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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • Not anymore! 1K/quart is old school, but acceptable if you are driving something much older!

    If you have that rate going on, you most likely have a leak! If no leak then someone put a heavier weight in and the engine wore out to that point for that weight! Highly recommended to stick to OEM recommendations! Even to this date, what the maker says is close to the deity speaking.

    All of the newer Toyota's here are not using any oil between oil changes. Stick to what Subaru says to use. Tolerances in these newer engines are much tighter than years ago. Stick to synthetic oil also, because that light of a weight oil in mineral type will break down from the heat quicker.

    I will also ad that Toyota has a portion of ownership in Subaru now!
  • I am having trouble buying it. Can't fix what I can not see. Gauges are necessary for diagnosis. Your last lines say what I am thinking. No is the answer to your final question.
  • I have a drone-type noise coming from the back. Worse at higher speeds. Dealer diagnosed it as a failing right rear wheel bearing and quoted $485 to replace it. Car has 90,000 miles.

    Is this a rip off? What should something like that cost? Does anyone know a good independent mechanic in North NJ?
  • I wish he was wrong for your sake......but he most likely, 99% is correct! This is a headache job. Especially on the older ones. Left best to a good experienced Subaru guy/gal. Installing the seals, bearing and shaft is very precise. Not done right, water gets in real easy and destroys that bearing. Contrary to Subaru's ads.....keep the car out of the mud and water!

    I have changed these things more than I care to in our fleet units. To date the replacement units have averaged 40K miles. True we buy mostly from The last set came from the "top of the price and brand list." The clock will tell us! Does not matter whose name is on the box, the bearings are either NTN or Koyo. Discussion here lately has been about parts grade. We are hoping the higher price will be buying the higher parts grade. Manufactures do sell the poorer grade stuff at a lower price, but with rebox/resellers in the picture, it is hard to see who might be price gouging. There is a history of even Subaru dealers getting some poor quality stuff. I suggest you search my other write ups on this subject. Very long and informative on this big Subaru headache.

    $485 sounds a bit right, but I would be more concerned about how many years the person doing the repair has under his/her belt. I have 40 plus years and 40K miles is the best I am getting? Our cars are snow birds with 250K- 320K of service each. All seals must be seated carefully. All seal mating surfaces must be clean, smooth and free of rust. That includes the halfshaft mating surfaces! I had to replaced those shafts recently because of rusted surfaces. If you have to replace a halfshaft, the best value for the dollar has been A1 Cardone NEW! Rockauto again.

    Needless to say, this has been one of the rubs with Subaru and has put Toyota on the list for newer replacement units.
  • I put in new rear wheel bearings today, WOW! noise is gone and it sounds like a new car again (except for the front window whistle).

    The low hum started at about 150k miles, and at 172k, was getting to be a pretty noticeable buzz. I still had no noticeable play in the wheels.

    I replaced them with the updated Subie roller bearings, much more robust than the ball bearings that were original. The 2 Subaru bearings and 6 seals cost $170, an additional $20 for a machine shop to remove the old bearing race from the hub, and $110 for a Harbor Freight wheel bearing adapter kit. The kit is about a B-, the screw portion is rather weak, but is 3/4" x 16 thread so additional bolts can be bought to keep the rest of the well built parts going.

    So $300 and 8 hours of time for a DIY bearing replacement. Step by step instructions are available on

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Nice work, John! Hopefully... these new bearings (roller style) last as long as you'll care for them to last. ;)
  • Thanks! with the reduced cabin noise, it is giving me a notion to keep it a bit longer, rather than pop for the 2014 CrossTrek that I've been eyeing. The Forester should have another year or two in it before the next major (timing belt and components). In the meantime, nothing wrong with giving Subaru some time to figure out a better, more productive hybrid system.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    That's where I am, too. Granted, my car isn't "old" by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm also not planning on it going anywhere until Subaru offers something that's worth the plunge again (or another manufacturer offers something that takes Subaru out of the running).
  • I've been eyeing the CMAX also. I'd like something that plugs in to get the free mpg that my solar panels dish out.

    Looking at the BMW i3. Among others. Lots to look at in 2014, 2015.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I checked out the CMAX with the family at the car show, the rear seat is low and kind of stiff. They didn't find it comfortable and walked away before I could even defend it.

    Try it out and make sure your family finds it comfortable.

    I'm sure you're aware of the lowered EPA numbers, too.

    Still, it has a bigger gas tank than any Prius and should be more fun to drive. I was kinda bummed the fam vetoed it.
  • Good point. My backseaters are a few months behind me, generally. I'm into comfort, mpg, low noise, and little maintenance these days.

    I can remember how 30 years ago it was speed, looks, noise, and constant tinkering. We sure change over the years.

  • I have a 2003 Subaru Legacy LSE 5 speed manual wagon bought 9/11/2002 with 68,950 miles as of 12/16/2013.

    Yesterday, I learned my head gasket is leaking and that there’s a coolant leak “somewhere behind the engine”. A new battery is also needed, but who’s counting? If I heard correctly, the head gasket would be about $2500, and the coolant leak could also be quite expensive, depending…

    I made a plea for a consideration for relief from the manufacturer as this car has, but for one very, very minor issue, been serviced by nobody but Bloomington Subaru. It has never missed any service. Obviously, it’s old, but few cars could claim to be better maintained or perhaps as over maintained. Bloomington Subaru has always seemed reasonable. Do I?

    Friday 12/20/2013 it goes in for diagnosis of the coolant leak behind the engine, and I’ll find out if prostrating myself on the Subaru altar helped.

    A couple of questions:

    First of all, any general advice? There are only 2 or 3 other minor issues with the car as far as I know. Is it stupid to invest this amount of money in this car? I’d hoped that by caring for it over zealously, the reward would be a longer life than this.

    For some reason, I can’t search the forum right now, and this might be answered there. Sorry. Something with the server? Is it the design of the gasket and/or head, the integrity of the gasket itself, or perhaps is it also a measure of how vigorously the car has been driven? Mine is rarely pushed hard, and even then, not very hard. Passing, on-ramps, and the like.

    Are there other expensive problems like this one which it would not be unreasonable to anticipate for this vehicle in the near- or medium-term future?

    Is it reasonable to hope for some assistance on this? It’s particularly untimely financially to have to consider replacing this vehicle.

    Unrelated, but upon full acceleration, I get a sound that I compare to the thing on the top of a pressure cooker when the RPMs get over about 3000-4000. A sort of high, quick, rattly/buzz from the engine. The service manager drove it with me a year or two ago and said it was some bearing behind the clutch and also that I wouldn’t have to worry about it until either the clutch needs replacement or the mileage is well past six figures. Can you figure out what he was talking about, and might this be related in any way to the coolant leak and/or head gasket?

    I believe Consumer Reports has singled out this model and year as used a car not to buy.

    Any insights appreciated. Thank you.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391

    @gjksn963 said:

    I believe Consumer Reports has singled out this model and year as used a car not to buy.

    Wow! That's not very many miles for a ten-year-old vehicle! That aside, I doubt Subaru will do much on this, but perhaps they'll throw a little good will your way. 2003 was an awkward year because that is the year they apparently switched gasket materials, which cut down on (but clearly did NOT eliminate) the frequency of head gasket issues. The problem is a design flaw in the 2.5L engine that allows too much movement of the cylinders at their junction with the heads. With all the coolant and oil passages through that area, something is bound to cross channels or leak externally (or internally, sadly enough).

    Expense-wise, your head gaskets are the primary cost. If you opt to have that done, I really doubt that any sort of coolant leak will create a large incremental expense given the amount of disassembly, etc., that goes into the head job. Will it come back? As surely as the sun rises and sets... BUT! That doesn't mean it will happen in another 60K miles. It could take that long, longer, less, or even not while you own it. You can also reduce the likelihood of the worst manifestations of this manufacturing flaw by using a coolant additive (Subaru's additive is essentially Stop Leak (proactively used!)). Starting around the time of 2003, Subaru required this additive in all naturally aspirated EJ25s mostly, I think, to cut down on the number of HG failure claims.

    The rattly sound is probably a heat shield. Those can sometimes get to harmonizing given the right vibrational frequencies.

    As for whether the expense is worth it.... Probably not if you plan to sell it anyway, but a definite YES if you want to keep the car and your alternative is to buy a new car (or even a "new used" car), as this cost is WAY lower than alternatives, you have already amortized the purchase of your car and any maintenance/repair work into it over the years. Consider that even if the sum of all this repair work is $3,500 - 4,000, that's still less than a year's worth of car payments. So, you dump some serious cash into it now, and get another five years out of it. You just came out four years ahead of simply paying off the purchase price of a new car.

    Unless the car is worn out, I always recommend repairing unless you want a new car. If you do, then there's no reason to even justify the decision: You just want a new car, the end. :)

  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 39,971
    edited December 2013

    @gjksn963 said: For some reason, I can’t search the forum right now, and this might be answered there. Sorry. Something with the server?

    The search tool is the little magnifying glass up top or down below next to the list of pages (and other search links are around different areas of the site). Searching this discussion should return a list of posts.

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

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404

    @gjksn963 said: If I heard correctly, the head gasket would be about $2500

    That's a very hefty price for head gaskets on a 2.5L Subaru. As xwesx stated, this is a known defect, usually occurring like clockwork at between 100,000 and 130,000 miles but I guess in your case possibly age-related as well.

    The car is certainly worth fixing but i think you are being quoted much too high a price for the gasket work. In any event, once repaired properly, you should not have any more trouble with this.

    I doubt Subaru would be interested in intervening on a car this old, although, given how many thousands of 2.5L engines have failed because of this, they should. But I doubt they'd open the floodgates, and after 2003 or so the problem became far less prevalent.


  • XWESX, STEVER, & MrShift -- Opinions from people who know what they are talking about are highly valued and highly appreciated. Thank you for going all Click & Clack for me. Best wishes.

  • jfljfl Posts: 1,346

    gjksn963 FYI,

    I had a 2000 Legacy 5M. Head gasket issues at ~120k miles. Repaired by my local mechanic. Replaced my Legacy in September 2013 after 278k miles w/ no further head gasket issues. (Now driving my 2nd Subaru.)

    Hoping it works out well for you whatever you decide.

  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 39,971

    @jfl said: gjksn963 FYI,

    I had a 2000 Legacy 5M. Head gasket issues at ~120k miles. Repaired by my local mechanic.

    My Outback is a '97 with the original head gaskets at 93k. I already asked my local mechanic what the going rate was and the estimate is around $1,300. So you may want to shop around Gjksn963 if Subaru and the dealer don't go to bat for you.

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

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404

    yes I was going to add that about $1500 in California does this job. Of course, that quote they gave you might include a whole lotta "while we're in there let's repair or replace the __X___"


  • The rattle sound is definitely not heat shields. I just had those tightened up recently. The sound I'm not describing well is not as loud as loose heat shields and is definitely linked to laying on/off the gas pedal at higher RPMs. Is there a bearing behind the clutch as described, and could the service manager's assessment be correct? Or does that just not make sense to anybody?

    I really do appreciate all the information and thank you.

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