The death of a radiator

A month ago, my 99 subaru outback started to smoking white smoke. I open the hood and coolant was all over the engine. I took it in and they supposedly put a new radiator in. Three days later the car stalled out and coolant was leaking everywhere. The shop told me it was a bad radiator and replaced it. A month went by, now all the coolant leaked out as though the car had a hang over a throw up out of the coolant hose(lower left hose). Leaving a huge green puddle in a parking lot. What do I do? Has the radiator die again (because the third time is not charming)? Should the shop guys have replaced the hoses when they replaced the radiator the first two times?Is it normal to have to take your car to the shop a month after it was fixed for the same thing eeK? thank you

I’d Suspect More Is Going On Here Than Just A Radiator Or Hose Problem And It’s Possibly More Than This Shop Can Handle.

The radiator and hose problems could merely be symptoms of other problems concerning engine cooling, problems causing the system to over-pressurize.

I’d be sure that cooling system is pressure tested over time in order to be sure that it’s not leaking someplace else, perhaps internally, at first. If it wasn’t leaking internally before, it well could be by now, due to the coolant loss.

What sort of shop is working on your car ?


Could be a blown head gasket

A leaking head gasket is the likely cause.

My guess is that when your first radiator ruptured it overheated to the point that it damaged the head gasket. Or, the head gasket failed causing the radiator to leak.

A failing head gasket can cause excessive pressure to form in the cooling system. This puts a lot of stress on the plastic radiator, often causing it to leak.

As to which one happened first, it’s a chicken or egg scenario. Doesn’t really matter, the end result is the same. Subarus of your era have a known weakness around the the head gasket and don’t take well to the slightest overheating.

If you didn’t allow the engine to overheat, then you may only need new hoses. The shop guys have no idea how old the hoses are so they would not necessarily replace them with a radiator change. For all they know, you could have just replaced them.

If these are the original radiator hoses, then they should be replaced just because they are 12 years old. All your heater hoses should be changes too. Hoses usually fail from the inside out so they look good right up until they fail. The exception is if you have an oil leak and you are leaking oil onto a hose.

Correction, 14 years old, thanks Caddyman

The hoses are 14 years old, they should all be changed anyway…if the coolant was blowing out the overflow tank, then the head gasket(s) are blown, a common Subaru problem…

Subarus are prone to blow head gaskets or warp heads when they run dry. If you lost so much coolant that it did run dry you may need to have the heads pulled and checked.

I have recently (in the last five years) replaced my 98 Forrester’s radiator twice. My mechanic told me the plastic they are using is not as good as aluminum - go figure:-). My goal is to get to 200K…


Did you put in factory, or at least high quality, radiators?

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