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ok so heres what happened. we left wrk with heater going but then noticed it startd to blow cold air. look at gauge it was overheating. puld over popped the hood cap on rad. was loose had antifree comn out of it but was not hot. even cold to touch! so we r 1hr deep bacwoods wv need to get home so we went for well 30min into journey heater started to get really warm. keep n mind the gauge is still maxd out. few more mi got cold again. then the beast starte to run rough we wer 2mi frm home. whn she started to smoke and knock b4 it finally gave out and lost power. later there was a fire under car looked to be leaking oil. put fire out and everybody was safe! now can anybody tell me how we drove 50mi with gauge that says it was overheating but car was not smoking. or any explaintion as to what caused all this. thnx
 

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there may be too much damage now to get a good chain of events figured out, but a collapsed hose or stuck/incorrect thermostat, or gas bubble probably prevented normal coolant circulation - not sure why you saw coolant out the rad cap and not the overflow bottle, but continued operation probably led to overheated and thinned out oil, maybe additional blow-by into the crankcase, external oil leak out blown headgaskets from warpage or PCV system or ??? is compromised, oil gets on overheated exhaust - fire.

sounds like no one was injured so that's good.
 

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this is easy:

1. headgasket failed
2. exhaust gases from #1 pushed into coolant and prevented coolant from circulating
3. engine overheats and you get no heat inside cabin due to #2
4. sustained driving while #3 was happening caused engine failure and fire

an exploding/burning process designed with a cooling system leads to temperatures high enough to combust with that cooling system removed.

what caught fire first and where would be interesting to know.
 

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this is easy:

1. headgasket failed
2. exhaust gases from #1 pushed into coolant and prevented coolant from circulating
3. engine overheats and you get no heat inside cabin due to #2
4. sustained driving while #3 was happening caused engine failure and fire

an exploding/burning process designed with a cooling system leads to temperatures high enough to combust with that cooling system removed.

what caught fire first and where would be interesting to know.
Sounds correct, and I would bet that the loss of power was associated with connecting rod poking a hole in the block, and hot oil on a hot exhaust fire.
 

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Coolant can be flammable, if it is concentrated enough, and hot enough.

I can think of several things I would probably done differently than what you did.........But, what the he!!, nobody was hurt.
 

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One of the few things that I have been disappointed about on my 13 is that it doesn't have a temp gauge, just an idiot light.
This guy just sat there and watched his gauge pegged for 50 miles so I guess it is clear why Subaru has gone the route of just installing idiot lights.
 

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ok so heres what happened. we left wrk with heater going but then noticed it startd to blow cold air. look at gauge it was overheating. puld over popped the hood cap on rad. was loose had antifree comn out of it but was not hot. even cold to touch! so we r 1hr deep bacwoods wv need to get home so we went for well 30min into journey heater started to get really warm. keep n mind the gauge is still maxd out. few more mi got cold again. then the beast starte to run rough we wer 2mi frm home. whn she started to smoke and knock b4 it finally gave out and lost power. later there was a fire under car looked to be leaking oil. put fire out and everybody was safe! now can anybody tell me how we drove 50mi with gauge that says it was overheating but car was not smoking. or any explaintion as to what caused all this. thnx
Coolant which is not flowing due to air pocket in the water pump etc or some other issue can cause hose to be cool due to no coolant flowing through it - and can result in overheating given the engine is actually overheating.
 

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One of the few things that I have been disappointed about on my 13 is that it doesn't have a temp gauge, just an idiot light.
This guy just sat there and watched his gauge pegged for 50 miles so I guess it is clear why Subaru has gone the route of just installing idiot lights.
I feel the same way about my 2010 given my 2001 I used that temp gauge a whole bunch to keep the car happy!

The thing is though that gauge was stepped and not really that different than the hey Idiot light which has different indication of your heat status. Cold ie the blue light - too hot slow down turn heater on cool things off - and Pull over NOW status. Which for the most part is the same thing that old gauge was.

I like the actual digital read out our 2001 VW has given you have a much better idea just how hot things are.
 

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Your big mistake was not following my father's advice on what to do if you car catches fire.

1) Get out of the car.
2) fan the flames! You don't want the insurance company to try to fix it or if you don't have insurance, you don't want to be tempted to try to fix it.

Good advice, I think.
 

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Pegged gauge and still drove. Sorry, but that's just plain not smart.
'But the radiator was cool.'
The radiator is not where the sensor is, for just the reason that if coolant isn't flowing to it (as it obviously wasn't) you'll still know you're running too hot and need to stop and let it cool whilst trying to figure out why its getting hot.

If you think a gauge is 'lying', there's a pretty easy rule to tell: does it move gradually, or instantly flick to a different reading? Other than some electrical value indicators, your gauges should not flick from one state to another. A great example I saw myself was an oil pressure gauge that went from 60 psi to 0 psi instantly, like a switch being flipped, then back again. Same would apply to a temperature gauge. The only thing that can really change that fast in your car is electrical power - which is what drives all modern gauges. If the gauge is meant to read the state of your electrical power, then logic should fill in the rest. If it doesn't... keep melting stuff.

I had this situation 2 cars ago on a trip. I carefully tapped a finger on the thermostat housing top, and it was surprisingly cool - so I got a big spoon I had in the car and rapped it on it a few times. Soon there was a nice bubbling and gurgling noise and voila! The hoses and radiator started to get hot. Stuck thermostat. Fired the engine back up sitting still and it cooled off. After I got home a few hours later (with one more stop to jar the thing loose) I made my plans and a day later replaced the thermostat.
 

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Pegged gauge and still drove. Sorry, but that's just plain not smart.
'But the radiator was cool.'
The radiator is not where the sensor is, for just the reason that if coolant isn't flowing to it (as it obviously wasn't) you'll still know you're running too hot and need to stop and let it cool whilst trying to figure out why its getting hot.

If you think a gauge is 'lying', there's a pretty easy rule to tell: does it move gradually, or instantly flick to a different reading? Other than some electrical value indicators, your gauges should not flick from one state to another. A great example I saw myself was an oil pressure gauge that went from 60 psi to 0 psi instantly, like a switch being flipped, then back again. Same would apply to a temperature gauge. The only thing that can really change that fast in your car is electrical power - which is what drives all modern gauges. If the gauge is meant to read the state of your electrical power, then logic should fill in the rest. If it doesn't... keep melting stuff.

I had this situation 2 cars ago on a trip. I carefully tapped a finger on the thermostat housing top, and it was surprisingly cool - so I got a big spoon I had in the car and rapped it on it a few times. Soon there was a nice bubbling and gurgling noise and voila! The hoses and radiator started to get hot. Stuck thermostat. Fired the engine back up sitting still and it cooled off. After I got home a few hours later (with one more stop to jar the thing loose) I made my plans and a day later replaced the thermostat.

please post part number and link to cheapest site that sells the spoon.
 

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Lost that spoon years ago, sadly. I liked that spoon. It was fairly large, deep, and as you might expect pretty heavily built. It was great for camping. I also liked being able to hold it up and tell people it had once fixed my car.
 

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Glad everyone is safe.

As far as making it home with the temp gauge pegged, tough ass engine.

As to what caused it?? Low coolant. The first hint was no heat. What cause the low coolant? Loose cap. Pressure builds, loose cap, thermostat opens, out goes the coolant. Lack of volume in the system and the orientation of the heater hoses, you still had some, just not enough for absorbing the heat from the engine. Eventually the thermostat most likely finally gave out. We could guess at a lot of things. The only thing known from what you posted is that the coolant level got low enough it wasn't circulating through the heater core.

What's it gonna be now? Engine rebuild most likely. Maybe just HG. If the oil boiled long enough the bearings may be damaged, lifters seize, ring damage, warped heads and a list could be made.

It really doesn't matter the choice you made at the time. You did what you believed best based on what you know. No big deal. When you are out where there aren't any supplies that you need at the time, you do what is necessary and will benefit those with you.
 
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