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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • pathtomaxpathtomax Posts: 215
    I haven't posted much lately, but I always know I can count on the crew for help!

    My 2001 Outback Wagon Ltd with 130,000 miles is making some kind of squeaking noise. Imagine, if you will, the sound brakes make when they squeak. This is happening when I am driving. I drove around a Honda dealership (just peeking...still love my Subie) and driving around the lot about 10 mph, it was making the squeaking noise. I have been hearing it at lower mph only b/c I have been driving more with the a/c on and can't hear it then. Is this of concern? It may just be intermittent now but want to know if I should bring it in sooner than later.
  • samiam_68samiam_68 Posts: 775
    Have you checked your brakes?
  • pathtomaxpathtomax Posts: 215
    My brakes have been squeaking all along ;) This is not when I am braking though.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'd grease up the sway bar bushings. Rubber on metal squeeks like crazy, and those things move as you drive and turn especially.
  • I'd still check the brakes. Wear sensors on the pads oftentimes emit a squeak when they've reached a certain wear point, and they do it when the brakes are not applied.

  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    How often should one service the calipers? Is there a kit and what needs to be done?
  • I have the tire shop rotate my tires (it's free!) just about every time I change my oil. They're pretty good at giving the brakes a glance when they move the tires around.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Some say you should bleed the hydraulic fluid every year, but that's probably overkill.

    I spray brake cleaner and check the pad thickness each time I rotate the tires, so about every 7500 miles.

    I usually wait until 30k miles or so to bleed the brakes.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Juice, what is the process you use to get complete fluid replacement? I have read many different opinions on the subject. I certainly change my fluid less often than recommended (which seems to typically be every three years regardless of mileage), but when I do I find it tedious and messy....
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I've only done it a couple of times, so I may not be the best person to answer that question.

    Any how, what I do it steal the wife's turkey baster (m-hu-hu-huaaaah!) and siphon out as much as I can from the brake master cylinder. Then refill.

    Then bleed in the proper order, topping off with fresh fluid as I go along.

    Fresh fluid is very nearly clear, the old stuff is yellow (or brown if you waited way too long).

    I may actually buy some of that blue stuff to make the process easy. Can't miss that! Stop when it changes colors! :shades:
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Haha, brown... yep! I always wait too long. Especially on my old vehicles. For them, three years really goes by quickly and they might see a thousand miles in the duration! :sick:
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    What about the caliper itself and the piston? One of the pads(outer?) on one wheel wears extremely more than the other (inner).

    I do not ever recall changing the fluid. The pads, of course. The fluid, maybe one of you guys can give me a hand {smile}.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You can rebuild a caliper if it's not sliding smoothly (you'd notice if it's hard to push back the caliper when you're installing new, thicker brake pads). A well greased caliper should last through at least 2 sets of brake pads, though.

    I had one caliper fail on my 1993 Miata, but it was 15 years old at the time, so I'm not complaining. Replaced it with a rebuilt one rather than rebuilding it myself (too messy, plus it's my safety at stake).

    You shouldn't need to service a caliper or piston before at least 60,000 miles unless there is a problem with the brakes.

    Having said that, you have uneven wear, so it may be worth it to have that caliper rebuilt when your next set of pads are installed. Some would even say do both sides on that axle.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Yeah, I'm not really sure, Phil. I have never serviced a caliper on any of my cars, but then I *only* have had about 210 to 220 thousand miles on them. I'm sure at your mileage, all sorts of new wear items crop up! I think I would do what juice did on his - replace the unit with a rebuilt unless you have the time and inclination to rebuild it yourself. If you were having someone else do the rebuild, it might be cheaper just to replace the whole unit yourself along with a new set of pads. As I'm sure you know, pad replacement takes what, about 45 minutes from start to finish for both sides and most of that time is lifting the car and removing/reinstalling the wheels! ;)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Don't just replace the pads, though. First find out why the wear is uneven. You're not getting the most efficient braking if that's the case.
  • What is the best way to change the thermostate in 97 Outback Legacy, the directions on the do no match my car?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    It's pretty simple. All you need to do is drain the radiator, then put the bucket under the lower radiator hose where it connects to the thermostat housing. Pull the hose off and drain the fluid from it. Pull the housing/thermostat off and allow the fluid to drain from the block (this is always the messiest part for me!). Scrape the gasket material off both the block and the housing, being careful not to gouge the aluminum on the water pump.

    Now, put the new thermostat in and put it all back together! When you refill the fluid, make sure the nose of the car is at an incline (probably will be if you have it lifted up for the work) and open the bleeder screw on the top of the radiator to help air escape. Once the air seems to be out of the system, I like to give a few forceful squeezes to the upper radiator hose to try and dislodge any remaining trapped air.

    Is it the "best" way? I do not know, but it works well for me, and basically did that job four times on my '96 Outback.
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    I am going to replace the calipers with new pads.

    Hey, what is the best way to clean the terminals on the battery?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'm no expert, far from, but my brother in-law cleaned mine with some plain old sand paper, and after reconnecting it, he sprayed on this red stuff that is purpose-made for battery terminals.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Yeah, you can buy a cheap tool, probably around three or four dollars, that is essentially a tin cylinder with a steel brush on the inside. It also has a cap that comes off with a steel brush inside it for cleaning the inside of the cable clamps. You just run those tools over the terminals and clamps, put it back together, and spray the red stuff over it to inhibit future corrosion. If you have quite a bit of corrosion already, I would recommend that you use baking soda and water to first neutralize the acid (to prevent metal corrosion on the battery plate, etc) before performing the rest of the work.

    The whole job might take you ten minutes if you stop for coffee in the middle. ;)
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    The baking soda was the part I was looking for. The dealer called it a science project.

    They put the car on their computer and said that my misfire code could be from oil leaking into the spark plug(I did not change the seals in the tube). The spark plug was not tight. And the valves could be sticking (I will try some more Lucas, this time on the next six fill-ups). There was some oil pooling on top of the engine (they said I did not tighten the head gasket properly).

    The other things on this laundry list: Fuel Service, Battery Service, Cat Converter (P0420), O2 sensors, power steering rack boots, coolant service, and fuel filter. If they did all this work it would come to $3738.

    They were going to charge me $52.70 to replace the driver side headlight. I did for $9.99.

    And as I was leaving a salesmen handed me a card. With 302,823 why should I get rid of it now. 400K here I come.
  • Wow- 303K! That's music to my aged ears; I was planning on 200K for my nearly new Forester- maybe I should revise that to 300K? (unless I croak first, of course, in which case my daughter will no doubt take it over)
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,613

    Quite an interesting note in a car advice page in the Melbourne Herald Sun today. Subaru Australia explained to them why they recommend the use of a fuel additive on a regular basis. They claim that fuel additives in some fuels result in carbon flakes delaminating from the cylinder walls when the engine cools. In a conventional engine this is not a severe problem as the carbon flaes fall onto the top of the piston and then discharge through exhaust once engine is running. However in a horizontally opposed engine (ie boxer such as Subaru), the flakes of carbon can lodge across the exhaust valves, resulting in the exhaust staying open. thus the engine runs rough until it clears the carbon flakes, if it can be stared at all

    This can also result in flooding of the engine and wet plugs. Apparently, flooding self clears after 12-24 hours when fuel evaporates off the plugs.

    Interesting if true.


  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Wow, you are well past the quarter million mile club. Sweet.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Yeah, it could be due to leaking oil I suppose. That tends to be caused by the inner seal on the valve cover allowing oil to leak into the plug cavity. The wire boots hold that oil in there and it can pool up. Mine did that on one cylinder before the second time I pulled the engine out, but I never had misfire problems due to it. I suppose if the oil found its way onto the plug itself, that could have happened.

    I hope it is not the valves sticking. Otherwise, you could be in for another run pulling the head(s).

    I still lament the loss of my Outback. I would surely be close to 300K by now. :cry:
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    Dan at the Subaru dealership said that the spark plugs were not tight enough, so oil could work its way in with the engine cold. After it got hot it sealed up, that may explain misfire cold and running smooth after half an hour.

    I am using Lucas for the next 6 fillup for the sticking valves.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Well, best of luck to you for some smooth running! With all the work you have put into that car over the last many months, you certainly deserve to enjoy some more trouble-free miles out of it!
  • Well, I did it to my '99 Forester. At a gas station I banged the right rear taillight into the metal post protecting the gas pump. The lenses are smashed, but all lights work. I must replace this before the rainy season starts. The local dealer service dept. is quoting me $250. Can anyone suggest alternative places to find taillight assemblies for less$$? :(

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Yes. I looked up a couple places real quick, both of which were at least 50% less than $250! lists it for $114.26.

    Rock Auto, which I have used and has great service, great prices, and good shipping rates, has it for $102.79.

    That kind of stuff is bound to happen sooner or later.... :cry:
  • I have a 2001 Forester with AT and I'm having a problem with my key getting stuck in the ignition when I park the car and shut off the engine. I found a procedure in the owners manual for getting the key out. You need to remove the lower half of the steering column and push the interlock release lever. The manual says to take the vehicle immediately to the dealer to have the key interlock system repaired.

    I spent some time studying this and it looks like the lever is supposed to be moved by a solenoid that is actuated when the gear shift lever is moved into park and the release button on the shift lever is released. In my case this solenoid will not move the lever reliably. When that happens the key cannot be turned all the way back into the lock position and thus cannot be removed. In this condition, the steering wheel is not locked so wiggling it from side to side does not help. I tried lubricating the lever mechanism but that didn't help either.

    So I think this solenoid needs to be replaced. Has anyone out there done this before? It seems to be located rather deep on the underside of the steering column and it is surrounded by a lot of structure and parts that look like they would have to be removed. I am wondering how involved this job would be and if this requires removing the steering wheel and dealing with the airbag, etc. I'm just trying to decide whether this job is best left to the dealer.

    Can anyone offer some advice?

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