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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Coolant in oil question

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8 replies to this topic

#1 mountainbikeak


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Posted 18 July 2013 - 02:31 PM

  I know the head gasket topic is huge on here, I just can't seem to find exactly what I need so maybe someone can help me out here!  

I have a 2002 outback 2.5 that I first notices overheating (not redline) when the outside temps where higher then normal and while pulling a raft, just figured the circumstances would cause this.  Didn't notice any substantial rise in the temp gauge while just cruising normal until the next time i drove under load, again not red line and I turned the heat on etc. Then one day the thing wanted to overheat at low speeds,not high speeds, seemed like it wasn't getting coolant, checked it out and all the coolant flowed into the overflow and the radiator hoses were smashed (sucked in).   I replaced the radiator cap, bought a new thermostat just in case (didn't install it) before a big trip with raft and gear.  It wanted to heat up on big climbs but everything was normal while driving in normal conditions. (I was loaded, 2 adults, 2 dogs, gear for 5 days on the river),  Coolant cycled back through ok.   I have't noticed the usual signs of a blown head gasket as the heater always would blow hot air, no bubbles in overflow/radiator a small discoloration in the coolant but that could be from the conditioner, no other spikes in temp.  However, after the trip i checked the oil and it seemed really high and sort of frothy and I was getting some oil leaking on the exhaust after long hauls (looked to be leaking towards the rear), I added oil before our trip but was pretty certain I didn't overflow I also didn't notice anything near the fill cap or any sort of white residue.  since then a couple days ago I changed the oil/filter and have been monitoring things and haven't noticed a change in oil level but it almost looks like a hint of green coolant, can't really smell it I did a crude test dripping oil from the dip stick over a heated soda can and didn't get any signs of water, I have a coolant compression test on now and it hasn't moved in a couple hours and I did a block/gasket leak test that came up negative. (the test was super difficult because I couldn't keep the coolant low enough and it wanted to get sucked into the test tube after a minute or so) I did try through the overflow not knowing how accurate it would be from there with negative results.


At this point I'm looking for advice on how to confirm if this is actually a HG leak or something else and how can i check for sure if coolant is in the oil and not my imagination?    Couple things I've done in the past few weeks are:  New valve cover gaskets, pcv valve (subaru), radiator cap (subaru), fuel filter, air filter, spark wire and new spark plugs.

  Sorry its so long, trying to streamline this to make it easier on folks trying to help.  Thanks a ton,this forum has saved me on a few other issues!


#2 grossgary


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Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:04 PM

when it starts running hot - pop the hood and verify both radiator fans are running.


has it ever overheated with normal driving (no large loads, climbs, gear)?  if not then the radiator could be clogged.

radiatorbarn.com.  i got a 2000 forester radiator for $89 shipped to my door, can't beat it.  of course try to verify first before throwing parts at it.  i've never seen a good test, i simply pull them out of the car if i suspect one and run a hose through it and another known good one and compare - the clogged one should show a reduced amount of water coming out the other side.  i couldn't get temp guns to work, too much going on in there i guess.


have the headgaskets every been replaced?


if  you don't know that it's had the subaru coolant conditioner added i'd be adding a bottle of that.  probably with new coolant too once you find out what it going on.

Edited by grossgary, 18 July 2013 - 03:05 PM.

#3 mountainbikeak


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Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:46 PM

Thanks for the reply... Fans come on just fine and it seems to get good circulation now, not sure about head gaskets, I sent the original owner a note, just waiting to hear back.  The timing belt was replaced last year and I don't think they put any conditioner in the coolant, so I added some a few months later after realizing it didn't have any (hopefully not to late).  It doesn't overheat on just normal loads other then the one time the radiator hoses were compressed.  I'll look into the radiator being clogged.



  Retested the oil for water with negative results, again by heating it up, and the psi is holding on the coolant pressure test.  Should I check anything else, spark plugs etc.?  Thanks again!

Edited by mountainbikeak, 18 July 2013 - 03:47 PM.

#4 Fairtax4me



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Posted 18 July 2013 - 04:46 PM

Collapsed hoses means the system is low, and has air in it. Coolant could be getting pushed out by exhaust gasses, or it may just be leaking.

First things first, change the thermostat refill with coolant and purge the system or air. Fill the engine through the upper hose before filling the radiator to minimize air stuck in the block. Use coolant conditioner and monitor for leaks over the next few days. Put a sheet of cardboard or plywood under the engine with an old white sheet stretched across it to help find small leaks.

These almost never mix coolant and oil, but the signs are usually a light brown/yellow sludge in the filler cap or on the dipstick after sitting overnight.
Greenish tint to the oil would be the UV dye added to some new oils to help detect leaks. Valvoline Maxlife has this, I'm sure other high mileage and synthetic blend oils do as well.
If the oil is foamy (lots of small bubbles in it) it may be overfilled, or the anti-foam agent in the oil has broken down prematurely.

Second edit: some leaks do not occur unless the system is pressurized AND hot. Pressure testing a cold system is not always conclusive.
If you have the proper adapter be sure to test the cap as well, and make sure the rubber seals on the cap are clean, and the same for the sealing areas on the radiator neck.

Edited by Fairtax4me, 18 July 2013 - 04:55 PM.

#5 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 11:22 PM

be sure to use OEM-style thermostat. The small aftermarkets have too small wax capsule are are too high-temp.

#6 mountainbikeak


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Posted 18 July 2013 - 11:59 PM

Thanks for the replies! I did grab oem thermostat and radiator cap, I've heard others didn't work well!
After a few hours my compression went from 16psi to 4psi, obviously I have a leak somewhere in the cooling system. Also, after degreasing everything a couple days ago I finally got a look at the seals... Passenger side looks good, drivers side seems to be leaking from the exhaust manifold, didn't look like it was residual oil from something else, what would cause this? Tomorrow I'll change out coolant and install new thermostat and see how things go! Also with the block tester, would I get an accurate test from the overfill reservoir?  not super familiar how to post pics to this forum, check out this to see a couple pics of the area in question.  Thanks again!

Edited by mountainbikeak, 19 July 2013 - 12:06 AM.

#7 Fairtax4me



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Posted 19 July 2013 - 09:45 AM

Not much to leak in that area except valve cover gaskets and head gaskets, and that looks like its leaking from the head gasket. Pretty common for hem the seep there and shouldn't be a big deal, that's generally a very slow leak. Just be sure to check the oil level often to keep tabs on how much its leaking.

How many miles on the engine? Has the timing belt been changed? The best time to replace head gaskets is when the timing belt is due. Knock it all out at the same time so you have 100k+ worry free miles.

#8 mountainbikeak


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Posted 19 July 2013 - 11:43 AM

The car has 170,000, timing belt was done last April! I'll keep a close eye on it, hopefully I don't have an interal leek also.

#9 MilesFox


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Posted 19 July 2013 - 12:17 PM

Consider the water pump may be leaking out of the weep hole if you have an an-known coolant loss. 

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