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Overheating/No Heat


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9 replies to this topic

#1 Raindrop

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 01:42 PM

My '91 Legacy is acting strange.

On my way to work the past few mornings the speedo needle has been pretty shaky past ~20 mph. It's been 5-10 degrees F outside as I leave for work in the morning the past few days. This morning it made a really strange sound that sounded like it was coming from the instrument panel. I think this problem is separate from my more concerning issue, and might just be a problem with the cable.

On my way to work the heater didn't ever blow hot air, just freezing air. The temp gauge was working and normal, sitting just a hair below half way after it warmed up.

On my way home from work after it had warmed up the temp gauge started to go up past the normal. Still no heat coming from the air vents either. I pulled over, the radiator cap was cold and when I unscrewed it a bit of coolant gushed out with what sounded like bubbles of air too. I drove the last couple miles home making sure it didn't over heat too much past the middle. Except the last time I pulled over, letting it rest and cool down, I started driving again and the heater started blasting out hot air and it the temp gauge didn't go past op temp for the last mile home.

I'm a little puzzled as to what is going on... :-\ I'm thinking maybe coolant temp sensor or air in my system or a blockage?

If I didn't provide enough information let me know. :) Or if I missed something in my searches that has my answer please let me know what to look for.

#2 AdventureSubaru

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 07:46 PM

Have you topped off your coolant? Sometimes you'll get a small leak somewhere and your coolant will get low enough that the heat will start acting goofy. (usually accompanied by some varying temps for the engine as it gets starved for coolant and finally gets some.

Other possibilities are some blockage in your radiator, heater core or one of the lines somewhere.

#3 Fairtax4me

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 03:07 AM

Coolant level is too low. Fill the radiator as much as you can, and fill the overflow to about halfway up the bottle. Check for leaks before and after driving, and check the coolant level EVERY morning before starting the engine. If you have a very slow leak it can take weeks or months for the level to go down noticably. If the level drops quickly you may have a more serious leak or possibly bad head gasket.
Keep a close eye on the coolant level and make sure it's always topped off to avoid overheating and potentially causing head gasket problems.

#4 ivans imports

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:48 AM

froze ???? how strong is the coolant ?

#5 MilesFox

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:57 AM

Sounds like a combination of low coolant and or a stuck thermostat. There must be enough volume of coolant to make the thermostat open.

Fill coolant thru the upper radiator hose to fill the block, then fill the radiator. Maybe even add collant thru the heater core hoses.

The noisy speedp sounds like a bad cable, or the cable has pulled away from the speedo head(easy to do from under the hood fiddling with stiff) and is only partially engaged (square peg on the end of the speedo cable)

Once you accomplish getting all the coolant full, observe for external leaks, or bubbles in the radiator that could indicate a HG failure. Be aware of any sweet smelling steam from the tail pipe.

#6 Raindrop

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 02:08 PM

Right now I'm thinking I've got a small leak somewhere.

I'm going to try some stuff tonight and see what I get.

Thanks! :headbang:

#7 Raindrop

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:57 PM

Poured some coolant into the overflow as suggested...

Bubbles come out when it's running.

Definitely a bad head gasket?

Pretty sure I can smell the coolant in the exhaust or at least when I get out of the car.

#8 AdventureSubaru

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 09:06 PM

Poured some coolant into the overflow as suggested...

Bubbles come out when it's running.

Definitely a bad head gasket?

Pretty sure I can smell the coolant in the exhaust or at least when I get out of the car.


Possibly, but remember that if the coolant level was low you're going to have air in the system.

How much coolant did it take to fill it back up?

Did you fill the radiator or just the overflow?

Have the heating/cooling issues been resolved with the fresh coolant?

How far have you driven the car since? I've scared myself a few times smelling burning coolant after adding it due to whatever cooling issues but most of the time it's just because I spilled some coolant on the engine/exhaust somewhere and can smell it as it burns off.

I wouldn't say head gasket yet. Play with it a little and see what happens. For a real diagnosis for a HG do a compression test.

#9 Raindrop

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:01 PM

It took probably somewhere close to 2/3rds of a gallon of fluid? Maybe just a bit more. Hard to say as I put some in, ran out of what I had on hand and then put some more in later. I put it in until it started coming out of the left side thing that unscrews (don't remember what it's called).

I filled the radiator then I put enough in the overflow to see if there were bubbles coming out.

I only drove it a few miles after doing these things, but it would have overheated by now yesterday. Temp gauge didn't move after warming up.

The smell is very faint. Like I said I haven't actually smelt the exhaust but just sometimes over the past year as I get out of my car I can smell it. Well, I guess I think I can. Hard to say exactly what it smells like since I'm not too experienced. But it's what I would expect it to smell like.

So now I need to burp it and get all the air out from filling it?

This car had a problem overheating a couple years ago. Seemed to just leak water/coolant pretty bad. After I replaced the radiator cap around a year ago it still is leaking slowly but it has become reliable as long as I check the radiator every now and then.

Thanks!:cool:

Edited by Raindrop, 06 January 2013 - 11:05 PM.


#10 Raindrop

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:03 PM

froze ???? how strong is the coolant ?


Not sure exactly. Definitely at least 50/50 though. Shouldn't be freezing I wouldn't think. Then again, I'm not very experienced.




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