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Old 01-08-2009, 12:42 PM   #1
JonM in MN
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Default PLEASE tell me this isn't a head gasket...!

Coolant leak that doesn't puddle on the floor. Replaced the radiator a few months ago. Temp gauge was all over the place, heater blew cold, then noticed the reservoir was empty, filled and is OK now....

129K on the clock. I can't spend 2K to fix this car.....

Anybody?
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Old 01-08-2009, 05:28 PM   #2
mikeythejew
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Originally Posted by JonM in MN View Post
Coolant leak that doesn't puddle on the floor. Replaced the radiator a few months ago. Temp gauge was all over the place, heater blew cold, then noticed the reservoir was empty, filled and is OK now....

129K on the clock. I can't spend 2K to fix this car.....

Anybody?
With what your describing, it would be wrong for anyone to tell you it's not a head gasket. You need to have it looked at ASAP. And don't be one of those guys who is just wanting to hear the cheap & easy answer your wishing for in this forum. I do know if it is a head gasket and you continue to put it off and drive your car, you may only make things worse. Getting coolant in your oil is no good for the life of the bearings. Driving around being low on coolant and having no heat is a good way to warp your cylinder heads.. .

Again, get it looked at. If you cant afford to get it fixed, why are you driving a WRX instead of a neon?
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Old 01-12-2009, 12:10 PM   #3
JonM in MN
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Originally Posted by mikeythejew View Post
With what your describing, it would be wrong for anyone to tell you it's not a head gasket. You need to have it looked at ASAP. And don't be one of those guys who is just wanting to hear the cheap & easy answer your wishing for in this forum. I do know if it is a head gasket and you continue to put it off and drive your car, you may only make things worse. Getting coolant in your oil is no good for the life of the bearings. Driving around being low on coolant and having no heat is a good way to warp your cylinder heads.. .

Again, get it looked at. If you cant afford to get it fixed, why are you driving a WRX instead of a neon?
Never said I couldn't afford it. In fact, I could afford a new 135i or STI if I wanted one right now. My point is -- and I apologize for not making this clear --- spending $2500 on a car worth 8-9K isn't something I felt was wise. And I love the car and didn't want to give up on it.

The upshot of this is --- it's not the head gasket. My local guy sold me a non-OEM radiator last time and that's the problem. To compound things, he was the one that said I needed the head gasket, to fix the problem HE created. I'll be having a, uh, discussion with him in the future. And money will be changing hands.

My Subaru dealer will be putting a new OEM radiator and thermostat in it Thursday, and everything else is A-OK. I'm happy the problem isn't with the car, per se, but with the bad part. And I'm happy my Stage 2 setup isn't to blame either, something my local guy implied. Bastard.

Last edited by JonM in MN; 01-12-2009 at 12:18 PM.
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Old 01-12-2009, 01:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonM in MN View Post
My local guy sold me a non-OEM radiator last time and that's the problem. To compound things, he was the one that said I needed the head gasket, to fix the problem HE created. I'll be having a, uh, discussion with him in the future. And money will be changing hands.

My Subaru dealer will be putting a new OEM radiator and thermostat in it Thursday, and everything else is A-OK. I'm happy the problem isn't with the car, per se, but with the bad part. And I'm happy my Stage 2 setup isn't to blame either, something my local guy implied. Bastard.
Subaru OEM radiators are crap, at least any of the ones with the plastic end tanks. (do they still use that garbage on current models?) I highly doubt it is the radiator. All the radiator does is cool your coolant. it needs a couple hoses, and as long as it doesn't leak, it is fine.

what is much more likely is that the mechanic didn't know how to burb a subaru cooling system. it is a pretty specific task and NEEDS to be done correctly to avoid the issues you are having. Because of that, the car overheated, probably bad enough to warp the heads. It is possible you need not only a head gasket, but also resurfacing. Reason the radiator itself won't fix it is that you have an internal coolant leak somewhere. Doesn't matter what you do with the radiator, it won't change that fact.
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Old 01-12-2009, 01:45 PM   #5
JonM in MN
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Subaru OEM radiators are crap, at least any of the ones with the plastic end tanks. (do they still use that garbage on current models?) I highly doubt it is the radiator. All the radiator does is cool your coolant. it needs a couple hoses, and as long as it doesn't leak, it is fine.

what is much more likely is that the mechanic didn't know how to burb a subaru cooling system. it is a pretty specific task and NEEDS to be done correctly to avoid the issues you are having. Because of that, the car overheated, probably bad enough to warp the heads. It is possible you need not only a head gasket, but also resurfacing. Reason the radiator itself won't fix it is that you have an internal coolant leak somewhere. Doesn't matter what you do with the radiator, it won't change that fact.
Well, I hope that's not true that my car overheated and will need resurfacing. I asked my dealer about that and they found no signs of it. My temp gauge was all over the place but it appears my car didn't actually overheat. It would go way up, then immediately come way down, obviously the car can't cool that fast.
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Old 01-13-2009, 08:03 AM   #6
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^^^^ Sure sounds like an air pocket that moves to the T-stat, preventing it from opening. Then the air moves, the T-stat pops open and your temp gauge drops like a rock.

The damage to your head(s) from overheating is already done at that point.

Sorry.
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Old 01-19-2009, 11:48 AM   #7
JonM in MN
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For the record --- my dealer, Morrie's Subaru in Brooklyn Park MN --- has fixed the problem and they are SURE my car didn't overheat and that no other damage occurred. I have my new radiator/themostat/hoses and all is well.

I have to say, I'm greatly relieved this hasn't been a Subaru problem (in that it was an aftermarket part/install that failed, and kept failing) or a Stage 2 setup problem.

The car is back to running well in EVERY way. Hope to keep her another 100K miles!
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:44 PM   #8
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^^^^ Sure sounds like an air pocket that moves to the T-stat, preventing it from opening. Then the air moves, the T-stat pops open and your temp gauge drops like a rock.

The damage to your head(s) from overheating is already done at that point.

Sorry.
I have a leak that is so bad that the radiator is basically empty in 15 minutes...
My mechanic has pressure tested it and could not find a leak.
There is not oil in the coolant or coolant in the oil.
There is no steam or water dripping from exaust and the plugs look normal.

I have don't think its the heater system because I never feel steam or moisture.

I am at a loss. Anyone have any ideas?


At first it took months for the radiator to run dry. I took it in and the mechanic couldn't find the leak. But over time it got worse and worse to the point where it is today.

I am sure I warped the heads the car has overheated many times.

I just don't want to tear down to have the heads resurfaced and new head gaskets on to find out its something elce.

Gene
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Old 01-22-2009, 07:53 PM   #9
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You know, what your describing is practically impossible. If you aint burning it, you aint dripping it, where is it going? 15 minutes to drain 2 gallons of liquid, is a lot. Even boiling water for 15 minutes doesnt evaporate 2 gallons. You have a major leak, I suggest you find it. A pressure test on a cold engine may not reveil a problem.
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Old 01-23-2009, 11:40 AM   #10
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Sometimes mechanics just don't want to do the job. I have a car that clearly leaks oil - you can see it - yet the dealership says the pressure test showed no leak. Years ago I had one that leaked coolant and I got the same answer from the dealership - no leak. Finally I found a mechanic that cared enough to tell me that my freeze plug was leaking because the block was damaged.

Get a second opinion.
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Old 01-27-2009, 01:48 AM   #11
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things to check if you have a bad head gasket:

-check for coolant in the oil (oil will be a milky white)
-check for oil in the coolant (the oil will float)
-start the car with the radatior cap off, if coolant gushes out, or you see bubbles of exhaust, you have a bad head gasket.
-pressurize the coolant system (you can rent a coolant system pressure tester from autozone). If it holds pressure, chances are your headgasket is fine, and you have an air bubble.
-compression check. A compression tester can be rented from autozone. check all the cylinders, and if the variance is low (within 10% as a rule of thumb), everything is ok. If you have one cylinder that is really different from the rest, you may have a bad head gasket, or bad head.
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Old 01-28-2009, 07:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacon117 View Post
things to check if you have a bad head gasket:

-check for coolant in the oil (oil will be a milky white)
-check for oil in the coolant (the oil will float)
I just had a head gasket replaced due to coolant loss but my oil looked fine. Is that normal?
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Old 01-28-2009, 10:16 PM   #13
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possible. And not unlikely.
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Old 01-29-2009, 04:25 PM   #14
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I just had a head gasket replaced due to coolant loss but my oil looked fine. Is that normal?
Yes, the head gasket handles coolant, oil, and combustion gases. Depending on where the head gasket fails, you could get any number of strange issues. This is one reason a head gasket is very difficult to diagnose. If you just had it replaced, I would take it back and say, "yo, my car still sucks"
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