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Old 05-07-2010, 10:35 PM   #1
currystyle
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Exclamation Just gotta 96 Legacy GT AWD, never seen or heard of this...

Hey all, been lurking here awhile trying to learn about Subies, mostly the Legacy line. Anyway, I finally acquired one and it is having an interesting issue. The temp gauge read extremely hot while driving it home tonight (first time I've driven it). When I got home the top radiator hose was hotter than I'm used to normally on a car as well as being collapsed. I slid under the car to check the bottom hose and it had also collapsed but was cold to the touch, just like I hadn't driven the car at all. I loosened the radiator drain and heard air rushing into the cooling system and both hoses went back to normal size. I'm not new to working on cars by any means, but this seems rather odd to me. The guy i got it from seemed to think it had blown head gaskets. Do these symptoms seem to agree with that? I've seen and repaired blown head gaskets on several other cars, mostly Nissan 240 SX's, but never had any of them collapse the hoses or have the temperature disparity this one has. Sorry for the long post, but I'm really in need of some help on this one from the wonderful group of Subie gurus you have here.

Thanks
B
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Old 05-08-2010, 07:50 PM   #2
currystyle
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Has noone else ever run into this? I'm having trouble deciding whether this is something I should attempt to rebuild or just scrap.
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Old 05-09-2010, 12:01 AM   #3
Frogsthatmoo
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Uhm... first off I'd recommend adding coolant and possibly try to get air bubbles out of the system. My water pump was leaking for a while and letting air in into the system and would act like the symptoms of a blown headgasket, but all I had to do was get the air out every other month (then I fixed the leaky pump).

Add the coolant until it starts to come out with both caps off (there's a bleeder valve on the left side of the radiator) and then drive around a bit to see if that helps. The air rushing in meant it was filling a void which was supposed to be filled by water. If the car still acts up, then you might have a headgasket problem, which is a little bit harder to diagnose I feel.
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:33 AM   #4
that one legacy
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collapsed radiator hoses indicates that either the hoses are bad (reinforcements in the hoses have failed, causing them to collapse under vaccuum), or--like Frogs said above--there is a lot of air in the cooling system. Subies tend to spit a lot of coolant out of the exhaust when there is a headgasket failure (well that's what i've noticed anyway), but they don't always do that. last time i bled the cooling system in one of my cars I noticed that I had to wait a very long time for all the air to finally work out of the system. but if you bleed the system completely and then notice that the system is still drawing air in, then start checking around more. is your car leaking coolant at all? when i first got my red car i had a bad overheating problem with lots of coolant leaking. the timing belt was bad so i just went ahead and replaced it and the water pump. damn thing still leaked and overheated. it was then that i noticed a small hose coming out of the thermostat that I hadn't noticed before which was slashed open pretty bad. $3 worth of hose later, overheating problem was magically cured.
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Old 05-09-2010, 08:41 AM   #5
Patrick Olsen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by currystyle View Post
I slid under the car to check the bottom hose and it had also collapsed but was cold to the touch, just like I hadn't driven the car at all. I loosened the radiator drain and heard air rushing into the cooling system and both hoses went back to normal size. I'm not new to working on cars by any means, but this seems rather odd to me.
You're not new to working on cars, but you opened the radiator drain on a hot engine? That strikes me as a Bad Idea. Worked out OK for you this time, but that's certainly not something I would ever do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by currystyle View Post
Sorry for the long post...
You wrote a paragraph, man. That's not a "long post". Technical issues aren't something you can describe clearly in a sentence or two.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frogsthatmoo View Post
Uhm... first off I'd recommend adding coolant and possibly try to get air bubbles out of the system.

Add the coolant until it starts to come out with both caps off (there's a bleeder valve on the left side of the radiator) and then drive around a bit to see if that helps. The air rushing in meant it was filling a void which was supposed to be filled by water.
What he said. You need to get the cooling system back to a known starting point (properly filled) so that you can start to diagnose the problem. If you start losing coolant (particularly if it's pushing coolant into the overflow bottle) then you've most likely got a bad head gasket or two.

Quote:
Originally Posted by that one legacy View Post
Subies tend to spit a lot of coolant out of the exhaust when there is a headgasket failure (well that's what i've noticed anyway), but they don't always do that.
That's actually very uncommon for Subarus.

Pat Olsen
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Old 05-09-2010, 09:40 AM   #6
jimmytt01
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if the hose on the top was hot and the bottom was cold, well on my audi it meant stuck thermostat. Like everyone said drain the coolant, add more, run the motor. Make sure that u put the heat on, so the coolant gets thru the heater core.

If your not getting hot heat then thermostat is staying closed.

good luck and post back with results.
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Old 05-09-2010, 09:40 AM   #7
currystyle
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Thanks for all the input guys. I just got this cat so I dunno if it is leaking coolant or not, but I will assume it was since it came with a bottle of coolant. It doesn't appear to be dripping from anywhere though. My wife did notice quite a bit of smoke coming from the car when she followed me home, so it does appear to be smoking.
Since my last post I did drain the coolant and it appeared to have some oil in it, however there doesn't appear to be any coolant in the oil.
Pat, I know it wasn't a good idea to open the drain, but the car had been sitting for a little while at that point and I opened it very slowly.
The transmission did seem to slip quite a bit on the way home, but I'm not too attached to the automatic anyway. Also the car was whining while I was driving it Andorra seemed to be more vehicle speed related than engine speed. Someone said this may be the transfer case. Does this sound correct? This is the first AWD car I've ever had so I'm not sure.

Thanks again,
B

Edit: It would get heat, but only after the ten minute drive down the highway and only once i stopped. Even then it didn't seem to blow very hot.
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Old 05-09-2010, 03:29 PM   #8
Kraziken
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When I had headgasket failure, I saw some smoking and I definately could smell the coolant.
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Old 05-10-2010, 10:28 PM   #9
that one legacy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by currystyle View Post
Thanks for all the input guys. I just got this cat so I dunno if it is leaking coolant or not, but I will assume it was since it came with a bottle of coolant. It doesn't appear to be dripping from anywhere though. My wife did notice quite a bit of smoke coming from the car when she followed me home, so it does appear to be smoking.
Since my last post I did drain the coolant and it appeared to have some oil in it, however there doesn't appear to be any coolant in the oil.
Pat, I know it wasn't a good idea to open the drain, but the car had been sitting for a little while at that point and I opened it very slowly.
The transmission did seem to slip quite a bit on the way home, but I'm not too attached to the automatic anyway. Also the car was whining while I was driving it Andorra seemed to be more vehicle speed related than engine speed. Someone said this may be the transfer case. Does this sound correct? This is the first AWD car I've ever had so I'm not sure.

Thanks again,
B

Edit: It would get heat, but only after the ten minute drive down the highway and only once i stopped. Even then it didn't seem to blow very hot.

last time my car(s) had a whining noise while driving, it was the power steering. just added more fluid and the noise went away. really depends on what kind of whining noise you are talking about though. transmission slipping and smoke from underneath could indicate bad seals on the tranny itself. i know my white wagon has that problem, and i'm going to have to get the tranny fixed/replaced eventually.

seeing oil in the coolant is indicative of a head-gasket failure. remember that head gaskets can fail in many different spots, and each type of failure would have different signs. having oil in the coolant is one sign of one type of failure (other signs would be exhaust smoke in the coolant, coolant spitting out of the tail pipe, and coolant leaking out of the valve covers. i think that last one is uncommon on subies though). head gasket replacement on a subie can be quite expensive if you don't know how to do it yourself, so consider that before you go off an make any future plans for the car.
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Old 05-11-2010, 12:22 AM   #10
Tessai
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The next time it overheats, check and see if you've got bubbles in the overflow bottle next to the radiator.

I just got the engine physically back into the bay tonight (nothing hooked back up yet) after replacing my own head gaskets.
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Old 05-11-2010, 12:13 PM   #11
currystyle
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There is no bubbling in the overflow. I am definately capable of doing the job myself on the headgaskets if that is what seems to be needed. There is no smoke coming from the trans area, just from out the exhaust and I've yet to notice any fluid leaks on the garage floor from the trans.
As for the whining, I've heard power steering whine many times before, this was not that sound. Definately seemed to be coming from somewhere in the drivetrain. Thanks for the tips/advice/comments. Keep it coming. Starting to do some brainstorming on some plans for this car that may get fairly intense.
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Old 05-29-2010, 08:37 PM   #12
Jonathan
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From your description is SOUNDS like maybe that coolant is being sucked into the combustion chamber(s) and then getting pushed out the exhaust valve on combustion.

This would explain the loss of coolant and the radiator hoses collapsing.

If the "smoke" coming out the tailpipe is greyish / white is is very likely steam from the cooling system.

Often times when a cylinder head gasket fails with these Phase I EJ25 motors, exhaust gasses wind up getting pushed out the combustion chamber through the failed gasket in to the cooling system passages, pressurizing the cooling system and causing the overflow tank to bubble up and fill up with exhaust gasses.

Clearly your car appears to be doing the exact opposite.

Given the length of time that your car has been used with the failing head gasket(s) I would be concerned about the likelihood of one or both cylinder heads warping from exposure to heat from the lack of coolant.

The speed sensitive whining COULD be something as simple as rust forming on the rear disk brake "shields" / backing plates and rubbing up against the rotors. Most people recommend simply ripping these things out.

Your '96 Legacy GT uses a Nissan sourced four-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission (4EAT). There is no such thing as a a conventional 4WD "transfer case" in these things. Instead there are a bunch of electronically controlled "clutch packs" that only engage the rear wheels when a certain level of "slippage" between the front and rear wheels is detected. The automatics in these year Legacys typically operate 90% of the time in Front wheel drive mode with little or no torque being transmitted to the rear wheels.

Just to keep things simple you may wish to place a FUSE in the "FWD enable" fuse block located on the passenger (left side) under the hood near the firewall.

While your number one priority / issue of concern is the motor & head gaskets, I would also express concern about the condition of your transmission. It maybe way too late, but doing a simple fluid change might help extend the life of your transmission somewhat. Also checking the fluid level, and looking at the condition of the fluid on the dip stick (pink or brown ? Is there a burnt smell ?) might be the first thing to check. Please be aware that there is both a transmission dip stick and a separate front trans-axle dip stick (using 80/90 weight gear oil).
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:34 PM   #13
Zues Marine
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^+1 to all of that
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Old 06-04-2010, 03:32 PM   #14
currystyle
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Found the smoke was white. Started the car last night in the garage and found the whining noise even occurs at idle without moving so is most likely power steering or pulley related. It has been my experience working in the auto industry that if you just do a "simple" drain and fill on an auto trans at anything over 100k miles with one never being performed before it usually does more harm than good. I may, however, take it into work and do a power flush on it so it will clean out the torque converter, et al. Does anyone know what kind of trans fluid these things take?

Also why would disabling the AWD make things simpler? The only thing I know for sure it would do is alleviate the entire reason I traded my Camry wagon for a Subaru!

Edit: Also found out today some previous owner had put stop leak in the engine. We all know what mechanic in a bottle does to motors! Could explain the metallic in my coolant and the lack of heat.

Last edited by currystyle; 06-04-2010 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 06-04-2010, 04:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by currystyle View Post

Edit: Also found out today some previous owner had put stop leak in the engine. We all know what mechanic in a bottle does to motors! Could explain the metallic in my coolant and the lack of heat.
Stop leak usually clogs up your heater core, so plan on replacing that.
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Old 06-04-2010, 05:10 PM   #16
currystyle
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Stop leak usually clogs anything it touches!!!!! I hate that stuff. I pretty much upon hearing that had a WTF moment. I can't understand why anyone uses that stuff at all anymore. I plan on replacing the water pump, heater core, radiator and thermostat now. But thanks for looking out for me.
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