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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys im hoping you can help me with this one. I drive a 1997 outback with 97k miles. I was driving on the highway and got caught in the traffic to get on to post (stop and go) for about 3 minutes. I noticed the temperature needle going up slowly, almost making it to the top of the gauge. When i got back onto the highway it went back down immediately. i checked my coolant level first and noticed there were some floaties in there as far as junk but its always been like the coolant was bubbling sort of. and i noticed the fans not being on. i waited 30 minutes to try and replicate it, by letting the car idle, it started to overheat. when i turned on the a/c it went down a bit but not all the way down. when i give the car gas at idle the needle also goes down. i have no idea what im looking at, maybe a coolant temp sensor? any help would be appreciated
 

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yes, the fans did engage when they needed too. i was thinking possibly a clogged radiator?
moved thread.

possible on clogged radiator. how many miles on the car?

how many miles on the timing belt kit, and water pump? (what brand are they).?


If you need a rad: CSF makes on that takes the subaru OEM cap.

what kind of thermostat do you have, what kind of rad cap to you have. (both should be OEM and can wear out overtime,
lesser brands things cause overheats..).
 

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theres 92k on the car. i just had the timing belt replaced by subaru and im not sure on water pump and thermostat as well as cap im assuming oem? i bought the car about a year and a half ago and always take it to subaru
 

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theres 92k on the car. i just had the timing belt replaced by subaru and im not sure on water pump and thermostat as well as cap im assuming oem? i bought the car about a year and a half ago and always take it to subaru

sometimes dealers skimp and don't change whole timing belt kits, just the belts,

they also don't change thermostats and rad caps, until the customer comes in overheating. and then they do it.
(saving the day, vs. just swapping things that are old by time or miles as part of regular maint.).

.
 

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so i just checked it again and noticed there were no bubbles in the coolant overflow as there were when i just got back from driving on the highway does this mean anything? could it possibly be head gaskets again?
 

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so i just checked it again and noticed there were no bubbles in the coolant overflow as there were when i just got back from driving on the highway does this mean anything? could it possibly be head gaskets again?
if they are exhaust gases. it is head gaskets.

could be a burst line that is sucking fresh air. (if you are lucky).
 

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when were the head gaskets done ? is there a warranty/ guarantee ?

who did them? what parts did they use by stock#?
, did they have the heads machined?
(= got a receipt with all that on it that you could scan and upload as a attachment, with your personal data covered)..
 

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From the book of EJ25, II Gaskets 9-14:

"And he who sloweth from the freeway only to suffer a temperature needle pointing upp-most whilst the heater goeth cold; shall shortly suffer the costs of head gasket replacement."
From the book of EJ25, II Gaskets 9-17:


and it was said by the profit known to many as @idosubaru "if said engine is the sad EJ25D, and it has been fiddled with before now in a 2nd failure,....spend only thy money on a quality EJ22 from a 1995 - 1998, ....verifying it has EGR before taketh delivery,....if all goeth well, you may drive this born again vehicle the rest of your days, and free of the EJ25D and all Demons like it that plagued you"
 

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From the book of EJ25, II Gaskets 9-17:


and it was said by the profit known to many as @idosubaru "if said engine is the sad EJ25D, and it has been fiddled with before now in a 2nd failure,....spend only thy money on a quality EJ22 from a 1995 - 1998, ....verifying it has EGR before taketh delivery,....if all goeth well, you may drive this born again vehicle the rest of your days, and free of the EJ25D and all Demons like it that plagued you"
II Gaskets 18-24 continues:

"Shall you also be free of hands injured by frame rails whilst changing plugs of spark, if thy Mercy is giveth by the EJ22E. May the seven sisters bless you with dual port heads; and composite head gaskets; and valve clearance free from interference; and valve lash never to be set. In Plaedes' name, grant us thy bounty."
 

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Wow, there's some real high brows on this line. :)

With a 98 OBW, my experience was precisely as you described, heating after coming off hiway. I never saw bubbles, but always had loss of coolant in the resevoir. Also, gurgling sounds in the heat-exchanger coolant lines (ie. bubbles) that would come and go.

Also, it is rather easy to burn up new head gaskets if the coolant is not put back in correctly. Large air pockets remain for some time, otherwise. I know from experience :( Refill using the upper radiator hose, then reconnect it and finish the last bit using the radiator cap opening. Warm up the engine and park facing uphill on a steep roadway. Expect a sizable amount of coolant to be taken in from the resevoir on the next one or two engine-off cooling cycles.
 

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Didn't see an resolution from OP so thought i'd add... I'm having the same issue, '99 outback 240k miles, purrs like a kitten.

recently went on a normal, almost daily 1hr+ drive, normal temps, stopped, and when I came back... noticed coolant had spilled out of overflow tank. The water in the overflow looked a bit brackish so I feared the worst. But I assumed stuck thermostat so I yanked it, filled with distilled water, idle temps were fine, so drove it back home the 1+ hrs, no temp issues, no driving issues.

(I've since tested that thermostat, works fine.)

Next day my woman takes it on a 15 min drive, idle for 10 min, notices steam coming out the hood and stops. Seems the radiator cracked passenger side. Car started and idled fine but was low on coolant so drove it 5 min to mechanic and temps got to about 3/4 up as I got there. Had the radiator replaced and new thermostat installed. Idled fine, temps were fine, no driving issues for the 10min home drive. Mechanic said it might need burping / air pockets etc.

I didn't do anything as I had to leave that same day. A hour later into driving it, highway 80mph temps are fine, but when i go to slow down off the highway, needle jumps up. I pulled over and killed the engine, coolant overflow tank is full but not overflowing, bubbles are coming 'up' the reservoir, coolant looks excellent (not brackish this time). Radiator fans are running, engine temp slowly creeps back down.

I quickly get it back on the highway and up to 70-80 and the temps stay normalized (just below the middle of the temp symbol).
So I did some tests @ 75mph:

1) let off the gas in Drive = rpms drop significantly, car slows down, temp needle goes up. I get back on the gas and speed back up, needle goes back down to norm

2) slip it in neutral, keep the revs at 3200+rpm = car slows down, temp needle stays normal. I blip off the throttle and slip it in drive, get the rpms back up quickly = temp needle has a delayed slight fluctuation rise and fall.

so i drove home and for the 1hr+ kept the rpms above 3k. It made for some uncomfortable launches (i briefly dropped the rpms to 2k to launch) and some rough left food braking as i would keep it in neutral when coming to a stop, but managed to get her home without the needle going above 3/4 towards the red.

next day coolant reservoir empty, starts right up, oil dipstick looks clean, idles perfect, temps rise to normal and stay for 30 min at idle, cabin heat works, exhaust is clear.

Update:

Sat a few days, jacked the front end up as high as I could ( this is coastal prairie ain't no hills near), disconnected upper rad hose coolant spilled out so there was really no topping her off, radiator was full. lowered her.

fired her up, car warmed up to normal temp, sat on the gas @ 3krpm for about 5 min, no change in temp, fans cycled on. Shrugged. Took her for a spin. 10 min city driving temps stable, got on the highway for the next 10 min doing 60mph, exited, let off the gas in Drive, temps started to creep up again. put her in Neutral, got the revs up to 3k and temps went back to normal, used the u-turn lane and quickly got back on the highway headed back home.
But this time when I exited the highway after the same 10 minutes, let off the gas, slipped it in N, came to a stop, was abou tto rev it as soon as I noticed the needle start to rise, but the temps remained stable.??? Ok fine I thought she's possessed. Put her in D to make 2 quick rights to get to a gas station and as soon as I put her in D and gave a little gas, the needle started to rise. Got into the station with the needle up about 70%, killed it, turned back to the ON position and watched the needle slowly lower to just below normal temps. filled up, left the gas station, city driving for 10 minutes the temps were stable, no overheating. pulled into the driveway and braked to a stop, needle starts climbing, the overflow tank is full and 'boiling'.

this is a completely random overheating issue as far as I can tell.

so....

seeing as how, when the engine is very hot, coolant temp is inversely related to rpm.... I'm now leaning towards water pump failure. If it's not providing enough pressure at low rpms when the engine is very hot, it's causing a 'blockage' and overheating state.

But could it also have to do with overly hot transmission fluid interfering with the radiators ability to perform?

It could just need a burp... but it's doing the same thing as when it first overheated (before the new radiator/thermostat) when I'm very sure it didn't need burping as it had not overheated in 30k miles of driving.

thoughts?

thanks
 

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I think your engine head gasket(s) failed.

About 12 years ago my '97 Subie with the EJ25 engine also had intermittent overheating. I flushed the radiator and changed the thermostat but the sporadic overheating continued. I finally admitted a head gasket must have failed, or the water pump failed. I knew the engine was due for a timing set anyway, so I yanked the engine myself to save a few bucks, took the engine to a trusted mechanic, had him replace the headgaskets with FelPro gaskets (he confirmed the headgasket had failed on one side), also install a timing set and water pump, then I reinstalled the engine myself. The engine has since been running pretty much flawlessly and now has an additional 70K miles on the odometer.
 

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I'm now leaning towards water pump failure.
It's not the water pump. The headgaskets are failing. Resurface the heads, clean the block face, lubricate the head bolts/threads, and install Subaru headgaskets.

Or do an EJ22 swap.

Ideally you properly get all the air out and top the coolant off and make sure there are no leaks. Once that's done, which it appears it has been, it's the headgaskets.

An exaust gas analyzer can sniff the coolant and confirm. The store kits for checking for exhaust gases give false negatives some times and are not negatively conclusive.
 

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neebie here and have been following this thread as we have had a similar issue. Purchased a 1997 Outback (186K) that had alot of service tickets by the Subaru dealer but did not find one on head gaskets. In checking all the hoses (all hoses, belts, and thermostat had been replaced 1k ago) I managed to crack the radiator at the upper hose and not realize it till 100 miles later when it started to read hotter than normal- We parked the car as soon as the gauge started to show hot. Installed the new radiator along with new cap and thermostat (overly cautious dad here)- and thought that I had the issue solved. Next day it spiked hot for a couple of seconds then dropped to normal. I pulled over and checked the antifreeze- it was low so got on here and followed advice to elevate fron of car and fill through upper hose- it took about 10-12 oz of fluid.
The car seems to be fine, no overheating, oil is clean and no vapor in exhaust- HOWEVER- when the car is cold and I check the radiator, it seems to be about 1-2" low in the radiator but overflow seems a bit fuller. Is this normal? Thanks and hope this didnt hijack the thread but felt it was very similar to thread...
 

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1. keep topping off the radiator to ensure you're not still dealing with air pockets.
2. monitor coolant loss.

3. radiators don't usually crack due to "checking a hose". correlation does not mean causation, maybe you're mis-correlating your action and the failure. it would be just as likely, or more likely, that the car you bought had extant overheating issues and was going to blow the weak spot in the radiator whether you touched that hose or not (not uncommon with that engine).

4. if you just bought this car - these Phase I DOHC EJ25's are prone to people getting rid of them at the first signs of overheating. they're easy to sell when they first start overheating because they're so intermittent and prone to misdiagnosis or poor correlation...i.e. "it overheated, i replaced the thermostat and it didn't overheat the next day, so i'm going to sell it now that it's fixed"....problem is, it's not fixed, owner just thinks it is and the anecdotal "one day" just wasn't enough to know it's going to overheat again in a week, month, or 4 months. the original gaskets on those are prone to go long periods of time between subsequent overheats, it confused a lot of mechanics 15 years ago, shops called me to help them diagnosis "mysterious" overheating back in the day. it was always headgaskets.

anyway - hopefully you're right and you just blew a radiator, it's 20+ years old and that's certainly common enough too.
 

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the plastic tanks on each end were very brittle and you could crumble the hose barb inlet- it was such that you could crumble the plastic with your fingers. When pulling it out, both tanks cracked from just grabbing the rad so it was probably just a coincidence.

Looking at the heads- it appears that the washers under the bolts are all new and the gasket that is exposed looks to be newer than what I would expect- they are clean and tan in color...Is this possibly an indication that there has been work done in this area?

Thanks for the info
 
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