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Mike V.
Mike V., Subaru Technician
Category: Subaru
Satisfied Customers: 25175
Experience:  Certified Subaru Technician, factory trained by Subaru.
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2006 Subaru Tribeca: car is overheating..thermostat..head gasket

Customer Question

Hello, I owe a 2006 Subaru Tribeca and I'm experiencing the same issues with the cooling system. The car is overheating back and forth ( not to max) . The thermostat is being replaced, the compression test done, and the head gasket seem to be fine. One Subaru dealer believe it is fine..the other think is blown head gasket. My mechanic doesn't believe that the gaskets are bad, the fluids are normal, not mixed, It just has a small leak on the radiator. I have read forums and some think it s the water pump, sensors, thermostat, head gasket etc. Please help. The car is 107,500 miles
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Subaru
Expert:  Mike V. replied 5 years ago.
Welcome to JA! I am Carguy1 and I will assist you today.
Hi there
Your mechanic needs to do a combustion test. This is important to find out if there are any exhaust gases in the cooling system.
The water pump is all solid steel so unless it hasn't had regular cooling system service it's unlikely the water pump.
They should also do a leak down test. Not compression, leak down, it will show a bad HG
Mike V. and 3 other Subaru Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Hello...The combustion test came "positive" it shows some that mean that the gaskets are blown? how likely is that the car will still have some issues after gasket replacement? I already accepted your answer by mistake...if this one is going to cost me another $37 please DO NOT ANSWER



Expert:  Mike V. replied 5 years ago.
Don't press accept again and it won't cost!
Yes, this means there is a head gasket failure and they need to be replaced.
If the shop does a good job there will be no further issues.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thanks for your quick response..Im still so confused..there are No leaks in the back of the engine. No sweet smell in the exhaust. No cooling fluid mixed in my oil. Cooling fluid level still solid. Absolutely no overheating...After changing the thermostast the whole issue started buy now the combustion test is showing some contamination

So I am still confused on what can cause this.


How much should I pay for HG replacement in Denver, CO?

Expert:  Mike V. replied 5 years ago.
I am not sure of the cost of the HG, in Colorado, but at least $2500 as the engine will have to come out.
What happens is the hot exhaust gets into the cooling system and overheat. Or run hot. This is why there is no sweet smell in the exhaust. The combustion test is there to show the exhaust getting into the cooling system.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.


Hello again,

After ordering all the new parts( water pump, thermostat, timing chain, radiator, gaskets etc) the cylinder head is porous and can't be rectified. The mechanic said it has some manufacture's defect. So I have decided to replace only the broken parts( gaskets, radiator, cylinder head and plugs) and trade or sell it. This is a 2006 Subaru tribeca ( 107K) that has given me a lot of headaches and it looks like doesn't worth keeping it. In the meantime do you think without changing the other parts, the car can be drivable for at least a year?

Expert:  Mike V. replied 5 years ago.
If the car doesn't overheat then yes. If it has an overheating issue, eventually it's probably going to be a problem. I think I would trade it as is to be honest. Plus, once the head gasket is changed, it might resolve it for a little while, if it does, then trade it before it becomes a problem again.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Changing the gasket and the cylinder head shouldn't stop the overheating anyways? How long do you think I should keep it? I would like to trade it next year to at least get my money back from the repair

Expert:  Mike V. replied 5 years ago.
The problem is there is no telling how long it will last. I do understand wanting to get the $$ back for the repair, but unless the problem is corrected short term, you may not get it back.
I really have no way of telling how long this is going to work out for you. I hope you understand, it's difficult to say.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I understand you can't tell how long it will last but what I still don't understand is has a blown head gaskets and the gaskets etc are replaced why you think the problem might not be corrected? Sorry for the back and forth question but I would like to understand the entire issue to balance keeping it for 6 months or trade it in as soon as I get it back
Expert:  Mike V. replied 5 years ago.
You said the head is porous, if that is the case then chances are you will still have the heating problem. Not right away, but if that is allowing the gasket to blow out, it will happen again.
This is why I would trade it or ride it out and at the first sign of any type of issue, let it go.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes, the head is porous but is going to be replace. The only things I wont replace is the things that are fine right now, but everything else will be changed for new parts. This is why I don't get that the car might still overheat.
Expert:  Mike V. replied 5 years ago.
Sorry, I misunderstood, since you are also replacing the head, I would expect you to be able to drive it for another year without a problem. If they do a good job, probably longer. Sorry, I misunderstood what you were telling me.