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Old 05-01-2010, 02:18 AM   #1
Scooby Specialist
Member#: 121459
Join Date: Jul 2006
Chapter/Region: BAIC
Location: San Francisco, CA
2002 WRX

Default '91 has a temp. fluctuation issue....

Hey all, I've been the proud owner of an '02 wrx for the past few years & today my girlfriend picked up a '91 Legacy sedan for 500 bucks! Granted, it's got 234k miles on it & needs some maintenance stuff but all in all isn't too bad. The Subie fleet is growing & I am stoked

Anyway, the story behind the car is that it was mechanic-owned most of it's life. The people we bought it from said they recently replaced the thermostat, yet once the car warms up, the needle will tend to rise 'till it's just below the red, then steadily fall back down to normal operating temp. To me, this sounds like:
-the thermostat they installed is a piece of junk (quite possibly from NAPA) & already needs to be re-replaced
-There is air in the system & it needs to be properly bled
-Something is up with the water pump

What do you all think? I don't think we're looking at a head gasket, as there is no oil in the overflow tank & the car shoots NO visible smoke out of the exhaust when revved.

Really though, the overheating issue, some moderate oil leaks & some exhaust gaskets that obviously need to be replaced are really the only pressing issues with this car. For 500 bucks, I think we got a great deal.

Any ideas on the temp. issue are greatly appreciated!
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Old 05-01-2010, 03:50 PM   #2
Patrick Olsen
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Chapter/Region: AKIC
Location: Where the Navy sends me...
1997 Legacy 2.5GT
1996 Impreza coupe


Originally Posted by silence2-38554 View Post
I don't think we're looking at a head gasket, as there is no oil in the overflow tank & the car shoots NO visible smoke out of the exhaust when revved.
I've blown head gaskets 4 times (I'm driving around on bad head gaskets right now, as a matter of fact) and have never seen either of those symptoms. I honestly don't think I've ever heard anyone report those symptoms with a Subie with bad HGs, it's just not the way they blow apparently. Every time they've gone bad for me the engine will gradually blow coolant out of the cooling system and into the coolant overflow tank until it overflows. If the HGs are really bad, or if I try to drive the car hard, it will do that pretty quickly and make quite a mess, blowing coolant all over the driver side of the engine compartment.

With that said, it's definitely worth checking the other things you mentioned before you go through the trouble of doing the HGs. AFAIK the EJ22s are not nearly as likely to blow HGs as the newer EJ25s are, so hopefully it's something simpler/easier/cheaper.

Pat Olsen
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Old 05-02-2010, 04:13 PM   #3
that one legacy
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Join Date: Dec 2005

i've been having some odd problems with the cooling system on my 95 brighton (also a ej22e), and i've narrowed the list down some kind of problem with the electrical system that monitors the cooling system. i already replaced the temp sensor, but the car still says its overheating even when I first start it up after letting it sit overnight. i also replaced my thermostat just because. i did notice that if i take out the fuses for the heater before i start the car, the temp gauge won't climb up. when i put them back in, the temp gauge will stay down for a while, but then will eventually shoot up to the H. haven't seen a single drop of coolant leak out from the engine bay, or shoot out the tail pipe though.

i know this doesn't really answer your question, I'm just sharing my experience to give you some more ideas of other things to look at.
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Old 05-06-2010, 02:53 PM   #4
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Location: Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
1972 Datsun 240Z V8
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i think you answered your own question, aftermarket thermostats are junk! but, might as well go borrow a coolant pressure checker from autozone to make sure you have no leaks. if none are found, i bet you that "new" thermostat is the culprit. when it comes to rice and thermostats, i only use OE. i bought a honda crv with "blown head gasket" on the cheap and it turned out to be a Napa thermostat.... btw, the 2.2 legacy will run in excess of 300k miles with regualr scheduled maintenance.
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Old 05-06-2010, 10:43 PM   #5
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Join Date: Sep 2004

drill a few holes in the crappy napa thermo. The temp shouldnt rise so high before thermo opens and fans kick on thats for sure. Then bleed the system of air, add good anti corrosion coolant and see how it goes. If that fails, have a close look at the pump, although its probably ok
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