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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, it's a long story so I'll try to include as much detail as possible but it might seem kinda scattered (this is throughout like a year long time span..)

A few months after I purchased the car (2005 WRX) it developed rod knock and a few other issues. I had purchased an aftermarket warranty with the car when I bought it, so I put it into a shop where they rebuilt the short block, put in a remanned turbo, did the timing belt and water pump, replaced the head gaskets along with the clutch and a new turbo inlet. The car was running great after this!

About two months after getting that work done, my OEM radiator cracked along the plastic tank and sprayed coolant all over my engine bay. So I ordered an all aluminum radiator on eBay (big mistake, even though the seller was reputable the radiator was manufactured incorrectly, so I would recommend avoiding no-name radiators) and installed it. All seemed well and my temperature gauge was actually even running a little cooler than it did before. I was in a hurry though and wasn't thinking correctly, so I never replaced the thermostat at the same time. So what do you know? Another week later and my temperature gauge was shooting up again because the thermostat failed. In a hurry once again, since it happened at work, I had to replace the thermostat with one I bought from an auto parts store (ANOTHER big mistake, always go OEM with Subaru T-stats.) Even though I never experienced an issue with the aftermarket one, I still had doubt.

Here's where the bigger problem began, or atleast where I believe it did. I left for almost a week long trip out of state, so I left the car in a garage the entire time I was gone. It wasn't my garage though, so occasionally it had to be started and moved slightly, but it wasn't driven any more than that.
When I returned back from the trip and got my car back, a few days after driving it I noticed that the OEM temperature gauge would slightly climb to around the 3/4 line. I wanna say there was 1-2 times where it kept climbing until it almost hit the 'H' but this was also right after the fact of replacing the radiator and first thermostat, so I thought it may have been air left in the system from when I worked on it. I also noticed that the aluminum radiator I had ordered was slightly leaking around the filler neck and would sometimes bubble a little, so I wondered if that was still the cause.

Questioning the parts that I had installed, I replaced the aftermarket thermostat with an OEM unit from the dealership, and also took out the aluminum radiator and installed one from Autozone (not an OEM but pretty much equivalent.)

This did not solve the issue as I'm still having the temp gauge climb up to the 3/4 line until the fans kick on. The weird part to me is that it will NOT climb on the gauge if I'm driving and moving steady, it will only start to climb when I sit idling for awhile AFTER driving some. I start my car in the morning and let it idle 10-15 mins and even if the temp gauge reaches the middle, it won't keep climbing. And 90% of days, I remain driving without stopping for real long, so I never notice the gauge climb. It's only when I sit in traffic at a dead stop for awhile that it starts to climb, then when I start moving again the gauge moves back down (it moves fast too, takes about 10 seconds to reach the 3/4 line from operating temp, and the same to go back down when I start moving.) I have monitored my coolant temp through the OBD port as well and it never reaches above 205 degrees. As soon as it hits that point my fans kick on as normal and drop the temp gauge almost immediately (weird, right?) But then the next time I stop for a few minutes, it may do it again or it may not. I've had it where the temp gauge climbs once, then after the fans kick on and send it back down to the middle, I'll wait until the next fan cycle and the temp gauge will never move. Then say for example, the third fan cycle comes around, it may rise back up to the 3/4 line again before they kick on. So it's random when it happens, sometimes it will keep rising and other times it won't once it goes back down.

Now I do know that I must have a small coolant leak or something somewhere, because I can smell the coolant in my engine bay sometimes and also find it puddled up on top of the engine block right below the passenger side of the intake manifold, sort of between the alternator and turbo inlet. I replaced the upper radiator hose and cleaned off the engine because the radiator hose had an obvious leak and I figured it was spraying the coolant back there under pressure, but it's still coming back after replacing that. The shop also found that the turbo coolant supply line was leaking some and spraying out, so they cleaned it off and tightened it back up, but I've noticed that it's now leaking again. But I don't think it would be possible for that to spray so much that it would collect a puddle on top of the block would it? The hose to the turbo sits lower than that.

I also find coolant underneath the car in a disaster, it appears that it is coming from above because it drips down all over the timing cover and oil filter (this one could be caused from the turbo hose spraying down there though.) I have also cleaned this spot several times and it continues to come back.

My main concern is that there is an issue with the water pump or head gaskets that the shop installed, because I cannot figure out for sure where it's coming from besides that turbo hose because it gets green crust built up around the tip, which doesn't explain the puddle on the block though.

Sorry for the super long post, I really don't even know how to describe it correctly as it keeps giving me multiple symptoms and areas of concern.. So I tried to include as much detail as I could whether it's related or not, since I cannot figure this out for the life of me and it's starting to drive me crazy.

Pretty much to sum it up, I'm wondering:

1. Does this sound like a head gasket or water pump issue? I have been driving on it for months (I have to, since it's my daily) and still continue to have no contamination in my oil or coolant, and I don't have any abnormal exhaust smoke.

2. Possible that a leaking hose is causing the cooling system to obtain air, therefore giving the temperature gauge a false reading?

3. Maybe a faulty ECT sensor/gauge and the leaking coolant is just a coincidence from old hoses leaking?

I have a few videos but I can't get them to upload yet.

Thanks for your help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Sorry guys, false alarm about the puddle on the engine block! I assumed the first time that it was the radiator hose spraying back there, that's why I replaced it. Well after replacing it I either didn't tighten it enough, or the shop moved it for some reason and didn't tighten it enough when they put it back on. Either way, I found the fresh coolant dripping from below the upper radiator hose and running back onto the block as well as down the front of the timing cover, so the mess underneath the car might be caused from that trail too. So if anyone finds a puddle on their passenger side of the engine block that's the first hose to check!

Still wondering about the temperature gauge rising though and if that could just be caused from air getting in from these hoses leaking? Thanks for any input!
 

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Sorry guys, false alarm about the puddle on the engine block! I assumed the first time that it was the radiator hose spraying back there, that's why I replaced it. Well after replacing it I either didn't tighten it enough, or the shop moved it for some reason and didn't tighten it enough when they put it back on. Either way, I found the fresh coolant dripping from below the upper radiator hose and running back onto the block as well as down the front of the timing cover, so the mess underneath the car might be caused from that trail too. So if anyone finds a puddle on their passenger side of the engine block that's the first hose to check!

Still wondering about the temperature gauge rising though and if that could just be caused from air getting in from these hoses leaking? Thanks for any input!
That is likely. Air can easily get trapped in the system. However it's worth checking the thermostat and pump if you haven't done a timing belt, and if you haven't recently it may be time
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Sorry guys, false alarm about the puddle on the engine block! I assumed the first time that it was the radiator hose spraying back there, that's why I replaced it. Well after replacing it I either didn't tighten it enough, or the shop moved it for some reason and didn't tighten it enough when they put it back on. Either way, I found the fresh coolant dripping from below the upper radiator hose and running back onto the block as well as down the front of the timing cover, so the mess underneath the car might be caused from that trail too. So if anyone finds a puddle on their passenger side of the engine block that's the first hose to check!

Still wondering about the temperature gauge rising though and if that could just be caused from air getting in from these hoses leaking? Thanks for any input!
That is likely. Air can easily get trapped in the system. However it's worth checking the thermostat and pump if you haven't done a timing belt, and if you haven't recently it may be time
I replaced the thermostat last February so it's been a year now, but I did use an OEM one that time and I've done the upper and lower radiator hose test, and the bottom hose does get hot so I believe it's working correctly but I will look into that. The timing belt and pump were done when the engine work was done which was last November so just a little over a year on those as well. So I know that the parts are new I was just concerned that maybe the pump was faulty or installed incorrectly (I didn't find out until after all the work was already done unfortunately, that the mechanic is kinda spacey... He claimed that an 05 only gets about 8 PSI of boost when stock lol.)

I'm pretty sure that if it were a head gasket issue I would've been experiencing other symptoms and much bigger problems by now is that correct? I've been continuing to drive it for several months now, and it gets drove just about every day. So I'd assume if it was, it would already be on its way out by now.

About the air in the cooling system, there's not gonna be a way to really tell until I get all the leaks fixed first right? Cause otherwise I'm guessing the air is just gonna enter right back into the system.
 

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Yeah they can show up in more catastrophic ways. Pressure test your cooling system. It'll tell you if there is a leak
 
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