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Old 02-16-2004, 04:28 PM   #1
Unabomber
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Exclamation Cooling System FAQ: Read if you want coolant information!

Coolant System FAQ

What type of coolant should I run in my car? You can never go wrong by using Genuine Subaru Coolant available through your local dealer.

Is the Subaru coolant pre-mixed or not? They have both kinds, but BE SURE to read the labels carefully as they are nearly identical in appearance except the wording on the package!

What aftermarket coolant can I use? This was detailed in the May 2005 issue of End Wrench which is no longer online, but paraphrased here. When adding, replacing or servicing the cooling system always use Genuine Subaru Long Life Coolant. Genuine Subaru Long Life Coolant is a phosphate (non-amine) type and is specially formulated for all Subaru vehicles equipped with aluminum engines and radiators. Coolant of other types may not provide the proper protection to aid against corrosion of aluminum parts. If an equivalent must be used, make sure it is a phosphate (non-amine) type. As a reminder, use of Genuine Subaru Long Life Coolant is mandatory on all repairs paid for by Subaru of America, Inc. that require the replenishment of coolant. This holds true for any claim type. Whenever the coolant is changed, you must add Genuine Subaru Cooling System Conditioner. Genuine Subaru Cooling System Conditioner has been tested and approved for aluminum engines and radiators. Do not use after-market coolant reinforcement agents, sealers and/or flushing agents as those chemicals could corrode aluminum parts.

Is there a required coolant additive? Yes. Subaru Cooling System Conditioner has recently been required to be added with every coolant replacement to prevent coolant system leaks. This recommendation applies to every Subaru model for every model year.

What is the best coolant? The "best" coolant differs from stock SOA advice, so use at your own discretion. Ensure you choose one that contains no silicates and no phosphates. Silicates act as a cleaner, but also eat away at water pumps and seals. If you mix a coolant containing phosphates and water with a high mineral content, the phosphates in the coolant may “drop out” and form deposits in your cooling system that can lead to corrosion. Only recently have aftermarket coolant manufacturers started producing silicate and phosphate free coolant. Generally speaking, the types of coolant that are compliant are the newer "extended life" coolants. However, you should carefully review the product labels and/or product websites to ensure they are silicate/phosphate free.

What is the best coolant ver 2.0? As far as the best coolant for removing heat from your engine, it would be 100% water. You might even see better heat removal capability if there is a coolant additive mixed with it. Obviously, 100% water should be used in racing only applications and only by advanced users. Its use in a normal passenger car is NOT recommended even for short use. Water has a very high heat capacity. The reason it is mixed with ethylene or propylene glycol is to lower the freezing point below 32F and raise the boiling point above 212F. Both water and ethylene or propylene glycol are essential to the coolant's function.

Can I use the new blue colored Subaru Super Coolant in my pre 2008 Subaru? Yes. You can use the Subaru Super Coolant in engines prior to 2008 that came with the SLLC (AKA OEM green stuff) but you have to follow the maintenance intervals of the SLLC (every 30,000 miles). If the vehicle's coolant is flushed using the Wynn's PowerFlush III machine (the only flush machine authorized by SOA), then you can change the coolant every 6/75k miles. The old and new fluids are compatible with each other, so you could top off the old green with the new blue. However, topping off the new blue with the old green is not recommended as you'd then fall under the older 30,000 mile replacement schedule unless you get your system flushed as above at a later date.

What types of coolants are available? Ethylene glycol (EG) and propylene glycol (PG). PG is a newer coolant and can either be marketed as one of the new "long life" coolants or "environmentally friendly" coolants. Performance characteristics between the two types are fairly close, so either would be fine for use. PG coolants could be considered to have a "slight edge" based on comparative data though.

What about coolant enhancers? Coolant enhancers are made by several different companies and have several different uses. The main use is to provide increase surfactant action of the water/coolant mix. Surfactants allow a better contact between the coolant and the engine wall surface, which aids in the heat exchange process. Enhancers are fairly inexpensive, and may bring down the temperature a few degrees. These products tend to overstate their claims though. Actual temperature reductions are significantly less when used with coolants. They often advertise "minus XX degrees" on their packaging, when in fact these figures come from using straight water instead of coolant. When used with coolant, temperature reduction of enhancers is greatly reduced. Popular manufacturers include:

Neo Synthetics' Keep Cool
Royal Purple's Purple Ice
hy-per lube's Super Coolant
Red Line Oil's Water Wetter

Should I use tap water, deionized water, or distilled water when mixing? Best waters to use are in this order:
1. Deionized water
2. Distilled water
3. Tap water

Never use straight deionized water in a cooling system, as it by itself, it is VERY corrosive and caustic.

Are there any advanced coolants? Evans and Engine Ice could be considered advanced. These should only be used after considerable research on the pros and cons of each fluid.

What about the freezing point of my coolant and the proper mix ratio? With a 50/50 ratio (Subaru recommended) of coolant to water -37 C / -35 F is the freezing point. Different coolants using different ratios will result in different freeze protection levels. Check the coolant product label for specific information as each coolant manufacturer utilizes additives that can affect freeze temperatures. If you live in an area where temperatures may go below these values, check with your Subaru service center for their recommendations on coolant dilution ratios.

What about coolant colors? Currently, there is no color standard. This means that if you have green coolant in your radiator, you should not necessarily buy green coolant to top off your radiator. In this situation, you can do two things if you do not know the specific coolant type:
1. Use a multi-compatible coolant. Some manufacturers have coolants that will work with many varieties of coolants. These products should also be silicate and phosphate free. Carefully read the manufacturer's label for these details prior to purchasing.
2. Perform an engine flush and replace with new coolant. Note coolant manufacturer and type for future reference.

Are there compatibility issues with coolants? Yes. Some coolants are not designed to be used with other types. Ensure you read the product label for compatibility.

What about higher pressure radiator caps? Higher pressure radiator caps increase the boiling point of your coolant. Higher pressure = higher boiling point. Higher coolant pressures also transfer heat from the cylinder heads more efficiently. There have been several reported cases of higher pressure radiator caps causing ruptures in the endtanks on any OEM Subaru radiator. These should generally be reserved for aftermarket radiator users.

What about decreasing the temperature rating of the thermostat? These are generally not needed by the average or above average user. These are more for advanced users with greater cooling requirements due to racing applications or highly modified vehicles. When you get to this point, you will find the shortcomings of the OEM cooling system and will determine which thermostat best suits your needs. This link and this link provide lot of good information on switching to a cooler thermostat. Many also consider this to be a reliability modificiation even on a stock vehicle.

What about aftermarket radiators? These are generally not needed by the average or above average user. These are more for advanced users with greater cooling requirements due to racing applications or highly modified vehicles. When you get to this point, you will find the shortcomings of the OEM cooling system and will determine which radiator best suits your needs. They are a great upgrade for the weak plastic end tank equipped OEM radiator though, so if OEM failure occurs, an aftermarket unit is worth looking into. Popular manufacturers include:

ARC
Blitz
C&R
Fluidyne
Gimmick Motorsports
Griffin
Koyo
Mishimoto
PWR

What about aftermarket or "slim" fans? Just say no. Always use OEM fans as aftermarket fans usually negate the good effects of an aftermarket radiator. This thread shows the basics of stock fans = good, aftermarket fans = bad.

How often should I change my coolant? Refer to and use the maintenance schedule in your owner's manual for Subaru coolant. For other coolant, refer to the coolant manufacturer's recommendation.

How do I replace my coolant?



Page 4 of this Subaru .pdf document also provides coolant replacement tips.
This webpage details coolant swaps, and radiator and thermostat swaps that may be helpful.
This link also has a step by step fluid replacement guide.

Any tips on avoiding air pockets in the coolant system? This thread has some great tips.

What about a DIY coolant flush? There are generally three ways to perform this:
a. After the system is drained, many fill up the radiator with regular or distilled water alone. Then heat cycle, cool, and drain.
b. After the system is drained, fill up the radiator with a "radiator flush" product and water. Then heat cycle, cool, and drain, and then run clear water through to wash out any traces of the product.
c. After the system is drained, fill up the radiator with a 50/50 ratio of white distilled vinegar and water. Then heat cycle, cool, drain, and then run clear water through to wash out the vinegar. The vinegar is acidic enough to remove any scale or impurities, but not harsh enough to harm your seals and gaskets. Many users believe this type of flush to be gentler than commercially obtainable "radiator flush" products.

Flushes as described above should only be performed by advanced users.

Should I perform a coolant flush? Not needed at all and in fact SOA recommends against it according to this TSB. However in a later TSB, 01-166-08, says "Subaru of America, Inc. is proud to announce the approval of the Wynn's PowerFlush III coolant exchange machine. The PowerFlush III was chosen for it's three separate tanks that allow the ability to perform a clean water flush of the cooling system in Subaru vehicles. A clean water flush is possible by filling one tank with fresh water, one tank with new coolant and one tank used for removed liquids." Other machine can/do re-use fluids and as discussed above mixing fluids is a bad thing. So....if you want a machine flush, ensure the shop has a Wynn PowerFlush III, otherwise just say no.

What about topping off my system? Don't sweat it. Just add water and be done with it as the minor amount of water you add isn't enough to dilute your overall coolant capacity enough to change much. If you are super worried anyway, you could top it off with pre-mixed coolant, but that's a little on the "it puts the lotion in the basket" side. And if you think you need to add .1 ounces of Subaru Cooling System Conditioner when you top off...you might want to get a new tin foil hat.

Editors Note

This post was created because I wasn't able to find a good coolant FAQ. I came up with the text based on LOTS of searching here and the internet. Upon reading this you should have an idea of what type of coolant products best suit your needs.

If you find an error in this FAQ, please PM me with factual details and I will update this post. If you feel this post is missing an important or common coolant information item, let me know and I will research it and update this post.

Last edited by Unabomber; 06-24-2010 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 02-16-2004, 04:44 PM   #2
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You should add something about common problems like overheating. Usually air bubbles in the system. Some good techniques to refilling the coolant system

Remove the top radiator hose and directly fill the radiator

"burping" the hoses

Run the car without the radiator cap and put a spill-proof funnel on it, wait for the thermostat to open and the coolant level will drop and almost all of the air bubbles will be gone.

I do the last one and it's worked well for me, only one cycle for the thermostat to open and it's good to go.
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:43 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdxflex View Post
Run the car without the radiator cap and put a spill-proof funnel on it, wait for the thermostat to open and the coolant level will drop and almost all of the air bubbles will be gone.
I read thru this entire thread and didn't see anyone else mentioning using the "spill proof funnel" method for burping. This will make burping the system TONS easier. It takes any guesswork out of "are all the bubbles out?".
Made by Lisle part# 24610.

1.) Fill the system.
2.) Check plastic res. Have atleast half full to cover end of hose so it doesn't suck air.
3.) Attach spill proof funnel on the expansion tank (not the plastic reservoir). This is a sealed connection so it won't leak, the metal cap and corresponding plastic part to use on Subaru is the 2nd from top.
4.) Fill funnel about halfway.
5.) Start car, make sure heat is on.
6.) Run car till bubbles are gone and thermostat has cycled atleast once. Keep fluid level in funnel at to , it might drop a bit during process. You can help speed the process along by squeezing upper rad hose gently. This can take some time till your completely satisfied all air is out.
7.) Turn off car...place plunger in funnel.
8.) Remove funnel and replace factory cap to expansion tank.
9.) Put funnel in plastic res, pull plunger and fill to Full line.



kick me if this is common knowledge, I did check alot of threads and didn't see a write up on it.
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Old 02-16-2004, 05:25 PM   #4
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I don't know what the bottom line is on that Evans NPG stuff, but I do recall a few owners on these boards who use(d) it. Might be worth doing some searches and adding a word or two about it.

Joel
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Old 02-16-2004, 07:06 PM   #5
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I added some air pocket tips to the main post.

I researched the living daylights out of all coolants to include a few "weird ones" like Evans and Engine Ice. While both products may have their benefits, neither one has any substatial evidence to say they work. Test results on a chart done in a lab aren't proof enough in my opinion. If anyone is interested in propellor head coolants they can check out the links above.
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Old 02-17-2004, 07:04 PM   #6
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BTW: good luck trying to find a Silicate free antifreeze in an autoparts store.
Most companys have "low" silicate content such as Shell, Prestone, Zerex.etc.
low silicate a/f will be fine for our cars.
NEVER USE EXTENDED LIFE A/F IN OUR CARS!!!!..
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Old 02-17-2004, 07:42 PM   #7
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I just did a very short search for extended life coolant that works for our cars. My search lead me here, and after viewing the MSDS information on Valvoline's Zerex Extreme Life 5/150 Antifreeze Coolant, it is perfectly suitable for our cars. Please bring something to this FAQ other than opinions.
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Old 02-17-2004, 10:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Unabomber
I just did a very short search for extended life coolant that works for our cars. My search lead me here, and after viewing the MSDS information on Valvoline's Zerex Extreme Life 5/150 Antifreeze Coolant, it is perfectly suitable for our cars. Please bring something to this FAQ other than opinions.
I think what he meant was using a dex-cool based antifreeze, which is often labeled as an extended life coolant. There have been a few reports of it gumming up over time when mixed with non-dex cool coolant. The guys that run dex-cool did a complete flush with water until all of the green was gone after draining, before they put in the dex-cool stuff. The links were a while back though, they're probably hard to find.

Here's a couple:

http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show...hlight=dexcool
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show...hlight=dexcool

Last edited by tdxflex; 02-17-2004 at 10:32 PM.
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Old 02-17-2004, 10:47 PM   #9
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I see no mention of adding Genuine Subaru Cooling System Conditioner (P/N SOA635071) whenever the coolant is replaced.

See http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show...hreadid=488157 for a description of a Subaru Service Campaign to add this conditioner to certain early Phase II 2.5L engines (1999-2002). Although that Subaru Service Campaign only encompasses those vehicles mentioned above, Subaru has issued service manual and user manual updates for all recent vintage Subarus recommending the use of the conditioner to prevent leaks. For instance, an updated page for the 2004 Impreza may be viewed at http://techinfo.subaru.com/html/down...p?doc_id=43024.
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Old 02-18-2004, 12:29 AM   #10
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I've been looking into the new Peak global extended life antifreeze and they mention it has a "patented organic acid technology (OAT)." Is that any different from other PG extended-life coolants?
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Old 02-18-2004, 09:23 AM   #11
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Thank you for your great addition Jon! I updated the top post with the information and posted the new pdf in picture form above.

OAT is the the new additive active ingredient for extended life coolants. PG and EG coolants can have OAT added to make them extended life. PG and EG alone are not extended life. The OAT makes them extended life.

"Conventional antifreeze is formulated with inhibitors composed of neutralized inorganic acids, such as phosphates and silicates, to protect a cooling system against rust and corrosion. Over time, however, inorganic inhibitors deplete and may no longer provide maximum cooling system protection. This is why it is generally recommended that conventional coolants be changed every 2 years or 24,000 miles.

In contrast, OAT coolants are formulated with neutralized organic acids to form a highly effective corrosion inhibitor system that provides maximum cooling system protection. Organic inhibitors do not deplete as quickly as the inorganic inhibitors used in conventional coolants. This is why properly formulated OAT coolants are able to provide up to 150,000 miles or 5 years of cooling system protection between service intervals."

Last edited by Unabomber; 02-18-2004 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 02-18-2004, 12:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Unabomber
I just did a very short search for extended life coolant that works for our cars. My search lead me here, and after viewing the MSDS information on Valvoline's Zerex Extreme Life 5/150 Antifreeze Coolant, it is perfectly suitable for our cars. Please bring something to this FAQ other than opinions.
opinion? what you are the "man" when it comes to a/f? why the attitude?
you might want to read what you post.
that 5/150 a/f is good if your car never had traditional "green" a/f.. you cant just "drain" your car and throw that shiit in there..there is still a/f left over. I wouldnt use it. unless I had a brand new long block.
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Old 02-18-2004, 12:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by tdxflex
I think what he meant was using a dex-cool based antifreeze, which is often labeled as an extended life coolant. There have been a few reports of it gumming up over time when mixed with non-dex cool coolant. The guys that run dex-cool did a complete flush with water until all of the green was gone after draining, before they put in the dex-cool stuff. The links were a while back though, they're probably hard to find.

Here's a couple:

http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show...hlight=dexcool
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show...hlight=dexcool
correct you are sir
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Old 02-18-2004, 03:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by sidewayz
that 5/150 a/f is good if your car never had traditional "green" a/f.. you cant just "drain" your car and throw that shiit in there..there is still a/f left over. I wouldnt use it. unless I had a brand new long block.
So just because it's orange means it won't work on our cas that used to run green? It's NOT DEX-COOL but it is compatible.
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Old 02-18-2004, 04:17 PM   #15
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it says nothing on there that it is compatible with traditional "green" a/f
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Old 02-18-2004, 04:28 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by sidewayz
...you cant just "drain" your car and throw that stuff in there..there is still a/f left over. I wouldnt use it. unless I had a brand new long block.
While you have the right to do so, your recommendation is rather short-sighted. You have two distinct options in your scenario:

1. Engine flush via the methods in the top post and use whatever coolant you desire.
2. Use Peak Global Extended Life, which is 100% compatible for Subaru vehicles as well as 100% compatible with all other fluid types.

P.S. You have PM
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Old 02-18-2004, 04:33 PM   #17
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With regard to coolant colors. This is very tricky as currently there is no "standard" color coding system. There are colors that you can "associate" with different types of fluids, but one cannot be 100% sure that green fluid=type X fluid. This document shows the "color codes" for coolants, but also states caution as wear, manufacturer, and mixing of coolants can create color variations which add to the confusion. Also since there is currently no standard, a green coolant from Manufacturer "A" can be identical to a orange coolant from Manufacturer "B". When in doubt, do a full system flush and replace with one type/brand of coolant or choose a coolant with multiple compatibilty.

Last edited by Unabomber; 02-18-2004 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 02-19-2004, 08:42 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Unabomber
While you have the right to do so, your recommendation is rather short-sighted. You have two distinct options in your scenario:

1. Engine flush via the methods in the top post and use whatever coolant you desire.
2. Use Peak Global Extended Life, which is 100% compatible for Subaru vehicles as well as 100% compatible with all other fluid types.

P.S. You have PM
thanks for that info I might try this Peak stuff.
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Old 02-19-2004, 04:29 PM   #19
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One thing I can't seem to find the answer to on searches- do our cars use a gasket or sealant on the thermostat cover? I went to subaruparts.com and was unable to make out the diagram.
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Old 02-19-2004, 06:22 PM   #20
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WRX thermostat gasket part number 21236AA010

A Mid-A guy has one for sale on this thread. I hope this is what you are referring to, please check and make sure.
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Old 02-19-2004, 06:37 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Unabomber
WRX thermostat gasket part number 21236AA010

A Mid-A guy has one for sale on this thread. I hope this is what you are referring to, please check and make sure.
Thanks!
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Old 02-20-2004, 07:35 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by sidewayz
BTW: good luck trying to find a Silicate free antifreeze in an autoparts store.
Most companys have "low" silicate content such as Shell, Prestone, Zerex.etc.
low silicate a/f will be fine for our cars.
I bought Zerex phosphate and silicate free antifreeze and it came premixed with distilled water. I found it at AutoZone for 8.99 a gallon. The WRX with a manual tranny uses 8.1 quarts, so i bought 2 gallons and used a bottle of RedLine water wetter. It is also Dex-Cool compatable. Its the Pinkish/orange stuff!
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Old 02-21-2004, 12:16 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by sidewayz
BTW: good luck trying to find a Silicate free antifreeze in an autoparts store.
Most companys have "low" silicate content such as Shell, Prestone, Zerex.etc.
low silicate a/f will be fine for our cars.
NEVER USE EXTENDED LIFE A/F IN OUR CARS!!!!..
Why not use extended life coolant? I have used the Prestone and it is silicate and phosphate free.

With its unique patented silicate and phosphate-free formula, Prestone Quick Fill Extended Life 5/150 antifreeze/coolant offers extended performance and protection against rust and corrosion
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Old 02-22-2004, 06:47 PM   #24
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Ok, wait... On the WRX, you pour coolant straight into where the radiator cap goes? Not sure since i can't see any big hoses that lead to the radiator...
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Old 02-22-2004, 07:51 PM   #25
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Yes.
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