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Subaru Legacy/Outback Engine Issues

lucymolucymo Posts: 13
Had my 2000 Legacy for 18 months and 22K miles. It is at 114K miles right now.

Never overheated, never had any problems with it, no rough driving, the car checked out fine in October at the dealership. The coolant additive was added during the flush last February and as a part of the recall before 100K miles.

Last week, during the regular oil change at the dealer, the mechanic noticed oil and antifreeze leaks, which were dignozed as headgasket problems.

The dealer started working on the headgaskets. Replaced one of the headgaskets, replaced the other and this one kept leaking oil. The dealership mechanic took out the engine again, replaced the headgasket again, started the engine, the car lost a quart of oil in 30 seconds. Mechanic inspected it again and concluded that "short engine block is warped at oil galley and the headgasket goes inside the block". The mechanic swears it's not his fault. The solution - replacing the short block engine at my expense (very pricy - half of what the car would sell for in good condition).

Do I have any recourse? on another forum somebody mentioned Consumer Protection Act, but I don't know how it would apply to me.

The replacement engine block will be new. Can I assume it will be the "new and improved" one without the headgasket problems? I called the dealer more than a dozen times by now, don't know if I can trust him anymore.

The other dealer who usually takes care of my car suggested that it might be the other dealer's fault. But how could he warp the engine in such a short time? If it was the previous owner that overheated the car, wouldn't have the problem surfaced a lot sooner?


  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    With that kind of mileage I don't think there is a manufacturer in the world that would help.

    What probably happened is the previous owner let it overheat, and somehow the problem hid itself until now.

    The revised gasket material has been OK since 2002 or so. A new block would be true (i.e. not warped) so that's fine, I don't think it's different, it's just not overheated before.

    Sorry to hear about it.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    In terms of recourse from the manufacturer, I think juice is right. But, why would it get so progressively worse after the gasket repair? And, what is more, why would the mechanics not check the flatness of the machined surfaces before installing the new gaskets?! That is lunacy!

    It is possible that they did not install the second gasket properly the first time around, potentially blocking one or more ports for oil and/or coolant flow. Start the engine under those conditions and several things could happen - a blocked, high-pressure oil port could blow the gasket even if the surfaces were flat at that point. Blocked oil or coolant flow could also create a hot spot in the block/head, and an uneven temperature situation is how you get warpage in the metal because it expands at different rates. That is why "air pockets" in the coolant can be so devastating - you get spots where the metal is not cooled evenly.

    Now, could the warp have occurred prior to the first gasket replacement? Yes, but hard to say since the shop did not check it! If both gaskets were suffering similar leaks when it was first taken in, and the other side is still flat, then I have my doubts about this being the more likely scenario.

    Back to the question of whether you can do anything about it..... probably not because of the lack of proof one way or the other. I would follow up with the protocols, though. If you can demonstrate a lack of competency on the part of the dealer, perhaps you can gain some partial remediation for your time and expense. In other words, is it not standard procedure in the industry to check the trueness of the surfaces before re-installing the gaskets? I mean, even I have enough sense to do that... and that is saying something! :P

    Sadly, I doubt that you will come out of this situation fully satisfied, regardless of how well it goes from here on out.
  • My idler pulley seized. (2001 Outback H6). It tore up the AC bracket it is mounted on. I have a new one. Has anyone changed this before (and knows how), or perhaps has some input on removing the AC compressor and/or the alternator.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I seem to recall Colin explaining to us the torque procedure when you install new gaskets. Pretty crazy. Tighten to this, in a certain order, then loosen, in a certain order, then tighten again, then do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around.

    It would not surprise me at all if the mechanic did not follow this (admittedly very difficult) procedure when installing the new gaskets.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Paging paisan, paging mike...
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Yes, that is, more or less, the procedure. Certainly not a difficult one to follow, but it is involved and you have to actually take a moment to track your steps. If a trained (and paid) mechanic cannot follow the steps, it is time for a new career in the fast food industry. :mad:
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Not on the H6, no, and I have not seen the engine compartment on an H6 to know how it is set up.

    A co-worker has an '04 sedan with an H6, so perhaps he will humor me for a few minutes this afternoon. If so, I will go out there, have a look at it, and report back with the procedure should nobody else get back to you in the interim.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Gotta wonder how many cut corners, though, and just torque each bolt down once.

  • Thanks, but problem resolved. Start at the P/S pump and work your way across. Went pretty smooth once I started at the right spot. Alternator is tough to re-install; need emery cloth & a whapper.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Hmm haven't seen an H6 alternator in a while. The H4 alternators are a cake to replace.

  • Yes. They have a tranverse bolt that slots into the AC bracket, the PS pump is attached to the opposite side. It has to pried & rotated out (but first remove the PS pump, its' in the way).
    The fit to the bracket is very tight, I used some emery cloth to adjust the clearance a bit then carefully whacked it back into position -precision hammering, so to speak...
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Step 1 hit with BFH.
    Step 2 if the BFH doesn't work, get a bigger BFH.
    Rinse and Repeat.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Hahahhaha.... absolutely, but remember the "rinse" step, as this is the most important. :P
  • imthomasimthomas Posts: 6
    We just purchased a ’96 Legacy Outback 198,000 miles – an above average condition well cared for car for the kid to commute back & forth to school with. Yesterday once the test drive was over & all fluid levels were verified we drove it home. After about 50 miles and rest area stop we noticed significant oil dripping from the front of the engine. We added a quart – brought it back up to safe & noticed the oil filter was very loose. I was able to hand turn it 1 ½ turns by hand.

    Nonetheless, we finished the drive home and went directly to a minute lube service & had all new fluids & filters installed – the tech there saw nothing (besides the loose oil filter) as a problem. Next we took it to a coin operated car wash & cleaned the oil spray (which was all the way back to the rear bumper on the underside) once in the drive way the oil leak was still persistent. We tightened all obvious oil pan and etc. bolts – many were loose.

    After a second test drive and more fresh oil wiping we have noticed the oil issue seems to be centered a round the black front engine cover plate connecting the 2 sides of the cylinders to crank shaft pulley. There is a oil drip on both sides (bottom).

    We’re new to Subaru ownership and would appreciate any good advice on solutions to solve the problem quickly.

    Thanks, Mike
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sounds like the front main seal? I'll defer to someone more familiar with that job.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    I would guess it to be camshaft seals. They are a common culprit of oil leaks, along with the valve covers. Sounds like the seals are probably originals, if they are leaking as badly as you describe. Not a terribly difficult fix, but it is fairly labor intensive as you must tear through all the accessories, timing belt, etc., to get to the cam seals. I would put a new crank seal in there while you are at it, as well as (possibly) a water pump and certainly a new timing belt. Probably about $250 in parts and 6-8 hours in labor.

    Be cautious about using a high mileage car for a kid driver. They tend to not be so forgiving of abusive driving, if the child has a propensity for that. :mad:
  • mdbonjrmdbonjr Posts: 5
    Having a hard time with this one. It's a 93 legacy with the EJ22 (2.2 liter) non-turbo. It idles rough, bogs down when trying to give it gas (it will rev up if you play with the pedal), and almost dies if you put it in gear. We've replaced the TPS, MAF, Knock Sensor, ECM, Fuel Filter, Plugs, Wires, coil, IAC, and the PCV valve. We're still getting codes for the knock sensor, TPS, MAF, and the . Is there a common wire that could be shorting on these components? We're using a Hayne's manual and it's fairly vague on the wiring schematic. Is there anything else that we might be overlooking? Any help is greatly appreciated! We are at the point of removing clumps of hair, lol!

  • imthomasimthomas Posts: 6
    Hey thanks for the feedback. Turns out you hit the nail right on the head. Ended up taking the car to the dealer & actually had a expensive but good experince. Apparently there was a poor service performed on the car where the front seals were not installed correctly & the timing belt cover was over tightened (cracked)and etc. Noetheless, $950 later with all new seals, belts & timing belt & cover and a handful of misc. stuff - all seams good to go & dry.

    My fingers remain crossed as to the car out lasting my "young driver" although he is paying the bill and had to sit still while the 6 hour repair was being done - hopefully he'll drive with a softer foot then most...
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    My fingers remain crossed as to the car out lasting my "young driver" although he is paying the bill and had to sit still while the 6 hour repair was being done - hopefully he'll drive with a softer foot then most...

    I am glad to hear it worked out well. Financial expense has a way of inducing responsible behavior, so it sounds like your son is on the right track! ;)
  • I am having the exact same problem with my subaru legacy. It ran fine and then one day it wouldnt stay running like its not getting any fuel, but like you said you can play with the pedel and it will rev up and then die when you put it in gear. I dont want to put any money into it until I know the problem. Hopefully someone knows what I need to do.
  • I am having the exact same problem with my 93 subaru legacy. It ran fine and then one day it wouldnt stay running like its not getting any fuel, but like you said you can play with the pedel and it will rev up and then die when you put it in gear. I dont want to put any money into it until I know the problem. Hopefully someone knows what I need to do.
  • afineafine Posts: 2
    I've got a 97 Subaru Legacy with about 105,000 miles. I'm going out of the country for about 10 months, and I'm not sure whether to leave the car to be turned on once a week, or sell it before leaving.

    It's been a great car for me. It's in pretty good shape, just put in $800 to fix an oil leak. I made the mistake last summer of leaving it sitting for the summer without being turned on, and had to put in about $800 to fix the brakes after that. Had a new clutch put in a few years ago as well.

    I was told if I leave it, and have it turned on once a week, the brakes will still rust some. How much will that likely cost me?

    And how much is a subaru of this age likely to cost me over the next several years. I've heard they keep going for a long time. If I keep it now, I'd probably want to get something newer in the next few years, but it may be that it will be more economical to hold on to it now if it likely won't cost me that much in the next few years, especially given that I've just put money into it. Or it might make sense to sell it while I can still get something for it, and since I'll be away.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Aaron
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Tough call...I don't think I'd want to pay 10 months' worth of insurance if I wasn't driving the car, though. That's about $800 for me.

    I would sell it.
  • afineafine Posts: 2
    My plan would be to cancel my insurance, and have the car just turned on in the drive way every week, not driven.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Well, if the rotors are a primary concern, it would definitely need some moving around so that the brakes were applied enough to "clean" the surface of the rotors. But, that aside, I would do the same with the insurance. I have several "seasonal" vehicles and I call to cancel liability on them all the time. I also have comprehensive at $1000 deductible so that when I cancel liability, they cost me about $1 per month to keep on the policy. Just the multi-car discounts applied to the primary vehicle more than cover that cost. Then I can call at a moment's notice and reactivate the liability with no hassle. Plus, should a tree fall on them while parked, I could recover a decent amount from them rather than just selling them for scrap. ;)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yeah, maybe have the person just drive it around the block once a week. The battery might die, so maybe even farther, let that alternator charge it up a little.
  • subearusubearu Posts: 3,613
    Correct, don't cancel the entire insurance on 'em, just the collision and liability. Now, if the person driving the vehicle around the block gets into a fender bender, it's likely on their insurance bill.

  • bluebaru2bluebaru2 Posts: 1
    I had exact same oil gasket leak problem in my 95 legacy at about 98k miles, this was about 3 years ago. I had it fixed at the dealership for about what you paid; the problem never came back. My leaks were 'minor', however it didn't take more than a few drops of leaked oil to create a very smelly problem. :blush:
  • gordon13gordon13 Posts: 2
    car started running rough and bucking. found oil in the place where the spark plug goes, and the plug wire end is saturatrd with oil. how did this happen? please help.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    It is most likely that the valve cover gasket around that socket is leaking. Each valve cover on the H4 has three gaskets - one around each of the spark plug sockets, and a third (large) one around the perimeter of the head. They are somewhat prone to leak, especially if the engine is overheated or the oil is overfilled. If you pull the cover off, clean it up, apply some silicone gasket sealer to both sides, insert the gasket, and torque it back down, your problem should be solved. Not to say the engine will not run rough unless the oil leak was the source of the problem... ;)
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