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2009 Subaru Outback 3.0R Limited
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Thanks for the reply! I’m actually in eastern Idaho, but I’ve got family in Arizona that we visit every so often so it would be nice to have the peace of mind that things will be okay. Maybe for now I’ll just clean it and see how I do.

If the problem persists, I’ll pony up for a new OEM radiator.
 

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2006 OutBean, 2005 LGTW
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Discussion Starter #722
@SCReagan Have you cleaned the radiator yet?
 

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2009 Subaru Outback 3.0R Limited
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@aesthetic.rake I have not yet. I can't clean it where I live right now (I'm in a town home complex), but I'm visiting my parents tomorrow and I'll get it done there before the end of the week. If I'm lucky I'll be able to get it done tomorrow when I arrive, and that's the hope! My wife and I have two little kids, one of which is 2 months old, so we'll have our hands full. I'm not expecting the job to take a long time (famous last words, right?!) so hopefully some of my kids' aunts and their uncle will help distract our toddler so I can get it done!

I'll be sure to take before and after pictures and report back on how it goes!
 

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2009 Subaru Outback 3.0R Limited
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Alright, I'm back! I was able to get the cleaning done on Wednesday evening but didn't have time to post about it until now. Get ready for a mini-novel!

Everything went pretty smoothly! This was my first time removing the radiator and, like everyone has said, it's a straightforward process. After removing the radiator I took these pictures.


Front of the radiator before cleaning:

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Pretty nasty! I should mention that I had used a soft brush to knock off some of the dirt and debris at the top while it was still installed before I traveled to my parents' to remove it and clean it. That small, top middle section had almost as bad of buildup as the bottom middle strip before I brushed it a bit. It was almost solidly plugged in that whole middle strip in between the fans! In some spots, that dirt buildup was about a 1/8 inch thick. :oops:


Back of the radiator before cleaning:

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Looking at the back while it was still installed, it was almost impossible to see how dirty it was, especially since it was covered by the fans. When I removed it, it looked worse than I thought it would.

Here's a GIF of the radiator being held up to the sky so that we could see how much of it was really blocked:
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Sorry I didn't get more angles of the radiator. I wasn't behind the camera, so this is all I have. You can see it is blocked quite badly though, and you can't even see all of it in this GIF. The other thing here is that the exposure on the shot makes it look like more like is coming through than actually was. Again, this was being held up to a very clear sky at around 7 pm.

Okay, time to clean!

I thought I might try using compressed air from the back of the radiator to knock some of the light stuff out before going to water and cleaner. The compressed air did little to nothing. Granted, I was not holding the nozzle very close to the fins. I was wary of bending them.

Next, I rinsed the radiator from the back with a garden hose and a nozzle attachment. I don't have pictures or videos of that, but I was shocked at the amount of dirt that came out of this thing. I did expect that nasty middle section to be pretty awful, obviously, but it was very bad almost everywhere else, too. It took a while to get water to come through clear everywhere.

After rinsing it as best as I could, I went ahead and sprayed some Simple Green on both sides and let it sit for about 5-6 minutes. I know that regular Simple Green isn't the greatest for aluminum, but I let it sit for very little time and rinsed it very thoroughly afterwards. The Simple Green seemed to loosen up most of the rest of the grime and it rinsed away with little effort. You can see all the grass/plant matter stuck throughout the bottom half of the radiator. Much of that didn't want to come out with just rinsing so I used a very soft-bristled car washing brush on the front to help them out while I rinsed the radiator from the back. It worked very well! Of course, I only brushed horizontally, just to be safe!

Alright, the after pics!

Here's the front:

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It's not perfect, but it is so much better than it was.

Here's the back side:

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Looking pretty darn great! Okay so now the most telling picture, I think. My dad was shining a light on the rocks behind the radiator and I took a picture from about 10 feet back. It's not the greatest photo, but it gets the point across. It looks worlds better than it did!

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Getting it all back together went well, too, except quite a fight to get the lower hose back on.

So how did it perform? Today my little family traveled back home (2.5hr drive) and I tried to push the system. It was only about 85º, which would be on the low end for showing that small uptick in temps (although it did it last year in the high 80s) but there are plenty of hills. It did great! I got a chance to try an acceleration run to highway speed after coming to a complete stop at operating temp. I wish it was a little warmer, just to really test it, but it did great. The needle was rock solid at the regular position, and I was not trying to go easy on it. Throughout the trip, I was passing on hills, accelerating faster than normal out of slower speed zones, etc., but that needle wouldn’t budge.

I think (hope) the problem is behind me at this point, but it would be nice to test it at around 100º! :LOL:
 

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@SCReagan

That's a great update.

The concentration of dirt vertically in the middle is interesting -- as you mentioned, that's where the fan shrouds behind are solid. Also, there's a vertical support in front of the AC condensor. So I guess the air flow in that area is somewhat less and that allows more dirt to settle.

How was the condensor? Was it equally/more dirty, with the same pattern of deposits?
 

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2009 Subaru Outback 3.0R Limited
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@plain OM That's where I'm kicking myself... I was short on time and so I totally spaced rinsing the condenser from the back. But from the font and back, the condenser was no where near as bad as the radiator. That's what had me fooled about the condition of the radiator for so long in the first place. I just thought there was no way that the radiator could be so bad if the condenser wasn't. Anyway, I do wish I would have rinsed the condenser, too, but it really isn't too bad at all.
 

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2006 OutBean, 2005 LGTW
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Discussion Starter #727
It's my experience as well that the AC condensers largely stay free of debris sans a few bugs in the front.

Nice job cleaning that thing up! Glad it worked out for you!
 
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2002 H6 LL Bean
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I have an 02 Bean with 210k. Love this car and have had no issues (except axles). Son bought an 02 H6, 172K. Charging system issue. New battery and headed home. 1 mile from home gets a CEL and the car starts stumbling. Temp gage read good, so he drove the last mile home. Does a dead battery, bad alternator cause the gauge to lie? never went above half way. Car was puking through the overflow tank.
 

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2009 Subaru Outback 3.0R Limited
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@4BKTVET There are other, more knowledgeable people on here, but I don't think your temp gauge is lying. Have all your bases been covered as far as radiator cap and thermostat? If either of those have gone bad or are not OEM they can cause the issues you're describing. The puking of coolant into the overflow tank sounds especially like a bad or non-OEM radiator cap, unless the head gaskets are blown badly. If the H6 head gaskets fail at all, it's usually a very slow, nonviolent process from what I hear.

Any new information or data points on his experience with it over the last few days since you posted would be helpful, I think.
 

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2002 H6 LL Bean
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18 Posts
Bad miss, 1 qt too much oil and vary watery. Gage never went above 1/2 way. BOO, bought it, went 60 miles or so and done.
 

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2006 OutBean, 2005 LGTW
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Discussion Starter #732
Bad miss, 1 qt too much oil and vary watery. Gage never went above 1/2 way. BOO, bought it, went 60 miles or so and done.
That's a bummer. PO's can be monsters.

JDM swap that thing. Cheap (relatively.)
 

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2006 OutBean, 2005 LGTW
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Discussion Starter #733
Ok. This car is on the verge of becoming my next project. The "overheating" still isn't solved. There's a new OEM radiator from Subaru sitting on the shelf as well as new hoses since the old hoses were cut to accommodate the 40mm radiator.

This was the wifes car. It's since been replaced with a new (to us) daily...
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I started a home improvement project, waiting for the weather to warm up for testing on the outback.

We tore out the old busted concrete that was beside our garage..

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Build a gate, set some forms, rip out a fence, install a new fence, install a water spigot...
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Pour 10 yards of concrete...
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Build a wood fence on the metal posts and install tongue and groove cedar in the 70/30 gate..
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Then paint and stain.
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The project took a lot longer than I had thought it would but I am a one man wrecking crew and I had to learn a lot to pull this job off. (Welding, for instance..) It came out pretty nice though and it's great having all that space for projects in the future! Our future plans are to install a large shed on the back portion of the slap so I can offload many of the seldom used things from my shop like the chop saw, table saw, cherry picker etc.
 

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2006 OutBean, 2005 LGTW
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Discussion Starter #734
Since buying the SC430 though, we haven't driven the Outback at all. It's just been sitting, waiting for me to get done with my projects. The LGT blew out both it's axles and needed some love so I've been working on it and the SC430 needed a tune up and rear brakes, which I did yesterday. I'm waiting on a few parts for the LGT (front hub assemblies) and as soon as I get those installed, the Overheating H6 can take center stage.

Poor thing has just been sitting. Dead battery and all....
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It's going to need a lot of love.

Maybe I can get some opinions on what I should do with it. I had half the nerve of taking front and rear bumpers along with all the fender and door accouterments and slapping them on the LGT. Pull the interior and install it in the LGT as well and have sort of a LLBean/LGT mash up with the turbo 4 and a 5 speed along with the complete LLBean interior. I even thought a front mount intercooler would give it that sweet non-scoop hood too.

I also considered parting the car out. I don't think during the current covid19 stuff people have a lot of money to spend on a car and, well, if you've seen any of my previous builds--they don't go cheap.

Related to that though gives us the next option.. slap a new JDM engine and trans in her, replace all the suspension bushes and struts (front struts for her are already on the shelf) and ask a ton for it after cleaning it up. I figure I can do the job complete including replacing the windshield for ~$3500. I've already lost my ass if you count how much time I've invested into this car trying to figure out why it's running so hot so this wouldn't really be very profitable..

There's really only two things that might fix the "overheating." The OEM radiator (which I have my doubts) and replacing the oil cooler. Maybe it's clogged? We noted last year the engine oil temps usually were higher than the coolant temps yet everyone else who had logged their H6 seemed to think it should be the other way around? I have my doubts regardless.

I've been considering taking the car to a local hotrod radiator shop. It's like.. one of the few places that build radiators from scratch still since here where I live there seems to be a large population of custom car builders and hot rods. I talked to them briefly last year and they had some sort of high powered, high flow, machine that they hook up to the car to flush all the debris out of it. I'll talk to them again and get some ideas of costs before I do anything.

Last, and unfortunately, my favorite idea, is ignore the "overheating." Slap a lift in the thing, toss on the meaty tires that I pulled off another outback project, cut the roof off the bitch, weld the two rear doors shut and create an outback-ute a la mightcarmods subarute
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I think the outback would be sexy as a ute. Roll bar and all!

Would love your guys' thoughts on it. This will be the last year with this car--**** or high water.
 

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2008 JDM Outback 3.0R, 5EAT
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Hi just a real quick question regarding H6, temps & coolant. If coolant is filled up to F on the overflow container with a cold engine how high should the level be on the container after a couple hours driving with the engine at idle ?
 

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2006 OutBean, 2005 LGTW
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Discussion Starter #736
Hi just a real quick question regarding H6, temps & coolant. If coolant is filled up to F on the overflow container with a cold engine how high should the level be on the container after a couple hours driving with the engine at idle ?
I'm not sure I ever really paid attention tbh. A few inches maybe? From the bottom of the expansion tank and the L mark, coming up passed the H mark to the first shoulder before the tank takes a bend and goes up toward the cap, I'm pretty sure I had never seen the coolant passed that shoulder.

Odd question.. What are you chasing?
 

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If coolant is filled up to F on the overflow container with a cold engine how high should the level be on the container after a couple hours driving with the engine at idle ?
On my 2.5, about an inch at 87 C. The two probably have the same reservoir but the H6 coolant capacity is greater. Somewhat more fluid could be transferred to the reservoir, perhaps an additional 1/4 inch.
 

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2008 JDM Outback 3.0R, 5EAT
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375 Posts
Odd question.. What are you chasing?
Just wondering if there was still a little air in the system. My coolant runs 2" over the overflow H line when hot.

Last, and unfortunately, my favorite idea, is ignore the "overheating." Slap a lift in the thing, toss on the meaty tires that I pulled off another outback project, cut the roof off the bitch, weld the two rear doors shut and create an outback-ute a la mightcarmods subarute
Seriously that would be fun. In fact based on your amazing workmanship and photography would producing a YouTube video be an option ? Whether it's the ute project or restoration back to factory pristine there would be many folk watching, myself included.
 

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2006 OutBean, 2005 LGTW
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Discussion Starter #739
Seriously that would be fun. In fact based on your amazing workmanship and photography would producing a YouTube video be an option ? Whether it's the ute project or restoration back to factory pristine there would be many folk watching, myself included.
I thought about a youtube series but I didn't think there would be any interest. Maybe though
 
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