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Thread: subaru radiator always has pressure and slightly low

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    873

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    Cooling system in the engine looked clean. No excessive crud or buildup.

    Because this thing was so flaky on overheating I've replaced a lot of parts for just basic maintenance. The cars got miles so it wasn't too hard to justify replacing parts. I'm under $400 even doing head gaskets, cooling stack, hoses etc.

    Cooling stack is new. The old ac condenser and radiator were full of rocks. Now the a/c condensor and radiator were low cost aftermarket units. So there could be reduced air flow through them compared to Factory subaru parts. Although the factory parts were probably 30% blocked by rocks.

    Thermostat is a factory subaru Stat. I do have a Stant that looks exactly like the Subaru stat. I may swap it back in. Or just get another new Subaru thermostat.

    Cooling fans do work. I've checked them.

    I've stuck with it because overall we still like the car. It's got miles, but we know what issues it has. It's not rusty. Doors are tight. All the options still work. So overall still a solid car. It would cost us 15K min to make much of an improvement and it's just not worth it yet.

    Thanks
    Jeremy
    Avid collector of rust!

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    lower Michigan
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    24,545

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    Does the engine use coolant ? (level in reservoir drop?).

    When you say " it pegged the temp needle " do you mean the engine was blowing steam out the radiator cap (or coolant reservoir cap) ? When you had the head off did you have it/them professionally tested for minute crack(s) ? Did you have the head flatness professionally checked and or resurfaced to make sure it's not warped ? Did you replace the water pump ?

  3. #33
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    Dec 2011
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    873

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    Yeah when heads were off they went to the machine shop for a mill and inspection. Both passed.

    Waterpump is new last spring before all this started as part of a timing belt kit. Old pump was failed and put a slight groove in block. I've wondered if the failed water pump created the head gasket issue.

    When gauge "pegs" hot it was never doing classic overheat symptoms. Never any steam or coolant overflow. It would just be low on coolant. You could immediately remove the cap with your bare hand and top off the coolant. Then all would be well for next day or week.

    I think the main culprit here was a bad head gasket all along.

    Thanks
    Jeremy
    Avid collector of rust!

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    lower Michigan
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    24,545

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    Quote Originally Posted by junk View Post
    Yeah when heads were off they went to the machine shop for a mill and inspection. Both passed.

    Waterpump is new last spring before all this started as part of a timing belt kit. Old pump was failed and put a slight groove in block. I've wondered if the failed water pump created the head gasket issue.

    When gauge "pegs" hot it was never doing classic overheat symptoms. Never any steam or coolant overflow. It would just be low on coolant. You could immediately remove the cap with your bare hand and top off the coolant. Then all would be well for next day or week.

    I think the main culprit here was a bad head gasket all along.

    Thanks
    Jeremy
    Sounds like you're right. There are different degrees of a head gasket being bad. A few years ago I had a Ford T-Bird that developed a bad head gasket. It would never actually overheat, just the temp gauge needle would go up quite a bit higher than normal and it didn't do it all the time. Sometimes it ran normal. But over a period of a couple weeks it got worse.

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    So the other day i took the time and put the scan tool on the 2004 subaru car to look at the temps from the computer. Driving around in 0 degree wether it hit 96 to 97 degrees C. That's about 205-207F. Seemed high for ambient temps. So I put the tool on my other subaru a 2003 with the same engine. And it also hit 96 C. So while the 2004 gauge swings all over but only hits 205 the 2003 cars gage is rock solid and hits 205 also.

    It appears we don't have an issue. Only concern is it will be hard to spot a possible overheat since it does move so much.

    Yeah this thing was completely fine for weeks then we'd have an issue. I also did several head gasket tests and never had a good result. I finally changed it because we kept getting increased temps and an overheat on highway driving and consistent low coolant.

    What type of thunderbird? One of the newer ones? I really like those.

    Jeremy
    Avid collector of rust!

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    South Africa, Pretoria
    Posts
    460

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    The block could be warped or collapsed. Did you check the block deck?

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