Jim Grant's Tech Tips
'90 Subaru Legacy, Overheating Problems
'90 Subaru Legacy won't stop overheating. I have replaced the water pump
and thermostat. I've corrected the engine timing and put on a new timing
belt. I have replaced the radiator, the car has not lost any power and
there is no water found in the oil. The car will idle for hours without
overheating, but as soon as you're on the road and accelerating, the engine
overheats within 2-4 minutes. Any ideas on what else to check? The local
dealerships and garages are stumped and frankly so am I.
mean to be the bearer of bad news but you have either a headgasket problem
or a crack in a cylinder head. You've covered the bases. For an engine
to heat that quickly under load there is combustion gases entering the
cooling system. Here are a couple of tests you can try. There is a chemical
test for the cooling system that detects the presence of CO2. This chemical
test is really good at proving that there are combustion gases entering
the cooling system. To pin down which cylinder is the problem remove all
the spark plugs and pressurize the cooling system while the engine is
hot (We use regulated shop air for this test) and allow the test to run
for up to 24 hours. At the end of the test period crank the engine over.
If there is a problem you'll see coolant splashing out of one of the spark
plug holes. Failing either test in a Subaru means the engine has to be
extracted from the vehicle and the cylinder heads removed for inspection.