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My (recently purchased ugh) 1996 Subaru outback has been overheating. The radiator cap stays cold as well as the bottom hose. When the engine overheats, antifreeze gushes out underneath. We changed the thermostat and tried bleeding the air out and a week later it was giving us the same problems. Can anyone help us out with ideas of what it could be? Thanks.
 

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I know this seems menial but did you fill and vent with the cap off when you first replaced the coolant? I usually let the engine come up to temp so the thermostat can open to verify all of the fluid is circulating through the block. With the cap off you'll know when it opens and sucks down from what is in the radiator.
 

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When the engine overheats, antifreeze gushes out underneath..
Where is it leaking? Normally there is no place that it can come out underneath.

You either have a head gasket failure or the coolant is not circulating. If coolant is puking out of the bottom of the engine (not just a bad hose connection) then you have some major engine work ahead of you....

If you can't determine this stuff yourself, then you need to get a Subaru shop to check it out. Hopefully it's just a rotten hose. If so, replace them all, or others will soon fail. But from what you described, it doesn't sound good. Repeated overheating will wreck an engine.

Good luck.

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
 

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I know this seems menial but did you fill and vent with the cap off when you first replaced the coolant? I usually let the engine come up to temp so the thermostat can open to verify all of the fluid is circulating through the block. With the cap off you'll know when it opens and sucks down from what is in the radiator.
Plus, it lets the air out.

When you replaced the thermostat, was there coolant in the radiator?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yes I did fill it up with the cap off and venting while the engine was running. A guy looked at it and said the thermostat was the wrong size so we changed that. Now the engine is overheating but the antifreeze isn't leaking out the bottom. The radiator cap is still cold. It's almost as if it's not circulating...
 

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The engine seems to be fine when I take it on the interstate and everything. It's when I start and stop when I am in town or high traffic areas that is giving me problems.
 

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It might be worth it to pull the water pump and take a look. Can you feel any pressure when you try to squeeze the radiator hose when the engine is up to temp?

Are the cooling fans running when the car warms up?

-Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm not doubting you guys and I am gonna check the water pump when I get off work... But why would it work fine when I'm on the interstate but overheat when I'm in town, stopping and going, if it was the water pump? (I'm just trying to understand)
 

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You might be getting enough air flow on the freeway to keep the engine cool. I'm not too sure on these engines, but it's possible. Air cooled engine were around for a long time.

-Tim
 
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