Possible head gasket problem on 2009 wrx?
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This is a discussion on Possible head gasket problem on 2009 wrx? within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; I have about 39,000 miles on my 2009 wrx, change the oil well before 3,000 miles, and have done so ...

  1. #1
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    Possible head gasket problem on 2009 wrx?

    I have about 39,000 miles on my 2009 wrx, change the oil well before 3,000 miles, and have done so since I got the car (when I first got the car I changed the oil even more frequently :-)

    At 39,000 miles, I've also had the dealer (I know, I know) flush the coolant system twice (once at 15k, and again at 30k).

    The car has never overheated. The temperature gauge, once the car is at normal operating temperature, never budges past dead center between hot and cold, and has been that way since I drove the car off the dealer lot.

    I check fluids religiously in this car--basically pop the hood for a quick check before every single drive (I may have OCD :-)

    Anyway, I started to notice that after a rather spirited drive the car would smell like burning coolant. Upon inspection, I observed the following:

    1) the coolant reservoir was at or near the top (well past the full mark), and the coolant inside was bubbling (one bubble every few seconds)

    2) there were signs that coolant had "squirted" out of the reservoir, as the reservoir hose, and other nearby stuff was covered in it

    3) taking off the cap and looking in the coolant reservoir, it looks like there's some "muck" at the top (dried coolant? hoping it isn't an oil/coolant mix) I should add that I had the dealer add the conditioner every time they flushed the coolant, and I always have them use the super coolant long-life stuff the car came with. Maybe the "muck" is the conditioner stuff?

    4) every once in a while enough coolant spills out of the reservoir that upon checking the car the next morning the reservoir level is either between the full and low mark or, on rare occasions, an inch or so below the low mark--at this point I always add coolant until I'm back at the full mark. I've never had to add very much coolant at any one time to get back to the full mark.

    Since the temperature gauge on the dash didn't seem to indicate the car has come anywhere near overheating, I decided to get a COBB AccessPort to monitor coolant temperature and other stats with it.

    When monitoring coolant temperature with the AP, I generally see the temperature hanging out anywhere from 189-199, but have seen it rise as high as 207 after a spirited drive on a hot day. When I pull into the lot, I *always* let the car cool down some before turning it off. During this cool down, especially following a spirited drive, I monitor the coolant temp. I have seen it at 205 or so before, then after a couple minutes drop back down around 199 or so.

    Can someone tell me what temperature ranges are "normal", given the conditions (spirited drive, 90 degree F temps outside, etc)? Of course I try to avoid spirited drives on hot days, but, well... :-)

    I also purchased the 10 year / 100,000 mile gold extended warranty, and the car is still within the 60k power train warranty, so I'm hoping if this is a head gasket I can get warranty coverage (especially since I have done ALL maintenance early and then some and have done it all through my dealership, with records of it all).

    Does this sound like a possible head gasket issue?

    I read somewhere that someone with similar symptoms found out they had a problem with "head studs stretching, allowing coolant to enter the combustion chamber causing massive pressure pushing the coolant out of the overflow. That's why it is only happening during boost. I never overheated..."

    Sounds eerily like my situation.

    Is it possible the dealership didn't know how to do a coolant flush (i.e. they forgot to "burp" the system or something)?

    I should add that the car runs like an absolute top--couldn't be happier with it. I just want to make sure if my baby is starting to get sick that I get her the help she needs before any serious problems arise.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

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  3. #2
    Registered User EvoEatr's Avatar
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    First, If you have purchased the Subaru Gold coverage plan that covers a ton of stuff, I would bring it into the dealer and have them check her over if you are truly concerned...

    Why did you have the coolant changed in the first place, that long life coolant is good for 137,500 miles? Was the car bubbling coolant over before it was brought in for the first coolant service?

    I believe these are 170 degree thermostats on these cars, so the thermostat starts to open at 170 and is fully open at about 190 so seeing around 200 degrees on a HOT day after a hard drive isnt bad, as you mentioned I would make sure burped the system properly, than if your still worried about a HG, have them do a combustion leak test ( testing for combustion gases in the coolant )...

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