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Please Help...97 OB in shop


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7 replies to this topic

#1 dizzydiva51

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Posted 20 December 2004 - 02:47 PM

So, here is a long story short..my 2.5 97 Outback is in the shop AGAIN! I and the mechanics are stumped. About two years ago, 6 months after I purchased it at $12,000 (70,000 miles), they found hydrocarbons in the coolant system and indicated to me that I would soon see the infamous head gasket issue arising. I continued to drive it as I had no apparent issues. About two months ago, I had them test the hyrdocarbons again due to the fact the car just wasn't running that well, it was much higher. I decided why not just replace the head gasket before it blew and before I was left stranded somewhere, I was preparing for a month long road trip with the car. I dropped the car off and two weeks later was told that there is a leak in the coolant system but they can't find where it's at. They had it under compression for nearly the entire time, mainly because they didn't know which side could be causing the problem. That was news to me, finding out my car had a double overhead cam as opposed to the single. Yes, I was one of the stupid, excited buyers who did not do ENOUGH homework to find out more about my future "lemon". So, they did not want to tear apart both sides and indicated to me that they just can't tell which side is going bad. They told me my car would have to show it's symtoms before they could fix it. So I drove off knowing I literally have a time bomb ready to go off, a car that is now unrealiable.

In preparing for my month long trip, I decided to take the car on a three hour trip. Two hours into the drive the temp gauge started rising quickly, when I pulled over to check the engine, the coolant was all over the engine and the radiator was empty. The fan did kick on and once water was back in the radiator the temperature gauge would go back down. There was never any steam coming from my exhaust,as the mechnic had indicated would occue nor was there any evidence of water in my oil. So in order to get back home, we drove it continually stopping to refill water. So now the car is back in the shop.

My question, as I have been searching this board religiously, is this indication of a blown head or could it be the thermostat or water pump? Any information would help as I fear the compression test they will perform may not reveal anything. Are there any others ways to find out which head gasket is going bad?

Thank you, thank you....to anyone who had input or could lead me to where I could more similar information.

#2 grossgary

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Posted 20 December 2004 - 03:11 PM

if there is coolant all over the engine, it doesn't seem like it should be that hard to find the leak. and normally a bad head gasket on a subaru won't get coolant "all over the engine". sounds like something ohter than a headgasket to me, but i can't see it obviously.

get the car up to operating temperature. then watch the motor and get the engine up to 3,000 rpms and hold it there and keep your eye out for coolant.

there are hoses and other minor gaskets that could be shot....or the water pump.

check the oil, drain it and see if there is any coolant in the oil. that's a good sign of head gakset failure. open your oil cap - is there milky white foamy stuff up under the cap? another sign of possible head gakset problems.

#3 outback_97

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Posted 20 December 2004 - 03:41 PM

You might want to peruse this:

http://mysite.verizo...e/guestlog.html

This is a guestbook for folks who have blown headgaskets in the Phase 1 2.5l engines, and some with leaky gaskets in the Phase 2.

Skip put together a great breakdown of how to do the repair. It is quite possible that you are having HG issues, it seems a lot of mechanics have trouble diagnosing this as it's an internal failure. Hydrocarbons in the coolant is a big sign, I'm afraid. These things need to be addressed before you ruin the engine heads.

Steve
(not a HG club member yet at 109K)

#4 Phillip

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Posted 20 December 2004 - 04:08 PM

If hydrocarbons are detected in the cooling system, exhaust gasses are present. A bad water pump or thermostat may cause overheating, but not hydrocarbons. If the car were mine, and I liked the car, I'd have the engine removed, replacing both headgaskets, all oil seals, the timing belt, and the clutch (if manual trans). The 2.5 is not a bad engine, it just has head gasket issues. I think it's reasonable to expect 175,000+ miles out of the vehicle and replacement of the listed items will likely do the trick. BTW, I've got a '99 OBW that I've replaced the engine (NEW short-block) and had the trans overhauled, both at less than 100,000 miles. While I feel I made an expensive mistake purchasing this vehicle (and will never again own a Subaru), I like the car and expect it will give me reasonable service for the remainder of it's life. Please let us know what you decide to do.

So, here is a long story short..my 2.5 97 Outback is in the shop AGAIN! I and the mechanics are stumped. About two years ago, 6 months after I purchased it at $12,000 (70,000 miles), they found hydrocarbons in the coolant system and indicated to me that I would soon see the infamous head gasket issue arising. I continued to drive it as I had no apparent issues. About two months ago, I had them test the hyrdocarbons again due to the fact the car just wasn't running that well, it was much higher. I decided why not just replace the head gasket before it blew and before I was left stranded somewhere, I was preparing for a month long road trip with the car. I dropped the car off and two weeks later was told that there is a leak in the coolant system but they can't find where it's at. They had it under compression for nearly the entire time, mainly because they didn't know which side could be causing the problem. That was news to me, finding out my car had a double overhead cam as opposed to the single. Yes, I was one of the stupid, excited buyers who did not do ENOUGH homework to find out more about my future "lemon". So, they did not want to tear apart both sides and indicated to me that they just can't tell which side is going bad. They told me my car would have to show it's symtoms before they could fix it. So I drove off knowing I literally have a time bomb ready to go off, a car that is now unrealiable.

In preparing for my month long trip, I decided to take the car on a three hour trip. Two hours into the drive the temp gauge started rising quickly, when I pulled over to check the engine, the coolant was all over the engine and the radiator was empty. The fan did kick on and once water was back in the radiator the temperature gauge would go back down. There was never any steam coming from my exhaust,as the mechnic had indicated would occue nor was there any evidence of water in my oil. So in order to get back home, we drove it continually stopping to refill water. So now the car is back in the shop.

My question, as I have been searching this board religiously, is this indication of a blown head or could it be the thermostat or water pump? Any information would help as I fear the compression test they will perform may not reveal anything. Are there any others ways to find out which head gasket is going bad?

Thank you, thank you....to anyone who had input or could lead me to where I could more similar information.



#5 lmdew

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Posted 20 December 2004 - 10:46 PM

I put a 2.2 in my 98 Outback and I'm happy with it. I have another 2.2 with 124K that runs great. If you are looking to do the swap, let me know.

#6 cookie

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Posted 21 December 2004 - 01:21 AM

the start and the mechanics should have replaced both gaskets. Hopefully if you tear it down as soon as possible you might be able to save it. After the gas gets in the coolant and displaces the water the reminder is going to boil just as you experienced.
I am sorry for the bad advice you have gotten thus far.

#7 dizzydiva51

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Posted 22 December 2004 - 02:42 PM

Okay...so the word from the mechanic is that there is definitly a misfire they are trying to determine where...so I read through some posts that Subaru has newer head gaskets that can help alleviate this problem from occuring again in future..However, the mechanic said that Suabarus may also have cylinder head problems that coincide with head gasket problems.

So my question is, if I do replace the head gaskts could I have cylinder head problems arising in the near future? How could I find out if this will be the case with my car? If that's the case, is this car worth the $2500 to replace both head gaskets?

#8 cookie

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Posted 22 December 2004 - 04:19 PM

see any future problems. Where are you in Ca?




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