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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,733
    Agree. I have a laptop based OBD-II tool (AutoEnginuity), that allows you to select and datalog any 6 of 20+ readouts simultaneously. You can see when the temp passes around 135 F and the fuel system switches from open (map) to closed loop (oxygen sensor), and all other sorts of fun things! The first big plateau is around 170 (probably when my thermostat begins to open), with a high of 210-215 F not uncommon. Hardly any differentiation in the position of the dash gauge in this range.
  • Thank you for the compliments of my posts being well read! I see I left a word or two out even after proof reading. You are correct. I meant the oil separator plate on the back of the engine. Memory does not always serve me well when it comes to what parts are called! That happens when the snow stick to your hair all the

    As for temp gauges most are just that idiot gauges. I will add that I have seen a few rare OEM cases out there that actually moved! One of them on our 89 Mazda 323! So I do not discount when someone appears to have a sensitive gauge and complains about running hot. Your points should also help put our fellow poster in NH concerns to rest about overheating. On the other hand, as I point out to my fleet people, you see that gauge higher than normal, investigate! Call me! And....they do!

    So far, normal maintenance and excellent diagnosis skills have kept me out of buying OBD II equipment. How do you like that AutoEnginuity? I have been considering The Auto Tap version market equivalent. Problem is, Subaru is not listed as being compatible last time I looked. Now we have a growing Toy fleet to consider as well. We look for auto equipment that has good electronics to buy up front to help avoid future trouble.
  • I become amused when I hear the government mandates adding "new safety equipment." I can see the need in adverse weather conditions like snow. But I always tell people, the best piece of any safety equipment is right between your ears! The law of physics will only forgive so much!

    Best example I can think of is the story of a nurse who bought a new Chrysler from my brother only to return for another after discovering the traction control would not bail her out of a sudden 90 degree turn at 50 mph on a gravel road!

    In other words, there are a lot of "I dots" aka idiots out on the road and no government mandate will get rid of them! Avoidance is the best policy! Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy! I always remind myself to slow down think about what I am doing before I become too unlady like! It is cheaper and takes less time to repair. Like an old mechanic, probably deceased by now, told me, " It takes a split second to screw it up and eternity to repair it." It is even more of a pain when it is my stupidity that did it and I have to fix it!

    Yup, that best piece of safety equipment has bailed me out of some crazy stuff.....and it is not even government mandated. Maybe it should be?!?!LOL
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,733
    edited February 2011
    I bought the AutoEnginuity tool several years back because it was feature-rich, and the only laptop system at the time that also supported the (then new) CAN interface. It was a system to grow with, without added expense or retrofits.

    Performance has been OK, mainly limited by my Subi's older ISO interface, which is simply slow. Faster laptops help with multistream data, but the delivery from the interface can be chunky. I suspect that CAN would probably be much better. Also, my early unit had a serial interface, and I am running it thru a serial to USB converter. Direct to USB might be better.

    The Auto Tap does look interesting, and might be better. In some of their 'white papers', they talk about monitoring things like tranny temp, something I don't see available on A.E.

    The OBD-II standard is positively ancient (over 15 years), and automakers have added hundreds of proprietary codes each, some thru other ports. You can get additional interface modules with some of these scan tools to read these (like ABS / Stability Control, advanced tranny functions, etc.).

    Two years back I attended an auto electronics industry panel discussion where some of the proposed features of OBD-III was discussed. Telematics and other new technologies will change everything! Good luck with diagnosing a performance issue by ear without the right tools in the future.
  • 04 Forester with 72K miles leaking oil.

    Dealer confirmed oil leak and it is the head gaskets. $1100 repair estimate. Service manager told me that if he had service records that Subaru might help with some of the cost. Well the only work done at the dealer was tranny service. I do the other work on my own. I did add the Subaru "magic elixer" into the cooling system whenever I did a coolant changes. I have no or little records so I guess I am screwed.

    My problem is that this is an oil leak due to defective head gaskets, not a coolant leak. The "magic elixer" in the coolant would have nothing to do with this. It is plain head gasket failure and no matter how much Subaru recommened crap you add to the coolant, it was piss poor design that caused this problem and Subaru should step up and admit it. All Subaru has to do is read this forum to understand the scope of this head gasket issue. If there is a class action lawsuit against Subaru, I will join it.

    This is my second Subaru and I was hoping that this one would give me as many problems as my first one, which was none! This will be my last Subaru. Keep listening to the bean counters Subaru and keep "cheapening" things up, and you will be joining GM and Chrysler whose reputation for making junk is well known.
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    I did it.

    I am now the proud owner of a 2011 Outback. Traded-in the Saturn and kept the Forester. Not sure when I will replace the engine in it.

    The Outback is like a luxury car for me. It's fantastic.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited February 2011
    "04 Forester with 72K miles leaking oil. Dealer confirmed oil leak and it is the head gaskets. $1100 repair estimate... My problem is that this is an oil leak due to defective head gaskets, not a coolant leak. The "magic elixer" in the coolant would have nothing to do with this. It is plain head gasket failure and no matter how much Subaru recommened crap you add to the coolant, it was piss poor design that caused this problem..."

    The head gasket is not defective. When it fails, the leak can be either oil, coolant or both. And the coolant conditioner is supposed to minimize both kinds of leaks.

    The defect is in the open deck design of the cylinder block:
    The tops of the cylinders are not well braced, move slightly, rub on the gasket, eventually ruining its seal. The gasket sealing area around the top of a cylinder is little more than the rim of a glass. On one side of the rim is a cooling passage with coolant, and on the other side is a piston with oil. Sometimes the coolant leaks, sometimes the oil.

    The more braced semi-closed deck used on the DOHC turbo and diesel engines does not have this problem. But such a deck cannot be cast with reusable die casts, and must use expensive single use sand casts.

    Subaru solved the problem with the new 2011 engine by not having the coolant in the block to go through the gasket and into the head. The head has its own coolant supply:
    "Cooling has been optimized by using separate engine cooling circuitry for the block and the head..."
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,733
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Congrats. :shades:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Gotta compliment you...your posts on the subject are well written and summarized enough that I've bookmarked several of them.

  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    I have read that for the first one thousand miles not to drive at a constant speed. Does that mean not to use cruise control at all? Can I set cruise at say 65 for ten miles, the up it 5mph for ten, down 10mph, up 15 mph and so forth? What does the varying do for me?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,509
    My advice is to simply avoid the use of the cruise for that first 1,000 (they go by quickly, to which you can certainly attest!) unless you are in a hilly area where the hills will result in load variation on the engine even with the cruise engaged.

    The goal, so I have heard, is that the speed variation results in engine load variations, which helps to "seat" the cylinder rings, etc., so that the engine receives an optimal break-in. That (presumably?) results in less oil use and potentially longer engine life.
  • "I have read that for the first one thousand miles not to drive at a constant speed. Does that mean not to use cruise control at all? Can I set cruise at say 65 for ten miles, the up it 5mph for ten, down 10mph, up 15 mph and so forth? What does the varying do for me?"

    Not only do not use cruise control, but do not hold a steady speed at all. On the contrary, the ideal is frequent accelerations and decelerations. And do some hard accelerations to 4,000 RPM, which I think is the limit the Owners Manual sets for the break in period.

    The varying is the essence of a break in for the engine. See my reply to Lone Ranger in the Forester forum: 31
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    Giving up my cruise is like, asking a chain smoker to go cold turkey. Plus it keeps me from exceeding those numbers on the white signs on the highway. Thus avoiding flashing blue/red lights in my rear view mirror.

    My round trip commute to work is 76 miles. I drive 30 miles each way on the expressway. For the past two days in one direction, I pump the gas pedal. When traveling the reverse direction, I do cruise. For 10 miles, I do speed A, then B, then C. I have 204 miles on the car since I picked it up Wednesday. It will take me 10 days to get to that 1k mark.

    How much trouble am I in? It is tough to ride the gas pedal (acc/decc) and stay under the posted limit. Unless you guys are suggestion driving local streets to work.
  • Ok, I stand corrected, it is not faulty head gaskets but engine (head) design. Either way Subaru needs to step up to the plate and admit they screwed up.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited February 2011
    "... I drive 30 miles each way on the expressway... in one direction, I pump the gas pedal. When traveling the reverse direction, I do cruise. For 10 miles, I do speed A, then B, then C... How much trouble am I in? ..."

    That is not an ideal break-in, but probably average, and better than some. You could improve it by not using the cruise control, and not holding the same speed for so long manually. Change speed up and down by 5 mph every mile or so. Or not.
    It really does not matter. Engines don't really need break-in to run fine and make it through their warranty period. Many a dealer trade has been taken off the lot with 0 miles and delivered on the Interstate to a distant city on cruise control.
    But a perfect break-in does help minimize oil consumption. If you really cared, and most people don't, you would stay off the Interstate for your commute during break-in. You would take city streets and 2-lane roads. Ideally, you would spend a weekend in vigorous driving on country roads, letting the curves and hills do the "varying" for you.
  • "... it is not faulty head gaskets but engine (head) design... Subaru needs to step up to the plate and admit they screwed up."

    Subaru has been doing that for many years. For long after the warranty period, Subaru has been sharing in the cost of head gasket replacements. But they do favor original owners, who had their cars serviced by dealers, or otherwise have records. Subaru has no obligation in the matter and is reciprocating the good will they received from the customer's loyalty to the dealer.

    Recently on another forum, someone was unhappy that Subaru was not going to share in their head gasket cost. They had bought their Forester 9 years ago off a used car dealer's lot, with 25K miles and had put another 50K on it without ever having gone to a dealer except to buy coolant conditioner.

    Subaru has admitted the shortcoming of the open deck design in this article:
    "The BOXER DIESEL adopts a semi-closed cylinder block deck to improve the rigidity around the head gaskets, following the precedent of the semi-closed type used in the Subaru EJ20 turbocharged gasoline engine."
  • the Porsche factory drivers had a routine (not that our Subies are Porsches) involving high load full throttle driving and then lifting every time they went under a bridge, to create vacuum to suck oil past the piston rings & keep things lubed & vary load... lol (?)

    main break-in considerations seem to be not holding steady speeds for too long so I avoid cruise control during the break-in period and consciously vary speed ...
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    Thanks for the advice. On the way to work today, I pumped the gas pedal all the way. I did about 65 mph, from time to time I would ease off and then tach up to 4K rpm and settle down to 67-70, then back to 65.

    I thought about local roads (I hate traffic lights), but since it is raining and three previous collision were attributed to the other guy I will wait for better weather. But for the sake of a good break-in, local roads here I come.

    Though on my Forester, I did not pay as much attention to proper break-in. It didn't have any noticable oil lose until about 250k after the idler pulley went. Search on "Bad Idle 2"
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Didn't they warranty those for 7/100? As long as you used the conditioner they provided.

    FWIW we have about 5 Subies in the family from that era and none had the gasket issue.
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    we have about 5 Subies in the family from that era and none had the gasket issue.

    Utterly amazing... statistically unlikely... but obviously possible. :surprise:
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,733
    There is more to the failure rate variation than just the block design, although that is certainly the underlying cause.

    From some discussions with a local resident and former regional mgr, there were several running changes in head gasket design intended to better cope with the difference in coefficient of expansion between the material stack. There may have also been some changes in the flatness specification and surface finishing (machining) of the sealing surfaces along the way. When SOA extended the warranty, there were some VIN number exclusions within the 2000-2003 period and a hard cutoff after a certain point based on the belief that they had a handle on the situation.

    Unfortunately, neither the use of the conditioner or new gaskets at 15k miles on my '02 prevented a second failure at 62k miles. The kicker for me was that my VIN supposedly fell into the 'fixed by redesign' category, and I was technically not eligible for the extended HG warranty! Fortunately SOA heard my pleas and felt my pain, and was kind enough to do a courtesy repair with the car some 18 months beyond the normal powertrain warranty.

    Three of the guys in my department bought OBW's based on my recommendations. Two of them (both 2003) have had HG failures within the past year. So far, the 2004 is OK. Time will tell...
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,509
    Phil, I had a 2,200-mile drive ahead of me when I purchased my '10 Forester, which definitely made the thought of not using the CC daunting. For the first day or so I owned it, I was between Seattle and Prince George with good highways and many hills, so I was not very tempted to use the cruise. That ate up about 550 miles. After that, though, I used the cruise extensively save for a few stretches of fun country, including most of the Cassiar Highway.

    I changed the oil about a week after arriving home, with 2,500 miles on the car, and used 0-30 synthetic. So far, with 23,000 miles on the car now, it still doesn't use any noticeable amount. My first oil change, which saw about 11,500 miles on the oil, there was no discernible difference on the dipstick between start and finish. On this oil change (about 9,000 on it now), I can't say for sure because I had an oil filter come loose, which resulted in significant oil loss (about 1.5 quarts) and required make-up oil. However, I did not see any dipstick change before that and haven't seen any change since then.

    In short, be conscious about it, but don't fret over it. It's tough having a new car again, isn't it?! :P
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    Everyone should have this problem of a new car {smile}.

    My 91' Sentra (229,000) and the 00' Forester (206,000) were great on the highway. Service tech's made notice of that.

    After my first free oil change, should I switch to synthetic?
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    After my first free oil change, should I switch to synthetic?

    Absolutely. Never look back.

    I advocate the use of premium filters such as a Purolator Pure 1, and full synthetic like Mobil1 or Syntec. However I don't see any value in the ultra-premium synthetics like AMSOil or Royal Purple. I do not dispute their technical superiority over Mobil1, but I dispute whether they add any meaningful value, considering how good Mobil1 already is and that your oil changes are driven by filter life, not synthetic oil life.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited February 2011
    I had the 98 Forester, which supposedly had the internal leaks. Sold it after 9 years sans any serious issues.

    My brother just totaled his 2004 Legacy. 123k miles trouble-free!

    Sis still has her 03 Forester. Only problem? A damaged tire sidewall.

    Dad's got his 01 Outback. My brother is driving that now that he's without any car, while he shops.

    Wifey's 09 Forester is also trouble-free for 2 years. That and my old Forester were both v1.0, too.

    Knock on wood!

    Edit: forgot our 2002 Legacy, and here's the funny part - I just got call from the guy who bought it from us last week. Uh-oh, gaskets, I thought. Nope - he wanted to know which shop installed the aftermarket moonroof (Adler & Mandell). So that's 9+ years old now.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,868
    I always dread reading these stories, but my '97 Outback seems ok.

    I think it's because I use dead dino and Fram filters in it. :P

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    How often do you change the oil using a synthetic? I heard with Amsoil it is 25K?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They don't even give them the best care, basically following the if-it-ain't-broke rule.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,509
    edited February 2011
    Well, it depends on driving, etc., but even with Amsoil (yes, they have an oil - Signature Series - that they claim to go up to 35,000 or one year and their filter claims 25,000), I wouldn't generally go that long. I changed out my oil last year with just shy of 12,000 miles on it. I also had two oil analyses done (one at 7500 which is the mfg recommended interval and one at 11,930 when I changed it). At the first analysis, it was high on break-in metals and TBN was at 4. After the second analysis, the break-in metals remained nearly unchanged with the TBN dropping to 3. Even though it still has sufficient acid buffering, I felt it was a good time to change it to get those break-in metals out of there. I need to do another analysis, but I just haven't taken the time to pull the sample yet. If okay, I'll do another when I change this summer, then annually thereafter with the oil change.

    Unless you do an oil analysis to verify the oil's integrity, I don't recommend an interval longer than 10,000 on the initial synthetic fill and 15,000 thereafter.

    Depending, of course, on the oil you use! If you go with something like Mobil1 Extended, Amsoil Signature, or similar, the above would apply.
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