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Mystery Overheating Issue...help!


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12 replies to this topic

#1 swarfare

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Posted 23 June 2004 - 06:21 PM

I've got an overheating issue with my '99 Legacy Outback that's got local mechanics stumped and is driving me out of my mind.

Maybe a month ago, I finished my 40 minute commute home from work, pulled into my parking spot, and happened to notice the temp gauge pinned on "H". I quickly shut off the car to hear the coolant boiling down onto the pavement. Had it towed to the local dealership, who replied with "All that happened is that the tube disconnected when you overheated...you're lucky you didn't suffer more damage, crack the block or something." "Well, what's the problem with it?" "You're low on coolant." "Well, yeah, I know that, the coolant's on the pavement in front of my house. I mean what caused it to overheat?" "We can't find anything wrong with it. It's not overheating for us, so just drive on it for awhile and see if it happens again." "Yeah, thanks a lot."

So, sure enough, a few days later, it overheated again while idling. It was at this point that I noticed that:
(a) It only overheats when idling, or when stuck in barely-moving traffic for a long while. Intermittently. Tho they all seem to happen in the afternoon/evening after I've driven home from work and the engine's been running awhile.
(B) Outside temperature has no effect, as it's overheated on 65 degree days and run fine on 95 degree days.

...and the really odd thing...

© If it starts to overheat, I can turn the car off, and then immediately turn the car back on again, and the temperature goes back to normal. Whether rolling or idling.

So I took it back to the dealership, and they replaced the thermostat. Again they claimed they couldn't get it to overheat. Sure enough, within a couple of days, it overheated again. (ignition off, ignition back on, problem averted).

I gave up on them and took it to a local mechanic someone recommended, and they said they couldn't get it to overheat either, but the thermostat was installed wrong (it needed to be bled or drained or something). Sure enough, within a couple of days, it overheated again. (ignition off, ignition back on, problem averted).

I'm thinking of taking it to mechanic #3, and possibly driving off a cliff on the way back when he tells me he can't get it to overheat. Unless someone's got any ideas...similar issues...anyone? A little help?

#2 99obw

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Posted 23 June 2004 - 06:25 PM

Most likely it's the head gasket(s). Could be low coolant/improper bleeding, but not likely.

#3 Commuter

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Posted 23 June 2004 - 08:44 PM

Ditto what 99obw said. Sounds like head gaskets.

After running the car hard (eg, hiway sprint, or hauling), check to see if you have bubbles coming up in the coolant expansion tank. And/or a sludge in there. Tell tale sign.

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#4 swarfare

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Posted 23 June 2004 - 08:54 PM

expensive?

:(

#5 Commuter

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Posted 23 June 2004 - 09:06 PM

expensive?

:(


Numbers are usually in the $1000 to $1500 US range. Less if you do it yourself, or know a good independent. More if they do timing belt, seals, water pump, etc. It's only a 4-banger, but we've got 2 heads.

Used engine would be a crap shoot IMHO.

Rebuilt engine (with warranty) is about $2800, plus cost of installation.

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#6 forester2002s

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Posted 24 June 2004 - 12:43 AM

Is the radiator fan working? Does the fan come on when the temp. gauge reads 'H'?

#7 Setright

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Posted 24 June 2004 - 01:36 AM

Engine off, engine back on, problem gone for a while. Damn, that's a leaky head gasket :-(

The bubbles collect in the water pump because of the pressure drop across it. They form larger pockets of air in the pump and stop circulation, and your temp rises. Shutting off the engine allows the bubbles to escape to higher places and renewed circulation brings your temp back down.

#8 rweddy

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Posted 24 June 2004 - 08:12 AM

Engine off, engine back on, problem gone for a while. Damn, that's a leaky head gasket :-(

The bubbles collect in the water pump because of the pressure drop across it. They form larger pockets of air in the pump and stop circulation, and your temp rises. Shutting off the engine allows the bubbles to escape to higher places and renewed circulation brings your temp back down.


Yep, welcome to the world of the 1st generation 2.5.

You might think about trading it in, might be a cheaper alternative in the long run than trying to fix it.

Sorry

#9 swarfare

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Posted 24 June 2004 - 08:30 AM

Yep, welcome to the world of the 1st generation 2.5.

You might think about trading it in, might be a cheaper alternative in the long run than trying to fix it.

Sorry


Yeah, well, I wish that was an easy option. I still have a year and a half of payments left on it (with 123k miles) and not that many spare thousand-dollar-bills laying around, so dropping $1000-$1500 on the repair still beats laying out $4k to pay it off and another $3k on top to get a worthwhile used car.

#10 rweddy

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Posted 24 June 2004 - 09:05 AM

Yeah, well, I wish that was an easy option. I still have a year and a half of payments left on it (with 123k miles) and not that many spare thousand-dollar-bills laying around, so dropping $1000-$1500 on the repair still beats laying out $4k to pay it off and another $3k on top to get a worthwhile used car.


That is true, if you are looking at it from just a repair point of view. By the time the repair is done you will be much closer to 2500-3000 than 1500 if you use a good Subaru shop. And but remember that after they blow the first time they tend to do it again. My friends outback blew at 120k got if fixed by a very good shop and it blew again at 150k. He said in the long run it would have been much more economical to trade then to repair it. Or maybe drop in a Phase II 2.5??
Again this totally sucks and I feel your pain!! :(

#11 Setright

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Posted 24 June 2004 - 11:40 AM

Okay, the EJ25 is weaker in this discipline than other engines.

However, my Legacy had the excellent EJ22 and that developed the same problem at 120k miles. I do find that to be a respectable mileage, and the car was ten years old. I ran it for another 70k miles before I sold it, and there was no sign of HG leaks. And I racked those miles up in 2½ years. Including thousands of miles cruising at 100mph.

Have the HG's fixed, and make sure the shop will warranty them, because you don't want to pay if they blow again soon. Ask about the coolant additive at a Subaru dealer - not sure if it goes for Phase One.

#12 chadwick

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Posted 04 July 2004 - 10:25 AM

It Does Sound Like Your Headgaskets Are Leaking I Happen To Know Someone That Had A Issue Where It Would Only Overheat When It Was In Motion And When You Stopped It Would Overheat I Drove A 98 Outback One Day And I Had The Heat On High And The Car Was Ok Then When I Came To A Stop The Heat Went Instantly Cold And The Needle When To Hot Pulled Over And Had The Car Towed And It Was The Head Gaskets Not A Cheap Repair Either Good Luck Let Us Know What Happens

#13 Alaska Brat

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Posted 04 July 2004 - 02:23 PM

Dont use aftermarket parts.Use factory Subaru Parts




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