What should I try next

20

Asked by Sep 19, 2015 at 11:28 PM about the 2001 Subaru Outback Base Wagon

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 2001 Subaru Outback and it
is overheating only when it's drive
hard. I've changed the thermostat
and water pump. I don't believe it's
the head gasket because I've done a
exhaust gas test and there was no
exhaust gas in the coolant, any
ideas? I would appreciate any help
thank you.

46 Answers

78,195

Have the radiator flow tested, it may be fine for normal driving but when the loads increase it might not have enough open cooling tube to transfer heat properly.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
31,525

Is it only overheating or is it losing water and getting hot? Just because there are no combustion gases in the coolant does not guarantee that the head gaskets are good. Sometimes coolant goes straight out the exhaust and no exhaust enters the coolant. Please note, I am not saying that you have a defective head gasket.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
14,115

It really depends on how long you intend to keep this car. Cars are all about being reliable. If your use of the car is light and only used as a runabout, that's one thing, but, if you're interested in taking this on the road, that's another matter. Regardless of whether it is or isn't the head gasket, sounds like your going to have to start sinking a lot of money into your car. I would seriously think of getting a replacement car at this point.

5,625

I'm sincerely surprised by your answer Markw.. I like tennisshoes and Bob's answers a lot. Let us know if you are losing any coolant. If you are, you need to figure out where (cracked hose / water pump / etc). And if you aren't, you need to either have it tested, remove and spray water through from the engine side to push crap out of the channels. I wouldn't just replace it. And when was the last time the coolant was changed?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
31,525

There is a word that describes most of Markw's answers. D U M B ! His answers are usually pointless and without substance. I certainly wish there was an ignore button on this site.

5,625

oops, have "it" tested.. aka the radiator. And the same for - replace "it" -- the radiator.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
14,115

Bob, there you go again with your personal attacks. My point was written to the original poster, not you, and that point is this, the car is going on 16 years old, probably has a lot of miles on it and do you like the car well enough to keep it for another period of time when some major systems fail. For example, is it the original engine, transmission, etc. If you're not ready to ride out a number of substantial repairs to keep this car road worthy, then maybe it's time to sell it and reinvest the money into a later model vehicle. Condition is the key element in an older model. If its low mileage, looks immaculate, and all the service has been done all along on this car, that would be a different story.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
14,115

Sepy207 - I imagine that if your radiator was leaking it would be an obvious problem and you would have replaced this already? How many miles are on your 2001 Subaru Outback? Is it an automatic, and if not, have you ever had to replace the clutch or head gaskets on the engine. This model year was notorious for head gasket issues. If it's possible to step up 10 years to a 2011, you're going to have a much better car with a lot of life left in it. Good luck.

14,115

Sepy207 - one more thing, when you changed the water pump, did you also get a new timing belt?

3,225

Correct ratio to coolant ? Connections and hoses all tight and no small leaks, system properly burped IOW no air in system? Fan coming on WATER PUMP WORKING CORRECTLY? Then radiator is plugged or leaking!

5,625

I still disagree though Mark. With all the oil consumption issues in the later 2011ish+ foresters (and likely other models) I'll stick with my older 03&04 Foresters and never recommend to people that they buy a new car -JUST- because it's "newer". It's the same reason I will keep kicking around in the Festiva's for as long as possible. They're super easy to work on and are great little cars

14,115

Walth- the last year of the EJ 25 series 2 engine on the Subaru Outbacks was 2012. The 2013 models and newer introduced the FB series engine which started the oil consumption problems.

14,115

It's unfortunate after years of perfecting the EJ 25 series engines in two phases from 1989 to 2012 in the Subaru Outbacks, the introduction of the 2013 and newer engines brought unintended consequences in a percentage of their cars. However, it's interesting that many other manufacturers including Toyota, Honda and BMW have oil consumption problems.

5,625

http://oppositelock.kinja.com/subaru-tsb-for-excessive-oil- consumption-1600566355

14,115

Yes, the engines in question are the FB series first introduced on the 2013 Outback.

3,225

Thermostat new

3,225

Not opening fully?

5,625

I hate that I engaged in such muckery on someone's question.. but you are still wrong as the 2011 Forester was first to carry the new FB25. Get back to the focus, Sepy's needs and the focus of the forum; helping people figure out how to fix their car (and my focus: not just trade it in)

14,115

Walt, you're absolutely correct that the 2011 Forrester having the FB series engine. I was talking about a 2011 Subaru Outback when I brought this up. Sepy207 has an Outback, not a Forrester, so, I'm thinking that an updated model what they might replace that with, if they chose that route. As for the forum, yes, again, you're correct when you say it's about helping people fix their cars, but, please realize that there's always room for discussion on whether it is cost effective to do so. The reason I raise this is that people need to consider when it's time to say goodbye to their cars and just reinvest in another later model. I don't think anyone plans to keep their cars forever? Sixteen years is around the time that most people think about upgrading to newer technology, do you disagree ? Look, if the water pump, radiator, and thermostat were all changed, and the head gaskets are not leaking with all the tests done, it could be internal water jacket blockage. That's like arteriosclerosis inside your engine, definitely not good. So, again, you have to evaluate when it's time to say goodbye. If this car has close to 200,000 miles which is possible, and it has other major signs of wear, then, it could be a case of sunk cost fallacy. The value of this car with about 155,000 miles is about $2,000. I think it would more cost effective to use that to put down on a newer car.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
14,115

Sepy207- no one has heard from you on this subject? What do you want to do ? Try and keep this car for another 100,000 miles? I don't think I ever heard back on how many miles you currently have, timing belt, head gaskets, clutch, etc. These are all very major items.

5,625

Yeah, I pretty much disagree. Prices range per location, but you could buy another early 00's Subaru and still be debt free verses massive interest and insurance payments for something 5-10 times more expensive. Even if this coolant issue goes WebMD and it's some crazy rare issue with the engine and he needs a used engine for 500-1000 + labor/install/warranty.. Why buy a $20k car over a $2-3k fix just to get something newer? It's still the SAME engine (depending on the model). And if HE is the one that did the work, he likely belongs to a good forum that he can read about / ask for help on the fix verses coming here and dealing with this muckery. And this is still all speculation. We still haven't heard back yet. If I don't know how to help, I likely tell them to "go check out "your-car" forum.. NOT asking them 20?s and, well.. "meh, you should probably just buy a new car." And while I'm a fan of used vehicles, I'm not a fan of "still new price" used vehicles just to avoid going to a good mechanic that might cost a little more. Oh and.. yeah, I'll be hanging on to the 03&04 for as long as possible. The festiva, too. And other simple "lego" vehicles, like my 06 Suzuki DR650.

14,115

Walt, I believe in used cars, I kept my 1995 Honda Accord EX station wagon for 19 years, purchased it brand new in 1996. It was a great car, but, you know, it took a lot of time, continued maintenance and repairs increased precipitously in the last three years. I had to replace the computer, instrument cluster, ignition system and some other things. That was along with regular maintenance items, but, I was lucky in that I didn't have any engine or transmission failures. Still, it wasn't cheap to maintain. My car was so immaculate, I was able to sell it for several thousand dollars when I sold it. I used this money along with money I saved for years with no car payments to put down on a Four year old Subaru Outback Limited which was a CPO vehicle. The benefits of a newer CPO car is that it's about as close to new as you can get without the depreciation hit. I also signed up for the extended warranty to 100,000 miles. Sure, there's no guarantee on any used vehicle, but, it helps to cover the bases. I've read that once you have paid off your vehicle and have passed the sixth or seventh year, most repairs level out for a while and it only costs about $1,500 or so in actual repairs to maintain your car, so, I understand your point. But, and this is an important point, there comes a time when, there's nothing you can do to increase safety or fuel- efficiency. Let me put this another way, even if someone were to spend an additional $10,000 , you could never make a car getting 20 miles per gallon get 50 miles per gallon. That's what I did when I purchased my 2009 Prius. And, in the case of the 2001 Subaru Outback, the fuel mileage increase will be 3 mpg in the city and 4 mpg on the highway with the available CVT transmission. This may not sound like much, but, over time gasoline is the most expensive thing you put in your car. That's an average increase of 15 percent over the 2001 model. With new cars being financed at the lowest rate in twenty years, there's never been a better time to consider getting one. The engine replacement you're thinking of is not guaranteed, it's a replacement exchange engine. If you really wanted to have a great solution, you would have the engine rebuilt. Finally, a newer model has more safety features, amenities, more technology like Bluetooth, integrated audio, more airbags, vehicle stability control, etc. SO, there are valid reasons to update and replace your old vehicle every 16 to 20 years. You wouldn't want to be driving a car from the 1960s now , would you? If you argue that you should keep your vehicle forever, you're risking not being as safe, don't you think? Yes, we're still waiting to hear from our original poster on the overall condition of the car. Most people don't know or have the diagnostic tools to repair their cars or have the tools to repair them. Cars today are like rolling computers. Sepy207, can we hear from you?

14,115

Sepy207 - all I'm saying is you should consider all of your options.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
78,195

I would love to be driving the old cars from the sixties or even the fifties, nothing feels better than a big hunk of American metal going down the road, my first car was in a 1954 model car, then a 1969 and the final car that felt like it had any metal in it was in 1973, everything after that has felt like a soda can, crushable.

14,115

Sepy207- you could probably find a nice 2010 to 2012 Subaru Outback for $15 to 20,000. The newer Subaru's pretty much dealt with the previous head gasket issues, you don't hear too much about that anymore. Unfortunately, the FB engine has caused some problems, so, stay away from that. All I can share with you is that my 2010 with the CVT and Four cylinder engine runs great and gets fantastic mileage. Good luck with your decision.

14,115

tennis shoes, yeah, I know, but, even with all that extra metal around you, I still would rather have air bags, and other safety stuff. Why don't you check out the ratings for modern cars at the IIHS ( Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) . Modern cars have standards that far exceed anything from the 1970s. And, I remember the cars from the 1970s, some were pretty good, others not so. I would say that on average, cars today last longer and are more reliable than any cars from the past 20 years or so and older cars predictably fell apart after they passed 100,000 miles. Today, most cars with reasonable care go 200,000 miles.

5,625

I doubt Sepy's coming back to all this. I think I've made 4 repairs in 3.5 years between the two foresters and two sets of tires (one for snow and just last week some AS). I could have gotten by until Spring without the Kumho's but they have a $100 rebate right now. They ride nice. The repairs I've done myself (40-90 range) and I just keep rotating my tires between snow and AS. The trans swap will be the 5th repair and that was 131.99. Don't worry, I'll never attempt to pay $10k trying to make my soobs get to 50mpg. I know plenty of festiva owners that get better mileage than 50mpg, consistently. And not everyone can afford to rebuild an engine on exchange. The yard/shop judged that it'd be a good engine to take and it's their responsibility to warranty for a decent period. Most of those engines sit for quite a while anyway. Our local yard rarely gets foresters and I think it says something but I don't know all the dynamics in scrap cars. This is not a scenario of one person being right. It's okay to have options. When I get to be 60 (my dad is 60 and has wrenched all his life) I will likely, just like my dad, start buying new cars for the warranty. I will also likely, hopefully, not have a mortgage or any sort of debt. But I treat every question case by case and rarely do I see a situation where I will even recommend the option to buy "up". It's not banned from the table, it's just not the special for every meal. Plenty of vehicles from many brands are able to go 300k-500k+ but too many people come around telling them to give up. Our F's have 175 and 185 and they both run great. I'm not going to buy a $20k car to avoid changing the trans from what was a running car w 169k miles. No.. when the newer vehicles come down to 5k then I'll buy one (or two). In ten years, I'll come buy your car Mark :P

14,115

Walt, thanks for your response, I agree that for a lot of people these are fine options, they just don't work for me. I maintain my car like an airplane; I have EVERYTHING professionally fixed on my old cars and have a damn good and honest mechanic. But, I also pay very close attention to every detail and what's going on with them. I don't like getting stranded even though I have AAA. My 1995 Honda Accord EX looked, drove and performed like a brand new car even though it was old. I don't care how many model years old they are, they just have to be in top notch condition with all systems running. Yes, I understand your point of fixing old cars and many of the things you mentioned above, like tire rotation are not repairs at all, just regular maintenance. I see that you've done about 4 or 5 repairs in 3 1/2 years? What kinds of repairs other than the transmission swap? So, that transmission exchange worked out for you, great. Was that a manual transmission? It's good that you know how to do all this yourself, not everyone does. And, I imagine most people don't know how to repair their automatic transmission. Too bad Sepy is missing out from this discussion and yes, a difference of opinion is good. Everyone has a different situation. Look, I'm older than your Dad, I've had lots of cars and been in good and bad situations with them. I have had a few brand new cars and purchased many used ones as well. Last year I purchased my first CPO vehicle and so far the experience has been great! NO PROBLEMS. Do I think purchasing a CPO car is a better value than brand new, yes I do. You're saving money on the initial depreciation which is very significant in the first three years. You just have to be extra careful when purchasing it and it helps if you buy it from a new car dealership. They have a well crafted reputation to protect and want to ensure repeat business. A used car dealer doesn't have this and could set up shop and be gone in a couple of years. When you purchase a car from a private party, its a gamble. My car was great, but, I had it almost 20 years. It was too low to the ground to tow my teardrop trailer and it was fine without pulling the extra weight, but getting a little tired on hills with the trailer. My Subaru Outback is 8.7 inches off the ground, and has a lot more torque than the Honda. It pulls my trailer fine and it went all the way up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon without complaint. I don't want to be on the open road in the middle of nowhere and have a breakdown. If I can't be certain that I my car is going to take me in and out of any remote locale, I'm just going to have it fixed ahead of time or get a car that I can have total confidence in, period . Again, if you're in a metropolitan area, breakdown and have to call AAA, that's another story altogether. I'm not that concerned about breakdowns in the city. When I brought up the example of spending $10,000 to make my car get better mileage, I was thinking of my Accord. It got a respectable 23 mpg in the city, but, I'm getting 43 mpg consistently in the Toyota Prius and if I'm really careful without A/C , I've gotten 48 mpg, but, you need a light foot. That's a 200 percent increase in fuel-efficiency, that's impossible to do without modern technology. As for me, I guess I'm pretty satisfied with 200,000 miles or so. I did have one old Volvo with 240,000 miles. It ran remarkably well, but, developed too many rattles, kind of a beast. Sure, you can easily spend $20,000 or find some fine used cars out there for $5- 10,000, but, they might need repairs or be older models. Just depends on what kinds of headaches and inconveniences your willing to live with. Cars are NOT good investments, but, they're necessary tools, and I try to get ones that seems to fit the needs I have and not for any other reason. I've always thought it's better to have a practical and reliable car over some flashy model just because it looks good. This is why I normally purchase the car I think will work for me and keep it for 15 years or so. I want to get the value out of the vehicle and if I can drive it for 10 years or more after I've paid it off, then, it's a pretty good return on my investment. Best of luck to you with your choices and to others as well.

14,115

Walt, just curious, when people told you they got 50 mpg on their Ford Festiva, how did you think that was possible when the federal government says the car is 30 mpg city and 38 highway? Or, do you think they were just saying that to impress you. What's the best mileage you have gotten on your 91 Festiva consistently?

3,225

Cars are a depreciating asset! Unless they are collectible, once it becomes more expensive to repair than the market value usually 50% of value it becomes time to make a decision. In these economic hard times for many this rule of thumb is not feasible or possible. So if it is cheaper than a new car or long term car payment they opt to repair rather than replace!! The question was overheating and how to diagnose! Water Pump, hoses, clamps, radiator and thermostat?

14,115

Papaobewon - hey, great handle, YES, you're right, there comes a time to make a decision on whether to keep or replace. The problem with all of this is that we have never heard back from Sepy207 on the overall condition of the car. We can speculate about this, but, the takeaway message for others is keep your options open! And, once a vehicle passes a certain age range and starts losing the safety edge that could result in you being less safe with no stability control, less air bags, more crumple zones. Look at the statistics on the IIHS, don't take my word it. LOOK, how much is your safety worth and the inconvenience of breaking down in an older car. Only you can answer those questions.

5,625

yeap, legit 50-60+.. you can read all about it on www.fordfestiva.com

14,115

Walt, thanks, but, why does Edmunds say 30 city , 38 highway? There's nothing wrong with that. http://www.edmunds.com/ford/festiva/1993/used/ Do you think that the owners on the forum are exaggerating this a little. Have you consistently gotten 50 mpg?

5,625

Fiesta, eh? lol I used to get 38 city and 45 hwy before swapping to larger rotors and rims and tires. That's hilly country and 800- 3000 feet. I am not patient enough to drive an entire tank with a feather foot. Buddy said he was getting 55ish at around 55mph. The same mpg increase goes for any car that isn't driven at 70- 80mph. I'm peacin out Mark...there are no more horses to beat

20

Well mark this car is my 21 year old step sons and he has a newspaper route I don't think he has any credit and definitely no money to go out and buy a 2011 or anything else so it would be nice to get back to the actual problem. Yes I have changed the thermostat and water pump and timing belt. The car has 199995 miles on it but I've seen subaru's go to 300000. I haven't been able to drive it more than 1/2 mile since I changed everything. I think it needs to be burped more but am not having any luck.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
5,625

Have you read this or similar write-ups? http://www.strongforsubaru.com/resources/subarucoolantbleeding. html There are also videos on youtube but all I did was google: how to burp subaru

14,115

Walt, thanks, this is a great resource for Subaru and other hard to find parts, even though they come as far away as New Zealand! That's the power of the Internet and this forum. I don't need anything and would certainly look locally first, but, it's a last resort for people who have run out of options.

14,115

Sepy207 - I see, so, you're pretty confident that this car, and, I don't disagree with you, can make it to 300,000 miles. In order to do that, you're going to have to either be able to repair a lot things yourself or have the work done. The advantage of not having car payments enabled me to have EVERYTHING professionally fixed on my old 1995 Honda Accord EX and even with that, it was less expensive than car payments, I definitely get that. Once you pass 200,000 miles, you have to be extra vigilant on maintenance, and pay attention to every detail and extraordinary sounds coming from your car. Now, if you're step son's car is in beautiful condition, interior and exterior and is worth saving, then, sure , continue on to 300,000 miles. And, since you or he has already done the timing belt, water pump, belts, and themostat, you might as well replace the radiator. Just make sure that you don't have any internal water jackets blockage. You'll probably have to take this in for a special test, I don't know if you can do this yourself? I would definitely try looking at what Walt submitted, interesting stuff. I know this is hard, but, try to explain to your step son that it would be in his best interests to take it easy with this car and not race or rev up the engine. I remember my 20s and only wish I followed that advice. He will get a lot more life out of his car if he does that. With all the work you've done, I can only imagine that the head gaskets, clutch, or some minor transmission work, like throw out bearings or syncros would be the biggest worry from here on out, unless you already did that. Since you stated that this is the Outback base wagon, I presume it's a manual transmission. Click and Clack, The Tappet Brothers, I'm sure you have heard of them, they were on syndicated radio for years, wrote a great book on how to keep your car forever. The gist of the book is, once you pay off your car, it only takes about $1,500 per year in actual repairs, notice, I didn't say maintenance, to keep your car running. All cars need regular maintenance, tires, brakes, oil changes, etc. You can't count that. And, if you average the actual amount of money you spend each year for these actual repairs, you'll find that it's a lot less than $4 to $5,000 per year, on average, for car payments that go 60 months or more. So, YES, the smart money is on a solid used car. There's only a few legitimate reasons to update your car, safety, fuel economy, serviceability ( that's why I had to replace my Honda Accord EX station wagon, couldn't efficiently pull my teardrop trailer ) , technology enhancements like Bluetooth and hands free phone calls, vehicle stability control, rust problems. Once rust problems start, they're almost impossible to stop. If you're OK with your current car and it works for you, keeping it is the least expensive option no matter what goes wrong with it. EGO is a really big reason why a lot of people dump their cars. Unfortunately, many people today are so wrapped up in the last reason, they get into these leased deals that puts them on a merry-go-round and they never get off , renting a car their entire life. Not a good financial move. You might want to join the Subaru high mileage club and get some feedback from them as well. Condition is everything in a used vehicle and at this point any excess mileage doesn't have a significant impact on the value of the car. Take a look at this on NADA used car guides. You'll find that the difference of having 200,000 miles or 300,000 miles even on your current car is negligible, I think it was about $300 less. And, they give values for classic cars unlike Kelly Blue Book. Some cars actually have been known to increase in value over time. Best of luck to you.

20

Turns out to be the head gasket

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
5,625

Do you think you'll do both heads? Inside the engine bay or pull the engine? If you pull it, you should look into replacing the oil separator plate with the aftermarket steel piece (verses plastic). Here's one page about it: http://www.ultimatesubaru.org/forum/topic/114457-96-impr-obw- oil-leak-guess-what-i-found-on-back-of-engine/

14,115

I would definitely recommend both sides of the engine, Also, check the Web for where you can get a multi layered head gaskets. They're stronger than the standard ones.

20

Thanks mark

14,115

Sepy207, see this link on the multi layered head gaskets, http://www.felpro-only.com/blog/sealing-subaru-2-5l-engines/

14,115

I would definitely advise you to check into this. And, if any of my answers have been helpful to you, I would appreciate it if you mark one of previous answers "best answer ". Thank you, ---Mark

2,810

I only scanned the comments, but didn't see anyone mentioning an obvious condition: aftermarket t-stats with smaller bores almost always result in overheating the 2.5i at speed or high effort. Some suppliers have learned to carry only the "big 'un". First thing I'd check is the t-stat, then then coolant flow...including back-flushing the rear heater hoses just in case there granular scale buildup that clogs 'em at high pressure (rpm).

2,810

Again: if the coolant sniffer does NOT pick up percolating combustion gases then it's likely a circulation or rad efficiency issue rather than blown HGs.

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