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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • Don't judge by one tank. You might not have filled it all the way. Some pumps shut off early. My '01 2.5 liter manual averages a little over 20 mpg in the winter in short trips, maybe 24 mpg in the warmer weather.
  • With 58,000 mi. on my '01 OB I went in complaining of chatter and early clutch wear. It bothered me the whole time, but decided to complain just before the power train warranty was up. Dealer quickly admitted hearing chatter and offered to replace clutch for parts only--about $185. I jumped at it! The new clutch engages more progressively, with a lighter feel, and no chatter. It modulates better too. Sometimes I would stall the other one, but this one engages softer, but grippier and is more forgiving.

    I appreciate both Subaru and the dealer stepping up to the plate and doing what was right.
  • My engine is one of those that suffers from noise when cold which goes away when warm. This is considered "normal", but I figured I should get a document from the dealer saying such in the event I ever sell the car and the prospective buyer is turned off by the noise. They gave me a copy of February 2001 "Subaru tech t.i.p.s" which discusses the noise, what changes in pistons, valve train, compression, induction system, etc. cause the noise, and what benefits accrue from these changes. This can prove invaluable when the car is sold.
  • This is my wife's car and I'll start by saying how much she loves it. I think it is a very good choice for anyone wanting an multi-purpose vehicle. It's reasonably fast, comfy,smooth riding, with 2 tone leather and wood steering wheel looks semi-luxurious,okay mileage(20 mostly city) pretty good off road, secure in the rain, and can tote a decent amount of stuff. For our family of 3 plus 2 dogs, it's perfect.
    Unfortunately,things have cropped up that I 'm not sure if they are important or not.
    1. We also get a funny noise at start-up when cold(San Diego cold is 50 degrees).It sounds like a gritching belt and goes away after 5 min.
    2. Wife was complaining about noise when turning steering wheel at low speeds.
    3. Local oil and lube store recommended a differential oil change. Car is 02 with 30K miles.

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,770

    Items 1 and 2 may be related. A loose, worn or glazed belt might slip when cold, as well as when put under load when power steering calls on the pump to work harder.

    Diffy oil changes are suggested (depending on model and use conditions) at 30k. It is a fairly easy /inexpensive thing to do and will pay dividends in trouble free motoring.

  • You should be getting better, with my '98 Outback manual I usually get at least 300 miles per tank, and the 98's tank is only 15.9 gallons. Your model's is a bit larger. With 70% or so highway I average around 23-25mpg, more toward the lower end this time of year. It sounds like you're averaging around 20 - 21. Hopefully someone can help with tipe to improve the mileage.
  • rob_mrob_m Somewhere North of BostonPosts: 813
    My old 96 Outback (2.5 auto) was consistant at 24 mpg.

    The new 03 Outback (2.5 auto) ranges between 22-24. Last weekend, I went on a ski trip and got 20 mpg. I will probably attribute this to the car being loaded, skis on the roof, single/teens temperature, and driving home in 10 inches of snow. Rob M.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Glad to hear the dealer took care of you.

    When I start my Forester, I make sure to prime the fuel pump first. Just turn the key to the On position and wait just a second or two, you'll hear a "whirrrrr" and then start her up.

    Could be a lack of fuel pressure, or water in the fuel lines, creating that stumbling at start up.

  • zman3zman3 Posts: 857
    My 98 Outback with an auto has gotten 17 MPG a few times when it has been really cold, say below zero for a whole tankfull. I have gotten has high as 23 MPG once or twice. I am consistently at 20-21 MPG with typical metropolitan suburban commuting. I don't think my experience it terribly atypical.
  • Thanks Steve, we took your advice and had the diff oil changed. For some reason they (Shell station) only did the rear and not the front? They also replaced the steering fluid. They told her the color was black. Seems to have taken care of the noise.
    One other thing, I'm pretty sure this is common, when backing up the wheels make noise but not while going forward. Not too worried about this!

    In regards to mileage,our 02 Bean sometimes will get 17mpg when we do alot of in town driving, lots of trips under 1 mile. Most of the time it's right around 20.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Around here it's so cold, I'm getting about 2-3 mpg less than usual. That may be affecting your mileage also.

  • Does anybody know if there is a better clutch for an 04 2.5 Outback wagon? Does the WRX or STI clutch fit? is it more expensive, and does it work better?

    Thanks....early clutch wear.
  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487
    If your noise comes back, I would recommend a new belt. The one on my 02 Bean was making noise in cold/damp weather and I replaced it at 30K miles (it's an inspection item on the 30K service anyhow). That took care of the problem.

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,770

    You should have them do the front as well. The drain plug is a little hard to find, tucked up slightly on the forward section of the tranny. Fill is thru the dipstick along the firewall on the passenger's side of the air filter.

  • I get 2-3 MPG less in the winter due to winter gas formula, roof & ski rack, and winter tires.
    I average 22-24 in the winter and 24-26 in the other three seasons. This is a mix of highway and back roads driving - very little time in the city! :-)
  • stantontstantont Posts: 148
    I bought a used '02 Legacy L wagon a month or two ago. Generally very good condition, good price, all is mostly well, but...
    The previous owner ran over a curb or parking lot barrier or something and scarred the underside of the front bumper. Also knocked off one of the two plastic panels below/behind the radiator that keep dirt from the tires off the engine,and mildly bent some RF fender liner parts. No big deal: replaced the missing panel, straightened the bent stuff. BUT there are two openings in the lower outer sections of the bumper, to either side of the grill opening. Fog lights would go there if they were installed, but they weren't. Now they are just big holes (about 5 by 7 inches). Is there supposed to be some panel or cover there? There are slots around the edges where tabs might go. Did Subaru actually ship the cars with the hole there, or is it likely the previous owner lost one of the panels in his curb "prang" and took out the other to match? He seems to have been cheap enough to do that... the ONLY maintenance he did in 57,000 miles was oil and filter changes: spark plugs, air filter and fuel filter were all original.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yes, there is a black plastic cover that goes where the fogs would otherwise go.

    We lost one, that's how I know. I'll probably use some Subaru bucks to replace it.

    If you get a price, lemme know, OK?

    Are you gonna get fogs, or replace both covers?

  • stantontstantont Posts: 148
    I'll probably just replace the covers if they're not too pricey. Fogs were several hundred dollars as I recall, and I find the standard lighting to be pretty adequate. I'll let you know what I find.

    BTW, I tried to dim the dash lights WAY down to improve my night vision, and the dimmest setting is just enough to show the general position of the red needles, while improved night vision lets you see a lot farther down the road if there is no oncoming traffic. AT first I thought the dash lights went off, but not so: they keep a faint glow to show up the gauge needles. Cool!
  • stantontstantont Posts: 148
    Hey Juice, I found the bumper hole covers at subarupartstore for $14.66 each. Fog lights were $98. Seems an easy choice to me; I think the stock lighting is fine.
  • tmontytmonty Posts: 16
    Thanks Steve. Like I said earlier, I plan to keep this vehicle for ~10 years and it'll be our camping/skiing/outdoor workhorse and will probably take a good workout. My current workhorse is a 5 speed Camry with Thule box attached. Not the most versatile of vehicles for the application but... oh, so reliable. Last summer, I pulled to Newfoundland a small tent-trailer, Thule box, wife, 11 year old and all the gear that goes with it. Who says you need a Ford Expedition for something like this ;)

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,770

    I would find it hard today to consider a vehicle that did not have a power seat. I have an '02 OBW. I originally shopped for a Legacy L but found the versatililty and enhanced comfort of the OBW's power seat to be one of the items well worth the extra cost. Of course, that just probably means that I am getting old and more difficult to please....

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Are the fogs easy to install? Anyone done this?

    Reason I ask is because we have Subaru Bucks and they come in $100 increments. So I basically have to spend the full $100 to use it.

  • ebony5ebony5 Posts: 142
    I do not have power seats in my '96 OBW but sure do wish I did. I find especially on long trips that just tweeking the seat a bit (with the power option) prevents my legs from cramping. This cannot be done with the manual seat because any change in the seat position is relatively major. My next vehicle will definately have power seats.
  • Hi tmonty,
    You say you are 6' tall. Do yourself a big favor. Before you go buy that Legacy / Outback... rent one. Or take one on a long test drive. A verrrrrryyy long test drive.
    These cars are not really designed for people with long legs or big feet. Put the seat back to where you are in a comfortable driving position and see if the steering wheel seems close enough for you. Does it still seem close enough after 20 minutes? Or do you find your back arching forward?
    Do you wear large shoes? Bigger than 11.5? If so, the tips of your shoes may rub against the shield under the dash when moving from gas to brake. Very annoying.
    About the power seat. I don't see how this car can NOT have one. I sat in the Legacy with manual driver's seat and the positioning is weird. As you raise the height adjustment, you feel pitched forward. There is no seat bottom angle adjustment knob. There are a bunch of other cars out there that have deleted this feature to save some bucks (including Mazda 3).
    And do yourself another favor if you get this car...get the turbo or the H6... the base 2.5 is slow...I have one.... I know. Sometimes you have to beat the heck out of it to keep up. Maybe because I have the auto....
  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487
    I have always found the base engine to be great with a manual trans, but somewhat wimpy with automatic (speaking about Legacy/Outback -- the Forester is actually quite peppy even with auto). If they came out with a 180-200HP base engine that would be great.

    The turbo motor is awesome, but the gas mileage is not good at all. So, if you care about that, I would still recommend the base engine.

  • occkingoccking Posts: 346
    I have had the base 2.5i in my 2005 outback ltd for two months, around 5500 miles so far. Am getting used to it & find acceleration is gradually improving as I tack on the miles. Nothing great but certainly adequate. As I posted on one of these boards a few days ago, have averaged exactly 24.8 mpg for the life of the vehicle so far & would hope it would improve as the weather warms.
  • I'm averaging 20.4 mpg over 7,000 miles with the auto 2.5. About 60 to 75% suburban driving the rest highway. Does that seem right?

    I had the dealer analyze the transmission and found nothing wrong (I don't like the way it doesn't shift sometimes...even in sport mode).... Is this from a computer program or just how the transmission works?
  • occkingoccking Posts: 346
    20.4 for the mix of suburban/highway miles does seem a little on the low side, particularly considering the "sacrafices" we are making by getting the 4 with 168 hp. I must admit, however the more I drive the vehicle the more I am impressed with what pickup it does have. I am used to vehicles that had much better "get up & go" even my last vehicle 2004 Malibu Maxx was nice off the line. Have had other cars (Accura MDX, Lexus RX300) that were probably 8 or 9 0 to 60, I haven't timed my Outback but I think I saw it listed somewhere for around 11 seconds. I did have a Buick Rendezvous until one year ago & that was nothing great with the 185 hp job on those vehicles. I guess I have never had anything really fast off the line so probably don't know what I am missing. I do know that I didn't want to even try the turbo 4 cause I probably would have fallen in love with it & to get the same features I have in the liminted outback I have not would have to spend almost 4 grand more, plus have to go for premium fuel & get the poorer gas mileage. I might have sprung for the 6 which has same hp & probably almost as much "get up" but also that gets lower gas mileage and there is some questions whether or not it requires high test.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Seems a bit low but 7000 miles means you're engine is still kinda green. I didn't get peak mileage until 15k or so.

  • hypovhypov Posts: 3,068
    Should be PnP as the harness is already be there. All would probably be needed is mounting the brackets and the lights, which should be explained in the instructions that will come with the unit.

    Oh, you will need the foglight switch [sold separately] which, IIRC, will run ~$30.

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