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1993 Subaru Legacy L Overheating...but not really?

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Hi all, :) this is my first post as I'm new to the forums. I've got a weird issue and I just joined in hopes of bouncing some ideas off of you guys.


This is my first Subaru, I've not even had her a month. She's got new head gaskets, oil, a new timing belt, and a new thermostat. Everything new, save for the thermostat, was installed by the previous owner, whom I know personally. Since replacing the thermostat, (since it didn't even HAVE one when I bought it) it's been driving just fine for ~50 or so miles. However today, my boyfriend experienced a strange situation while driving it. Note that I wasn't present, but this is how he described the events.


The temperature gauge started rising, and as soon as it got close to the H, he pulled over. His friend was able to TOUCH the engine, without so much as a slight burn. So, they sit for a bit, start driving again. Within 5 miles, if that, it began overheating again. This time up past the H, quickly. A bit of steam came off of the engine after popping the hood, however within 10 minutes, they were able to touch the radiator cap (wasn't even hot) and poured some water in. They wait about 20 more minutes, start driving again. It then almost IMMEDIATELY overheats. He doesn't even make it a mile.


My only thoughts are possibly the ECTS, but my boyfriend's dad and uncle are thinking water pump. That doesn't make much sense to me.


Any ideas or thoughts on this matter would be appreciated. This is actually my first car, and I'm just starting to learn and become interested in cars. Thankfully, I've got my dad who has loads of experience, knowledge, and tools...but nothing to be done until the morning.



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Sounds like a bad thermostat which is not opening at temperature and letting coolant flow to the radiator. If it starts to overheat and the upper radiator hose is cold-ish, then that's probably your issue. I suppose it could be the water pump as well. It really should have been replaced also at the same time head gaskets were done.

GTEASER's 2012 Legacy GT - Sold

GTEASER's 2009 XTeaser - Sold

GTEASER's 1992 Legacy SS - Sold


Stapp's Law: “The universal aptitude for ineptitude makes any human accomplishment an incredible miracle.”


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Only use a Subaru thermostat. Aftermarkets can give you trouble.


If I were you I would purge the coolant system of air bubbles. Bubbles trapped in the system will give the same symptoms that you are describing. Usually a bad water pump makes a horrible squealing noise.

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  • 3 weeks later...
run a beck arnley thermostat. the murrays and stuff are junk. Beck Arnley is the only exact stock replacement though it is spendy and in most parts stores special order its worth it. I know baxter autoparts stocks it but does not honor the lifetime warranty. Oreilly Auto Parts can Special order it 5-7 days but they DO honor the lifetime warranty so never have to buy again. About $30 @ Oreillys which is where I decided to buy it.
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