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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,729

    Just a suggestion - keyless fobs are rather cheap on e-bay. You might want to consider keeping the system and adding a new fob.

  • altasubaltasub Posts: 2
    Got the car home and checked it out - turns out it was the alternator. Broken pigtail on one brush causing intermittent voltage fluctuations.
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    "I've never owned a vehicle that needed a transmission replaced, especially one that is only 5 yrs old with 80+k miles on it"

    then you've never had a recent Ford !! 95 windstar, new tranny at 45k. 00 windstar new tranny at 38K, and at 60 K something is going wrong again!! why would I get another windstar after the problems with the first?? because Ford bribed a whole bunch of windstar owners so they didn't get a class action law suit because the engine was even more garbage than the tranny! FWIW caravan and odyssey owners have had lots of tranny problems too.
    I'm on my 3rd AT legacy and also have a MT WRX, never had any tranny problems yet. sorry to hear you are having problems with yours.
  • rob_mrob_m Somewhere North of BostonPosts: 795
    About a week ago I noticed a lot of brake dust on the front drivers wheel on the dw's 2003 Outback wagon. Washed the car, and within 100 miles, the rim is black again.

    Rotor is scored, and pads are not wearing evenly. My guess is the caliper got stuck on the slide. Car goes in to dealer on Wednesday. I am expecting pads and rotors. At 20,100 miles, would this be covered under warrantee? Thanks! Rob M.
  • ribbonsribbons Posts: 1
    Hi sooby1!

    My 99 Outback Legacy Wagon started doing the exact same thing very early this year (overheating randomly, coolant backing up into reservoir). After 3 mechanics, :mad: a change in radiator, plugs, thermostat, etc, they opened her up looking for a head gasket and found a tiny hairline crack in a cylinder.

    After speaking with a parts guy at a Subaru dealership, the 1996-1999 dual overhead cam motors all have problems with overheating. In fact, he told me I wouldn't have much luck looking for a used engine because everyone in the world has sort of used them up replacing engines just like mine. He stressed that the 2000 (onward) engines were changed by the manufacturer because Subaru had no idea what was causing the overheating and probably didn't want to take the risk of a major recall. :sick:

    A mechanic I used to date has advised us to find an attorney and to contact Subaru HQ directly (they deny everything of course). Thus, I pass that information on to you.

    Good luck!

    PS: If anyone else has had this problem, I would like hearing from you. It's taken us almost 5 months to figure this all out!
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,729

    If you are still within the 3yr/36k basic warranty, a seized caliper should indeed be covered, plus any damage it causes (trashed pads and rotor).

  • famof3kidsfamof3kids Posts: 160
    My sisters 95 Legacy did the same thing Saturday. Was the first over heating problem (first problem at all in over 100,000 miles ;) ), she has had with it, 187,000 miles. She did tell me, however, that it has been using coolant for a year or so now. I suspect the same problem.

  • Just bought a used 1999 Outback with 80K miles 2 weeks ago and I've got the same tranny problem. Test drove the car several times prior to buying, and even had it ok'd at the dealer too, but somehow this still got past me and the technician.

    I first noticed it as a hesitation when going into drive, and since I've never owned a subaru before... thought it might be kinda normal. This past weekend it, though, it took ~3 minutes to drop into drive after backing out of a parking space. Called the dealer today and he said it sounds like a low/reverse piston seal in the transmission... a $2500 repair. Needless to say, I'm pretty mad at Subaru right now.

    Does anyone know whether it will hurt the car to keep driving it like this? Also, would a tranny flush help any, or is it just a temporary band-aid? And finally, should I just get a remanufactured transmission, or let the tech do the rebuild?

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,273
    Just a reminder: '96 OBW, 190K miles

    Okay, so I should probably be thankful that my car has been so reliable (meaning that I only have to do a major repair about once a year or less) thus far, but darn it all. While I am right in the midst of trying to fully diagnose a probable head gasket failure, my darned heater fan goes on the fritz. Now, I can live with junk head gaskets but winter is coming all too fast (today is August 1, so less than 60 days away!) and I cannot start the car up at -30F to find that the heater fan isn't working. At first I thought it was very straight forward: the fan is finished. When I turn the fan speed selector from 0 to 1-4, I can hear the relay engage somewhere within the dash. However, about 35% of the time the fan does nothing. Then (I initially thought it was random), the fan will turn on out of the blue and blow like normal, except that it has this speed-sensitive ticking sound similar to putting a card in the spokes of a bicycle. This all started on Wednesday afternoon while we were returning from a 1,200 mile dipnetting trip down to Soldotna.

    This morning my wife was supposed to have the car, so she goes out to start it while I am inside doing the "morning routine" with our little man. After a few minutes (remember, she was just starting the car!), I begin to wonder what is taking her so long. Eventually, she pops through the door and apologizes, but "the heater fan wasn't working and I had to get it going." I asked her what she did to get it going, and she responds "the same thing I did for the last couple of days." Oh! News to me..... so it turns out that if she engages the AC, the fan will blow without fail but that it will only keep blowing after AC is off about 10% of the tries. So, she keeps turning the AC on, then off, then on.... until the fan finally stays on while the AC is off. :confuse: I tried that, and no luck - the fan came on when it randomly wanted to come on. It does work for her though - seemingly without fail. I guess she has the magic touch to which our buggy Subaru responds.

    Whew. Okay, any suggestions on what might be the root of the problem? I originally thought it would be a simple fan replacement, but with all the flippin' electrical gremlins in this car, I should have known by now that nothing is ever simple with Subaru electrical. :mad:

    Thanks, folks!
  • Just curious whether anyone knows if turbocharged engines generally compare favorably in longevity and reliability compared to non-turbos. Legacy GT gets heaps of praise, but I've never owned a car with a turbocharged engine . . . thanks
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    xwesx: at 190k, all bets are off. That's more mileage than most cars reach by the end of their lives. I'd donate it and take a tax deduction if you can't resolve it easily.

    sonnysayshi: all things equal, a turbo is working harder. But all things are not equal - in this case the block is a semi-closed deck design, the pistons are forged, and an injector cools the bottom of the pistons, even the exhaust valves are sodium-filled to resist heat better.

    Subaru engineered this engine to last, and so far the 2.5l turbos have been reliable.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,273
    True enough, but I'm going to get another 40K out of this puppy as our main transport, darn it. I would just rather not start digging into the dash blindly if someone else has some wisdom to donate to the cause! :D

    I wouldn't care if it had a heater or not if it was just me using it as a commuter, but I have a wife and 1.2 year old child that need to use it as well. The last thing I want to do is invest in another vehicle right now and it is not to the point that I have decided a new rig is the best route. :sick:

    I'll stick out a couple more weeks and then start digging at it if no good info turns up. Maybe I shouldn't have given my car's stats at the top of that post..... sticker shock! :surprise:
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    I think it really depends on the time horizon you're talking about. For most people who would sell a vehicle before 150K miles, I'd say that the 2.5 turbo on the Legacy GT/OBXT would probably do as good as a non turbo. It's been designed with some beefed up components as juice mentioned, similar to the higher powered engine used in the WRX STi. If anything, owner usage and care patterns would probably dictate the reliability of an engine up to this point.

    Beyond that, however, I would think a turbocharged or supercharged engine might be more prone to problems. Forced induction motors generally work harder (ie. more heat and pressure) and have more moving parts than a non-turbo so it would be short-sighted to say that the risk of failure were the same.

    Subaru has been manufacturing turbo engines for quite some time now and I don't think they would make the 2.5 turbo a workhorse engine if they weren't comfortable about it's reliability.

  • rstarkrstark Posts: 1
    I am interested in purchasing a 97 legacy GT the car has 168K miles. but when I test drove it both the check engine light and the airbag lights were illuminated. What could be the cause of the "Airbag" light being on? perhaps more important does anyone know generally the cost to get it repaired?
  • stantontstantont Posts: 148
    On my 2002 Legacy wagon, it seems the rear of the car is underdamped compared to the front. That is, on sharp humps taken at speed, the rear of the car rebounds with a little "hop" that the front does not. Since I bought the car in December 2004 with 57,000 miles on it (got 67,000 now), I don't know what the shocks were like when new. Would some of you more-experienced Subie owners care to comment on the firmness of Subie struts? If I thought the struts were getting worn, I'd replace them (the rears, at least); but if Subie's tended to ride a bit like this all the time, I wouldn't bother, expecting that new struts wouldn't make much difference.

    This is not a major issue; in normal driving, the car rides just fine. But on a rolling, twisty hill road, the rear does seem a bit indecisive. The problem might even be in only one rear strut, as the hop doesn't feel quite symmetric. But bouncing on one side of the rear bumper or the other doesn't give any hint of a problem; it only shows up at speed. And neither strut shows any sign of leakage, etc.

    Any advice? Thanks!

  • I am new to the forum and have been searching for a solution to my sticking clutch problem. There is no slipping of gears or hesitation, but for the past six months or so, the clutch sticks near the floor and pops up after a few seconds of delay. This happens about two or three times and then goes away, only to reurn again in a few weeks. Any suggestions?


  • jfljfl Posts: 1,335

    I'm assuming your rear tire pressures are set to factory recommendations?

  • jfljfl Posts: 1,335
    Check here:

    You can price the parts at:

    I'm trying to decide whether to repair it myself or use subie bucks to cover the labor too.

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,729

    It is quite possible that the previous owner carried heavy loads in the rear on a regular basis, and the rear struts are simply wearing out.

    It wasn't all that long ago that people replaced struts/shocks every 25k miles. With the advent of gas to control cavitation and better seal materials, we don't notice the loss of control quite as quickly. But I bet most of us with middle aged cars would be quite amazed at the difference a new set would make.

    You cannot generate enough rapid force trying to bounce on a corner to notice much of a difference, unless they are really shot - as in almost dead. It doesn't take a lot of dampening to quell the oscillation you can generate by hand. It is things like speed bumps that exercise them sufficiently to notice.

    If you are handy and have access to a spring compressor, it can be a do-it-yourself job, or farm it out to a shop. Either way, it sounds like the place to start.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'd get new rear shocks, sound like they are not dampening like they should. Especially if the rear behaves differently than the front.

    My Miata needs a set. It bobs up and down a couple of times on undulations.

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