'98 2.5 Turbo Legacy Outback Wagon Overheating Problem

Discussion in 'Subaru Legacy' started by David Yarns, Dec 23, 2009.

  1. David Yarns

    David Yarns Guest

    I have an overheating problem with my Outback. I replaced the thermostat
    and it still overheats. It has about 180k miles on it. Within the last six
    months I have replaced the Cat, O-2 sensor, clutch, manual transmission.
    So, I've put a little bit of cash into it lately. Is it worth it to
    possibly have to have the engine replaced? I've read that it could be a
    head gasket problem or warped head or even a cracked block. Or should I
    just count my losses and move on?


    David Yarns, Dec 23, 2009
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  2. David Yarns

    Bob Noble Guest

    Are you losing fluid in the radiator or have oil in the fluid?
    If not, the head gasket thing and engine stuff is likely ok and you likely
    have a clogged radiator.

    It's easy to check if a thermostat is working properly. From a cold start
    watch the temp gage. It will go up gradually and approach the red zone and
    then drop back down to normal operating temp. The drop down is when it
    opens, so it would indicate a good thermostat.
    It should still do a similar thing even with an overheating problem caused
    by something else, as this happens first as the engine warms up.
    Bob Noble, Dec 23, 2009
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  3. David Yarns

    S Guest

    Hi David!

    One thing to try is to be sure all of the air is out of the coolant
    system. Park the car (engine cold) with the nose higher than the back.
    On the left side of the radiator, you'll find a small plug with a
    screwdriver slot. Remove this plug, and the radiator cap. Turn the
    heater on max warm. Start the engine, and allow it to come up to
    normal operating temperature. Keep adding coolant until it comes out
    of the small opening, and you stop getting bubbles. Put the plug and
    radiator cap back, and see what happens.

    As Bob suggests, a bad head gasket will inevitably result in coolant
    loss, either thru engine aspiration (white exhaust smoke, sweet
    smell), externally (coolant puddles beneath car), or thru
    over-pressurization of the radiator cap (overflow reservoir
    overflows). It is a significant chore to replace the head gaskets,
    especially on a turbo motor, and there is always the potential for a
    warped cylinder head to add to your woes.

    My personal preference would be to swap in a good used motor. I don't
    know if there are significant differences between the turbo 2.5l and
    the non-turbo version, but it would be worth looking into. For that
    matter you could probably do away with the turbo all together w/o too
    much trouble; you'll want to find a "donor" car at a salvage yard that
    is willing to work with you on this project. For that matter, a swap
    to the SOHC 2.5l motor would be preferable, as it has proven to be a
    more robust power plant.

    This all adds up to a fair bit of money if you are paying someone to
    do it; $2000 anyway, probably more if you want to eliminate the turbo.
    Note that the ~200K mile mark is well into the normal failure bell
    curve, and you can expect to have to deal with other systems (struts,
    steering, wheel bearings, HVAC, etc) causing problems one by one as
    the car ages. (You seem to have already started down this road.)

    If the car is otherwise in good shape, and you have backup
    transportation, $500 or $1000 once or twice a year is _still_ way less
    than the payments on a new one. If you are capable of doing the work
    yourself, and you like the car, it becomes sort of a hobby project,
    and the costs go way down.

    If you _do_ decide to cut your losses, do not let anyone low-ball you
    on your OB. Assuming everything else is nice, the car is worth
    $2000-$2500 even with a bad motor; people look for deals like that
    with the goal of fixing/selling them. (Certainly I do . . .) Try your
    local craigslist. "98 Subaru OB Turbo, runs but overheats, $2500 OBO"

    Good luck!

    ByeBye! S.

    Steve Jernigan KG0MB
    Laboratory Manager
    Microelectronics Research
    University of Colorado
    (719) 262-3101
    S, Dec 23, 2009
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