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Cooling drama, advice please! Cant find the answer anywhere.

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Hi everyone,


I've browsing these forums and used a lot of info, so thank you to all the posters and users who have answered! Can't seem to find an exact answer to what i have going o at the moment, could be a few things. Please read on.


I'm on my second subaru legacy, the first was in New Zealand last year while traveling, loved it, and bought another here when I returned to Canada.


Its a 91 Legacy 1st Gen, 1.8L.


Drove it across Canada, Vancouver to Toronto, 4000kms no problems.


Recently, heating issues. Thought initially thermostat. That was the start of my research, discovery and now problem solving nightmare.


Overheating, first thought t-stat.

Needed the car, but couldn't get the t stat for 2 days, thought i'd just remove it and drive until it arrived, as it should stop the heating issue.

I discovered there was no T-stat in the first place, interesting. At the same time, as I drained the coolant to flush, I realized the coolant was at half capacity, though the reservoir read min. level. It was full when I left Vancouver a month ago... i wondered, where did it go???... Heat was not working when cranked during flush- though when switched to vent, was plenty hot.


Topped up with new coolant, thought I had the air out of the system, but it still bubbled.. no oil present in old fluid.

Drove the next day (yesterday). Got way too hot, but didn't drive too far.


Replaced thermostat today, re flushed coolant. Warmed her up. Heat still not working, vent heat not working either now. Edging above average heat on idle after 15 min. Opened the rad while running (with a rag) to top up coolant and it spewed.. loads of built up pressure 2 foot high geyser, and zero overflow into the reservoir?---(side note-reservoir was dirty when i emptied it.. 'dusty looking' dirty walls, and some black stuff stuck to the inside- hg tip off?) Top pipe hot, bottom pipe cold, coolant that shot out of rad was cold, t-stat housing was hot.

Discovered a slow but constant drip coming from above the t-stat around where i imagine the water pump gasket to the engine would be. (could it even possibly be coming out of the head gasket??)


Seems like I need to at minimum burp the system, get a new water pump gasket- meaning i might as well get a new water pump (and do the timing belt at the same time as I don't know the last time it was done.)


I have been reading about: cooling system bleeding, heater core replacement, rad replacement, and blown head gaskets, all related to some of the symptoms I have. Just can't figure out which one specifically.


I can work out how to do any of the above work, but do not want to buy the part$$ until I have run this by, well, everyone else who may have some experience or know how.


Tomorrow after work (not driving her for now), I am going to burp the system to see if that will fix the overheating issues and the heater.


Any trouble shooting steps, or suggestions of how i should go about pin pointing the problem whould be super appreciated.


Thanks you,


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The leaking above the thermostat is the water pump going out. Replace this first and check your timing components. You may have a head gasket going, usually the coolant in the overflow bottle turns a brown color and feels oily. Also replace the t-stat with an OEM unit. Steven.

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Okay, I changed out the pump, timing belt, t-stat and coolant.


The nearest dealer is quite far I was hoping my t-stat would be okay, but I'm still having serious heat problems. I will track one down and cross my fingers.


My coolant hasn't been in long enough to show signs. ive changed it out twice over the last week.. there was only water in it before :/ I couldn't tell if there was oil present or not as I used my oil change bucket to capture the water and the was a little oil inside from previous use.



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Got off the phone with nearest dealer.

I guess I will also be needing a valve cover gasket, intake manifold gasket, and exhaust gasket.

Do I need to add anything else to the list? And should I do both sides while I can, or just leave the good side alone?

Order doesn't go out until tomorrow.

Thanks for your help.


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It has taken some time to get the oem gaskets for the job, but I have them now.


The head was barely inside spec when it was checked, so I opted to have it machined so I have a clean face to start the new gasket life on. I get that back tomorrow and start assembly, woot! I can't wait to get her back on the road!


Hoses were okay, btw, but it was a good call anyway, thanks F1

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Done done and done, back on the road, no issues! yiew!!


I can't believe it worked.. I thought I might do something wrong. I guess it paid off to take a hundred pictures while taking it apart so I could get it back together properly... as it did take about two weeks all up. I would have forgotten where everything went1


Thanks steven and F1 for the troubleshooting and help, I wouldn't have done it without your advice.

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