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Discussion Starter #1
2004 Outback wagon. Check engine light has been on since about 60K miles (O2 sensor?). Head gasket and belts replaced at 110K miles. New solenoids at 120K miles. New wheel bearing rear passenger side and axle front driver side this fall. New water pump for the radiator plus a new belt and oil change last month. The vehicle currently has 140K miles.

The above info was provided because I am not a car person and I am not sure whether any of that info is relevant.

Tonight on the way home from work I stopped at a stop sign. As I came to a stop I was driving through a very deep puddle. I heard a loud groaning/grinding sound while braking. This happens on very humid days (mechanic says brakes are ok), but this is the loudest I have ever heard it. About 20 minutes later I pulled into my driveway and heard a pinging sound coming from the engine. I looked at my console and realized the engine temp gauge had jumped to the max before entering the red zone.

I popped the hood and checked the engine coolant fluid levels, which was almost full. Next I checked the oil. There was some oil, it was just above the line indicating it's low. I just had the oiled changed last month, but what oil was in there looked brown/discolored.

Could low oil be the cause for the jump in temperature? It wasn't bone dry, just on the low side. I do worry that I burned through the oil much faster than I should have.

Thanks!
 

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Premium Member
2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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14,315 Posts
Its most likely a stuck thermostat and your thermostat operation should be checked. If you are running an aftermarket thermostat, its highly likely the thermostat has failed.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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14,315 Posts
I think you are misunderstanding me. Thermostat is one thing, the gauge is another. There is a thermostat that mounts to the base of the water pump and helps to regulate the engine temperature. If it is stuck closed you will not get any flow through the radiator to cool the coolant to draw heat from the engine combustion process. It makes the coolant circulate in the block only and it just gets hotter, like boiling water on the stove. The longer its on the fire, the hotter it gets because the water absorbs the heat.

A lot of repair shops use the cheap aftermarket thermostats to save them money on the repair. It is highly recommended that a Subaru only thermostat be installed as none of the aftermarket can compare to the performance.

If you do have the original thermostat in the engine, it is way past time to replace it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
OK, so my engine could actually be overheating?

I am hoping this isn't an expensive repair job. I have a local mechanic I trust. Could he do the repair as long as he orders the parts from Subaru?
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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14,315 Posts
Thermostat replacement takes 10 minutes. Up in the air, drain some coolant, two bolts, remove cover, remove thermostat, reinstall new thermostat and put everything back. Takes longer to burp the air out than the replace the thermostat.
 

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96 legacy outback wagon 2.5
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temperature gauges on the dash are there to inform the driver that there is a problem. if the temperature of the engine goes up, there is a reason. there are several different causes of a higher than normal engine temperature. sometimes it is a simple fix. be careful not to open the radiator cap when the engine is hot or overheating... you can get burned very badly by extremely hot contents under pressure. after the car cools, and the cap is cool, check to see if there is coolant in the system. look for leaks under the car. coolant used to only be green in color, but they are making different colors now. coolant also has a sweet almost maple syrup smell when it is burning off of hot surfaces under the hood. if your car over heated, the temperature gauge went up, and sometimes the coolant can be heard boiling in the over flow bottle, it may have also spilled out of the overflow bottle as well. several common causes of an overheat condition are that the thermostat is stuck, the radiator is clogged, coolant has leaked out of the engine, coolant has leaked into the engine, the water pump has gone bad, or there is a problem with the cooling fan or cooling fan circuit. if you have more relevant information for the forum, the more likely we'll be able to point you in the right direction.
 
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