What's happened to my subaru?


Car seemed to be leaking radiator fluid. Took it to a dealer for diagnosis. They said it had a leaky o-ring on the water pump…wanted to charge $899. Took it home to “limp it along” for awhile and get a second opinion. While driving temp went immediately from normal to hot. Took it to someone else they found no leak, but said the thermostat wasn’t functioning properly. They made the repair and said they flushed the radiator ( to clean out the old junk)…that worried me…but now it’s making a ch chung, ch chung sound and the engine light has come on? What’s wrong can anyone give me a straight story?


Well, you didn’t supply all of the details that are really needed, such as the year and the model of your Subaru, but here are the possibilities as I see them, given the lack of info:

  • If your vehicle is a 4-cylinder Outback or Legacy of the '96–'01 vintage, it is possible that you have blown a head gasket. While I would hope that a dealership would be able to properly diagnose that known problem, it is possible that they screwed up and came up with the wrong diagnosis.

*Since you chose to drive it without it being repaired, it is possible that you lost so much coolant while driving that you have overheated the engine and suffered damage to it beyond what a water pump o-ring and/or leaking head gasket might have caused on their own.

When a vehicle is leaking coolant (or oil!), it is very important to be sure that the level of that fluid is sufficient at all times. Failure to do that can wind up costing a lot of $$$ to repair. The situation is similar to ignoring chest pain in a human. It really doesn’t get better on its own, and delaying a cure can be costly–in many ways.

Post back with more details, including the year and model of your car.


It is a 97 Outback with 153,000 miles (sorry to leave out details…tried to conserve space). All of this transpired within 24 hours…the dealer had not refilled the coolant, when the temp gage jumped, that was the first thing we checked. It was empty, so filled it then…still showing hot when drove it to the next service place for a second opinion…I’m just wondering now…if I can trust any of these guys. Do I try to drive it to a place or get it towed. I don’t want to hurt my car. I love it.


Get it towed so that no more damage occurs. (Actually, you need to have it transported on a flat-bed in order to prevent damage to the AWD drivetrain!)

Incidentally, if you can demonstrate that you have had the vehicle properly serviced (and particularly if you can demonstrate that it has been serviced by the dealer) it is possible that Subaru of America will cover part of the cost as a “good-will” gesture. They have done this in many cases for those who can prove that the car was properly serviced. Of course, this will require having the repair done at a dealership, so try to find one that is competent.


I think if you’re going to place some blame here you need to adjust the rear view mirror first.

They told you what was wrong with a car that was leaking and YOU chose to happily motor on rather than fix it.
YOU are the on who overheated it and quite possibly have blown the head gaskets now; leading to loss of coolant.

Now you’re claiming the dealer did not top off the coolant? Ridiculous.


what year, eng. size,and milage is it ? for there are known problems that arize when one of these engines are run hot. (I rebuilt and own two). next ; need to get the trouble codes read. most auto parts store will do it for free.