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2000 Outback
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I just got my 2000 Outback 2.5 with 185k miles and the previous owner had issues with the car's overflow bubbling, here's what she replaced and when last year to make it easier to diagnose.

August:
-Timing belt
-Water Pump
-Shift solenoid replaced
-New head gaskets
-Cylinder heads rebuilt
-New plugs and wires

October
-New radiator
-New Thermostat
-Replaced coolant
-Redid the head gaskets [were installed improperly]

at this point, she has sunk over 3k into this problem, and it is still slightly bubbling, and decided to move onto another vehicle. Now, does this seem like a problem with the head gasket again? luckily, the place of repair has a 12 month repair warranty if so, but are there any other ideas on what may be happening here? she's no overheating at all, she stays within normal operating temps and has about a bubble a second when at idle, meanwhile it disappears when above 2k rpm. sorry if this is lengthy but i wanted to be thorough in my approach to better get the problem resolved without wasting everyone's time lol. thanks for any assistance in advance!
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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1. Was Subaru Coolant Conditioner added? It is required for that engine. At the beginning of headgasket signs it often clears them up. Two bottles can be used as well on existing leaks. Buy it and follow the directions on the bottle.

That step alone stops most Phase II EJ25 headgasket coolant leaks at onset....but that being said, the headgaskets should not leak immediately after installation so that's a red flag.

Sounds like headgaskets....though that is a nontypical headgasket symptom for that phase EJ25, but it's often the case that nontypical failure modes occur after a headgasket replacement so it's hard to guess what's going on.

Was the engine ever overheated?
What does it mean that headgaskets were "installed improperly"?
Were the heads resurfaced and what headgaskets were used?

Should use the Subaru EJ25 Turbo headgaskets on that engine....too late for that but if they were ever done again that's good to know.

It's possible the block has issues - but that's very rare and would usually only happen if it's been overheated in the past, run hot.
 

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2000 Outback
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, one 4.4 oz bottle was used at time of radiator replacement, and she said it did overheat one time, but she pulled over and had it towed to the shop and they were unable to reproduce the overheat even with a/c on, but installed a new radiator and thermostat along with replacing the coolant. And my apologies they put replaced defective head gaskets

Also thank you for the quick response! Please let me know if I did not address anything
 

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01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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The bubbles would be dependent on how long since the last repair involving the cooling system, whether it was properly burped and the condition of the radiator cap itself.

A couple things to ask the shop that did the work are, was a Subaru thermostat used and is the radiator cap a Subaru cap. And I don't mean a thermostat or cap that fits a Subaru. Aftermarket stats don't work we'll in any car, especially a Subaru and he caps don't seal right.

A few bubbles in the reservoir would be normal since the coolant coming from the radiator would be pushing air out of the reservoir tube. It's the massive amount of bubbling that would be a concern.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well besides the replacement of the radiator in October, it did have a pressure test done on the second of this month, and had the coolant replaced again.

The cap does look new, but I do not see that it was replaced at the time of radiator replacement, and pressure tests put each cylinder at 170 lbs, although that could have changed I know.

Also while its not massive, it is constant, and the overflow is full, but does not have anything pulling out [as far as I can tell at least, I'm going to mark the cold level when I leave to have emissions and registration done, and check tonight on what the level is] and I will call the shop when it opens in a bit to see what they used for parts

Also just want to check, I will try burping the system, but do these types of engines require different techniques, or the same as a regular engine?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Also, I got it warmed up and it only does a little bubble every second or so unless I rev it then it stops after a few seconds, and there were some bigger bubbles if I reved while cold, but those stopped once it reached about 120. I will try burping later and get that cap while I'm out, thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Quick update, when getting off the highway it did get hot when I stopped to read the sign to see what lane to go to, I reved the engine to flow coolant through quicker and temp went down and is staying at 215 degrees f at idle.

Edit: stable at 190
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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the rad fans have also been confirmed to work right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Another update, I can't even get a mile down the road without it hitting 240 so I've pulled over so I can wait for it to cool. I have the key on on, with the engine off, and can hear the rad fans. And while typing this I had the engine open and when the rad fans turned off it sucked out almost all the coolant from the overflow. Does that sound like a head gasket or something else?
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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well, there is a chemical test for combustion gasses in the coolant. But generally, bubbles means bad HGs.

the chemical is a liquid and the engine must be generating the bubbles to go up thru the liquid. It turns from blue to blue-green. You can find youtube videos for it.

the only other crazy idea I can think of is bad waterpump/slipping TB on water pump.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It is especially weird because after waiting about 7 mins the temp was normal. Got back on the road to test and it spiked to 201 but went down to 194 and stayed there, I have been idling in my driveway for about 5 mins and it won't go above 201, the rad fans kick and bring it down to 186. Also if it seems weird that I have exact temps, I have a Bluetooth obd2 scanner that hooks up to my phone, so the temps are coming straight from the ecu
 

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It could be a bad Thermostat. But if it is happening consistently while driving on the highway, I would say that points more toward a HG, as when the engine is running at constant higher RPM it is acting like a compressor to the cooling system. Which is causing higher pressure in the system causing the cap to open and allow coolant to the overflow bottle. Then after this high pressure is bleed off after stopping, the temperature raises and the thermostat operates and the coolant is drawn back in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The thermostat makes sense, it was only half of the trip, after the few mins with the engine off, it worked fine. Also I let it idle in my driveway for a bit to see, and although it didn't overheat, there was steam being kicked out from under the radiator. Not sure if that helps but I just wanted to put all the symptoms as they come
 

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Cheapest and easist would be to get a Subaru Thermostat and Radiator cap from you local dealer! Replace them and hope it fixes it.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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oh yeah, 'standard' t'stats are known problems. figured at this point in the conversation that would have been covered.

OEM, stant Xacstat, maybe others, are mandatory for soobs. larger wax capsule and 170 deg temps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
I called one shop that the last owner went to that replaced the radiator and thermostat, and they said they only used OEM parts, except the radiator, they went with an aftermarket part for that. so next stop is the other shop to see the type of head gasket used. Other than that would a cracked block/head lead to this kind of intermittent problem? I feel as though it would be a constant problem at that point, correct me if I'm wrong though lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
OK and the second shop stated they used Subaru head gasket parts on the replacement. I'm going to call back the first place and see if they used what you recommended 1 lucky texan
 

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from what I've read, many people have the same type symptoms as you from HGs and just as weird symptoms from bad t'stats. Something abot the t'stats, they seem to get too cool when the car is moving and close when a 170deg OEM with the large wax capsule stays open.

I think I'm just hoping you have a bad t'stat or waterpump but, if the car has bubbles and coolant is flowing, those bubbles are quite likely combustion gasses. Quite typical to only leak one way and not usually have coolant in the exhaust. I think some shops can also use a tailpipe 'sniffer' to confirm the bubbles are combustion gasses.
 
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