Monday, April 21, 2014

Apparently the universe didn't like me being all smiley.

42 comments:

Jon said...

Ugh. Depending on the vehicle, Headgaskets can be a real bitch.

Luck Tam. Hopefully its in the range where its worth the replacement instead of replacing the car outright.

ProudHillbilly said...

Well, that's certainly a come down after a couple really nice days.

bluesun said...

I hear that's a problem for them. M'mother dealt with it on hers by buying a new car...

Tam said...

New cars are not for people like me. I will just have to find a way to fix my old POS.

Robert said...

Show that dammed universe who's boss and keep on smiling!

Papafah said...

That's what you get for street racing in the wagon.

Paul said...

Handful of wrenches and an afternoon should see it right.

The Duck said...

Just sent a small donation to help out, wish it could be more

Rick Wickwire said...

Donation sent. Hope you make it to the NRA Convention.

Josh B said...

I think for every 4 of those cars sold, 5 of them had head gasket failures in the early triple-figure miles.

Good luck. That's not an easy/cheap fix.

Roger said...

Head gaskets seem to be a common problem. I recently replaced the head gasket in my elderly Jag. (60 years old today!) Old Jags and Subaru's are well known for head gasket problems.
I researched a bit and found a manufacturer of high quality head gaskets called COMETIC. http://www.cometic.com/automotive-gaskets.aspx They are used in race engines and others that have head gasket sealing or longevity problems.
Not much more expensive than the original Subaru stuff, but of excellent quality. Might be worth a look before you spend your hard earned $.

Richard Blaine said...

Depending on the symptoms, there might be an "easy" fix. If you're getting white smoke (water into the cylinders) or oil into the coolant, harder to notice) If it's a small leak then Blue Devil might work. Mechanic friend of mine says Blue Devil, has a good rep for not mucking up the radiator or heater core.

Baring that, you'll need to pull the engine to do the work - not that hard. Rent an engine hoist, might need to remove the hood. But the horizontally apposed boxer engines do present a few issues. - Could be worse, I have to tear down my 99 Boxster, sleeve the cylinders, and replace the intermediate shaft bearings - basically a TOTAL rebuild. Car's been sitting in my garage for over a year while I work up the desire to spend the money - including the new floor jack I'll need (minor @ $525)

og said...

White smoke out the exhaust?

Tam said...

Og,

"White smoke out the exhaust?"

Dancing temp gauge. Blowing exhaust into the cooling jacket, causing temp spikes and the occasional radiator burp.


Rick,

Bless you. Looking into rentals for the weekend now. Many companies have an NRA discount!

Tam said...

The Duck,

You too. I think I've got a rental car covered now. If Bobbi can get it cheaper, I'll drive her car and she'll drive the rental.

Goober said...

One of the biggest downsides to the boxer-style engines:

I'm not certain that you can change a head gasket on one without yanking the entire engine out of the car. Maybe someone else that isn't me (6'-4" tall, 3(cough) hundred and "cough-cough" pounds) could do it... I dunno.

Wish you were local. It isn't a big deal if you have the right tools, and I've got them. Maybe a day's worth of work with a couple of stops for beers.

Of course, the last one I did has a carburetor and not much else. maybe it got a little more difficult with the late model rigs and all that EPA-mandated stuff that makes our air breathable.

Unfortunately, doing the work for you is all I could offer right now, and I doubt you'dship it to Spokane and save anything. Caught me at a bad time to help with bills - having trouble covering my own right now, what with all the bum ticker BS going on.

Can you believe what a night in the hospital costs anymore?

Tam said...

Og,

To update...

I haven't entirely ruled out a sticking thermostat, but in my limited experience those have usually been either stuck or not. This will spike, and then cool down some... then spike worse... and cool down some... then redline.

I haven't done the dispositive thermostat check of starting the car and watching the coolant level by eyeball to see if it drops when the engine reaches operating temp and the coolant level drops. (I assume it still works that way; it's been a while. :o )

og said...

Well, not that I have MUCH hope, but look at the engine oil. if the engine oil is milky and contaminated looking, definitely head gasket. if not, it could(yes, a tiny chance) be a water pump and or thermostat, bot far less expensive fixes. it's a long long shot, but people get lucky sometimes. (Without a water pump to circulate coolant the heads can get warm enough to vaporize some water into steam, then cool back down, making for a cyclic "burping". Head gasket is more often a steady stream of gas coming out)

I always got the "exhaust is a giant cloud of white smoke" head gasket failures, common on cars with cast iron blocks and aluminum heads.

Jess said...

If you can actually see into your radiator (on many vehicles you can't), when the engine is at operating temperature, the coolant should flow, as the thermostat allows enough fluid to pass and keep the engine at a constant temperature. No, or little flow, the thermostat is not opening enough, and the trapped fluid is flashing to steam in the block. That, or you have a bad water pump.

If it's flowing, look for tiny bubbles of gas in the coolant, and try to smell for exhaust fumes coming from the radiator.

One thing is for sure: If you're losing radiator fluid, and can't find leaks, it's going somewhere and the amount may be small enough in the exhaust you don't see any white smoke, or is vaporized in the oil, before it turns the oil milky.

Anonymous said...

Do you still own the BMW? I suppose fixing that car costs as much as fixing this one. That's the way it usually works.

Sherm said...

And here I was thinking a few weeks ago how nice it was that you weren't having the gasket problem (a known issue). My apologies. It's amazing how fast service wants to change the subject when you bring it up.

By the end of this year we'll have replaced head gaskets in three Subarus. Our next car(s) will be a not Subaru.

Jon said...

Worth noting that "Giant clouds of white smoke" will smell a bit like cooking maple syrup or sugar (so it'll probably remind you of pancakes) since its basically cooking off the alcohol and sugars in the coolant.

But yeah, Og's advice is solid advice, and I too have mostly been bit by the giant clouds of white smoke (thrice, now in 33 years...).

Old NFO said...

+1 on Og... He knows his stuff. And also concur on http://www.cometic.com/automotive-gaskets.aspx They are GOOD!

B5K said...

Here I was happy today when I cleaned out my Subarosta and found a spare round of .375H&H....

Best wishes for a speedy Sub recovery.

Opinionated Grump (Rich in NC) said...

Blown head gasket,
sticking thermostat
or maybe
clogged radiator...
That may also be a contributing factor...
Even though the Subbie is sick, it's still nice out with NO snow on the ground...
take Happy where ya can find it.
Rich in NC

Mike said...

Usually the EJ (mostly the 251 like in my Outback) leaks externally from the left cylinder head at the bottom/rear. Done bunches of 'em, including the one on my Outback.

Only saw one EJ engine putting combustion gases into the coolant jacket, and that was a 251-powered Forester that had been badly overheated after the radiator failed.

YMMV, of course.

Good luck with the repair, they're really not terrible to do. Worth putting new timing belt in while it's apart, though.

Garrett Lee said...

Today is apparently not a good day for cars.

In my case, the guy assigned to back my car out of the tire center at Sam's ended up starting the car while it was in first gear. Cue the ever-increasing collection of assistant managers and managers. Apparently, everyone was very impressed at how calmly I was taking it.

Anybody know of a good body shop in Richmond, VA?

Montana said...

Sounds like an opportunity to put in all those WRX hop up parts you were lusting after....

Montana said...

Sounds like an opportunity to put in all those WRX hop up parts you've been lusting after...

B said...

I'm thinking not a head gasket. Thermostat, or collapsed hose or water pump.

Only way to tell is to have a pro look at it. Hard for me to do from 120 miles away.

Effen you don't get it to a shop before the weekend I can take a look when I am down there.

You have my number still, right?

B

Ken said...

What Og said about the emulsification in the oil (if any).

If it does turn out to be a head gasket, I can say only that I'm sorry for your misfortune.

Uno Mas (SASS #80082) said...

Head Gasket Leak Detection Tools

http://www.ehow.com/list_7166342_head-gasket-leak-detection-tools.html

Discobobby said...

I had the timing belt and camshaft seals done when they did my head gasket. Since you're in there anyway, you might as well. If you're replacing the head gasket you're in it to win it, so you may as well increase the longevity of parts that are otherwise hard to get at when the engine is in. :(

SJ said...

My Subaru was diagnosed with old head gaskets when I took it in for the timing-belt check.

The head-gasket job was expensive, as the shop guys had to pull the engine to do it.

I'm told that Subaru's boxer-4 can be a real pain to take apart and re-assemble, after extracting it from the engine bay.

Best wishes on the vehicle.

Anonymous said...

If it ends up being the head gasket recommend replacing the timing belt, and thermostat, and water pump at the same time unless you know when they were switched out and it wasn't more than 40,000 miles ago. I had the heads in my Outback done and they had to mill a bit off the heads. I am still driving it 50,000 miles later. I can't get by with sneaking a tank of regular every now and then like I used to(got to be mid-grade) and the car might just have a smidge more pep. I have donated a dollar or two to help out. Unbeknownst to you you have helped me quite a bit. Thank you! EdC

Jeffro said...

I sent you something. You know why. Hope it helps.

Sport Pilot said...

From my book of hard earned lesson’s I suggest having a very good mechanic, shade tree or professional, check out your engine.

RevGreg said...

Thankfully it was less serious than a head gasket but it reminds me of last Wednesday. Took a drive out to my buddy Mike's shop (he's an 07 FFL) to have him order some parts and Cerakote for a project(s) I'm working on (started out as one, ended up as two when we got talking) and my shift cable snapped when I shifted into park. Yay! Would have been fixed that day but they could get the part in until Saturday which screwed things up enough that I didn't get to go shoot the 3-Gun match last weekend. Just not flexible enough to keep one foot on the brake while I slide under the vehicle to shift it manually any more...

waepnedmann said...

The term "POS" sends my thoughts to the Wayback Machine and to a '63 Ford Falcon. I could regale you for hours involving bailing wire and life-threatening experiences.
Sent a li'l sumthin' sumthin'.

Evyl Robot Michael said...

Could be a head gasket, but I have seen thermostats with intermittent sticking issues. If it's easy to get to, you can more or less diagnose by dropping the suspect part into water that you've heated to temperature in the microwave. Then again, if you've gone to that much trouble, you may as well spend $10 or whatever a new one costs and slap it in.

On the subject of beaters, I had an '82 Civic that I was turning hot enough that I couldn't keep it in head gaskets anymore. That was a wild little rice rat. One time, Jennifer lost her keys through a rust hole in the floorboards on the interstate in it. I miss that car.

rickn8or said...

Bummer. But as was said above, no snow on the ground and it happened in Circle City, not halfway to K-town.

Keep us advised to the ongoing adventure.

Mike said...

"The head-gasket job was expensive, as the shop guys had to pull the engine to do it.

I'm told that Subaru's boxer-4 can be a real pain to take apart and re-assemble, after extracting it from the engine bay."

SJ, you got boned. I've never pulled one of these things out to do head gaskets. Admittedly, there's not much left in the engine bay after taking the heads off and all the stuff needed to get them off, but this is totally an in-the-car kind of job.

I've done almost everything you can think of to Subaru engines, including a fun 300HP WRX build with forged pistons. On that build, I had the engine out ('09 STI with front mount intercooler conversion) in just over 3 hours.

Subarus are not hard to work on