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2004 Forester XT
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Discussion Starter #1
Any precautions/recommendations for driving at extreme altitudes?

I'm planning a trip to Mt. Evans, which has the highest paved road in North America, just want to make sure I don't kill the Forester in the process. I did notice that the temp. gauge was really climbing last weekend going uphill at about 7400', but it went back to just above normal after I turned off the A/C. Is that common?
 

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2010 Forester 2.5 x LTD
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I drove my brand new forester from Denver to Vail (5280 to 1000 feet passing over 11,000 feet) without problems except I had to keep it below 4000 rpms during break-in which means I was going 45 in a 65 sometimes on some ascents.

Also rocky mtn Natl park has the highest paved road and I think it goes to 11,500 and all kinds of cars go up it.

Are you driving up to the top if evans? That's nuts. I'll park at echo lake and hike. No guard rails scare me!!
 

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2007 Mitsubishi Pajero 5spd Automatic
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You should watch Top Gear Bolivia special episode and see what happens when they go up high. Very high.

 

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I've never noticed any fluctuation in my temp gauge when driving in the mountains, even with the a/c on. Check and make sure your coolant level is okay. Also, use your gearing to control speed coming down to avoid overheating your brakes.

If you drive up Squaw Pass Rd from Bergen Park to get to Mt Evans Rd I may see you, since I ride my bike up there a few days a week. :smile:
 

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2010 Forester(sold 11/12) Manual
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It would certainly be nice to have a temperature gauge. Sigh. Only been to about 7,200 feet (in snow) so the idiot light(s) were probably good enough.

Maybe Subaru should just give me 3 lights instead of a tachometer. Blue for downshift NOW, green for OK, and red for the pistons are about to leave the block and hence spoil the balance.:icon_confused:
 

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2010 Forester XT
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Any precautions/recommendations for driving at extreme altitudes?

I'm planning a trip to Mt. Evans, which has the highest paved road in North America, just want to make sure I don't kill the Forester in the process. I did notice that the temp. gauge was really climbing last weekend going uphill at about 7400', but it went back to just above normal after I turned off the A/C. Is that common?
Depends on what you are calling climbing. I would expect temps to increase, but still stay solidly in the normal range.
 

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Also rocky mtn Natl park has the highest paved road and I think it goes to 11,500 and all kinds of cars go up it.

Are you driving up to the top if evans? That's nuts. I'll park at echo lake and hike. No guard rails scare me!!
You are not correct, on several counts.

1. Trail Ridge Road in RMNP goes to 12,183 feet. It is the highest through route in America, meaning the road doesn't dead end at the summit.

2. Mount Evans Road is the highest paved road in North America, period, terminating at 14,130 feet.

3. Echo lake to Mount Evans? That's a long damn hike.
 

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2015 Highlander AWD XLE 6AT
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Any precautions/recommendations for driving at extreme altitudes?

I'm planning a trip to Mt. Evans, which has the highest paved road in North America, just want to make sure I don't kill the Forester in the process. I did notice that the temp. gauge was really climbing last weekend going uphill at about 7400', but it went back to just above normal after I turned off the A/C. Is that common?
A significant altitude increase reduces a car cooling system's efficiency, as the lower atmospheric pressure (= reduced air mass) reduces the convection cooling from the radiator and block. So, you may see higher-than-normal coolant temperature when climbing.

If your car should overheat at altitude, you may need to turn on the cabin heater (it's just another radiator) and fan to help dump heat. You probably won't need the A/C at 12K feet.

Frankly, 7,400 feet shouldn't be much of a problem unless the road is very steep and slow. I've been all over NM, CO, and WY in summers at that altitude and higher, including trailer towing, with zero cooling system problems.

IIRC, there are two electric cooling fans mounted to the radiator, and one should always be running when the A/C is engaged. You might want to double check for correct operation of one or both fans.

HTH,
Jim / crewzer
 
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You are not correct, on several counts.

1. Trail Ridge Road in RMNP goes to 12,183 feet. It is the highest through route in America, meaning the road doesn't dead end at the summit.

2. Mount Evans Road is the highest paved road in North America, period, terminating at 14,130 feet.

3. Echo lake to Mount Evans? That's a long damn hike.
Thanks for fact checking. The iPad is not conducive to research while posting :icon_mad:

I'm not originally from the mtns so I'm still deathly scared of driving mtn roads that don't have guard rails. That's right. We turned around 2x in RMNP before we got anywhere near the top of trail ridge road. I will let some complete stranger in a non-maneuverable bus with 50 tourists drive me up and down the same road :biggrin:
 

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2004 Forester XT
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Discussion Starter #12
Hmm, something must be out of whack then, the temp. gauge is normally right above the first notch, even with the A/C on during longer interstate trips like from Denver to Boulder, the only time it's gone higher was on one of those long steady climbs on I-70.

Anyway, I finally have it back from the gf today (Volvo was in the shop...big surprise), so I'm going to take a look at the coolant levels. Is a 50/50 mix ok or should I change the ratio since I plan to do quite a bit of high altitude driving this summer?
 

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2015 Highlander AWD XLE 6AT
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The drive from Denver to Boulder shouldn't be a major stress on the cooling system. The ram-air effect of the car moving through the air should keep things cool, and it's only ~a 1,200 ft climb along ~25 miles of I-25 and US 36. I can see climbing I-70 westbound from 470 as being more of a stress.

A 50/50 mix is usually fine. When was the last time the coolant was changed? I believe the factory recommended coolant service interval for the MY2004 Forester is every 30K miles / 30 months. FWIW, Subaru STRONGLY recommends their own particular coolant and coolant conditioner.

However, since your car is now 6-7 years old, "things" may start to show up. In addition to checking for proper cooling fan operation, you may also want to check the radiator when it's warm for any cold spots. This could be an indication of internal blockage in one or more tubes.

HTH,
Jim / crewzer
 
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Take some pics when you go! I'm wondering if there will be a lot of tourists. If there are then you'll probably have no choice but to go slow anyway. Plus, the air is probably cooler as you climb (the other week it was in the 80's in Estes Park and high 70's in RMNP lowlands and when we got to Trail Ridge Road at RMNP 10,800 feet it was 58ish). Bear Lake was still frozen (tourists were not happy, but Sprague Lake wasn't and there were 3 moose in the water to boot!)
 

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Plus, the air is probably cooler as you climb (the other week it was in the 80's in Estes Park and high 70's in RMNP lowlands and when we got to Trail Ridge Road at RMNP 10,800 feet it was 58ish). Bear Lake was still frozen (tourists were not happy, but Sprague Lake wasn't and there were 3 moose in the water to boot!)
Yep, it should still be really cool/somewhat cold.

If your car should overheat at altitude, you may need to turn on the cabin heater (it's just another radiator) and fan to help dump heat. You probably won't need the A/C at 12K feet.
Yep, this is a very good trick that helps out a lot. Saved me lots of hassels when I thought it looked cool blocking the radiator with an intercooler.
2. Mount Evans Road is the highest paved road in North America, period, terminating at 14,130 feet.
Period +2

Are you driving up to the top if evans? That's nuts. I'll park at echo lake and hike. No guard rails scare me!!
I once did a 50mi hike when I was camping with my brothers. Now that's nuts. It took more than 8 hours up and down. Trust me take your car. There is no direct hiking path to the top.

I took my Civic with 250K+ miles up there 2yrs ago. I can tell you that there shouldn't be any problems unless you already have one that is existing. I would do the same basic maintainence you would when you plan on doing a 500mi road trip.
Since it's your cooling that you are worried about, you might as well replace your thermostat too if you haven't done it. You can get one that opens at a lower temperature to help out.
 

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Oh, watch out for dips in the road when you get closer to the top. I remember purposely parking passed a huge one and getting some laughs as Toyota Rav4s', Ford escapes' and Audis' scraped their bottoms. It may be a paved road, but it pays to pay attention to the road.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
This is exactly what I thought of.....
Thankfully I don't think I'll need any Viagra to survive an afternoon at 14,000'.

I checked the coolant, there was none visible in the reserve tank, but the radiator was completely full, so I topped off the reserve.

Just curious, if anyone else has an '04 XT, where does your temperature gauge normally sit?
 

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Thankfully I don't think I'll need any Viagra to survive an afternoon at 14,000'.

I checked the coolant, there was none visible in the reserve tank, but the radiator was completely full, so I topped off the reserve.
Good idea. When RU going up there? Looks like the snows melting like crazy. Maybe that's why the road's open (at least the sign said it was when we were passing thru Idaho Springs last weekend).
 
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