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Subaru Legacy: Typical high-mileage repairs?



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Hi Paul, recognize me from the chat last night? It's juice.

    This is an inactive topic, so you're better off going to the Owners Clubs, then Subaru Crew.

    98 and 99 had the Outback, Legacy 2.5 GT, GT Limited, and Outback Limited (from cheapest to most expensive).

    Both are good years. All have the same Phase I 2.5l DOHC engine, with 165hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. You can get 5 speeds or autos on each, but the early Limiteds were auto only.

    Resale value is very high, so beware. You may want to consider a new one - they are not much more expensive.

    IMHO, problems will stand out like a sore thumb. When you test drive, turn off the radio and listen carefully. The engine should idle smoothly, the tranny should shift with precision, and there should be no gear whine, brake squeeking, or shakes/rattles that stand out.

    The good news is that the powertrain warranty goes for 60 months/60k miles, so most of these will still be under warranty.

    Good luck.

  • sfamnssfamns Posts: 2
    I owned a 1990 Legacy brand new for 10 years until I traded it in in 1999. It had aboutt 168,000 miles on it. I had never had any major work done to it other than the usual. Never had to have freon added; never had the a/c worked on. And it cooled colder than my freezer at home. That was the best car I ever owned. But when you start having kids you need more room - so on came the SUV! And then the problems began! See my take on the Jeep Grand Cherokee in the Jeep section. If I could find a good one now, I would buy it and put it up for my son. But I would only buy a '90 or '91.
  • nylegacynylegacy Posts: 4
    Could someone be able to tell me where I can find repair manual for a 2000 Legacy. Haynes and Chilton only go up to 99. I just hit 30k and don't want to pay the dealer all kinds of money for stuff that I can do myself.
    I bought my car brand new and was wondering if anyone else has experienced not-so-smooth transmission shifts with the automatic. It seems to engage every gear kind of jerky almost like a manual. I've driven in my friends Focus and you can barely tell the car is shifting. I especially notice my car jerk when I let off the gas and then apply throttle again. Please advise. Do I need to change the tranny fluid, check fuel injection?? Any info would be appreciated.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Shop manuals are hard to find. Subaru has 6 or 7 titles, so it's a pain.

    You may want to consider a swap of your ATF, maybe even to synthetic.

    Selina: the new Legacys are pretty reliable. Why not look at a Legacy GT wagon? Consumer Reports ranks Subaru #7 among manufacturers (in terms of reliability) while Jeep is dead last, so surely you'll see an improvement.

    If you have noticed a difference in shifting since you bought it, I would have it checked. However, if it has been the same since day 1, just chalk it up to Subaru AT's that are not the slickest in the industry (some might say they're awful). I can barely feel my '98 Maliboo shift while my '98 Legacy feels exactly as you described - quite jerky..
  • parimalparimal Posts: 2

    I have a 91 LHD Legacy. The steering rack is leaking a little round the steering column shaft & rack box. Is the rack servicable. Are there any seals that can be replaced.

  • subleg1990subleg1990 Posts: 3
    I have a 1990 Subaru Legacy LS Station Wagon with 146,000 plus miles on her. My children and I recently took a driving trip around 300 miles, plus city driving for a week. Everything was fine. However on the way back it was very hot, my air conditioning wasn't very effective. I turned it up to max/ac and was driving about 80 mph. My engine kicked two times and I noticed the temperature gauge indicated my car was overheating. I pulled over and waited for it to cool off. The radiator fluid was splashed all over the engine. Luckily I was at an exit and I coasted over to a mechanic (thank God). He told me it was a busted radiator hose. After he replaced the hose, my car still was overheating. I was also told that there could be an airlock in the hose and that the antifreeze should be added through the top radiator hose not the bottom one. Also it was said that it could be that a gasket (don't know the proper name)cover blew off and I may have to have it replaced. Does anyone know how much that would cost? Could there by any other reason for this overheating. Are Subaru cars known for this cooling problem? Another mechanic said that these cars don't do well in the summer months.
    I took it to two other mechanices, but neither wanted to attempt to handle my cooling system because it was too tricky. They instructed me to take to the nearest Subaru dealership. They said the coolant runs backwards instead of the normal way. Could someone please explain this. I've only had this car for five months and have had my timing belt, water pump and the front and back cv boot replaced. I also had my radiator flushed because when I bought it the owner put water in the radiator instead of coolant and when the first real cold weather came my car's engine completely frozeand my power windows stopped functioning. I don't have those problems anymore, I am just wondering about how much would I have to overhaul the airconditioning system. I'd rather get it done now then to nickel and dime it later. I believe it is a pretty good car, but I won't take it on such a long trip the next time.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    As for the a/c, this is a known trouble area for the Legacy.

    As for overheating, it sounds like your engine has already had its share of stresses upon it. Overheating can be tricky and a complex issue to resolve. You should first of all have the cooling system pressure-tested to see if you have head gasket damage either from the overheat or the freeze.

    Last of all, these are sort of typical old car/high miles problems. You may want to consider bailing out of this car, it sounds like it's had a hard life.


  • subleg1990subleg1990 Posts: 3
    Thanks for your help Mr_ Shiftright. Do you know how much would it cost to replace a head gasket? My vehicle had to be left at the Subaru dealer about 150 miles from my house. Would you recommend me driving it back to my home, if there is an indication of engine trouble? What testing method is used to determine if there is engine trouble that is producing the overheating?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    As long as the car is not running in the overheat range, and as long as you don't see any milky sludge on the dipstick when you check it, you are probably okay. If the cooling system is pressure tested, this could detect a head gasket leak, as could perhaps a compression test or cylinder leakdown test.

    Perhaps your overheating is not due to such a drastic malady. A clogged or rusted radiator, a bad thermostat or cooling fan, those are also possbilities.

    Usually head gasket leaks or a bad thermostat cause a pretty fast overheat, whereas clogging makes for a more gradual overheat and usually only at higher speeds.. Air-bound cooling systems overheat pretty quickly, too, as there is no water circulation, similar to a bad thermostat.


  • jeijei Posts: 143
    In our '92 Legacy L, we replaced the orginal radiator at around 160,000 miles. The car overheated on extended driving and highway driving. The temperature guage would rise slowly to just 3/4 - just into the hot range. Check and see if this is an orginal radiator, or one which was replaced a while ago; it may have gone bad. Radiator failure is a common problem over 100,000 miles.
  • subleg1990subleg1990 Posts: 3
    OK, the mechanic said that I blew a fuse which is connected to my engine fan. He said that the engine fan appears a bit wobbly (?). Is this something that needs to be replaced now or should I wait? I still have to drive it home 150 miles. He said there were no other problems with the thermostat and that the radiator was the original radiator.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Well, you do need to find out why the fuse blew in your engine fan so it doesn't happen again. I don't know what he means by "wobbly", that doesn't sound very precise. Does he mean the fan shaft bearing is worn? How badly? Bad enough to drag and cause the fuse to blow?

    Anyway, at the very minimum fix the fan so it works properly, and have him show you where it is and what it looks and sounds like when it's working, so that you can check it yourself if your temp gauge starts to go up again.


  • nygregnygreg Posts: 1,936
    Is there one fan or two?
  • I would just like to add that my 91 Legacy was having overheating issues 2 summers ago. It started on a 250 mile trip, and it over heated. I let the engine cool off and added more coolant, there was an air pocket that was keeping the coolant from going into the engine after it heated up. Two months later I took it on a 3,000 mile trip and I had some overheating issues after driving 12 hours a day at 75. I was also spraying coolant all over the engine. I replaced the radiator cap, that's it. I have not had a problem since then.

    Oh and my legacy has 180,000 miles on it now.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Well, you probably had no pressure in the system as well as a bad seal in the your coolant boiled at 212 rather than 230-240 as it would unde pressure, and with the bad cap also also having a bad seal, the coolant escaped...therefore causing more overheating, etc.

    I don't think a true air block was your problem because you have to bleed that out carefully according to a certain procedure. It's not the kind of thing that fixes itself as far as I can recall.


  • dnuggetdnugget Posts: 17
    Can any Legacy owners (1992-1994) help me out on this ? I wanted to upgrade the stock steel rims on my Sube (14") to an aftermarket alloy rims but have read on some Sube accesory sites that it has a high offset (backspacing ?) and if you don't get the right one ( +45 - +50 mm )on a 15" or 16" rims, it may rub the fenders ? But they talk mostly of the late models impreza and legacy models. I searched tirerack, victoria tires, etc on the net and while they offer numerous brands applications for this models, none have been in the offset range I mentioned so I'm hesitant to purchase. I'll feel more sure if anybody out there have had success with any aftermarket rims ( 1992-94 Legacies ) without the rubbing problems. The ones they recommend are way too expensive ( Speedline, Raceline..) ! Thanks .
  • taylor47taylor47 Posts: 23
    My 95 legacy has 187,000 kms.or about 116,000 miles on it. To date it has had 2 timing belts, 2 front brake jobs, both rear wheel bearings replaced one under warranty, a water pump and a clutch. It is on its 2nd set of tires.
    The cruise control motor has packed it in and other than that it runs like a watch. The body is still tight, and I would recommend these cars to most people as a good reliable vehicle. If you want all wheel drive, for the money you can't beat a Suburu!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    For wheels, also try

    They were a little less conservative than Tire Rack, and let me go with 225mm tires. Tire Rack said they would rub, but they wrong just plain wrong.

    Offsets are indeed unusual, but call and work with one of their techs. I even managed to find one that fit on special, so 16"x7" rims for my Forester cost just $75 a pop. That was cheaper than steel rims from Subaru!

    That's great to hear Taylor! Keep 'er running!

  • dnuggetdnugget Posts: 17
    Thanks for the response. I had looked on that site too and found similar brand applications to my legacy 92 like tirerack with some deviations. Will call up techs for advice. If you don't mind, what aftermarket wheel brand/model worked well with with your forrester ? Unfortunately, yours is AWD, my 1992 Sube (L) is FWD, one of the distant cousin of the AWD models and already disinherited and abandoned. Not that I'm complaining, this baby was bought used but still going strong and near 100K miles. That's why I wanted to dress her up and improve handling/road grip for my daily commute. Anyway, I'm still hoping for any previous/present legacy 92-94 owners to read this and give me advice if they'd switched to aftermarket rims before. Keep it coming !
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