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Old 07-23-2016, 04:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 09 Tribeca overheating

I have a 09 Tribeca (130,000 km) that started to overheat on a recent trip - had to pull off the highway and leave it at a Subaru dealer I happen to just have passed by. They came back with $2,600 to replace the timing chains and water pump. I said no way and told them to replace the thermostat, that was done and the car still overheats. Now towed the car back to my regular mechanic who has not found anything obvious yet (ie no coolant leaks etc).

The car will quickly go to 2 or 3 bars above normal with any driving (highway or city) and the temp will go down if I rev the engine above 3K rpm. I have read as much as I could in the forum - seems like possibly air or something getting into the coolant - usually from head gasket issue. Will try new radiator cap. HG and Water Pump are expensive fixes and I want to try to eliminate all possibilities before going there - any thoughts? I think the next step would be to make sure my mechanic checks for exhaust in coolant? Has anyone actually seen a water pump fail?
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Old 07-23-2016, 05:03 AM   #2 (permalink)
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What you're describing are the classic signs of head gasket failure. Here's the thing (as you've probably read) - it can slowly evolve over a long period of time. I've been having the symptoms off-and-on now for almost 2 years. Haven't had a overheating episode in months. Already replaced the radiator and cap due to a leak (which didn't help with the overheating). The next cheap part to replace would be the thermostat, but as you and others have found out, this doesn't help (unless the thermostat IS the problem). In all the years I've been frequenting this forum, I've never heard of a water pump failure - they seem to be damn reliable. Have you looked for bubbles and exhaust smell in your coolant? Others have said that's a sure sign of HG failure as well. If I were you, I would have your mechanic check for exhaust in the coolant (some type of chemical test?).
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Old 07-23-2016, 06:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You are on the path.

Best headgasket test is to put a 'burp funnel' on the radiator and look for a stream of steady bubbles. There are a few utube videos out there.

Like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAJLMd46ySU

Probably won't be as vigorous. I searched "head gasket subaru coolant bubbles" and there are a good number of videos.
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Old 07-25-2016, 07:00 AM   #4 (permalink)
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The water pumps on the H6 are beasts... the only way for them to fail involves either a) gasket failure, b) timing chain failure, or c) busted fins. In other words, water pump failure isn't a silent killer; it's pretty damn obvious. [Bad X-Men reference warning] And if the water pump is a beast, than the timing chains would be wolverines (i.e. damn near impossible to kill). Also, the fact that revving your engine gets the temp to go down is a pretty sure sign that your water pump is working.

In short, the Subaru dealer you passed by was likely handing you a load of crap... curious as to whether this was in the US or CAN; this wouldn't be the first time we've heard about a Canadian dealership talking out of its rear end.

Unless you've had someone flush/fill your coolant recently (who didn't properly burp the system), unfortunately, it looks like you've got an internal HG failure.
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Old 07-25-2016, 06:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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That's HG issue, no doubts. I have the same thing on our 07 B9 with 150K miles. Started as faint odor of coolant after a long drive, progressed to car spitting coolant out of expansion tank. highway driving keeps it normal as does the AC, but on slow ride or in traffic the temp would quicklu jump above medium. Replaced thermostat but that didn't help.

Currently following steps in psygnal11's thread to replace HG myself, car is sitting in my driveway with hood all the way up.
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Old 07-27-2016, 09:51 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for your responses and input. Just and update and some additional notes. My mechanic removed the thermostat and the temperature was fine - replaced it with my new one or another one he had and back to the overheating - maybe the flow is marginal and the additional drag of the open thermostat causes insufficient flow. He is taking out the rad and testing it now. He has many years of Subaru experience (mostly with the 4 cylinder - I had my 99 Forester HG replaced at 200k km with him) and does not see the usual signs of HG failure.
Also as a note my car would overhead within 3 minutes of any kind of driving and was overheating in highway driving with AC on/off and even heat on full.
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Old 07-27-2016, 10:17 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Sounds like he knows what he is doing. We haven't had any overheating or headgasket issues but the radiator on our 07 did crack the passenger side tank for no apparent reason other than age. It was low on coolant but never even hinted at overheating.
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Old 08-01-2016, 07:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Another update - tried replacing rad - was fine for 20 minutes of idling but overheats when driving. Chemical test was negative but as you all suspected he now believes head gasket issue. He is not experienced with doing the HG on the 6 cylinder and suggested going to a dealer - I have called some other Subaru independents and they would not do the H6 HG either. Dealers quotes ranged from $2.5k to $5k for the HG change. One dealer suggested a used engine ($1.5k - $1.8k + 10hr labour). I am in the Toronto area in Canada and am looking at some other independents to see what my alternatives are.
As a side note - since it looks like I may be going the HG route - what other parts should I replace while everything is apart?
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:01 AM   #9 (permalink)
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There really isn't anything that should be replaced when doing an HG job (except certain bolts on the timing covers that are one-time use).

That said, things I would put in the category of "good idea while you're already in there if you have the money and plan on getting another 100k miles out of the vehicle but not absolutely necessary if not otherwise compromised"...

1) Timing components (tensioners & guides)
2) All gaskets and seals between the timing covers and blocks (can't remember how many, but it's mostly a bunch of o-rings and the paper water pump gasket), including the rocker cover and spark plugs.

Of course, check clearances on, or at least make a visual observation of, the cams, buckets/lifters, valves, pistons, rings, cylinders, etc. because if any of those need service, this is definitely the time to do it.

Along the lines of only do it if either a) there's a problem, b) you have severe OCD, or c) you have money to piss away:

1) Water pump
2) Timing chains
3) Cams/pulleys
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Last edited by psygnal11; 08-02-2016 at 09:05 AM.
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:13 AM   #10 (permalink)
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At that point a used engine sounds like a much better idea, for the cost and you can always sell yours to someone looking for a project 3.6.
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Old 08-03-2016, 06:48 AM   #11 (permalink)
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HG's - the H6's have the same symptoms as the older 1996-1999 EJ25D (not the engine your 99 forester had - it had the newer EJ25) - some mechanics aren't used to the H6 symptoms if they weren't around signifcant numbers of those older EJ25D's - which is a long time ago in some areas since they're all rusting away in others.

If you want a solid 100,000 mile car i would replace the headgaskets rather than buy an unknown.

1. resurface the heads (there's no need to valve job, pressure test, etc - no warranty is needed on the machining because nothing is going to happen and these heads don't crack, like ever).

2. use OEM headgaskets.

go with the shop that will work with you on making sure #1 happens. that's hard to find - some places don't resurface subaru heads (a lot of dealers don't) and some places will often require/quote a full head job for $500-$1000 with valve job, testing, measuring, etc. They simply need resurfaced only, everything else is a total waste on that engine/those heads.

the only "better" machining you can do is to machine the block surfaces but most places aren't set up to do that.
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Old 08-03-2016, 06:49 AM   #12 (permalink)
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i wouldn't replace anythign else except the timing belt orings and water pump orings/gaskets.

spark plugs, valve cover gaskets, oil cooler gasket require zero labor to replace while it's apart and are typical wear items, so those are wise to replace if they're not adding "labor cost" when there isn't any additional labor. if they're adding labor cost to do those - then yeah, just do them later when you actually have to have the labor done.
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Old 08-03-2016, 09:34 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I agree with Gary... generally, I would always opt to repair than replace.

Put it this way: would you rather repair an engine with a known issue(s) or replace with an engine that is a complete unknown?
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Old 08-04-2016, 09:18 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Replacing the engine is faster and more economical, and a pressure test of the cooling system and a leakdown/compression test will tell you all you need to know about it. And most salvage yards carry a 6 month warranty at least. You can swap over all your sensors and intake for piece of mind there and have some extras on hand. H6 engine failures are not common-place, this is why a used engine would not bother me especially a low mileage one from a newer model.
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Old 08-04-2016, 10:40 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Although it's hard to say until I am in your shoes, but I too would prefer the engine swap given it is a daily driver for me. I could take 3 days to do it and be done. The headgaskets would be a multi-week process given I can't just get it done in a week due to work.

A rear end wreck is what I would look for.
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Old 08-09-2016, 07:46 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Just a quick FYI, a pressure test on the coolant system will often times give a false negative if your HG is compromised. The pressure required to breach the chamber into cooling lines (or vice versa) is much higher than what your going to pump into the radiator neck.
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Old 08-26-2016, 05:29 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Default 09 Tribeca overheating

Just an update - went with HG replacement (shop said they had looked into used engines and it was $5K for one with similar mileage). Looks like a leak around cylinder 3 and 5. See pictures here https://www.facebook.com/Autologix-4...16910745048765
After HG change (and water pump while they had everything apart and to recap thermostat and rad were also changed previously) the car still overheats when driving. When idling temp is ok - cycles from 198F to 209F. Driving for a few minutes is ok them goes up 1 or 2 ticks above normal - revving the engine brings it down. They had spent an hour burping the engine but that did not help.
Thanks everyone for your advise so far - any further ideas would be appreciated (getting quite frustrated at this point).
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Old 08-26-2016, 05:48 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Did the shop:
Quote:
Originally Posted by grossgary View Post
1. resurface the heads

2. use OEM headgaskets.
Is the radiator low on coolant or lowering as you drive/run the engine a bit?


To clarify rabbit trail on engine replacement. I'll do engine swaps too - 01-04's. But H6 headgaskets are prominent enough they're worth avoiding for people paying high labor rates.

Also i take the car/engine into account. H4's, and 01-04 H6's are a dime a dozen now. As the OP noticed, the 2005+ H6's are pricey engines through many shops. If you're relying on mechanics the price different might not exist or be negligible - and you're buying original headgaskets.

I'll swap engines all day long, i can get cheap engines, down time is a non-issue, and labor is free. But I'd never expect that to be a great one-size-fits-all solution for the average situation.
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Old 08-26-2016, 10:51 AM   #19 (permalink)
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H6 heads never crack? Read this:

Cracked Block? warped heads.
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Old 08-26-2016, 11:12 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Have you checked coolant bottle for air bubbles? The engine needs to be warm and if you ask someone to rev engine, they're easier to see. Look carefully into bottle. If you see any bubbles then you've still got a gas leak. This means a warped head (wasn't resurfaced as Gary suggests) or a crack somewhere.
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