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2016 2.5i Premium CVT
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2.5i Premium CVT, 4 Years and 106K miles

I was getting close to the 135K coolant replacement schedule in the manual and decided that I would get ahead and replace the coolant now before the cold weather sets in this winter. I have the FSM and the step by step instructions are pretty clear and easy to follow. I was a little apprehensive since this was my first time doing a coolant drain and fill on the Forester, but it was pretty straight forward and everything went according to the manual with only a few exceptions. ;)

First off, I decided to go with Prestone 50/50 pre-mix anti freeze. I had originally intended to go with Wally World Super Tech anti freeze, but I read the labels and the SuperTech said it was compatible with "most" cars, while the Prestone said it was compatible with "all" makes and models; American, Asian, and European. It was only $1 more than the SuperTech, so easy decision. The Prestone is good for 5 years or 150K miles, but I'll change it again when I get to 200K.

Here is what I used:


Step #1 was to remove the front engine under cover. I was able to get out all the screws and clips without lifting the car.



The FSM is little misleading on the screws and clips. It looked like there was only a couple of each according to the diagram, but there are actually 4 12mm screws and 6 plastic clips.
(exception #1 - these are 12mm bolt/phillips head screws. My handy-dandy HBF socket sets includes 11mm and 13mm; no 12mm socket! :mad: Luckily, I was able to use a 12mm box end wrench to get them loose)



After getting the front engine undercover, I was able to locate the drain plug on the radiator.



The drain plug was not on there very tight and I was able to get it out very easily with a phillips head screwdriver. It is a plastic bolt:


The FSM says to replace the o-ring. This brings up exception #2 - the dealer I get all my parts from didn't have the radiator o-ring in stock. Neither did any other dealer in the area. The closest one was in NY somewhere (I live in NJ). That being said, I didn't see an o-ring at all. I expected to find it on the drain plug. Maybe it was up in the radiator nipple where the drain plug fits? I looked after all the coolant drained out, but couldn't clearly see anything in the nipple. I did triple check the drain pan I used to catch the anti freeze and there was no o-ring anywhere to be found.

I used a simple aluminum pan to catch the anti freeze.



Surprisingly, not much mess at all. I pulled the drain plug and the anti freeze drained out in a nice smooth stream. The instructions say to remove the radiator cap so get it to flow quicker, which I did, but no splashing or anything. Clean and neat. It took quite a while, 10 or 15 minutes for it to finish draining, but I got quite a bit out.



I replaced the drain plug (hoping the o-ring was still in place! :p) and refilled the radiator. I didn't use one of the "spill proof" funnels or anything. I just bought a $0.97 funnel at Wally World made for the radiator and it worked quite well. I was able to get in about 1 and 1/3 gallons into the radiator filler neck. I poured slowly and could hear it gurgling as new coolant settled in.



At this point, I put the radiator cap back on and fired up the engine. The FSM says to race the engine up to 3000 rpms 5 or 6 times to flush any air bubbles out. Important to get this done in 40 sec or less so the engine doesn't heat up to much. After shutting the engine off, I checked the radiator level and had to add a little more coolant. Repeated the cycle a second time and the level didn't drop so I was good for the next step.

The next step is to put the radiator cap back on and run the engine until the radiator fans turn on and then off again. Turn on the heater to full heat and low fan to circulate the coolant through the heater core. I hooked up my bluetooth OBD2 dongle to the connector and used the Torque app to monitor the coolant temp.



The fans should turn on about 201 deg F. But (exception #3! - the coolant never got to that temp) After 30 mins of idling, the coolant temp only got up to about 160 deg F. Now, it was cool day in the low 50's here in NJ. I thought maybe the coolant system was too efficient to come up to that temp while idling. I decided to get in and race the engine around 2K to 2.5K RMP's for a few minutes to help it along! After about 10 more minutes of racing the engine, the coolant got up to about 196 deg, but then would maintain between 194 and 196. The radiator fans never came on. I figured the thermostat must be working correctly to maintain the temp, so that means the coolant was circulating. The blower vents in the cabin were blowing very hot air, so the heater core was getting circulation also.

I let the engine cool down for about an hour or so while I ate lunch. I came back and checked the coolant temp, it was down to about 110 deg. I pulled the radiator cap (carefully!) and the coolant level hadn't dropped at all. The reservoir level did drop a couple of inches. I decided to top off the reservoir again up to the "Full" mark and take it for a test drive. I drove the car at 40 to 50 mph for about 20 mins and the coolant temp never got above 196 again. It maintained the temp between 194 and 196. I got back home after my test drive and popped the hood, but the fans were still not running. So be it! I'm confident that the coolant doesn't have any air pockets and is circulating correctly. I get very good heat from the vents and the engine is able to maintain temps with no overheating.

All in all, it took me about 3.5 hours from start to finish. A lot of this was waiting for the coolant to finish draining, then the engine to heat up and then cool off again. Not a very difficult job at all. I think the hardest part of all was getting that front under cover off and back on again!

I'll check the coolant level again in the morning after it sits all night. I'll also monitor the coolant temps on my drive to work tomorrow to make sure everything is OK.

Hope you find this useful!

StanF
 

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@StanF Why didn't you go with the Subaru super coolant? I thought it was a better option.

At what position should the heater switch be when the coolant is being drained?
 
2017 2.5i Fozy CVT
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My " drain plug" ( at 60000 miles) was the lower radiator hose connection at the radiator.
  • Parked the car uphill( drained it downhill) to fill and race engine, and idle with interior Hvac on heat , all with cap off while topping off with "Techron" bottle funneL using SSC( suby super coolant).
  • Replaced rad cap
  • Filled expansion tank to full line and adjusted, as needed, over several days of driving to fine tune levels.
 

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2011 Subaru Forester
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Good write up. I find it hard to believe that you have to remove so much to drain the coolant. Why would there not be a drain hole, and a plastic phillips head screw as a drain valve stopper? What were Subaru engineers thinking?

And to the original poster what colour did your coolant wind up? The prestone is green, and the subaru stuff is blue.
Seeing you just did a drain and fill, and not a full flush you would have mixed the two in an almost 50-50 mix. Double check but I dont think Prestone lasts as long when mixed with old coolant.

To properly get rid of the old coolant you want to flush the system with water until it drains clear, ideally distilled water, and then after a last drain, refill with non pre-mixed coolant. I save up my windshield washer jugs as you need 6 or 7 depending on how many times you flush it.

For anyone else just doing a drain and fill, its best to get the blue coolant that is already in the car. Its readily available.
 

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2016 2.5i Premium CVT
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Discussion Starter #6
@StanF Why didn't you go with the Subaru super coolant? I thought it was a better option.

At what position should the heater switch be when the coolant is being drained?
The Subaru super coolant is way too expensive for my tastes. The local dealer wanted 25 bucks a gallon for the premix while I could get the prestone for $8.88 a gallon. They both have the same properties, and the prestone can last up to 150k miles compared to the Subaru coolant which is good for 137k thousand miles.

I don't think it makes a difference what position the heater switch is in while it's draining because the engine is off and nothing is circulating. It's only when you start the engine and start the circulation that you need the heater switched to full heat.

And to the original poster what colour did your coolant wind up? The prestone is green, and the subaru stuff is blue.
Seeing you just did a drain and fill, and not a full flush you would have mixed the two in an almost 50-50 mix. Double check but I dont think Prestone lasts as long when mixed with old coolant.

To properly get rid of the old coolant you want to flush the system with water until it drains clear, ideally distilled water, and then after a last drain, refill with non pre-mixed coolant. I save up my windshield washer jugs as you need 6 or 7 depending on how many times you flush it.

For anyone else just doing a drain and fill, its best to get the blue coolant that is already in the car. Its readily available.
I ended up putting in about 1.5 gallons of new coolant in the system. The total system capacity is 2 gallons, so I replaced about 75% of the total volume of coolant. I plan on replacing it again at 200k miles so I'm not too worried about the longevity. The prestone is fully compatible with all vehicle makes, models, and colors of coolant.

StanF
 

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2011 Subaru Forester
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StanF very clearly described removing such a stopper.
I was questioning the design of the system. I have changed coolant on a number of cars, that is a dumb set up, and not very user friendly in my opinion. Mind you I suspect not everything has to be dismantled, and that a small piece of hose tubing might be the ticket to routing the flow. I will know better when I do mine.
At our local Canadian Tire, the blue coolant for Acura, Honda, and Subaru is $3 more a jug for premix as compared to Prestone. The concentrate is a dollar more and basically half price when you mix it with distilled water. It also lets you change the mix in your system. If you live in a very cold climate you may want to increase the antifreeze to 55 or 60%. Something you cannot do with the premix
Again, read the Prestone info and you will see that doing as you did lessens the protection time. You basically mixed 50% new with 50% old coolant. I would be very surprised if you managed to drain 75% of the coolant only through the radiator drain valve. Uusually its about half the capacity, which I guess I will have to look up.
 
2017 2.5i Fozy CVT
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I would be very surprised if you managed to drain 75% of the coolant only through the radiator drain valve.
On a V8 or online 4 I think you would be correct, and a block drain plug would need to be removed- flushing more necessary

I think the Subi flat 4 drains more on a percentage basis than other engine designs. Parking downhill cannot hurt either, but, I believe the main hoarder are the heater core and lines.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i Limited CVT
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I only use Subaru coolant and on my 2015 I may open the 14mm block plug to get most of the old coolant out.

Mixing off brand coolant with Subaru blue super coolant will diminish its longevity and protection. I don’t trust Prestone coolant. It may be corrosive to gaskets and aluminum.

I also use a coolant funnel, like the Lisle. Very efficient at removing air bubbles.

The OP mentions an o ring for the rad drain plug. There should be one in place. I would also consider flushing the heater core and replacing the thermostat/gasket assembly.
 

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Just so the original poster knows, I congratulate him on looking after some of his own maintenance, and especially for taking preventative measures. I don't think you need to change the thermostat(s) ( might be two) on a 2016 yet, and simple fact he is also early for the coolant change. Periodic drains and fills are great to do and maintain and refresh the quality of the coolant. I am only suggesting that its not optimal to mix two types of coolant, and I think for anyone else its worth spending a few extra bucks to get the same type of blue coolant that came with your Subaru, and if you want to use Prestone they sell such a fluid
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Update:
This morning the reservoir tank was down to the "low" level after it cooled off all night. I topped it off with some additional new coolant, so now I have added a little more than 1.5 gallons to the system. I monitored the coolant temps using the Torque app on my 1 hour ride to work and the coolant came up to temp and maintained at around the 195 deg to 199 deg the whole way. I'm confident that there are no issues with the fill and "burping" out all the air. I'll continue checking the level in the morning for the next couple of days to make sure.

Again, read the Prestone info and you will see that doing as you did lessens the protection time. You basically mixed 50% new with 50% old coolant. I would be very surprised if you managed to drain 75% of the coolant only through the radiator drain valve. Uusually its about half the capacity, which I guess I will have to look up.
I am 100% certain that I drained out 1.5 gallons of "old" coolant and added 1.5 gallons of "fresh" coolant. I started with two 1-gallon jugs of new coolant and I poured more than 1.5 gallons of it into the radiator neck and the reservoir tank. I still have a little less than 1/2 of a jug left over for top offs. The total engine coolant capacity of the CVT variant is 8.0 U.S. quarts (I have the Factory Service Manual). This means that I mixed at least 75% new with 25% old coolant. Probably closer to 80/20 mix.

Mixing off brand coolant with Subaru blue super coolant will diminish its longevity and protection. I don’t trust Prestone coolant. It may be corrosive to gaskets and aluminum.

I also use a coolant funnel, like the Lisle. Very efficient at removing air bubbles.

The OP mentions an o ring for the rad drain plug. There should be one in place. I would also consider flushing the heater core and replacing the thermostat/gasket assembly.
I agree that mixing other brands of coolant with the Subaru blue super coolant could diminish its longevity and protection, especially if you mix it with an older style of coolant that is only good for 30K or 60K miles. But, in this case, I mixed it with a quality coolant that has a longer life than the Subaru blue super coolant. The new Prestone that I used is good for 150K miles, while the Subaru blue super coolant is good for only 137K miles. If anything, I diminished the longevity of the Prestone by mixing it with the Subaru coolant! ;)

That being said, I did mix 75% new with 25% old. Doing some simple math (because I like math!), I would calculate the lifetime of this coolant mix as follows:
25% X 31K miles (the remaining life of the Subaru coolant - 137K - 106K = 31K) = 7,750 miles
75% X 150K miles (the life of the new Prestone coolant) = 112,500 miles
Total Expected Lifetime of the 75% / 25% mix = 120,250 miles

I plan on doing another drain and fill "refresh" when I get to 200K. I'm at 106K, and it will only take me about 3 years to get to 200K. This means that I will change it again after 94K miles. Well within my calculated range of 120,250 miles.

Regarding your comment about being corrosive to gaskets and aluminum: That may have been true of older formulations, but this new formulation is engineered to work on modern cars with aluminum engines. It is compatible with all makes and models - American, Asian, and European.

I agree with what you said about the coolant funnel to make it easier to get out the bubbles, but it wasn't necessary. Following the step-by-step procedures in the FSM allowed me to get out all of the bubbles with no issues. No mess, no fuss.

Just so the original poster knows, I congratulate him on looking after some of his own maintenance, and especially for taking preventative measures. I don't think you need to change the thermostat(s) ( might be two) on a 2016 yet, and simple fact he is also early for the coolant change. Periodic drains and fills are great to do and maintain and refresh the quality of the coolant. I am only suggesting that its not optimal to mix two types of coolant, and I think for anyone else its worth spending a few extra bucks to get the same type of blue coolant that came with your Subaru, and if you want to use Prestone they sell such a fluid
Thank you for the kind comment. You are 100% correct that I am being proactive and replacing the coolant early just to stay on top of the routine maintenance. I chose not to do a complete system flush because I believe that it was not needed. My car is just under 4 years old, the coolant was still within its usable lifetime, and I was only looking to refresh the coolant. I was very careful to research and purchase long life coolant that was compatible with my Foz and more affordable than the Subaru branded coolant sold by the dealer.

I also agree that there is no need to replace the thermostat on my 2016. Way too early for that. I'll consider replacing it on my next coolant change in about 3 years.

Thank you all for the questions and comments. I posted this to help others who may be considering doing their own coolant replacement, so feel free to ask anything else if you have a question.

StanF
 

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Stan. Thanks for the great write up. Now i will have confidence when it comes time to do mine. May I ask what you used to remove the 6 plastic clips?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Stan. Thanks for the great write up. Now i will have confidence when it comes time to do mine. May I ask what you used to remove the 6 plastic clips?
I used a small flat blade screwdriver to pop them out. They come out very easily. Getting them back in is a whole 'nother story! :)

StanF
 

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Well that is impressive that you can drain 75% of the coolant without undoing the engine plugs. I may just do drain and fills every year or two to constantly maintain and refresh the fluid. Not doing a full flush makes it super easy.

I only bought my used one two weeks ago, and I have no servicing info, but its very obvious that at 7 years of age and 249,000 kms it was well maintained. The coolant in it looks really nice, so I figure it was changed at some point. Still I think I will do like you and do a drain and fill for peace of mind. Will have to wait a couple of weeks for the weather to warm up though-- 8 cm of snow last night with an unseasonal cold snap.
 

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Well that is impressive that you can drain 75% of the coolant without undoing the engine plugs. I may just do drain and fills every year or two to constantly maintain and refresh the fluid. Not doing a full flush makes it super easy.

I only bought my used one two weeks ago, and I have no servicing info, but its very obvious that at 7 years of age and 249,000 kms it was well maintained. The coolant in it looks really nice, so I figure it was changed at some point. Still I think I will do like you and do a drain and fill for peace of mind. Will have to wait a couple of weeks for the weather to warm up though-- 8 cm of snow last night with an unseasonal cold snap.
Thank you Quadraria10. I think you and I are on the same page with doing regular drain and fills to keep the coolant refreshed. This is one of the many reasons why I chose the Prestone Extended Life coolant, because it is fully compatible, less expensive, easily available, and after 2 drain and fills, my Foz will be fully converted from Subaru blue super coolant to Prestone.

I knew when I wrote up my original post that my decision to use Prestone would cause anguish with much wailing and gnashing of teeth from some users here. It really is a personal preference. Stick with the Subaru coolant if that works for you. The important take away here is that it really is easy to change your own coolant, and important to do so on a regular basis to keep it running in optimal condition.

Good luck with your "new to you" Subie!

StanF
 
2017 2.5i Fozy CVT
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I used a small flat blade screwdriver to pop them out. They come out very easily. Getting them back in is a whole 'nother story! :)

StanF
If you're referring to the 2part clips, the center pin must be popped up, proud of the surrounding clip before insertion. Then, the inner pin is depressed flush. It may help to insert all of them , first, then depress all central pins.
 

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2.5i Premium CVT, 4 Years and 106K miles

I was getting close to the 135K coolant replacement schedule in the manual and decided that I would get ahead and replace the coolant now before the cold weather sets in this winter. I have the FSM and the step by step instructions are pretty clear and easy to follow. I was a little apprehensive since this was my first time doing a coolant drain and fill on the Forester, but it was pretty straight forward and everything went according to the manual with only a few exceptions. ;)

First off, I decided to go with Prestone 50/50 pre-mix anti freeze. I had originally intended to go with Wally World Super Tech anti freeze, but I read the labels and the SuperTech said it was compatible with "most" cars, while the Prestone said it was compatible with "all" makes and models; American, Asian, and European. It was only $1 more than the SuperTech, so easy decision. The Prestone is good for 5 years or 150K miles, but I'll change it again when I get to 200K.

Here is what I used:


Step #1 was to remove the front engine under cover. I was able to get out all the screws and clips without lifting the car.



The FSM is little misleading on the screws and clips. It looked like there was only a couple of each according to the diagram, but there are actually 4 12mm screws and 6 plastic clips.
(exception #1 - these are 12mm bolt/phillips head screws. My handy-dandy HBF socket sets includes 11mm and 13mm; no 12mm socket! :mad: Luckily, I was able to use a 12mm box end wrench to get them loose)



After getting the front engine undercover, I was able to locate the drain plug on the radiator.



The drain plug was not on there very tight and I was able to get it out very easily with a phillips head screwdriver. It is a plastic bolt:


The FSM says to replace the o-ring. This brings up exception #2 - the dealer I get all my parts from didn't have the radiator o-ring in stock. Neither did any other dealer in the area. The closest one was in NY somewhere (I live in NJ). That being said, I didn't see an o-ring at all. I expected to find it on the drain plug. Maybe it was up in the radiator nipple where the drain plug fits? I looked after all the coolant drained out, but couldn't clearly see anything in the nipple. I did triple check the drain pan I used to catch the anti freeze and there was no o-ring anywhere to be found.

I used a simple aluminum pan to catch the anti freeze.



Surprisingly, not much mess at all. I pulled the drain plug and the anti freeze drained out in a nice smooth stream. The instructions say to remove the radiator cap so get it to flow quicker, which I did, but no splashing or anything. Clean and neat. It took quite a while, 10 or 15 minutes for it to finish draining, but I got quite a bit out.



I replaced the drain plug (hoping the o-ring was still in place! :p) and refilled the radiator. I didn't use one of the "spill proof" funnels or anything. I just bought a $0.97 funnel at Wally World made for the radiator and it worked quite well. I was able to get in about 1 and 1/3 gallons into the radiator filler neck. I poured slowly and could hear it gurgling as new coolant settled in.



At this point, I put the radiator cap back on and fired up the engine. The FSM says to race the engine up to 3000 rpms 5 or 6 times to flush any air bubbles out. Important to get this done in 40 sec or less so the engine doesn't heat up to much. After shutting the engine off, I checked the radiator level and had to add a little more coolant. Repeated the cycle a second time and the level didn't drop so I was good for the next step.

The next step is to put the radiator cap back on and run the engine until the radiator fans turn on and then off again. Turn on the heater to full heat and low fan to circulate the coolant through the heater core. I hooked up my bluetooth OBD2 dongle to the connector and used the Torque app to monitor the coolant temp.



The fans should turn on about 201 deg F. But (exception #3! - the coolant never got to that temp) After 30 mins of idling, the coolant temp only got up to about 160 deg F. Now, it was cool day in the low 50's here in NJ. I thought maybe the coolant system was too efficient to come up to that temp while idling. I decided to get in and race the engine around 2K to 2.5K RMP's for a few minutes to help it along! After about 10 more minutes of racing the engine, the coolant got up to about 196 deg, but then would maintain between 194 and 196. The radiator fans never came on. I figured the thermostat must be working correctly to maintain the temp, so that means the coolant was circulating. The blower vents in the cabin were blowing very hot air, so the heater core was getting circulation also.

I let the engine cool down for about an hour or so while I ate lunch. I came back and checked the coolant temp, it was down to about 110 deg. I pulled the radiator cap (carefully!) and the coolant level hadn't dropped at all. The reservoir level did drop a couple of inches. I decided to top off the reservoir again up to the "Full" mark and take it for a test drive. I drove the car at 40 to 50 mph for about 20 mins and the coolant temp never got above 196 again. It maintained the temp between 194 and 196. I got back home after my test drive and popped the hood, but the fans were still not running. So be it! I'm confident that the coolant doesn't have any air pockets and is circulating correctly. I get very good heat from the vents and the engine is able to maintain temps with no overheating.

All in all, it took me about 3.5 hours from start to finish. A lot of this was waiting for the coolant to finish draining, then the engine to heat up and then cool off again. Not a very difficult job at all. I think the hardest part of all was getting that front under cover off and back on again!

I'll check the coolant level again in the morning after it sits all night. I'll also monitor the coolant temps on my drive to work tomorrow to make sure everything is OK.

Hope you find this useful!

StanF
I suggest doing a YouTube search about burping the system.
Seems they do it a lot on outbacks in particular.
 
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