Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!





Subaru Legacy/Outback "Check Engine" Light Problems

If you are reading this message, you probably know what this is all about. You have gone through multiple 'check engine' light episodes, have replaced multiple oxygen sensors, and are on your third or fourth catalytic converter. I had a 2004 Legacy wagon with 80,000 mi, and my friend (still) has a 2004 Outback. We both have had the same experiences, so these problems are certainly not isolated incidences. In fact, my mechanic told me that has seen all kinds of creative means to disable the 'check engine' light. However, if you live in New York State and need to pass the annual emission test, you will have no choice but to fix the problem. In my case, I also had a transmission replaced, and had a cruise control problem that was unfixable (Subaru started an investigation, but were unable to find the causes of the problem). To retain my sanity, I finally traded the car in on a BMW and took a financial hit.
«13456714

Comments

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    What were the codes?

    O2 sensors won't fix it. Spark plugs, spark plug wires, and maybe an ignition coil might. The coil is only $80 and there's only one for all 4 cylinders.

    Tell your friend to try that. It's worked for other Edmunds.com members.

    Honestly, you just need to find a better mechanic.
  • Hi,

    I'm working on an '01 Legacy (140K miles) for a friend. The check engine light is lit, but the code reads "N/A?" I can clear the code, but it comes back after a few minutes. The car runs fine cold, but is a little sluggish just off-idle when warm...once you get it rolling at speed, it feels fine. I've checked the plugs, air cleaner, cleaned the throttle body, battery connects and given it a general look over...I see nothing obvious. With this kind of mileage, he doesn't want to invest a ton in it. Anyone ever run into this error? Thanks in advance for your help...MT :sick:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    No, and I'm really surprised there would even be such a code.

    I wonder if paisan has seen it before, paging paisan...
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,680
    Makes me wonder if it is simply a problem with the scanner reading the code properly.
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I have an Actron one, pretty simple, but if anyone's in the DC/MD/NoVA area and needs one they're welcome to come by.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,680
    Well, what I am wondering is whether the scanner has some hardware limitations that make it not 100% compatible with the Subaru OBDII system. It may be an OBDII scanner, but that does not mean it has all the code compatibility.
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Yup Wes beat me to it, it's the scanner not having all the Subaru OBDII codes. Often times this happens with cheaper OBDII scanners.

    -mike
  • Thanks for the feedback guys. The scanner is a fairly cheap one (~$100), but I've never run into a car it couldn't scan yet...there's always a first. I get so many requests to scan cars from folks at work that I always carry it in my backpack. Wierd how it will clear the code....but it comes back once the car has been driven about 5-10 miles. Another garage told the owner that the code comes back for a bad knock sensor. I haven't looked at it again, but the owner says that the knock sensor is tough to get at...Anyone been there done that? Thanks again for the help...MT
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,680
    I doubt it would have issues with all codes generated by the car's computer, but some of them are manufacturer-specific. I would not think the knock sensor to be one of those. In fact, it seems to me that a knock sensor problem would cause more of an issue while the car is cold than warm! Maybe I am just not thinking it through well enough though. How about airflow sensor? Input is bypassed from that circuit until the operating cycle reaches a preset temperature.

    The knock sensor is mounted on top of the engine, just slightly on the right side (looking at the car from the front), and near the back of the block. It is somewhat underneath the intake manifold. It is not overly difficult to access, but it is a tight space - especially plugging it in!

    Keep us posted with what you discover, please!
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • Just changed this sensor ($60) on my mother's 2001 Legacy. Very easy to do. Haynes manual has good a description. Make sure to note the orientation of it. I put a long socket extension between the two throttle cables to get to the bolt directly below on the engine block. You'll need a new cable tie unless you figure out how to unlock it. Her car runs better now.
  • Hi all. I have a engine light question re: my 2005 Subaru Outback 2.5i wagon. :confuse:

    After driving from MD to NC and back this past weekend (with no problems) ... today I was driving around and, mid-way thru errands, the yellow "Check Engine" light turned on, and the green "Cruise Control" light started to blink on and off. I tried to "turn off" the CC using the handle by the steering wheel (even tho' I wasn't using it), but no luck. And stopping and restarting the car still gives me the error.

    Any ideas on diagnosis and fix, or should I just take it into my local mechanic? (I'm not super car-fix handy myself.)

    Thanks,
    sapphireblue
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    The cruise comes on like that to alert you to the CEL that is going on.

    -mike
  • Is this something my regular mechanic can diagnose and try to fix? Or do I need to take it to a dealership?

    And if it is an engine problem (e.g., cylinder issue), is that covered under the 3Y/36000 mile warranties (which I am still under)?

    Thanks,
    sb
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Anyone with an OBDII scanner can pull the code. If you are under the 3/36k that is a bumper to bumper warranty which means that whatever is causing it should be covered.

    -mike
  • holteholte Posts: 4
    I have a brand new 2008 Subaru Outback with 350 miles. On my way to work yesterday my cruise started flashing & the check engine light came on. I called my dealership but they can't get me in until Monday. Has anyone experienced this issue? Thanks
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    The CEL + Cruise flasshing just means your have a CEL which could be anything out of about 200 different codes. You'll have to wait and see what the code says when hooked up to an OBDII scanner. Could be something as simple as the gas-cap was not tightened all the way on your last fillup.

    -mike
  • holteholte Posts: 4
    It was as simple as gas cap not tightened.
    They cleared the code a few weeks ago & since I've tightened the gas cap it hasn't come back.
  • I am repairing a 96 lecacy 2.2 sohc. code is setting rear o2 sensor and cat efficiency problems. replaced both cats and both o2 sensors. ce light returns after 20 miles or so. any help would be nice.
  • dswissdswiss Posts: 11
    If you have less than 36k miles on it, bring it to the dealer and they will keep fixing it. If you're out of warranty, you can reset the light by disconnecting the battery and shorting the +/- cable of the car for a few seconds. Then reconnect the battery. However, if the light keeps on coming back, there is a good chance that you have the same problem me and many of my friends had: An emission control system problem. that will kleep reoccuring and costing you lots of $$. Consider selling your car.
  • Hello all,

    I need help, I recently purchased a 97 Legacy GT with the 2.5l eng with 195k miles. shortly after I got it the CEL came on. I had the dealership check it out for me and the tech told me it was calling out a #1 cylinder misfire. since then I've changed the spark plugs, wires, and the coil, and the still came back after they reset it the third time. the eng runs great, except for every once in a while when I stop at a light it idles a little rough. I dont know what else to change out. does anyone have any suggestions?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Could be an injector on that cylinder.

    -mike
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You already did the 3 things I was going to suggest, so I'm stumped.
  • I haven't read everything in detail here yet but...

    one subaru owner I knew who had this was told the gas cap, hosing and emission cannisters connected to the fuel filler, were defective. Once those items were serviced, his check engine light problems went away.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Except that those problems would not give you a misfire in a particular cylinder. Those items would effect the evap system or another code related to the emission control area of the car.

    -mike
  • dswissdswiss Posts: 11
    What you're saying is that both Subaru dealers I went to have incompetent mechanics. You might have a point! ;)
  • Been down your path with a recurring CEL spitting out engine misfire on 3 and 4 with no noticeable loss of performance (98 Outback with 2.5l manual). Problem has been intermittent since about 80K miles (now 134K, with a rebuilt engine at 120K - typical head gasket failure) After checking/replacing wires, plugs, coil I just tried some heavy duty add to the gas injector cleaner. Light went off after about 100 miles, and is still off after 500 miles.
    Advice to anyone with a similar problem....swap the fuel injectors with each other and see if the codes change before replacing all that electrical stuff (unless, of course, it's tune-up time anyway).
    BTW I own Toyotas and Hondas with similar/more mileage, and none have ever turned on the CEL. My POS Subaru does it routinely.
  • Okay, I bought a 2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport at the end of Oct, 2007. It now has 21,000 miles on it. The check engine light came on last night. Took it to the dealer for scheduled oil change today the want $130 just to scan it. Is that a reasonable price, even before they fix anything? Car drives fine. Doesn't get the mileage reported though, and I drive semi grannyish. It sounds like the check engine light is an issue. The dealer did say it was probably a smog/emissions deal that would need to be fixed. So, should I try and get out of this car ASAP?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,680
    No, the $130 sounds like a rip off to me, if all they are doing is reading out the code(s). You could buy your own reader for that and have it on hand for the next time the light illuminates.

    At this point, it is too early to tell if you should look to dump the car. Super low miles for the year, so it could potentially be a good buy for you. Give it some time, and proceed with repairs cautiously. Throwing sensors at the car to solve a tripped code is not a good course of action. ;)
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • Thanks, I'll see who else I can get to scan/look at the car. Fun car to drive, park it anywhere and don't worry about getting stuck up at pasture.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,680
    Reading the codes is terribly easy - takes about 30 seconds. You could then take it to a shop with codes in hand. If the shop then wanted to run a full diagnostics on it to pinpoint the problem, it might be warranted if it saves replacing sensors and making several repeat visits to the shop.
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
«13456714
Sign In or Register to comment.