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Old 02-04-2008, 06:22 AM   #1
C o l i n
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Default 2004 TS: Overheating Problem

2004 TS Wagon
64,000 miles (has not yet had it's 60k mi service)
Upper rad hose is HOT
Lower rad hose is COLD

On a trip back from Mammoth this morning the car began to overheat, needle hit about 3/4 to the red, normal is just barely over 1/2. It was pretty cold up there, and raining a little. Ambient temp I would guess to be in the 40's. We pulled over and noticed the coolant reservoir was full and had obviously overflowed a bit. Waited for the engine to cool and saw that ALL of the coolant in the overflow reservoir had been sucked back into the radiator. Topped the radiator off and kept going.

The car continued to overheat, but I could keep it at a normal level by running the heater full blast. We made it to my folk's house and changed the thermostat. In the garage the car ran fine, up to operating temp, fans came on and I held the engine at 2-3k for a few minutes and the temp was normal. We tested the old thermostat and it opened a bit late... somewhere around 185deg opposed to the 170 it's supposed to be. But it did open the whole way.

Car ran fine for about 30min then started to overheat again. Turned the heater on and it was OK for another 20min. But after that the temp just kept climbing. At 3/4 of the way up I decided I didn't want to risk it anymore and had the car towed. I drove the car for 3-4 hrs today during all this BS and it seems to react strangely. I can't seem to predict the temp changes based on vehicle speed, ambient temperature, engine speed, or engine load.

So far my options are:

1) Radiator cap (I've never seen a bad one before, but it's cheap, so I guess I should try it)

2) Water Pump (I really hope this isn't it, cause the car is WAY too new for something like that to fail... and cause a timing belt, tensioner and water pump install is gonna be pricy as I may not have time to do the work myself)

3) Head Gasket (This is worst case scenario, and I am hoping dearly this is not the problem)


Sorry for the long post, but I've had a really long day, and I'm hoping that the more info I give, the easier it will be for someone to help. So if anyone has any experience or suggestions, i would greatly appreciate it

-colin
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Old 02-04-2008, 10:28 AM   #2
LTracer
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Sounds like a 'stuck' thermostat, same thing happened to my '05 RS last year. The thermostat's function is to keep coolant in the motor upon initial startup (versus circulating throughout the cooling system, radiator, etc) so the motor warms up quicker. Once it warms up the thermostat opens allowing the system to flow freely and function as a normal cooling system. If it doesn't open correctly because it's either A) Shot or B) randomly stuck (which happened once to be about 10k ago) the coolant will not flow through the radiator and thus retain heat... you get the idea. It's worth checking into at the very least...
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Old 02-04-2008, 10:29 AM   #3
Subyroo2.5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LTracer View Post
Sounds like a 'stuck' thermostat, same thing happened to my '05 RS last year. The thermostat's function is to keep coolant in the motor upon initial startup (versus circulating throughout the cooling system, radiator, etc) so the motor warms up quicker. Once it warms up the thermostat opens allowing the system to flow freely and function as a normal cooling system. If it doesn't open correctly because it's either A) Shot or B) randomly stuck (which happened once to be about 10k ago) the coolant will not flow through the radiator and thus retain heat... you get the idea. It's worth checking into at the very least...

He said he already changed the thermostat.
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Old 02-04-2008, 10:40 AM   #4
LTracer
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Thats what I get for reading too fast. If thats done I'd try flushing the coolant system completely (which you might have already done while changing the thermostat-maybe air in system???) and if that doesn't solve it have your coolant tested for exhaust gases (cheaper than total head gasket replacement)... can't think of anything beyond that aside from the pricier options.

Also, is there any coolant in the oil / oil in the coolant?

Last edited by LTracer; 02-04-2008 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 02-04-2008, 10:55 AM   #5
jeisen
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who dat be dat was?

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My friend had a bad radiator cap on his RS. Caused a similar problem. I don't know if that is what it is, but it's a possibility.
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Old 02-04-2008, 11:38 AM   #6
Tim Sanderson
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Did you put a t-stat with a jiggle pin in it or not?
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Old 02-04-2008, 12:59 PM   #7
salisburyv
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somthin special is comin

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Its most likely an internal head gasket failure. test for combustion gases in the coolant. Thats the test, if yes.... There is your answer, internal headgasket failure. Not un common. A thermostat is never usually the culprit. The subaru thermostat,even when closed allows a small amount of coolant by... . Good luck
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Old 02-04-2008, 01:17 PM   #8
C o l i n
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There was no noticeable mixing of coolant / oil, but that still doesn't rule that one out.

Yes, the thermostat has a jiggle pin.

I guess I'll replace the cap and see what happens. Unfortunately due to work, the car not being where I am located, and the fact that I'm going to be out of town for the next 2 weekends makes this difficult - I basically have no time to troubleshoot.

Is there any special trick to getting air out of the cooling system? I've done plenty of work on cars and just did what I've done on every car in the past and never had any problems. Also, my brother, who recently swapped an EJ25 into his 94 L Wagon flushed his coolant just like we did. (Basically fill it up, warm up the vehicle so that the thermostat is open and coolant is flowing, top off radiator if necessary).

So far this is looking about like what I thought, I've already done the troubleshooting I can do, short of replacing the cap and testing it out. Next is to have an actual shop test the coolant... This sucks.
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Old 02-07-2008, 12:59 PM   #9
salisburyv
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somthin special is comin

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the trick is to top off radiator, install cap. Top off reservoir and leave cap off and let vehicle run for about 20 mins, occaisonally squeezing the top hose to help the process along...
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Old 02-07-2008, 10:09 PM   #10
C o l i n
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We didn't squeeze the top hose, but we did let the car warm up w/ the cap off in order to allow time for the thermostat to open and circulate the coolant and hopefully flush out any air bubbles. The car did not overheat when we were testing it out in the garage. We got it good and warm then ran it at 2-3k for a few minutes until the fans went on, temp held perfectly at normal operating temp. Didn't overheat again till 35min of driving....
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Old 02-11-2008, 10:04 PM   #11
subisnack
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Default Overheating 2005 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS

I had a very similar problem this past weekend on my way up to the mountains. The overheating problem you described was remarkably similar to what I experienced. A diagnostic revealed that the radiator is fine, but a block check showed the presence of CO in the cooling system, which likely means a blown head gasket. Since this is still covered under the five year powertrain, the dealer said they would replace it under warranty. I'll take it there tomorrow. I'm not sure how that will go, but I'm hoping they don't give me any heat--no pun intended. Best of luck resolving the issue.
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Old 02-11-2008, 10:49 PM   #12
michael53
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Default thermo open problem

Just a possibility here on that overheat problem . If the thermostat will not open consistantly in the car but tests ok I have had a kinked heater hose do that and a restriction any where in the heater coolant lines could do it too . If all else fails try joining the heater hoses together and it might fix it ... Michael
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Old 02-12-2008, 12:21 AM   #13
C o l i n
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Default

subisnack: I'm not familiar w/ the warranty for these cars (i did not buy it new). Is there a mileage stipulation as well? My car is only 4yrs old, but has 64k miles.

michael53: the car is 100% stock and I have not done any work on it recently, I don't see how it could be possible for there to be a kink in any of the hoses. Something blocking it? Maybe, but a car this new which has never had any problems? How does a hose get clogged all of a sudden?

Joining the heater hoses together? Do you mean rigging it so that coolant doesn't flow to the heater? I already know that the coolant flows fine into the heater core as I was able to use that as my radiator to keep the temp down for quite some time.
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Old 02-12-2008, 12:40 AM   #14
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Collin ,The reason I suggested the heater and I know it is not likely in a car of the age of yours but the return pipe from the heater goes straight onto the thermostat and is mostly responsible for opening it . I have had the problem before . Good luck
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Old 02-12-2008, 12:58 AM   #15
C o l i n
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Default

Interesting point about the location. I was a bit surprised to see the location of the thermostat, I've never seen one in that location.

So, the heater hose which goes into the thermostat housing, that is the return line from the heater core?
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Old 02-12-2008, 01:14 AM   #16
michael53
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Yes that is right collin . In some models there are other bypass circuits as well but the heater return is the main one and the thermostat ( being at the bottom) needs to get the hot water from the top to tell it to open
The symptoms of a problem there are just as you describe and your heater will still work Michael
Just noticed that you said the thermostat housing . the return is the higher one in the side of the pump. It feeds directly onto the sensor of the thermostat unles they have changed them in the last couple of years M

Last edited by michael53; 02-12-2008 at 01:22 AM.
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Old 02-12-2008, 01:43 AM   #17
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The heater return gues to the side of the water pump collin just above the thermostat housing and directly onto the sensor side of the thermostat . It is just the proximity that makes it a suspect michael
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Old 02-12-2008, 05:39 PM   #18
subisnack
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Default Response to the Warranty Question

The powertrain warranty is 5 year or 60K. I just got off the phone with the dealer and it is a head gasket failure and they are going to replace it for no charge as the vehicle is still under warranty. My friend with a 2000 Subaru Outback just had a head gasket replacement and the cost was in the $700-800 range at his service shop. (I was expecting a higher cost than that). The more Subaru owners I talk to the more I am discovering that this is a common problem. I understand your frustration as I'm sure you purchased the car to take on trips to the mountains. I hope you are able to resolve this without too much hassle. Best of luck to you.
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Old 02-13-2008, 11:36 AM   #19
C o l i n
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Thanks everyone. Although now I'm starting to fear for the worse. Still haven't had time to even take a look at the car due to my busy work schedule and being out of town... And tomorrow I'm flying to Maui for the weekend to attend a friend's wedding. Looks like this is going to get put off even longer
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Old 02-17-2008, 11:10 PM   #20
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I'm having nearly the same problem as you are right now. I'm bringing the car into subaru on tuesday to have it looked at.

The car started to overheat a month or two ago. I didnt notice it until I was sitting in a driveway. So I just revved the engine for a few seconds and it cooled down. I was a little low on fluid so I filled it up. Then the car didnt overheat for a month or so.

Then I noticed it was overheating after being on the thruway for about 30 mins. I popped the hood and saw the reservoir was totally full as if no coolant was being pumped through the system. I let it cool down for a few minutes, started it up and it went back to normal. It never really overheats when I'm doing non-highway driving as of late. I really can't find anything consistant with the overheating. Except mabey the last day of highway driving.

I have noticed there has been a bit of coolant leakage in the engine. Though not enough to spill out onto the ground and not enough to warrant continually filling up the radiator. I pulled out the dipstick and didnt see any coolant on that. The coolant fluid does look a bit darker than normal, but not as if it's flooded with oil. But honestly I wouldn't be able to tell the difference if it did have oil in it.

The thermostat is always the first thing looked at and I really hope that is the problem.
What are the chances that this is a head gasket problem?

I have a 2004 TS with 140K miles on it. I drive it constantly for work.
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Old 02-18-2008, 06:17 PM   #21
C o l i n
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Sampson: I did a good deal of searching before I made this post. And so far this post hasn't told me anything that any previous thread has mentioned. So it looks like all the available info is out there, and unfortunatley not very helpful as of yet.

Obviously you can test / inspect and/or replace a handful of stuff to do some troubleshooting (cap, thermostat, water pump...) but after all that it looks like you'd probably need a mechanic to look at it. I'm just pissed cause normally I would do all this diagnostic and repair myself, but have no place to work on the car nor the time to do so

In my situation it's looking more and more like a headgasket, looking at all the specifics so far, it doesn't make much sense for it to be anything else. But a head gasket failure at 60k miles!?! This makes me SERIOUSLY question Subaru's quality. Head gaskets are not some new fandangled thing that still has bugs to work out, these things should be bulletproof by now.

Maybe Honda isn't a very good comparison, but before switching to a Subaru I had owned only Hondas and it seemed nearly impossible to blow a headgasket on one of them (b series motors specifically). Out of all the boards I was on, I never met anyone who actually had one fail or knew someone who had one fail (with the exception of extremely modified purpose built race cars, usually FI drag vehicles). Occassionally you'd see a post about a blown head gasket, but I suspect that a majority of those problems were actually other issues which had been misdiagnosed. And in any case where it was truly a headgasket that failed it seems that the headgasket failed as a result of a larger problem.
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