2002 WRX blown head gasket symptoms - Subaru WRX Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 10-28-2016, 10:30 PM Thread Starter
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2002 WRX blown head gasket symptoms

Okay, I believe I have a blown head gasket in my 2002 WRX. It has 158k on it, which is probably fitting the mileage and age description of when they usually go bad.

I just recently seen how the car would overheat when idling, but when given gas, it would drop down in temp. Also, when idling, the car wouldn't blow hot air, but when driving, it would. So I replaced the thermostat with a Gates OEM style. Which was 100% identical with the stock one I removed.

Well, I flushed the coolant when I installed the new thermostat. I let the car suck in the coolant from the reservoir and slowly added new coolant in as needed. Also added the Subaru coolant conditioner. I never added anything to the overflow beside the radiator. (2002 don't have radiator caps).

Well, when the car finally accepted no more coolant (2 gallons went in + the conditioner) I have been taking it as my daily for the last few days. I have noticed that after hard pulls of boost, that my overflow (remember, empty) has completely filled up, and is BOILING out the cap. And when I idle, I also lose hot air. But when I drive, it warms up again. Almost as if I had low coolant or another sticking thermostat? If I drive it normal without hitting too much boost it won't overflow.

The car has actually been running cooler than normal. The needle stays below the half way mark. It never rises. And the car never smokes. But I do lose antifreeze when it boils over. And when it boils over, I lose A LOT.

The overflow does bubble, has a steamy look to it after those hard runs. But I'm pretty sure I do smell exhaust in the overflow. I don't see any particles floating around, but my over tank is filthy with crusty dirt looking shit over the walls of the tank.

I'm 100% it's a blown head gasket. It's just weird it doesn't smoke or overheat. But I've learned that nothing is surprising with Subarus.

And I don't know anyone around that works on Subies locally to me. So, I guess I'm stuck doing it myself. And it looks as if I'm going to have to pull the engine just to get to them.

Best worst 3500 I've ever spent on a car lol.
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post #2 of 11 Old 10-28-2016, 10:47 PM Thread Starter
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Coolant does get sucked back into the system and doesn't stay in the overflow. It always goes back to bone dry like it was previously. My bottom hose doesn't get hot, or feel like it has any pressure. Could it be a faulty thermostat? Or blockage in my radiator somewhere?

The bubbles and steamy overflow after hard boost still leads me to believe it's my head gasket.
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post #3 of 11 Old 10-30-2016, 01:42 PM
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Ive always seen bad head gaskets spitting out chocolate milk coolant. If your coolant is clear it could be as simple as a thermostat. I always start with the simplest fix first, swap it out with an OEM one and see wha you get after that.
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post #4 of 11 Old 10-31-2016, 12:50 AM
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I'm with arctic. Sounds like it could be as simple as air in your system. If your reservoir got sucked dry once wouldn't it cause air bubbles in your system... so when you add more coolant it would make the level go up and down in the reservoir sporadically as the car heats/cools?
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post #5 of 11 Old 10-31-2016, 05:35 AM
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do a hydrocarbon test and be done with it.

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post #6 of 11 Old 10-31-2016, 11:53 AM
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Always always ALWAYS keep coolant in the overflow tank, they put fill marks there for a reason, to allow less when pressure builds and to retrieve when needed. And Subaru fills from the turbo coolant tank near the turbo, snag a coolant fill kit from the parts store, but it sounds like you added the correct amount, just not using the correct procedure. Also if you're running around with a stock radiator after 100k you're just asking for VERY costly bills down the road, spend the couple hundred for a new rad (I'm using a generic aluminum one that came on the car for now w/ no issues) or be prepared to drop in a new engine or head job. Also when was the timing service done???

There are a few quirks about Subaru that people either don't know or refuse to take care of due to cost, those being the timing service at 100k (which I ALWAYS recommend a water pump for the extra $80ish), tires in sets of 4 with equal circumference/rotations every 3-5k, and oil changes w/ synthetic every 3k, NO EXCEPTIONS!

I don't mean to come off as a d!ck, but take it from the people who know these cars well, who work on them for a living, and have had these experiences personally. We're here to help, but use common sense and we will appreciate it, and be willing to help more so.
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post #7 of 11 Old 11-01-2016, 02:42 PM
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What did the coolant look like when you flushed it initially?
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post #8 of 11 Old 11-02-2016, 10:29 AM
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Did you burp the system? You don't just slowly fill it as it sucks it down and call it good. Below is what I do. I have drained my system several times for motor pulls, thermostat upgrade and when I did the water pump. Is this how everyone does it.. no. Is this overboard? Maybe but I have never once had an issue.

You fill it and cap it. Not running yet collapse the upper rad. hose. (squish it in your hands) repeatedly. Open upper expansion tank fill it back up. Repeat this over an over until you are not able to add anymore.

Then start the car (cap off the expansion tank) and let run for 5 mins(ish)

Then shut off car put cap back on. Collapse upper rad hose again and again and refill.

I do this for about 20 mins. Once done I got for a moderate drive with a few areas I can really get on it. Go home (or wherever) let the car cool down and top off. 2 days later check again and top off.

oh and at least fill your overflow tank half way!
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post #9 of 11 Old 11-02-2016, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. It was just air in the system.
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post #10 of 11 Old 11-02-2016, 03:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobra9597 View Post
Thanks guys. It was just air in the system.
Definitely an easier fix than a head gasket
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post #11 of 11 Old 11-02-2016, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ic3b3rg View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobra9597 View Post
Thanks guys. It was just air in the system.
Definitely an easier fix than a head gasket http://www.wrxtuners.com//forums/ima..._smile_big.png
That was a huge load off my chest lol!
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