Running Hot ... Coolant Low .... Oil in coolant

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OkeefenokeeJoe
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Running Hot ... Coolant Low .... Oil in coolant

Post by OkeefenokeeJoe » Wed May 09, 2012 7:45 pm

Two days ago, while driving home, I noticed that the temp gauge on my 2003 Subaru Baja (with 175,000 miles) was all the way in the HOT zone. I was shocked and was within a half mile of my house, so I drove on home. The next day I ran the Baja by a local repair shop, thinking that, perhaps the thermostat was stuck. A couple of hours later they called me back and told me that the coolant level was low and that there was oil in the radiator. Their assessment ... a cracked head or cracked block. I was shocked when they told me that I needed to replace the motor with either a used or remanufactured motor. I am confused since the car cranks and drives fine, but it does tend to run hot after about 20 minutes. However, now that I know the coolant level was low, it might not overheat so soon if I fill the radiator up with coolant.

Does their assessment sound correct?

The cost of the repair, should I go the remanufactured route, is about $5,000 out the door. These folks seem to have a good reputation as far as remanufactured motors are concerned:

http://www.ccrengines.com/

By the way, I don't know if this makes a difference, but I have changed the oil and filter since it was new every 5000 miles, using genuine Subaru filters and Mobil 1 fully synthetic oil.

Thanks for any input or advice. I value your assessment of my situation.

OkeefenokeeJoe

sfeather11
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Re: Running Hot ... Coolant Low .... Oil in coolant

Post by sfeather11 » Thu May 10, 2012 5:03 am

Most likely a Head Gasket. This could allow coolant and oil to mix. Almost all Subarus between the late 90s and early 2000s have or will need them replaced. It's a well known problem among the subie crowd. You can do a search on this site or Google it. There are many, many articles on many different forums discussing the issue. Unless your shop can show you the specific crack, I would start there before replacing the engine. A head gasket repair should be around/little over $1000 vs $5000 for a new engine...

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mjcmar
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Re: Running Hot ... Coolant Low .... Oil in coolant

Post by mjcmar » Thu May 10, 2012 1:04 pm

sfeather11 wrote:Most likely a Head Gasket. This could allow coolant and oil to mix. Almost all Subarus between the late 90s and early 2000s have or will need them replaced. It's a well known problem among the subie crowd. You can do a search on this site or Google it. There are many, many articles on many different forums discussing the issue. Unless your shop can show you the specific crack, I would start there before replacing the engine. A head gasket repair should be around/little over $1000 vs $5000 for a new engine...
Ditto this. I had the head gaskets done in our 2003 a little over a year ago. Prior to that we were having the same "running hot" issue, as well as an occasionally burning rubber/antifreeze smell. Cost was about $1100 for a package that also included a new timing belt, water pump, et cetera. Much easier to do while they've got your engine out of the car!

A note: our Baja is still overheating occasionally even after this major repair. Typically, it happens only with the A/C on, and when the engine is under major stress (like climbing a hill, or when the outside temperature is in the 90s, or both.) I've been told by a fairly reputable mechanic that it's likely a partially clogged radiator. Just something else to think about/have your mechanic look at.
2003 Baja Classic, SilverStone Metallic
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hocrest
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Re: Running Hot ... Coolant Low .... Oil in coolant

Post by hocrest » Thu May 10, 2012 7:12 pm

mjcmar wrote:I've been told by a fairly reputable mechanic that it's likely a partially clogged radiator.
Are there any shops you would recommend in the area? I moved here a few years ago, I do most of my own work, but occasionally would like to pay someone else to do it.

OkeefenokeeJoe
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Re: Running Hot ... Coolant Low .... Oil in coolant

Post by OkeefenokeeJoe » Thu May 10, 2012 8:38 pm

Thanks, guys for your input.

A head gasket is, from what I now understand, probably the problem, but the shop I took it to told me that my only option was to replace it with a "used" motor or a "remanufactured" motor. Accordingly, yesterday I ordered a remanufactured motor from Colorado Component Rebuilders, Inc. (www.ccrengines.com) for $3715. Tomorrow, I am going to try to cancel my order with CCR until I can have someone else look at the car. I had a gut feeling that the tech who looked at my car didn't have a clue about Subaru's.

I'll post updates as this issue progresses.

Thanks again.

OkeefenokeeJoe

mjcmar
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Re: Running Hot ... Coolant Low .... Oil in coolant

Post by mjcmar » Fri May 11, 2012 11:12 am

hocrest wrote:Are there any shops you would recommend in the area? I moved here a few years ago, I do most of my own work, but occasionally would like to pay someone else to do it.
I also moved to NEPA fairly recently. As such, I had the HGs done in West Virginia. The radiator comment was made by a mechanic in Pittsburgh.

I've used Sokolowsky Brothers in Pittston for some stuff but I've been less than thrilled. They're good guys and know Subarus, but completely unprofessional (smoking in my car, not returning phone calls, etc.) Relatively cheap, though, and no problem with bringing them my own parts to install previously.

Recently, I had my other car inspected at Forty Fort Lube on Wyoming Ave. Mark is who I worked with. Seems like a good operation; a co-worker had suspension work done by them on her '94 Civic and was happy with the service and price.

Maybe this would be a good thread to be moved to the PA forum?

OkeefenokeeJoe
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Re: Running Hot ... Coolant Low .... Oil in coolant

Post by OkeefenokeeJoe » Fri May 11, 2012 4:51 pm

UPDATE: Today I contacted Colorado Component Rebuilders, Inc., (they remanufacture ONLY Subaru motors) and gave them an up date on my situation. The day before yesterday I had placed an order with them for a newly remanufactured motor for my Baja. Since it now appears that the culprit is, most likely, a blown head gasket, rather than a cracked head or engine block, I asked the good people at CCR if they would consider suspending my order. Since they are in Colorado and I am in Georgia, I was all prepared to hear, "Sorry, but once an order is placed, you are committed blah blah blah." However, that did not happen. The folks at CCR were VERY gracious and stated that they understood, perfectly, my situation. I told the lady at CCR that once the repair shop that now has my Baja gets into the motor, and IF it is ascertained that I, indeed, will need to go the rebuilt route, then I will call them back and reorder. Again, they were very accommodating and thanked me for my business. Obviously, they are a very ethical operation and not out to gouge the customer. Certainly, they are worthy for business from anyone on this forum that needs a remanufactured motor for their Baja, or any Subaru, for that matter.

www.CCRENGINES.com

Monday I will know the full status of my engine and will post another update.

OkeefenokeeJoe

Benhart21
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Re: Running Hot ... Coolant Low .... Oil in coolant

Post by Benhart21 » Thu May 17, 2012 1:36 pm

Did you talk to Emily? She's the owner and is a nice lady. She's an active member of the local forum here.

OkeefenokeeJoe
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Re: Running Hot ... Coolant Low .... Oil in coolant

Post by OkeefenokeeJoe » Sun May 20, 2012 2:53 pm

Yes .... I spoke with Emily and also with Lynnette. Both are very kind and knowledgeable, and probably know more about Subaru engines that most mechanics I have talked to. I was so impress with the business ethics demonstrated by Emily and Lynnette that I plan on doing something special for them.

OkeefenokeeJoe

OkeefenokeeJoe
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Re: Running Hot ... Coolant Low .... Oil in coolant

Post by OkeefenokeeJoe » Sun May 20, 2012 3:18 pm

FINAL UPDATE:

The situation with my 2003 Baja has been the weirdest and most stressful adventure I have experienced in awhile. You will not believe how things ended!

First of all, if you recall, my car was running HOT and Asian Automotive in Savannah, GA told me that the engine block or head was cracked and a new motor was needed. Their assessment led me to CCR Engines in Colorado where I placed an order for a remanufactured Baja motor. Cost = $3,800. However, I had a bad feeling about the diagnosis from Asian Automotive, and I eventually drove my Baja to Grainger Honda in Savannah where Steve Cloko, the service manager (who formerly worked as the service manager at a Subaru dealership), agreed to look at the motor and give me a second opinion. After running a series of tests (block test, compression test, ect.) Steve called me back this past Monday and told me that he found NOTHING wrong with my car, except that it had a defective radiator cap. Can you believe that?!!!! In the end I paid for a new radiator cap, a new thermostat, and a radiator flush. Of course there were charges for the diagnostics, but my drive-out bill at Grainger Honda was only $450, compared to the $5,000 plus it was going to cost me at Asian Automotive. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, the folks at CCR Engines were SUPER and, after I explained the circumstances, they graciously cancelled my order for the new (remanufactured) motor that I had earlier placed with them.

My Baja is now sitting in my driveway and running better than ever! What started out as a disaster of Titanic proportions was avoided due to several honest, ethical, people who value their customers more than a quick dollar.

Tonight I will write two reviews on Angie's List. The first, praising my experience with CCR Engines. The second, crucifying Asian Automotive for their borderline criminal, totally unethical assessment of my repair needs.

Thank you all for following my situation and providing EXCELLENT feedback. In fact, it was your feedback, combined with my overall anxiety about what I was told by Asian Automotive, that led me to take my Baja to Grainger Honda for a second opinion.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

OkeefenokeeJoe

hocrest
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Re: Running Hot ... Coolant Low .... Oil in coolant

Post by hocrest » Mon May 21, 2012 4:32 am

A bad cap can cause the overheating, but it can not cause oil to mix with the oil. As thorough as they may have been at the Honda dealer, Subaru HG's can be tricky, with symptoms coming and going. I would keep a close eye on the coolant and oil for the next month just to be sure.

OkeefenokeeJoe
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Re: Running Hot ... Coolant Low .... Oil in coolant

Post by OkeefenokeeJoe » Mon May 21, 2012 9:48 am

Thanks hocrest, I'll be sure to keep a close eye on things. However, regarding the oil in the radiator issue .... Grainger Honda informed me that they saw no oil in the radiator. None at all. Oh well, we'll see what happens!

OkeefenokeeJoe

WillGT
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Re: Running Hot ... Coolant Low .... Oil in coolant

Post by WillGT » Mon May 28, 2012 6:09 pm

Okeefenokeejoe. Great to hear that the problem is solved for now. If you can make it up to Atlanta, there is a great Independent Subie Shop here. Six Star Subaru, I only take my Baja to them now because of how well they now Subies

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