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Old 01-03-2011, 03:06 PM   #1
Dakken
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Default 1999 legacy 2.5 gt motor suddenly overheating

Hey everyone
I recently purchased a 99 legacy from a member of the forums. The car test drove good, with no immediately noticeable problems with motor or transmission.
The seller was nice enough to drive the car down to my parents house to drop off/sign over title. After the title was signed over, it was discovered the battery was dead. After replaceing the battery the next morning, I took the car for a drive around the corner. When I parked the car, the motor was overheating. Popping the hood, I noticed coolant sprayed around inside the motor. A friend walked me through the process of checking to see if the coolant was low, which it appeared to be. I cycled some distilld water with the coolant mix and it kept taking more and more. Upon further inspection, traces of coolant were found in the oil. Exhaust fumes come from the radiator cap at idle.

Is this something that could happen overnight, or during a drive around the corner @ roughly 20mph? Is there an easy fix? I'm pretty upset as I've always considered subarus to be extremely reliable cars (previously owned a 2003 wrx). I'm now reading about head gasket issues, which is even more alarming. I of course purchased this car because I need to drive it on a daily basis, which I can not do with it parked in the driveway overheating. The seller insists there was nothing wrong with the car when he dropped it off. It just seems like alot that could go wrong between test driving the car and actually driving it once it was titled over to me. I have no idea what to do at this time.

Any opinions or suggestions are appreciated.
thanks,
scott
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Old 01-03-2011, 03:35 PM   #2
Patrick Olsen
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Definitely a head gasket issue. Had you checked into that before you bought the car? The Phase I HG issue is very well known, so there's not a chance I would buy a '97-99 2.5GT or Outback without knowing that either the HGs have been replaced with the newest design, or without testing the coolant to ensure there were no signs of exhaust contamination of the coolant. But that advice doesn't help you now...

It is possible that the head gasket(s) was/were fine and just chose now to pop after you bought the car. Or perhaps it happened during his drive to deliver the car but the symptoms didn't become evident immediately. Until the engine pumps out enough coolant to overheat there's often no indication that something is wrong.

The fact that you found coolant in the oil is unusual - I've had HGs go on 3 or 4 occasions and have never had coolant in the oil, and my experience is pretty typical of what guys see with the Phase I HG failures. If not for the coolant in the oil bit, I was going to suggest that you continue to drive the car as-is, keep an eye on coolant level, and repair the HGs later when you can afford to have the car off the road for a couple days. I blew a HG on my car back in April at a track event and continued to drive the car for 4 months or so before I finally got around to having it fixed.

Pat Olsen
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Old 01-03-2011, 10:19 PM   #3
Dakken
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I'd drive the car, but i'm nervous about the overheating. That can't be any good!
I didn't know about this Headgasket issue. I owned a 03 WRX for a few years and was active on the forums but never read or dealt with a lick of N/a motors. I was so into my car i just felt like subarus were invincible. What bothers me is that the car didn't overheat when i test drove it, then i couldnt drive it again because the battery was dead. now i cant drive it without it overheating. even if the gasket went in the 10minutes of me driving the car... what are the chances of that happening without even reaching 4th gear or going over 3500rpm? meh..
I'm having someone look more extensively in a shop, which is going to set me back even more money. Had to rent a car to get to a gig this week. sets me back eeeeven more. arh

thanks for the help. any other info would be greatly appreciated...
scott
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:28 PM   #4
Wrencher86
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That sucks. I bought a 1982 VW Rabbit pick-up with a diesel in it for a commuter in college. It blew the head gasket 3 hours after I bought it. But I was trying to make the thing go up the steepest hill in the area and not lose speed.

Fortunately, I had bought it from a local shop and they fixed it for free. It only took them 3 tries but, hey, it was free.

Sorry about your car. If it's overheating every time you drive it, it should probably get fixed ASAP. What was the temp outside when you test drove it compared to when it started to overheat? Something that severe usually doesn't happen that quickly without some sort of abuse/aggressive driving.
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:40 PM   #5
Patrick Olsen
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You only did it briefly, so I wouldn't worry about it too much. Trust me, I've overheated my engine(s) with bad HGs on more than one occasion. Once I topped them back up with coolant they were fine.

Like I said, to me the more concerning thing is the coolant in the oil. That pretty much puts the engine out of action until you replace the HGs, otherwise you risk wrecking all the bearings.
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Old 01-04-2011, 06:21 PM   #6
Dakken
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temp was about the same as when i test drove, probably somewhere in the low 30s, high 20s with snow on the ground

ive called around for price quotes to fix something like this. looks like im not going to get away with anything less then 3000bucks... thats over 1/3 what i paid for this car. is there some sort of consumer protection for stuff like this? it still seems pretty sureal. I've never been duped like this before its pretty tough to swallow. I thought things like this only happened with craigslist ads, not member to memeber on a trusted forum. ugh
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:02 AM   #7
Patrick Olsen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakken View Post
ive called around for price quotes to fix something like this. looks like im not going to get away with anything less then 3000bucks...
You need to do some more asking around. Here's a thread running concurrently with yours that has estimates for less than 1/2 that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakken View Post
is there some sort of consumer protection for stuff like this?
Check your local/state laws, there may be some sort of protection for used car sales.

Otherwise, small claims court?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakken View Post
it still seems pretty sureal. I've never been duped like this before its pretty tough to swallow. I thought things like this only happened with craigslist ads, not member to memeber on a trusted forum. ugh
(1) You have no proof you were duped. It is just as likely that the HGs failed as he was delivering the car to you. They have been known to go without any real warning whatsoever, even on cars that were never abused.
(2) It sounds to me like you failed to do your research. Assuming that all Subarus were reliable because you owned one once before and had no problems with it is a rather poor assumption to make. The head gasket issue with the Phase I EJ25s is extremely well-documented. Not just on this site, but elsewhere on the 'net as well. A google for "common problems 1999 subaru legacy" would have turned up multiple links.

Last edited by Patrick Olsen; 01-06-2011 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 01-06-2011, 11:34 AM   #8
renob123
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You can always try a bottle or two of Subaru's coolant conditioner. Any dealership will have it. It's not very expensive, and there's a chance it'll fix your problem.

Jacob
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Old 01-18-2011, 07:58 PM   #9
wtdash
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^The conditioner was for the Phase 2 External HG leaks, not the Phase 1 Internal - not sure it'll do much good.

Dakken, I'd be careful driving the car when its overheating, as I've read the bottom-end doesn't like it - oil heats up and bearings go bad, and you'll be replacing the whole block.

Is there any oil/bubbles in the coolant overflow tank? That's another common symptom.

$1500 is also what I've seen to get the HG replaced - maybe $3K @ the dealer. Find a reputable Subie mechanic and get all the maintenance items done while the EJ25 is out and you shouldn't have to touch it for another 100K (t-belt).

Sorry you got burned and I know it's bitter pill, but I don't think you'll have much recourse w/the PO. Did they have a good Feeback rating on here? Did they advertise it on here?

GL,
td
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Old 01-19-2011, 09:30 PM   #10
elkyboy76
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Definately head gaskets! And coolant conditioner will not help now.. as for 3k for the job I would say thats quite high! Here in Williamsport, PA I get 1k to do a complete reseal and timing belt!
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