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2003 H6 Overheating trouble that won't go away


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21 replies to this topic

#1 dbullen

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 09:21 AM

Subaru H6, continuing overheating problem. Has been going on for 6 months now, still not fixed.
2003 Outback LL Bean H6
180,000 Miles

Here's what happened.

6 Months ago: Car was overheating when starting from a stop (after car was warmed up)
Temp gauge would rise slightly when starting off from a stop and then drop back to normal. It would also do the same when going up long hills on the highway, rise slightly at the bottom of the hill and then immediately drop back to normal temp for the remained of the hill.

I had a new Subaru thermostat installed, the cooling system of course drained, topped up and burped (With Subaru coolant and conditioner) and car worked great for the next two months.

Then I took the car for a 15 hour road trip. I was driving about 75 – 80 Miles/hour on the highway. It was 90 % highway driving, when I was about 1 hr away from my destination I had to go from the highway down into the city, and when I started sitting in traffic temp gauge started to rise, and wouldn’t go back down until I started moving again. It was 100 Degrees outside and probably the hottest day of the summer. I managed to keep the car moving until I got to my destination so the temp stayed down. When I arrived I noticed some coolant had spilled out the overflow tank. So I assume it was bubbling, but did not see. The Next day (It was also a much cooler day) I then transferred all the coolant from the overflow tank back into the radiator. The car worked fine for the 15 hour drive home, although it was much cooler outside and I took it easy on the way home.

When I got home I took the car to my Subaru guy (Master Certified Subaru Tech who works at a dealership here). I had him do a complete check over.

He did a pressure test on the coolant system and found three leaks. One small leak in bottom of radiator, one small leak in a metal fitted coolant house that goes around the side of the engine, and one around the coolant temp sensor.

He replaced the radiator, hose and coolant temp sensor. He also put new clamps on all hoses

After replacing the above, he did a pressure test on the cooling system and it was no longer dropping pressure overnight.

He also did a compression test and leak down test and found no other issues.

He took the car for a good drive (although not on the highway) and it acted fine.

I picked the car up and made the drive home and was also driving about 75-80 MPH on the highway for about a 1 hour drive home. When I pulled off the highway and down into traffic heat gauge started to rise again, also AT Temp light was flashing for a bit. Gauge was going up and down. Coolant was bubbling a bit out of the overflow tank. I immediately shut the car off and had it towed on a flatbed back to my Subaru Tech.

When my tech got the car back he did another compression and leak down test, and couldn’t find anything. After doing a vacuum test he discovered a leak in what he called an internal coolant hose, he said there were 3 of those hoses and so he replaced all 3.

After he completed the work the vacuum test passed as well an additional compression and leak down test again passed.

This time my tech took the car for a long hard drive on the highway after completing the work. When he got back to his shop the car was not overheating but there was bubbling in the bottom of the coolant overflow tank, and some misfires on the cylinders on the drivers (LH) side.

He immediately did a chemical test on the coolant after the drive and it turned from Blue to Yellow, (I guess it normally changes to green with HG failure?)

He also checked the fuel pump housing (I think this is what he called it) for cracks and it was fine.

At this point the head gasket seemed to be the only thing left. So I purchased head gasket kit, a ton of other gaskets and also a new water pump, as I figured might as well replaced the pump when he’s in there.

He just got everything apart, and the old head gaskets (The ones he removed) look fine and have no breaks, he has sent the LH head to a machine shop to check for cracking.

Assuming it’s not cracked, is there anything else I can have him look for?

Edited by dbullen, 27 September 2010 - 10:08 AM.


#2 WJM

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 09:58 AM

Typical story line for blown headgaskets on the EJ25D.

You have a rare EZ30D that blew its HG's. I've only seen one other blow and the head was machined incorrectly from the factory.

#3 grossgary

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 10:04 AM

i can't forsee a failure that wouldn't have had other symptoms but maybe it was water pump related?

i've seen EJ engines pass compression and exhaust in the coolant tests before and still have blown headgaskets.

since it was loosing coolant, it may have lost enough to overheat at some point, thereby weakening the headgaskets. at 180,000 miles they've seen a lot of use and are unlikely to take running hot as well as a new engine. a 50 year old can't take what a 20 year old can kind of thing :lol:

i'm sure he will or did but i'd have him closely check the timing chain tensioners and guides while it's apart. the guides are known to break occassionally.

#4 dbullen

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 10:06 AM

Guides and tensionders were replaced at 130,000 miles.

He said he tested the waterpump flow and it was fine, but I dunno. He's got a new one to put on anyways. I'm just scared he's gonna put everything back together and I'm going to have the same problem again.

Would a water pump failure cause misfired on LH head?

#5 dbullen

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 10:07 AM

Typical story line for blown headgaskets on the EJ25D.

You have a rare EZ30D that blew its HG's. I've only seen one other blow and the head was machined incorrectly from the factory.


Would a blow head gasket normally have a break in it? He said the gaskets he removed looked fine. He has replaced a one two other H6 headgaskets over the years (As they are rare to go) and I believe in the other ones the gaskets had a break.

#6 WJM

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 10:29 AM

Would a water pump failure cause misfired on LH head?


No.

Would a blow head gasket normally have a break in it? He said the gaskets he removed looked fine. He has replaced a one two other H6 headgaskets over the years (As they are rare to go) and I believe in the other ones the gaskets had a break.


Not in 9 out of 10 cases that I've seen. The only times I see a break or obvious spot on the gasket/head/block that indicated a leak was if it was REALLY bad. So bad that you couldnt drive the car.

I've got a 2004 Forester turbo here that's blown really bad. I'll probably see the blown area on that one. It shoots geysers out of the radiator its blown so bad.

#7 dbullen

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 10:32 AM

No.



Not in 9 out of 10 cases that I've seen. The only times I see a break or obvious spot on the gasket/head/block that indicated a leak was if it was REALLY bad. So bad that you couldnt drive the car.

I've got a 2004 Forester turbo here that's blown really bad. I'll probably see the blown area on that one. It shoots geysers out of the radiator its blown so bad.


Gotcha, so once he has the head checked for cracks and repaired if need be and planed if need be, I should hopefully be okay once it's put back together with new head gaskets?

#8 grossgary

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 10:58 AM

Gotcha, so once he has the head checked for cracks and repaired if need be and planed if need be, I should hopefully be okay once it's put back together with new head gaskets?

yes, as far as the head gaskets go. if they are pressure tested and installed properly they won't cause issues. pressure test will verify they do no leak. properly installed headgaskets will not leak. so if pressure test and installation are up to par, you're golden and that cylinder is sealed.

the heads will not be cracked unless there is missing information in your description.

It shoots geysers out of the radiator its blown so bad.


WOW will!!:eek: i've seen oil/coolant filled intakes on turbo's but never geysers, that's awesome!

Edited by grossgary, 27 September 2010 - 11:00 AM.


#9 dbullen

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 11:06 AM

Just really weird that the pressure test passed before he took everything apart. The only thing to indicate head gasket was chemical test on coolant and that didn't turn all the way green, just yellow

[quote name='grossgary']yes, as far as the head gaskets go. if they are pressure tested and installed properly they won't cause issues. pressure test will verify they do no leak. properly installed headgaskets will not leak. so if pressure test and installation are up to par, you're golden and that cylinder is sealed.

the heads will not be cracked unless there is missing information in your description.

#10 WJM

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 11:27 AM

Gotcha, so once he has the head checked for cracks and repaired if need be and planed if need be, I should hopefully be okay once it's put back together with new head gaskets?


Correct.

WOW will!!:eek: i've seen oil/coolant filled intakes on turbo's but never geysers, that's awesome!


Yeah, this one was a new one for me.

Just really weird that the pressure test passed before he took everything apart. The only thing to indicate head gasket was chemical test on coolant and that didn't turn all the way green, just yellow


Yep, typical EJ/EG/EZ headgasket failure there. It will pass all leakdown, compression and chemical tests. The only time you get the chemical one to turn is with something noticeable and even then the leakdown will show something like 1/2 psi drop overnight. Compression will not suffer until there's an actual hole in the gasket.

None of those 'new' engines blow like an EA82. When one blows on an EA82, its obvious and its done right then and there.

#11 dbullen

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 07:23 PM

Well here's the verdict, RH head is perfect, minor warp but being planed.

LH Head has 2 cracks in first coolant passage in the front all the way up to the cam shafts. I guess it was leaking coolant in to #2 and all down that left side via the oil galley return,in such a spot that it's not repairable.

Plan now is to pick up a good used LH head.

#12 CNY_Dave

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 11:40 AM

Damn.

But hopefully this solves the mystery.

It will be interesting to hear how easy it was to find the head.

Dave

#13 grossgary

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 12:51 PM

woah! crack! did anyone else drive the car and possibly run it hot? that's bizarre to me, thanks for following up though i hate to hear of all your troubles with it.

good news is that it should be good to go and they isolated the issue for sure.

didn't see any in CAN, did you find one yet?

$150 in NY 1-607-458-5474
$175 in MD 1-800-543-7274 (hey that's my home town, i know that place!)
$200 in CT 800-874-7116

#14 dbullen

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 07:04 PM

woah! crack! did anyone else drive the car and possibly run it hot? that's bizarre to me, thanks for following up though i hate to hear of all your troubles with it.

good news is that it should be good to go and they isolated the issue for sure.

didn't see any in CAN, did you find one yet?

$150 in NY 1-607-458-5474
$175 in MD 1-800-543-7274 (hey that's my home town, i know that place!)
$200 in CT 800-874-7116


Can only find one in Canada, and it's 650 (Shipping included), maybe it's worth checking it out, is the place in MD pretty reliable? Maybe I should call them tomorrow AM

#15 dbullen

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 07:38 PM

woah! crack! did anyone else drive the car and possibly run it hot? that's bizarre to me, thanks for following up though i hate to hear of all your troubles with it.

good news is that it should be good to go and they isolated the issue for sure.

didn't see any in CAN, did you find one yet?

$150 in NY 1-607-458-5474
$175 in MD 1-800-543-7274 (hey that's my home town, i know that place!)
$200 in CT 800-874-7116


Found one for $195 that they are willing to ship to canada, the story on it is the following:

2001 H6 Had 70,000 Miles on it, Toasted lower end. Got a hole in the Oil Pan, spun a rod, upper end perfect.

Given the above situation do you think the head would be okay?


#16 grossgary

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 08:28 PM

i'm not familiar with EZ heads. if there are bearing surfaces on them i might want them checked, something the shop could do. they're probably fine but "toasted" lower end is odd. EZ's don't toast lower ends very often so the only concern i'd have is that it's due to low or poor oil which could affect the cams/bearing surfaces on the head (if they have those).

the place in maryland is very reliable, my parents know the folks that own it, been there for decades, i've bought parts from them over the years. i'd give them a call.

#17 dbullen

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 01:11 PM

i'm not familiar with EZ heads. if there are bearing surfaces on them i might want them checked, something the shop could do. they're probably fine but "toasted" lower end is odd. EZ's don't toast lower ends very often so the only concern i'd have is that it's due to low or poor oil which could affect the cams/bearing surfaces on the head (if they have those).

the place in maryland is very reliable, my parents know the folks that own it, been there for decades, i've bought parts from them over the years. i'd give them a call.


I called the place in maryland, they were awesome to deal with and were willing to ship to canada, however head was $175 + 155 (Shipping) = $330 USD X 1.07 (exchange rate) = $353 Canadian + Taxes charged by customs (15%) = $406, then it would cost $140.00 to crack check it and $80 to plane it once here, for a total of $626.00

I just decided to go with the one for $650 here in canada, as it was crack tested and planed already and guaranteed and will be here in 2 days instead of 7-10 days.

Once this is all said and done, I will have spent about $3100 in the last few months on this vehicle (And that's after I got a discount on all my parts buying online and my subaru tech cutting me a major deal on labour, starting to wonder if it was even worth it. Probably should have parted it out, but it's too late now

Edited by dbullen, 29 September 2010 - 01:15 PM.


#18 grossgary

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:47 PM

insane what you've been through so far, you're amazing for staying this calm about it, i think that's awesome. i'm impressed and think it says all sorts of good things. cheers to that and good luck moving forward.

wow, that added up really fast, didn't think shipping would be near that high but even still all the taxes, customs, etc really drive it up quick.

#19 WJM

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 04:59 AM

well, when you are done with it, it should go another 180,000 or more.

My Legacy has 306,7xx miles on it right now. Never had the engine apart on it besides head gaskets at 200,2xx.

#20 dbullen

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 08:28 PM

insane what you've been through so far, you're amazing for staying this calm about it, i think that's awesome. i'm impressed and think it says all sorts of good things. cheers to that and good luck moving forward.

wow, that added up really fast, didn't think shipping would be near that high but even still all the taxes, customs, etc really drive it up quick.


Well my tech had the head delivered today, I guess it was a piece of garbage, so it's getting send back. Guess i'm back to square one again, about to give up and through the car in the garbage or part it out

#21 subaruplatt

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 09:22 PM

Lucked into two new heads recently both sides, I put on a new belt and did the plugs at my own expense.
After a toasted valve and loose valve guide it was decided to replace the head.
Then I ended up getting both heads replaced but then repacked with the same components. ( warranty )
6000 later km I am finally relaxed the engine at idle is quieter than the fan, on
1.
New battery and it's shifting smoothly.
I have a love hate relationship with the auto anyway.
The car is sometimes too smooth.
Anyhow things are perfect right now, even the rear diff is floating through corners.

I guess my point is that soon your car will be a bit newer than it just was and will feel like new for just a while.
PS it did break in and sounded smoother in about 3-5km just in time for the first oil change.

Edited by subaruplatt, 04 October 2010 - 09:33 PM.


#22 dbullen

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 09:25 AM

i'm not familiar with EZ heads. if there are bearing surfaces on them i might want them checked, something the shop could do. they're probably fine but "toasted" lower end is odd. EZ's don't toast lower ends very often so the only concern i'd have is that it's due to low or poor oil which could affect the cams/bearing surfaces on the head (if they have those).

the place in maryland is very reliable, my parents know the folks that own it, been there for decades, i've bought parts from them over the years. i'd give them a call.


Returned the head and ordered another one from Condon's Auto Parts In Maryland. He even let me email them a shipping label (as I get a discount on shipping through my business). With any bit of luck part will be here by the weekend.




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