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Discussion Starter #1
Hello All.

2006 OB, N/A, 180,300 miles.

I'm in the midst of car problems; here are the events:

1. The car was uncharacteristically slow to heat in the morning. It eventually produced heat, but took a few minutes longer than usual. Nothing drastic, but a change in behavior.

2. The shop gives it a coolant "service" (flush and change fluids) this past Saturday.

3. Driving here and there; all seemed well.

4. Two days later (yesterday, Monday) I drive home from work (25 mile commute).

5. Pulling into my driveway, I notice a slight shudder in the engine. I shut the car off, and notice a funny smell in the cockpit (rich, a bit like coffee brewing).

6. I notice steam or smoke coming out from the front grill.

7. I pop the hood, and the engine is ALL WET (especially around the front driver's side). The wet area is perhaps the size and shape of a large pizza. You could also say that the front driver's side quadrant is all wet (more or less).

8. I get back in the car, and look at the temp gauge. The engine has been off for about 3 minutes, with the hood open (so it may have cooled slightly). The needle in the temp gauge is on the line where the green meets the red. In other words, the needle is not deep in the red zone, but is right where the red zone starts.

9. Later, I notice petroleum / oil type stains on my brick driveway, directly underneath where the car was sitting. I can't see the color of the stains, because it was dark out.

10. I can't drive the car, so I have it towed, and I get a rental.

11. After loading the car on the bed, the driver of the two truck tells me that the car is wet underneath, especially near the REAR driver's side wheel.

12. The shop that performed the coolant service is calling this a "coincidence."

So much for a relaxing Monday night. And I woke to 6 inches of snow, with a tiny rental sitting in my driveway. Fun times with Murphy's Law.

Thoughts about what's going on? Thanks.
 

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did you check the coolant level in the radiator at any time?

was the smell sweet-ish? like toasted marshmallows?

did the shop install a new thermostat? did they use an OEM unit? many aftermarket t'stats will not work well with Subarus.

dunno if it was a coincidence, but it may be a GOOD thing if the shop just forgot to tighten a hose clamp or something.

I'd fill the system properly and pressure test it i think.
 

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maybe one or more of the coolant hoses are getting sucked shut. others are building pressure and opening at a looser clamp.

such would make for air in the hoses.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
did you check the coolant level in the radiator at any time?

was the smell sweet-ish? like toasted marshmallows?

did the shop install a new thermostat? did they use an OEM unit? many aftermarket t'stats will not work well with Subarus.

dunno if it was a coincidence, but it may be a GOOD thing if the shop just forgot to tighten a hose clamp or something.

I'd fill the system properly and pressure test it i think.
I didn't pay too much attention to the smell, but toasted marshmallows might be a good description...I think. I had originally described it as a rich smell, like coffee brewing.

The cooling system was just pressure tested and filled the other day (they said), so I didn't check it. I probably should have.

I didn't get a new thermostat. The shop told me "if it's not overheating, that means you don't need one." I'm thinking it's time for a new thermostat; after all, the car is 12 years old.

Many thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
maybe one or more of the coolant hoses are getting sucked shut. others are building pressure and opening at a looser clamp.

such would make for air in the hoses.
Yes, I think that's a possibility. The guy in the repair shop said the hoses looked a bit worn.

This was not Subaru, but a shop from a national chain, known mostly for their work on mufflers, and also ACs.

I think it's time to head back to Subaru, even if they're a bit expensive.

Thanks.
 

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I hope you towed it to a different shop than the one that did the coolant service. Possibly not related, but certainly very coincidental if not, particularly with the unusually long warm-up time and subsequent over-heating. Weird though: coolant on the ground doesn't look like oil, and leaking coolant smells sweet, not like burnt coffee. Did the shop do anything else on Saturday -- an oil change maybe?
 

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Yes, I think that's a possibility. The guy in the repair shop said the hoses looked a bit worn.

This was not Subaru, but a shop from a national chain, known mostly for their work on mufflers, and also ACs.

I think it's time to head back to Subaru, even if they're a bit expensive.

Thanks.


you just need some subaru parts. (OEM thermostat with gasket, OEM rad cap, )
such can be bought online at amazon from real subaru dealers.

and plain old green traditional coolant 50/50 mix.

one little cheap jug of "subaru coolant conditioner" is nice too mixed into the coolant.

(rad caps get old too, OEM is essential as it vents and seals at just the right KPA for the engine, aftermarkets measure wrong in PSI).

you don't need to go to a pricey subaru dealer at $120 a hour.

muffler shops. ...some good some bad,

a plain old independent garage that likes subarus is enough. hopfully working at $75-100 per hour.

(edit: and hope you mean flatbedded, the subaru way, not AWD damaging 2 wheels up /2 wheels down towing).
 

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finn, post your city in a new thread asking if anyone knows a good independent mechanic near you - might get lucky.
 

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might be a oil cooler, or transmission line that is blown, such do rust / corrode. (easy to buy as a preformed dealer sold part).
 

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My advice would be try to find an independent shop with excellent reviews in your area. Avoid chains and dealers if you have a good independent available. Better yet, if you think you can do the work yourself, give it a shot.

Try to identify the fluid first, and then where the leak is coming from. You may have to clean the soiled area to get a better idea of where the leak is coming from.

It sounds like winter where you are so I understand that makes washing and working on a vehicle more less enticing.

You probably could have driven the car if you had checked the coolant level and then watched the temp gauge. If you have the means, try to do some of the work yourself!
 

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basically any possible cooling system issue (which is a long laundry list) could cause those symptoms - so what we know so far is very inconclusive. leaking/spraying or boiling over can easily look the same even though the failure mode and causes are completely different and one can even cause the other, further confusing things without more info.

You want to find out if the car is:
A. using coolant internally (not due to boiling over - using coolant, lower and lower amounts - then overheating when it reaches "too low")
B. leaking externally (not due to overheating)
C. overheating with no fluid loss
D. overheating and boiling over (spraying out the overflow tank)
E. or it was improperly filled/had air in it when it did have symptoms.

1. have car properly filled and burped
2. check for leaks periodically (not just once), like every morning or evening.
3. check radiator coolant level (when engine is cold or it'll explode on your hands/face)
4. keep an eye on the temp gauge.

for all the "thermostat" populariy, they very rarely fail, only time i've seen it is on engines that sat/shipped for extended periods in a junk yard/JDM and are slightly degraded/corroded/calcified. often what happens is people replace it - symptoms go away and they report/think/tell everyone that symptoms went away so everyone then reinforces a low grade understanding "there it is again - the old failed Subaru thermostat" and then they offer those suggestions and it's a self-fulfilling prophecy that really just lacks a robust time-line....or they read on a for-sale ad "overheats - needs thermostat" and tell other people that and they think it's true, when it's clearly not. what really happens is the symptoms come back again later even with a new thermostat but it's never reported, or people don't further read that thread/see that person/fixed that car themselves, they've already repeated it to others that it *did* fix it - and no one ever knows all of this. this is further confused by third party accounts of people not doing their own work, wrong diagnosis/assumptions, multiple items replace (wasn't really the tstat), etc. This happens multiple times on car forums, between family and friends, local anecdotes that it creates a false sense of reality. work around dozens/hundreds of subaru's for decades and you'll see this pattern over and over again, i'm not even a shop or official mechanic and I've seen it countless times:

"It's fixed!!!!!"

"Oh crap, it's not!!!"

They're cheap and easy and can fail of course - so all I'm saying is sure replace it but - it's such low hanging inaccurate fruit i wouldn't get too warm and fuzzy or expect much from a mechanic if you do replace it. watch that temp gauge like a hawk.

If you're paying a shop to do it - I'd rather not guess a this point with all this confusion - i'd do something like the steps listed above and work on a diagnosis and confirmation rather than guessing.

a thermostat can be boiled - it either opens properly or it does not. if you do replace it - ask for the old one back and toss it on the stove and see if it's actually bad.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The repair shop just got back to me: HEAD GASKETS!

They said I need new head gaskets. Yeah.

I had the head gaskets done 5 years ago at 113K.

I now have 180K on the car.

This means that my head gasket replacement, done at Subaru, lasted 5 years and 67,000 miles.

Thoughts?

I'm still in shock.
 

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hard to know where the issue was, poor installation byt Subaru?

if 'something else' led to an overheating event - head gaskets can fail again. Was it low on coolant or ??????

you may never know.
 

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Quite frankly was a job done correctly at the Subaru dealership to begin with was there a slow process of slowly losing coolant to where you had poor issues with the vehicle heating up in the morning typically the gaskets on this year model with external leak oil first then coolant but also most places don't understand that air does get trapped in certain model engines and Subaru always have to be burped even if you use a coolant flush machine I personally always make sure I have all the air out before I return it to a customer.. typically the head gaskets should last longer but technicians everybody's different some people use the wrong tools to clean the surface some people don't check for warpage in the block or they had or they damaged it putting the head on and it slowly decorated to where it is now I believe the head is out but saying that you don't know unless you're physically they're inspecting it as a mechanic
 

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The repair shop just got back to me: HEAD GASKETS!

They said I need new head gaskets. Yeah.

I had the head gaskets done 5 years ago at 113K.

I now have 180K on the car.

This means that my head gasket replacement, done at Subaru, lasted 5 years and 67,000 miles.

Thoughts?

I'm still in shock.
what dealership of monkeys was this.?

sometimes they do poor work,
don't machine heads

and use a new set of the same head gaskets that came on the car that leaked the first time,
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hello All.

Thanks for all the thoughtful responses.

I'm working on this thing, and I'll let you know how it turns out.

Stay tuned!

And have a great day.
 

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Hello All.

Thanks for all the thoughtful responses.

I'm working on this thing, and I'll let you know how it turns out.

Stay tuned!

And have a great day.

did the mechanics say the head gaskets were spraying all over,? typically that does not happen (just weeping of oil , or rarely coolant).

in other engines like the EZ30 one might get exhaust gases in the coolant that could cause a shot of coolant to come out of the overfill bottle or maybe find a weak line.

but such things can also happen from a poorly done head gasket job. (making things worse, different, and more bizarre then the original condition).

and if the car is overheating any now I would not drive it at all, such makes it so you maybe out to find a used engine to drop in as, the original engine is ruining itself to the point that it maybe not a good thing to try to fix.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
did the mechanics say the head gaskets were spraying all over,? typically that does not happen (just weeping of oil , or rarely coolant).

in other engines like the EZ30 one might get exhaust gases in the coolant that could cause a shot of coolant to come out of the overfill bottle or maybe find a weak line.

but such things can also happen from a poorly done head gasket job. (making things worse, different, and more bizarre then the original condition).

and if the car is overheating any now I would not drive it at all, such makes it so you maybe out to find a used engine to drop in as, the original engine is ruining itself to the point that it maybe not a good thing to try to fix.
Yes, this idea did occur to me.

I'm curious...how much might a new engine cost? Or a used engine?

Many thanks.
 

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Yes, this idea did occur to me.

I'm curious...how much might a new engine cost? Or a used engine?

Many thanks.
used US spec EJ253 SOHC ones are poking around, (typically found or pulled from rear end wrecks)

Car-Part.com--Used Auto Parts Market is a place to start and look at prices.
(I would think you are looking for 2006 and 2007, maybe a 2008 or 09, but
not weirdo 2005 ).

avoid listings of of 2.5 DOHC as those are turbos, or pokey imported EJ20. (the used JDM EJ253 is actually a drop in for 2010-12 US spec, and may take some parts swapping to get it to work in a US spce 2006-09).
 

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Discussion Starter #20
used US spec EJ253 SOHC ones are poking around, (typically found or pulled from rear end wrecks)

Car-Part.com--Used Auto Parts Market is a place to start and look at prices.
(I would think you are looking for 2006 and 2007, maybe a 2008 or 09, but
not weirdo 2005 ).

avoid listings of of 2.5 DOHC as those are turbos, or pokey imported EJ20. (the used JDM EJ253 is actually a drop in for 2010-12 US spec, and may take some parts swapping to get it to work in a US spce 2006-09).
Thank you sir.
 
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