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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    I do not think that a Subaru's record for "trusty service," or even owner testimontials, is really the issue. I love Subaru; the cars are great. I think that even my car has been extremely reliable despite all of the extra effort I have put in to it to keep it so and all the little bugs I feel are manufacturing deficiencies (haha... there's my testimonial!). However, the overwhelming potential for very expensive problems (not least of all is the head gasket issue) in the cars still remain. If you do not know the cars' history, it is best to approach the potential transaction with caution and a leary eye. This is the case, I think, with any used car; I just do not feel that Subaru engines are very forgiving (compared to others) when it comes to neglect. Repairs to it are a good chunk of change..... Why buy a headache?

    Sometimes it is very difficult to tell how well an engine has been maintained; but take your time and go over it with several fine tooth combs before you commit to it or dismiss it.

  • tbragg44tbragg44 Posts: 24
    I need some help with my timing belt replacement on a 99 Outback with the 2.5L DOHC. I got all the covers off, brought the crank to TDC ( I think, the arrow was pointing to the mark on the block) and removed the old timing belt. Then I lined all four camshaft marks with the prepainted marks on the new belt and installed the belt and tensioners. When I tried to start the engine, it cranked but wouldn't fire.

    I'm using a Haynes Repair Manual for the procedures, but it only goes up to '98. I followed those procedures, but no luck. Are there significant differences between the 98 and the 99? Am I missing something? Please advise!!!
  • jfljfl Posts: 1,334
    I assume you have confirmed that you are getting a spark?

    With the crank at the TDC mark, did you confirm that it was TDC? (The crank hits the TDC arrow twice - once at TDC and again at the top of the exhaust stroke. In the old days, you could look at the distributor to confirm that the rotor was firing number one plug at TDC.) At TDC all the camshaft marks should also be correctly aligned. If you had to rotate the camshafts more than a few degrees, you might be 180 degrees out of phase.

    You probably know all of this, please forgive me if I've offended you.

    Hope you get it resolved!

  • tbragg44tbragg44 Posts: 24
    Thanks for the reply, Jim. I have not reverified spark, as I drove the shop to the garage. I'll recheck it.

    I'm assuming the arrow on the crank pulley gear is at the arrow on the block when it is at TDC. I have not verified it at the actual cylinder. Will be the second thing I check this morning.

    Since the belt was completely off, all of the camshafts turned, so I'm trying to reset everything from non-alignment, using the preprinted marks on the belt and the paint/ markings ( I II ) on the camshaft pulleys.

    Thanks in advance for any more advice...

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,729

    If Jim's suggestion did not resolve your problem, everything you ever wanted to know about changing the belt on your year Outback can be found right here at this official Subaru of America site:

    Best of luck,

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    TB, I have had to perform this procedure three times thus far, and will be doing it again in about 2 weeks on my '96. When I do this, I make sure that the crank is in TDC with the marks aligned before I remove the belt.... then, when the belt comes off, usually two of the cams (that are in mid-stroke) will jump out of position and the other two will remain stationary. Then, I just line everything up as I put the belt back in, pop the pin on the tensioner (they were redesigned after '96, so I am not sure how yours operates in comparison, but the '96 was a pain in the [non-permissible content removed]...), and viola - it's ready to go and the engine fires right back up. I also use the same Haynes manual you have and the instructions work when I do it this way.

    The first time I performed this operation, I was not quite so cautious about making sure the cams, etc., moved as little as possible. I ended up getting it out of phase (I thought it looked like it was correct, though) and the engine behaved just as you describe. I had to call in the assistance of a mechanic friend to help me because I was stumped.... it looked right to me. We ended up rotating the cams and crank to re-align it and it started the next time through. It was 5 years ago, though, and I cannot remember the exact details behind the realignment because I was mostly watching and he was doing the work without really pointing out what he was doing. He didn't remove anything additional to get a visual confirmation of the alignment, so I must have just missed a detail. I know this is completely unhelpful, but my memory is just not coming back to rescue me here. :mad:
  • tbragg44tbragg44 Posts: 24
    Thanks for the responses, everyone.

    The timing article is excellent, and would have been an excellent resource before I had started. :confuse: Unfortunately, by the time I read it, I believe the damage was already done.

    This is what I've discovered after re-reading the book, and reading the posts. There is a small, triangular indentation stamped into the crankshaft pulley gear. This, apparently is not the timing mark for TDC. In fact, it's about 90 degrees off from the actual timing mark, which is on the 6-splined washer behind the pulley gear. Once I realized this, I reinstalled the belt. To add to the confusion, I also found several marks on the camshaft pulleys: the cast-in notches, white paint marks, and orange paint marks. I set the belt on the cast-in notches, lining it up on the prepainted lines on the belt.

    So I triple check the alignment, put it all back together and fire it up. It runs, but it has some new problems. It idles rough, hesitates on take-off, then smooths out at higher RPMs.

    I think I may have done some damage the first time with it being misaligned. :cry: I know this is an interference engine. Have I, in fact, proved that point? Anybody have any resources for doing a valve job?

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    TB, If you were 180 off, I don't think you did any damage to the engine - you were just exhausting in the cylinders that were being fired and intaking in the cylinders that were not. If you did not hear any crunching, everything is okay.

    The roughness you are experiencing is due to the timing being off. I am curious as to whether or not something perhaps slipped slightly without you noticing it. Even if you are off by only a tooth or two on one cam, it could cause this hesitation/roughness. I will smooth out as RPMs increase. I did this one, too! I was one tooth of on one cam. It wasn't really noticable to me, but the next time I tore it apart I noticed the mistake, corrected it, and I could tell then that it did run smoother at idle/low RPM.

    I know it is a pain in the [non-permissible content removed], but it may be worth pulling the covers off again and double checking the alignment. The quickest way to do it is to reposition the crank at TDC with the belt still on it and look at how everything sits.

    Good luck and I am glad to hear that you got it running!

  • jfljfl Posts: 1,334
    Glad to hear you got it running. Wes has some great points in his post. I'm sure you'll get it done!

    It's a great feeling when it all comes together.

    Best of luck,

  • tbragg44tbragg44 Posts: 24
    Thanks again, Jim & Wes.

    I am pretty sure the belt is aligned on the factory marks on the camshaft gears. This does raise more questions, though.

    1. Which is more accurate, the slots in the aft timing covers (nearest the engine block) or the marks on the belt?

    2. Have you seen more than one color paint on the timing marks on the cam gears? I have orange and white in 3 out of 4 places, only 1 tooth off from the white that is painted into the factory marks. A result of previous mis-timing? A good use for surplus paint?

    Any thoughts? It's a lot of disassembly and reassembly work for trial-and-error troubleshooting. When I get back into it, I'd like to be pretty sure I'm doing things correctly.


  • psgpsg Posts: 72
    I ended up putting the window down and taking the mirror cover off. The door panel went right into place. This was an easy upgrade and well worth it. Though, the head unit was a 90% improvement, compared to a 10% improvement for the speakers. I think I'll leave the rear speakers alone and spend the time and money on our 2004 Honda Odyssey's sound system. The Honda's system sounds truly dreadful!
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,729

    Ditto that.... '02 Ody EX...

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    Hmmm... .that does raise questions. I cannot speak for a '99 (I did not go back and reread the posts.... it is a '99 that you have, correct?), but my '96 has no factory paint on the cam sprockets. All of the timing marks, including the belt (NAPA), lined up as specified in the Haynes manual the last time I replaced it. Prior to that..... the second time I had it off.... I did not have the Haynes manual available to me so we put the crank to TDC and used yellow model paint to mark the "up" position of the cam sprockets in relation to the crank. We didn't even bother trying to track the marks on the timing belt.

    It worked okay, but it was a pain in the rear compared to lining up the belt and sprocket marks because we had to position everything perfectly prior to installing the belt - lining up the marks, we could install the belt and align it as we went... much easier.

    Getting back on point, maybe the orange marks are a result of a similar approach. Have you owned the car since new? I think I would tend to ignore the orange marks unless the information Steve provided mentions them....
  • yustryustr Posts: 2
    I apologize if this has been answered already. I'm new to this forum.

    My 1999 Subaru Legacy w/ 95K miles shows the following symptoms: when making a slow-speed full lock turn (say pulling into a parking space) mostly to the left, or backing out of the stall – again full lock mostly to the left, I feel a definite bumping. It feels as if I’m rolling over cobble stones. Another way to describe it – if you’ve ever owned an old style 4x4 it feels kind of like the torque steer effect.

    Here’s the main clue: it only manifests after being driven for some time (20 min or more).

    Minor clue: there is a noticeable vibration through the steering wheel at about 65 mph. (This is probably telling me I need new tires but who knows? I have rotated the tires and the bumping is still there – the vibration went away.)

    Minor clue: I had a new clutch installed <3K miles ago. I don&#146;t remember it doing this before but it certainly could have been.

    I took it to my neighborhood garage (who installed the clutch) and after I had to &#147;make it do it&#148; said it was something called a &#147;viscous coupling&#148;. He then said I should go to the dealer to have it fixed. Which usually translates from mechanic speak to mean &#147;I think that&#146;s it but if it&#146;s not I don&#146;t want to be stuck for the cost&#148;.

    Any one have a guess? Is it safe to drive short distances?
  • pathtomaxpathtomax Posts: 215
    Hello everyone,

    I have not posted in a long time. That is a very good thing as I have been continuing my commute of 34k miles/ year. I currently have 89K miles on my 2001 Outback Limited. Knock on wood- this car has been great.

    I am preparing for my 90k tuneup in the coming weeks but noticed an odd thing this morning. I was almost at work, at a stop light. I was totally stopped- then the RFPMs shot up on their own to about 2K and the whole car lurched forward about a foot. Then the RFPMs went back down again. It did this last night on my way home as well. The A/C was and it usually cycles the RPMs but never had that "lurch" before.

    Any help out there???
    Thanks! :confuse:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That acts as a center differential and basically connects the front and rear axles.

    Could be, but we haven't seen that here in the Town Hall.

    I'd suspect a CV joint, or maybe the front differential. Have you changed the diffy fluids at all? If not you should start there. Gear oil is cheap. 75w90.

  • i have a 92 legacy and all of a sudden all of the electric windows except the drivers wont work. i looked at the fuse box under the hood. any ideas. i am not a mechanic and i live on student loans so if it has to go to the shop we will just live with it. thanx gaelicgrl1
  • zman3zman3 Posts: 857
    The security switch on the window controls is not on is it? This prevents the non driver windows on my 98 from functioning. Just a thought.
  • fredp3fredp3 Posts: 1
    My front brakes on '03 Subaru Legacy Outback Wagon went bad at 24000. They were replaced by my dealer at no charge. Back brakes now make a scraping noise when backing up and pulsate when stopping but dealer says they are not low enough to replace under warranty. I plan to try again before 36000 mi.

    Does your car feel like the brakes are always on a little? As soon as I take my foot off the gas the car starts to slow down, like it doesn't coast.
  • mfmatuskymfmatusky Posts: 1
    '92 Subaru Legacy. Sudden electrical problem. Driving along and lights, radio fail. Charge light and brake light come on. Charge battery and limp car home. Checked all fusible links. Replaced alternator. Still no charge. Followed alternator harness to check for physical damage. Found two white wires under fuse box with bad corrosion / heat damage. Repaired wires with butt connectors. Put car back together. Car won't even crank. Back to harnesses under fuse box. Found second corroded / hot connection. Repaired with large crimp connector. Put car back together. It starts but still won't charge. Running at idle w/no added drain draws 5 A, headlights, power windows, or AC add about 5-7 A each. Battery voltage is 11.5 to 12.5 depending on how long since I charged it. Batt terminal at alternator harness plug shows battery voltage. S terminal shows 0.3 volts less. IGN terminal shows battery voltage with ignition on. L terminal makes batt light on dash go on EVEN THOUGH IT DOESN"T LIGHT UP WHILE THE CAR IS RUNNING AT A DISCHARGE. It seems the alternator won't ground that wire. Should the alternator have an external ground wire? I wouldn't think so but I have seen such critters. Any help?? Thanks, MFMatusky
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