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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,050
    Well the viscous coupler, if that's the problem, is not serviceable as far as I know, so that's about $500. Then we have about 2 hours to swap that out and get the diff all back together, and then we have labor to R&R the transmission itself, which is what...?....another 6 hours (I think). So yeah, we gotta be looking at $1500 bucks here....and of course, "while we're in there" we'd want to look at the clutch.

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  • I am currently having all sorts of problems with my outback. To be up front, it has 104,000 miles on it. ( I work in the trades, got to go where the work is...) I have a brake light that comes on occationally for no apparent reason, then it switches to the engine light with a flashing cruise light, then nothing at all for a while. But the biggest problem I am having is with the ignition. I went camping with my family, and one evening, my son left the rear door light on. Then the alarm was triggered. We shut that off and reset it via directions in the manual. Then we couldn't start it. battery was fine, we tried to jump it just in case.

    However, we could push start it.

    We got it home with no issues until we turned the car off. All we got was clicking. This is what we know. Not an alternator problem, not a starter problem, not a battery problem. There is current available to start the car, .my husband, an electrician, was able to manually start the car by bypassing the ignition system, and then trace the circuit to the plug that goes into the starter from the firewall. he fixed what may have been a loose connection, but got no readings anyway. This has to be something between the plug and the ignition that is causing the circuit to be broken. This is what we know, what we don't know is what might be between those two points that is disrupting the flow. Any help will be greatly appreciated!
  • gjksngjksn Posts: 35
    Thanks Mr. Shiftright. I got the car back last night, and the service advisor at Bloomington Subaru told me they had replaced that viscous coupler (differential?) and that my Subaru Gold warranty had paid for everything and saved me $1300 or so, meaning it almost paid for itself. It was just slightly less than your estimate, so thank you again for the good information. Much appreciated. I'll have to give them a call to find out if whoever worked on it remembers anything about the clutch. Speaking of that, it's nice to be back to a manual transmission, although the 2009 automatic Outback loaner was very nice -- and appreciated. I'm just a geezer who's had manuals for 40 years.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sweet, score one for Subaru Gold.

    I had one on my 02 and may still get one for my 09.
  • ths258ths258 Posts: 10
    Please do keep us posted if you find a good deal on that Subaru Gold policy.
  • bigdadi118bigdadi118 Posts: 1,207
    From quotes I received from dealers, Basic and Gold+ price is add 200 to 300 on top of 50% of suggested price.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Well, the wires from the ignition undoubtedly go to the ECU before going to the starter. Do you only get the "clicking sound" when you try to start it, or does it click all the time, any time the key is in the ignition, etc? Also, is it a repetitive clicking or a single click?
  • I get the clicking sound only when I turn the key to start it. it is repetative and in quick succession.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    I know you checked the connections to the starter, but....

    I suspect that the clicking sound you hear is the starter solenoid, but it is not getting enough current to engage the starter. I had this problem once with my '96 Outback, and it turned out to be a bad ground connection. There were two points where the grounding cable was mounted... one between the cable and a bracket, and a second between the bracket and the starter + engine block. The second point I mentioned was just *slightly* loose/dirty. I pulled the bolt out, cleaned the contact points, and reassembled. I never had a problem with it again.
  • Oh, and the clicking only lasts for about 5 seconds. And for those of us that are completely car ignorant, what is the ECU and where is it? His knowledge is based on International Scouts...
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    ECU is "Engine Control Unit." I am not exactly sure where it is located in a Subaru, but I'm pretty sure it is inside the fire wall either mid-cabin or toward the passenger side.
  • Here is my husband... I can put a cheeter wire from the starter activation tab (forgot the name of the contact point) and tap it onto the + battery terminal and it will start and run, every time. the starter, solenoid, clutch engagement safety switch, battery and primary battery cables are good. I am getting nothing from the wire that is supposed to go to the starter activation tab. I have most the dash pieces removed now, but the wiring harness is very concealed. I believe there is a bad piece or connection between the ignition switch and the activation point on the starter. either some kind of faulty relay, fuseable link, connection, or other. Brian Lee
  • I assume the same thing can happen in the rear diff as well?
    Seems I have the same sort of binding problem, but it feels like its in the back end, not the front.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,050
    that could be just a normal differential problem.

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  • I can only hope :confuse:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,050
    spider gears? same principle though....the differential has to allow one wheel to turn at a different speed than the other while the car is making a turn.

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  • My first guess would be it's the triggering of the alarm which may be to blame for the car-not-starting behaviour - something to do with anti theft stuff? Try resetting the alarm again and see where that gets you. Just a suggestion.
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,613

    Sounds like something to do with the alarm activation. I had a Mercedes years ago that was fitted with an after market alarm which interlinked to ignition system, but factory fitted engine immobilizer. If both alarm and immobilizer were in synchronization, everything was sweet. However, for some reason, they got out of sync. and I had power to starter, but not to engine, or other way around.

    In present case, it sounds like you have power to the starter solenoid and ignition, but not to starter.

    It may be worth entirely disconnecting ECU, which is usually under the dash area somewhere. (there is a multi point plug going into it that unclamps. Leave it disconnected for a while so volatile memory clears, then reconnect.


  • First off hi to the Crew. Long time...

    My 2001 Legacy ran rather hot recently. Driving up a long grade with a full load of camping gear and 2 adults the temp gauge began to rise above "normal". Almost got up to the red area but not all the way to "hot". I was in 4th and turning 4+k and the outside air temp was 90. Never had this happen before that I have noticed. Shifting to 5th and the hitting the summit the temp dropped right back down. The whole incident was only maybe 30 or so seconds. No noticeable loss of water over the 300 mile trip.

    I know about the head-gasket issues and have added the Subaru cooling additive with yearly flush and fills.

    Any thoughts? I just passed 100k on this trip.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,050
    You might as well have the head gaskets tested. You're right at the mileage when it happens and you have the engine it happens on. Once you've eliminated that, you can then address more common problems with overheating----but if you do it the other way, you might end up spending all kinds of money on radiators, water pumps, thermostats, coolant, cooling fans, etc., only to find out that it was the head gasket all along.

    The head gaskets are by no means inevitable. You could just have a clogged radiator or defective cooling fan. Generally, high speed overheats are coolant circulation issues, not air circulation issues.

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  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    What's up bit? Long time indeed. Good to see you again.

    My 93 Miata started behaving like that and it was a bad t-stat. It got gradually worse until I fixed it.

    Do a compression test, though, to see if the head gaskets are OK. Better to find out now before you have warped heads.
  • Thanks for the info guys!

    Is there any warranty coverage if I have been doing the coolant treatment per Subaru?
  • I had a Subaru that overheated some time ago. I tried washing the radiator with a garden hose and I was amazed at the amount of fine sand and dirt that came out. Once the fins were clean, I had no further problem. Yoiu might try it, it's a no cost item and at the very least, you will have a better functioning radiator.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,050
    No but they will sell you an improved head gasket so that it won't happen again.

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  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Not on an 01 model, that's gotta be 8-9 years old by now, and I think coverage was 7/100 or something like that.
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,613

    Washing the fins backward (ie from engine bay spraying through toward front of car) can clear a surprising amount of junk out. We get occasional insect plagues, especially plague locusts which clog a radiator rapidly. You will occasionally see flywire screening wrapped around the radiator in country areas, to reduce impact


  • Dealer did visual inspection and found a leak on the driver's side. Tested coolant and found hydrocarbons.

    I guess I don't need a compression test and will just bite it and do the head gaskets.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,050
    AH, too bad. Welcome to the Subaru :P HG club. I'm a member! I hate to bring this up, but you might want to replace the radiator right now, too.

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  • Radiator? Really?

    Luckily I already did timing belt and water pump.

    How is the price I am getting? $1,400 for head gaskets new thermostat and hoses.

    I love this car. Perfect for long road trips like the 6k round trip to Florida we are taking in November.
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