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Subaru Legacy/Outback Oil and Other Fluid Questions

dliboirondliboiron Posts: 10
Will using a synthetic oil increase my overall gas mileage?

I drive a '97 Legacy Outback AWD, 2.5.


  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I don't think it will make a measureable, significant change, so not really.

    Won't hurt, certainly.
  • kathrynwkathrynw Posts: 3
    I just recently bought a 1998 Subaru Legacy Outback, I started smelling oil burning, and it worried me. I looked under the hood and there is oil all over my radiator, and inside of the radiator. Are these Subaru models known for this problem, and does anyone know what it could be?
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,661
    No, Subarus are not known for this. In fact this is the first I've ever heard of it.

    Are you sure that what you're seeing is oil, and not antifreeze?

    Oil "in" the radiator is not a good sign. It indicates a possible cracked engine block, a cracked cylinder head or a gasket problem. Oil "outside" the engine could mean cracked external oil lines, or again a cracked engine block. Since you mentioned oil in the radiator my guess is a cracked engine block or cylinder head.

    Pray that I'm wrong, as you're looking at big bucks to repair that.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Something doesn't sound right here at all. I highly doubt that the oil could be in and on the radiator at the same time. Do you mean in the rad, like in the radiator fluid? or in it like in the fins of the rad?

  • kathrynwkathrynw Posts: 3
    there is oil in the radiator, mixed with the coolant, i guess. if you open to radiator and put your finger in, it comes out black.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    First thing to do since the car is new-to-you is get the coolant flushed and then keep checking it. If it gets contaminated again then you have a headgasket or a cracked block problem.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Agreed - and she could also be experiencing multiple problems. The external oil leak could be a result of leaking camshaft/crankshaft seals and/or valve cover gaskets. These leak down and drip on the exhaust headers, creating the burning oil smell. If it gets bad enough, you will see smoke billowing around your car at intersections and other stops once the exhaust system heats up sufficiently. It is a real joy ( :sick: ), but a drop in the bucket compared to the head gasket (or block) problem.

    Head gaskets and seals are a fairly common issue with the 1998 2.5L model. Cost of repair, if it is a head gasket problem, is about $2000.
  • kathrynwkathrynw Posts: 3
    we drained the coolant yesterday, there was no oil in it. my friend looked at it and said that it could very well have been someone just poured oil into the overflow resevoir. we flushed the radiator, and now it seems to be doing fine.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Cool. I always try to direct folks toward the simple fixes before going crazy with the sky is falling routine. It probably needed a rad flush anyway! Glad to hear it worked out.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Glad to hear that, however....

    Given the previous owner put oil in the coolant overflow tank, you might want to have all the fluids changed to be safe! :surprise:
  • Does anyone know the degree I need to torque the timing to so I can begin fixing this problem?
  • Has anyone ever heard of Ethos Fuel Reformulator? Allegedly increases mileage by up to 19 - 20%, lowers emissions, and lubricates and cleans internal parts (for more power, smoother running engine, longer lasting engine, etc.) I've watched some of the testimonials (including one from Al Unser from NASCAR) and numerous testimonials from people running trucking firms, etc. They also include local TV station stories on this product showing emissions test before and after, etc. My question is: would this harm the car in any way that you can think of? I normally do not believe any claims of better mileage and such but this one seems to be different from a lot of the other products out there in that I have not found any negatives online like you can for most other products advertised as doing the same thing, and the emission testing results on the videos from Las Vegas and Dallas local news seem to be confirming the claims (with increased mileage). I feel like trying it out but I do not want to cause any damage to my engine.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587

    Maybe if you add 3.38 gallons of the stuff to your tank (i.e. 20% of the fuel tank capacity).
  • I need to add fluid to the transfer case, but do not know how. Can this be done fairly easily, or must it be done by a mechanic? Thanks, Paul
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Transfer case.... the center differential? What is it, auto trans or manual? It is easy either way, just a different point of entry for the two types, as the manual's center differential shares its fluid with the transmission.
  • Sorry, I've had a few Ford trucks and it's called a transfer case, as you know. It's an automatic and the car seems to "hop" a bit when I make slow, sharp turns. It was fixed last time by the mechanic addind fluid to the center diff. I want to do it myself. Do you know how to add fluid?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    On an automatic there is 3 places to check for fluid.

    Front Diffy, which is the PASSENGER SIDE behind engine, in engine bay.
    Transmission/center diffy, which is DRIVER SIDE behind engine, in engine bay.
    Rear Diffy, which is in the back on the actual diffy.

    Front and rear Diffy takes 70-90 GL5 Gear Oil
    Trans takes ATF (I suggest Amsoil or Redline High Temp ATF)

  • Thanks so much for the free know-how.

    Just to confirm that I know what you're saying: Even in automatics the center diffy and the trany share fluid? That is, if the trany fluid level is fine, then the center diffy level is fine as well.

    And so, I'll check this but I think it may be more than a fluid issue.

    I had the car at a trany shop last year b/c it was doing the same thing. All he said was that he added fluid. I recall him saying something like "the "hop" is caused by the 4x4 being engaged when it shouldn't be". Could fluid level cause this?

    Part of the problem is I don't know how all-time 4x4 works. Is it always front wheel drive except when slippage is sensed, and the the 4x4 kicks in? Could my car be improperly locked in 4x4 mode? That is, could the center diffy be broken? How would I know?

    Sorry for all the Qs.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Sorry for the late reply.

    On an automatic subie of that vintage there are clutch packs that vary the power between the front diffy and the rear driveshaft. As a differential of speed is sensed F/R the clutch packs (electronically controlled) will tighten up and send power front or rear. They are similar to the clutch packs found in the automatic trans and therefore share the same fluid (your trans takes about 9-12 quarts of fluid).

    Hope this helps.

  • paulmanpaulman Posts: 10
    Thanks Mike,

    The fluid was low and I added amost a quart. Problem is much better. There's still a slight hopping in slow sharp (to wheel lock) turns. I suspect a little damage to the clutch pad in 6 mos of low fluid. Thanks again.

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