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2003 outback 4 cyl
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,
My 2003 2.5 OB recently started running a bit hot. My repair shop ran some tests and says they see it's losing coolant from the radiator. They want to replace the radiator, hoses, and thermostat. I also had noticed some orangish sludge under the radiator cap recently - which the shop thinks is residue from a stop-leak chemical which I know has not been added (this is the only shop that's worked on it since I've owned it, and they say they wouldn't have done that). I asked if it's oil and they said no. Ugh. anyway they want like $870 for these repairs (this is in Brooklyn). Any thoughts? This has already had a HG repair and I'm nervous to replace the radiator if there's a chance it's an HG issue.
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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if they did a pressure test and can point to a hole/crack in the radiator, that seems like a reasonable diagnosis. (you could still shop around for repair prices as long as you don't run the car hot.)

any car, more especially one that has been driven while overheated, can have bad HGs but, your 03 really only has a reputation for 'external weeping' of coolant (maybe oil too ???) I think. Unlikely you could test for bad HGs without doing the radiator repair anyway. (make sure your shop uses the larger, 170deg, Subaru OEM thermostat)
 

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01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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16,261 Posts
Hi there,
My 2003 2.5 OB recently started running a bit hot. My repair shop ran some tests and says they see it's losing coolant from the radiator. They want to replace the radiator, hoses, and thermostat. I also had noticed some orangish sludge under the radiator cap recently - which the shop thinks is residue from a stop-leak chemical which I know has not been added (this is the only shop that's worked on it since I've owned it, and they say they wouldn't have done that). I asked if it's oil and they said no. Ugh. anyway they want like $870 for these repairs (this is in Brooklyn). Any thoughts? This has already had a HG repair and I'm nervous to replace the radiator if there's a chance it's an HG issue.
The "orange" film is the coolant drying after the water evaporated. It tends to build up where it sits at a leak location. It cleans off with solvent.

If the radiator is indeed cracked, the price quoted seems a bit high. Mitchell calls for 1 hour labor for the radiator, .8 hours for both hoses and .8 hours for the thermostat. That's 2.6 hours total, but, a reputable shop will allow for labor on the hoses to be combined with the radiator and thermostat since they have to be removed anyway, so actual labor time should only be 2 hrs max. Multiply that times the shop labor rate and you get the labor total charge with the rest being parts cost.

Then you have coolant cost. The system only holds 1.75 gallons.

Aftermarket radiators fit well and the cost is low. Over the counter about $200, hoses $20 and $30, and the Subaru thermostat is $25 with the seal.

So allowing for taxes, say generous 10%, parts just over $300, labor at 100 an hr is $200 and coolant $35 comes to $535.00.

Brooklyn. Where you go to dump your cash. I would suggest you go to another shop. That price is too high.
 
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