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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2002 impreza outback with 190K on the clock. I was losing coolant and the top seam on my radiator was wet. I took the radiator cap off and ran motor until warm. The level on the radiator rose until coolant spilled out from where the cap was. I looked at the level and noticed every 10-20 seconds a air bubble arose. My head gaskets waterpump and thermostat was replaced at 135k so It cant be head gasket again???? what else would make bubbles in my cooling system??? thanks a lot!
 

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You could have air in the system. The cap could be bad - the over flow hose or nipple on the radiator could be cracked allowing the cooling system to suck air back into the system etc. Check those things first.

I hope you kept your receipts for the work done.

For internal HG failure check they have a simple exhaust gas chemistry kit you use to check for a blown Gasket by simply sampling the coolant. Your local parts store will have it.
 

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The 02 has the 2.5L
The HG chemistry kit is probably not going to pick up anything on the 2.5 given if it is leaking from HG then it should be external not internal. Run it then take a quick peek from just behind the driver side front tire look at the back driver side bottom corner of the engine see if you spot any coolant dripping onto the hot exhaust. This would be the classic external HG leak which case you might want to have a little talk with whomever did your HG job. Given they did a lame job of it.
 

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Unless it is a constant, steady amount of air bubbles, I would doubt a gasket issue. I would however recommend that you make sure its topped off, fill the reservoir to full, replace the cap with a new one and clean off the radiator. Then run the car to operating temperature and check the tank seal for a leak.

If no leak, it was the cap.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks a lot guys for putting my mind at ease. I was freaking out thinking I was going to have to sink another 1900 bucks into this car! Ill get a new cap tomorrow... Autozone special good enough? Also should i replace the radiator because the car has so many miles on it and living in michigan I would hate to try and do that this winter. Thanks!
 

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Get an OEM radiator cap, there have been problems with using other brands in the past...

If the radiator isn't leaking or clogged, in my opinion I wouldn't change it, just keep an eye on the coolant level in the expansion tank frequently. If you notice the level drop keep topping it off and check for leaks.
 

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Get an OEM radiator cap, there have been problems with using other brands in the past...

If the radiator isn't leaking or clogged, in my opinion I wouldn't change it, just keep an eye on the coolant level in the expansion tank frequently. If you notice the level drop keep topping it off and check for leaks.
Historically the OEM Cap and the OEM thermostat have been the only ones to use everyone who goes with the cheap knock off stuff from the local parts store has had issues with them those issues being EXACTLY what your reporting.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I found out that the top of the radiator (the plastic) just beneath the radiator cap has a hairline crack where it is leaking from. Would this explain the bubbles coming from the cap opening? Is this a problem area of stock radiators, or could this be a victim of over pressurization of a blown HG??? any thoughts?
 

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I found out that the top of the radiator (the plastic) just beneath the radiator cap has a hairline crack where it is leaking from. Would this explain the bubbles coming from the cap opening? Is this a problem area of stock radiators, or could this be a victim of over pressurization of a blown HG??? any thoughts?
Nope this can and has been a issue for a number of cars and brands over the years. I recall a co-worker getting stranded on the Bay Bridge about 12yrs ago when his Mercedes cracked the plastic cap piece at the top of the radiator.

It happens
 
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