96 Subaru Legacy 2.5l phase 1 motor 142,000 overheating

Tiny
THEJAS
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 SUBARU
This is a problem that has been bothering me since I bought this car about two months ago and it still is not fixed by factory technicians! When I first bought the car the temp gauge kept rising to hot levels and I hear gurgling through the vents. So I took it in to subaru themselves (they know the cars so y take it anywhere else?). It was headgaskets. Both heads were warped and so they machined them and replaced a bunch of stuff (two thermostats etc.) That sovled the problem of bubbles in the radiator overflow/fill tank. They said it was all good. Got it back. Keeps overheating and I hear gurgling in the dash still. I'm a little upset and take it back. Aparently the radiator is clogged and I need a new one. So they replace it and say they promise the problem has been resolved. At this point i'll admit that it was less frequent than before but it still existed. It especially became a problem when driving on the highway for a long period and then stopping or going into city traffic. At that point it would spike up to 3/4 headed to hot. While i'm on the gas the temp is fine. So highway was perfect. Once it starts idling or going slow (about 30mph and below) the temp rises again but not all the way to hot as long as I keep moving and accelerating. If I park it and the temp rises I can give it gas above idle to about 2k rpm's or more and it'll drop to normal but as soon as I lay off the gas, it rises again. The gurgling is really evident on hills and when I hit the gas I can hear it. The heater core is not leaking and it isn't leaving a film on my inside windshield. The fans are both working perfectly. It has a new water pump, head gaskets, radiator, and thermostats at this point. And heater works perfectly as does the a/c. So I take it back really angry and they flush it for free and say "it's perfectly ok now". It is still NOT ok. It happens once every three days. That is the odd thing I cannot figure out. I do the same routine with the car monday through friday and it could be perfect for two days and then all of a sudden, BAM! There it is again, rising temp gauge. At first I thought it was the temperature outside. But we've had everything from snow to 70 degrees and there is no consistency in the problem. I can also smell antifreeze after a long drive but nothing appears to be leaking ( I put cardboard underneath it to check for a few days) and no area on the car is wet with any type of fluid. I know my subarus pretty well and it just makes no sense to me at this point. Any help you can offer would be appreciated.
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Wednesday, March 14th, 2007 AT 10:43 PM

13 Replies

Tiny
JACK42
  • MEMBER
Have them chemical test the coling system for exhaust gasses. It is a simple test and will tell if the head/heads are possibly cracked, providing they didnt have them pressure tested while they were off the car.
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Thursday, March 15th, 2007 AT 8:32 AM
Tiny
THEJAS
  • MEMBER
They were already pressure tested off the car. Both are fine according to them. Any other suggestions?
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Thursday, March 15th, 2007 AT 4:10 PM
Tiny
SCUBARU
  • MEMBER
I hate to say it but it really sounds like the you still have Exhaust pressure and tempature entering the cooling system. Im truly sorry that you have had all thjis trouble getting it repaired. But here is the deal the Dealer isnt where you want to take your car for repairs, in most cases its just not what they are good at. There is a giant public misconception about the repair industry that would take too long to properly explain in this forum. And I unfortunately here stories like yours every day. So the car needs to be diagnosed properly, Yes exhaust pressure and tempature can cause intermittent higher cooling system tempature problems but most Techs dont think this way.A improperly prepared engine block surface, improperly torqued head bolts, head bolts that have stecthed to far, a crack in a cylinder head a crack in a cylinder liner, a small imperfection in a head gasket all can cause the problem you are having and as the problem is intermittent checking the cooling system for signs of exhaust gasses is only going to tell you that at the instant the vehicle is tested whether or not there are signs of exhaust in the cooling system. So during the test if it isnt overheating or running warm there may not be enough exhaust gas present to affect a chemical dye or if a gas analyzer is used over the neck of the radiator it may not trigger high enogh readings. Also doing any testing with the rad cap off doesnt alow the system to build pressure which is what the real problem is. With heat or just a change in temp we get expansion of metal this expansion can allow combustion gasses into the cooling system. As the heads, block, gaskets, and head bolts all move a little. It only takes a little bit of exhaust tempature to affect the entire temp of the cooling system.I would push the dealer into fixing the car. My post isnt an easy fix but I have worked on Subarus for A long time now and I Know these little cars pretty well and I am real familiar with the industies short comings in the proper repair of them
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Friday, March 16th, 2007 AT 10:35 AM
Tiny
THEJAS
  • MEMBER
I just want to verify when I said dealer, I did mean a factory authorized subaru repair dealer. Very swanky. Aren't they supposed to be the best?
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Friday, March 16th, 2007 AT 5:18 PM
Tiny
SCUBARU
  • MEMBER
Subaru only authrizes there new car dealers to do repair work as far I have ever seen. The public perception is that the dealer has a staff of factory trained techs. The reality is not the same as the perception
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Friday, March 16th, 2007 AT 5:54 PM
Tiny
THEJAS
  • MEMBER
They are factory trained at this place.
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Friday, March 16th, 2007 AT 7:13 PM
Tiny
JPREWITT
  • MEMBER
I am having the same problem with my Forester. Did they ever find out what the problem was with your vehicle? Thanks.
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Wednesday, March 28th, 2007 AT 5:53 PM
Tiny
THEJAS
  • MEMBER
As a matter of fact they did (after 3000 bucks worth of work. What had happened apparently was whoever had it before me tried to fix the head gaskets without machining the heads. Anyone that knows subaru knows no matter the measurements in warping or if they seem within spec; machine them! No matter what. The heads must be machined or the gasket job is useless. Anyway this guy put it back together and must have notice the problem that I observed and poured stop leak in the radiator. Basically it is supposed to be a head gasket sealer but to my knowledge, (and many mechanics I have talked to) this never works and only causes problems. Problems that were evident in my vehicle. So what happened was they put this stuff in and it basically clogged the entire cooling system. So the head gaskets were done, the radiator was next and finally the heater core. They actually showed me the heater core. Man what a mess. It was completely clogged inside with this gunk! It seems to be running great now but I will be reporting in about a week to let u know. Also, I encourage everyone with a subaru or any vehicle for that matter, to replace ur fuel filter every 60 thousand. Some say it is not nesecary but with the two subarus i've had, it has shown drastic increases in performance and mpg. They are also a cheap fix at about 15 for the generic which works just fine. Easy to replace. It is the round 5 inch tall cylinder towards the back-right of the engine compartment (looking under the hood with knees touching front bumper). It has two elbows there with two rubber tubes connected to it. U'll have to remove them to do it but make sure u clamp them off with something (be careful not to puncture them) because it will leak gas. Also do ur spark plugs in a suby every 30,000 I say. Again this is all from personal experience. Don't use any special plugs, just factory. Other plugs have been known to cause problems. Let me know if u need any other help.
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Wednesday, March 28th, 2007 AT 10:45 PM
Tiny
SCUBARU
  • MEMBER
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Wednesday, March 28th, 2007 AT 11:15 PM
Tiny
SCUBARU
  • MEMBER
Im sorry but I am really confused by your posts. Your very first post you said you had the head gaskets done at a factory subaru repair facility and they machined the heads. And the car still overheated you were upset that subaru techs couldnt fix it But they werent a dealer?I am a factory trained Subaru technician but the moment you leave the dealer you no longer have or can legally state you are factory trained and or certified. Subaru /fuji heavy industries does not authorize anyone outside of the new car dealer to be a authorized repair facility. Its called trade mark infringement. Subaru cannot authorize a independent repair facility or the dealers would sue the pants off of fuji industries for breach of the franchise agreement. In some cases if there is no Subaru dealer within 50 miles of large community Subaru will allow independent technicians to attend some of the same classes but at a great expense and they still canot use the term factory trained or certified. Also in the first post you stated the heads were machined and then in the last post you stated someone had tried to repair it without maching the heads.I am writing this as I am afraid you may be getting scammed or there is some lack of information. Subaru headgaskets fail as a design of the boxer engine, &corosive coolant. It is absolutely not neccisary to machine every cylinder head when replacing head gaskets. Actually it can be a bad idea if they are not truly warped. When you remove material from the cylinder head it changes the CC (cubic centimeters) of volume in the combustion chamber. In the case of machining it reduces the volume in each cylinder which can create all sorts of issues from lost power to decreased fuel economy to increased combustion chamber tempatures and so on.I wasnt involved in the repair of your car so I do not know the specifics of its repair needs. But it is not an accurate statement to say that"anyone who knows Subaru knows the heads should be machined, even if there not warped".
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Wednesday, March 28th, 2007 AT 11:50 PM
Tiny
THEJAS
  • MEMBER
Just because u didn't understand the posts does not mean I didn't write it properly. Thank u so much for ur help but i'm sick of explaining and the problem is now solved. Please read through the posts carefully. Also subaru headquarters as well as the local subaru DEALERSHIP told me they had to learn the hard way (as a company) to just machine the heads whenever a head gasket issue arises otherwise the gaskets continue to give problems within a short period of time of the fix. Thanx again.
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Thursday, March 29th, 2007 AT 8:08 PM
Tiny
JPREWITT
  • MEMBER
Hey Thejas,

I was just wondering, did they believe that it was the head causing the over heating or was it the problem with the radiator? Thanks for all your help. Good to know I am not the only one with this problem.
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Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007 AT 8:02 PM
Tiny
THEJAS
  • MEMBER
I did have bad head gaskets. One of the sure signs of bad head gaskets is usually u'll see air bubbles in ur radiator fill tank. It was actually the heater core and the radiator that was causing the overheating. Basically my whole entire cooling system was clogged with stop leak so the water pump would try to pump coolant trough but it was getting rejected by the radiator and after that was replaced, by the heater core. Now both of those items are replaced and it is running great!
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Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007 AT 9:33 PM

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