Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Subaru gets hot under the collar

My 06 Subaru Outback overheated the other day. After going 'round and 'round with the Dealer as to who to pay for it, they replaced the Aux Fan Relay. No overheating and temp gauge is rock steady where it was prior to the Relay replacement. However the fans don’t run for more than a minuet at a time after the car heats up to operating temp. Running the AC and they run continuously. I’ve had the dealer and and indepandent garage recommend I replace the Aux Fans since they weren’t running when they were looking at them. My question is this: Are the Fans operating normally, kicking on when needed and shutting off when temp returns to “normal”? I would think they are controlled by a temp sensor and the fact that they kick on means the sensor is working and the motors are not burnt out. Is this normal behavior for this car?

Yes it is normal for the fans to turn themselves on and off as needed.

Yes, the fans are operating normally. The fans are controlled by a temperature sensor in the radiator. When the coolant in the radiator reaches a pre-determined temperature the fans come on and run until the coolant temp drops below the set temperature. This normally doesn’t take very long.

If you start the car and let it idle it will come up to operating temp, the thermostat will open, the radiator will warm up, and the fans will cycle on and off as needed to maintain the correct temperature. This is normal operation, and, assuming the cooling system is working correctly, you could let the car idle all day with no ill effect.

When you turn the AC on the fans run continuously to keep air moving through the AC condenser, which is mounted in front of the radiator.

If the fans are running their motors are not burned out.

Now, here’s the problem: your car “overheated,” and Subarus do not take kindly to overheating. Can you describe what happened? Did any coolant boil out of the radiator, or was the temp gauge just running high?

If the fan relay failed the fans would not work when they should, and if the engine REALLY overheated there may have been some damage.

Thank you. It is as I figured. Replacing the fans at this point would not be prudent.

As to the overheating: Both things happened, temp gauge zoomed up and cooolant boiled out of the radator. Since I was away from home at the time I let it cool down and kept constantly moving, forcing the air through the raditor seemed to keep it cool until I got it to a repair shop. Haven’t been able to detect any damage yet. Relay replaced and all things running normally.

What should I be looking for?

“I let it cool down and kept constantly moving”

That statement seems to be contradictory.
Can you elaborate on exactly what you did after noting the high reading on the temperature gauge?