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Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Wagon
#8469 of 8657 Same old dreaded overheating issue that has been so discussed.
Sep 10, 2011 (4:41 am)
After reading the forums on here, my 1997 2.5L GT Legacy has had overheating issues the last 1.5 years with 200,000 miles on the car. I never had an over heating issue before this time. I towed it six times to two different shops to have it repaired. We had just moved across country from the PNW to Georgia the year previous to all of this. Before moving, I had the car done over so there would be no break downs along the way. New timing belt, hoses, tune-up, water pump, etc.; I went so far as to have new catalytic converters put on it due to the fact that there was a rattle in one that was getting serious sounding (maybe it didn't need to be done). Anyway, no problems driving across country, but after a year of living down here, it suddenly started overheating. It's been a great car with regular and preventative maintenance done on it; the only thing I had to have replaced on it was the clutch, etc. at about 160,000 miles. One night it started overheating on the interstate, thankgoodness we are very close to home; but a long way back to anywhere to get it fixed. Having it towed, I was told that the thermostat needed to be replaced; but they couldn't find an issue with the overheating, also the engine had misfired and they replaced the spark plug wires (with generic ones; I hate being a woman), and they put a new radiator cap on the car. I got it home and it overheated again spewing coolant on the ground, so had it towed to a different shop. They said they couldn't find anything really wrong with it, except the generic spark plug wires (they said it was misfiring due to the ill fitting wires), had ruined one of the new catalytic converters I had put on there and it was gasoline soaked. I told them about the problems I had read with this model subaru possibly having a bad head gasket, but they swore that couldn't be the problem. Needless to say the overheating happened again after I had the car back and had to take it in again; they said they couldn't find the source and didn't want to charge me to fix something that wasn't wrong. They said they could change out the headgasket for me but with the age of the car I would probably have to have the main engine bearing done also due to the miles and age of the car, which would mean a whole new engine and possibly transmission. I got tired of either being overcharged or being told that if the computer didn't say anything was wrong with the car then nothing was wrong with the car; so I went home and did some research on my own and decided to work my way back. I changed out the thermostat again due to the overheatings, the radiator, the radiator cap; I also put in a new knock sensor because the computer code said I needed one, and I had to have it in order to pass emissions. Here's the part that I am having problems with. The car when it overheated all those times would get hot when it idled or sat in traffic, but not on the interstate, it would cool down. I didn't see any oil in the coolant, had no bubbling, but did see a black lining on the overflow tank. I was told by a friend of mine up in Washington when I went to change the radiator that I shouldn't have to do it, but wanted to start with the least expensive solution possible, especially if I needed a new engine. He was right, the new radiator (will never put in a non-subaru part again) didn't last very long before it sprung a leak; even my friend in Washington swears that it isn't a headgasket problem.. no one except for all of you on here thinks it is. Thankgoodness I hung on to the old radiator, I put that back in and the car seemed to work fine again; the overheatings went away for a while. When it happened again, I changed the thermostat; and tried some of that head gasket fix stuff from the auto store, changed the coolant and ran that throught he system. The overheating went away for about six months, but then came back again. (Important to note here, that the overheating happened when idling, driving on side streets but not on the interstate). The last dose of head gasket fix must have given up, because out of the blue, it started overheating yesterday. The strange thing about this is that almost all of the coolant was gone from the radiator; which shocked me because I had just checked it not too long ago; and it had just been lubed and they said there appeared to be no problem with the cooling system. The difference this time is that the car overheated on the insterstate but when it idles it cools down which is a 180 degree turn around from the last time it overheated. Also this time in nothing flat it overheats, and where is the radiator fluid going so quickly? I have no leaks, I am not seeing white exhaust, and the overflow tank is empty. i would refill it, drive the car about a couple of miles, and then it would overheat as soon as getting up to operating temperature. This is what we did last night; we drained all of the coolant; flushed the cooling system on the car; put it back together, put some of the leak fix stuff back in like we did with antifreeze as these directions state to do. Here's what's perplexing me, could this be the water pump that is malfunctioning, or the A/C compressor? My reason for asking is that where the water pump is located there is no water leaking; however, I have water, not coolant mix or oil mix leaking from behind the engine from the passenger side; there is also a couple of drops of water, I didn't see it drop closer to the middle driver's side, again back behind the engine, again it's pure water with nothing mixed in with it. We took the subaru out for a sixty mile drive after we put the stuff in the radiator late last night. We stopped about half way just to let it cool down so we could see if we were losing coolant; we weren't. However, I noticed water dripping from the opening of the compressor, but we weren't using the A/C or heater. We drove another 35 miles and again, more water coming from the compressor opening (assuming that is just in front of the passenger side below the windshield). It was at this time when we got home that I noticed the smaller, much smaller) spot of water closer to the driver's side behind the engine. I have no doubt that I probably need a new head gasket, and if I didn't I sure do now; but why suddenly the difference in the way the car overheats? Any help would be appreciated, I want to know what's going on so I don't get the run around when taking it in to be fixed. Sorry for the long post, thank you in advance for any help you can give me.
#8470 of 8657 Re: Same old dreaded overheating issue that has been so discussed. [summerlover97]
Sep 10, 2011 (6:21 am)
The battery issue: clean it really well, then apply several thin coats of battery terminal protector to the entire top of the battery, including the clamping apparatus.
Clear liquid dripping is in all likelihood condensation - liquid humidity, if you will, that the a/c system has removed from the passenger compartment. That is normal.
Your overheating scenario sure sounds like head gaskets. Disclaimer: I'm not a mechanic. My '99 LGT had its HG's done before I bought it, but from the facts as you relate them, it sure sounds like your overheating is similar to the experience of others.
The wry good news is that if you get them fixed, given all the other parts that have gone in to your car, it'll be like new for awhile!
Good luck, from your old stomping grounds in the PNW.
#8471 of 8657 Re: Same old dreaded overheating issue that has been so discussed. [summerlover97]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Sep 10, 2011 (6:53 am)
Why doesn't anyone seem to have TESTED the car for bad head gaskets? You pressurize the cooling system, hold the pressure, look for leaks at the head gasket area...if none, then pull out each spark plug (while still under pressure) and check for coolant on the plug, or use a boroscope to peer inside the cylinder to look for coolant.
Also you can test the coolant chemically to check for combustion gases.
Overheating at idle but not at speed is usually an air circulation problem (fans) and in rare cases corroded impellers on the water pump.
Overheating at speed is usually a coolant circulation problem (clogged radiator, stuck thermostat).
Rapid overheating from cold engine to boiling is usually a head gasket or a completely stuck thermostat.
Overheating problems are very complex and have to be approached systematically.
As for the loss of coolant, there are only two possibilities according to the laws governing the known universe--you are either leaking it or burning it---and you can test for both by the methods suggested.
#8472 of 8657 Re: Same old dreaded overheating issue that has been so discussed. [Mr_Shiftright]
Sep 10, 2011 (8:34 am)
THERE'S the mechanic's response!
#8473 of 8657 Re: Same old dreaded overheating issue that has been so discussed. [hammerhead]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Sep 10, 2011 (11:16 am)
Been there, done that with the 2.5L engine.
#8474 of 8657 Re: Outback Maintenance Costs [Mr_Shiftright]
Sep 19, 2011 (9:11 pm)
My mom and I were looking at reviews on tirerack and we cannot believe that Bridgestone even wastes rubber making the Turanza EL400-02 that comes standard on the Legacy. Terrible traction...Drove in 2" of snow and the car just slipped everywhere! The tires have 18k on them but she is planning on replacing the tires sometimes in the next 3-4 months. I'm trying to help her out with some research. After looking at reviews on tirerack I'm stumped. The Michelin MXV4 and General Altimax HP get relatively good reviews from tirerack.
Michelins seem to pretty much get good reviews all-around. However, they're VERY expensive. The General Altimax HP though certainly are intriguing...for like $150 less than the Michelins we could get those, which get great reviews on tirerack (although some don't seem to get the expected tread life...?) So any suggestions/recommendations would be great! Any other all-season tires we should look at would be helpful!
#8475 of 8657 Alternative for 00-04 Outback wiper insert
Sep 25, 2011 (9:15 pm)
I use OEM HONDA wiper insert for my 02 OUTBACK.
For front driver side wiper insert (Length:550mm; Width:8mm) for Outback: Equivalent is 2006 Honda Odyssey passenger side (Part# 76632-SHJ-A01).
For front passenger side wiper insert (Length:500mm; Width:6mm) for Outback: Equivalent is 2004 Honda CRV passenger side (part# 76632-S6M-003).
I went this route because my local Subaru dealer would not sell me insert only. With coupon, I got the insert for $5.00 each at Honda dealer.
Previously, I cut my 2000 Honda Odyssey inserts to fit them on my Outback.
#8476 of 8657 Re: Same old dreaded overheating issue that has been so discussed. [Mr_Shiftright]
Sep 26, 2011 (9:34 am)
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my message. Oh My Gosh!!! It's been like pulling teeth to get someone to take a look a little deeper than just what the computer readout is on the car down here. I am sure if I went to a Subaru dealership they probably would spot it, but I can't afford the diagnostics or repairs to be done there. I have insisted that it's most likely the headgasket, but my insistings have fallen on dead ears. Thank you to all of you on here who have posted to my response, and also other newer and older responses I have read that has saved me a ton of money at the repair shop. All of you are awesome! I could have gotten soaked a lot worse so many times trying to figure this out. After I get this fixed I am going to save up and take a mechanics course.
#8477 of 8657 Re: Same old dreaded overheating issue that has been so discussed. [hammerhead]
Sep 26, 2011 (9:50 am)
Thank you Hammerhead and Mr. Shiftright! I appreciate the help more than you will ever know.
#8478 of 8657 Re: Same old dreaded overheating issue that has been so discussed. [summerlover97]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Sep 27, 2011 (6:37 am)
Yer welcome. The members here are great aren't they? come back and see us and your host anytime.