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Old 10-07-2017, 07:58 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Cooling Problem

Hello!

I have an '06 Subaru B9 Tribeca (edit: w/ 130k miles) that is having cooling problems. It seems to be a common problem that I've seen by searching other forums but have not yet read a consistent outcome/solution that has worked even though the issues are always consistent.

The cabin temp gauge would register around 2/3 after 5-10 minutes of highway operation and the heat was not blowing on idle. Then when slowing down into city speeds, it almost immediately jumped up to the highest point on the gauge below the red, though it did not ever go into the red and there was never a warning light. Admittedly, I did drive it in this condition for around a week because I had no time to bring it to a mechanic or work on it myself. However, it was just "running hot" rather than "overheating" so I figured it didn't need to be addressed immediately, but rather in a timely manner. Maybe I totally screwed up here?

Anyways, I took it into a mechanic who found that the radiator and coolant was very dirty. They cleaned the radiator and flushed the coolant. In hindsight, I'm not sure why this didn't raise any major red flags with the mechanic, because he just handed the car back to us as said "Should work find now!".

Problem seemed to subside for about a week. The weather was hot then, so I didn't check if the car blew heat on idle. After around a week, the issue began to occur almost exactly as it did before. I did a DIY coolant system bleed in my driveway, thinking this could be an easy potential solution. There was definitely air in the system. The bubbles never fully ceased coming out, but they definitely became much more infrequent and more intermittent after about an hour of bleeding on idle (on a slightly inclined surface).

While bleeding the air I noticed coolant on the passenger side that had sprayed onto the air filter casing. I figured there was a crack in the radiator which might be the culprit to all the issues and that perhaps this is how air was continuing to get into the system, and why the fluid was so damn dirty before. I took it to a friend ("Certified Subaru Tech", more on him later) who replaced the radiator (which was indeed cracked) and the thermostat in his front yard. After replacing, he still could not get the air to blow hot on idle and recommended taking it to a shop to have the system pressurized to look for other issues.

I took it down to local Mechanic (not the same one that originally cleaned the radiator) who said that the issue was there was just too much air in the system. He bled the air out of system thoroughly and said everything is running fine and that the air now blows hot on idle. When driving the car home, it began to overheat worse than it ever had before. I'm not sure why the mechanic didn't just pressurize the system like I asked him to, but he's a really trustworthy mechanic so I felt comfortable following his advice.

The car is currently in my driveway and I'd like to do some testing before taking it back to the mechanic. So from what I can read online, my thoughts are:

A. There is still air in the system that needs to be bled out.

B. Friend installed the thermostat backwards/upside down. (Same friend said that to bleed air out of radiator you need to jack up the BACK of the car... needless to say, he doesn't get to touch any of my cars anymore).

C. Waterpump needs to be replaced (though it sounds like these water pumps are pretty resilient).

D. Heater core is blocked. (I did find one other thread where this was the culprit, along with HG replacement). My novice idea is that perhaps now that the system is fully pressurized (i.e. no cracks in the radiator) that could be causing it to overheat faster?

E. HG needs to be replaced. (Please... just tell me how to pretend that this isn't the issue. It sounds soooooo expensive).

What are your thoughts?

What specific steps or tests can I take/run to find if it is either A, B, C, D or E before just paying for each repair to be made?


I'm sure you can tell by now that I know very little about vehicle repair, but a tight budget is keeping me from just throwing money at this car that I don't already like. I'm sorry for any really stupid ideas I may have thrown out in the above text. For me, it's really all just wild speculation.

As you can guess, I'll be going to a shop for any repairs that are at all advanced from here on out.

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by jim.doolittle; 10-07-2017 at 08:07 AM.
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Old 10-07-2017, 05:55 PM   #2 (permalink)
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To check the heater core would be fairly easy, just undo the two hoses coming out of the firewall and use your garden hose to flush the core out. I would be more concerned with what clogged it up if that is the case.

Are your fans working correctly? Does having the AC on affect the overheating? What kind of "dirty" was the coolant? Brown, black, floating debris? Have you replaced the radiator cap?

A. Bleed it again drive it around and then bleed it again see if it accumulates more air.

B. If the coolant is circulating, then the thermostat is in correctly, in any case if it was an OEM one it can only be installed one way.

C. Again if coolant is circulating and you aren't noticing any water in the oil from a bad water pump seal its working correctly.

D. A blocked heater core would not cause overheating.

E. If nothing else works this is the most likely culprit probably caused by running hot. Costly yes, but still cheaper than another vehicle. Might be worth looking into a jdm or used engine.
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Old 10-09-2017, 08:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
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We had it towed back to the mechanic over the weekend. He just called and told me that the fans were not plugged in after the Radiator was replaced.

So, this issue goes back to friend that offers to work on cars but doesn't actually know how.

They are going to test drive it around today and fingers-crossed everything is now fixed!
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Old 10-09-2017, 10:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Awful nice of your friend to offer to help. I hope when I offer to help my friends that they appreciate it more than you did. Professional mechanics make these mistakes all the time. The difference is you paid them, so you can be upset that they wasted your time.
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Old 11-26-2017, 06:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Cooling Problem/ Heating Problem

I have a 2006 Tribeca, having this issue as well. My Tribeca is heating up when idle at stop light or traffic however as soon as I give it gas or rev the engine if I place it in neutral the gauge goes back to its normal position, I also took it to the dealer and they can NOT determine what is wrong with my Tribeca. Of course they suggested replace the head gaskets for $4k, really the car is not worth that. Why would they want to replace the gaskets ? Oh yeah they make money ?. I took it to a small shop recommended by a friend who takes his Subaru?s for service. They inspected the vehicle for a day testing different parts of the car, they bled the radiator line for air and some came out after this they could not get it to reheat. We took the car home and for a while it was ok then we went through a drive thru where previously it would heat up while we idle and all was good. However later as we drove back to the shop to get a second vehicle we left for service voila the Tribeca was heating up and we called the mechanic to come see however this time the mechanic came over to see and then the car cooled off on its own without Reving the engine at all after going up 2 clicks. He then Plugged in his computer to read the temperature and explained how the temperature was normal and how as it would go up the fan would
Kick in and the thermostat would open and all back to normal. We moved from Virginia to San Diego and then To Hot Texas and in the moving we had replaced the thermostat in Cali. Today I was speaking with another mechanic and he suggested that I replace the thermostat to a 160 degrees thermostat from Subaru, replace the radiator cap and fill the radiator with Subaru antifreeze. I plan on doing this and follow up oh and by the way the mechanic that tested our Tribeca said our water pump was ok and also our gaskets were ok. There were no signs to indicate these needed to be replaced.
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Old 11-26-2017, 06:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I had recently replaced the radiator due to a small leak and at this time replaced the thermostat at the time I was in San Diego and did not check for the temperature resistance of the thermostat I purchased and bought what the dealer sold me locally, I think I the after this worked fine but now in Texas where it?s warmer I have been suggested by another mechanic that knows I moved from different weather to change to a 160 degrees thermostat vs the -220 ....-
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Old 11-27-2017, 05:59 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Most likely headgaskets, but check the usual: Clogged radiator, tstat, fans, bleed, etc
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Old 11-27-2017, 07:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Subaru designed the cooling system to work in all manner of heat and cold within the market area, the OEM thermostat will work fine as long as everything else is working correctly as well.

My guess mirrors Tdelker in that you probably have a slight combustion leak into the cooling system that is accumulating air that is causing the overheating. There is also the chance the original shop who worked on it didn't get all the air out when servicing the system, but then the issue would have happened once and not again.
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Old 11-27-2017, 08:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Yes, the head gasket(s) are a real possibility. In most communities people will rush to tell you to change your head gasket immediately or the sky will fall and/or you will become a loser.

To the contrary, I have observed nothing but patience during my failing head gasket that I was able to get by with for 8 months...we won't pressure you or lie to you.
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Old 12-30-2017, 01:35 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default dirty coolant with brown debris

not sure what this means?

any ideas?


I am using green coolant with the subaru additive...maybe its a precipitate conflict?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg brown debris in coolant tribeca.JPG (29.6 KB, 18 views)
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Did full 60,000 service, ipod addition, rubber sway bar bushings, generic sepentine pulleys,Lexus 460x silicone wipers,thermoquietpads,tranny filter thru bumper cover. Thank you all
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Old 01-02-2018, 11:47 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Yuck! Sure it's not oil mixed in to coolant? Kinda reminds me of that.
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Old 01-02-2018, 02:59 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The additive kinda looks like that if you don't shake it up before adding it
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Old 01-02-2018, 05:26 PM   #13 (permalink)
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It should be pretty obvious if it is oil or not, its hard to tell from a picture but it does look like the coolant conditioner at least from my dry, tired eyes. Pull the radiator cap and check in there as well.
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