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New guy, EJ22 overheating/coolant leak questions

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Hi all, I'm new to this forum, but not to cars or the online car community. I'm active on r3vlimited.com and have been since '07 & to a lesser degree vwvortex.com since about '03. I currently have an '87 325is as a project and recently picked up a '97 Legacy L m/t wagon with 198k miles as a daily. The vehicle had the radiator, timing belt, water pump, and accessory belts replaced within the last 1000 miles by the PO. The car has been driving fine for the last month around town & on the highway, but this morning was particaularly cold and suddenly things started going wrong. I let the car warm up while I was getting ready for work and it was up to opertaing temp according to the gauge when I hopped in, but strangely the heat was still blowing cold and not defrosting the windshield. Scraped windshield, started driving to work. While driving the 3-ish mile commute the temp gauge started creeping higher than I'd like, about 3/4 of the way to "H" mark on the gauge. I pulled over immedaitely & the temperature started dropping pretty quickly, but I noticed a coolant leak when i checked under the car so I parked & took a peak under the hood. The resevoir was nearly empty, and the coolant seemed to be leaking from somewhere behind it, or between it & the radiator. There was also no pressure in the system as far as I can tell, the top hose was completely soft. Can anyone point me in a direction to start looking? Thanks in advance! I love the car thus far, it's my first Subaru, & am looking forward to becoming more active in the community.

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Headgasket

 

Gasses from engine pushing into coolant chamber.  Overflows the resevior.

 

Heater blows cold because the core fills with an airpocket.

 

You could probably nurse it around for a while, just check and add coolant regularly but Headgaskets are in the future.

 

EJ22 heads gaskets are easy you can do them in the car.

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Damn, not what I was hoping to hear! It's strange that it just manifested itself today suddenly. What is the preferred repair manual for Subaru? I've used Bentley previously for my BMW & Audi's. Any good HG replacement write-ups available online?

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refill and keep a close eye on it and check for bubbles in coolant and coolant loss.

 

make sure you didn't simply loose coolant somewhere along the line and it was low.

 

these engines are notorious for not bleeding air well either, so if for any reason the system was recently opened or leaked, it could easily overheat with only a minor amount of coolant missing.

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So the leaky HG is pushing fluid out the coolant overflow, hence the overheating. Makes sense, also quite a bummer. Guess I'll be keeping a close eye on the coolant & limping it along for a bit until I can get the parts & time to replace the gaskets. Fortunately I have a short commute & a 2nd car, albeit not ideal for winter driving conditions. I'll plan on doing valve cover & spark plug gaskets while I'm in there, anything else on th "while you're in there" list?

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As I mentioned in the original post the timing belt & water pump were replaced less than 1000 miles ago. I know in the case of BMW's timing belt motors like my M20B25 it isn't advisable to reuse the timing belt even after a short period of driving, and it's cheap anyway so why skimp, but are rollers & the water pump really nessecary after such a short interval? For example, in the case of my 325is the water pump is replaced at every 2nd timing belt service, or at roughly every 100k miles. Thanks so much for the quick replys & useful info, it's great to find an online resource with such a helpful member-base.

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fine to reuse, just make sure no fluids get on the belt as they degrade the rubber compound quickly.  extreme case but i've seen saturated belts break in like a month and only a couple thousand miles.

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Thanks again guys. I guess I'll be keeping a very close eye on the coolant until I'm able to make time for the HG job, and in the mean time researching what brands are best for the gasket kit, and purchasing a repair manual. I glad I'm comforatble turning my own wrenches...

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you didnt mention if the timing idler pulleys were replaced with the timing belt job (or ever)? if they are the originals I would recommend replacing them - not uncommon for the bearings on those to give up after so many miles.

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So here we are almost 3 weeks later & here's what I've learned and observed, I'll try & keep it concise. I refilled the system & followed the burping proceedures I've found. The car ran fine & did not overheat from that point until today, and in most cases ran at about 1/2 way between full cold & the middle of the gauge. I checked the coolant level in the radiator & overflow religiously, and didn't see any changes. I also looked for any external leaks & didn't see anything beyond the usual oil drips. Today I warmed the car up to drive to work, checked the overflow when the motor was warm according to the gauge, & it showed the same level it has since I filled & burped previously. Heat was cold when I first got in but it started blowing warm as soon as I started driving. It was right around 0 degrees fahrenheight when I got moving this morning. About 2 miles into my commute the gauge started creeping past the 1/2 way point, making it up to about 3/4 where I would normally pull over in any overheat situation, but I was at work already & as soon as I got off the gas the temp started dropping, so I park and off to work I go. Out of curiosity I checked the overflow again when I got off, and again it's at the same level. I also looked for bubbles in the resevoir after driving home (without any issues) & found none regardless of engine rpm.

 

So I'm confused.

 

1. I figured that with the previous overheat & low coolant in the resevoir/radiator that caused it, I'd be able to see some evidence of leaking, but I see none. I also expected to see a change in the level in the resevoir if a blown HG was pushing coolant out of the system, but have not. Where did the coolant go previously? When the PO had the timing belt & water pump replaced did the tech possibly not bleed the system properly?

 

2. The first time the car started getting warm I had no heat due to air in the system, but this time the heat blew consistently while the motor was getting warmer than I'd like, and the resevoir & radiator levels haven't changed. Why the relapse? Is there still air in the system somewhere? How the heck did I go nearly 3 weeks before this reared it's ugly head again?

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Fill the block by the upper hose. It is possible the coolant had an air pocket when it was service last for lack of proper burping procedure. Try this first.

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When I checked the system after the car started running too warm yesterday the radiator was full on both the cap side & at the bleed port just forward of the upper hose, would that indicate that the block is also full, or does removing the top hose give air an easier escape route? I assume the front of the car needs to be elevated regardless?

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So have been able to save two ej2.2 s now by doing a head retorque my 97 impreza 2.2 and a 90 legacy 2.2 when they get high kms the heads start to work loose the 90 legacy had 537000kms on it original motor anyway I got a turn and a half on each headbolt and the bubbles in rad stoped on both cars. I was surprised but it did fix them no bubbles since have putt on 5000kms on my impreza since coolant level has not moved. When I first got it ten minute drive all the coolant in overflow. Also check coolant strength may have frozeup

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