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Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Sedan, Wagon
#1 of 41 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback overheating
May 21, 2009 (1:27 pm)
I've had this car for a while and I love it. It's got 178k miles on it and recently it's been having trouble.
Started overheating (white smoke out the tail etc, pulled over immediately - no hot air coming out of the heater when I put the heat all the way up to help), had it taken to a local guy He said it was heads. So I figure if i'm going to have to deal with that i'll get a converted 2.2L in and have it towed to a guy my family knows who I trust to do it and who has been working on subaru's exclusively for about 15-20 years.
He tells me he put it under pressure testing (repeatedly) and has found no evidence of a head gasket being out. He noticed leakage from the radiator hose and went and replaced that. He tested it for several days, driving it around - no problems - took it up to 45-55 maybe 60.
I get up there to pick it up and take it onto the highway and get it up to 75/80mph - and it's fine. However once I slowed back down and made a stop I noticed coolant leaking out under the car (a considerable amount - it looked like it happened suddenly). Sure enough when I started it back up it it immediately started overheating.
He seems to think the fluid isn't going through the radiator for some reason once it gets up to speed. (Pressure thing perhaps? I'm uneducated on how precisely this works). Currently he's hoping it's some sort of block and has a solvent or something along those lines running through the system and will flush it tomorrow to see if that helps to clear things up.
Any help/advice/suggestions from anyone with similiar problems? Sorry this is such a long post but I wanted to give as much information as I could on the subject.
#2 of 41 Re: 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback overheating [rylandw]
May 21, 2009 (3:05 pm)
How many miles have you put on the car? Do you know its previous history?
The white smoke out the exhaust makes me think there was coolant getting into the cylinders. If so, a head gasket is most likely at fault unless it has a cracked block. Has the oil been checked for signs of contamination? If that is not the case, then I would suggest the water pump as the likely problem.
If original, the water pump may have just failed. It has a weep hole in at the base of the impeller and can leak coolant from there. If you get under the car, the hole is above and just in front of the thermostat housing (where the lower radiator hose connects to the engine). If that is leaking, your pump either has or will soon fail.
The lack of heat inside the car is either due to air in the system that breaks the flow of the coolant (also points to a head gasket problem) or a lack of circulation due to water pump failure.
The water pump on my '96 Outback failed at 177,xxx miles. It was 2am and -20F outside, but it could have worked out far worse than it did....
Just be very careful about it overheating. You do not want to end up with a cracked block or warped heads!
The 2.5L is a good engine, but those head gaskets are troublesome. Lucky you, 178,000 really is not bad compared to the miles many had when theirs failed! If you end up fixing it, replace the timing belt, water pump, crankshaft and camshaft seals, and head gaskets all at the same time. Your engine will most likely give you many more miles of trouble-free driving afterward.
#3 of 41 Re: 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback overheating [xwesx]
May 21, 2009 (4:10 pm)
Hey. This car has been in my family since about 20k miles - my mother bought it used from a friend of hers and when I was 19 they made a present of it to me. I am 24 now. This car has had no significant issues since we bought it (until recently). So I don't specifically know the history of the vehicle but I believe her friend had bought it new and was selling it to her for some reason or another.
I don't think it was oil contamination. And has since had all it's fluids changed out (oil change etc). There was no white smoke the most recent time it overheated. I'm unsure about the water pump thing - I will suggest that as something to look into to my mechanic.
It's been repeatedly pressure tested and is not losing pressure. Can you have blown heads or a cracked block without pressure loss? The initial time it was overheating was the morning after driving 3hrs up and 3hrs back for a ski trip after a snow storm. So, something to do with the cold =p.
Any change it could be some type of failure in the radiator or suchlike?
Thank you for the reply!
#4 of 41 Re: 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback overheating [rylandw]
May 22, 2009 (2:47 pm)
Some quick responses....
1. Yes, you can have head gasket problems that are not apparent as a result of a compression test. It really all depends on the nature and severity of the problem. My car did not register poor compression in any cylinder that would alert me of a gasket issue, but I was getting compression gases in my overflow tank. I did not have overheating issues as a result of head gasket failure, but at 192,000 miles, I decided it was time to replace them anyway; it was only a matter of time before overheating ensued.
2. Yes, it could be a failure in the radiator. You can, however, have it flow tested to determine whether that is a problem.
May 26, 2009 (12:45 pm)
Don't forget to check that as well.
My 93 Miata was running hot and I spent nearly a grand on a new water pump, hoses, timing belt, etc.
Then it still ran hot.
Needed a new thermostat, then it was fine. Makes me wonder if I really needed to replace the water pump, actually.
#6 of 41 99 Subaru Outback overheating 2.5 ltr
Aug 15, 2009 (10:44 pm)
Ok, A little history report. I bought this car about a month ago. The previous guy said he overheated the car and it was blowing white smoke. He said he put in the thermostat backwards(car didn't start up). I bought the car for a good price knowing I would need to replace head gaskets, etc. I replaced the head gaskets/shaved the heads, and even had a compression test on the heads done once they were off(very expensive, i recommend buying the tool and doing it yourself before taking engine apart). I put everything back together and made sure the thermostat was facing the right way etc.
The car started up great and sounded very good. I let it idle for awhile and it stayed cold for about 5 or more minutes(i was worried). I shut the car off and turned it back on, this time it showed the temperature was starting to get warm. I was relieved thinking that at least the temp sensor is working and i let the car run for awhile. The car's temp gauge was in the middle and it was fine. Later on i took the car on a test run, it was still blowing white smoke but stopped when i wasn't giving it any gas. The car ran like a dream, it was very smooth and nice. After a few minutes driving at higher speeds it started to warm up even more and got up near the H(hot) mark. It was close to that for about 10-15 seconds before i was able to pull over and shut the car off. I waited for about 15 minutes and started the car(since i only had a few blocks to get back home) and the car was running rough and missing. Now the check engine light came on(it didn't come on until after it got hot and i turned the car back on).
I ended up pushing it back home after an attempt to get it home but it just ran rough so i pulled back over. I let it sit for about 30-45 minutes before starting it to see if it was still idling rough, and it was.
I'm gonna check the thermostat soon and also see if the water pump has been leaking. Do u think that by overheating for that time period would call the head gaskets to blow? Also there wasn't any hot air blowing when i turned the heat on. The upper radiator hose was blazing hot and the lower radiator hose(on the thermostat) was cold.
Any help is appreciated.
Thanks in advance
#7 of 41 Re: 99 Subaru Outback overheating 2.5 ltr [mike120a]
Aug 17, 2009 (10:03 am)
Sounds like a bad water pump to me; especially if you just replaced the thermostat. I had my water pump fail on my '96 Outback and it had identical symptoms, though the engine never ran rough and it did NOT blow white smoke. If you have white smoke, then there is coolant getting into your exhaust. I assume you flushed out the old engine oil, etc., when you did the head work? If so, you may have a cracked block that is allowing coolant seepage.
When you have it torn apart again, you might also flush the radiator to ensure that you have good flow through there. I doubt it is clogged, but you never know. Also, these engines can sometimes be problematic about coolant refills and get air pockets trapped in the system. I always put my car up on ramps to set the vehicle at an incline while refilling. Once the coolant is full in the radiator, I would repeatedly squeeze the upper radiator hose to force fluid movement; this would always give me more bubbles and allow more space for fluid.
Good luck to you.
#8 of 41 overheating
Aug 18, 2009 (4:20 pm)
Thanks, that helps alot. U know when i put the radiator fluid in i didn't loosen this valve thing it has near the top radiator hose, so i think i did get an air pocket in it(won't do that again). It has new oil in it too. I will take your advice and check that water pump. Thanks again for your comment. Just finished reading your comment in the other post( i posted in a new thread to make sure i got a response. ) I will see if i can delete it instead.
#9 of 41 overheating
Aug 22, 2009 (8:52 pm)
Thanks again for your advice. It is good now, lots of air inside the system but not now. Everything works good.
Woohoo, i don't have to do a head job again.
#10 of 41 Re: overheating [mike120a]
Aug 23, 2009 (11:40 pm)
That's great! I will have to remember that condition and not jump right to the water pump as the most likely source. I remember that one very well, though, due to the conditions under which mine failed (it was 2am on a Sunday morning and a little more than 20-degrees below zero F).