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2003 outback 4 cyl
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there,

My 2003 2.5L OB had to get a new HG about two years ago. It's now at 109K miles and last week, while on the highway, the temperature spiked nearly into the red. I let the engine cool a bit and took a look at the coolant in the reservoir, which was slightly dirty but not anything like milkshake-brown, and no bubbles. It was maybe a little low, so I topped it off with fresh coolant and the problem went away. But today when the engine was cooled I took a look under the radiator cap and sure enough, there is a film of orange-brown gunk.

Now, could it be just residual stuff from the problem couple years ago? Or could this be just a byproduct of needing a coolant flush? I haven't been smelling coolant and the car has otherwise been running normally. This is the first time ever that the temp has gone even slightly high on the gauge.

Would it make sense to start with a coolant flush?
Thanks!
 

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2003 HG failure was external meaning the HG leaked coolant externally you should be able to smell it after a short drive - park the car shut it off and stick your nose in the driver side fender. No coolant smell then you could have an internal HG failure

Having said all of that - the shop that did your HG should warranty the work given your HG failure is 100% due to the lacking skill and quality of work that went into replacing the first HG. I had a Toyota that blew three HG's in three years because the dealer ie TOYOTA couldn't get a skilled tech to do the HG right.

Subaru replaced my HG at 65K when it started leaking externally due to a bad gasket design. They replaced the gasket with an updated gasket design and the car was fine at 180,000 miles zero leaks. The key thing was a skilled tech doing the work really knew what he was doing!!! Replacing a HG is more than just replacing a part - you need the person doing it to have some skills to do it correctly or you will have another failure sooner than later.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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First - was the coolant conditioner ever added? Your vehicle requires a coolant conditioner by Subaru.

Flush and make sure that $2.47 bottle is added.
 

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2003 Outback, 5 MT, 134K, HG changed.
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184 Posts
The only thing orange-brown I can think of is if a copper-based gasket sealant was applied to your gaskets before they were installed. Maybe a glob of it finally ripped off and somehow plugged up your radiator, preventing coolant flow. Certainly look for external leaks around the heads. If you find a leak, then that's it. But it might be worth unhooking the radiator and doing a flow test to see if something's obstructing. It's much cheaper and simpler to do than a HG job.

But even before that, the cheapest thing might be to get a HG chemical test kit (I can't remember what they're called) that you stick in place of your radiator cap and fire up the engine. It will detect if combustion gasses are making it into the coolant, which will indicate an internal leak. If that's the case, it will help you haggle with the shop about warrantying their work.
 

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Thermostat

Try pulling out thermostat and check on stove if it opens up like it should. Have a 2.2 SOHC and this happened, checked and it barely opened at the proper temp. Replaced it and 20k miles later no more heating up.

But, on those 2.5's....
 
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