coolant/antifreeze smell and a little smoke?
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This is a discussion on coolant/antifreeze smell and a little smoke? within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; Hey all! So I've recently purchased my very first turbocharged engine which I've been waiting for for a very long ...

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    coolant/antifreeze smell and a little smoke?

    Hey all!
    So I've recently purchased my very first turbocharged engine which I've been waiting for for a very long time. A friend of mine, who works at a Subaru dealer here in Alaska, finally came across a 2003 WRX Impreza which he sold to me. It only has 60k miles on it so I jumped on the opportunity before anybody else could (there was literally a line of people waiting to see the car as I was signing the paperwork).

    Anyways, I test drove the car and everything was working smoothly. They kept it overnight so they could change the oil and detail the car and made sure it was ready to go. I've been kind of worried about what's been going on though after the past couple days that I've been driving it. I've noticed the smell of coolant once the car has warmed up both with the heater on or off, and I've noticed steam coming out of the engine. There doesn't seem to be any coolant leaks that I could find and the car stays within regular operating temperature while I'm driving.

    I've done some Bing searches on this and read a few posts but I'm wondering if anybody here could give me an idea of where I should be looking as far as repairs. This is my first time owning a Subaru (and not to mention an AWD turbocharged car) so I'm not sure if this is out of the norm or a common problem with the WRX. I'll be taking it back to the dealer if the problem persists, but they reassured me that they checked for leaks during their inspection and their explanation is that maybe some fluids were spilt on the engine itself and it's just being burned off.

    Thanks guys,
    -Daniel

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    Registered User Ruh Roh's Avatar
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    check the hose connections on the upper and lower hoses, tighten your clamps and try to find where the smoke is coming from. if you smell and it theres smoke then it has to be a leak somewhere. ive fixed more than id like to say in the last month. had to get a new radiator as well. also squeeze the hoses because it could be the slightest hole in the hose and the drip runs to the block and causes the steam (had that happen on my upper rad hose, could not find where the leak was for the life of me. it ran all the way down and dripped off the oil filter. )
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruh Roh View Post
    check the hose connections on the upper and lower hoses, tighten your clamps and try to find where the smoke is coming from. if you smell and it theres smoke then it has to be a leak somewhere. ive fixed more than id like to say in the last month. had to get a new radiator as well. also squeeze the hoses because it could be the slightest hole in the hose and the drip runs to the block and causes the steam (had that happen on my upper rad hose, could not find where the leak was for the life of me. it ran all the way down and dripped off the oil filter. )
    Thanks for the input, that's what I'll do. I put a cardboard box underneath the car overnight and when I checked it this morning it was clean, no puddles, so the leak must be really small and just dripping onto the engine block. The smoke is always coming from the front of the engine from what I've noticed.

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    Just checked the radiator fluid reservoir which was filled to "full" yesterday and is now about an inch and a half lower this morning.

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    Registered User Impreza2.0's Avatar
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    check the top of the throttle body. if there is a greenish scum that looks like corrosion or any liquid there, the problem is in the throttle coolant bypass and pcv valve gasket. It is a small pretzel shaped gasket that seperates coolant and oil in the throttle. if the gasket goes, you burn coolant and oil.
    long term, they can mix and become very bad for the everything in the engine. definitely check that area. pics if you are not sure, and we can circle and repost the pic.

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    Damn you guys are much more helpful than I had anticipated, makes me proud to finally be a member of the WRX group!
    I'll be looking for it later tonight when I'm off work. I'll post some pics if I've lost my way.
    Does Subaru sell anything like a tear-down-rebuild manual like a Haynes book for example?

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    Registered User Impreza2.0's Avatar
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    PM me, and I will send you a copy of the 02-03 manual on a burnable CD file you can keep. It is the Subaru of America complete dealer's guide CD with all shop manuals contained inside it. There are a lot of books though, but nothing tops reading Nasioc, IWSTi, and what can be found on here. The FAQ pages are invaluable.

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    Thanks, I just sent you a PM.

    I did discover something that I didn't really consider. So yesterday when I filled the reservoir the engine was still warm so I filled it up to the Fill line. Then, after it sat outside in 12 degree weather over night, the coolant went down about 2 inches below the Fill line. Then I drove it around this morning and after it warmed up I looked at the tank and it was back at the Fill line, so I guess it probably was relieved of pressure when it got cold overnight, which is what made it go down.

    If I'm correct on that, then that would mean the leak must be really small and just dripping. Will be looking sometime tonight at the throttle body.

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