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Old 10-23-2001, 04:00 PM   #1
Jon Bogert
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Question Unusual coolant expansion issue

I was at the track last Friday and something strange happened. I pulled into the pits and smelled coolant, popped the hood and the overflow tank was full to the very top with coolant oozing out around the cap.

The car was not overheating. After I shut down, I popped the radiator cap, and other than a little hiss it was fine. So I slurp a little coolant out with a bulb, go back out and drive the rest of the day with no further issues.

Once the car cooled off completely overnight, I noticed that the coolant level is now below the minimum line.

So what's going on? Is there such a thing as coolant that doesn't expand and contract so much? Or is this the sign of something else wrong?
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Old 10-23-2001, 04:07 PM   #2
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Sounds like the first signs of air getting into the coolant system, Jon. This is the typical symptom of....

BAD HEAD GASKET


Hopefully I'm wrong, but this is how it starts out.

Steve
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Old 10-23-2001, 04:12 PM   #3
Jon Bogert
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Ruh roh! I'll get it checked out. Thanks.

Edit: Bert said he'll do a leakdown test so we can see what's what. Given that it's been 6 months and 6,000 miles since the turbo install, I'm probably due for my checkup anyway.
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Old 10-23-2001, 05:34 PM   #4
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I'll second the blown head gasket issue; wac had the same thing happen to his car twice. He drove on it for awhile as the problem only manifested itself after prolonged boost. I'm sure he'll chime in with more data once he sees the post
Ryan
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Old 10-23-2001, 05:43 PM   #5
Jon Bogert
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With Steve's post to go on, I did a search and read a few threads. Of course, one guy who was sure he had a blown gasket just had a faulty radiator cap.

Certainly it's worth taking a look around inside the combustion chambers. But assuming it was just the gasket, are there better/stronger options than stock?

Or is it a foregone conclusion that if I blew the gasket I have much bigger problems?
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Old 10-23-2001, 06:48 PM   #6
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99% sure it's a blown head gasket. Possible theories - gasket wasn't designed for boost, warped heads, detonation, cylinder walls walking due to open-deck design, etc.

Easiest way to check is to pop the hood immediately after getting off the track, and look for air bubbles in the overflow tank. If bubbles continue to rise even with the engine off, then you had combustion gases entering the cooling system. As long as it doesn't happen on the street, you can continue driving the car (like I did for 6 months and 3 track events with a secondary coolant catch tank).

Next step: o-ringed heads.

-WaC
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Old 10-24-2001, 03:11 AM   #7
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Thumbs down

Unfortunately,

I have to concur with the guys. Being a victim of Blown Head Gaskets (twice) within 6 months, I would say it's only down-hill from here.

I've done (4) Trackdays, and Only (1) of them was without head gasket troubles. That one was my 3rd just after the gaskets were replaced under warranty before Turbo'd. On the Track it usually takes about 20-30 min. for the coolant reservoir to fill-up. After each session, I would unbolt the reservoir and pour it back into the radiator, works just fine. But I've also had to do the Extra tank to catch the overflow sometimes when the gaskets were getting progressively worse.

As for better gaskets, I've been checking on this for the last week. Depending on the outcome, I'll let you guys know how things went.

-Adam
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Old 10-24-2001, 01:23 PM   #8
poweraxel
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Default Re: Unusual coolant expansion issue

Most likely its a blown head gasket
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Old 10-24-2001, 02:07 PM   #9
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Yeah it's either a blown gasket or a stretch head bolt. Either way it's gotta come apart.

jeremy
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Old 10-24-2001, 02:58 PM   #10
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mcgyver, again assuming it's just the gasket, I'm very interested in upgrades. IIRC, I have an HKS head gasket on the Celica, I wonder if they make them for Subarus?

Let me know what you find.
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Old 10-24-2001, 03:39 PM   #11
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Any dealership will be able to test your coolant for Carbon Dioxide/monxoide level. A higher than normal level points to a blown head gasket.

Fitz
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Old 10-25-2001, 07:49 AM   #12
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Jon ~~ You can probably get someone to make a set of copper head gaskets. I took RalliSpec's advice and had the heads o-ringed so that I hopefully won't have a problem for quite a while. I've run the car for almost 13K miles with the heads o-ringed along with drag events, autox, and track events, and so far I haven't had a single problem. (RalliSpec actually had a machine shop mill and o-ring the heads. I can ask them who did it if you're interested.)

Steve
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Old 10-25-2001, 03:13 PM   #13
Jon Bogert
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Smile

Good news. I guess. There was no trace of CO in the coolant. Bert went and blasted around for 20 min before doing the test to try and simulate the stress of the track.

He also said a) there is no sign of burning coolant, b) there is no sign of aeration in the overflow tank.

So, I possibly have a very, very small breach in the gasket. Or, possibly the coolant level was very high and there was a bit of air in the system and that caused the overflow.

Anyway, if it happens again, I'll know. If it doesn't, I won't worry about it.
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Old 10-25-2001, 05:37 PM   #14
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Steve, is the O'ring on the head or on the block? Do you have a pic? Can you still use the same head gasket? OEM part I mean.

Sorry for OT Jon, hope nothing is wrong with your car.
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Old 10-25-2001, 08:43 PM   #15
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Jon ~~ I will say this, the coolant system in the 2.5L is a real PITA to get ALL the air out of. So hopefully it was just a hiccup of the system. Replace the radiator cap and make sure the thermostat is working properly. They're a lot easier and cheaper to replace compared to the head gaskets.

Boostup ~~ The heads were o-ringed. I'm using stock head gaskets (the 3-ply metal ones). I have a lot of pics on my site, but I don't have any of the o-ring job unfortunately.

Steve
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Old 10-26-2001, 06:53 AM   #16
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Thumbs up

Good to hear Jon!

Here's a sneak peak of what I got I'm off to Colorado right now for 5 days then Las Vegas for SEMA

When I return, if all goes well, I'll start a New Thread about my recent mods & findings, plus many more pics. Assuming some of you are interested

Later,
-Adam

Last edited by mcgyver; 10-26-2001 at 07:01 AM.
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Old 10-26-2001, 11:36 AM   #17
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Jon, my cammed car has experienced the same thing... exact same symptoms.

My head gaskets are not bad. What helps to belch all the air out of the coolant system is to flush & fill with the front end elevated as much as you can or dare to.

This helps immensely.
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Old 10-26-2001, 12:24 PM   #18
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kinda OT but mcgyver where did you get the head studs??

Jeremy
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Old 10-26-2001, 11:43 PM   #19
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ahem...*incoming newbie question alert*...yes..uh

what exactly is a blown head gasket and what causes this to occur?

thank you.

*newbie question over*
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Old 10-27-2001, 02:32 AM   #20
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a blown head gasket occurs when either the gasket between the cylinder head and block fails, or the cylinder head warps, or when a cylinder head bolt strecths under boost. This allows gases from the combustion chamber enter the water jacket around the cylinder therfore causing the coolant to seem like it's boiling over but it's really the exhaust gases escaping from the cooling system. It also will allow coolant into the combustion chamber if the leak gets bad enough.

jeremy
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Old 10-27-2001, 07:06 AM   #21
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Maybe a dumb statement:
I thought the Subaru head gaskets go around a water jacket, and since John's car is turbo'd, he has more positive pressure under boost pushing the coolant out of the engine (Some NA cars do this also = Pat Olsen). That is why the car does not burn any coolant (typical head gasket sign), it never gets to the combustion chamber. If that is what is happening, how could a compression test show anything if the gaskets is still sealed around the cylinders?

If the gasket broke around the cylinders, wouldn't the car be down on power because of a loss in compression? Bot Wayne's-OBS-T and Pat's-2.5l Stock) had plenty of power.

I guess Co would get into the coolant either way, since that air/gas is pushing the fluid, os if John has no CO in his coolant, that is a good sign.

I just don't get these Subarus. I need to look at a gasket one of these days and see where they break.

Paul G.
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Old 10-27-2001, 07:43 AM   #22
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I've had this happen on another car after running it very hard. I think I just had the overflow tank a little too full to begin with and then when it expanded from getting hotter than normal it went on the ground out of the overflow tank. Scared the crap out of me but it only happened once. Glad it wasn't a H gasket in your case.
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