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1990 Legacy Overheating


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13 replies to this topic

#1 jimmyberka

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Posted 15 October 2003 - 12:12 PM

I have a '90 AWD Legacy wagon with an overheating problem. After replacing the radiator and water pump it looks like it is a cracked head or bad head gasket. Is a head replacement a viable option for an eng w/165k miles on it? Anyone know where I can get a cheap head in the Seattle area?

#2 Cougar

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Posted 15 October 2003 - 01:28 PM

I recommend you get a block check done to see if exhaust gases are getting into the coolant. If you do have a head problem then you may want to think about going all the way or just getting a different car (a Subaru of course). By "all the way " I mean getting new heads at least, but maybe even a rebuilt engine. With the mileage you have on the car things start to happen. It would be costly up front but you would have a engine that would not give you any trouble for a long time. I would only do this if the rest of the car was in good shape and want to keep it for some time so you would get get the value out of doing the swap. If you don't plan on keeping the car long then just replacing the head would be the thing to do.

If you do the swap, the people at CCR are great to buy a rebuilt from.

#3 Setright

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Posted 15 October 2003 - 03:54 PM

Cracked heads on EJ series engines are not a normal occurence. Probably just a head gasket, which should be worth it, if the car isn't too rutsy..

#4 crazyeric

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Posted 15 October 2003 - 09:00 PM

i had a similar problem with my 90 legacy. does it only overheat when your driving it? if so try taking the thermostat out, it'll take a while to heat up but it wont overheat!

#5 Legacy777

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Posted 16 October 2003 - 07:31 AM

Originally posted by crazyeric
i had a similar problem with my 90 legacy. does it only overheat when your driving it? if so try taking the thermostat out, it'll take a while to heat up but it wont overheat!



was the thermostat you had in there an OEM thermostat, or was it an aftermarket one you got at a parts store?

#6 jimmyberka

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Posted 16 October 2003 - 10:13 AM

I tried both aftermarket and OEM. Overheated with both. I think I'll just drive with it out and see if I'm loosing coolant thru head. So far no overheating with thermostat out.

#7 crazyeric

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Posted 17 October 2003 - 09:51 AM

i also tried both OEM and aftermarket stats, but neither worked.

#8 hearnmike

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 11:07 PM

I also have a 1990 legacy wagon with overheat problems and would have no cabin heat when the overheating occured. I have replaced the radiator, thermostat, waterpump and still had overheating. I tried the head gasket mix from the auto parts store which seemed to work for about 2000 miles and then had the problem reoccur. My car uses no water from the radiator but does show bubbles on occasion from the radiator. It seems to run cool, and not overheat with the thermostat out. I have run a bypass from the heatercore to elimiinate this possibility and that is where my car is at with 160 thousand miles

good luck and hope this might help you



















eut4ru vb

#9 edrach

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 12:13 AM

Pull a part in Lynnwood has a Legacy in the yard now and another going in soon. Probably cost you around $30 plus your time to pull it.

I have a '90 AWD Legacy wagon with an overheating problem. After replacing the radiator and water pump it looks like it is a cracked head or bad head gasket. Is a head replacement a viable option for an eng w/165k miles on it? Anyone know where I can get a cheap head in the Seattle area?



#10 mdoherty53

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 02:47 AM

[quote name='jimmyberka']I tried both aftermarket and OEM. Overheated with both. I think I'll just drive with it out and see if I'm loosing coolant thru head

#11 ericem

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 09:54 PM

Your probably not bleeding the air out of the system correctly. When you refilled the radiator how did you do it? I usually do it by filling up the rad as much as I can without the motor on. Then After it stops flowing I turn it on and keep adding. Then after it was filled. I filled the resovoir tank and removed the air bleeding cap, then squezzed the tube and at the same time put the air bleeding cap back in. Never ran into a overheating issue.

#12 mdoherty53

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 12:48 AM

It will be a problem in the heater bypass I had the problem in an old legacy and nothing would open the thermostat Try bypassing the heater and tell us if it is ok then Michael


These cars are getting old now and I 'll tell you if the heater core bypass check is not included you could be wasting a lot of money.If the thermostat is not opening and most of the air is out of the system and thermostat checks OK that is what it will be

If anyone is skeptical just try clamping a heater hose and see how long it takes for the fans to stay on

#13 Legacy777

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 12:16 PM

There is no heater core bypass on the first gen legacies. Coolant is always flowing through the heater core.

#14 mdoherty53

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 01:49 PM

There is no heater core bypass on the first gen legacies. Coolant is always flowing through the heater core.


I call it the bypass circuit because it is bypassing the thermostat Might not be the right term but if the flow through the heater is not strong enough it will affect the opening of the thermostat That much I am sure about .Michael

It took us months to find the problem but the give away was that the hot return from the heater feeds directly on to the thermostat and these things rarely are not there for a purpose .when we had replaced everything in the cooling system and it still overheated we finally found the link I just think it is worth checking for .M




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