'97 Outback Overheating!

Discussion in 'Subaru Outback' started by nathh, Feb 25, 2004.

  1. nathh

    nathh Guest

    hey subaru fans

    I have a '97 outback limited wagon. I completely love it and want to hang on to it as long as possible. the problem is this:

    last week I noticed that the temperature gauge was noting SLIGHTLY higher than normal temperatures. you've probably noticed that the subaru temperature pins usually remain at just below half way up the gauge. well last week it was about half way up, so I decided to take the car in for 'preventative maintenance.' the next day they said they'd fixed it, cleaned the radiator, new thermostat and gasket. great. two days later as I was driving around I happend to look down and found the needle completely off the temperature gauge, in the bad direction. I pulled over and turned the car off.

    took it back to the dealership and they say it's the headgasket. to be honest though, it doesn't seem they've made much of an effort to verify this diagnosis. now I'm still relatively young and not exactly rolling in cash, $1500 is a lot of money to me!

    I haven't noticed ANY loss of power which, I've read, usually accompanies a head gasket problem. can any of you think of other possible problems that woulde cause the engine to overheat? how much stock should I put in the dealership's diagnosis? is it pretty straightforward to determine it's a head gasket problem or are they sort of just making a best guess?

    thanks very much for all responses
     
    nathh, Feb 25, 2004
    #1
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  2. sounds bad - did they change the rad cap? you could try taking the new
    t'stat out and put it in a pot of hot water, as you heat it up it should
    open before the water boils.
    If they are incompetent, they may not have 'burped' all the air out of
    the system. Soobs are notorious for entrapping air in the cooling
    system. Unfortunately, they may never own up to any problem they caused.
     
    Carl 1 Lucky Texan, Feb 25, 2004
    #2
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  3. nathh

    LC Brian Guest

    You are the headgasket of the week.

    I have the same car with a confirmed case of the head gasket disease.
    I've made some posts on this problem in some other threads in this
    group. You ought to still be able to access them.

    I don't notice much of a power difference. I only notice is a slight
    hesitation on acceleration after I first start up that I didn't notice
    before. Other than that it drives normally. There isn't any white
    smoke from the tailpipe and it looks and sounds normal. I can even
    drive mine for about ten minutes and fool myself into thinking the
    problem doesn't exist because the car comes up to temperature normally
    and stays at the midpoint for a while. Then after pausing at the
    midpoint it starts to climb until it overheats and expels coolant.

    A local shop tested my car's coolant with a CO2 test kit. This is just
    a chemical they add to a small sample of coolant that turns color in
    the presence of CO2. The conclusion is that gas from the cylinder is
    seeping past the gasket and overheating the coolant. The gas heats the
    coolant, the coolant never gets a chance to do its job and your engine
    overheats. You can actually buy this test kit from Snapon.com yourself
    but it's about $60. (Stock# GDCT16) This test is easy and doesn't take
    long to do. That and a check of the overflow container for a grey
    sludgy residue is probably all they needed for a diagnosis.

    Hopefully you can get it done for $1500. Quotes I've received are
    upwards of $2400.

    I would suggest you not drive the car any longer to avoid spot heating
    the head. This would just make your problem worse.

    It appears that when Subaru made the 2.5 engine, they just bored out
    their 2.2 engine. In doing so the area on the headgasket that sealed
    the different chambers on the head was reduced and appears to have
    made it more prone to failure. The early 2.5 engines fail like mine.
    Engines after 99 or so tend to leak coolant to the outside of the
    engine. Subaru has changed gasket designs but there isn't any hard
    evidence on how much this has solved the problem. Since post 99
    engines still have HG problems I wonder if they really have a handle
    on this at all. Interestingly, I haven't read anyone with H-6 engines
    having HG problems.

    Here are some links you might find useful.

    Other Subaru newsgroups:

    Edmunds.com
    (http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/WebX?.4@.ef0d013/2598)

    Yahoo.com (http://groups.yahoo.com/search?query=subaru)

    To see a picture of head gaskets and get a good idea of the problem
    you have, go here:
    http://wac.addr.com/auto/obs/headgasket/headgasket.html

    To see a guy who replaced his own head gaskets on his 97 OB go here:
    http://mysite.verizon.net/vze730qe/Head_gasket_replacement.html. You
    can add your name to his list of people with bad Subaru head gaskets.

    For info on testing head gaskets go here:
    http://www.swedishbricks.net/700900FAQ/Engine-Mechanical1.html#Headgasket_Failure

    To register your car with Subaru and see the recalls that affect your
    car, go here: http://my.subaru.com/login/login.jsp

    Finally, write, or at least call Subaru and complain. Ask them what
    they can do to fix your problem. Ask them if there were any service
    bulletins that pertain to this problem for your car. They have been
    known to be flexible with their warranties but this depends a lot on
    the mileage of your car. To be fair, they can't help you if you don't
    ask. I would strongly suggest you write them and get a written
    response.

    They can be contacted at (800)-Subaru-3 (in the US) or at
    Subaru of America, Inc.
    Subaru Plaza
    P.O. Box 6000
    Cherry Hill, NJ 08034-6000
    Attn: Customer/Dealer Services

    Good luck
     
    LC Brian, Feb 25, 2004
    #3
  4. nathh

    gj Guest

    Hi,
    I had the same problem with my ´98 Outback a few years ago, it came the same
    way you discribe,
    and indeed I have the headgaskets still somewhere and one of them was
    damaged.
    First thermostat was renewed, I didn´t had any loss of power also, but the
    temperature went up,
    so went to a garage and then they measured exhaustgasses in my coolingfluid,
    diagnoses: headgasket
    And I went back about the same amount of money :eek:(


    than normal temperatures. you've probably noticed that the subaru
    temperature pins usually remain at just below half way up the gauge. well
    last week it was about half way up, so I decided to take the car in for
    'preventative maintenance.' the next day they said they'd fixed it, cleaned
    the radiator, new thermostat and gasket. great. two days later as I was
    driving around I happend to look down and found the needle completely off
    the temperature gauge, in the bad direction. I pulled over and turned the
    car off.
    honest though, it doesn't seem they've made much of an effort to verify this
    diagnosis. now I'm still relatively young and not exactly rolling in cash,
    $1500 is a lot of money to me!
    a head gasket problem. can any of you think of other possible problems that
    woulde cause the engine to overheat? how much stock should I put in the
    dealership's diagnosis? is it pretty straightforward to determine it's a
    head gasket problem or are they sort of just making a best guess?
     
    gj, Feb 25, 2004
    #4
  5. nathh

    LC Brian Guest

    How has the repair held up? What was the mileage when you had it
    repaired and how many do you have now?

    Thanks
     
    LC Brian, Feb 25, 2004
    #5
  6. nathh

    RAJP53 Guest

    I have had the same problem with my 96 OBW that has 163,000 miles. Admittedly,
    I am not that broken up over it. About every two weeks I have to add about a
    pint of anti-freeze.

    Can removing the thermostat help the matter for the Spring and Summer, if it
    lasts?

    By the way, I am buying a 2004 Outback Sedan LTD. Any opinions on my choice?
    Should I be looking at a Forrester instead?

    Thanks.
     
    RAJP53, Mar 1, 2004
    #6
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