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Old 05-15-2008, 08:04 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Loosing Anti-Freeze: Where is it going?

Well, my 2005 XS, 4EAT, is in the dealer's shop right now. I noticed last Friday the surge tank was empty and I couldn't see fluid in the radiator. I've driven it about 700 miles since then and put in about a gallon of antifreeze, bit by bit. At first, there was no sign of where it has been going, but for the past two days, I've smelled it as I got out of the car.

In all of my driving, I never saw the temperature gauge budge from its "factory set" position. Once the engine is warm, the needle takes it's "assigned" position and just stays there.

So, where is it escaping?
1. Head Gasket?
2. Water Pump?
3. Thermostat?
4. Hoses?
5. Radiator?
6. Freeze Plugs? (Does this car have freeze plugs?)
7. All of the above?
8. None of the above?

I have not seen any fluid on the ground.
I did not smell it coming out of the exhaust.
But I do smell it somewhere on the exterior of the car.

Only 53,000 miles on it.

Bummer.

To Be Continued...


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Old 05-15-2008, 08:05 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Did you check the radiator cap?
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Old 05-15-2008, 08:23 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The little hose into the radiator on the pass. side (next to the large hose). Has been prone to leaking. IIRC Peaty did a write up on it. I think that the barbs on the nipple, mixed w/ poor clamp caused the leak. I noticed some residue under the hose, and changed the hose clamp (all clamps). No problem since....even tho I do get the whiff every so often.

When anti-freeze leaks, it leaves a trail..where it has been. Hope it isn't the headgasket...
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Old 05-15-2008, 11:15 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Well, the tech at the Subaru dealer can't find a leak right now!

I looked at the cap and the gasket looked ok. I'll asked if they pressure checked it.

I'll also look at the little tube on the radiator as suggested.

The mystery continues.

At least they didn't say right off that the head gaskets are blown.

Ray
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Old 05-15-2008, 11:29 AM   #5 (permalink)
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This is a pretty common occurence with the Forester. Check out these threads:

Constant minimal coolant loss
Leaking Coolant

And as a related issue: Antifreeze odor when engine warmed up.
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Old 05-16-2008, 04:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Update:

Still not resolved. I left the car all day at Johnson Subaru in Cary, NC. They didn't find a leak. I left the car all day, again, on Friday, at the same shop. Still, they didn't find a leak.

I agreed (don't know why) to a flush and refill, using Subaru antifreeze and Subaru coolant conditioner (sort of like hair conditioner?). This little bit of work cost US$145!!! (Well, it's about $20 less, but I bought an extra gallon of the Subaru antifreeze to keep in the car and that was $20!) By the way, they drain the system from the thermostat since that is the lowest part of the coolant system.

The mechanic marked the surge tank at the level of the fresh coolant. I drove the car about 76 miles and came back to the shop. The coolant in the surge tank was down, but was still ok in the radiator. He did another pressure check and didn't find anything wrong. He previously checked the surge tank for leaks, but found none.

They asked me to bring it back next week and leave it for a couple days or more (no problem for me).

The car has about 54,000 miles on it and they did make a note that they observed the coolant had leaked out somewhere, but they don't know where, just so I'm covered by the warranty that expires at 60,000 miles.

To Be Continued....


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Old 05-16-2008, 04:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Not to be pessimistic..but its probably a HG leak. You can't loose that much cooolant and not see telltale drips. A blackstone oil analysis would probably confirm it.

Blackstone Laboratories

Pressure tests are not very reliable for HG leaks bc the might leak cold or hot. And they can only do pressure tests cold (er)
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Old 05-16-2008, 05:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adc View Post
Not to be pessimistic..but its probably a HG leak. You can't loose that much cooolant and not see telltale drips. A blackstone oil analysis would probably confirm it.

Blackstone Laboratories

Pressure tests are not very reliable for HG leaks bc the might leak cold or hot. And they can only do pressure tests cold (er)
Just to be a little contrarian here. My 04 has lost a small amount of coolant regularly since new. Blackstone's have come back clean, no coolant in the oil.
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Old 05-16-2008, 05:35 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I would first try tightening all the hoses. I was loosing coolant very slowly... this is the first car I've had that ever took any fluid out of coolant reservoir. The first time I checked it (after about a year of ownership, the tank was basically empty. I filled it up and checked it periodically. Sure enough it was going somewhere. The oil was clean so I wasn't too concerned.

I ended up tightening all the hoses and the problem went away. Haven't added any coolant since.
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Old 05-16-2008, 06:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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my first step was to replace the radiator cap ... I was getting intermittent coolant loss and smell of antifreeze, but not a lot anywhere.

2 reasons:

1) the stock - round - cap is easy to mis-install ... in checking the fluid in my radiator I probably didn't completely screw it on. I don't think I was the only reason for lower coolant - I had a slow leak ever since driving it home w/ 6K miles on the odo.

B) I replaced it w/ a carquest brand cap - which is made by stant. has the conventional 2 handles and is brand new and much clearer when it's turned all the way.

no more leaks.
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Old 05-17-2008, 03:47 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Plainsman,

Did your cap show any evidence of leaking? Were there stains on top of the radiator or on the cap itself?

Next week, I'll ask the mechanic if he can check the cap. I think he can do a simple pressure check on the cap with the same little pump that he uses to check the cooling system.

My bet is the head gasket. Even though there is no visible evidence of water on the engine oil dipstick. The mechanic found no visible evidence in the cooling system. He said, usually, when a head gasket goes, it can put oil in the coolant system and would leave a tell-tale residue inside of the overflow tank. We saw no such thing. They don't have the old type of emissions tester that used a wand that you could stick into the exhaust pipe and check for combustion gases. If he had that, he could hold it over the open radiator and see if any combustion gases came out. And he stated there were no visible traces of leaks on the exterior of the heads.

To Be Continued!

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Old 05-17-2008, 04:00 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlovinggood View Post
Plainsman,

Did your cap show any evidence of leaking? Were there stains on top of the radiator or on the cap itself?

Next week, I'll ask the mechanic if he can check the cap. I think he can do a simple pressure check on the cap with the same little pump that he uses to check the cooling system.

My bet is the head gasket. Even though there is no visible evidence of water on the engine oil dipstick. The mechanic found no visible evidence in the cooling system. He said, usually, when a head gasket goes, it can put oil in the coolant system and would leave a tell-tale residue inside of the overflow tank. We saw no such thing. They don't have the old type of emissions tester that used a wand that you could stick into the exhaust pipe and check for combustion gases. If he had that, he could hold it over the open radiator and see if any combustion gases came out. And he stated there were no visible traces of leaks on the exterior of the heads.

To Be Continued!

Ray
I was a little ham-handed when poking around the engine compartment looking for my leak and managed to spray antifreeze about. no way to tell where my leak was.

unless your heart is really set on changing the head gaskets, why not try a new cap? - it's maybe $6 - $8. the cost of the pressure test alone will be at least an hour .... and my recollection of pressure tests is that they take the cap off and clamp the pressure tester onto the radiator in place of the cap - the cap doesn't get tested.

I was a little sick at the coolant my pride/joy was losing - the new cap was a basic, inexpensive first step in a diagnostic process that didn't [in my case] need to be taken farther.

ymmv,

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Old 05-17-2008, 04:26 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bullmtnbiker View Post
The oil was clean so I wasn't too concerned.
That doesn't mean a thing, believe me. I have been down that road in 3 leaking GM 3.1/3.4 engines.
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Old 05-17-2008, 05:16 AM   #14 (permalink)
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While the numbers are still small, our polls regarding head gaskets problems have shown the 2004+ Foresters to be extremely reliable. Probability is on your side!
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Old 05-17-2008, 06:36 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Plainsman,

Yea, you are right. They take off the radiator cap, screw in an adapter, and use the little hand pump to pressurize the radiator, heater core, block, and whatever else is plumbed into the radiator. But, I thought they could also put the radiator cap on an adapter and pump that up to see what happens. Anyway, I'm going back to the shop this coming week for more "poking around."

The dealer's mechanic seems to be a "Subaru" kind of guy. After a full day of working on Subaru's at the dealer, he goes home to work on more Subaru's in his own shop. I understand he owns three 'Roo's." I'll find out what he drives.

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