Subaru Forester Owners Forum banner
1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
2008 Forester
Joined
·
1 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright, bit of a long thread here so I'm gonna do the TLDR first and then if you feel inclined to help you can read the rest.

TLDR; I'm a new driver, had some work done and one of the coolant lines was left loose during the repairs, coolant leaked and while I was out driving my car began to overheat and I was close to home so I made the very poor decision to try to limp it home. On the driveway of my house it cut-out, current state is that it still drives and was driven home from the shop.

Okay onto the nitty-gritty.

Hi, I'm 18 and have only been driving for about a year now. I inherited my family's 08' Forester and it was never regularly serviced so I figured that I would have it inspected and serviced before I drove it across several states to college. Fast forward a couple weeks and I had had some work done, timing belt, coolant pump, transmission fluid and valve cover gaskets. Nothing too extreme just a couple of symptoms of an older car. I live between two homes as my parents have separated so after I had work done on my car I spent two months in a different state and it wasn't driven for that time. A couple weeks ago I briefly went back to see some friends and drove the Forester around, and went and got new tires for the vehicle. While walking into the tire place, I noticed that there was a large volume of liquid under my car. I didn't think anything of it at first but when I was walking out I mentioned it to my mother and she passed it off, "It doesn't look like oil to me, it's a lot less viscous, don't worry about it.". I wasn't overly convinced but this being my mother I felt compelled not to argue, additionally, there was a large beer can near the spill and I thought that maybe that was the culprit so I hopped in the car and we drove home. Once home, I noted again that some liquid had come out of the car, but this time in a much much smaller volume. I took a paper towel and dabbed it in one of the small puddles and it came up blue. I proceeded to call a friend who has been working on cars longer than I've been alive who advised me that it was likely wiper fluid. He said that I was probably okay to drive on it since we both concluded that that was the likely culprit and so following the theme of prepping my vehicle for college I went to get it smog tested. I get to the smog place, they slap it on the dyno and do the test, it passes (yay! /s). As I go to turn on my vehicle it throws all sorts of fun errors (basically everything that could light up did light up) and I kind of freak out and turn the vehicle off. Here's where my inexperience comes into play in a larger light, I thought that it was something to do with the smog test they had just run on my vehicle, maybe that something in the computer was temporarily thrown off, so I turned on the vehicle and noted that all the error codes were no longer there, so I proceeded to begin my journey home. As I was exiting the parking lot I noticed a slightly like plasticy/thin metallic tapping but it didn't sound like anything major so I figured I would call my friend about it when I got home and continued. I drove for about a half mile and alarmingly realized that my temp-gauge was quickly climbing but not yet in the red. I was about a half-mile away from my home and in the far left lane of an extremely busy road and as soon as I noticed it overheating I dropped to a snails pace. I began to panic and I didn't think that trying to pull all the way right across three lanes was a safe maneuver to pull so in my panic-hazy brain I weighed the options and decided I would try to limp it home. I was then essentially committed to making it home because many of the through streets are lined with cars and I had no ideal place to pull off. Again, panic-brain, hindsight is 20/20 and in the end I would have figured out how to safely pull off. I arrive to my house and I begin to see the metaphorical light, and as I'm driving up my drive way, bam, engine cuts out. Doesn't make a loud noise or anything, just shuts off. At this point I call my friend and explain all this to him and he heads over, we find the culprit of the leak and plan to have it towed to the shop.

(Gonna make another paragraph because this is the current state of the vehicle related info)
I actually had to fly back to my father's home the day after my engine debacle occurred so I left my vehicle in my mothers hands and flew home. She had it towed to the shop and reportedly it was able to start and drive up the truck on it's own. The shop was the same shop that had done the work previously (it was a reputable shop and mistakes weren't super common for them) and my mother explained to them that we had work done and the car overheated (even though technically it's my fault) and they offered to replace the coolant hose and see if they saw anything irregular with the engine while running it, (very nice of them). So they swap the hose run it for a while and determine that nothing seems abnormal, they said that without actually thinking something was wrong that they wouldn't take it apart to check. At this point, I've already spent thousands on a car that's barely worth the work put in, so it didn't make since to spend another few thousand to have them take apart the car just to tell me it's dead (or not, but I'm a pessimist). I had my friend (the one who's got a lot of experience with cars) drive it home for me and he told me that he didn't think anything was abnormal with the car at face-value, but that he would not drive it across multiple states. Sound advice I think. I've finally gotten home and need to run some errands just around town, my mother seems to think that I should take the Forester, and to be honest, I'm not super comfortable with that. Call it trauma but I'm kind of scared to put myself into another pinch when it comes to my car. I don't know what state the engine is in but from all accounts it seems to be fine for the moment (we intend to sell it soon). I'd like some second opinions on whether the car is probably fine to take for a couple miles or not. If you've read through this, thanks for taking the time.
 

·
Registered
2010 X Limited, 2.5L NA, 4AT. Purchased as the second owner in 2020 with ~126K miles.
Joined
·
1,017 Posts
My advice, always check the fluids. :p

It gets much worse when the temperature needle doesn't read high. Let's say you run low of coolant and the engine starts to overheat. Then the temperature needle goes up and the alarm goes off. Next thing that happens is all the coolant leaks out, the alarm goes out, and the needle drops back a bit. That's because there is not enough liquid to measure temperature from.

When you keep going, your engine will finally seize up. Then you need a new motor.
 

·
Registered
2004 FXT 4EAT
Joined
·
1,141 Posts
Had you been going faster at higher RPM when it finally decided to die, there would have been a greater change of damage.

Maybe you just got lucky this time. From what I've heard,(hasn't happened to me yet) when a subaru engine oveheats, there could be some warping of the block and/or the heads. If the vehicle appears to be running fine, thank your lucky stars.BUT!!!! Keep a close eye on the coolant level, and your oil! Any head-gasket issues will show themselves by coolant leaks, exhaust gasses in the coolant system or coolant mixing with oil.

Something you could do to ease your mind: With the engine cold, before starting it, dry to squeeze the upper radiator hose. (the bigger rubber hose on the radiator). There should be no pressure on it and you should feel little resistance. Once the engine has warmed up (at least 1/4 of the way up on the temp gauge) try to squeeze that hose again. It SHOULD now feel a lot different. It should feel like there is pressure in the hose. If this is indeed the case, the system is holding pressure (there are no leaks).
If it still feels soft, you still have a coolant leak somewhere. Look under the car for coolant.
 

·
Registered
2008 LL Bean (4EAT)
Joined
·
5,115 Posts
... driving up my drive way, bam, engine cuts out. Doesn't make a loud noise or anything, just shuts off...
The engine overheated to the point of seizure. The lack of coolant caused extreme heat in the cylinders and pistons such that they expanded and lost their running clearance, causing enough friction to bring the engine to a stop. Had you not been idling into your driveway, but instead had been at high rpm on the Interstate, the seizure would have been catastrophic galling and scoring that locked the engine against a restart. As it was, letting the engine cool off allowed your engine to restart.

But the damage has been done. A simple overheat and prompt shut off might have saved the heads from warping, but an overheat with continued driving that brings the engine to a stop means warped heads and likely damage in the cylinders. Your engine still runs, but you will have large head gasket leaks of oil and coolant, and high oil consumption from the damaged rings, pistons and cylinders.
 

·
Registered
1999 A/T - 235,000 mi. WA state
Joined
·
973 Posts
The engine overheated to the point of seizure ... the damage has been done. A simple overheat and prompt shut off might have saved the heads from warping, but an overheat with continued driving that brings the engine to a stop means warped heads and likely damage in the cylinders. Your engine still runs, but you will have large head gasket leaks of oil and coolant, and high oil consumption from the damaged rings, pistons and cylinders.
I agree with vintage42's likely assessment. But, I'd keep driving it - check fluids every day, then every week - until you see other problems such as: 1) likely strange appearances of oil / coolant = cross contamination; or 2) continual fluid loss. Then address repairs. If you need to add to radiator, best to add distilled water or pre-diluted coolant; tap water causes scale formation in water passageways/radiator (but will get you home).

You can join AAA for roadside assistance and free towing of up to 100 miles; 200 in some states. Takes 5 days for towing benefits to become active; do it now? Luck
 

·
Premium Member
2019 Crosstrek 2018 Forester XT
Joined
·
15,263 Posts
Hard to tell how bad it is. Your "mechanic" friend sounds like anything but. Your "reputable" garage sounds like anything but. My guess is that there is engine damage but that's a "guess". I would limit distance to a couple miles from home til it proves itself one way or another.

Good luck.
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top