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Subaru Legacy/Outback Transmission Problems



  • The other Subaru forum indicated that these lights can be removed by twisting them with your fingernail or a flat headed screw driver. Here's the link to that.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,509
    They are lighted and are changeable. The process to access them is a bit of a pain, but doable. I think most people do not realize they were lit because the bulbs did burn out so prematurely. None on my car were lit when I purchased it - the car was 5 years old at the time. Before it was said and done, no lights worked at all except for one on the radio (lit up the 4-5-6 memory presets), the amber light for the rear defroster, and all but one light on the instrument cluster still worked. In terms of bulbs, I think that equates to about 25%. :P
  • simplecjsimplecj Posts: 7
    Me and my dad have been restoring a salvaged 96 Outback that had had an engine fire caused by a thrown rod that hit the fuel rail and burned up most the electrical under the hood.

    Well we got a new engine for it and a new wiring harness. Instead of dealing with the nightmare of rewiring everything beyond the firewall we cut the wiring harnesses about ten inches into the engine compartment and matched the wires up. We managed to get almost all the wires properly reconnected, but there are two red/yellow wires coming from the inside of the car that do not have matching wires to connect to. In addition to that, there are two grey coaxial wires that we determined were for the O2 sensors. One of them is fried from shorting out all the way into the car and locating the other end of it to run a new one would require removing the dash. Don't know if that's worth it. Also there is no way to determine which coax goes were because the two are identical.

    The only wires that remain to be connected are a few coming from two switches on the transmission, the wires to the O2 sensors and the two unaccounted for red/yellow wires.

    We plugged everything in and decided to see if it would fire up. When we reconnected the battery we noticed that the parking lights as well as the dash lights were blinking, 30 times, pause, 30 times... and so on with or without the key in the ignition. The engine did turn over but it would not fire so we decided to check for spark and fuel. We discovered that the car is not getting any fuel and there is no spark either. Thinking maybe the computer needs to be reset?

    At this point we are pretty much dead in the water and really need some experienced advice. Anyone who has any ideas would be very appreciated. This whole project has already gone well over original estimates and I'm afraid professional electrical diagnostics may cost us a tremendous amount. PLEASE HELP!!!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,509
    From what year was the replacement engine and wiring?

    In general, it is most advisable to retain the original wiring, sensors, etc., and match it up to the replacement engine, but obviously you cannot do that in this case. A Haynes manual for this year includes wiring diagrams for most (if not all) electrical systems, though I will admit that the diagrams listed did not match up precisely with the wiring in my '96... the color coding on some of the wires was not the same. Without wiring diagrams and knowing whether all the sensors on the replacement engine are compatible with the 96's ECU, it could be a long, arduous task to get it to run.

    the oxygen sensors provide feedback to the fuel management system, so it is important to get them into operation. It is a shame that something so seemingly mundane as a small fire could result in a total loss on a vehicle, but alas, you now see why it can be more trouble than it is worth! :sick:
  • simplecjsimplecj Posts: 7
    The wiring and engine are for the same year and model car. I know exactly what you mean about the wiring diagrams not matching the wire color codes. I tried tracing out the O2 sensor wires to determine which wire went to the front sensor and which goes to the rear sensor, but the color codes don't match the connection to the ECU and there's no indication of exactly where it should be on the main connection. Many wires are the same color as well and figuring out what is what seems to be next to impossible. In fact looking from the replacement harness and the existing harness in the interior, they appear to be different colored wires in at least four wires I attempted to trace. And why did they have to put the ECU in a place that is next to impossible to get to without tearing the dash apart?? It's visible from the passenger side with the glove compartment removed, but the wiring is inaccessible and it cannot be removed with the dash in place. This car may be alot of trouble to fix, but we're already into it too far to stop. It's down to electrical and I'll be damned if I'm defeated by wiring! :cry: I realize that it might not run correctly without the O2 sensors connected, but would that cause it to not run at all? O2 sensors in my opinion are the most useless and troublesome things on a vehicle. My Elantra still runs too rich and spits out error codes despite $$$ in diagnostics and new sensors...
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,509
    The oxygen sensors should not prevent the car from starting, as they do not come into the feedback loop until it reaches normal operating temperatures. Upon start up, the car should run on a "closed loop," meaning it uses stored (or default) data to manage the fuel mix. But, there are a myriad of sensors that must be working properly in order for that to happen. I am not sure all that are involved, so perhaps Steve (fibber2), Craig (c_hunter), or one of the other fellas can provide additional feedback. You need to have the mass airflow sensor; the fuel... um, fuel trim sensor? not sure what that one is called...; the knock sensor, cam position sensor, and crank position sensors all functioning correctly for starters. I am pretty sure there are at least one or two more. A multi-meter might help you there, assuming you have something that tells you the proper voltage at which all of those sensors should run. Oh, and just out of curiosity, is there power to the fuel pump? Probably a silly question, but just a thought... :blush:

    Boggling that there would be differences in harness wire colors and quantities if both sides are from the same year, model, and engine. Consistency, people, consistency!!!!! :mad:
  • We have a 1990 Legacy L wagon, high miles with about 30K on rebuilt engine, so when the tranny was failing, had mechanic replace it with a used transmission (supposedly correct one from Japanese tranny supplier with 1 yr warranty). Now it shifts well but speedometer (and of course, crusise) doesn't work. Mechanic looks, says it's not turning the shaft, no way to fix it that doesn't involve major work or just trying another transmission to see if that will work, with no guarantees and we would have to pay labor all over again.

    Any suggestions? Has anyone run into this before? Is this something the mechanic really may not have had a clue about as he replaced the transmission?
    He's basically saying 'make do without a speedometer' which I don't think is legal?

    Thanks for any advice.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    It's likely the cable, if it is the cable, then you don't have to pull the trans. However if it's the trans itself, then the trans warranty should cover them pulling it, since they/he didn't say it would not have the speedo working.

  • Thanks for your reply, Mike. Mechanic doesn't seem to think it's the cable, though may be worth getting another opinion.
    The company providing the used tranny wholesale to the mechanic will send a replacement tranny but not cover labor to pull and reinstall. The mechanic is also saying we could go through all of that again and there's still no way they can assure that the speedo will work with a different tranny. He also said this issue comes up on the IATN memebership list a fair amount and in almost every case, the customer elects to just drive without a working speedometer. Which I find a bit strange.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Depending on the age of the car, I'd say just get a handheld GPS for speed, might be cheaper in the long run.

  • ophirmanophirman Posts: 1
    the car was driven about 10 miles shut off normally when we went to leave it would not start engine cranks over but no fire ,no headlights no dash lights checked all the fuses and what i can tell the fusible links at the battery ALL CHECKED OUT GOOD
    are there any more fusible links some where else on the car PLEASE HELP
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,509
    How long between when you arrived and when you attempted to leave?
  • schoenjschoenj Posts: 1
    We are also having a similar problem with our 95 Legacy Wagon. When pressing the black button on the shifter, we hear the clicking, but the car won't shift out of Park. In conjunction, our ABS light is on and the AC/Heater won't blow. Whenever, the fan/blower finally kicks in, we are able to shift.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'm going to lean toward a relay or shorting out issue here. Check all the fuses and relays associated with the AC/Heater Fan and the Park-interlock.

  • moons521moons521 Posts: 2
    I have a 2007 2.5i Outback with a manual transmission. I have found that it's rather difficult to shift it into gear at times. Has anyone else had this problem? Are there any solutions? Would a short-shifter reduce the amount of muscle needed to shift?. I would appreciate any input!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,509
    No, if anything it would increase the amount of effort.

    When you say that it is difficult to shift into gears, are you specifically referring to reverse and 1st gears? I have trouble with those at times as well. I find that, often, if I let out on the clutch and then repress it, the gear is much easier to engage. If that does not work, slowly (and I do mean slowly) letting out on the clutch while gently, but firmly, pressing the shifter toward the desired gear will work. Just as the transmission is beginning to engage, the gears will mesh. I think the problem is that the gear teeth are just butting up against each other instead of meshing.

    Also, switching to a different gear lube may help. I put AMSOIL 75W-90 long life in mine about 3 weeks ago and it has been "behaving" itself much better since then. I have heard that Redline Shockproof works very well, but have not tried it.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    First, check under the hood to see if your gear oil level is low. It's a yellow dipstick on the top of the transmission tunnel.

    If first it tough to engage, try reverse then first. Or vice-versa. The gears are right next to each other. :shades:
  • moons521moons521 Posts: 2
    Thanks for responding. Yes, at times it's difficult to shift into first and reverse, but I also think it's hard to get into 2nd and 5th. 3rd and 4th glide pretty smoothly for some reason. Being relatively unfamiliar with the mechanics behind it, I was seeing if it's something inherent in the car design or something that could be mitigated. I'll check/replace the gear oil and see if that helps. The car is only a month old, so I doubt the oil level is low yet. Thanks again.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,509
    Compared to other manuals I have driven, the Subaru 5MT is far more finicky. This is my first MT Subaru, though, so I am just assuming that its behavior is "normal" for this transmission.

    I have never had a problem with 5th gear not wanting to engage, though it does require more effort than 3 or 4. 2nd is usually smooth, at least on the up-shift, though it also requires extra effort on a down-shift. Occasionally it will "miss" for some reason when up-shifting. I press the clutch and go to shift from 1 to 2, and it actually grinds. I have to leave it in neutral, let up on the clutch and re-press it, then it slips right in. Quite unnerving/embarrassing when it happens, but so far it has been only maybe 8 times in the 3.5 months I have had the car.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I drained and refilled mine at about 60k miles. I put in synthetic, and have been happy with that so far.

    I want to say there was in improvement but I wonder if it's just wishful thinking.
  • jfljfl Posts: 1,348
    I wonder what gear oil Subaru is using on new cars. If the oil has too many slip agents there's not enough friction for the synchros to mesh smoothly.

    It'd be a shame to have to change gear oil on a brand new car! :mad:

    Then again, old school thinking is to change fluids early to remove all the metallic particles from break-in. :P

  • pmackpmack Posts: 3
    Anyone experience this headlight issue: LF headlight very dim; high beam does not work. RF headlight operates normal. Interesting sidebar: Fog lights do not go off when high beams activated. Just replaced the LF headlight socket due to melting, thought that would cure the dimness, but it did not. Any ideas?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Hmm, that's what I would have done, too.

    Are the bulbs stock wattage? i.e. 55 watts? Some bulbs draw up to 120 and that could be the cause.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Plus we're talking less than $10 in oil (unless you go with synthetic, and that's an upgrade anyway).
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Yup I'll be going full synthetic on the legacy when I pick it up, just broke-in at 27k miles :)

    I'll run Amsoil in the engine, trans, and rear diffy, water wetter in the radiator :)

  • pmackpmack Posts: 3
    Headlights at OEM. They are the Sylvania Blue stock 9003. Subaru parts guy said they sell a lot of sockets for this car (MANY melt). But he buys them at NAPA, a generic version, then sells those to avoid having to replace the entire harness assembly which includes the socket and wiring harness back to (my guess) the relay box under the hood.
  • redcedarredcedar Posts: 1
    Anybody know where to buy the mini bulbs already mounted to fit into the fog light, seat heater, and heater control panel? I would rather buy them in their mounts than to mess with loose bulbs.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I doubt they're even sold that way.

    There's little demand to begin with, as those lights tend to last a decade or so.

    Maybe try a junk yard if you want the whole part?

    By the time you remove the switch, though, may as well just go all the way.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,509
    Yes, unless you get the used part or a whole switch, I do not think you can get them "mounted." I agree that swapping out the bulb in the fog light switch must be a pain in the rear. I pulled the switch out once when wiring in a set of driving lights, and it did not look to be a fun task to replace the bulb. I politely declined. :blush:
  • I'm considering purchasing a 2007 Suburu Outback 2.5i with automatic transmission. Have the problems mentioned in previous year models been resolved in the newer Outbacks?
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