RA, I can't effectively rule them out for ordering parts. Like I've said. I've ordered thousands of dollars worth of parts (water pumps, gasket kits, timing kits, suspension parts, power steering parts, etc.) and was floored on the resistance I got from them. Hopefully, someone will see this article and see the extensive research I've made and it will help them. On a side note, I just tried using Bing search and it returns Google search results. I guess Microsuck isn't hiding it anymore.

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