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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2002 Outback, 2.5L. Engine was a rebuild I bought of ebay. The engine has 18K miles on it. The car itself has 168K miles on it.

The first instance was last Thursday. I drove 25 miles without any problems. As I slowed from highway cruising speed nearing a stop light, temperature started to go up. Initially, when I'd accelerate it would go back down... but soon it would continue to creep up. It got pretty hot (red) for about 1-2 minutes as I had to get to work. Turning on the heat proved futile as no hot air would blow out.

I let it cool 5-6 hours. Added an entire gallon of distilled water. The problem quite literally went away. The whole weekend I had absolutely no problem whatsoever, even after driving 25 miles on the highway at 75mph.

Monday morning, did the 25mile commute to work, and replicated the problem from Thursday. Same exact indications.

I replaced the thermostat. I bought a generic one from Autozone. This did not fix the problem.


Next, I took it to a mechanic. He purged and refilled the system. We made sure to get all the air out. Every last pocket (or so it seems).

I started the drive home, the temperature was solid mid gauge the whole way. Maybe five miles out I saw a little spike of a needle width.

About 500 feet from my house, after slowing to a stop at a light... And boom, the temperature starts rising... pulling up to my house, it's at the top bar. The overflow tank is bubbling. The bubbling lasts for approximately 2-3 minutes... then ceases completely (system overpressure valve?)

So I let it cool several hours tonight. I took a friends car to get a Block test kit from Autozone. I've provided an album. I'm not sure if it's conclusive or not. If any of you have more experience, I'd love to hear your opinion.

Imgur AlbumBlock Test - Imgur

After the block test, I ran the crap out of the car for about 10 minutes, attempting to get the car to overheat the slightest bit... nothing. It idled for about 20 minutes perfectly fine while I did the block test, and then I ran it for another 10 down the road. Nothing. Not the slightest sign of overheating.

It seems to only overheat after an extended period of time driving, about 25 miles, and only after slowing down to sub 15mph.

Both cooling fans are fully operational.

Does anyone have any idea what's going on? Are my head gaskets most likely toast?

Thanks for reading.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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headgaskets

of course be sure to rule something out but headgaskets sound likely.

18,000 miles - did this engine come with any warranty?

if they used cheap gaskets that could be the issue. some folks that do a lot of Subaru work like using the copper spray on the headgaskets when reinstalling, might be the route to take if redoing the headgaskets again.

if the engine was previously overheated the cylinder liners could be warped/shifted and the heads will never seal...there are instances where the heads are seemingly impossible to hold the gaskets in place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nope, no warranty.... Well it had a 90 day warranty... I bought it almost a year ago. I was backed into a very small corner. It was the only engine I could find, so I nabbed it and took the chance. Looks like maybe I lost!

I just redrained the system, completely flushed it to make sure the radiator was clear. Seems to flow OK. I reinstalled the OEM thermostat (which I tested first in a pot of water), since I kept reading that aftermarket thermos could cause problems. So I'm eliminating a variable!

Also, I took the small timing belt cover off. I was suprised by what seems like irregular wear on the back of the belt.

Could this be evidence of the belt slipping on the non-toothed pullies (like the water pump!)?

Here are some pictures: Photo Album - Imgur

I should also note: It was a rebuild, yet the first time I started it up and ever since, it has had noticeable piston slap. Since you mentioned the cylinder liners possibly being warped/shifted, I wonder if the two are connected.
 

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01 Outback LL Bean
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When you are doing the block test, are you reving the motor? The motor might not blow bubbles at idle speed.

That wear is not good. Is your car a manual? Not sure but maybe the belt guide installed on the manuals above the crank gear is not aligned correctly.
 

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2003 Outback, 5 MT, 134K, HG changed.
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Is your 2nd engine also a 2002 2.5L? Your car may be an automatic, but do you know whether this rebuilt engine came from a manual car? As Glennda suggested, those wear marks are in the same place as where the belt guide is mounted on a manual car (above the crank pulley). Not sure what difference it makes putting a manual engine into an auto car, after the clutch has been replaced with the viscous coupling, etc. It's hard to judge without getting the other part of the timing cover off to see the conditions of all the parts.

But the belt won't be the cause of your overheating troubles. Have you noticed any loss in coolant from your overflow reservoir?
 

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*** That belt wear is definitely not normal for 18,000 miles - something is wrong and needs to be addressed sooner than later if you want to keep the engine. If the belt breaks (which it will at this rate), that engine will bend valves since it's an interference engine. Have to be lucky to not bend a valve.

*** Piston slap is completely benign and unrelated to anything else. It is not cause for concern.

The shifting cylinder liners is only going to be a rare case of an extremely overheated engine...but since it's a rebuild you have no idea of the history of the motor. They just took some block and "rebuilt" it, whatever that means. So you'll never know and it's more of an isolated possibility than a likely reality, so just store it away for later.

CCR sells rebuilts engines with 36,000 mile 3 year warranty's. a 90 day warranty is terrible for a rebuild and sort of shows the quality of the product. you can get 90 day warranty's on used junk yard parts.

At best you're probably looking at a headgasket job. The "rebuild" company probably used cheap aftermarket junk gaskets.

Cross your fingers that the rest of the motor is good.

What did they "rebuild" - did they even say? Is this a complete lower end bearings, turn/check the crank rebuild or is this just replace the bare minimum?
 

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Just looked at the photos. No doubt you got something locking up and burning a groove in the timing belt. Given the heat issue the suspect item might be a jammed up water pump. Either way that belt is going to go soon if you don't cook the engine first.
 

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Water pump with bent or broken vains will cause a lack of coolant flow also. It really does sound like a coolant flow issue with the odd behavior and when the temp seems to spike.
unlikely to be the water pump, EJ water pumps almost never fail in this way and bent/broken veins is not something commonly seen on the boards.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Is your 2nd engine also a 2002 2.5L? Your car may be an automatic, but do you know whether this rebuilt engine came from a manual car? As Glennda suggested, those wear marks are in the same place as where the belt guide is mounted on a manual car (above the crank pulley). Not sure what difference it makes putting a manual engine into an auto car, after the clutch has been replaced with the viscous coupling, etc. It's hard to judge without getting the other part of the timing cover off to see the conditions of all the parts.

But the belt won't be the cause of your overheating troubles. Have you noticed any loss in coolant from your overflow reservoir?
Well it's the same exact one that came out of my car. EJ25 if I'm not mistaken. That being said, I have no idea whether it was in a manual or automatic before.

I suspect I might be losing coolant, which might make the case for it being the headgaskets with everything else. This evening I replaced the lower radiator hose, but the OEM thermo back in, and got a new radiator cap. Filled it. Burped it. Drove it. Now I'm waiting for it to cool to check the level within the radiator. I did notice a bubbles in the overflow tank while running at idle.


*** That belt wear is definitely not normal for 18,000 miles - something is wrong and needs to be addressed sooner than later if you want to keep the engine. If the belt breaks (which it will at this rate), that engine will bend valves since it's an interference engine. Have to be lucky to not bend a valve.

*** Piston slap is completely benign and unrelated to anything else. It is not cause for concern.

The shifting cylinder liners is only going to be a rare case of an extremely overheated engine...but since it's a rebuild you have no idea of the history of the motor. They just took some block and "rebuilt" it, whatever that means. So you'll never know and it's more of an isolated possibility than a likely reality, so just store it away for later.

CCR sells rebuilts engines with 36,000 mile 3 year warranty's. a 90 day warranty is terrible for a rebuild and sort of shows the quality of the product. you can get 90 day warranty's on used junk yard parts.

At best you're probably looking at a headgasket job. The "rebuild" company probably used cheap aftermarket junk gaskets.

Cross your fingers that the rest of the motor is good.

What did they "rebuild" - did they even say? Is this a complete lower end bearings, turn/check the crank rebuild or is this just replace the bare minimum?
Unfortunately, that's something I know all too well. The first engine is sitting in the shed in the backyard, the result of a idler bearing heating up, seizing, melting through the timing belt cover, and well... Let's just say every single valve is bent. So if I can fix the overheating issue, then I'll immediately take care of the timing belt. If the HG are done, then looks like I'll be having a car payment soon...

As far as the rebuild, I distinctly remember asking the seller over the phone what was done... All the bearings, pulleys, seals were new. The cylinder walls rehoned, etc. It sure as **** looked brand new. But I did take a chance with the whole ebay thing! The engine I bought of ebay, shipped, was 1950. One from CCR is 3800. That's why I did the ebay thing. It probably was a poor decision as I've found out :(


I'm going to check the fluid level in a couple of hours. If it's good, I'll attempt to drive to work tomorrow in it. I'm in the military, so if I make it to base, I can use the auto hobby shop to explore further if it overheats again.

In any case, if it actually turns out to be a HG issue... It's over for me. I don't have a garage, and the Air Force is closing down all their auto hobby shops. So if anyone wants a fixer-uper, I can even throw in the long block with bent valves in the trunk.

I'll post more when I check the fluid level, and see if it starts to overheat tomorrow.

Thanks everyone! I appreciate the help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well gentlemen, here im sitting on the side of the road. After driving 20 miles at approx 70mph and 2750 rpm, i came to a stop light. I sat there for two minutes. Everything was looking ok. Then the temp jist started to creep up. More and more. Turned heat on full blast. Nothing. Nada. Overflow tank is full. no bubbling this time. Fans both working. Once it cools, ill check the fluid level

I drove it last night just fine. Went halfway to work then came back. No issues. I dont understand!
 

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Your overflow tank is full because the HG leak is over presurizing the coolant system which is forcing coolant into the overflow tank. Once enough fluid is pushed out of the main cooling system the car will overheat because there is not enough fluid to cool the engine. This is playing out exactly how my HG leak did. Try having someone rev the motor while someone else watches for bubbles. I can almost guarantee bubbles are coming but possibly not at idle.
 

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I'm really sorry to hear the problems you're having. It seems a disproportionate number of people are left with a bad taste from Subaru and their NA head gaskets. My own HG have gone before too, and it is a hassle.

This may only be a band-aid over the real problem, but I'd suggest giving Subaru's factory coolant additive a try. After all, this stuff was designed specifically for post-2000ish Phase II SOHC engines. It's supposed to run through your coolant system as a liquid until it encounters a leak at the head gasket, where it will solidify and try to plug up the leak. If the leak is too big, I don't know if it can still handle it. It might be worth a try, at a few dollars a bottle, and might get you by in the short term. Pick up some more OEM coolant too, if your OB is running low.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks gents for the good advice.

Your overflow tank is full because the HG leak is over presurizing the coolant system which is forcing coolant into the overflow tank. Once enough fluid is pushed out of the main cooling system the car will overheat because there is not enough fluid to cool the engine. This is playing out exactly how my HG leak did. Try having someone rev the motor while someone else watches for bubbles. I can almost guarantee bubbles are coming but possibly not at idle.
I was sort of moving in this direction with my thought. Its nice to hear a confirmation of what makes sense in this situation.


Here's where I'm at. Definitely a head gasket issue. I'm thinking about making this my project car and getting a new used car.

I found an extremely well maintained 2001 Outback VDC H6 with 96K miles on it. Do any of you know any issues this particular engine/model has?

Then in the meantime, I can do the HG's and fix up my 2002 to sell or play with.
 

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2002 Outback, 2.5L. Engine was a rebuild I bought of ebay. The engine has 18K miles on it. The car itself has 168K miles on it.

The first instance was last Thursday. I drove 25 miles without any problems. As I slowed from highway cruising speed nearing a stop light, temperature started to go up. Initially, when I'd accelerate it would go back down... but soon it would continue to creep up. It got pretty hot (red) for about 1-2 minutes as I had to get to work. Turning on the heat proved futile as no hot air would blow out.

I let it cool 5-6 hours. Added an entire gallon of distilled water. The problem quite literally went away. The whole weekend I had absolutely no problem whatsoever, even after driving 25 miles on the highway at 75mph.

Monday morning, did the 25mile commute to work, and replicated the problem from Thursday. Same exact indications.

I replaced the thermostat. I bought a generic one from Autozone. This did not fix the problem.


Next, I took it to a mechanic. He purged and refilled the system. We made sure to get all the air out. Every last pocket (or so it seems).

I started the drive home, the temperature was solid mid gauge the whole way. Maybe five miles out I saw a little spike of a needle width.

About 500 feet from my house, after slowing to a stop at a light... And boom, the temperature starts rising... pulling up to my house, it's at the top bar. The overflow tank is bubbling. The bubbling lasts for approximately 2-3 minutes... then ceases completely (system overpressure valve?)

So I let it cool several hours tonight. I took a friends car to get a Block test kit from Autozone. I've provided an album. I'm not sure if it's conclusive or not. If any of you have more experience, I'd love to hear your opinion.

Imgur AlbumBlock Test - Imgur

After the block test, I ran the crap out of the car for about 10 minutes, attempting to get the car to overheat the slightest bit... nothing. It idled for about 20 minutes perfectly fine while I did the block test, and then I ran it for another 10 down the road. Nothing. Not the slightest sign of overheating.

It seems to only overheat after an extended period of time driving, about 25 miles, and only after slowing down to sub 15mph.

Both cooling fans are fully operational.

Does anyone have any idea what's going on? Are my head gaskets most likely toast?

Thanks for reading.
Glad I found your thread. I have this exact problem with my 97 outback which I bought in 98 with 30,000 miles on it. It now has 153,000 and has been the best car I ever owned. But I guess it need head gaskets. Thanks
 

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Found your response here to what seems to be exactly the same problem I have with my 97 outback. It has been such a great car and I love to drive it, but not sure it is worth putting head gaskets in with 153,000 miles. So glad I found this thread and your responses.
 
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