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Check engine light w/ intermitent heating issue


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36 replies to this topic

#1 lollydolly

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 01:40 PM

I know this is probably really broad, but thought I'd check here before I take the car into a mechanic so I may sound like I know what I'm talking about when talking with them.

2000 Outback, 80K miles. The check engine light comes on whenever I'm driving - seems to happen more often when I'm stuck in traffic going less than 25 mph. Nothing seems wrong at all with the car - performance is fine, engine temp is fine, no shuddering, etc.

A couple times lately though, I've noticed the heat being normal, nice and hot, but then it will turn lukewarm / cold for a minute or so before going back to hot. The engine temperature appears not to waiver.

This doesn't happen all the time. Probably 3 times in 2 months.

Also, another weird thing - when my husband uses the car, when he first turns it on after I've used it, the check engine light is on. He will drive it, then the next time HE turns it on, the light goes off.

The next time I drive the car after him, the light will be off, but eventually come back on.

And usually I take it in the second the light comes on - I'm not normally this neglectful, but we had a huge plumbing disaster recently and we haven't been able to afford to take it in. Bleh.

ANY ideas would be appreciated.

#2 four-fleet-feet

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 01:56 PM

Did you have your CEL code(s) pulled? If not, go to Auto Zone (or Schuck's) and get that done pronto, first. I recommend Auto Zone first because they can give you a printout of whatever error codes popped up, and Schuck's can't.

They'll do it for free - nada, gratis. No appointment necessary. Once you know the codes you're throwing, come back and let us know.

Once we have more info, we can tell you where to start looking!

#3 Skip

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 02:01 PM

Welcome to the good ship USMB
may your stay be long and fruitful.

As for your issues.
Sounds like you might have an air bubble trapped in
the coolant system.
System needs "burped"

From one of our original "burpmasters"
board name: Setright
Raise front of car (on ramps for instance).
"The correct burp is to run without the cap on, until the radiator fan starts running. That means the thermostat is open and all the air can be circulated out."

As for your Check Engine Light (CEL)
Autozone will read the codes stored for free.
Have this done and bring back the code
e.g.P0XXXX

Again welcome to the board hope this helps.
I'm sure other's will add their "dose paysos"(sic)

#4 nipper

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 02:59 PM

Are you sure its the AEL and not the trannt temp light?

Air bubbles dont just appear in a cooling system that has not been opened before.
Get the codes read first, and keep an eye opn the temp gauge.

Check the fluid level in the radiator and overflow tank.



nipper

#5 Skip

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 03:42 PM

Are you sure its the AEL and not the trannt temp light?.


May I ask politely what an AEL
and or trannt
Light is?

#6 eagleb

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 03:44 PM

May I ask politely what an AEL
and or trannt
Light is?

:Flame: :lol:

#7 nipper

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 03:50 PM

CEL sorry it was a typo ...



and :Flame: to you too skip :)

nipper

#8 lollydolly

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 03:53 PM

May I ask politely what an AEL
and or trannt
Light is?


Yes, I need to know this too. :) All I know is my ugly orange "Check Engine" light is on, glaring at me. No other lights are on - the temp light is not on, and the gauge shows it being where it needs to be - in the middle. (Oh, and I have made sure the gas cap is secure).

Thanks for the welcome guys! I'm learning already from this board - I had no idea Autozone would do this for free. I've taken it into the mechanic before and they've charged me like $40 just for the codes to be pulled. Too bad it's autozone, I live about 4 blocks from Shucks, and the nearest AutoZone is pretty far. But I'll do it to avoid taking it in and getting charged and not seeing the code myself (and finding out on this messageboard what it means!)

#9 nipper

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 03:57 PM

SHucks may do it for free too, ask them. Autozone is the one that advertises it, thats why we recomend them. Also after checking the code, have them clear it for you, and see if it comes back.

Its probably something simple like a knock or O2 sensor.

nipper

#10 Skip

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 04:00 PM

I'm sorry, in his haste to help,
I believe Sir Nipper made a type-0.

he meant CEL and tranny temp light

You might call Shucks to see if they offer the code read.
It has been reported that some of these places will NOT clear
codes only read them.
Please bring the code number back.

Pardon me for asking,
has any work ever been done to the cooling system?
Antifreeze change, hose leak fixed, ect.

Is there fluid in the overflow bottle (the white plastic
container next to the rad cap)?

Good luck, hope the CEL is something simple.

#11 nipper

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 04:04 PM

There is also a cheap attempt at fixing it.

Get a new radiator cap. Subaru caps seem to get tired after 4-5 years for some reason. Sometimes this is simple enough to solve the problem.

Skip calling me Sir :eek: makes me nervous .......


nipper

PS, has the cooling system ever been serviced? at 80K its overdue.

#12 211

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 04:09 PM

Too bad it's autozone, I live about 4 blocks from Shucks, and the nearest AutoZone is pretty far. But I'll do it to avoid taking it in and getting charged and not seeing the code myself (and finding out on this messageboard what it means!)

Schucks will do it for free. I just had a CEL code pulled a couple months ago. It was the forward O2 sensor. Just be sure to write down the code. AFAIK, subaru's don't have "universal" codes that any reader will translate. It's a P0xxxx looking string of numerals, that's what you need to write down. You can then google the number and get the translation. Or just post it here.

#13 eagleb

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 04:15 PM

Depends on the reader, whenever I check my codes at autozone the reader gives the code and the description.

#14 lollydolly

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 04:15 PM

[quote name='211']You can then google the number and get the translation. Or just post it here.[/QUOTE]

Oh, I'm posting it here. You've already been so much help.

[QUOTE]Is there fluid in the overflow bottle (the white plastic
container next to the rad cap)?[/QUOTE]

Not sure. I'm going to have my husband look at that tonight.

[QOUTE]Get a new radiator cap. Subaru caps seem to get tired after 4-5 years for some reason. Sometimes this is simple enough to solve the problem.[/QUOTE] This is very helpful to know. Would the CEL coming on and then going off behaviour be inline with this issue?

I'm going to call Shucks in a few and see if they'll do it. And clear it.

#15 Skip

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 04:17 PM

There is also a cheap attempt at fixing it.

Get a new radiator cap. Subaru caps seem to get tired after 4-5 years for some reason. Sometimes this is simple enough to solve the problem.


This is an attempt to fix the heater problem.
As pointed out it could possibly be
caused by an air bubble trapped in
the cooling system. This may be how the air got in,
if it did.

Not the CEL issue.

Sometimes if you have two problems it is best to start
two posts.
This will avoid this type of "corn-fusion"
(as us country bumkins say)

#16 lollydolly

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 04:23 PM

This is an attempt to fix the heater problem.
As pointed out it could possibly be
caused by an air bubble trapped in
the cooling system. This may be how the air got in,
if it did.

Not the CEL issue.

Sometimes if you have two problems it is best to start
two posts.
This will avoid this type of "corn-fusion"
(as us country bumkins say)


Sorry - I had no idea these could be two issues. :)

And I just called the Schucks near me, they will do it for free.

#17 Skip

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 04:32 PM

Please accept my apologies.

I see what you mean by a one being caused by the other.

I do not think the heater blowing luke warm air
on occasion is connected to the CEL problem..


but then again, we'll see soon I hope.

Glad to read Shucks reads the codes.

#18 nipper

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 04:39 PM

awwwwwww shucks


(well someone had to say it)


nipper

#19 lollydolly

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 04:48 PM

I wish I had known about this board the last 2 times (and about a thousand dollars ago) the CEL went off. I'll try and check in tonight and let you know.

#20 Skip

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 05:02 PM

We are looking forward to helping
you in any way we can.

#21 Bigbusa

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 06:02 PM

2000 2.5L 80k miles with occassional no heat even when the temp gauge is running normal?

No one has said HG yet?

That's my guess.

#22 four-fleet-feet

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 06:26 PM

2000 2.5L 80k miles with occassional no heat even when the temp gauge is running normal?

No one has said HG yet?

That's my guess.


:eek: Hey! Please don't scare the newbie with all the *2.5 headgasket* stuff. Not yet!

How 'bout we just see what Schucks or AZ say before we get all doom-and-gloom here, eh?

As far as the 'will Schucks do it for free' bit, I do believe I said they would in my very first post! Schucks won't give you that nice printout of all possible causes of the code like AutoZone, so make sure you stand right there while it's been done and write down all the codes (hopefully not more than one, but...) Both places can give you a fast rundown of what the code means, but this board will give you a better idea of what can be done/must be done/what you should not do once you tell us the code(s), which AZ or Schucks won't.

What neither one will do is clear the code (no store in WA state, anyway). At all. But that's a simple do-it-yourself. Undo the battery for 10 minutes. Hook it back up. Done! (Don't say one minute. It takes longer. Trust me.) Program your radio again time.

BUT: Don't do it until you have the problem fixed! Once you clear those codes, if the CEL rears its ugly head again you're back getting the darn thing read AGAIN, you don't know if it's the same problem back again or a whole new one...

#23 lollydolly

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 06:57 PM

Hey! Please don't scare the newbie with all the *2.5 headgasket* stuff. Not yet!


I've read a little of the headgasket scariness. :eek: So, if the Schucks guy mentions that, try my best not to break down sobbing in their parking lot, and laying down on the ground, clutching his ankles while screaming "WHY? WHY????"

Knowing my luck this year with gas leaks, emergency plumbing and leaks, I wouldn't be surprised it wasn't worst case scenario.

#24 msmithmmx

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 07:52 PM

I am going to give it to you straight. You have 2 issues. The first is you probally have a blown head gasket. The second issue is a) knock sesnor or B) O2 sensor. My advice..... Get to the Subaru dealer and purchase the 4oz blue bottle of coolant conditioner ASAP and add it in. While you are there get a price on an engine compression test to check your HG you may need it if the blue bottle does not work. Join the club you are not alone.

#25 Skip

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 08:33 PM

Welcome to the good ship USMB
may your stay be long and fruitful.
Have this done and bring back the code
e.g.P0XXXX

Again welcome to the board hope this helps.
I'm sure other's will add their "dose paysos"(sic)


So Dolly --- how U like us now??




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