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I know this is a long shot, but I thought I'd try.

 

I've got friends on a roadtrip from Washington, who are in Austin right now with a 1997 EJ25, that does fine on the highway and then tries to overheat in normal traffic. They have no tools or mechanical knowledge to speak of, and my impression is that they do not have a lot of money. They have described a visible coolant leak, but haven't sourced it.

 

If anyone is around that feels like helping, they could really use an actual diagnosis from someone who won't be trying to scam them into a headgasket job if they have a bad hose.

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not many texan subaru's. they may want to post on the subarutoutback forums and look for cardoc and Luckytexan - those are two frequent subaru specialists and cardoc lives in austin and is a mechanic and works/owns a shop there.

 

what you typed may not be the whole story - but if it is then the likely culprit is:
1. . a fan or two not working

or

2.  it got low on coolant.

 

both of those anyone capable of driving can....and should....check immediately.

 

the "leak" might be a leak or it might simply be the car overheating, boiling, and pushing coolant out the overflow tank - which is not an issue, the overheating is simply cuasing it to puke it up.

 

that being said, there are some easy tasks that require only having eyeballs and movable hands:

1.  when it's overheating - pop hood and see if both fans are running under the engine.

2.  engine cold - make sure the radiator is full of coolant.

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to test the cooling fans just turn on the AC and look at the fans they should both run when the AC IS ON. where is the general area the coolant leak is coming from? when I bought my car it needed heads so I replaced all the main coolant hoses but forgot about the coolant bypass going to the heater core sure enough right at the hose clamp a small rip had developed from being old and pinched in place for so long. it would only leak when the car had driven for a half hour because of the size of the tear, on a 70 mile trip it was enough to deplete my radiator causing the car to overheat.

 

.     

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+1 for cardoc - he's in Austin. straight shooter, no BS.

 

hope it's a fan - but '97 has a reputation for headgasket problems.

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It's likely the HGs are gone. Perhaps they are drill a few holes in the theromostat in order to limp home.

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It's likely the HGs are gone. Perhaps they are drill a few holes in the thermostat in order to limp home.

HA HA it works better if you just nip the entire thermostat mechanism where it attaches to the circular bracket my girlfriends wagon came with this mod if you can call it such a thing. the previous owner had a stuck closed thermo so he cut the functional bit out leaving a metal ring for the rubber gasket and a big hole 

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Just look in the overflow tank.  Black Oily stuff means HG are gone or going.  

Better off flying back and selling the car there.  It's a long way TX to WA.  

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They are in touch with cardoc now, and have someone else at a subaru specific shop looking at it as well.

I emotionally prepared them for headgaskets, and told them about demanding the job be done with only update head gaskets from the subaru dealership.

Hopefully its minor, but they are ready for bad news. Good thing they have friends there to stay with for a few days if need be.

Thanks everyone, and especially grossgary for the contact!

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