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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • It's probably those crappy Champion plugs that Subaru puts in new cars. I've read NUMEROUS complaints from people about them, and once people switch to NGK, the problems disappear. My '00 OB Sedan also has a very slight hesitation, but I'm used it and its no big deal (by the way, its an automatic).

  • I'd be interested to know how many people out there are happy with the manual transmission on this model. I've got a 2002 Outback ltd. w/ 5000 miles on it.

    I'm finding it very hard to drive smoothly in lower gears. Lots of shuddering going into first and second at what you'd normally think would be the correct rpm. I've got to rev higher than usual to make sure not to stall when entering intersections going into first from a dead stop and then from first to second.

    Also the horrible burning smell in stop and go traffic. Anybody else here getting that?

    The dealer says we're driving it incorrectly and that's whats causing the burning or stalling. He says with a hydraulic clutch you can't move forward slowly easing the clutch in and out in stop and go. That you have to let it all the way out to avoid burning the clutch plate which of course you can't do because it will stall if you're moving slowly, which is of course what you'd be doing in stop and go. So what are you supposed to do hit the guy in front? I want to say that I can drive a manual and have never had a clutch wear out before at least 110k on other makes of vehicle. Has anyone with this problem figured out how to drive through it?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Check the manual trans fluid. Consider changing it, maybe with synthetic gear oil. It's a relatively easy job on the manual tranny (remove two plugs, drain, replace bottom plug, refill, replace top plug).

    I put synthetic in my Miata, and the shifting in cold weather got a bit easier.

  • I purchased my used 1996 legacy outback last August. There have been many check engine light episodes-mainly when starting cold in the morning, in winter, in damp weather and always when going up hills.The dealer can't seem to find the problem. Now the car is loosing power and stalling when going up hills-the dealer tested it yesterday and it stalled for them but they can't locate the problem. The car always starts easily when turned off and on. The problem seems to be getting worse and has become a safety issue.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The CEL is really just a symptom. I'd look at the following:

    * spark plug wires (most likely culprit)
    * spark plugs
    * fuel filter, fuel supply
    * air filter
    * water in gas tank (use dry gas, keep tank full)
    * fuel injection (get a throttle body servicing)

    I bet one of those will solve it. Our 626 was hesitating big time, and the throttle body service fixed that. On they say spark plug wires are often the fix for a loss in power.

    Good luck.

  • nic99nic99 Posts: 1
    About a month ago my '98 Outback Wgn over heated (?) - temp gauge hot, blackish smoke, no steam, horrible coolant smell as well as nice pattern of coolant all over drivers side tire through holes in rim. It has 105k miles but I'm not ready to give it up yet.

    Since then, it's been to my local mechanic twice and dealer once, neither of which could get the temp to rise again. I've had radiator cap replaced (only holding 9lbs pressure v. 16), air bled from coolant lines, thermostat replaced, and two head gasket tests which were both normal. Less than 24hrs after picking up from dealer the temp shot up again, coolant level was low, that great smell was back. When I called dealer, they said to check oil & did it look like caramel? It doesn't - regular old oil, which incidentally they also changed. Now the dealer is telling me they'll keep it overnight to run pressure tests all night, but I should replace the engine, which is roughly $2300 incl labor (used engine). I think they don't have a clue, but figure why not start over....

    I know nothing about cars save where to put the key, gas, and washer fluid. Does anyone have suggestions on what I should be checked next? My local mechanic suggested possible cracked head, but the dealer said they couldn't do just that, had to do the whole engine. Though its amusing to have my son ask "Mommy did your car blow up today?", I'd really rather have a solution. Any help would be appreciated - Thanks!
  • Sean, to me the Soob seats are a weak spot. I'm getting used to them, but they are too hard for my taste. Anyway, my '01 L seat cushion was replaced at around 500 miles because the metal wire frame within was tweaked. It has been fine but still hard since. Also, I usually support some of my weight with my hand on the rocker sill as I exit.
  • 2000 OB with few problems, but the original battery seems to leak and has corroded the hold down bracket. This is not corrosion on or around the terminals. I am concerned about sheet metal corrosion over time. Has anyone else seen this with the no-name battery's that Sube puts in their cars? I find this particularly annoying since almost every car I have ever owned has had some sort of battery box corrosion problem. My '74 Opel was the worst, our '88 volvo 760 Wagon was also pretty bad, now a Subaru.

    You would think that after designing cars for over 100 years that automotive engineers could make a battery area that didn't rot out. Put the battery in a plastic box for crying out loud!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The water levels may have been too high. The distilled water becomes acid, and if it leaks it'll corrode pretty much whatever it touches.

    Check the water level, remove some with a dropper or turkey baster if you must, just don't touch it with your hands.

    I would replace the tray, it should be cheap, and if not try an aftermarket one from Pep Boys, Trak Auto, or NAPA.

    nic99: I'd let your mechanic have another look, I guess. Ask him to check if the fan is working, i.e. nothing is blocking it.

  • I've got this too in an 01. In addition to Juice's advice, I make up a solution of baking soda and water and carefully rinse off the top of the battery and the tray. Don't let it get into the battery itself though. It might help.
  • I am posting this here since the symptons described by jlawton2 are so similar to the problems I have experienced with my 00 Forester over the last year. I have taken the vehicle to 3 different dealers one of whom actually replaced the whole clutch assembly but the problem persists. The dealers said exactly the same thing to me about letting in the clutch and never letting it slip. However as pointed out it is very difficult to not slip the clutch especially when trying to parallel park on a hill for example. (and anyway how does the clutch know if it is being activated by a mechanical linkage or hydraulic pressure) I also have juddering when starting off and even sometimes a burning smell when just starting the engine-as the clutch pedal has to be depressed.

    All complaints to the dealers have been met with a dismissive "don't drive it like that" comment. I find this particularly annoying as I have diven all kinds of manual transmission cars on 3 continents for over 30 years and have NEVER experienced these sort of problems before.

    I also contacted the Subaru tech support people and have quite a file with them. They did send their District Service Operations Manager (Mike Pelkey) out to look at the vehicle. Subaru's position on this is that they will replace the clutch if it fails completely (at no additional cost) but they will not admit that there is a general problem which warrants a recall. They tell me that each problem is delt with individually (the old divide and rule trick) .

    So although I do like Subies, I had an Impreza for 4 years before purchasing the Forester, I don't think I will be buying another. I strongly believe that Subaru do have a marginal clutch problem on both the Forester and Legacy since they use many of the same transmission components. Implying that people do not know how to drive is not going to win them repeat business.
  • nowakj66nowakj66 Posts: 709
    The Subaru Outback LL Bean is so close to the car I want to buy but for one thing -- the front seat passenger leg room is very cramped.

    Has anyone come up with a solution to this -- seat position, extending the seat track, etc.?

    I'd love to get a Subaru Outback LL Bean but I may be forced to a VW Passat wagon for the increased front passenger leg room.

  • eric102eric102 Posts: 122
    The drivers seat is easy to do (see some of my earlier posts), but I haven't tried the passenger side yet (but will). Just by looking under the seat (I haven't removed it yet), it doesn't look to difficult, probably cutting some new notches on the rails and changing the position of the stops. Worst case would be taking the rails into a shop and having them modified. If you really like the car, I wouldn't let this be the deal breaker. I sure like mine (base Outback).

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    David: it's true, the pressure plate on Subaru's clutch is not very strong. They've gotten better but are still the weak spot in the powertrain. It may even be designed that way, so the clutch fails before any other drivetrain component does.

    Nowak: it can be done.

    Eric: was it you that was going to try to take pix when you also do the passenger side?

  • eric102eric102 Posts: 122
    That was me, I'll take some pic's when I do the seat mod.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Great, please do. I told ya lots of people would be interested. :-)

  • nowakj66nowakj66 Posts: 709
    Thanks in advance for the photos Eric! I appreciate your helpful spirit! Maybe you can save the LL Bean purchase after all!

    -- Joe
  • I have been following the posts on the AM reverse
    brake noise. The brakes seem to be very sensitive to moisture. The second month I had the outback I went on vacation and left the vehicle in an outside parking lot at the airport for a little over two weeks during Winter months. When I started out to return home I thought the wheels were going to come off the first few miles. I ended up having to have the rotors turned at about 5,000 miles. I checked on the brake shim that was mentioned on the board. The subaru rep told me that the shim is no more than a pull tab from a pop can. I decided to pass on this at this time since it did not sound to high tech to me.

    I have a question on the automatic H6 LL bean outback wagon. Mine seems to have transmission slap when it shifts. If I get onto the gas it seems to be smoother when it shifts but does not help the gas milage. This seems to occur mostly when going up a hill or incline.
    Any thoughts on this? Maybe that the way they are.
    This is my first subaru.
  • otis123otis123 Posts: 426

    I have 16K miles on my LLBean. Love the car, especially in the snow!

    I had my rotors resurfaced at 10K - they were acting up when I braked off the parkway at 75 mph = warped. Only non-routine service so far.

    I have also noticed a slight "slap" here and there (maybe 5-10 times in total). Only happens when the car is under light load (like when shifting from 2nd to 3rd going slow on a flat road). Don't think much of it, though. And my last car was the reference point for all mid-priced transmissions - a Camry - can't get much smoother than that for the price.

  • Ralph, I also like the beaner. I have about 12,000 on it. The problem with the transmission slap happens coming up the hill just before my house so I notice more then. Yes it is usually under light load. If I punch it, it shifts smoother.
    I traded in a Nissan Patherfinder for the LLbean and I find that it meets my needs. I very rarely go off the beaten track where I would need the low 4 wheel dr. The gas mileage is a lot better and the ride and handling are superior.

    What kind of tires are you using on your LL bean.
    I have the stock all season Firestone Wilderness on mine. It seems to do well in the snow.
    Last month I leased a 2002 A4 quattro. I did buy snow tires and steel rims and wheel covers for it.
    I got the Dunlop graspic DS1 package from tire rack. They seem to be doing a good job. My wife drives it more than I do, but she has no complaints so far. The tire certainly has an agressive tread pattern with a large footprint.
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