04 WRX Overheating in slow traffic!
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This is a discussion on 04 WRX Overheating in slow traffic! within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; My 2004 WRX started to overheat today in slow traffic. I pulled over at a gas station and noticed the ...

  1. #1
    Registered User Matt-'s Avatar
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    04 WRX Overheating in slow traffic!

    My 2004 WRX started to overheat today in slow traffic. I pulled over at a gas station and noticed the coolant reservoir was empty. I bought a jug of coolant and waited 15 minutes to open the radiator cap. I dumped about a quart into the radiator and about the same in the reservoir.

    After that everything seems fine.

    My car has 57000 miles, is stock except for a Borla cat back, has not had a radiator flush, and has never overheated before. I park in a garage and there is not signs of a leak. I have not checked the cooland level in a very long time.

    My questions are:

    Where did the coolant go?
    Is a head gasket covered under the 60K warranty?

    Thanks...

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    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt- View Post
    Where did the coolant go?
    Make sure there is no leak. Check the hoses and clamps everywhere. Check the seams on the radiator -- remove the intake snorkel and look closely for splashes, oozes, residue, and so on.

    It's possible there's nothing wrong, but also likely there is a leak or there is an obstruction in the system that caused an overflow.

    On systems that work fine, nobody seems to know where the coolant goes. 500 ml or so of it do go somewhere every 30,000 mi on my car. I've had the system pressure checked twice, I've looked for leaks manually at least a half dozen times (I've found a couple hose clamp problems and fixed them, yet the coolant still sneaks away...), I just don't know. Still, it's not enough loss to overheat a normal system usually.


    Is a head gasket covered under the 60K warranty?
    2002 warranty booklet, pg 7, powertrain coverage:

    Engine block, all internal parts, heads and valve trains, oil pump and oil pan, timing belts, gears, and cover, water pump, flywheel, intake/exhaust manifolds, oil seals and gaskets.

    However, the warranty is a 2-way agreement. The coolant needs to be flushed every 30,000 under warranty to meet the maintenance requirements. If you have not done this service, start there.

    Check again for leaks. Pressure test the system if you want to be sure (this will leave the radiator cap you've used to connect the tester as a possible leak source, BTW). Check that you have circulation first off; if not, suspect thermostat, obstructed radiator, last suspect water pump.

    Flush the coolant. Replace with Subaru coolant while under warranty (there are acceptable alternatives but they cost just as much and it's a long story, so I just use Subaru coolant). Burp the system. Check for circulation again, keep burping -- there's lots of air and pockets will overheat the car anyway, so you won't know if it's fixed or if the coolant change caused the problem this time.

    You're telling me that huge guy sitting on the hood in your avatar has nothing to do with the problem?
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    Registered User sweet_mon420's Avatar
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    If you are missing that much I would guess the radiator top (which is plastic has a hole in it somewhere. I had the same problem and mine was at the bottom so I couldn't even see the fluid leaking until i pulled the damn radiator out.

    If it is leaking enough to overheat I would take out the radiator and do a indepth inspection of the plastic tops and all metal seams.... I ended up just buying a Koyo racing radiator so I wont ever have to deal with this problem again... Plastic and hot liquids don't always go well together, eventually that plastic is going to start to give, my gave at 70k.

    Just my .02

    -Aaron

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    Registered User Matt-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweet_mon420 View Post
    If you are missing that much I would guess the radiator top (which is plastic has a hole in it somewhere. I had the same problem and mine was at the bottom so I couldn't even see the fluid leaking until i pulled the damn radiator out.

    If it is leaking enough to overheat I would take out the radiator and do a indepth inspection of the plastic tops and all metal seams.... I ended up just buying a Koyo racing radiator so I wont ever have to deal with this problem again... Plastic and hot liquids don't always go well together, eventually that plastic is going to start to give, my gave at 70k.

    Just my .0

    -Aaron
    If it was leaking, would I see signs on my garage floor?

    I checked again, I was about 1.5 quarts low. I over filled the overflow tank this morning.

    I'm going to keep an eye on the level and if it goes down again, I will take it to the dealer to see if they will fix it under warranty.

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    Registered User Matt-'s Avatar
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    Sweet_mon, I just checked again... there is a green crust on the top of the radiator. Right under the hose and plastic piece.

    I guess that is good news? Not the head gasket?

    Any recommendations for an after market radiator?

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    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt- View Post
    Sweet_mon, I just checked again... there is a green crust on the top of the radiator. Right under the hose and plastic piece.

    I guess that is good news? Not the head gasket?

    Any recommendations for an after market radiator?
    It may be better news still -- you may not need a new radiator. The top seam commonly leaks and fails, so you might need to replace the rad after all, but are you sure it's not the hose clamp?

    There was a technical service bulletin out instructing Subaru technicians to suspect the top radiator hose clamp. Tightening the clamp, replacing the clamp, and/or replacing the hose would fix the leak in that case.

    Make sure it's not the hose first, it'll save time and money.
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    Registered User Matt-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SD_GR View Post
    It may be better news still -- you may not need a new radiator. The top seam commonly leaks and fails, so you might need to replace the rad after all, but are you sure it's not the hose clamp?

    There was a technical service bulletin out instructing Subaru technicians to suspect the top radiator hose clamp. Tightening the clamp, replacing the clamp, and/or replacing the hose would fix the leak in that case.

    Make sure it's not the hose first, it'll save time and money.
    Man, that's why I like being a memeber here. You guys are saving me hundreds...

    I'll check the clamp and hose.

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    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    I've had both the radiator (6,000 mi) and the clamp (65000 mi or so) fail, so I mention it hoping you get away with the cheaper of the two options.
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    Man is a brute.... If you're cruel to him, he respects and fears you. If you're kind to him, he plucks your eyes out. Alexis Zorbas
    I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all... I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again - I would. Benjamin Sisko
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  10. #9
    Registered User wrx_sim0n's Avatar
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    you might have a leak in one of the hoses . get under the car and check em out.

    AND leave ur car for a little than move it to see if theres a leak!
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    Registered User Matt-'s Avatar
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    There are no leaks/stains on the ground under the car. I adjusted the hose and tightened it down.

    Is it normal for the reservoir level to drop after filling the radiator back up? I have noticed it drop about 2 inches since I filled it this morning. There are also a lot of bubbles coming from the hose leading into the reservoir when the engine is running. Is that air pockets being flushed out?

    Thanks

  12. #11
    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    The coolant level in the reservoir will vary from a little below L to a little below F in my car, if I fill it to halfway when the car is stone cold. After flushing, the level will vary a bit for a few days and then repeat the pattern above. What level it's at depends on the temperature of the system.

    Let the car cool down completely (overnight works, for example). Remove the radiator cap on the turbo overflow reservoir. Squeeze the top radiator hose rhythmically and see if you can get bubble to come up out the cap opening. Be careful and patient, if there's air pockets it can take a while. Fill up if you need to. Clean all green/white residue off of everything, so you can see if anything new comes out anywhere. See what happens.

    EDIT: What you see come out in spurts from the overflow hose is normally "coolant pockets" for lack of a better term. Ideally there are no air pockets in the system. The rad cap opens, lets off a little pressure (and coolant) and then closes, and repeats as needed.
    Last edited by SD_GR; 04-17-2008 at 08:29 PM.
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    I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all... I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again - I would. Benjamin Sisko
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    Registered User Matt-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SD_GR View Post
    The coolant level in the reservoir will vary from a little below L to a little below F in my car, if I fill it to halfway when the car is stone cold. After flushing, the level will vary a bit for a few days and then repeat the pattern above. What level it's at depends on the temperature of the system.

    Let the car cool down completely (overnight works, for example). Remove the radiator cap on the turbo overflow reservoir. Squeeze the top radiator hose rhythmically and see if you can get bubble to come up out the cap opening. Be careful and patient, if there's air pockets it can take a while. Fill up if you need to. Clean all green/white residue off of everything, so you can see if anything new comes out anywhere. See what happens.

    EDIT: What you see come out in spurts from the overflow hose is normally "coolant pockets" for lack of a better term. Ideally there are no air pockets in the system. The rad cap opens, lets off a little pressure (and coolant) and then closes, and repeats as needed.



    Ok, so the air bubbles coming form the hose leading into the reservoir is normal?

  14. #13
    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt- View Post
    Ok, so the air bubbles coming form the hose leading into the reservoir is normal?
    Probably, because what I think you are describing are bursts of coolant (with gaps between them that make up the bubbles you describe).

    Burp it well, double check everything, clean everything up well, and see what it does. If you no longer see juice coming out of the rad hose, you are probably OK.
    WRX Info Links, Courtesy TheJ
    Man is a brute.... If you're cruel to him, he respects and fears you. If you're kind to him, he plucks your eyes out. Alexis Zorbas
    I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all... I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again - I would. Benjamin Sisko
    DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are the author's alone and are inherently worthless.

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    Registered User Matt-'s Avatar
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    The coolant has been level for the last week. I guess it was just the loose hose on the top of the radiator.

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    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    If you see no green goo or white residue anywhere else, it probably was just that. Lucky break.
    WRX Info Links, Courtesy TheJ
    Man is a brute.... If you're cruel to him, he respects and fears you. If you're kind to him, he plucks your eyes out. Alexis Zorbas
    I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all... I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again - I would. Benjamin Sisko
    DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are the author's alone and are inherently worthless.

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