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I purchased an 04 WRX Wagon from a dealer in June and once I got it home I realized that week that the radiator was leaking. There was dry coolant all over the top and it was getting blown all over the front passenger side of the engine bay (power steering resivoir etc) so I took it in and had it replaced under warranty. I figured this was a fluke since WRX's are pretty reliable from what I've heard. Then last week I traded my 04 Wagon for and 03 Sedan. Low and behold...same problem. I can't believe I missed it when I was checking out the car (yes, I'm an idiot) but now this has got me worried. Do most WRX's have a recurring problem with this? The dealer replaced the entire radiator on my 04 when it was leaking, is there any chance this could be just the hoses? Since my new sedan has 38k I assume I'm f****ed and will be resolving this problem myself. I'd rather leave it until spring but if I need to do it before then I want to do it before winter b/c there's no way I'm paying the dealer if I can avoid it. If you think I do need to replace the radiator are the Koyo ones on Ebay a good deal for $200 (OEM) and $400 (Race). How hard are they to replace? I'm not very experienced with cars but I did my own upipe and am hoping I can do this as well.
Cliffs: Same leak on 03 WRX as on previous 04 WRX. Dealer replaced radiator under B2B on 04 but 03 has 38k so I'm stuck fixing this myself I assume. Could this be a hose issue or do I need to replace the entire radiator? How hard is this compared to the upipe install? Any writeups?
Looks like you've just gotten unlucky, twice. The 04 radiators were an updated design that incorporated a second cap (02-03 radiators didn't have a cap) and are generally less prone to leaking. The earlier ones are known to develop leaks at the tank seams.
We can't tell you over the Internet where the leak is in your 03. It could certainly be a hose but only a direct examination of the car by an experienced tech can pinpoint the exact problem.
A radiator replacement is definitely something you can do yourself. It's up to you whether to replace it with a stock one or aftermarket. To replace the 03 radiator you'd get an updated one as on the 04, which would have the cap. The tubing/hoses for the reservoir need to be replaced as well since they are different to accomodate the added cap. Even if the hoses are not the source of the leak it would be a good idea to replace them at the same time anyway.
I 've had the same problem for several months now. It appears my leak is merely seepage from the top seal as Mulder explained. It hasn't become any worse than the day I began to notice it (coolant level remains stable as well). Although I've been driving my car this way for many miles, I wouldn't suggest pushing your luck too far.
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the "2 cap" radiators were introduced on the later '03 MY. Unfortunately, it looks like I missed the boat on that one. ......I'll be replacing mine soon.
Kean you may be right, I don't know the exact date the new radiators were introduced. All the 04's and up have them, not sure about later 03's.
FYI I have an 04 radiator in my 02. The second cap has eliminated the problem of trapped air when refilling the system, as long as you fill it slowly.
Thanks guys; as long as its going to be relatively cheap and easy to fix I'm not too worried. I plan on doing a few track days next year so I will probably just wait and replace the radiator before one of those. Are the Koyo Racing radiators a good alternative? Are these designed to be less prone to leakage? Is there any chance I can get Subaru to fix this or am I SOL @ 38k miles? I assume the Samco/Perrin hoses will work in conjunction with any radiator I decide to use?
If you just got the car from a dealer last week there should be a used-car warranty on it regardless of the mileage. Go there first and they should take care of it.
In any case don't drive around with it leaking, you never know if it will get worse.
I'm just gonna keep my eye on the coolant level and see if it drops considerably. It was dropping noticeably on my 04...like an inch every few days. I got this car from a private party so I'm guessing that I'm SOL.
Ok, you said you "traded" your 04 for an 03 so I assumed it was at a dealer. Yes in that case it's out of warranty.
My point is that even if the level isn't dropping that much right now, it could get worse at any time and such things usually happen at the most inconvenient time and place. The best thing to do is fix it now, before it becomes an emergency.