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97 Legacy GT possible blown head gasket


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#1 Mark W. Martin

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Posted 04 July 2005 - 10:49 PM

I have spent my Independence Day morning reading all the relevant posts for my year Subaru and the symptoms that I have and I decided that I most likely have a blown HG.



My legacy GT has 110,000 miles on it and has not had many problems. I was going home from work last Thursday and turned on the AC. In a couple of blocks it started blowing hot air. I turned it on and off a few times and I could not feel the lag of the compressor kicking in like I normally do. I thought my AC pump was going out or something so I rolled the windows down and kept driving. I was on a road with a 35mph speed limit with no stops for about 6 miles. When I got to the stop sign and waited for some cars to pass I went to accelerate and noticed that my engine had died and my temp gauge was pegged at HOT. I got the car off the side of the road and noticed that the reservoir had over flown. I left the ignition on and let the two fans cool down the radiator I added exactly 100oz of water and it still wasn’t enough. (I know it was 100oz because all I had was my camelback that I had just filled to go mountain bike riding with.) I got down to the gas station and had to add a little more. I figure that it was about 1 gallon low. About an hour and a half later after I got done riding I added little more water and drove home watching the temp gauge all the way. It stayed right at normal.



The next day, Friday I rode my bike to work and just went the store at night and had no problems. But I don’t think it ever got a chance to warm up.



Saturday morning I changed the oil and the plugs. I didn’t notice any water in the oil at all and the plugs all looked the same. The porcelain was kind of a gray color and the metal after the last thread was a little oily I didn’t drive my car until that evening and didn’t notice any changes in temp or fluid level changes.



Sunday I went bile riding and didn’t drive until that evening. I drove about 15 miles on the freeway and stopped off at a friends house to pick them up so the car sat for about 15 minutes. We drove for about 20 minutes with some stop and go and then I noticed that the temp gauge was pegged at HOT again I pulled over and popped the hood the reservoir was full and boiling over after it cooled I added about a quart and we went back to change cars. About 4 hours later I went home and the temp gauge was right at normal but the water had just started to bubble into the reservoir.



Today Monday I backed it out into the drive way and checked the fluid level added a little water and let it get good and warm everything seemed fine I then decided to check the tailpipe and it was dripping water and had some steam coming out. I went up to the grocery store about 2 miles away and was inside fro about 20 minutes when I started it up I had my hand over the tail pipe after a couple of minutes I looked at it and there where some drops of water on my hand. When I got home it was dripping water again



That is when I searched and read all the posts on this message board determining that must be the head gasket. And after my very long story these are the questions that I have.



Is the water and steam coming out of the tailpipe a sure sign that it is a head gasket?

Should I even bother changing the thermostat or doing a CO test?

If 2.5 liter engines are prone to head gasket problems will I still have problems later on or will this fix it?

I have a good independent shop that has done some minor repairs like changing the valve cover gaskets but is this something that I should take to a dealer?



Thank you for any info in advance.



Mark

#2 tomson1355

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 04:15 AM

Hi Mark, sorry about your misfortune. Let the coolant sit in the reservoir overnight and see if it gets sucked back in to the system. If not, it points to a leaky HG. Look at the coolant in the reservoir. Is it a nice clean clear green? Or does it look cloudy from contamination with combustion gasses? If you suck some out is there black gunk clinging to the sides of the reservoir?

If you have money to burn, take the car to the dealer. But any competent mechanic should be able to do the HGs for far less than a dealer.

Tom

#3 Setright

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 05:41 AM

The steam coming out the tailpipe is only normal when the engine is cold, water is biggest by-product of the cumbustion process and during warm-up, it tends to come out as visible steam.

Steam on a warm engine means a fairly large headgasket leak, so I would say get it fixed soon. Overheating the engine too many times can cause other problems.

Two things to note:

When replacing headgaskets, it is ESSENTIAL to resurface the cylinder heads. They must be straight when installed again.

The procedure for tightening the head bolts is quite complicated, make sure the mech doing the work is aware of this. (There is a sequence of tightening and backing off, tightening again..)




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