Subaru Outback Overheating- intermittently

Asked by Aug 15, 2019 at 11:04 PM about the 2008 Subaru Outback 2.5 i Limited

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Recently purchased a 2008 Subaru Outback
with the 2.5. I no sooner got it home & it
started overheating. I drained the coolant,
replaced the thermostat, radiator cap with no
such luck. Its totally intermittent. For instance
I drove it around town for a good 30 minutes
& freeway speeds for another 20 or so and
no issues. I let it cool down completely &
tried it again. By the time I got it home it
started ping'n almost into the red. Totally at a
loss. Assuming it may be a head gasket
given the 2.5 reputation. I drained the oil
though & saw no indication coolant. And no
external leaks from what I can see. At about
2500 rpm I do hear a rattle. I thought it was
just something loose in the exhaust system &
it's resonating at that rpm. It doesn’t rattle
below or above that rpm though. Thoughts?

2 Answers


Most probably you've an HG issue, and will require dropping and checking with a machine shop BOTH heads, as well t-belt and pulleys on the way back in. Figure $1.6k as a fair price. But BEFORE you go crazy be sure to back-flush the rear heater hoses, and insure you've burped all air from the cooling system, as an air bubble stuck near the sensor will cause the gauge to ping. So purge completely (usually just a couple of highway runs, adding coolant after each session) until you're convinced it's full. There's also a low possibility that your rad is clogged, or its fans inoperative...but unlikely. Be prepared for that overhaul.... If you can return this hurt puppy I would...or at least get a $1.5k concession. Good luck. Ern TSG/Boston


Intermittent overheating isn't usually caused by a coolant system problem, but by a defect in the engine coolant temperature sensor system or in the cooling fan system. Whether you see warning lights or not, go to a car parts store and have codes read, that might lead you to the cause. Otherwise, have a mechanic diagnose this; probably not a difficult or expensive fix.

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