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#109 of 280 Overheated 1990 Subaru Legacy
May 05, 2001 (12:16 pm)
I have a 1990 Subaru Legacy LS Station Wagon with 146,000 plus miles on her. My children and I recently took a driving trip around 300 miles, plus city driving for a week. Everything was fine. However on the way back it was very hot, my air conditioning wasn't very effective. I turned it up to max/ac and was driving about 80 mph. My engine kicked two times and I noticed the temperature gauge indicated my car was overheating. I pulled over and waited for it to cool off. The radiator fluid was splashed all over the engine. Luckily I was at an exit and I coasted over to a mechanic (thank God). He told me it was a busted radiator hose. After he replaced the hose, my car still was overheating. I was also told that there could be an airlock in the hose and that the antifreeze should be added through the top radiator hose not the bottom one. Also it was said that it could be that a gasket (don't know the proper name)cover blew off and I may have to have it replaced. Does anyone know how much that would cost? Could there by any other reason for this overheating. Are Subaru cars known for this cooling problem? Another mechanic said that these cars don't do well in the summer months.
I took it to two other mechanices, but neither wanted to attempt to handle my cooling system because it was too tricky. They instructed me to take to the nearest Subaru dealership. They said the coolant runs backwards instead of the normal way. Could someone please explain this. I've only had this car for five months and have had my timing belt, water pump and the front and back cv boot replaced. I also had my radiator flushed because when I bought it the owner put water in the radiator instead of coolant and when the first real cold weather came my car's engine completely frozeand my power windows stopped functioning. I don't have those problems anymore, I am just wondering about how much would I have to overhaul the airconditioning system. I'd rather get it done now then to nickel and dime it later. I believe it is a pretty good car, but I won't take it on such a long trip the next time.
May 05, 2001 (12:22 pm)
As for the a/c, this is a known trouble area for the Legacy.
As for overheating, it sounds like your engine has already had its share of stresses upon it. Overheating can be tricky and a complex issue to resolve. You should first of all have the cooling system pressure-tested to see if you have head gasket damage either from the overheat or the freeze.
Last of all, these are sort of typical old car/high miles problems. You may want to consider bailing out of this car, it sounds like it's had a hard life.
#111 of 280 Overheated 1990 Subaru Legacy
May 05, 2001 (12:57 pm)
Thanks for your help Mr_ Shiftright. Do you know how much would it cost to replace a head gasket? My vehicle had to be left at the Subaru dealer about 150 miles from my house. Would you recommend me driving it back to my home, if there is an indication of engine trouble? What testing method is used to determine if there is engine trouble that is producing the overheating?
May 05, 2001 (4:58 pm)
As long as the car is not running in the overheat range, and as long as you don't see any milky sludge on the dipstick when you check it, you are probably okay. If the cooling system is pressure tested, this could detect a head gasket leak, as could perhaps a compression test or cylinder leakdown test.
Perhaps your overheating is not due to such a drastic malady. A clogged or rusted radiator, a bad thermostat or cooling fan, those are also possbilities.
Usually head gasket leaks or a bad thermostat cause a pretty fast overheat, whereas clogging makes for a more gradual overheat and usually only at higher speeds.. Air-bound cooling systems overheat pretty quickly, too, as there is no water circulation, similar to a bad thermostat.
#113 of 280 Overheating
May 06, 2001 (5:18 am)
In our '92 Legacy L, we replaced the orginal radiator at around 160,000 miles. The car overheated on extended driving and highway driving. The temperature guage would rise slowly to just 3/4 - just into the hot range. Check and see if this is an orginal radiator, or one which was replaced a while ago; it may have gone bad. Radiator failure is a common problem over 100,000 miles.
#114 of 280 Overheating Diagnosis
May 07, 2001 (3:51 pm)
OK, the mechanic said that I blew a fuse which is connected to my engine fan. He said that the engine fan appears a bit wobbly (?). Is this something that needs to be replaced now or should I wait? I still have to drive it home 150 miles. He said there were no other problems with the thermostat and that the radiator was the original radiator.
May 07, 2001 (5:10 pm)
Well, you do need to find out why the fuse blew in your engine fan so it doesn't happen again. I don't know what he means by "wobbly", that doesn't sound very precise. Does he mean the fan shaft bearing is worn? How badly? Bad enough to drag and cause the fuse to blow?
Anyway, at the very minimum fix the fan so it works properly, and have him show you where it is and what it looks and sounds like when it's working, so that you can check it yourself if your temp gauge starts to go up again.
May 08, 2001 (8:30 am)
Is there one fan or two?
May 10, 2001 (11:22 am)
I would just like to add that my 91 Legacy was having overheating issues 2 summers ago. It started on a 250 mile trip, and it over heated. I let the engine cool off and added more coolant, there was an air pocket that was keeping the coolant from going into the engine after it heated up. Two months later I took it on a 3,000 mile trip and I had some overheating issues after driving 12 hours a day at 75. I was also spraying coolant all over the engine. I replaced the radiator cap, that's it. I have not had a problem since then.
Oh and my legacy has 180,000 miles on it now.
May 10, 2001 (2:14 pm)
Well, you probably had no pressure in the system as well as a bad seal in the radiator...so your coolant boiled at 212 rather than 230-240 as it would unde pressure, and with the bad cap also also having a bad seal, the coolant escaped...therefore causing more overheating, etc.
I don't think a true air block was your problem because you have to bleed that out carefully according to a certain procedure. It's not the kind of thing that fixes itself as far as I can recall.