03 WRX Urgent! Engine boiling coolant into resivior
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This is a discussion on 03 WRX Urgent! Engine boiling coolant into resivior within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; So I just recently replaced the timing belt, tensioner and idler pulleys, water pump and gasket, and OEM thermostat with ...

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    Exclamation 03 WRX Urgent! Engine boiling coolant into resivior

    So I just recently replaced the timing belt, tensioner and idler pulleys, water pump and gasket, and OEM thermostat with new gasket. Used Subaru green coolant with Subaru conditioner and distilled water to fill up the system, making sure to back-fill the engine through the upper hose a little bit at a time to get all the air pockets out before I connected it to the radiator and filled the radiator up to the cap. I topped off the other overflow next to the turbo and then filled the reservoir up to the low mark. Engine ran perfect for the first two days and I kept an eye on the reservoir to notice any changes. I did notice that the reservoir would fill up well past the full mark and I would empty it down to the middle between the marks.

    Now just today I noticed profuse amounts of white smoke coming from the driver's side of the hood and decided to have a look, knowing any residual coolant should have burned off by now. First thing I noticed was coolant was every where on my battery, below the reservoir, and on the engine itself, but it was isolated to the drivers side and wasn't leaking from anywhere, bringing me to conclude it was overflowing so much that it was squirting out between the reservoir and the tube that ran from the radiator into the reservoir.

    So first I checked to see if the radiator was warm or hot to the touch but, infact, was as cold as the outside air (-2F here in Rochester, MN). At this point I am under the assumption I have a defective OEM thermostat that is locked closed and isn't opening when the engine reaches the optimal running temperature, causing the coolant in the engine to boil and overflow into the reservoir to relieve the cooling system of pressure.

    I'll be taking it all apart again tonight to see what's up, but I definitely could use some pointers as to what to check for or if anyone has had a similar issue and knows exactly what it is.

    Thanks,
    Blackerst

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    Pro Manscaper Mikie13's Avatar
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    Sounds like you still have air in the system.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikie13 View Post
    Sounds like you still have air in the system.
    But where in the system and what else can I do to get rid of it if it is there?

    I can't see it being in the engine block because I slowly filled it for a few seconds then would stop and let it gurgle until it went quiet, then repeated the process until it filled up. Plus I warmed the engine up with heater on low afterwards to proper temp before shutting it off and burping the system. The only place I could see a air pocket being kept would have been in the lower tube that goes to the pump, but that would have been burped the first time when the thermostat opened up and let the air escape into the block where it would have filtered up into the upper portion of the block, eventually dissipating after I stopped the engine and burped the upper tube.

    I'll definitely keep it in mind next time, but it is hard for me to believe that an air pocket caused all this after it was running fine for two days until now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikie13 View Post
    Sounds like you still have air in the system.
    Agreed. Burp the system ad nauseam.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackerst View Post
    But where in the system and what else can I do to get rid of it if it is there?

    I can't see it being in the engine block because I slowly filled it for a few seconds then would stop and let it gurgle until it went quiet, then repeated the process until it filled up. Plus I warmed the engine up with heater on low afterwards to proper temp before shutting it off and burping the system. The only place I could see a air pocket being kept would have been in the lower tube that goes to the pump, but that would have been burped the first time when the thermostat opened up and let the air escape into the block where it would have filtered up into the upper portion of the block, eventually dissipating after I stopped the engine and burped the upper tube.

    I'll definitely keep it in mind next time, but it is hard for me to believe that an air pocket caused all this after it was running fine for two days until now.
    An air pocket is the simplest explanation.

    An obstruction is another explanation -- not-fluid in this case (an air pocket can be seen as a fluid obstruction I suppose; I'm talking a rag, a kinked hose, etc. instead), so a hard object or something like that somewhere. I find this much less likely.

    If you cannot find a leak anywhere, keep burping the system. I start burping when the car is stone cold. Not as much fun as watching paint dry but it's necessary.
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    Well I'll give it a try then after I can get some more coolant. I'll update tomorrow with results.

    Thanks

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    Alright so all I can say is before I started doing maintenance work (i.e. changing coolant and such) my wrx ran on magic pixie dust or something similar. The reason I assume this is because of the following.

    This WAS how my overflow tank was originally configured before I pulled all the hoses to get the radiator out when I was working on the timing belt.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I found this a bit odd as the hose running from the tank to the metal tube is pressurized whilst the metal tube, which eventually meets up with the relief hose for the rad and the reservoir hose, is not supposed to be pressurized. So I looked around online to see what stock and aftermarket setups looked like and this is what I assume is supposed to be the normal setup.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Now I looked and looked and looked until I was ready to rip out the whole radiator and couldn't find any hose connection near the top passenger side of the radiator for the return hose to connect to. What's even more confusing is I've been driving this WRX like this for the past 5 months now with no over heating problems or coolant issues similar to what started this thread. I can not even begin to understand how my WRX cooling system worked with this setup!?!

    I'll wait a bit for a reply, but to sooth my frustrating need for things to work as they should I will most likely be buying a new radiator unless someone can explain to me how this even worked.

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    I don't understand though why you need a new radiator? You can't connect the hoses correctly? I don't follow sorry.
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    That is correct. I can not connect the hoses properly because I am short one connector that is supposed to be on the upper passenger side of the radiator yet for some reason my current radiator does not have said connection.

    The connection I'm missing is the one highlighted below.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    What is happening is the return hose, which is supposed to be connected to the radiator as this image shows, is instead connected to the line that runs to the reservoir. So then when the engine heats up it just dumps the coolant expanding in the overflow tank into the reservoir and pretty much starts to empty my cooling system of all its coolant. And since there will never be any negative pressure in the system the coolant will never be pulled back up into the overflow tank.
    Last edited by Blackerst; 02-28-2014 at 02:42 PM.

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    If you look at you're original pic, it looks like it is actually supposed to be there, but is broken off or something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikie13 View Post
    If you look at you're original pic, it looks like it is actually supposed to be there, but is broken off or something.
    I thought that as well but I looked and there clearly was nothing there, that part of the radiator that should have a connection was smooth plastic.



    Now oddly I just realized how my car had been working just fine before I did the whole tune up. First I'll explain what I did wrong that started this thread.

    When I added the fresh coolant after changing the belt, pulleys, and everything else, I paid close attention to the level of coolant in my reservoir to make sure it was where it should be. I noticed after running it the first day the coolant level would be well above the full line but was still no where near overflowing, so I decided to empty some of it out until it was just below the full line. I repeated this same step the following day as I noticed again it rose above the full line, thinking maybe I just put too much coolant in the system and it was just trying to equalize. Thus, on the third day when the thread topic arose, I practically had half if not less than half the total amount of coolant I should have had in the engine since I had been slowly emptying it the previous days thinking it was just equalizing, thus it heated up and boiled out into the reservoir.

    Now I remember clearly that the level of coolant during the first day after the maintenance was stable and didn't keep climbing, suggesting that the engine released the amount of coolant into the reservoir required to maintain a low enough pressure inside the rest of the cooling system.


    So to sum it all up the setup I have works but it is not how it should be setup and I will still be buying a new radiator to alleviate this oddity. If this is all still confusing to everyone who has read this thread please post a reply saying so and I'll look into cooking up a video to explain what I'm trying to explain XD

  12. #11
    Pro Manscaper Mikie13's Avatar
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    It makes sense to me...so when removing, you were actually introducing air into the system as opposed to burping it properly.

    But still doesn't explain the system, which you will be rectifying. Cool...glad you figured it out!
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    Well I did burp it properly the first time, that is why I was sure it wasn't an air bubble the first time. But yes, it eventually introduced air into the system since coolant was being taken out since I believed it was equalizing the system pressure as it should through the radiator cap and overflow tank cap, but instead it would just dump fluid out of the return line from the overflow tank into the reservoir.

    Anyways I plan to make a video of this issue and post it just incase someone else runs into this same problem.

    Thanks again for the suggestions!

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