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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • jcy02ob,

    I bought my first Subaru ('03 Forester) just three months agon and am also adjusting to the "noise" from the I4. I would have to agree with the tech, if my experience with Japanese engines these past ten years give me enough credibility in your eyes.

    The bigger makes I'm familiar with (Honda, Toyota) do seem to have engines that run smoother and quieter. In contrast is the boxer engine. I noticed it right away but was comfortable with it and have been comfortable with it the last few months. It's been close to 30 degrees where I live and it does sound louder, but all-in-all I consider it normal and part of the adjustment of owning a subaru because of the boxer engine.

    I can sympathize with your concern. Ownership of this brand is a very foreign (and thus - new) experience and I react with concern as well since there is no baseline against which I can judge this vehicle within the brand. But reading your post and others similar to it and the responses, my expectation is it's normal.
  • Many engines have their characteristic sound to my well tuned automotive ears. Often, this unique acoustic signature is due to the engine's unusual design, such as the raspy Porsche engines (opposed engines like the Sube engine), the chirp of the old VW Beetle engine (minute amounts of pressure escaping from the block seams due to unique construction technique), the horrid rattling of most American V6s (V6s are inherently unbalanced), the hum of a BMW inline 6 (inherently balanced), etc. I think you have an inordinately good ear for someone not in the auto industry and all you're hearing is a unique acoustic signature of the boxer style engine. My well cared for Sube engine is faintly dissonant upon cold start as well, which disappears after warm up. I suspect it is unique to the opposed cylinder design and would not be concerned about it. Congrats on the curse of good hearing! (also, your prior experience with the Olds has undoubtedly left you a tad paranoid and has made listening for trouble an automatic reflex).

  • Ken,

    Stop scratching your heads and pull out a tape measure. :-)

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    that one gave me a chuckle!

    I had a '97 OBS with the 2.2L DOHC, and the valves clattered and chattered like that every time it was cold, just for a minute or two, then it went away.

    Every Subie I have ever had prior to that one did the same thing, except the sound stayed all thru the drive with the oldest ones.

    It certainly is not faintly dissonant - if you have the radio off you will hear it.

    BUT, it is perfectly routine for the engines Subie makes, and cold definitely makes it worse. if you live in the southwest, you probably will not hear the noise at all during the summer.

    And my experience is that the engines last forever, so clearly the noise is not doing anything detrimental.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Wow, I better start saving my pennies for that legover! :) I dropped by the TXIC forum cause I heard there was a big-to-do over there and figured I'd weigh in on it, trying to straighten stuff out over there not just in TXIC. :)

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    I'll tell my friend to do that as soon as he gets his Forester back from the shop!

  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    Most midgrades at modern stations are mixed immediately at the pump. Half from the regular tank, and half from the premium tank. My Subbie works best with midgrade and I've never had a problem with it being bad gas just because it's midgrade.
  • lspivalspiva Posts: 49
    Everybody. I just need a general advise on what type of engine oil is better for 03 Forester. Is old style original or syntetic? I always though that syntetic is better because it thinner and then it is easier on the engine parts in day to day commute traffic. On other hand, I have heard that because syntetic is too thin, it migh cause a likage from the engine. Last time I changed my oil for syntetic and did not really see any improvement in a way of fuel economy or engine performance. So now I am close to my second oil change (I change it every three months or three thousand miles whichever comes first) and would like to hear opinion of the Subaru owners which oil do they use. Thanks in advance for your time. Leo
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Isn't 60k kind of late to switch and obtain any benefit?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    waterguy: take it back and demand 1) an apology and 2) a full detailing of the under carriage and engine bay.

    Boxers have, by design, perfect 2nd order balance. That's why even though it's a big four banger, at 2.5l, it still doesn't use balance shafts. An in-line four of that size with no balance shafts would probably shake itself right out of the engine bay!

    That said, they do have a characteristic growl. You can hear a Subie coming. A Honda/Toyota/Mazda/Nissan basically sound the same, like a sewing machine. And not all are quiet, for the most part they save that for the Lexus and Acura models.

    The 2.5l is bored out from the same block as the 2.2l, so the cylinder walls aren't as thick and it'll be more noisy. Any big 4 cylinder will be, basically.

    Look at the H6 - it's super-smooth and a lot more quiet. I had to look at the tach to tell it was running.

    Now, back to the H4, and Leo asks the question at the perfect time. Would synthetic help? I think so. It flows better, and doesn't get as thick when it's cold. When you start your engine, it takes about 7 seconds to establish oil pressure. Even after that, the oil isn't flowing very well until it's warmed up, so try to avoid putting much load on this (actually, any) engine before it's warm. Note that BMW has a variable redline on some engines, it's as low as 4000 rpm when the engine is cold.

    But yeah, synthetic flows better and doesn't get as thick when it's really cold. That will quiet the valve clatter sooner, at least in theory.

    Another alternative is an engine block heater. It's a factory option and fairly easy to install, from what Pat said in a chat (he installed one on his GT, lives in frigid Canada).

    Good luck.

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    Synthetic oil trumps conventional oil in every way. It resists breakdown better, holds a more constant viscosity over a broader range of temperature, less likely to form sludge. There are tons of reports of owners that used synthetic oil, tore down the engine well after 100K miles and found it to be sparking clean.

    The only downside to synthetic is price. It costs 2-3X more per quart than dino oil.

    It's a misconception that synthetic oil is "thinner". Synthetic oil is available in a wide range of viscosities. What you probably are refering to is seal leakage from using synthetic in an older engine. Sometimes, older engines have build up from conventional oil helping to plug up faulty seals. Using synthetic can unlodge these plugs and cause the seals to leak.

  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    There are pros and cons for each type.

    Conventional Pro. Inexpensive. New SL Classification has some synthetic in by nature in the lighter weights, and much better anti-sludging capabilities than in the past, better on seals (Causes slight swelling). CON harder to start in cold, leaves deposits inside engine, doesn't have the long range capabilities of synthetic; slightly higher gas mileage.

    Synthetic. Pro: Keeps inside of engine cleaner; can be used for longer intervals due to higher detergents and cleaners as well as the oil itself; slightly lower gas mileage (1-2 MPG); less likely to sludge or fail. Cons: costs up to 4 times the cost of conventional; doesn't help seals (although it doesn't hurt them, it won't plug up small pinholes and leaks out quicker).

    If you're going only 3 months or 3,000 miles, synthetic would be a waste of money. If you go 5,000 miles or 5 months then it could even out. You shouldn't have seal problems on a new vehicle with even a pure synthetic.

    On my older Subbie, I now use a 50% mix of high mileage oil and synthetic and go 4,000 miles or 6 months which ever comes sooner. This works very well for me. What you should actually use is still a subject of debate.
  • We have a 93 subaru legacy with auto tranny. Miles = 130k. Sometimes with no rhyme or reason the transmission will not engage into reverse, other times it engages just fine and still other times if you wiggle the shift lever it go in. Anyone have this experience or can give suggestions?
  • hondafriekhondafriek Ottawa CanadaPosts: 2,924
    At 60.000 miles I would carry on with dino, but I would change often,around every 3,000 miles.

    Cheers Pat.
  • kevin111kevin111 Posts: 991
    If Convential Oil gets higher gas mileage, I thought this would be a benefit.
  • tyguytyguy ColoradoPosts: 804
    micpc1: The problem could be a faulty neutral safety switch. Neutral safety switches use electric contacts to sense what gear the gear shifter is placed in. The contacts can wear out over time since they rub against each other, but wiggling the selector helps make contact with a less worn piece of the contact patch.

    I've never had to replace one in a Subaru, but I have had one fail in a Toyota Camry. If I remember correctly, the part was several hundred dollars, but the installation time was short.
  • lspivalspiva Posts: 49
    Guys, thanks for your responds. Here is another question that bothers me. I have a Chase bank Subaru Back certificates that can be used for paying for the maintanence of the Subaru cars at participated Subaru dealerships. So if I ask my dealer to replace engine oil with a syntetic one, how will I be able to identify if the oil that dealer used was in fact a syntetic and not the conventional? The dealer that I am going is charging $33 for conventional oil change and $58 for syntetic. I just don't want to overpay $25.
    Thanks again. Leo
  • mikenkmikenk Posts: 281
    I buy my own synthetic and let the Subie dealer change it; he deducts the price of the oil from the oil change special they always run.

  • If anyone could give me some help with this problem it would be wonderful! I've been experiencing problems with my clutch and the dealer doesn't seem to know what to do about it. The car is fine for the first 20 minutes or so of driving but then the clutch starts to groan as I depress it and it stiffens up. It is a very audible sound that gets worse the longer you drive the car. So far in their attempts to solve this problem, the dealership has lubed the clutch cable, replaced the clutch cable and replaced a bushing. None of which has had the slightest effect on this problem.

    Furthermore, as the cold weather sets in again, I am starting to experience yet another problem that I had last winter but went away during the summer. When you are engaging first gear the clutch will often make a whining sound like something isn't engaging and you sort have to baby the car into gear. The dealership has adjusted the clutch several times but this hasn't done a darn thing either.

    I am reaching my limit. The car is less than two years old and was bought to replace my VW after I watched it get towed for the fourth time in one year (it was less than five years old). I bought the Subaru specifically so I wouldn't have any of these problems and I am feeling very let down and very frustrated. The guy at my dealership keeps telling I shouldn't worry because these are great cars - but that doesn't really solve my problem!

    Any ideas????
  • lspivalspiva Posts: 49
    I had the similar problem with my 97 Nissan Altima. The clutch pedal was groaning as you describe. The Nissan dealer replaced bushing and cables 3 times during 8 months interval. After I have called to Nissan customer center, dealer replaced the entire clutch and manual shifter. After which relieve had finally come. I would suggest to contact SOA and request that local Subaru representative had evaluated the problem that you are describing.
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