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Posted (edited)

My '06 WRX failed to get me more than 1/3 the way to work this morning. Had a few drops or 'water' up on the winshield near left A pillar, then had a subtle hot coolant smell. Then a wisp of steam. Pulled into a lot, popped the hood. Wet all around front left. High enough that it was blowing back from the hood at the fender panel. Never saw any pinhole stream or active dripping. O'flow tank at mid level , never overheated according to gauge. Went back home.  Haven't looked in rad yet - cooling off now. Pulled the snorkel and saw a little gel-booger with dried white-ish deposit 'blown-back' from center-ish area of top tank.(will try to post pic, I haven't really firgured out how to do that very well yet)  Everything so far looks like a crimp leak or maybe a crack? in top of rad.?  Fans are cycling so, I feel the temp gauge was properly reporting and there seems to be no sign of a headgasket issue .

Kinda also wondering about best replacement rad. Denso? TYC? Other? Is there a brand I should prefer or, maybe more important, avoid? I wouldn't ming paying for quality. In Texas, I need as much cooling capacity as I can get. Not really wanting to modify the car so, drop-in prefered of course.

Any other work I should do 'while I'm in there' ? I have original hoses so, I plan to replace those.

 

 

IMG_20200521_071319624_HDR.jpg

 

Although it's been wiped away, the little 'gel-like' deposit was near that bolt-head, on the vertical surface of the front brace above the rad's front crimp area. To me, obviously associated with that white deposit. Couold have been seeping for some time.

Edited by 1 Lucky Texan

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It's fairly common for radiators to leak, usually the plastic cracks. This wouldn't be surprising at all.  I hate to guess without seeing it in person, but this is by far the most likely scenario.

Radiator shops, if available, can test them for leakage.  You could try pulling the radiator, closing off the top radiator hose inlet/outlets, turning it upside down and filling it with water to see if you can find the leak.  But it may not leak without heat/pressure. 

Or try the UV light kits/technique, but I've never done that. 

I've installed probably 10-15 $100 new radiators from various sources and never had issues.  If another 15 years of ownership is likely a new Subaru OEM radiator probably makes sense. 

I'd prefer Subaru hoses. 

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THanks, I kinda like the OPL from amazon, welded aluminum and 1.5 inches thick but, seems like there's a 1 or 2 'adjustments' required.

Denso and Koyo looking good. Dunno what's available at local parts houses like NAPA.....

good to read it's usually not problematic to swap.

i might get silicone hoses. I have some Mishimoto already in a coupla intake areas.....

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The upper hose neck on your radiator has a hairline crack it's normal on the turbo Subarus around this age.  The one on my 2002 WRX let go about five years ago.  I replaced it with a Koyo all-aluminum Hyper Core.  Perfect fit, fan mounting hardware included and not too expensive if you grab one on sale or from a company with deals ongoing and free shipping.

Rallysportdirect.com has free shipping on orders over $200, I bought the BRZ Koyo rad for the RX-RA from MAPerformance.com.  I would just look up the part number and search for it on Google Shopping, see who has it cheapest.

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2 minutes ago, 1 Lucky Texan said:

OK, Koyo back on the list!

awesome, if there's a good aluminum option i'd seriously look into that as well. 

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I replaced my original 2002 Forester radiator about a year ago. It had a hairline crack in the plastic header near to the upper hose.

I had been losing coolant very slowly for several months, but there was no obvious leak to be seen.  The coolant loss gradually increased until one day, when I lifted the hood, I could see steam coming from the header.

My replacement radiator was a TYC from Amazon. Good price and delivered quickly. One year later and all is fine, with no more coolant loss.

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Switch to screw clamps while you're at it. Silicone hoses will need more clamping pressure to seal.  I prefer the wire style clamps on older subaru's vs the band clamps found in auto stores.  They don't bite into the hose as much.

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1 hour ago, nvu said:

I prefer the wire style clamps on older subaru's vs the band clamps found in auto stores.  They don't bite into the hose as much.

+1.  The typical band clamps found in stores aren't good for longevity or distribution of clamping force.  Most well known shops have an affinity for german clamps, etc.  I stick with OEM, reuse what I can, prefer the old style Subaru clamps, or carefully open and close the newer style squeeze clamps.  Down south you shouldn't have much, if any, clamp degradation due to corrosion. 

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OK, a few updates;

 

when it cooled, it pulled about 8-10oz it seems from the o'flow bottle, pulled the turbo cap - full, pulled the rad cap, full. So, seems like it may have been seeping slightly, just got worse this morning?

can't really justify silicone hose $ or aluminum rad $ right now. I generally try to upgrade when I do repairs, but the OPL radiator seems to require a little surgery/massaging to fit and the other aluminum one I lookde at on Amazon has few reviews. Mishimoto rad and hoses - too rich for me at present.

So, I went to RockAuto, getting 4 constant tension clamps, Dayco upper/lower hoses. (hoping the dayco lower will fit better than some reviews about the gates) Denso rad (Koyo seems to not package them well - don't need a return delay) and some coolant. Got Coolant conditioner coming from Amazon.  RockAuto has tricky return procedure compared ....that may be its only downside.

probably do some disassembly if weather cooperates

also, thanks to RA for the promo code, saved me over $10 !

 

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seemed fine, it's fairly new Japanese. All the 'wetness' really seemed to be in the 'crimp 'tray'/channel area.

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1 hour ago, 1 Lucky Texan said:

seemed fine, it's fairly new Japanese. All the 'wetness' really seemed to be in the 'crimp 'tray'/channel area.

Good eye. Excellent. 

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I mostly avoid them so I have no idea, have others used coolant conditioner on Turbos?

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had some conditioner in there from previous coolant fill. It may have been where the odd 'gel' deposit came from. Wondering if it may have been slowing the leak or bought me some time.....?

I don't have to install it if it seems like a bad idea. just used it to help prevent seeping or leaks from clamps or maybe a small pinhole....

 

didn't have a rag with me at roadside, but at home I idled the car while trying to wipe down the area up-top. The most liquid 'appearing' really seemed to be in that crimp channel.  If I guess wrong and somehow missed the rad cap, that's gonna be a pricey mistake. I may fire it up again tomorrow. Weather is iffy. I'm bbq-ing overnight and fighting wind and thunder and sprinkling right now. Might have some clear time in the day though.

 

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Posted (edited)

You guys mostly able to reuse hardware with rad swaps? Some reviewers seemed to find threads different or ??? when re-mounting fans, etc. Mostly associated with the all aluminum rads I guess? Shouldn't be any rust issues here, but I'd have to make a run for the screws/bolts as I don't really stock handfuls of that stuff. Some of the fasteners look recessed?, hope my sockets will clear....

 

ya know....seems like I may have pulled thos fans back when I did the TB....can't recall

Edited by 1 Lucky Texan

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33 minutes ago, 1 Lucky Texan said:

You guys mostly able to reuse hardware with rad swaps? Some reviewers seemed to find threads different or ??? when re-mounting fans, etc. Mostly associated with the all aluminum rads I guess? Shouldn't be any rust issues here, but I'd have to make a run for the screws/bolts as I don't really stock handfuls of that stuff. Some of the fasteners look recessed?, hope my sockets will clear....

 

ya know....seems like I may have pulled thos fans back when I did the TB....can't recall

Have a bunch of zip ties handy.  You can zip tie the top of the rad to the upper radiator support and zip tie fan mounts/fans/overflow tank in place easily. They’re cheap, easy to have on hand and work great for something like this. The rad has two legs that sit down into holes in the lower rad support. And only two bolts hold it up top into the flimsy rad support which can be twisted by hand.  It’s not rigidly attached and structural, and the weight is held by lower rubber mounts/holes but has play in it naturally.  Zip ties are perfect for this, inexpensive, and handy for other things if you don’t use them. 

if you have one fastener issue it won’t even matter, you don’t need all the fasteners.  I’ve seen numerous Subaru’s with broken fan tabs, bolts sheared off and not holding anything, missing fan bolts from past work where they weren’t reinstalled.

All that to say - you have easy options so you can get a fastener or something later if needed, and it won’t interrupt the job or cause any down time for the car. But you’re also unlikely to need it!

If you buy one from advance or Napa you’re not (highly unlikely) going to have an issue. I use Subaru or generic aftermarket radiators from auto parts store and never have issues. I have seen issues:

1. due to rust. Bolts shear off, broken fan mounts.

2. Years ago on older Subaru’s like 95 and earlier when fitment and interchanges were less consistent.

I’d imagine you would see fastener problems on rusty Subaru’s, people reflecting on issues from long ago, postal or right hand drive or JDM vehicles, or custom aluminum ones.  

In general (not specifically radiators as I haven’t installed any aluminum ones), Custom, lower volume parts can have more issues with fitment  

 

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thanx, I have zip-ties on hand, good point too on quantity of fastening points. Running around for a even a week or 2 until I could source a coupla bolts would be fine.

won't have parts for a few days, funny how a $111 radiator can turn into a $210 order! lol

 

weather seems not too bad today, but wind last night took a branch down I need to deal with...it never ends....

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15 hours ago, idosubaru said:

have others used coolant conditioner on Turbos?

I don't.  Turbos have all metal headgaskets and stopleak won't help sealing a leak there.

The subaru recommendation for conditioner was for NA cars that came with composite headgaskets.

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The new radiator in my '05 forester is zip-tied in place because it was just a liiiiitle too tall.

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Posted (edited)

Original radiators are good for about 8 years. We are seeing catastrophic failures on 2010/11 models now. The new blue OAT coolant seems to be eating cooling system plastics just the same as Dexcool did 20 years ago on GM's. 

Don't use any stop leak on your WRX. It won't do anything useful. 

Go with full welded aluminum. The CSF offerings are quite nice. Koyo is nice also but their warranty is poor. Mishimoto is garbage. 

GD

Edited by GeneralDisorder
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Posted (edited)

well, I feel better about getting 14 years from my OE rad, though I'm under 80K miles lol!

Denso already on the way.  Good to know CSF is a good option though. Might help the next guy. 

I will reconsider the stop leak but, I used it as much for my aging hoses as anything else.

I'm using Zerex Asian coolant.

Edited by 1 Lucky Texan

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Denso, Koyo, and CSF are all fine for plastic. Just make sure you change it every 8 years. After that it's just on borrowed time. Also warning to all those running the OAT blue coolant that Subaru switched to in 2011 - it eats plastic radiators. Just like it ate intake manifold gaskets on the 90's Vortec's. Honestly I have no use for the stuff. 

GD

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had to use a coupla zipties to 'bolster' 2 of the plastic bosses that screws go thru for the fans. I dunno, I either cranked too hard or they may have already been cracked....anyway, seemed secure enough but the zipties might help in the long run?

first long drive to my 'essential' job and the temp gauge was rock steady - could be my imagination but it might be indicating about 1/2 needle widht lower than before.

I'll check for drips and probably inspect my work and the new rad a coupla more times before I get completely comfortable lol!

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