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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Mom owned a car that reeked from a gasoline smell and it literally never went away, so I can sympathize...
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,770
    Too warm again today to know for sure. If this doesn't do it, I'll need to invest in new 'bridge hoses' and clamps. I suspect that 8 years and two major teardowns may have taken a toll on them.
  • So I just did an oil change on the '05 Legacy wagon. I love that car. Anyway, I would say it was under 20 minutes from ramps up to ramps down and tools put away. The drain plug is right there, the oil filter is right there. The oil filter is easy to reach so you don't have to reach behind the engine and inbetween the cat and the exhaust manifold (HONDA) to take the thing off. If you drain the oil first, there is very little left in the filter so it still doesn't run all over. I made more of a mess pouring the oil from the 5qt jug into the engine then I did draining the old oil.

    I like doing it myself so I can see how much oil comes out and how it looks as it drains, and also so I know exactly how much I put in. I also like picking out the oil. I use the Subaru filter unless I am in a pinch, but because its mounted upside-down anyway, it doesn't need an anti-drainback valve so a Fram one is probably fine too.

    The family truckster has ~50k, so I am thinking I will be doing brakes soon. I am trying to decide what kind of pad to use. I am also looking forward to the WRX wheels/snow tires comming off and the stock Legacy wheels with RE960s going back on, but mother nature has more to do with that.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Same here.

    I had the Sienna's oil changed with a coupon, ended up costing me the same (so free labor). Still didn't feel right. I kept checking the oil, thinking it was low.

    I think I'll keep doing it myself most of the time.
  • I realize that this is not a unique experience, but I was looking for tips on how to start to approach the problem of an overheating 1999 Outback wagon. I recently bought it (in otherwise excellent condition), and the previous owner was up front about telling me that it recently started overheating unexplainably.

    I tried my OBD tester, which showed up nothing. I haven't actually seen what happens when it overheats. Is it worth doing some testing of my own, or should I just take it to a shop right from the beginning?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 9,949
    You can do some basic things, like looking for visible coolant leaks, especially around the water pump and the head gaskets. Also, pull the cap on the overflow bottle while the engine is running and look to see if there are any bubbles coming up through the fluid. How about black gunk in the overflow bottle or an oil sheen? Get yourself a compression tester and check the cylinder compression.
    2013 Volkwagen Passat TDI, 2008 and 2010 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,770
    As you probably already know from reading / searching the Subaru forums, your vintage OBW had the older DOHC version of the EJ-25 flat four engine. This unit is known for developing internal head gasket leaks. So while it is always possible that you will see external signs of a coolant leak, most likely it is still hidden deep inside. Hot compressed cylinder gases are making their way into the cooling jacket, creating steam hot spots and thus overheating.

    Wes's suggestions center around looking for visible signs of this - oil or exhaust contaminated coolant, steam bubbles venting, etc.

    Hope this helps clarify what is likely happening.
  • Thanks - that's where I'll start the search.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 53,067
    Good suggestions!

    You could also buy a cooling system pressure pump, and pressurize to no more than a few pounds over your radiator cap's rating. Then, while still under pressure, you can a) see if bubbles appear in the radiator or b) pull the spark plugs and see if coolant is on them , or get a little flex-scope and peer into the cylinders to look for coolant, or take a pipe cleaner and wiggle it around in there and see if you pick up coolant.

    Head gaskets are a definite possibility here. If it is, you have to decide if the car's worth it. When doing the head gasket job, you'd might as well put in (or at least carefully inspect) the clutch if it's a stick shift, and for SURE you'll need a new radiator and maybe even a catalytic depending how how emissions read when you're done with the gaskets

    There are of course other reasons for overheating, but this head gasket problem is common on these cars .

    The Subaru Head Gasket Story

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  • nornetnornet Posts: 24
    Are the snow tires from a Forester 215 60 R16 compatible with a Legacy MY 08 which the dealer says needs 215 55 R16?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 53,067
    It would be a marginal recommendation, since your tires are bigger than the 55s. So your speedo would read slow, meaning that when your speedo says 60 mph, you are doing 62 mph. I guess if you replaced all four tires this would be okay, but with Subaru AWD, all 4 tires must be the same size. Your 60s are about 1" larger diameter than the 55s, so I personally wouldn't put just 2 on that are 60s and 2 that are 55s. That could be asking for trouble.

    The rule of thumb tire swaps on "normal" cars is no more than 3% difference. Your swap would be 3.3%.

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  • nornetnornet Posts: 24
    Thanks for the info. The larger tires (it's a set of 4) are almost brand new. My primary concern was about wheel well clearance as the OE Yokamakas (205 50 R17) seems tight compared to my Outback. If the only issue is the spedo being off a few percent then I should be OK?
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,770
    I did a little poking around the Cars101 site to see if I could figure it out. I noticed that there are different turning circle figures depending on which of the wheel/tire combos (17" or 18") you choose. Going the -1 route to 16" wheels, you are looking at two different width/aspect ratios and another wheel with possibly a different width and offset.

    I view the markedly different turning circle figures as an indication that things are very tight and that limits are put on the max steering angle at the rack to prevent scraping.

    I'd contact TireRack and see what their recommendation are on 16" wheel/tire. They seem to be pretty good at this math.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 53,067
    Wait I'm confused. I thought you were talking about putting 60 profile 16s on a car that had 55 profile 16s. You didn't say anything about 17s. :confuse:

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  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,770
    The devil is in the details!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    3.3% is borderline but that rounds down to the industry-standard 3% rule.

    My concern would be the front wheel well. The Forester has more room for tires. At full lock you have to cycle the suspension up and down all the way and see if the tires contact the fenders or fender liners.

    If it were a Forester, my guess would be yes, but on a Legacy, I'm going to guess that you will have clearance issues.

    There really isn't a lot of room for "slop" on the Legacy or Impreza. Tolerances for stuff like that is tighter than with the Forester.
  • nornetnornet Posts: 24
    I hope this clarifies things. The Legacy in question came equipped with Yokohama 205 50 R17 tires. I called Subaru to see if a 16" snow tire could be used (I have the rims for an Outback). The Legacy (MY 08) owners manual does not mention a 16" tire. The Outback (MY 07) owners manual does. Subaru said you could use 215 55 R16 snow tires on the Legacy. I will call Tire Rack today to see if the larger 16" tire is also acceptable.. First place I looked was cars101 and couldn't find any related info. I apologize for confusing the issue by mentioning the OEM tire size. My original question was strictly about 16" tires.

    I have 4 almost brand new 215 60 R16 that came from a Forester that was on lease.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 53,067
    Okay I see....actually the 2 sizes, the 16 vs. 17, come out pretty close. When your speedo says 60 mph, you will be traveling 58.8 mph, and your 16s are .5 of an inch smaller in diameter, so the car will be lowered very so slightly.

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  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 9,949
    If the 16" tires are already mounted on a set of rims, I would just put them on and try them! Yes, they will be a little larger than the stock tires, but as long as clearance is not a problem you are good to go.
    2013 Volkwagen Passat TDI, 2008 and 2010 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • pathtomaxpathtomax Posts: 215
    Good to see that this post is back on...well, perhaps maybe not!

    I am heading to my dealership tomorrow for the 3rd time to look at this problem. I am no where NEAR technical so is there anything I can tell them to check??? At this point, I just avoid driving my car on really cold days or drive with the window cracked open. Leave it to NH weather to be warm this week so they won't be able to smell it tomorrow!!!

    I am going with the TSB from the WRX forum but just want to know if there is a list of other areas I can have them look at?

    Hopefully fibber2 checks here tonight!

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,770
    Hi Michael! I'm online, but I need to figure out how to post a picture to show the spot. I think I can do it from CarSpace?
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,770
    I'm baaaaaack.


    Hey, that worked!!! Used a picture I took when the car was about 2 years old.

    OK. At the far left you will see a small band clamp with a philips head screw in the red circle. That is one example of the dozen plus such clamps on little joiner rubber hoses that bridge between steel lines. Check around the area of the fuel filter, and you'll see lots of them.

    To the right, you will see a greenish cover (big circle) over the front corner of the cylinder head, passengers side. Underneath that cover is a little hose that joins a steel line that originates from the drivers side, and the fuel rail for the two injectors on this side. In the front you will see a hole (red arrow). I suspect that the philips head screw of the clamp way under there was once lined up with this hole for easy access. Mine was pointed straight up, and too tight to readjust. So instead, I drilled a hole in the top of the bracket, inserted the screwdriver, and tighted it up. This was one of several spots that leaked fuel on sub 20'F weather, and the only one that I could not easily get to and tighten.

    So far, so good....
  • Just bought a 2000 Legacy wagon and I need to know how to replace the lights above the rear license plate. ALSO does anyone know how to get a hold of an owners manual CHEAP(like free)??
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,770
    License plate lights - IIRC, there was a philips head screw on each side. Pull down on the clear lens and surrounding frame.

    Owners manual is available as a .pdf from the Subaru site (as in like free!!!).
  • nornetnornet Posts: 24
    Thanks to all that responded.
  • Hey Thanks!!! I like the FREE part!
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,770
    I do too! You are most welcome.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's my favorite price - Free!

    When salesmen ask me what I want to pay for something, I always say Free! :D
  • pathtomaxpathtomax Posts: 215
    First, thanks for your help with the pictures! I brought all the printouts to my dealer and had them read all my information. They did some research and found that the fuel lines in my Outback are "porous and need to be replaced"

    So, I have an appointment and loaner car scheduled for next week. They state that this fix should be about $300. Not the best thing for me right now, but really sick of that smell!! :)

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,770
    First off, you are welcome!

    These systems run at 35-40 psi, and these hoses are simply fabric reinforced rubber. Eventually, they break down. Face it, our cars are getting old. And so are we! All the hoses (fuel, coolant, etc.) are likely to begin the death spiral. Checked your arteries lately?? Just kidding!

    Obviously, the price seems high, but some of them are a real pain to get at. Plus, I'm sure that each of the little buggers has a part number, and costs more than they are worth, plus the clamps.

    I wonder if they will also be doing the set back by the tank and the evap canister, or just the ones under the hood for that price?

    Please, let us know the outcome.
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