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Old 06-09-2019, 11:57 PM   #1
orinoco10
Scooby Newbie
 
Member#: 501787
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Calgary, AB
Vehicle:
2010 WRX
white

Default head gasket blown?

Before I take the plunge and remove my engine, I thought I would just get a last corroboration here. Short, story, I have a 2010 WRX, 135km, which overheats on any trip over ~100 km, but is basically fine around town. I've been to two mechanics, both said the head gasket was fine. Problem persisted despite their work. I eventually ran the sniff test myself and it tested positive on both the reservoir and the rad, though not the expansion tank, for both 4 cyl, and a little strangely, for both sides when i ran it on 2 cyl (pics below). I wouldn't have thought they would both go at the same time.

So my question is, any reason not to bite the bullet and change the head gaskets? Any way this could be anything else?


Here is the long story. Car had been fine for a year, after I rebuilt the turbo. Was on a ski trip, car was loaded down pretty good. 4 passengers, climbing a mountain road to the hill, when i noticed it overheat pretty quickly. It had never overheated before. Coolant all over the engine.

Went to the local mechanic, he said he tested and tested, checked the head gaskets, couldn't reproduce the problem. He thought maybe it was the water pump. Went out next day, overheated pretty quickly, but at least now I had coolant with me. The coolant comes boiling out of the expansion tank, until there is not enough left in the system, and overheats. Eventually limped it back home to the city, topping up coolant when needed.

Now took it to a mechanic in the city, told him the story. Basically got the same answer as above - couldn't reproduce the problem, coolant was actually overfilled, head gaskets were fine. But the problem persisted.

So some of my own experiences. Seems like the rad cap is showing goop, which I'm interpreting as exhaust in the coolant. The car still pulls well, no issues there. It can be tough to get the coolant level right, because it sometimes doesn't suck coolant back into the engine from the expansion tank. So you never really know what the actual level is. If I overfill it, then it will overheat faster. If you can get the level right, it will take a longer trip to make it overheat (makes sense). I can pull either the rad cap or the reservoir cap and notice that there is still vacuum in the system, even hours after running the car, so I'm not sure why it doesn't always suck the coolant back. I'll often just do it myself.

Here are the pics:

https://jumpshare.com/b/FPAAW2dKxiaqc5wO1PR5

Thanks for any advice!

Julian
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Old 06-10-2019, 12:44 AM   #2
subaru_gc8
Scooby Specialist
 
Member#: 29292
Join Date: Nov 2002
Chapter/Region: SCIC
Location: Orange County CA
Vehicle:
2004 WRX wagon
silver

Default

if you think your headgasket is blown do a block test
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:40 AM   #3
Bluefoton
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Member#: 141373
Join Date: Feb 2007
Chapter/Region: E. Canada
Location: Quebec, QC
Vehicle:
2008 2.5i-hatch -
now with a HID retrofit

Default

Dumb question, but was the thermostat checked?
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Old 06-13-2019, 12:02 AM   #4
scottr530
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Member#: 502876
Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: Chico, CA
Vehicle:
2002 WRX
Silver

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Just saw you have the tester. if you did not suck up any coolant and it changed colors. its pretty much confirmed you have a leaking headgasket. letting CO and combustion into cooling system. Sorry bud.
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Old 06-18-2019, 12:40 PM   #5
orinoco10
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Member#: 501787
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Calgary, AB
Vehicle:
2010 WRX
white

Default

Definitely didn't let in any coolant - did it probably 6x just to be sure, in different situations, as well as a control (sniff test = block test)

Couple other notes, for anyone who comes across this.

- exhaust looks perfect (ie no white cloud)
- oil looks perfect (no coolant there either)

I thought about the caps, the return hose, the thermostat and the water cooler, but basically they all check out and more or less work fine as far as I can tell. I've read through lots of stories where any of these cause some sort of overheating problem, or even just the burping procedure. Ultimately, I don't think any can explain the sniff test though.

I might just do a compression test. It should show up there too.
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Old 06-18-2019, 05:15 PM   #6
raisingAnarchy
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Member#: 408438
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: OH, USA
Vehicle:
2016 WRX STi
CBS

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Quote:
Originally Posted by orinoco10 View Post
Definitely didn't let in any coolant - did it probably 6x just to be sure, in different situations, as well as a control (sniff test = block test)

Couple other notes, for anyone who comes across this.

- exhaust looks perfect (ie no white cloud)
- oil looks perfect (no coolant there either)

I thought about the caps, the return hose, the thermostat and the water cooler, but basically they all check out and more or less work fine as far as I can tell. I've read through lots of stories where any of these cause some sort of overheating problem, or even just the burping procedure. Ultimately, I don't think any can explain the sniff test though.

I might just do a compression test. It should show up there too.
Couldn't you do a leakdown test and open the rad cap to look for bubbles? Whether or not the cylinder holds compression doesn't tell you as much as a leakdown right? Not sure if that's what the aforementioned block or sniff test is...
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Old 06-18-2019, 05:22 PM   #7
bdubblu
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Member#: 251046
Join Date: Jul 2010
Chapter/Region: MAIC
Location: Mostly at my home
Vehicle:
2004 WRX Wagon
Stage 5.1.2a.2

Default

I guess leakdown or compression, you'd get similar info from. I'm suprised you haven't done it yourself to confirm yet, even though you said your first mechanic had.

Is there ANY chance you've got an aftermarket radiator in the car?
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