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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Overheating 1995 Subaru Legacy has us stumped.

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17 replies to this topic

#1 GottaLuvSubaru


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Posted 03 December 2004 - 10:48 AM

I am hoping that someone can help me with this. I have a 1995 Subaru Legacy Sedan that is overheating and right now no one knows why. Here's the situation. The beginning of November I was coming home from a road trip when the car overheated and stalled. I coasted to the side of the road. The car was towed back to a friends house where he added a sealer of some sort and said it would be fine to drive home. I did so with no heat and pulling over about once an hour when the temp gauge started to rise. Upon arriving home my father noticed that the plastic piece on the passenger side of the radiator, where the hose clamps on, was shredded. So the next day he replaced the radiator and the thermostat. I didnt use the car over the weekend and Monday it ran fine. Tuesday it started to overheat again and by Thursday it was in the shop. When it over heats and you shut the car off it is blowing the coolant out. The shop said it was the radiator cap. Bought a new one of those. Still overheated. Then they said the radiator wasnt getting hot all over and it was blocked. So a second radiator was put in. Still overheated. Next they said it was the water pump, but when they took that off and looked at it, the water pump is fine. So they reinstalled that and called the dealership. The dealership said it was the head gaskets. The shop said they ran their tests and went over the check list and the car is not doing anything that would indicate that it's the head gaskets. So after fours weeks in the shop I am getting my car back unfixed and taken it to someone else. Does anyone here have any suggestions or can add any light on this situation?

#2 rcoaster


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Posted 03 December 2004 - 11:04 AM

Check the thermostat. It has to be a Subaru OEM, and goes in a specific way. I've heard from people here on the board stating that using an aftermarket thermostat would not work, and by going back to a Subaru OEM, solved the problems. Also I've heard from people saying that they inadverntly put the thermostat in wrong was contributing to overheating.

If it was the head gasket, then you would have gotten air bubbles in the coolant as the engine ran, or had a sweet smell along with a lot of white smoke coming out of your exhaust.

#3 mtsmiths


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Posted 03 December 2004 - 11:21 AM

Do a board search for 'air lock' , it may need to be burped.

#4 1993 Legacy

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 11:35 AM


I had a similar problem when the timing belt was not properly installed on my Saab 900. The timing was not set right. The car ran fine but overheated when driven longer (cca. about an hour in town) or a lot quicker if speeds were over 70-80 kmh. If I drove it doing 60 kmh it would not overheat. The shop that actually changed the headgasket couldnt figure out what was wrong. It was not a specialized saab shop but an ordinary mechanic as my gasket blew while I was travelling. I installed a new radiator, original thermostat, radiator cap,... all in vain. Finally had to move along and drove off home doing 60 kmh and resting every half an hour. When I arrived home I undid everything only to find that the timing marks were not all aligned well. Corrected the problem and havent had a problem with overheating in over two years.

Have them check the timing. If the headgasket has blow you would either have white smoke coming out of your exhaust or milky looking oil or traces of oil in the coolant or excessive pressure in the cooling system. All this can easily be checked.

Good luck.


#5 keith05legacyGT


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Posted 03 December 2004 - 11:40 AM

Seen similar problems in the past on other cars/trucks, may be the case here (since all else seems to be failing). You said they checked the water pump and it was fine? How did they check it? Reason I ask is sometimes the blades loosen from the spline. So with the water pump out and no pressure on the blades everything seems to work fine, that is you turn the spline and the blades spin. As soon as there is any pressure on the system, the blades slip and do not move any water. So pull the pump, hold the blades and try to turn the spline, if they move independantly even the slightest bit replace the pump. This is really a pain to diagnose since if you pop the radiator cap and watch the fluid you will see it circulating once the thermostat opens, so you think the pump is fine. As soon as you replace cap, it stops. Had this happen on an old truck of mine (three shops and no one could find a problem) and a friends Chrysler. Another friend had the same problem on a Honda. Even a stethascope won't catch this a lot of times.

It is a last ditch effort to check after replacing the thermostat again (after markets are notorious for not working for many makes---I have been through 4, yes 4 on one car before I got one that worked right) and making sure there is no air in the system.

Good luck, but at least cooling systems are cheap and generally easy to work on.

#6 svxpert


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Posted 03 December 2004 - 04:14 PM

<< I didnt use the car over the weekend and Monday it ran fine. Tuesday it started to overheat again and by Thursday it was in the shop.>>

is the shop you take it to a subaru shop?
if its not, i believe they are not bleeding the air out correctly and might have damaged the car. (i have seen this so many times i wish i had a nickle each time!)

#7 mtsmiths


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Posted 03 December 2004 - 04:47 PM

1. Again, I think you are airlocked. I hope you haven't done heat damage while driving it under mechanics bads advice. Search this BB and burp it, pronto. I'll bet your overheating issues go away, assuming you have the correct thermostat installed (in the right direction).

2. You TOWED it to your friends house? ... groan.

#8 Subie Gal

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Posted 03 December 2004 - 06:51 PM

sounds very very much like head gasket failure to me.
have a hydracarbon sniffer test done....

you can change 1000 radiator hoses
and 1000 thermostats....

if the HG's go.. the symptoms will remain.


#9 cookie


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Posted 03 December 2004 - 10:31 PM

I hate to say it but a head gasket is a good canidate.

#10 Setright


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Posted 04 December 2004 - 06:08 AM

Head gasket vote from me too. A tiny leak of compression and exhaust gas into the coolant.

#11 richierich



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Posted 05 December 2004 - 01:14 AM

I also say Headgasket failure. You had it improperly fixed the first time by your buddy and your paying the price now. Whatever sealer your friend used might have block up and caused your vehicle to overheat, and blow the headgaskets. Hopefully you haven't done any permenant damage to the block. A check for hydro-carbon should tell all, in addition you should ask the shop for a discount for multiple times of mis-diagnosis.

#12 Suzam


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Posted 05 December 2004 - 02:29 PM

You did say you drove it home with no heat? If you can't get heat out of the core that is a symptom of a burp issue. That would explain why you only overheated intermittently on the highway as opposed to a constant overheating and unable to drive at all.

#13 cookie


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Posted 06 December 2004 - 11:09 AM

the escaping gas forces the coolant out of the highest points. When I have seen this you usually have an overfull expansion tank.

#14 mudrat79



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Posted 06 December 2004 - 12:15 PM

Here is a very quick way to see if you just need to Burp it Correctly or if you Popped a Head gasket....

Pull the T-stat out Completely......Button the Car back up, fill rad Back up and Overflow bottle to its Propper fill line.....By pulling thre T-stat you take out the Burping factor.....
Go drive the car on the hwy a minimum of 10-15 miles with heater on mid setting......watch your Heat guage....it should Climb to propper Operating temp or just below if weather is Chilly and Stay there.....and you should have good heat in the car as well.....i Go back home check your overflow Bottle...is it full or overflowing....? if So , I'd Put money on a Head Gasket blown......( Once up to operating temp you are getting exhaust blow-by into the Cooling system....) if not, let the car Cool off for a min of 4-5 hrs....Look and See if any or all the Overflow Bottle is empty....???? if it is Completely empty....?? fill it 3/4 full go drive again.( the same Distance as Before) come back let it cool off 4-5 hrs and Look at overflow again......if it drank all your water again , it is either pissing water out a coolant hose externally, or you blew a head gasket but it is from a Water jacket to exhaust, and Only blowing water under hard driving conditions where you get the Ride a Bit warmer than normal....

If However you pull the T-stat and The Works Fine like it used to other than taking longer to warm up...:) Do as others have already said....
Get a Subaru T-stat, and Install it ...then slowly Fill the system back up using the Small fill /burp hole on the Top pasenger side of the radiator......it is only about 5/8 round , so pour slow......:) Fire the car up let it run to operating temp..Baby sit it.......Shut it down, let it cool off, then do it again several times......checking water in the Rad Each time as well as the overflow.....
Doing this takes a bit of time, but your guarenteed to get all air out of the system.....

One question I have is .....Does it overheat right away at hwy speed, or does it take oh say 15-30 mins of driving before it starts creeping up there...?
this will help determine the issue......

Hope this Gets you pointed in the right direction.....John

#15 Subie Gal

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 06:19 PM

You did say you drove it home with no heat? If you can't get heat out of the core that is a symptom of a burp issue. That would explain why you only overheated intermittently on the highway as opposed to a constant overheating and unable to drive at all.


could also be signs of an external head gasket leak... vs internal.

really needs a sniffer test done to be certain.

my GT never overheated at hwy speeds
only at idle.....

and not only did the HG's go... i melted the block in my ignorance :)

#16 Subaru X

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 06:39 PM

I will agree with the headgasket too. One way to check. Open up your coolant tank. And take a nice sniff of it. If it's tarty/exhaust smelling. There ya go. The head gasket problems won't show up usually on normal testing. Also there is the possibility that it could just be some air. But when I had my head gasket failure. Same exact symptoms. I replaced the same exact things too. Personally I don't trust my car with any shop. Especially when it comes to coolant. I may be a motor head. But I will never let anyone touch the cooling system in my car, not even myself. I let the dealer handle all that.

#17 GottaLuvSubaru


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Posted 15 December 2004 - 02:29 AM

To all of you who responded with suggestions to this nightmare.. I thank you. After many many many weeks of my car being in the shop, they finally said that they thought it was the head gaskets and I would need to take the car somewhere else. Funny, that's what I told them the problem was when I took the car in to begin with. Anyway, I took the car back to the dealership where I purchased it and sure enough it was the head gaskets. I've learned my lesson and from now on I will only let the dealership work on my car.

Now for a small bit of advertisement. The owner cut me a huge break on fixing this car, so much to the point that she, yes she, took a loss. If anyone here is ever in Central Pennsylvania and are looking to buy a used Subaru... go to Williamsport Auto Sales on Lycoming Creek Road. They have a website and I do believe if you type in the business name in the search engine.. you'll find the website. The owner is amazing. For starters, she is about as honest as the day is long and once you become a customer she hopes to keep you as customer for a very long time. I WOULD send my worst enemy to Williamsport Auto Sales to buy a car.

#18 AlaksaKen



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Posted 14 March 2014 - 12:49 PM

I'll just add that this post helped me - my symptoms, occasionally no heat, then more frequently no heat plus rising coolant temperatures.  Finally rediculously high coolant temperatures and no heat.  I replaced the thermostat (before reading anything!) with an aftermarket Murray thermostat, still the same problem.  Reading through forums was worried about burping, head gaskets, water pumps, more than I wanted to do.  But someone suggested a radiator cap.  Again aftermarket Murray (that was easy on the way home) - that did the trick.  I don't claim it is the solution for everyone, but it is certainly worth a $10 try.

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