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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my message. Oh My Gosh!!! It's been like pulling teeth to get someone to take a look a little deeper than just what the computer readout is on the car down here. I am sure if I went to a Subaru dealership they probably would spot it, but I can't afford the diagnostics or repairs to be done there. I have insisted that it's most likely the headgasket, but my insistings have fallen on dead ears. Thank you to all of you on here who have posted to my response, and also other newer and older responses I have read that has saved me a ton of money at the repair shop. All of you are awesome! I could have gotten soaked a lot worse so many times trying to figure this out. After I get this fixed I am going to save up and take a mechanics course.
  • Thank you Hammerhead and Mr. Shiftright! I appreciate the help more than you will ever know.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    edited September 2011
    Yer welcome. The members here are great aren't they? come back and see us and your host anytime.



  • I was wondering if some of the more car-savvy users on this forum can give me some feedback on my fiance's 2006 Subaru Legacy Sedan. This car has nearly 100K miles on it (98K to be exact) and he has NEVER had any maintenance work done on it! The car has never had any problems and has only had the usual oil changes, new brakes, new tires over the 5 years he has owned it.

    I am more the proactive type (well, at least not the "neglect it for 100K mile type") and would like to take his car in to have all the maintenance neglect taken care of before something worse happens. My question is: can anyone give me an idea of which services I should have done at this point? I'm scared that the automotive shop might try to take advantage of me considering the amount of disregard that has already gone into this car. What definitely needs to be done? What should be done if recommended? What should I not get done even if recommended?

    Thanks in advance for all the input!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited September 2011
    You need a baseline for all the fluids. I would do:

    * gear oil or ATF
    * rear diff fluid
    * brake fluid

    Then the spark plugs, plug wires, and maybe even the ignition coil if you have any misfires or codes.

    Fuel filter, air filter, oil and filter, cabin filter, PCV valve.

    Maybe even the 02 sensors.

    You want to replace all the serviceable items, basically.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    edited September 2011
    In addition to that, 105K is coming up rather quickly, which means timing belt time! I would recommend you replace the belts and hoses, as well as the coolant and thermostat (which is pretty much a necessity since you have to pull apart that system to do the timing belt).

    Also, check the CV boots for cracks/splits, inspect the tie rod ends and ball joints, and ensure the struts are in good working order (or replace them).

    Oh, and if it is an automatic transmission, be sure to change out the front differential's gear oil as well.

    Honestly, your fella's car likely isn't suffering much yet from all that neglect, so it's a good thing the car (and he) has someone like you looking out for it. :shades:

    If you end up having a shop do all this, and they replace all those basic maintenance items, you could be in for upwards of $2,000 by the end of it. Were you doing it yourself, parts would be somewhere around what, about $600-700?
  • I have a 98 Legacy L with 225000 miles. The engine has made a clicking noise for about a year which seems to go away under load or when the rpm is raised. Temp & Oil level makes no difference. Now when I raise the engine speed quickly there is a clunking. Sounds like a loose flywheel, but that is hard to believe. In spite of this it has run well until the last trip to Southern Oregon.
    The first thing I noticed was a miss in the engine. Then the check engine light started flashing, then after a few minutes just stays on.
    After talking to a Subaru mechanic I removed the timing belt and looked at the idlers and noticed the water pump leaks. The idlers look good, except the one with teeth on it. It feels dry. Water pump seems to turn fine, but will get replaced because it leaks. The belt was not loose.
    What I am concerned about is I am not sure that is where the noise is coming from, in spite of what Subaru says. I can easily change all the idlers and water pump and belt, but that would be frustrating if the problem continues.
    Any one ever run in to something weird like this? The clicking sounds like it is deep in the engine.
    What the heck could it be? Broken piston? Something loose?
    Any help would be appreciated
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    could be piston slap with that many miles on the engine or perhaps a loose wrist pin. In any event, the engine can run quite happily with either of these conditions but it is a sign of lots of internal wear.

    Piston slap requires a trained ear but the way to test for a loose wrist pin (the pin that attaches the piston to the connecting rod) is to pull off each plug wire with the engine idlling (using insulated pliers of course)..if the noise suddenly doubles in frequency (from "click" to "click-click") then that's a loose pin.


  • I would say piston slap is not likely because it does not seem to change as the engine warms up. However I had not thought of a loose wrist pin. That would actually make sense. I guess the thing to do is replace the idlers, water pump and timing belt, then try removing the wires one at a time and see if that is it.
    There is that clunking when I rev the engine from an idle. Any ideas on that?

    Thanks for your reply.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    This is a bit of a long shot but I've seen it (heard it) before -- have you ever checked for either a loose crankshaft pulley bolt or a worn crankshaft pulley keyway?

    Also, I once had a porsche 928 make a very ominous knocking sound and it turns out the AC compressor was loose!

    Wrist pin noises are not too "heavy" a sound. If you are in the San Francisco area, I an send you to a great Subaru shop.


  • The clunking is only when I rev it up quickly from an idle. Weird.
    I am pretty sure the clicking is another problem of its own. Since the timing belt is off I took another look at the idlers. The one at the bottom with teeth definitely does not sound right. It turn just fine but sounds dry and I can barely hear a clicking noise. I wonder if putting a load on would make the clicking! Also the idler the tensioner pushes against does not sound right either. Any way I will change them all.
    When I got the car about 80K ago it was leaking oil out of both cams and the front crank seal. So I took it all apart and discovered that at one time the pulley had come loose so some idiot drilled a hole through the timing belt pulley and crank and pressed in a pin. It took a grinder to get it off. I filled in the key area with JB weld and put it all back together ( using blue lock tight) and the problem has not reoccurred. The pulley is still quite tight.
    When I put it back together I used idlers from Rock Auto. According to Subaru that is not a good idea. He said they often fail early. Maybe he is right.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    Subarus do not seem to like aftermarket parts. I know I had trouble using Japanese CV joints. I had to get some OEMs out of a wrecking yard.


  • We've been having overheating issues with our 99 Subaru Legacy Outback. The garage that has it has diagnosed a blown head gasket and has given us the following quotes:

    replace motor with used motor: $4200
    replace head gasket only: $3400
    replace motor with reblt moto: $5500

    I consulted another mechanic who has worked on the car before and he said he wouldn't touch it for any price because of high miles (over 250K) and his experiences of installing rebuilt motors only to have them blow again fairly quickly.

    So given the cost of repairs, the value of the car at this point, and the cost of repairs, are we done with this vehicle?

    Thanks for any insight that comes from more experience...

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I guess it really depends on the condition of the rest of the car, and how attached you are to it.

    I would think that at 250k miles it's probably tired, and just about every wear-and-tear item is worn out. I'm talking all the bushings, hoses, shocks, etc.

    It may be time to retire her, unless she's in unusually good shape or you have other attachments to it for some reason (first new car?).
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    As for the price quote on the head gasket replacement, I'd be looking at another shop. $3,400 for head gaskets? That's off the deep end. Knock $1,000 off of that and you're getting into the ballpark. :sick:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    True...didn't someone get 'em done for $600 per side? May depend on what else they do while they're in there.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    edited October 2011
    Yes, but that was on the other extreme end of the spectrum.

    If you have a shop replace both gaskets, plus the timing belt, pulleys, water pump, and other misc. bits and pieces (drive belts, seals, etc), you should be looking at $2,200 to $2,400. Tops. The parts I listed might run up to $700 of that total.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    the prices quoted are outrageous IMO. That's one shop I'd cross off my list.

    But in ANY event---this whole decision depends on what the rest of the car is like. If you really haven't done much to it otherwise, it's probably time to let it go. At 250K, most cars are pretty worn out. yes, yes, people do drive them at 250K++ and brag about it, but a car like that can self-destruct at any moment with some large component catastrophe.

    I agree though...putting in ANOTHER high mileage 2.5L engine that hasn't had head gasket replacements is just asking for trouble.

    Now could find a low miles Subaru 2.5L engine (say 70K miles or so) and've done a lot of replacement work on your car, and if....IF...the body and interior are very nice.....then you might consider it.


  • I replaced the relay under the hood, same problem. Still won't go off. I drive in the country alot, so just keeping them off is an issue for me (I really like to be seen quickly by the on-coming grain trucks as I crest a hill). Any further ideas on where to check?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    I don't recall your original message on the topic. What is the car?
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