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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, I have a 2004 OB Limited that is starting to over heat,took it to my repair guy and he said that it might be a cracked cylinder (head gasket done at 138.k by him, car now has 172.k) walking out of the repair shop I was feeling dejected so I decided to get a 2nd opinion and took it to a sub dealer. Besides needing a radiator, cat and brakes the dealer noticed that the Hg where leaking. So with this info I went back to my repair guy and asked him why he thought it was a cracked cylinder and not a HG issue and he begins to give my reasons why it might be otherwise (Which was greek to me) Anyway the work he did on the HG is still under his warranty. So heres my dilemma should I insist that he do HGs? What if it's a cracked cylinder and how common are cracked cylinders? Thanks in advance.
 

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The non-turbo EJ engines almost never have a cracked cylinder. I wouldn't even believe someone that said they had a cracked non-turbo EJ cylinder head unless I saw it or they said they drove it extensively in the red overheating until it broke down....multiple times!

Anyone doing a lot of EJ heads and resurfacing, etc will tell you the non-turbo heads don't really crack unless they've just been abused.

That being said - they always have high and low spots and should be resurfaced.

YES - have it done under warranty and have it done properly, I guarantee this wasn't done last time exactly like this:

1. have the heads resurfaced
2. use Subaru EJ25 TURBO headgaskets.
3. Install Subaru's coolant conditioner (required by Subaru for this engine, was it ever installed before?)

What head gaskets did he used? With their propensity to blow, aftermarket head gaskets should not be used - though by all accounts Fel Pro are OEM like head gaskets. If he used Subaru headgasktes then he used those 633 gaskets that Subaru uses...the same dumb headgaskets prone to leak anyway....don't use those. Use the turbo gaskets I just mentioned, turbo engines have zero headgasket issues.

If you don't know the complete history of the engine...did you buy it used??...then you really have no idea if the engine has been overheated before, in which case you and your mechanic are both in a bad place. I'm not saying that's likely...but it is a small risk and an unknown, so you can't blame either of you to some extent.
 

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The very short compact heads and the way the subaru blocks are built its pretty rare to see cracked anything given how compact and strong they are. As mentioned above you would need to cook the **** out of the engine and just beat it to death to end up with cracked heads or a block etc.

Sounds to me like the classic crappy HG job. The HG job is only as good as the skilled hands that do them which case you should never see another HG failure if its done right and your not keeping the car to 250-300,000 miles etc
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the replies guys, the car was bought new and is my second new OB(love these cars). Car has never over heated just the temp rising especially on hills.

It's odd to me that he never mentioned a HG as to a possibility of being an issue.

GG, not sure what kind of HG he used and not sure if he used the coolant conditioner also if you can tell me more about the turbo HG and extra cost if any.

SS, thanks for backing up what GG wrote.
 

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I wonder about the driving conditions under which the engine begins to overheat. Also, could it be the fans? Could it be the thermostat?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Just to update this thread my mechanic is challenging that it's a HG issue because theres coolant in the exhaust when he did a compression test, funny thing is he never mentioned that it could be the HG causing the car to over heat.So Monday I'm taking the car to him and where going to see if it's an external leak. So when I'm under the car with him what and where do I look for?
 

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Just to update this thread my mechanic is challenging that it's a HG issue because theres coolant in the exhaust when he did a compression test, funny thing is he never mentioned that it could be the HG causing the car to over heat.So Monday I'm taking the car to him and where going to see if it's an external leak. So when I'm under the car with him what and where do I look for?
He is going to blame anything he can to avoid honoring his warranty. It is highly unlikely to be anything other than a leaky head gasket, no matter if the leak is internal or external, or if is showing up in the exhaust system. He probably did a fast and loose job of cleaning the heads, possibly giving them a sub par finish, and that caused the early failure.

Ask him if he would like you to get it fixed at the dealer, he pays if the dealer finds a bad HG, you pay if it turns out to be a crack. (Hint.......No way he will agree......He knows it is a HG, he just wants to find a way for you to pay for it.)
 

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There's a comment about needing a new radiator, why?

*** If there is any evidence of external head gasket leaks (it sounds like there is):

***you need to add the Subaru coolant conditioner immediately, right now!
***It is required by Subaru for this engine.

You can head off an external headgasket leaks by installing a bottle (or two). This works close to %100 of the time if you do it right away, it is very effective - Subaru requires it and chose it for good reason. So - go do this right now. Particularly considering it sounds like it may have never been added yet since the headgaskets were replaced the first time?

(In general it is best to avoid additives of any kind, again this is engine specific).

Keep in mind this engine has very specific head gasket issues and failure modes - much of this information is *engine specific* and not applicable to anything else. Your mechanic may not know all of this, but this is all %100 true for SOHC EJ25's and SOHC EJ25's ONLY. You wouldn't apply this to other engines.

Just to update this thread my mechanic is challenging that it's a HG issue because theres coolant in the exhaust when he did a compression test
you'll have to explain that...in general you wouldn't notice coolant in the exhaust when doing a compression test.

he may have confirmed a headgasket issue. older Phase I EJ25's and Phase II's (yours) headgaskets that have already been replaced fail internally by blowing exhaust gaskets into the coolant (though that's the opposite of your description). check for exhaust gases in the coolant. Classic EJ25 headgasket failure symptom if it fails that test (it is the most reliable test to go by for Phase I EJ25 headgasket failures)

*on some heads/engines (even some Subaru's like older EA82 heads) this often suggests heads or block are cracked (which you mentioned earlier in the first post), but would be an incorrect interpretation for this engine.

Your mechanic may not be familiar with Subarus or this engine (not trying to be mean, but that might explain a lack of familiarity). I say this because you never do a compression test on this engine, due to the nature of these headgaskets it's a complete waste of time. SOHC EJ25's never fail compression tests due to headgaskets so it's pointless. If they do fail that test - they are so bad that there would be obvious signs without any testing. LOL

If he's not familiar with SUbaru's then he may well have used an aftermarket headgasket which is a bad idea on this headgasket eating motor. and he may not have installed SUbaru's required coolant conditioner.

So when I'm under the car with him what and where do I look for?
simply look for green coolant at the head gasket mating surface.

keep this simple:

1. check for external leaks.
2. if it's the headgaskets leaking externally then I would install two bottles of Subaru's Coolant Conditioner ($2.47 each at Subaru)
3. if it really is blowing coolant into

*** the conditioner is useless for internal coolant leaks or external oil leaks (both of which can happen as well). it is only helpful for external coolant leaks.

If you end up needing to fix this engine, I already mentioned it but you need to:

1. resurface the heads
2. install Subaru EJ25 TURBO headgaskets

If aftermarket headgaskets were installed the first time then that's likely why they're failing now. And it sounds like the conditioner was never added as well. If the heads weren't resurfaced then 3 things weren't done right....but if the person doesn't know about the headgasket issues on this engine then they unfortunately stumbled unknowingly into a mess so they aren't going to be happy about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the replies. Gary I just found the invoice for the HG job that my mechanic did, he did use a Subaru HG. here's a list of what he did.

Subaru head set
Cam seal
Subaru timing belt
Engine crank seal
Water pump new
Timing belt idler
Idler
Tbelt idler...???
Tensioner assembly
Plugs
Pvc valve
Ignition wire set
Thermostat
Thermostat gasket

Also I decided to get the coolant flushed this afternoon at J lube and asked the guy if he can see a leak in the head gaskets and he said that he saw some leakage.
 

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Just to update this thread my mechanic is challenging that it's a HG issue because theres coolant in the exhaust when he did a compression test,
Diagnosing from a distant is challenging, and sometimes little bits can be missed. This statement is one. What does it mean? Was the compression test on the cooling system, or cylinder compression? And, where "in the exhaust" as coolant observed?

There's a "cracked head" thread here: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/88-head-gasket-issues/45341-still-smoking-after-hg-repair.html

This doesn't preclude the possibility that the HG's are seeping/leaking, but I wonder if there's more to this statement that might be related to the apparent overheating.
 

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Those are all good questions I don't answers to but, could you expand more on your last sentence.
A crack in the cylinder head, between the coolant jacket and the exhaust side of the head, could lead to "coolant in the exhaust" which is what the mechanic said was found. This is also what appears to have happened in the thread to which I provided a link earlier.

If there is a crack allowing coolant to get into the exhaust (subject to clarification as to where), the overheating could be caused by the loss of coolant, or perhaps the effect the coolant in the exhaust has on the air/fuel and O2 sensors at the catalytic converter. That was why I asked for more information on the driving situation when the car overheated.

Also, in many if not most threads on overheating, the symptom appears under specific conditions -- it might be while idling, or while ascending a long, steep slope, or while driving down an interstate at a constant high speed, etc. Sometimes, this information can be used to narrow down causes.

Information, indeed, details, that might be overlooked can be quick leads to a solution. That's also why I asked about the fans; do they come on when the temperature gauge goes above normal? They should, but if they don't, that itself could be the cause of the overheating.

The point is there's many possible causes of overheating, and we need to look at the possibilities to try to diagnose from a distance. When someone observes coolant in the exhaust, that should be considered, at least, delved into in order to understand exactly what it refers to. It might not be something to discount summarily. That's why I said

I wonder if there's more to this statement [about coolant in the exhaust] that might be related to the apparent overheating.
Hope this helps clarify . . .
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Let me clarify the car has never over heated in the classic sense. Temp gauge rises after about 20 minutes of driving to about the three quarter mark on the gauge and moves back and forth from somewhat normal back to that mark.

The highest its climbed is to the H mark ( and that was on a hilly drive with a full car) but not in the red and I pulled over and checked to seen if the radiator was hot or the coolant was low. The radiator gave no indication that it was running hot and added about two pints into reservoir. Funny thing when that happened it was on a long decent that turned into a flat stretch.

As to the fans coming on I noticed a few months ago that they where coming on when I started the car and let it idle also when I put it park after a drive.

Thanks for the help.
 

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As to the fans coming on I noticed a few months ago that they where coming on when I started the car and let it idle also when I put it park after a drive.
Normally, the fans should not come on when the engine is first started and not yet up to operating temperature; an exception, however, is if the AC is turned on, or the heater is set to one of the two windshield defrost positions with the heater fan running.

Although unusual, if the temperature gauge is indicating above normal temperature right off the bat, the fans could be on because the fan control, the engine control module, is sensing an overheat situation, but I wouldn't expect that after an initial start unless there's a problem in the sensor.

Temp gauge rises after about 20 minutes of driving to about the three quarter mark on the gauge and moves back and forth from somewhat normal back to that mark.
Interesting. When a HG fails internally between a cylinder and the water jacket, the reports here suggest the temperature gauge would tend to spike up rapidly and then fall just as rapidly, but I don't recall mention of it cycling back and forth continuously. Internal HG failures are rare in the 2000 - 2004 Gen. The continuous cycling, if I understand it correctly, seems more like a thermostat that can't regulate properly.

I pulled over and checked to seen if the radiator was hot or the coolant was low. The radiator gave no indication that it was running hot and added about two pints into reservoir.
I would imagine that the radiator would certainly be hot if the engine was up to operating temperature and the coolant was circulating through the radiator. By "running hot" do you mean overheating? How did you check the radiator temperature to conclude it wasn't running hot? Not sure how you would do that without some instrumentation.

Also, when the engine is up to temperature, the coolant level in the external reservoir should be higher than it was when cold. If with the engine hot the reservoir level was 2 pints low, there could be a shortage of coolant in the engine cooling system because there wasn't enough in the reservoir. The coolant level in the radiator itself should be checked by removing the radiator cap, but this can only be done safely when the engine is fully cooled down. The level in the reservoir with the engine cold should be between the COLD and FULL marks. When topping up, it should be set at the FULL mark. It will rise an inch or two from there when the engine is fully warmed up.
 

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A non OEM thermostat could cause this type of temp issues and could eventually cause HG failure or worse due to it not managing the coolant and engine temp correctly. This is pretty common experience for people who have cheap aftermarket thermostats put in their car by mechanics or them selves vs the subaru brand OEM tstat

The cycling of the temp makes me think the Cooling system and engine were healthy except for possibly the Tstat was not correct ie non OEM and so when it restricted flow car warmed up and when it finally allowed flow the otherwise healthy cooling system started to do its job in cooling the engine down.

Tstat would be the #1 suspect I would pull it and see if its OEM if it is not I would be calling the HG shop and reviewing the parts list they replaced and be pushing for some money back on the job they F-ed up.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
plain om
Looking back I think the fans where coming on because the ac was on.

leasak
His parts list stated that he used a Subaru HG but listed the thermostat as just that not oem. Should I pull that one and put in an oem or is it too late?

So I took the car to get a 3rd opinion, and the mechanic did a compression test on the cooling system and everything checked out fine but noticed a small leak on the HG.I also had an appointment with the mechanic that did the original HG job and we looked together at the Hg and he saw the small leak and claimed it was from an axle leak that sprayed grease on the HG because he noticed it being greasy and oily...
 

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Just had the after market thermostat changed today with a OEM one, so far so good.
Non oem tstats are famous for causing this sadly in many cases the issue doesn't get solved till the cars owner has nearly melted down the engine multiple times and pretty much destroyed the HGs even if they were good to start with.

Should have been the first thing to be checked and fixed right away. Fingers crossed you don't have any heat related issues caused by the hot running temps prior to the tstat replacement

Just a tip don't take any more cars to the shop that used the non OEM tstat on the subaru! Given every subaru mechanic worth half their salt knows that subarus are funky and weird about Tstats and to stick with OEM.
 

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I still wonder if he used the correct gaskets. The evidence of a coolant leak indicates he didn't. Just because he put "Subaru" on the invoice doesn't mean it came from Subaru or is a correct Subaru fit. Could have been a Fel Pro gasket for a Subaru and not the steel set. Same with the timing belt.

I could right "Bogati Thermostat" on an invoice and it means nothing unless I can back it up with the purchase order from Bogati.

Just sayin'. I see a lot of evidence of shady trading in this business. Especially after I disassemble the car. (ex. Customer pays 1900 for a set of struts on a Lexus RX330. Struts are making noise after 3000 miles and she is getting nowhere with the shop that installed the "proper struts for the vehicle". Gabriels. Really. For 1900.)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
So far so good with the running hot issue the gauge hasn't climbed since being replaced with OEM thermostat. Haven't driven it on the highway or long drives but it looks promising. Going to take the car on 2 and a half hour drive and see what happens.

Cardoc I'm with you on that,believe me the thought has crossed my mind in weather he used what he said he used.
 
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