Subaru Ovearheating

I have a 2002 Subaru Impreza wagon with 70k miles on it. Lately the temperature gauge has been red-lining once I drive it for a bit. It seems to cool down if I’m driving at freeway speeds but jumps right back up when I slow down or get into stop-n-go traffic.

Any thoughts would be really helpful. Thanks!

~ Kevin

You could be low on coolant, your fans might not be working, your water pump may not be working, and or, you have a blown head gasket. It is not likely a failed radiator cap or clogged system. I can guarantee though that one of the things I’ve mentioned is the cause.

You need to do something about this ASAP. Subaru engines are very sensitive to overheating, and allowing them to run hot over and over again is just asking for big trouble.

Make sure the radiator is full (check it COLD), and that the fans are working. What you describe is often cause by inoperative radiator fans.

Don’t wait. This is critical. Whatever it is, get it fixed before the head gakets are damaged. If they’re not already.

First thought. Stop driving the car in this condition as you are on the verge or already DESTROYING your engine by doing this. $50 repair can soon turn fast into a few thousand doing this.

Check coolant level first.

The next trip should be to a local garage you trust and get it addressed ASAP.

A partly/mostly blocked radiator is my guess. That’s why it works better (though not good) on the highway at speed

Thanks everyone for the troubleshooting tips. Turned out to be low coolant. Had the system purged and topped up and I’m good to go. Thanks again!

Not so fast. Why was the coolant low? Coolant doesn’t just disappear.

To my knowledge I’ve never had it refilled/replaced. 8 years. I suck. There was a little bit of mineral build-up on the cap which the mechanic said could have contributed to it slowly evaporating over time. No puddle or anything on the ground under my car ever.

Like mcparadise said, coolant does not just dissapear. Did you get your car pressure tested, running, & not running, & look for leaks. Could be waterpump seeping, or a headgasket, or something simple, like a leak around a hose connection. The problem should be looked at in more depth. If you don’t fix it, it might last a long time the way it is, if you keep topping up the coolant. Leaks usually tend to get worse over time, & you will find out what it is. Good Luck!