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2000 Forester L
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
original thread about a month ago>

http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f88/losing-coolant-i-dont-know-why-68279/?highlight=bbenton8

2000 with ~225K miles

When I posted re coolant leak with no external evidence at the time, I was advised it could be head gaskets. But I am not sure if that's the case (unless it is an external leak from the head gasket, but please read on):

Since the original thread I have: 1) replaced all 4 radiator hose clamps as the original "2-wire" clamps were highly corroded and broken (& drips of coolant were on the bottom of the thermostat housing and there was coolant on the splash shield, but the hoses themselves are in good shape) 2) replaced the thermostat & gasket due to observation of coolant drips, and the old gasket did seem in not great shape 3) determined there is no evidence of coolant in the oil.

However, there is now noticeable evidence of external leakage, and the leak has become more pronounced as I am having to add coolant every day instead of every few days; my commute is about 55 miles round trip and the coolant doesn't even make it that far.

I intend to check the heater hoses, & can see the one that comes off the thermostat, which seems to be OK; I am not sure where the other heater hose is located, though I suspect it enters the firewall behind the air filter housing.

I am also considering "renting" a cooling system pressure tester from Auto Zone, and would like advice if this makes sense- obviously there's a leak, but would the tester help me locate it? Last weekend, after I replaced the thermo, I ran the engine in my barn for ~ 1/2 hour, with the car on jack stands, revving the engine once in a while, and there was no sign of any leakage at all. But last Monday, after commuting, I noticed coolant in the snow under my car at home. I also replaced the rad cap last weekend since it was only $7, just for good measure

I have removed the splash shield and will drive around a bit today then pull it into my barn and immediately check for the leak. Hopefully now that it's more pronounced it'll be easier to spot.

So a couple questions- would using a cooling system pressure tester help find the leak? Are there any tips on using the tester if it's worth trying?
Any other advice on what might be going on/where the leak could be? Like I said- no coolant in the oil (based on draining the oil), new rad hose clamps, thermo/gasket... maybe something with the heater hoses? Something else? Thanks
 

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03X MT
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I do know that the HG leak issue can be either external or external. Coolant to outside leaks, coolant to oil inside, exhaust to coolant inside (can cause engine to blow coolant and show overheating.

My friend with the track record and the many many many concerns raised by forum members I'm suggesting an HG leak.
 

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2008 XS 4EAT
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I know you've already been through this, but....

I think it's time to do another inspection as I'm sure you have already done. If you have access to some car ramps, that will be safer than jacks in my opinion, when checking underneath with a flashlight. Having the under pan off as you do will help look quickly.

If you have one of those extendable mirrors (auto part stores) that'll be great. You can also use a handeld mirror and flashlight to examine under the (hate to say) cylinder heads (do it with the engine cold!). Hold the mirror and shine the light to illuminate under the heads, check the back as well, you can also use the mirror and light trick to check other hard to reach/see areas.

Quite often most water pumps have a weep (?) hole that when a gasket or pump starts to fail, coolant will come out of there. With all the air movement the fans provide under the hood and while driving, the vortexes of air may be moving the coolant around, so have a good look at the water pump housing. Is there any trail of coolant further under the engine or car?

Have a good look around the radiator, maybe wash around what is visable, there are more than a few people who have replaced cracked rads. Where they are prone to crack I do not know, hopefully someone who has, will chime in.

Just some more trouble-shooting ideas I'm afraid.
 

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2000 Forester L
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Discussion Starter #4
what a difference a day makes

so after my post this morning, I made sure I could remove the air filter housing real quick then took it out for a few miles. got back & pulled into my barn, and checked all the rad/htr hoses & tubes and connections, and- nothing. No coolant drips at all. But still losing coolant. So, even though the oil change a few weeks ago right after my initial post about coolant loss, showed nothing to indicate any contamination, I figured why not double check, pulled out the dip stick and- BINGO this time there was light brown mayonaisse. So I bit the bullet & dove in, 1st getting the A/C depressurized (was quoted $20 but only charged $10) then starting to take things apart. I've got the 2 drive belts off, battery, washer tank, & radiator/fans out, and the valve covers unbolted (more mayo leaked out from those). Also the left timing belt cover is off. I ended the day with a some stubborn bolts that are still stuck.

So couple questions- the 6 exhaust manifold nuts seem like they'll be real bears, a lot of corrosion on the bolts. I've sprayed them all pretty good with PB Blaster and I'll hope for better after they sit overnight, but I obviously don't want to risk shearing any manifold bolts so any ideas would be welcome... actually as I'm typing this I realize I can try using my torch to heat them up, if I'm careful.

also have at least one right timing cover bolt that doesn't want to budge; both my 10mm wrench & socket (both in very good condition) couldn't get a solid hold on it; I started to strip the head with vise grips. Ideas?

Lastly for now what size socket does the crank shaft pulley bolt take? I figure I'll replace the timing belt while I'm at it so want to put #1 at TDC. And can a chain wrench be rented at like AutoZone? I want to use the right tool on the pulley itself but don't really see my needing a chain wrench for anything else (how much are they to buy?)

Here's what I think happened that threw me off of the leak. No mayo when I changed the oil a few weeks ago, but loosing coolant fairly slowly means it must have just been enough of a leak to get into the cylinder but just get blown out the exhaust but without showing white smoke or anything. The last week or so the coolant loss accelerated so enough got in to get down into the pan, plus I was starting to see white in the exhaust just recently. The coolant I saw in the snow under my car had to be from filling it back up & spilling a little, not an external leak.

So I've got some of the threads here on head gaskets already bookmarked from a few weeks ago, and more fun tomorrow.

If someone can answer my ? re stubborn bolts, and socket size & chain wrench stuff I'd be most thankful!
 

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"also have at least one right timing cover bolt that doesn't want to budge; both my 10mm wrench & socket (both in very good condition) couldn't get a solid hold on it; I started to strip the head with vise grips. Ideas?"

You can try a "rounded nut/bolt socket" from Sears. These will sometimes grab a worn nut/bolt head and allow removal. Other option is to drill or grind it out and replace the cover segment or leave that bolt out in future. I had one stud strip (stud rotated in the plastic rear cover).

"Lastly for now what size socket does the crank shaft pulley bolt take? I figure I'll replace the timing belt while I'm at it so want to put #1 at TDC. And can a chain wrench be rented at like AutoZone? I want to use the right tool on the pulley itself but don't really see my needing a chain wrench for anything else (how much are they to buy?)"

I ran into this problem w/ my metric impact socket set. I had 21mm and 24mm sizes which were too tight and too loose, respectively. I found my 7/8" SAE deep impact socket was a snug fit and used it. This suggest that 23mm is right size (7/8" = 22.225mm).

I suggest reading my post and ArizonaSubaru's post on replacing head gsskets "in place", if that is your plan.

good luck
 

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2000 Forester L
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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks!

Hey TF, I do have AF's excellent posting not only bookmarked, but saved as a PDF as well. I have a # of other HG postings from this and other subaru/forester sites too, and I believe I do have at least one of yours. Thanks for the tip on the Sears rounded bolt/nut socket, I go near Sears every work day. Also thanks for the tip on the 7/8 deep socket for the pulley, I believe I have one and will see if it fits. Will keep all posted. Except for the stubborn nuts/bolts, this is going easier than I expected, though I'm fortunate to have a big pole barn with concrete floor to do this in (temporarily converted from my woodworking shop)
 

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Dang. My 2000 Forester is losing coolant slowly as well and I can't see a leak. I hope it is not the hg.
 

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2000 Forester L
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Discussion Starter #9
you may be in the same boat as me

Dang. My 2000 Forester is losing coolant slowly as well and I can't see a leak. I hope it is not the hg.
Hey SHP- that's how mine started out- slow loss. I bought it 1 1/2 years ago with ~206K miles, it's now just over 226K. This past November was the 1st time I saw the temp gauge climb; I added coolant and figured that was fine. Then by late January I began having to add coolant more frequently, like 2x/week. By a week ago I lost almost all the coolant before I got home on my ~55 mile roundtrip commute. But like I said in my postings, the oil was not showing anything at least up to a couple weeks ago. (note that I have been using a spare vehicle for most of the past 2-3 weeks) This past Saturday I topped off the coolant & did a test drive ~ 4-5 miles; got back into my barn, took out the air filter housing/ducts, jacked it up and scoured every hose, component & connection for a leak- Nothing, but the coolant was way low after just that short jaunt. Then I pulled the dipstick again- and this time there was no more question.

If you have access to another vehicle for getting around for a while, a space to do the work, some basic tools, and some mechanical ability you can save a lot by doing it yourself; this is really a whole lot easier than I thought it would be. I bought a Haynes guide which is good, and even better are all the great resources/postings on this site and several other Subaru owners sites. I've bookmarked a ton & converted them to PDF too. Even removing the intake manifold wasn't that bad yesterday despite numerous hoses & electrical connections. I do have to pick up a set of metric star driver bits today as the heads themselves are secured with them; so far everything else has been 10 or 12 mm bolts/nuts, with some 14mm and a couple phillips screws. Also I will get a socket that supposedly deals with nuts & bolts that are corroded- a regular socket & wrench can't get hold; mainly several for the right timing belt cover. Another tip is finding the timing notch on the crankshaft pulley- for the life of me I couldn't find it (& I was using a comp tester) but once I took some very fine sandpaper and cleaned some corrosion off the edge of the pulley I finally saw it- it's extremely small and easy to miss, so I marked it with a sharpie.

Bottom line is this is very labor intensive, but not rocket science. I figure I'll save many $100s if not over $1000 by doing it myself. It's been decades since I last tore into a project like this (I'm a woodworker/carpenter turned teacher turned IT manager) but it's really not too bad (so far--knock on wood)
 

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Thanks for the words.

I'm still driving it today but may park it until this weekend. Was debating on rather trading it in or fixing it.
 

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"I do have to pick up a set of metric star driver bits today as the heads themselves are secured with them; so far everything else has been 10 or 12 mm bolts/nuts, with some 14mm and a couple phillips screws."

If you have Single Overhead Cam (SOHC), the bolts only require 12-pt socket to engage them. The DOHC does require removal of valve train assembly to access the head bolts.

good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #12
"throw away" head bolts?

was told by someone today that the cylinder head bolts might be "stretchable" types in that they elongate during the tightening, and cannot be re-used. Any credence to this?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
"I do have to pick up a set of metric star driver bits today as the heads themselves are secured with them; so far everything else has been 10 or 12 mm bolts/nuts, with some 14mm and a couple phillips screws."

If you have Single Overhead Cam (SOHC), the bolts only require 12-pt socket to engage them. The DOHC does require removal of valve train assembly to access the head bolts.

good luck
thanks for the heads up!
 

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2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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was told by someone today that the cylinder head bolts might be "stretchable" types in that they elongate during the tightening, and cannot be re-used. Any credence to this?
Subaru has specified in every manual where torque to yield bolts are used and to replace them when servicing.

They have never specified to replace head bolts on any EJ25, there have been many who have sent emails to SOA on the mater and have received emails back stating they are reusable.

However I do replace them on my own stuff, but have reused many with out issues for people who did not want to spend the few extra bucks. Your call really.
 

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was told by someone today that the cylinder head bolts might be "stretchable" types in that they elongate during the tightening, and cannot be re-used. Any credence to this?
I have been told this when I rebuilt my engine on my Buick (430 ci) as well as by my good friend who is a diesel mechanic.

For the few extra $, It would be worth it IMO for the piece of mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
OK it's now all apart, will post some photos later.

question re water & oil pumps- on a scale of 1 - 10 with 1 being not a bad idea and 10 being do it for sure, what is opinion of replacing these as I'm at 226k miles? I took them off, so know that part's easy, just wondering if the $50 for h2o & $140 for oil (if anyone knows less costly source let me know)
 

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Water pump yes, Oil Pump no. Some remove oil pump, tighten rear screws (prone to loosen), and reseal. I have not done this when opportunity arose.

good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #18

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My recollection is one of the HG repair threads also recommended use of sealant. I believe that is recommended factory rprocedure.

good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Engine back together but cooling problem (4/10/2010)

I completed reassembly today, and it fired right up, runs smooth. I let it run for 10-15 minutes in my barn then took it out for a short test drive. All was well but about 1 1/2 miles out the temp gauge started climbing (it was normal, a little below 1/2 on the "dial", while in the barn & when I started out) & the fans kicked on. I got back to my barn & the gauge was almost peaked. I let it cool down, had the key "on" & the fans kept going for some time. I drained the radiator for the heck of it & re-filled, then went out again- got a bit farther before temp climbed but same thing. I repeated this a couple more times & got farther each time before temp climbed. The last test drive was maybe 5 miles. Each time back in the barn the upper rad hose was very hot, top of rad was hot, but when I drained the rad via lower hose, the coolant was cold. (& the final time I drained it, I did it before it had cooled off very much). There is nothing to indicate a leak. Rad level stay OK.

So- bad thermostat? I replaced it very shortly before tearing into the engine, & reused the thermostat (replaced the gasket though). I also replaced the water pump... Ideas?

Besides the water pump & thermostat- In all I replaced the head gaskets, intake/exhaust manifold gaskets, valve cover gasket kit, timing belt, ac & ps/alt belts, fuel & air filters, plugs...
 
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