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Old 09-22-2008, 06:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Big bubbles in radiator and overflowing coolant

Specs...2000 Forester, auto, non-turbo, 109,000 miles (owned since 102,000)
Recent maintenance...oil change. Nothing unusual found, no foam, no discoloration.
Problem...When running there is a mild backpressure on the coolant system causing coolant to gently flow into the overflow tank and eventually out the tank vent hole. Putting pressure on the radiator with a guage yielded no decrease in pressure after 5 minutes. If you take the radiator cap off when the engine is running, there wil be big bubbles come up in the radiator, some will pop with a little bit of steam. There's not a lot of bubbles. I've tried smelling the radiator to see if the bubble smell like exhaust, they don't really, and the exhaust doesn't smell like antifreeze or feel wet. The bubble are big and there is no foam in the radiator or catch tank. The temp guage comes up halfway and stays there and the car seems to be running just fine. Even gets 25-26mpg. One other problem is oil on the spark plug boots on the two passenger side cylinders.

I'm planning on having the timing belt, water pump, thermostat replaced soon and am wondering if I'll be staring at a head gasket replacement, too.

How can you tell which side has a head gasket leak?

If I do have to replace a head gasket, is it recommended to do both sides if only one is bad?

I'd appreciate any help as my two local mechanics are in disagreement. One says head gasket, the other, a respected Chevy mechanic who has worked on many of my vehicles, says if you have a head gasket leak it will spurt out of an open radiator.
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Old 09-22-2008, 06:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sounds like a head gasket to me.. Id replace them both while you have it torn apart. actually you might as well do all the other parts while your at it too timing belt, thermostat , water pump..
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Old 09-22-2008, 08:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Head gaskets, most likely. Replace both, because: 1. you will not be able to find which one is leaking until it blows big time, and 2. the other one will blow eventually, most likely.
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Old 09-24-2008, 01:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I've got the same problem with my 2001 - hasn't actually overflowed the reservoir yet but certainly fills it and I have bubbles coming out of the radiator. Car is at the dealer today, and their initial tests show hydrocarbons in the coolant, which means a leak in the engine somewhere. I'm actually hoping it's a head gasket since I had both replaced in January so it would be covered under warranty. I should know by tomorrow...
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Old 09-25-2008, 02:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks! Please post what the final outcome is as mine is due for a timing belt and water pump so I'd like to do all the work at once. Just curious...how much was your head gasket replacement and was it both of them?

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I've got the same problem with my 2001 - hasn't actually overflowed the reservoir yet but certainly fills it and I have bubbles coming out of the radiator. Car is at the dealer today, and their initial tests show hydrocarbons in the coolant, which means a leak in the engine somewhere. I'm actually hoping it's a head gasket since I had both replaced in January so it would be covered under warranty. I should know by tomorrow...
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:31 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Hi, it has just happend to me too,... bubbles and overflowing coolant, no temp rising.....after driving 2-3 hrs on the highway, so can you tell me what was wrong and if your car working well??? please let me know.... thanxs
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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If you are definitely getting bubbles in your overflow tank and it is pushing it out, it is DEFINITELY the head gaskets...

As far as the timing belt goes, this labor CAN overlap into the head gasket job, and you might want to consider replacing the water pump, timing belt tensioners, and having the oil pump resealed. Since all these repairs overlap the labor of replacing the timing belt, it would be MUCH cheaper to do it now than later.
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Do you have an idea how much it wuld be?
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:43 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Same thing happened to me. It was the head gasket. HG repair was about $2000.
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:43 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I put a sealant into the radiator and it stopped; no bubbles, even the check engine light went off...... ????
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:44 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerrysson View Post
I put a sealant into the radiator and it stopped; no bubbles, even the check engine light went off...... ????
What kind of sealant?
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:58 PM   #12 (permalink)
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simhttp://www.napaonline.com/MasterPages/NOLMaster.aspx?PageId=470&LineCode=NCB&PartNumber= 1100&Description=Block+Sealer+%26+Head+Gasket+Repa irilar to thisone
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:58 PM   #13 (permalink)
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NAPAONLINEŽ
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Old 10-28-2008, 01:01 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Interesting. I imagine that that would only work on fiber gaskets. Keep an eye on it and let us know how it goes. It might turn out to be a good cheap patch.
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Old 10-28-2008, 01:13 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Yes I will,... still checking the bubbles and it seems to be "OK" .... at least for now,... I am on the trip right now,....I'll have someone to look at it when I get home,....
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