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Discussion Starter #1
After changing the oil in my '13 2.5i i was checking other fluids, the coolant was between low and full. The engine was warm. Is that a normal level or should it be at the full line?
 

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That is about normal. There is a cold and hot level indication on the tank. Anywhere in between is fine depending on how warm/hot the engine is.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
There is no cold or hot indicator lines just low or full. Thats why i am asking what is normal. Im used to seeing a hot or cold line.
 

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There is no cold or hot indicator lines just low or full. Thats why i am asking what is normal. Im used to seeing a hot or cold line.
The low line would be considered below a cold line. Add a little coolant until it's above that line.
 

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Low and Full are exactly that. It's the same Low and Full (or Add and Full) on the engine oil dipstick.

When the engine is fully cooled, the coolant should be at the Full level. When the engine is hot, the level will be an inch or so higher, but still well below the top. If the coolant drops below the Full mark when the engine is cool, and particularly if it's as low as the Low mark, it's time to top up. (Note: When the engine is cool, the level in the reservoir can be different depending on the ambient temperature -- it will be lower at 30F than at 70F. This is normal. However, the difference will not change the level beyond the limits; for example, if the level is at Full at 70F, it will not end up being Low at 30F. But it might be a 1/2-inch or so below the Full mark at 30F.)

Look closely at the side of the reservoir for a yellow or other color line (looks like a crayon mark). It's typically an inch or so above the Full mark on the reservoir. (There will be similar marks on the power steering and brake fluid reservoirs.) That's the factory inspector's mark showing where the fluid was when the car left the factory. Gives an idea of where the factory sets the level. . . .
 

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After driving for a week or so, the coolant had dropped slightly in my car. The Dealer kindly gave me a half gallon or so and explained that it was hard to get all the air out at an initial fill, and the drop was due too a little bit of trapped air being expelled. I topped it off, maybe a few cups or so, and it has been steady ever since.
 

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I changed my antifreeze about two months ago, installing the maximum antifreeze to water solution that was recommended. The bottle tells me I am good to forty below (F) or better. When checking the solution directly from the radiator two months later, I am also getting at least 40 below zero for readings.

Mine is on a yellow crayon level-mark just around Full (that the factory must put on), and it is that way nearly all the time, no matter if the engine is cold or hot.
 

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Mine is on a yellow crayon level-mark just around Full (that the factory must put on), and it is that way nearly all the time, no matter if the engine is cold or hot.
Really? I've never had a car with the external coolant reservoir where the level did not go up noticeably when the engine is fully up to normal operating temperature. In fact, it's one of the "visuals" I check frequently.

If the level doesn't go up, then how is the cooling system accommodating the thermal expansion of the coolant in the engine? Either there's a lot of air, or a rubber hose could be weak and ballooning out, neither of which is correct.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hey guys, i went to the dealership this am and asked about the coolant level. With a hot engine the coolant level will be between low and full, imagine a half way mark. This am before starting it up the level was right t the low level. So all is normal. Just passing a little info. The service mngr also said new outback owners have been comimg in left and right asking the same question. I told him they should put a normal mark on the tank. Problem solved.
 

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From the 2011 Owners Manual, page 11-17 (probably the same, or similar in other 4th generation booklets): [bold added]

"1. Check the coolant level on the outside
of the reservoir while the engine is cool.
2. If the level is close to or lower than the
“LOW” level mark, add coolant up to the
“FULL” level mark.
If the reserve tank is
empty, remove the radiator cap and refill
as required."

in other words, the "normal", or "starting" cold level is at the Full mark.
 

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I remember the fuss that my grandfather made when they first added coolant recovery tanks to the cars. He thought it was just another thing to go wrong and cause problems.
 

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Really? I've never had a car with the external coolant reservoir where the level did not go up noticeably when the engine is fully up to normal operating temperature. In fact, it's one of the "visuals" I check frequently.

If the level doesn't go up, then how is the cooling system accommodating the thermal expansion of the coolant in the engine? Either there's a lot of air, or a rubber hose could be weak and ballooning out, neither of which is correct.
Well, yesterday, I replaced the original cap, hoping to prevent any future problems. Let me see how it is now with the new cap, it could be the old cap wasn't working properly, I had that happen to my other vehicle. I noticed when it was cold, instead of fluid going back into the radiator, the lower radiator hose was squashed flat from the vacuum!

My wife has the car until tomorrow.
I will check it hot and cold.
 

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I have a 2012 2.5i limited that I have topped the coolant bottle off 2x now... The first time it was near empty. Then it was below the low fill mark. I smell coolant as well after turning the car off. It's very apparent. I havent found a leak and took it to the dealer where they pressure tested it. Apparently it holds pressure and I was told there were absolutely no leaks. But I'm still smelling it. Will watch the level and see where it goes from here.
I have 24000 on it after purchasing in December. I swear I live in this car. I should have got the shower option.
 

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PlainOM
Really? I've never had a car with the external coolant reservoir where the level did not go up noticeably when the engine is fully up to normal operating temperature. In fact, it's one of the "visuals" I check frequently.

If the level doesn't go up, then how is the cooling system accommodating the thermal expansion of the coolant in the engine? Either there's a lot of air, or a rubber hose could be weak and ballooning out, neither of which is correct.
OK, I have not forgotten to check this. I was about to change the oil today, the car was cold, I started it with the AC on and the heat off to warm up the engine more quickly. The coolant level was on the yellow line that was there from the factory, about midway between full and low.

After the engine got good and hot, the fluid rose about 2" so it was about an inch or so above the FULL mark on the canister.
I had replaced the radiator cap just recently and, at about 30K miles ago, the water pump was replaced when my mechanic changed the timing belt. I told him to use all OEM Subaru Parts. I presume he also changed the coolant then as it appears to be like new.
 

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Sounds good. If the system is working properly, with the engine fully warmed up, the level will rise about an inch so and then return to the original level (in your case the yellow line) when the engine is fully cooled, e.g., after being parked overnight.
 

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I should be able to check it in the morning.
I was planning on changing the valve cover gaskets with a Fel-Pro kit.
I hope that stops the oil drippage problem.

I have some high-temp black RTV Sealant. I see it says somewhere to put that where the gasket meets the front gasket or timing gear cover and also where the gasket meets any of the spark plug rubbers and on the ten cover bolts.
 

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From the 2011 Owners Manual, page 11-17 (probably the same, or similar in other 4th generation booklets): [bold added]

"1. Check the coolant level on the outside
of the reservoir while the engine is cool.
2. If the level is close to or lower than the
“LOW” level mark, add coolant up to the
“FULL” level mark.
If the reserve tank is
empty, remove the radiator cap and refill
as required."

in other words, the "normal", or "starting" cold level is at the Full mark.
In my manual, #1 above is preceded by "check the coolant at each fuel stop." So somehow we are supposed to have a cold engine at fuel stops. This contradiction IMO adds to the confusion. All they need to do is give us specs on what the cold and hot acceptable ranges are.

Fortunately, with my very limited automotive expertise I think I can say that overfilling coolant is not nearly as bad a thing as overfilling oil. And this reservoir is so big, that if you fill to "full" while cold, I'm sure even the hot expansion will not come close to overflowing the top of the tank.
 
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