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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • peterson10peterson10 Posts: 116
    Wow, I guess describing a sound isn't any easier than describing a color. Thanks to all the helpful replies. Based on your descriptions I feel confident that I don't have the knock/slap condition, so I can once again sleep at night (all that pacing was driving my gerbils crazy).

    The distinct engine sound I'm hearing, at idle, sounds like a sewing machine; yeah, that's it, one of those solid old black-enameled Singers. The sound is the same whether hot or cold, and gets swallowed up by all the other sounds when driving, so I assume its just regular valve noise after all.

    As for "pinging", in my experience (not with a Sube, of course) "pinging" is always accompanied by a subtle loss of "umph" (power); like you're suddenly towing a trailer - worse up hill or under load. No power loss here, so again I assume its just normal valve noise.

    New question: lately my brakes seem to make a strong friction-noise, like a belt sander (oh, no, not another noise description), but only after the car has sat all day and/or night. After the first few stop signs the sound is gone. I though it must be surface rust on the rotors but I don't see any, and it occurs in all conditions: wet, dry, cold, warm. The brakes (the car) are just 14k miles old, so I'm not willing to entertain the thought that the linings are shot. But if you all tell me they are, I'll blindly agree.

  • tewillitewilli Posts: 1
    Believe it or not, car makers are fully aware that their speedometers are inaccurate. I recently read an article that discussed this very topic. They did tests on most major brand cars and the findings were somewhat surprising. It turns out that European cars ie. BMW, Audi had the largest speedometer error. Japanese cars were in the middle and American cars were the most accurate. Not a single car tested indicated a lower speed than actual. Since speedometers are no longer connected via a cable, but rather connected electronically, it seems highly unlikely that this is an accident. Whether the manufacturers set them this way to give a margin of safety, to make them seem like they get to the magical 0-60 a little quicker, or to make the warranty shorter than advertised was unclear in the article. Although it obviously accomplishes all three. If the dealer tells you that this is normal, well, it is I guess - S.N.A.F.U. if you get my drift.
  • duke511duke511 Posts: 1
    I've followed the discussions for two years and finally have the opportunity to get your expert opinions. I have a 2000 Outback with/ 27,000 miles and so far we've loved the vehicle. At 10,000 miles we smelled antifreeze, brought it to the dealer and they determined that the freeze plug was leaking and needed replacing. Yesterday, we smelled more antifreeze, brought it to the dealer and freeze plugs are fine but now the head gasket is leaking and they will replace. While none of this is costing me anything, I'm concerned about these two events. Do any of you know of any recurring problems the Outbacks have regarding the above issues?? Am I just paranoid?? Any advise is appreciated.
  • mrk610mrk610 Posts: 378
    yea my piston slap noise also goes away in about 3-5mins from cold start. My friend has nicknamed my car the 24k sewing machine because of the way it sounds . Which i kinda like other then that I have had no other problems . I drove a friends taurus the other day to the Phila Airport and what a diffrence driving in the rain and wind . Car was all over the place ,and I was constantly adjustung the steering . My outback feels so solid in the same conditions . Gotta love that AWD
    mike k
  • en5en5 Posts: 9
    I have the following problems with my 2000 Legacy wagon:
    1. There is a burning rubber smell in my car after driving for couple of minutes, it is most noticable whenever I stop at a light or when I park the car in my garage. I've seen some earlier posts about this and in my case it cannot be undercoating dripping on the exhaust, my car is almost 2 years on the road with 23000km, besides the exhaust looks clean. Could this be the clutch?
    my clutch is not the smoothest by any means.
    2. I also experience steering wheel vibration. 4 months ago my dealer replaced both front driveshafts ( after 3 visits )and it helped for a short while now it's coming back, it's very random, one day it shakes like crazy another day it's smooth as a rock.
    One thing I noticed that might be related to both problems is that the rubber boot on the passenger side driveshaft is only approximately 2" above the exhaust ( catalytic converter ), that seems a bit too close to have a piece of rubber filled with grease to a very hot pipe? Any thoughts?
  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Posts: 464
    My 01 Outback (H4/5sp) with 24K miles on it still makes intermittent "burning" smells, but it is not always the clutch (which sucks). The burning clutch smell is not as "rubbery" as the other burning smell I get from the car. It seems worse after driving on ice or other slippery surface that would cause the AWD to vary its normal 50/50 split, but I cannot say that it's the only time I've had it happen. Freeway driving on dry roads is another time that the smell can get powerful. The dealer says everything's fine, and the car drives fine otherwise, so I haven't pushed the issue.

    As far as the vibration goes, I have experienced a slight vibration in the steering wheel at freeway speeds since the car was new. The tires are in balance (apparently, but who really knows) and the problem is not consistent. Most of the time, it's rock steady, other times the vibration is apparent. These wheels/tires seem very succeptible to minor changes (such as rocks in the tread, mud on the wheel, etc) so I tend to think that's what's causing the vibration.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I get a similar smell on both my trooper and my subarus in rain/snow weather. I beleive it is the salt used on many roads that sprays up on the hot underbody, causing that smell. I'd still ahve it checked out though.

  • en5en5 Posts: 9
    Thanks Brian, it seems like your symptoms are very similar to mine. I've also noticed that the smell coming out of the clutch is different it's kind of "sour" ( ex. starting in reverse on an incline )but this other smell is more like rubber burning, sometimes I can even smell it when I start the car and back it out of the garage. I want to take it to my dealer but I know it would be waste of me time, I exactly know what they're going to say " your car is working fine, there is nothing to worry about " ( keep on driving until your warranty runs out and then come back )

    I have 2 sets of wheels with tires, one is original rims with potenzas and the other is a set of 15" forester wheels with michelin pilot alpins, it doesn't matter which set I put on it still makes these strange vibrations.
  • peterson10peterson10 Posts: 116
    Wierd, I just got a whiff of rubbery odor on my drive in today: first time ever, and I've had this car for two years. Fortunately, it went away after a minute, so I'm prepared to assign the odor to the car in front of me.

    As you probably know, differential fluid smells pretty rubbery when it gets hot (i.e. the tranny is cooked). Perhaps the extra load on the viscous coupler and/or LSD would cause a slight bit of this odor yet be perfectly alright; I dunno. I would say, if the smell never disappears, but only grows stronger, get it checked out immediately. My first Legacy siezed up suddenly one cold winter day: O-rings in the rear differential had blown out. I smelled the rubbery smell, but didn't assign it to the transmission until I started to hear/feel the carnage. By then it was too late. SOA fixed it quick, and I took back all (most) of the nasty things I said at the time.
  • erics6erics6 Posts: 684
    My 2000 Outback (automatic) with 41 thousand miles on it also has a rubber type burning smell. Usually is most pronounced when driven for some distance. Especially strong in snow/ice and rain. Dealer found no leaks and said he's seen a number of 2000's with the burning smell. One of my co-workers has a 2001 Outback that also has a burning smell.

    I also get a vibration or shimmy through the steering wheel at highway speeds. I've changed tires twice with many attempts to balance the tires at different shops, and the dealer has looked at the brakes and tires and found no problems. Different road surfaces do seem to effect the shimmy. I really notice it when I hit the brakes hard slowing quickly from a high speed. Brakes feel fine but the wheels shake.
  • otis123otis123 Posts: 426
    I also get the "smell" to varying degrees and the wheel shimmy here and there (had an alignment/balance). '01 LLBean is fine otherwise. These issues have been on the Subaru posts for 2 years now. Patti, do the Subaru engineers have an explanation? Thanks.

  • en5en5 Posts: 9
    mike, if it was the salt on underbody of the car, wouldn't we smeell this on all cars? I've never experience this before with any of my cars and here in Canada we get so much salt that all our cars are white for couple of months a year.
    I'll take my car in for 24000km service and I'll try to bring these issues up.
    YetAnotherDave - where was the smell in your car coming from, in my case it seemd to be coming from the vents so I assume it was in the front but I suppose it could come across the underbody into the engine compartment and then throught the vent inlets at the base of the windshield.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Could be the type, brand etc. of salt used. I pretty much pinned this smell down cause it was in 2 of my cars, different brands, and only occured during snow storms/wet winter weather.

  • klbearsklbears Posts: 2
    We own a 2000 Subaru Outback Limited.

    We have also experienced radiator overheating at 21705 miles, 42,000 miles, 43,000 miles and took it in each time. We have also took it in for an axel fluid leak, unknown radiator fluid and gas smells and engine hesitation and vibration. It has been in the shop for over 39 days.

    They pressure tested the engine after each overheating incidence and did not find anything wrong except for a hole in the radiator, the first time, and then replacing the temperature controller.

    The last time we brought the car in, it was smoke white smoke and leaking radiator fluid in their carport. The next day they told us they could not find anything wrong with the car and the problem was intermittent.

    Subaru Livermore, CA said they are going to replace the engine and later did not replace it, they only replaced the head gaskets, even though their Service Technician said the car was a lemon. The Service Tech was later fired right after they told us the car was a lemon. Strange coincidence.

    We have not had overheating now, but the engine is hesitating and vibrating, we have less power, and there is some coolant smells or gas smells every so often. I don't think this is normal and probably the root cause was the constant overheating of the engine.

    SOA said they were going to replace the car but are backing out saying only that they are giving us $3500 on a new car as a "goodwill" gesture after leading us along for 2 months. We have lost so much time fighting Livermore Subaru and SOA, and the car has been in the shop for over 39 days that we don't feel this is a good settlement.

    We don't trust our Subaru Outback and believe it is a Lemon, so we are taking legal action against SOA.

    Has anyone else has this many problem with SOA or their car?

    BTW - The 24hr roadside assistance is a crock. My wife called when the car overheated in a bad part of town, and they told her that they would call her back. Then 1 hr later they called back and said they could not find a tow truck, sorry.
  • li_sailorli_sailor Posts: 1,081
    Hi folks, looking for some help with one of those "collision repairs from hell". My SO (who posted here about this right after it happened 12 weeks ago...seabreeze is her TH name) still doesn't have her '97 Outback back.

    The current quick question is...when is the timing belt supposed to be replaced? I looked in the Edmunds maintenance schedule and it show an inspection at several intervals, but I don't see anything about when it should be "replaced even if OK", assuming there is such a time.

    What happened is, the timing belt broke and so the valves were toast. The collision guy sent it to Subaru and they did a valve job..then sent it back to the collision guy who finished it up and gave it back as OK. On the drive home (from upstate NY back to Long Island the next day...a 3.5 hour trip) the car died at 2 hours. Turns out there was a "piece of metal" that caused the engine to get "oil starved" (their words). It was towed back to Subaru (this was 10 days ago)and the adjuster is now saying "maybe this didn't come from the accident". The small block now has to be replaced. Of course, we're furious, but so far, he hasn't made a decision. We know this is entirely due to the accident...we don't know if Subaru screwed up or if "missing the piece of metal" is just how things happen, but in any case, either insurance or Subaru should be paying or this, not us.

    As I said, they haven't said they won't pay, but they're making noises like they may balk at the small block replacement.

    I need the timing belt maintenance schedule but any other advice would be appreciated.

  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,652
    I would think that info would be in your owner's manual. Newer Subarus should have their timing belt replaced at 105,000 miles. Older ones, at 60,000 mile. I don't know whether yours qualifies for the 105K or not.

  • nygregnygreg Posts: 1,936
    I'm not sure if I understand the problem. Did the belt break due to the accident? Even so, I am wondering how a piece of metal entered the sealed engine from the accident. Anyway, Bob is correct - newer engines have a check point at 90K and replacement at 105K with older engines at 60K. I wish you luck.

  • li_sailorli_sailor Posts: 1,081
    Yes, the belt broke in the accident. The belt question is almost a side was actually replaced a few months before the accident (it's at 75,000 miles now) as a preventative measure...which seems like it was premature.

    The piece came from inside the engine...presumably, it was related to the valve damage...I think the piece was inside the cylinder. How they could do a valve job and not see it, I don't know...but I'm not a mechanic.
  • n8wvin8wvi Posts: 43
    I thought the EJ25 (and the EJ22) was a non-interference engine? On the same topic, anybody know about the EZ30? I'm not having problems yet, just want to know when I should start worrying about the chain.
  • onfootonfoot Posts: 1
    I also have a 1997 Subaru Outback. On my way to work Monday morning the car just died at a stoplight. I had to towed to the Subaru dealer and they found that the cam shaft seized which in turn bent the valves and threw my timing belt off (which I just had replaced at my 60000 mile checkup!). To repair this, they had to pull the engine and need to replace 1 cam shaft, 1 cylinder head and all 16 valves. We are waiting now to hear from the Subaru representative to see if they will cover these repairs. They have already determined that there was no sludge in the oil or remnants from the engine reseal we had done 2 months ago (such as gasket sealer). Although my car has not been in an accident, I think my engine troubles sound awfully similar to yours!
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