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I have a 2011 Outback 2.5 with 140,000 miles that is overheating. It first did it about 3 months ago. I drove over one of the many small mountains in my area. As I got to the bottom the red temperature light started flashing. I immediately pulled over. There was no coolant leakage. Nothing had blown. Fans were running. I let it cool for about 15 minutes and continued driving 20 miles to my destination. no further problems. 2 hours later drove a total of 35 miles back home over the same mountain. no problems. A few weeks ago I noticed a gurgling, sloshing sound behind the dash. No further problems. Driven a few long road trips (250 miles) since then. no problems. A few days ago drove 450 miles from Va to ohio on rt 64 through the mountains of West virginia. no problems. Yesterday while driving through ohio suburb traffic red light came on and and the car stalled. This time coolant appeared to have blown out of the overflow tank not the radiator cap. I let it cool down. bought some more coolant and filled it with about 3 liters. Drove it to the dealer with no problems. The dealer checked for leaks and hydrocarbon test for the head gasket. They did not find anything wrong. pressure in the coolant system was fine. they did not do anything about the sloshing behind the dash. I'm assuming that indicates air in the cooling system. Today drove back to virginia. no problems for 7.5 hours and 450 miles. Checked the coolant level half way , still full. 10 miles from home driving over the same small mountain as before. red light came on. cabin heater started blowing cool air. I immediately pulled over. Coolant had blown out again. I let it cool. Put about 3 liters of coolant in it and drove it back home with no problems. I had planned to drive to NC tomorrow, but I don't know if I want to chance it. I see that people have had this problem before but I haven't read where anyone has isolated a definite solution. Anyone have any thoughts? I love my outback but I can't deal with an intermittent problem like this. My wife and I only have the one car
 

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I tried to burp the coolant system. I also tried to get the cooling fans to turn on. I ran the car for 20 minutes bringing the rpm to around 2k. The car did not overheat. no lights. but the fans did not come on. I don't know when they should. I didn't want to push it
 

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2016 3.6 Limited with ES
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Perhaps the T stat is going. If so this is one tine where using OEM is highly recommended over one from the auto parts store, such as Stant.
 

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A very cheap test would be to replace the radiator cap. I was pulling my hair out with my other car because the coolant tank kept filling up and the level in the radiator kept going down until the car started overheating, then I'd have to transfer the coolant from the reservoir back into the radiator. I ran a pressure test (no leaks), emission test in the coolant (didn't change color), changed thermostats and connecting parts (no change).

When I replaced the cap, the "leak" and problems went away. The coolant is supposed to be sucked back from the reservoir back into the radiator when the engine cools down. If the suction leaks air anywhere, the coolant won't get back into the radiator. The tank keeps filling up and the radiator keeps draining until it get so low that the pump can't push the fluid over the upper radiator hose. You can test the hoses and the reservoir tank and the radiator cap spring, but you can't easily test the outer edge radiator cap gasket for leaks.

It's a long shot, but a new cap is only $6-$7 or $3 mail order and it's cheap insurance.
 

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whoops forgot the obvious old rad cap. getting a little too tight and not venting pressure at the right rate anymore causing overheat/ boiling.

45137AE00B no substitute for a subaru OEM rad cap.
 

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140,000 miles on a 2.5 going over a mountian overheat. Just how fast were you going vs grade / distance? No other problems. My first thought radiator cap OEM only! 2nd thought with that many miles on a 2011 high probability the radiator is packed full of dead bugs and doesn’t work very well at all. My advice if you haven’t blown up the engine already, new radiator, new cap, new OEM only stat.
 

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05 2.5

I tried to burp the coolant system. I also tried to get the cooling fans to turn on. I ran the car for 20 minutes bringing the rpm to around 2k. The car did not overheat. no lights. but the fans did not come on. I don't know when they should. I didn't want to push it
Hey,

My main engine fan was not coming on, so i took it to a mech, he told me to turn on the engine and the AC at full, that should trigger both radiator fans (also confirmed in the manual, but doublecheck for the '11). So only my AC/Secondary fan was running. He then took a pencil at started tapping the fan motor and it started up again. Hasn't stopped since. That's 3 months ago now. Apparently it just had a loose connection.

Hope that helps you and you can do the same :)
 

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2005 OBXT Limited, VF37, STI intake, 5MT
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He never replied. :(
I guess his one and only car left him and his wife stranded in the frozen tundra with an overheated car.

R.I.P.
He more than likely had a head gasket that was starting to fail and traded it in. Unfortunately, even the 2010+ EJ253 weren't immune to HG failures. I've done 3 so far with under 150K miles. Oddly, all 3 were internal failures (overheating, pushing coolant of the the overflow, not sucking back into the radiator), a la EJ25D. Subaru seems to have gone back to the gasket style that caused the failures in the first place...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
It hasn't overheated again, but I hear sloshing behind the dash again. It doesn't seem to be losing coolant. I smell coolant from the exhaust when I first start the car. I have a feeling now it is the head gasket. I'll probably run it until I'm completely frustrated and then trade it in.
 

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Did you try using an exhaust test kit for the coolant?

You can rent one at Autozone or other parts store usually for free (including the test fluid)



There's a bulb on top of the "turkey baster" that you squeeze and release to "sniff" the air coming out of the coolant. If the fluid turns yellow, there is exhaust in the coolant. Don't let the coolant touch the test fluid or it will immediately turn yellow.

A new headgasket can cost as little as $900 (if you buy your own parts) or as much as $2k+ depending on whether you go to a competent independent mechanic or the stealership. I doubt you can buy a good used car for that much.

If you trade it in, you can expect to use that money to go out for dinner but not much more :(
 
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