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Subaru Coolant Leak

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

This morning when I arrived at work, I backed into my usual spot and turned the car off. Then I saw some white smoke coming from under the hood! I checked the temperature gauge and it was reading normal, so at least I wasn't overheating. When I got out to check under the hood I saw antifreeze on the ground, always a bad sign.

antifreeze puddle

I got the hood open and followed the green to the upper radiator hose. When I'd squeeze it I could hear air going in and out, it definitely had a hole. It's not really surprising since who ever put the hose on the first time tightened the clamps way too tight. They also used some really stupidly designed hose clamp with a very small surface area. That plus being over tightened meant it cut really deep into the hose. The hole was right along one of these grooves.

abused hose

hole in radiator hose

I borrowed a friend's car (a new Jeep!) and got a replacement hose, a new clamp and gallon of 50/50 coolant mix. The new hose wasn't an exact replacement, it was much longer and the bends were at slightly the wrong angle, but when cut down to size I could muscle it into position without it kinking, so it all worked out.

New radiator hose

I was really nervous about this because for this car overheating is basically a death sentence as far as head gaskets go. I've accepted that I'll eventually need to replace the head gaskets but I'd like to put some miles on it first; I've only had it for couple of months! I know what I'm looking for as far as symptoms leading up to head gasket problems, but allowing it to overheat would exacerbate the problem immensely.

The last thing I need to do make sure I get the air out of the system. I've read online that basically you can burp the system by nosing up a hill or a ramp and allowing the air to work its way forward to the radiator. Some say you should take the heater hose off and fill the engine that way then the radiator and then the reservoir bottle. I've already filled the radiator and bottle so that might not work. I didn't lose too much coolant since this hose was on the very top of the system, so hopefully there isn't too much air in there.

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