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2012 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited, with custom-added always-on auxillary power for an inverter, 3x DC jacks, and a radio transciever.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In the next month or two I'm probably going to be reaching 120K miles on my 2012 3.6R. I see there's many things that need service that I know will take longer than the usual (brake fluid, spark plugs, fuel filter, likely differential oil, plus standard oil/filter/check everything) than at most service intervals and "looking ahead" coolant is due at 137K.

I'm wondering if there is any benefit or detriment (other than to my bank account) to just replacing the coolant at 120K with everything else and have them work on everything with this "takes all day" big work so it's done with at once and I don't have a long all-day service AGAIN in 13.5K miles too?

I'm also confused what happens when I replace the coolant, I see some places say it's another 137K, online manual for my car references 75K for the 2nd replacement (but no 3rd?), and forums and shops/dealers range from 30/60K to 120-130K claims. I'm trying to think "long term" because I really want this car to last "forever", so I am trying to plan stuff out reasonably well; I average 400 miles/wk just to and from work.

I think the "Subaru Blue" coolant sounds like a good idea from what I've read on here (vs the "regular all brands" green the local shop would use by default) but I want to understand what I'm doing before I make commitments.

Thoughts?
 

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2013 3.6R Limited
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120,000 miles is a long time to run ANY coolant regardless of what Subaru specs may say. Protective agents and chemicals in all fluids tend to break down over time and heat cycles. I expect to do a drain-and-fill of my 2013 3.6R's cooling system when I do the 60,000-mile service. I consider that task to be inexpensive insurance towards preserving the cooling system for the long haul. This will be a DIY job for me.

At 37,250 miles currently, I still have quite a few years to go, though.
 
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2016 3.6 Limited with ES
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I think the Super Blue is good for around 110-120k miles.

There's no harm doing the swap at 120k. This is one of the fluids where Subie seems to have a very good product but if you must wander off the rez, Zerox Asian is a common replacement but honestly, just suck it up and buy the Blue. The cost prorated over another 120k miles is peanuts.
 

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2012 Outback 2.5 Limited
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The gripe I have with newer coolants is that they all come pre-diluted. Which means you can't really "flush" the cooling system the way you could with a system where you can add undiluted fluid (well you could, but you'll mess up the coolant %). As such, any coolant fluid exchange on this car is more of a drain-and-fill, and how much you'll be able to drain depends on how many plugs you're willing to open. You'll get a fair amount out simply by draining and filling the radiator (which is likely what the dealer will do if you ask them to service it). You'll get a tad more if you're willing to disconnect the reservoir and drain and fill that. Even more if you crank open one of the bottom freeze plugs on the engine. But even after all that you'll still have coolant sitting in the heater core for the cabin heat. As such, what I like to do is drain-and-fill the radiator more frequently than the service manual calls for, and gradually replenish the factory fill with new fluid every now and then.

Another trick is if you are doing the water pump (typically done while you're in there for a timing belt job anyhow) and thermostat that's a really good opportunity to do coolant drain and fill anyhow, since a bunch with gush out with that job. You may be able to argue for a break on the cost of the coolant exchange if you let them know they're essentially doing half of it in the cost of the water pump job anyhow.

On vehicles where you can still use undiluted coolant what I like to do is thoroughly flush the system with distilled water (at $1/gallon it's not very expensive to splurge here). Once I've flushed enough to essentially have 100% distilled water in the system I drain the radiator. Since I know the full capacity of the system, I then add 50% of that capacity as undiluted coolant. If there's any remaining room I top off with distilled water. I now know I have an exact 50/50 mix of distilled water and coolant.
 

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2012 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited, with custom-added always-on auxillary power for an inverter, 3x DC jacks, and a radio transciever.
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
120,000 miles is a long time to run ANY coolant regardless of what Subaru specs may say. Protective agents and chemicals in all fluids tend to break down over time and heat cycles. I expect to do a drain-and-fill of my 2013 3.6R's cooling system when I do the 60,000-mile service. I consider that task to be inexpensive insurance towards preserving the cooling system for the long haul. This will be a DIY job for me.

At 37,250 miles currently, I still have quite a few years to go, though.
I tend to agree that seemed really long to me (same with the serpentine belt which is factory) but I also trust the engineers who wrote the manual to know what the rated change interval is to keep it in working order. I'm amazed the serpentine belt is still going, every time I ask a shop they say it looks like new not to mess with it. Technology in car maintenance these days is impressive.

The gripe I have with newer coolants is that they all come pre-diluted. Which means you can't really "flush" the cooling system the way you could with a system where you can add undiluted fluid (well you could, but you'll mess up the coolant %). As such, any coolant fluid exchange on this car is more of a drain-and-fill, and how much you'll be able to drain depends on how many plugs you're willing to open. You'll get a fair amount out simply by draining and filling the radiator (which is likely what the dealer will do if you ask them to service it). You'll get a tad more if you're willing to disconnect the reservoir and drain and fill that. Even more if you crank open one of the bottom freeze plugs on the engine. But even after all that you'll still have coolant sitting in the heater core for the cabin heat. As such, what I like to do is drain-and-fill the radiator more frequently than the service manual calls for, and gradually replenish the factory fill with new fluid every now and then.

Another trick is if you are doing the water pump (typically done while you're in there for a timing belt job anyhow) and thermostat that's a really good opportunity to do coolant drain and fill anyhow, since a bunch with gush out with that job. You may be able to argue for a break on the cost of the coolant exchange if you let them know they're essentially doing half of it in the cost of the water pump job anyhow.

On vehicles where you can still use undiluted coolant what I like to do is thoroughly flush the system with distilled water (at $1/gallon it's not very expensive to splurge here). Once I've flushed enough to essentially have 100% distilled water in the system I drain the radiator. Since I know the full capacity of the system, I then add 50% of that capacity as undiluted coolant. If there's any remaining room I top off with distilled water. I now know I have an exact 50/50 mix of distilled water and coolant.
No timing belt on the 3.6R it's a timing chain and as such should not need replacement. I'd agree if it had a timing belt to do both since "you're in there".

Since I don't have anywhere to perform work (I'm in an apartment) this will be done at my local trusted mechanic when the time comes, I do plan to have him buy the coolant from the Subaru dealer (he says I can't provide it, they have to procure it - I'm okay with that) so I don't remember off the top of my head if they said they would do a "flush" or just "drain and fill" (probably depends what the service manual says, I suppose I could look).
 

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2012 Outback 2.5 Limited
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Happy to address your questions Scott but you should create a separate thread for them (or have a moderator move) so as to not derail the topic of this thread.
 

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I tend to agree that seemed really long to me (same with the serpentine belt which is factory) but I also trust the engineers who wrote the manual to know what the rated change interval is to keep it in working order. I'm amazed the serpentine belt is still going, every time I ask a shop they say it looks like new not to mess with it. Technology in car maintenance these days is impressive.


No timing belt on the 3.6R it's a timing chain and as such should not need replacement. I'd agree if it had a timing belt to do both since "you're in there".

Since I don't have anywhere to perform work (I'm in an apartment) this will be done at my local trusted mechanic when the time comes, I do plan to have him buy the coolant from the Subaru dealer (he says I can't provide it, they have to procure it - I'm okay with that) so I don't remember off the top of my head if they said they would do a "flush" or just "drain and fill" (probably depends what the service manual says, I suppose I could look).

Don't forget to have them order the conditioner too. I believe after you drain the coolant, the service calls for flushing with water, and then adding the conditioner along with a new batch of coolant.

A month or two ago I replaced the Serpentine (called V-Belt in the Service Manual from past models) on my 2.5 around 80k. It had some glazing and some very minor cracking and probably did in fact have a lot more life left in it, but a new OEM belt was I think $15, so I changed it out now. I'll do it again if I keep the car when I do the T-Belt service on my 2.5.
 

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2012 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited, with custom-added always-on auxillary power for an inverter, 3x DC jacks, and a radio transciever.
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Don't forget to have them order the conditioner too. I believe after you drain the coolant, the service calls for flushing with water, and then adding the conditioner along with a new batch of coolant.

A month or two ago I replaced the Serpentine (called V-Belt in the Service Manual from past models) on my 2.5 around 80k. It had some glazing and some very minor cracking and probably did in fact have a lot more life left in it, but a new OEM belt was I think $15, so I changed it out now. I'll do it again if I keep the car when I do the T-Belt service on my 2.5.
Is the conditioner additive still needed with the OEM blue coolant (which is pre-mixed from what the dealership said when we got some to have for topping-off)?

Also from the 2012 service manual "Note: The SUBARU Super Coolant contains anti-freeze and anti-rust agents, and is especially made for Subaru engines with an aluminum cylinder block. Be sure to use SUBARU Super Coolant, since other coolant may cause corrosion" so that seems to suggest whatever additives it needs are already mixed as part of the Super-coolant?

Though then on the service manual there's also a section about "adjusting" the concentration which makes me wonder if the dealer didn't know what they were doing when I was told "never add any water".
 

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Well, I checked NASIOC forums. Seems like the Coolant Conditioner originated sometime in the mid-2000's possibly as a remedy for the NA HG issues, and had a specification to not use it in the turbo models (this might be different currently)...

There's three kinds of posters I've seen on that forum:

1. People that use the OEM fluids and do everything by the book when the book says
2. People that don't use OEM fluids and try to do things around when the book says
3. People that fall somewhere in between

Perhaps the conditioner isn't needed, don't know. I would suggest asking the dealership maybe for a price quote on a coolant flush and whether or not that included any conditioners in addition to the coolant itself. That might give you the answer you're looking for.
 

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As with any automotive fluid...there is no such thing as lifetime fluid....no matter what they tell you...
 

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while the basic material in the coolant (ethylene glycol) hasn't changed, the inhibitor package certainly has. No reason it shouldn't be able to last longer (particularly with more stable or a higher concentration of inhibitors) - certainly doesn't harm your car to change it early, but just like cars have evolved over the years and improved, fluids have as well.
 

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On the question of should you be using the Coolant Conditioner (Holts Radweld): from the Subaru 2014 Factory Service Manual.
 

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2012 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited, with custom-added always-on auxillary power for an inverter, 3x DC jacks, and a radio transciever.
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
On the question of should you be using the Coolant Conditioner (Holts Radweld): from the Subaru 2014 Factory Service Manual.
What section of the manual did you find that in?

I was not able to find that in my 2012 service manual.
 

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In the 2010, 2013 and 2014 FSM: H4 and the H6 Engine section, Cooling subsection, General Description.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well, I checked NASIOC forums. Seems like the Coolant Conditioner originated sometime in the mid-2000's possibly as a remedy for the NA HG issues, and had a specification to not use it in the turbo models (this might be different currently)...

There's three kinds of posters I've seen on that forum:

1. People that use the OEM fluids and do everything by the book when the book says
2. People that don't use OEM fluids and try to do things around when the book says
3. People that fall somewhere in between

Perhaps the conditioner isn't needed, don't know. I would suggest asking the dealership maybe for a price quote on a coolant flush and whether or not that included any conditioners in addition to the coolant itself. That might give you the answer you're looking for.
Although I think we hammered out the answer based on the above references to the service manual I wanted to follow up with my experience in asking the dealer.

Well I thought it sounded like a good idea at the time...but unfortunately the answer I got is cost is probably around $180 I think they said (but prices change so check back often!) for the coolant flush/change, that doesn't include any conditioners or additives. When I asked if it would need any and what the cost would be if it does they said "we wouldn't know that until we see the vehicle and can determine what it needs".

So apparently at least my local dealer seems to think just knowing year/make/model/trim and mileage is insufficient to tell me what exactly a coolant change would require nor quote an exact cost quote. They were quick to offer a laundry list of other things I "have to" to have done at lord knows what cost. I'm reminded of the sticker shock when I regretted going to the dealer at 60K miles.
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Unrelated, while visiting the dealership I tried to test drive a 2018 Outback 2.5i for fun...but the only ones they could find keys for were trapped by 2017's with dead batteries. Finally ended up test driving a 2017 Outback 2.5i Limited that they were able to find keys for and also get the engine to start. Nice car but I don't like the move to all-touch controls for the radio, can't find "buttons" while driving. The 2.5i still seemed anemic starting up a hill from a stop though it did a lot better than I remember accelerating to pass. Oh and lane assist apparently hates the road construction a block up from the dealership with all the cris-crossing lines tho as a human I feel and understand and confusion...:grin2:
 
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