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Subaru Legacy: Typical high-mileage repairs?



  • pinkertopinkerto Posts: 3
    I recently replaced the power steering pump in my 1990 Subaru Legacy. Since I had power steering fluid all over my engine from when the old pump failed I decided I would put engine degreaser on the engine and hose it off. The next morning it started up and I drove to work. I did notice that the engine was a bit sluggish. When I went back out start my car to go to lunch it would not start. When I would turn the key, I would just get a "Click" and I noticed that the Power Indicator light was lit on my dashboard. The owners manual says, "if the Power light flashes for eight seconds or more after the ignition switch has been turned "ON" when starting the engine, it may indicate a problem with the automatic transmission control system." It also says that I should be sure to have it checked at a nearby Subaru dealer immediately.

    Does anyone have any idea what the problem might be?

  • evilizardevilizard Posts: 195
    You washed away some of that dirt that was holding your engine together!

    No seriously I would guess some type of electrical short. probably with the starter, maybe starter motor or something. Probably related to the work done to replace the PS pump, just manifested itself after the wash. Its amazing how many Totally unrelated mechnical failures happen right after getting some work done. I had an old Tempo, got the heater core replaced. The next day the distributor cap disintegrated into 18 pieces (I counted em.) I'd check my batter/connections and then try to take some power staight to the starter motor if you can.
  • pattim3pattim3 Posts: 533
    You may also want to check your spark plug wires.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Check the distributor cap and rotor, too. I think your car has them.

    Even a little water in there can keep it from starting up. My wife's old Mirage would stall when it rained, and I found out part of the distributor cap had cracked and was letting water in.

  • pinkertopinkerto Posts: 3
    After a visit to the local auto supply store, and explaining the situation about my car not starting, the manager told me to try tapping on the starter lightly with a hammer as my Bendix (sp) might be stuck. Willing to try anything, I tapped it with my tire iron,

    Wouldn't you know, it started right up. That was the cheapest repair I ever had!!

    Thanks for everyones suggestions.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    It usually isn't the bendix (starter drive) that sticks, it's the starter brushes. Sounds like your starter's living on borrowed time.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I was going to say the same thing - time to replace that starter, even though it worked this time.

    That same shop may even have a remanufactured one, but I'd check on the price of an OE starter first at your dealer or

  • rayfbairdrayfbaird Posts: 183
    After 120,000 my wagon wallows when fully loaded. I am going to replace the struts? I want to use performance ones, but the Subaru OEM costs over $100 apeice, and I'm not sure they are performance.

    Are KYB, or Tokico struts better than Monroe or Gabriel?
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    I'm not sure what you mean by "performance" struts exactly...if your original OEMs lasted this long, that's pretty darn good--I wouldn't imagine a KYB or Monroe or Gabriel doing that well. When it comes to struts, you do get what you pay for; however, you should check into the Subaru Owner's Club at Edmunds for some owner feedback. There's a hot link right at the top of this page. They may have had good luck with some aftermarket brands.
  • rayfbairdrayfbaird Posts: 183
    I read about performancae struts such as Tokico, KYB, and Eidelberg on the aftermarket springs ansd shock absorber site. They are supposed to deliver a smoother ride, and allow firmer cornerning.

    Checking with dealers here, the KYB is available for half the price of the Subaru one, and has a permanent guarantee of replacement unlike Subaru's.

    I'll check the owner's club.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    Ah, okay. I haven't had good luck with KYBs myself on a Porsche. Thought I could save money but they didn't hold up all that well.

    I don't think a strut by itself can provide both a smoother ride and firmer cornering. To get these two in combination requires some sophisticated suspension work and I don't believe just a set of struts are capable of delivering this combination of ride characteristics. Stiffer struts will cut down "wallowing" and brake dive but also make the ride harsher. As for cornering, you might cut down body roll a bit but really sway bars/bushings are what you want here.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I agree with shifty. The springs are what absorb impacts and determine the amount of lean in turns (along with sway bars). The struts control the springs so you don't bounce up and down, i.e. the wallowing he's mentioned.

    So you can get better control.

  • My '95 Legacy L - 122,800 miles - had the exact same problem last year.

    It was not starter motor brushes, but starter contacts: little copper thingies I could have easily replaced had I known what was what.
  • 70K - over last 2 1/2 yrs. it won't start - not a sound anywhere. If I wait 15 or 20 minutes, then it starts. Have replaced neutral switch and now the starter. Wouldnt start today again after driving in town for maybe 45 minutes. Came out after an hour's meeting - it wouldn't start. Waited ten min. no change. Waited one hour, then it started! Anyone have any suggestions? I am at wits end.

    I've replaced struts, stabilizers (due to pot holes), full brakes, speedometer cables. Check engine light is on more than off. Tachometer came back on when speedometer was out. I need that tach! Fuel gauge doesn't work. $2300 this year already and $1200 last year.

    I think maybe the odometer was rolled back on this car. Bought in '94 with 43,000 miles.

    I still love my Subaru and pray for its return to reliable! I am unemployed so I can't even think of trading up!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You got me. I would have said starter, but you usually hear a clicking, and you've already replaced that. Could it be a brake interlock short circuit or something?

  • nygregnygreg Posts: 1,936
    Tough problem. It seems that it might be heat related. After you drive, it takes an hour or two to cool down before you can use the starter again. Since you "hear nothing" it has to be with the starter system (not the fuel injectors, plugs, etc). So what is heat/time related in your starter circuit. The only thing I can think of is your battery. You drive and your alternator is charging your battery.....and heating it up. Perhaps there is a short internally that only shows up under certain conditions. I am really, really guessing here though. If you try jumping the car, will it jump start?? That might give you some insight.

    Good luck,
  • nygregnygreg Posts: 1,936
    Try checking your ground wire to the engine block. Perhaps it is loose.

  • swimgalswimgal Posts: 11
    The starter crapped out on my 90 legacy sedan at 155K miles. Mine had the same symptom: turn the key and only click. At first, a second turn of the key usually worked. Called my mechanic (a true Legacy guru) and he said that the starter was getting ready to go...make time to visit in the next few weeks. Well I blew it off a little too long and one morning the second and third and subsequent turns of the key didn't work... Another call to my mechanic and he said to do the tap the starter with a hammer trick and come on in. I actually had to wail on the starter, but then it started. The new starter works great. My point is: Yeah, the hammer thing works for a while, but if you plan to hang on to the car, you might consider a new starter when it is convenient to you...Cost me a couple hundred bucks, labor included.
  • runpitorunpito Posts: 1
    Does anyone know what part might be the culprit for the following problem I have been having with my 1993 Subaru Legacy. The passenger side auto seatbelt does not go open when the door is opened. It will go closed but will not go open.
    I think it might be the right front limit switch. Where exactly is this switch, if in fact it is causing the problem. Thanks
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