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I have a '00 Outback I just bought 2 months ago. Had it taken in for an oil leak out of the cam seals and the mechanic mentioned I had a small coolant leak that was nothing to worry about but that there was also some corrosion on my water pump but thought I'd be fine leaving it.

Fast forward ONE day and I notice small amounts of steam/smoke coming from under the hood. Didn't have time to check it out but when I got back in town the next day, she began to steam again. Saw that the steam is apparently coming from my radiator. I had leaked almost all my coolant and replaced it with water. I've gone down about 2 inches of water in the reservoir over 24 hours. I noticed coolant kinda sprayed all over the radiator, parts of the engine block/belt as well as puddles on the underside engine cover.

It appears there is coolant leaking out of the TOP of the radiator and leaking down from there. I am assuming the spray is a result of the fans spraying the leaking coolant from above? I haven't been able to get under and see if it's leaking from points underneath as well but does it sound like I am simply looking at needing to replace the radiator? Or could it have something to do with the water pump my mechanic was saying was a little rough or more than that? The radiator cap is a little loose as well and I am planning on getting a new one to see if that helps.

Any help would be appreciated, I'm trying to self diagnose and repair since I just dropped $400 2 days ago. Thanks!
 

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Replace the radiator and the thermostat. Both easy jobs. Be sure to "burp" the engine by letting it run a couple or three thermostat cycles with the radiator cap off. You don't want air trapped in the block.

You can remove the radiator and fans as one piece, then separate the fan assembly with it out of the car. Remember to plug the fans back in when its completed and don't loose the rubber cushions that mount in the bottom of the core bracket.

Automatic Trans? Also, check the transmission fluid level after its warmed up. You will lose some disconnecting the cooler lines.
 

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Replace the radiator and the thermostat. Both easy jobs. Be sure to "burp" the engine by letting it run a couple or three thermostat cycles with the radiator cap off. You don't want air trapped in the block.

You can remove the radiator and fans as one piece, then separate the fan assembly with it out of the car. Remember to plug the fans back in when its completed and don't loose the rubber cushions that mount in the bottom of the core bracket.

Automatic Trans? Also, check the transmission fluid level after its warmed up. You will lose some disconnecting the cooler lines.

Thanks very much Cardoc, definitely appreciate the tips as this will be my first time doing the radiator/thermo. Any other tips or things to watch out for?

Also, it's a manual trans. Quick question as well, does the thermo usually need to be replaced with the radiator or does it sound like that's jubbed up to you as well? Just tryin to save any penny I can!

Thanks again my friend
 

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I suggest replacing the thermostat because you posted it "steamed" a couple times. Overt temperature on a thermostat will effect its performance. Its 2 bolts to replace it and $25 dollars to your local Subaru Dealership Parts department for the thermostat and seal.

The radiator is a gravy job. 2 bolts to remove the upper stays, remove the hoses, unplug the fans from the bottom, pull it out.

The fan is attached to the radiator with screws.

Check the interior of the hoses for deterioration. If you run a finger inside the hose and black film comes out, replace them.
 

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If you just had the cam seals done, there's a possibility that the mechanic dinged the rad while he was working on it. Not likely near the top of the rad, but a possibility.
 

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For what it's worth, I have a 2005 Outback manual transmission. There is a "stub" on the top of the radiator, passenger side, which is about 1/4 inch in diameter. It looks like it would be used to send coolant to some other part on the vehicle (maybe a turbo?), but it is not used on my car. Instead, they close it off with a rubber cap held in place with a hose clamp. The rubber cap is not reinforced and developed cracks where coolant leaks out. You have to remove a plastic cover with two plastic philips head screws to see it. You might not realize that this is the problem because it is hidden. Check it before you go ahead and replace the radiator.
 
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