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Leaking HG 2003 Outback


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15 replies to this topic

#1 Bmm001

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 12:11 PM

Picked up an '03 OB Limited a few weeks ago (30K, 5-speed). Everything was fine for the first week. Then, noticed a coolant smell, and drip marks under the car, and could see a green droplet clinging to the center of the plastic under-cover.

Took it back to the place I bought it (independent dealer who only sells Subarus), they saw no evidence of leakage, tightened all hose fittings, ran a pressure test (also fine), ran it up on the lift, and were unable to duplicate anything. They perform 30K service on all the cars they sell, and confirmed that the Coolant Conditioner was used.

Gave it back to me without the under cover, said to look for leakage. Didn't notice any at first, until I was filling up my tires today at the gas station, and could see a small drip coming from the driver's side onto the left exhaust pipe and then down to the ground. I can see coolant clinging to the bottom of the jacking point behind the oil pan, and around the driver's side steering rack boot.

Questions:
1. Do external HG leaks in phase 2 EJ25's typically leak right after the car is started and running in the cold (I warmed it up for about 2 minutes and drove 1 mile to the gas station, it's about 14 degrees outside today)? Does the leak "go away" temporarily once it's heated up?

2. If by chance it's not the HG, what else could possibly leaking from that area?

I tried to crawl under and take some pictures if that helps at all. Not sure how to link them up but PM me and I can e-mail them to you.

I'm going to call the place first thing Monday and take it over to show them with me there what's going on, but wanted some thoughts from people who know a lot more than me!

Thanks,
Brian

Edited by Bmm001, 17 January 2009 - 12:15 PM.
clarify description of problem


#2 forester2002s

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 12:27 PM

What do you see when looking into the coolant overflow reservoir?

Any bubbles? Any oil film?

That would indicate a HG leak from the combustion chamber. But as you say, you may only have an external leak.

#3 Bmm001

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 12:31 PM

No bubbles, no oil film, no odd temp. gauge behavior. It's always pegged right in the middle.

Brian

#4 Rooster2

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 01:06 PM

For a 2.5 phase 2 motor that you have, HG leaks are usually colant leaking to the outside of the engine. Subaru dealerships offers a coolant additive to your model car to specifically stop that type of leakage. Lucky for you it is not a serious problem like what is found on the earlier phase 1 motor.

#5 grossgary

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 01:22 PM

you didn't say but the topic sort of gives away what motor you have. i'm going to get crazy and guess yours has the EJ25 and not the H6?

these gaskets leak externally, not internally.

this sounds like head gasket leak just starting. so that it's temperature dependent and/or more random doesn't surprise me at all.

bubbles in the overflow, overheating, and coolant in the oil are not going to happen on this engine. not unless you drive it for an extended period.

he already checked and they did use the conditioner during the 30k service.

fortunately this engine doesn't leave you stranded by overheating and won't incur much damage as long as you keep it full of coolant and don't run it hot. this engine won't overheat until it starts to get low on coolant.

most likely this is why the previous owner ditched the car, as soon as they saw that they probably jumped. not hard to find leaking head gasket used cars for sale.

Subaru offers an extended head gasket warranty up to 100,000 miles on some 2000+ subaru's, check into that.

#6 Gloyale

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 01:58 PM

I just don't see it happening to a car with only 30k.

And Ussually the External leaks are oil, not coolant.

I'm going to bet on a hose leak.

There are several likely places to look.

1. The two hoses that run through the *oil cooler* underneath.

2. Heater core hoses.

3. Water pump bypass hose.

And lastly check the area where the coolant crossover pipe bolts to the block, either o-ring could be leaking.

#7 bratman18

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 02:00 PM

I have seen a few that have started to leak at this low of mileage. The phase II externally leak coolant as well. I'm going with head gaskets

#8 Gloyale

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 02:03 PM

I have seen a few that have started to leak at this low of mileage. The phase II externally leak coolant as well. I'm going with head gaskets


I would never suggest headgasket replacemet, for an external leak, without thouroughly checking for any other leaks.

That's an expensive leap of faith.

#9 bratman18

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 02:10 PM

I would never suggest headgasket replacemet, for an external leak, without thouroughly checking for any other leaks.

That's an expensive leap of faith.


Mine is leaking externally and it causes a bunch of problems and I assume it will eventually for him. Mine heats up sometimes. And even after adding the conditioner several times now, the leak has gotten a lot worse so that it loses enough coolant so that I have to check it every couple days. Yes it is very expensive, which is why I regret everyday for giving the 2.5 a chance. I wouldn't suggest replacing it yet either. I would suggest keeping up on the coolant, and watching the temp gauge religiously!

#10 Bmm001

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 03:13 PM

Thanks for the quick replies! When I call on Monday, I will be setting up a time to take it over when I can be there with them showing them exactly what I saw while it's up on the lift.

There are several likely places to look.

1. The two hoses that run through the *oil cooler* underneath.

2. Heater core hoses.

3. Water pump bypass hose.

And lastly check the area where the coolant crossover pipe bolts to the block, either o-ring could be leaking.


Are any of these in the area that i'm describing the leak? I know where the water pump and T-stat housing is, and they're bone dry... the leakage visible is further back, dripping onto the steering rack boot for the driver's side wheel, so I'm thinking it's leaking somewhere in that area, down onto the boot and dripping down onto the jacking point behind the oil pan.

Again, thanks for the great input, I'm just trying to go in "armed" with as much info as possible!

Brian

#11 Gloyale

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 05:56 PM

Are any of these in the area that i'm describing the leak? I know where the water pump and T-stat housing is, and they're bone dry... the leakage visible is further back, dripping onto the steering rack boot for the driver's side wheel, so I'm thinking it's leaking somewhere in that area, down onto the boot and dripping down onto the jacking point behind the oil pan.


The oil cooler line that runs to the drives side is over there.

Also the heater core hoses could be dripping down in that area.

Otherwise, it is always possible that a leak on the top side of the motor could be blown back over the block, and run down onto the rear portion of engine.

#12 Mike621

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 06:39 PM

I would check with the dealer to see if the problem is covered under warranty. My stepmothers friend had bought an 03 with 66k secondhand and after going to the dealer Subaru did the head gaskets under warranty as part of the campaign. Its worth a shot, because it could cost you nothing.

#13 dhewitt

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 06:12 PM

Hey all,

Been off USMB for a long time, but finally back. At some point I tried getting back on but it looked like the domain was down/dead...

Anyway, I just had this same issue with our 2003 Outback 4-cyl, so thought I'd share. External HG leak on both sides -- small, but worth worrying about. We lived far away from any dealership and had a reputable independent do all work. I had everything documented for the leak being started prior to 100K (~98,000) and religious maintenance, and thought I had a shot at some reimbursement. I opened a claim with SoA and they were real nice about it all, but in the end gave me $250 for the problem, about 1/3 the cost.

My wife is now stacked against another Subaru, ever, but that's a battle for another day.

#14 Bmm001

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 08:58 AM

Sorry I haven't updated, but wanted to wait until I had an update to post!

It is the headgasket. Last time I had it over, I was under the car with them and we didn't see any evidence. They replaced the o-rings on the crossover pipe, thinking that it could have been dribbling down (looked a little wet on the driver's side end). Left the under cover off, and when I took it back for them to put the cover back on, we saw it clearly, damp driver's side headgasket, dribbling onto the cross member and jacking point behind the oil pan.

I'm taking the car in on Tuesday for them to repair. They've been talking to Subaru to see if they will do it (I'm doubtful, but it's getting fixed either way).

While they have it, I want them to check out the front suspension/steering and wanted some input. Here are the symptoms:

1. A loose on-center feeling, even at speeds of 30-40 MPH. A side-to-side vibration through the wheel can be felt when you gently move the wheel side to side.

2. At highway speeds, the side-to-side "wobble" is much more pronounced, even on smooth highways, and can also be felt when braking, like slowing on an exit-ramp. Braking from slower speeds doesn't cause any pedal or steering wobble.

3. On rough patches of road or manhole covers, there seems to be a lot of "play" and kickback through the wheel, jiggling it around in my hand.

4. No unusual noises, clicks, clunks, etc. No unusual tire wear, they're OE Potenzas with probably another 15,000 miles of life left and have 33,500 miles on them (like the car). Had the wheels balanced 2 weeks ago and that didn't resolve, mechanic said they weren't really "off".

I realize on rough roads there is going to be some vibration up through the steering wheel, but I don't think the looseness and shimmying is normal, and it didn't do this when I first bought the car (4,000 miles ago). Something just doesn't feel like it should... my '95 Legacy with 147K and original shocks & suspension components didn't feel like that except when it needed a new driver's side axle!

Just want to get an idea what to ask them to check.

Brian M.

#15 uniberp

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 09:04 AM

Sorry to say, but between the headgasket and the suspension it sounds like that car was run hard and beat by the previous owner. Even superb cars can be knocked down by neglect.

#16 grossgary

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 09:11 PM

the steering rack boots might be loose or old. when the rack boots go bad or come out, degrade, etc, the entire rack has some play and it will cause exactly what you're talking about. this usually happens on like 20 year old cars though, like 80's stuff, not a 2003. althouh if the rubber got contaminated from a fluid leak somewhere it can degrade the rubber much faster.

of course tie-rod ends are just about the most dangerous thing to loose on your car so they should be inspected as well.

funny thing our new Outback...hmm...02 or 03 H6 does the same thing. i hadn't really thought much about it, but glad you posted, i'll check the steering rack boots on mine.

i bet our problems are the same if we can find them. even though there's an H6/H4 difference the racks are probably identical.




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