Question about 2004 Subaru Forester

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New radiator cap, now engine over heating - subaru forester 2004

My mechanic replaced the radiator cap on my subaru forester saying the radiator failed a pressure test and seemed to be losing coolant somewhere. Next day after a 30 min drive, soon after stopping at my gate, the temp went into red, radiator has boiled, steam coming out of cap and fluid sprayed over engine. never had trouble with overheating before the new radiator cap. What could have caused that? Could the overheating have now damaged the engine?

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  • wolfweb
    wolfweb Jul 17, 2013

    Thanks for your very good answer. Phoned mechanic who wants to now do tests to see if the issue is with a blown head gasket or cracked head by removing spark plus and doing some kind of pressure test, is this a valid course of action?

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  • Subaru Master
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If the engine was stopped or you shut it down immediately then the possibility of damage would be remote as the piston would not be continuing to move which is where most damage occurs.. If the radiator failed a pressure test then the problem is that the radiator pressure was not high enough to prevent the boil. I will explain . Water boils at 100degrees c at 14psi (air pressure). When under pressure the boiling point goes up to well above the 100 degrees . If you have a coolant system leak the pressure will be at air pressure and when the engine is stopped the hot parts have not water circulation so the temperature goes well over the 100 degrees and so it blows off . 2 problems are present that you have to correct. Find the leak and have it fixed and secondly check that the cooling fans are working correctly. Caps come in varied pressure ratings for the radiator construction so check that the cap reading is suitable for you vehicle

Posted on Jul 17, 2013

  • 2 more comments 
  • wolfweb
    wolfweb Jul 17, 2013

    Thanks for your very good answer. Phoned mechanic who wants to now do tests to see if the issue is with a blown head gasket or cracked head by removing spark plus and doing some kind of pressure test, is this a valid course of action?

  • Bill Boyd Jul 17, 2013

    What you mechanic wants to do is test the integrity of the engine by doing a compression test on each cylinder. If you damaged a gasket or cracked a head it will show up as a lower pressure reading on the cylinders affected. I would consider it to be a good course of action to take as it will set you mind at rest as to the possibility of damage. Make sure see the results of the test to keep him honest and have him explain everything.

  • wolfweb
    wolfweb Jul 17, 2013

    Final question I have is I now need to get this to the mechanic. A trip of about 30 mins. Around the same distance that it overheated at the end of the trip. Any tips for getting it there without damage? Slow or normal speed? Should I stop along the way? Or should I get it towed there? Your help has been very valuable thankyou.

  • Bill Boyd Jul 18, 2013

    Where I am we use tilt tray trucks as that eliminates any possibility of transmission damage. If you drive and there is traffic it becomes a nightmare when the car starts to overheat. I would suggest tow or tilt tray to get it to the mechanic.

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  • Subaru Master
  • 2,899 Answers

If your engine is overheating, Try this procedure:

  • Dirt and debris can get lodged in the radiator air flow paths. This can block the radiator and cause your engine to overheat and damage the engine

  • Make sure the radiator and the overflow bottle are filled to the proper levels.

  • Bleed air from the coolant system:This is best done by running the engine with the radiator cap off until you see when the air bubbles stop coming up.

  • Check the radiator fans: The easiest way is to turn on the cars air conditioner and turn up the A/C fans. Both radiator fans should come on when the A/C starts

  • Make a pressure test by using a pressure testing tool (available at most auto parts stores). Use the pressure shown on your radiator cap. Most cars are 16 PSI or less, so don't exceed that pressure. Replace the radiator cap if it doesn't hold the pressure.

Posted on Apr 18, 2015

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Most cracked blocks will put the coolant into the crankcase and you would see a milky colored oil. Thoough it can also crack and allow the engine to burn the coolant. In this case, at the rate you are saying the overheating is occuring, you should easily be able to see white smoke from the exhaust.

More than likely than not the cylinder is pressuring the radiator causing the overheating, you can verify this by removing the radiator cap with the engine cold and placing the palm of your hand where the cap was. Start the engine, within less than a minute you will likely notice pressure building.

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It sounds like they stood behind thier repair and did the right thing with the second repair.
So your options are to pay to have a second shop diagnose the problem or believe the first and replace the engine and or car.

Sorry about your misfortune.

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