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#1 2021-01-21 17:26:46

Baobiao
Member
Registered: 2020-08-05
User Number: 46983
Posts: 46

White smoke. coolant leak

Driving around today I noticed some white smoke coming from the engine while stopped at a light. It disapated too quickly for me to see where it was coming from but there was definitely some moisture splattered around the front of the engine and the sweet smell of coolant wafting in the breeze.  I also noticed I'd left my air intake thing off for a couple of days by mistake.

I had accidentally unhooked the thicker radiator hose while messing while trying to get at the Powersteering belt a few weeks before. There was a small coolant spill tha seemed to evaporate after a couple of drives. Today I checked the reserve coolant jug thing and it was about empty.

I decided I could safely make it to the Autozone a block away for coolant but realized when i got there that I hadn't even thought about what kind of coolant I'd need. Apparently I need Subaru Long Life. Apparently I'm not gonna be finding that at Autozone.

The car seemed to be fine until i stopped on my narrow street to let an uncoming car get through. White smoke began pouring out of the hood again and the engine temp started to rise to the highest white tick mark.

I popped the hood as soon as I got into the drive way. I could see more moisture splatter and the white smoke definitely seemed to be coming from the passenger side of the radiator generally but I couldn't see a pinpoint the leak. In that area it could have been the radiator, the side big radiator hose or the little hose that runs along the top of the radiator?

There are a lot of threads about this on here and on NASIOC. Renting a radiator pressure tester seems to be a good option but none of the auto-shops near me seem to stock them or wanna rent them.

I'm guessing/hoping it's one of the hoses or clamps and maybe i just need to replace them and see what that does. Could having too little coolant in the tank lead to a leak like this somehow?

Could this be a headgasket or something or more serious like that? I'm trying to do my own work on the car as much as possible but I am pretty (obviously) inexperienced and don't want to mess it up more if i should be biting the bullet and taking it into the shop.

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#2 2021-01-21 19:03:41

krazykarguy
Worst ninja editor, ever.
Supporter
From: South of North Carolina
Registered: 2007-04-06
User Number: 1944
Posts: 8723

Re: White smoke. coolant leak

Check that there is enough clearance between the large upper hose and the power steering pulley.

If not there, simply do a cooling system pressure check and look for where it's pissing out.


2005 Aero 5MT
2014 Ford Mustang GT Premium 6MT - Sterling Gray Metallic - 475hp of crowd munching fun

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#3 2021-01-22 12:47:26

thejameshimself
Member
From: Texas
Registered: 2013-12-26
User Number: 13280
Posts: 123

Re: White smoke. coolant leak

My guess would be the upper hose was damaged when you accidentally knocked it off OR the old clamp is no longer strong enough to hold pressure on the upper hose after reinstalling it. If it is leaking out of the upper rad hose on the engine side then it would spray all over the motor on the passenger's side. Snap some pictures if you can.

Does the upper rad hose look swollen or look like it got chewed up by the power steering pulley?

You can also check the top of the radiator itself - there may be a crack in the plastic that is causing the coolant to spray, but I would say this is less likely given the hose was knocked off recently.

I haven't seen headgasket failures causing splattering of fluid in the quantity you are describing, it just looks like steam coming out because the coolant is already so hot and pressurized by the time it escapes. it sounds like you have a much bigger leak but now that the motor has been overheated, who knows! Any CELs? Also, having the air filter off while your coolant system is pissing fluids did not do your engine any favors.

You can throw softened water or cheap coolant in there while you troubleshoot, once you get the problem nailed down flush and throw the subaru coolant and subaru coolant system conditioner


US Production # 1936

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#4 2021-01-22 21:20:41

Rodman
Member
From: Long Island
Registered: 2006-03-01
User Number: 1046
Posts: 2619

Re: White smoke. coolant leak

My guess is that there is a crack on your radiator or the fan put a hole thru your upper radiator hose.


2005 satin gray metalic aero, sold. 06 wrx, adios!
2005 black aero, rescue project, jdm EJ205 avcs.
2005 desert silver aero, traded.
2002 bugeye, sedan, JDM STi ver 7 swapped.

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#5 2021-01-24 19:15:22

Baobiao
Member
Registered: 2020-08-05
User Number: 46983
Posts: 46

Re: White smoke. coolant leak

Thanks for the replies. I'm going to borrow a coolant pressure tester tomorrow and see whatsup. The big hose doesn't look obviously damaged to me. The very thin hose that runs along the top of the radiator seemed to get the most splatter so I wonder if there's a tiny hole there. Will see.

CEL is permanently on for an o2 sensor I think. I haven't run it through a reader in a while though.

@thejameshimself are you saying to use water/cheapo coolant while troubleshooting for the sake of not wasting anymore of the expensive stuff?


Here's a link to an incredible artist's rendition of what it looked like when it was leaking. Still can't seem to get images to embed...

https://flic.kr/p/2kvkCYV

Last edited by Baobiao (2021-01-24 19:18:14)

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#6 2021-01-25 11:17:30

thejameshimself
Member
From: Texas
Registered: 2013-12-26
User Number: 13280
Posts: 123

Re: White smoke. coolant leak

Baobiao wrote:

@thejameshimself are you saying to use water/cheapo coolant while troubleshooting for the sake of not wasting anymore of the expensive stuff?
https://flic.kr/p/2kvkCYV

yes

I can't really see anything out of place in the image, but it looks like you're narrowed down to the right part of the coolant system


US Production # 1936

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#7 2021-01-26 02:57:22

bdawg
Member
From: san francisco, ca
Registered: 2009-11-28
User Number: 4113
Posts: 88

Re: White smoke. coolant leak

As others stated above, the top hose would've been my first guess. Mine got nicked by the fan and coolant went everywhere. On the stock radiator, the top and bottom black plastic end tanks can be prone to cracking. If it's cracked and you want longeivity, replace it with a mishimoto or something that is all metal. The other place to check is the hose at the bottom right of the radiator and then the radiator reservoir and smaller hoses. You could also check the radiator drain plug on the passenger side bottom. When I've been troubleshooting mine, I just used water. The green coolant won't kill your car, just flush it. Preferably make sure it's a phosphate type or labeled for Asian vehicles - if not, it's probably not good for the aluminum.


2005 Brilliant Red Aero 5MT (Sport) | STG2

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#8 2021-01-28 23:39:42

Baobiao
Member
Registered: 2020-08-05
User Number: 46983
Posts: 46

Re: White smoke. coolant leak

Thanks for the feedback everybody. I got a coolant pressure tester on loan and threw some more water in the radiator (aftermarket C&X btw). It was a nick in the upper hose after all so a pretty easy fix. Or it should have been. Making a new post about what went horribly wrong....

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#9 2021-01-28 23:46:18

thejameshimself
Member
From: Texas
Registered: 2013-12-26
User Number: 13280
Posts: 123

Re: White smoke. coolant leak

banana glad you got it sorted

To recap: everyone on this thread said to check the upper hose and it was the upper hose!


US Production # 1936

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#10 2021-01-28 23:56:56

Rodman
Member
From: Long Island
Registered: 2006-03-01
User Number: 1046
Posts: 2619

Re: White smoke. coolant leak

Nice!!!


2005 satin gray metalic aero, sold. 06 wrx, adios!
2005 black aero, rescue project, jdm EJ205 avcs.
2005 desert silver aero, traded.
2002 bugeye, sedan, JDM STi ver 7 swapped.

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