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Old 03-03-2001, 10:12 PM   #1
Patrick Olsen
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Unhappy Well, I think it's a blown head gasket after all.

The car seemed to be behaving just fine for the past couple days. Overheated bad on Wednesday, replaced the T-stat and radiator cap on Thursday, no problems. Today I finally had a chance to push the car hard and sure enough it puked coolant again. The temp gauge was holding steady, but I'm guessing if I had driven hard for a few more minutes it would have overheated again. When I pulled into my driveway and hopped out of the car I could see a trail of fluid following behind me on the street, and I could hear the coolant boiling over in the reservoir. Popped the hood and the reservoir was full and there was coolant all over the driver's side of the engine compartment.

I went back out and checked the car a couple of hours later and as the coolant contracted it sucked that full reservoir completely dry, so that gives you an idea of how much coolant I lost - probably a good 2 quarts of the 6.3qt capacity (I lost about 4qts Wednesday night and the car didn't self-destruct).

So now I have a big dilemma. If I'm going to be tearing the heads off anyway, should I just go ahead and do the Cobb heads and cams? Checking their website, the DOHC cams are still listed as TBA - guess I need to email them to find out what the deal is there. I could also see if they could install the cams on the heads for me and give me a package deal.

Hmmmm, 10.5:1 compression, ported heads, better cams, MRT exhaust, maybe a Cobb 64mm throttle body, some sort of modified intake....Of course, I just decide a couple of weeks ago not to buy a $2500 used turbo kit, and now I'm thinking about spending more than that on N/A stuff that won't give me as much power.

Oh, as long as I don't push the car hard I should be OK driving around with a leaking head gasket, right? I need to figure my options out and talk to the Subaru dealer about getting the car in to be fixed. I also need to take a look at whether or not I could do a head/cam swap myself. Comments/concerns much appreciated.

Pat Olsen
'97 Legacy 2.5GT sedan
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Old 03-04-2001, 04:04 AM   #2
tmat3
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I don't know if that's really the head gasket's fault. Check to see if oil is foamy because of water going into the engine, or if coolant is greasy and not so green.

I think your radiator, hose, or line is leaking because you claim that there is a trail of anti-freeze. As far as I know, a blown head gasket would cause the anti=freeze to go inside of the engine, not outside. My Accord had a blown head gasket and it leaked internally, and had an overheating problem.

The precise way to tell if the head gasket is gone or not is, to do a compression test. Also, any white smoke coming out of your exhaust at normal operating temperature?
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Old 03-04-2001, 05:05 AM   #3
bill harvey
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pat the cobbb tunnig dohc cams are on thiere way to me if you want we may be able to make a deal because well i will eventually get my turbo and i won't really need them. as far as them installing them in the heads the cams can't be in the heads when you put them on the short block. i tried that one too. oh and i already took care of the core charge so you could keep your stock cams pm if you would like to talk more about it
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Old 03-04-2001, 05:37 AM   #4
GoFaster
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Unhappy

Pat -

Sorry to hear about the overheating problem.
Some other ideas besides a blown head gasket, especially if you don't see foamy milky coloured oil, oily coolant or a sweet smell from the exhaust when the car overheated:

1. check belt tension to see if the water pump is slipping at sustained high RPMs
2. did you reverse flush the cooling system when you replaced the thermostat?
3. check for an air leak on the intake side of the cooling system. If air is being sucked in, the water pump might be cavitating.
4. as TMAT3 said above, perform a compression leakdown test. Also, inspect the plug and see if one (or more) looks very different than the others (like a lot cleaner).

I hope the overheating condition did not cause the head to warp

- Felix


[This message has been edited by GoFaster (edited March 04, 2001).]
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Old 03-04-2001, 08:44 AM   #5
Pilot
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Give up guys it is a blown headgasket. The gasket must be fried at one of the cylinder rings (and not bad either or the thing would be running on 3 cylinders). When that happens the symptoms are exactly as Pat describes. There will be no oil in the coolant, it will simply boil inside the coolant passages and cuas eth esystem to overflow. Some may come out the exhaust during start up, but when the engine is running there will little to no white smoke.

Pat,
I wouldn't run on that at all, the coolant will dilute the oil at some point and you will fry your bottom end. Also superheated coolant can eat aluminum heads and engine blocks requiring VERY costly repairs (I know from experience).
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Old 03-04-2001, 10:00 AM   #6
Patrick Olsen
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Felix does have some ideas worth looking into I think.

(1) The belts are probably all original - 60k on them, could be getting loose.

(2) I did not reverse flush the engine, and I didn't even open the block drains (didn't have a big enough hex to remove those big arse plugs). I just drained what I could from the radiator and the bottom of the water pump (when I actually removed the thermostat), then refilled it.

(3) Not sure how to check for a leak on the inlet side of the pump.

(4) I would imagine that's the first thing the dealership will do to confirm whether or not it is a blown/leaking head gasket.

tmat3 - I know the source of the coolant, it is coming out the top vent hole of the overflow reservoir. No doubt about that at all, the radiator and hoses are just fine, no leaks whatsoever.

Head gaskets can go in a variety of different ways, so the indications will be different depending on which part of the gasket is bad. When the head gasket(s) on my Mustang started leaking, the oil was perfectly fine, but I was blowing coolant out the overflow reservoir. I think it's the pressure in the cylinder pushing the coolant out of the coolant passages, forcing coolant out of the radiator into the reservoir until it overflows. The more the cylinder blows into the coolant passages, the less flow there is, the more the coolant overheats and boils, the more it expands, the more it overflows.

If this had happened a couple of weeks from now I'd be OK (the snow season would be over), but of course it had to happen now with this major storm expected tonight and tomorrow. Damn you, Murphy!! (obscure reference to Murphy's Law)

Pat
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Old 03-04-2001, 10:01 AM   #7
paultg
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Pat, I would not run the car either, and I would get a compression and leakdown test done ASAP. I know of another member who had this problem on his RS, and the dealer told him he could drive the car for 3 days while they waited for the parts to come in. I was very surprised, and would never do that. I am really stunned at how the boxer engine design can loose head gaskets and run so well. I guess the gasket(s) are broke around a water jacket only, and not between the cylinders. That must be why you have different symptoms than the normal foamy oil/antifreeze-oil mix along with loss of power and white smoke.
Also, it might only be one head gasket that is bad. Do both gaskets just because you should, and the engine was overheated.

I would have the heads sent out and magnafluxed to check for cracks and warping. If they are going to need machine work, I would say go for the Cobb stuff, but make sure he'll take your old ones as core. If the heads don't need any work, at least get the cams from Bill since the cams are coming out anyway.

Let us know how it goes.

Paul G.
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Old 03-04-2001, 10:12 AM   #8
SteveS
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Pat ~~ It still sounds EXACTLY like what happened on my turbo MY98 RS. Exactly. In my case it ended up being a leak on both cylinder #1 and cylinder #3. Examining the blown gaskets showed that the opening was on the 'bottom' of the cylinder, right near the water jackets galleys. You're just blowing air into the system displacing the coolant.

FWIW, I had RalliSpec o-ring my heads and reinstalled new factory gaskets (which seemed to be pretty decent). Hopefully I won't have this problem again.

Steve
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http://www.lagging.com/subaru/head_gasket/default.htm <-- pictures
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Old 03-04-2001, 04:14 PM   #9
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Pat that really sux I hope you can resolve this soon. I know driving the stang is not going to be an option tomorrow.

Dave
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Old 03-05-2001, 09:49 AM   #10
Patrick Olsen
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Appointment made for Wednesday to confirm what is probably inevitable. I think I will, at the very least, take Bill up on his offer for the Cobb cams. I'm going to call Cobb today to find out how quickly they could get me a set of heads if (a) the heads are warped/damaged, or (b) I just decide to go ahead and swap while things are apart.

Pat
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Old 03-05-2001, 10:21 AM   #11
Mike2000GT
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Damn Pat... so when does the 'stang go up for sale? J/K

Looks like you'll be pumpin a lotta dough into the subie. Hope everything goes well, and you still have an arm and a leg after its all said and done.

If you manage to get her back in shape by VIR, and maybe with a turbo installed, I bet it'll be a blast. (okay, I'll ask for a ride now... and if the organizers let me)

Good Luck w/ getting her fixed

Mike

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Old 03-05-2001, 11:32 AM   #12
paultg
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Pat, don't forget the other member at Cobb's now with his car. He could maybe save you shippiing on heads?? I can't speak for him though.

I thought you said this would be covered under the extended warranty in the other post? Are they going to let you swap parts in too?

Paul G.
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Old 03-05-2001, 01:28 PM   #13
Patrick Olsen
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I originally did say the extended warranty, Paul, but then a couple people in the Powertrain Forum pointed out it should be covered by Subaru's 5yr/60k powertrain warranty. The car is now at about 59,750 so I might just sneak in on that (assuming the warranty will cover me even though I'm not the original owner - as far as I know that shouldn't be a problem).

The way I figure it is the dealer is going to have to remove the heads and cams to get to the head gaskets, so if I give him different heads and cams to install it shouldn't be a big deal. I'm sure I'll have to talk them into this (assuming I do this at all), but I don't think it will be too hard. I'll point out that there are only 250 warranty miles left on the car, so it's not like it's any big deal for either of us if they install modified heads and cams for me.

I just got off the phone with Trey Cobb, and it looks like they could have me a set of heads in a bit over a week. He actually advised me to stick with normal compression rather than bumping up to 10.5:1. As a matter of fact, he said he's probably going to take the 10.5:1 option off his site because it's not all that worthwhile.

Now I need to talk to the dealer to see what they have to say.

Pat
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Old 03-05-2001, 02:01 PM   #14
paultg
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Pat, when you have warranty work done, I think it is warrantied for 1 yr after the work is complete, no matter what the mileage is. So, you might want to ask about that. That is what I was told when I had my scratched windows replaced. Now the new ones are scratched, so I need to make another appointment when all the salt is gone.
Hopefully they will do the swap for you. I know most dealers won't do the clutch swap because of SOA and warranty claims. Good luck.

I want you to get all the cool stuff so I can ride in the car.

Paul G.
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