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Subaru Legacy/Outback "Check Engine" Light Problems



  • sheltyshelty Posts: 1
    I too have a 2006 subaru outback but it has 130k miles on it. The ABS, Cruise control and check engine light have only come on a few times and every time I'm backing up in a tough situation. Hard snow at the end of the driveway where I have to really gun it to get over and things like that. The first time I was stupid enough to pay Burt Brothers $90 to turn it off then someone told me to just disconnect the negative battery connection for a few minutes. Tried this again tonight and it worked. Must say I've never experienced the acceleration or braking issues some of you seem to have but if you live in snow country this might come in handy!
  • Theres.a problem with sensors I think. My car jerks and vibrates and misfires and the engine makes strange whirling and whistling sounds and the exhaust smells weird. I read that these are symptoms of a bad knock sensor. It listens to the engine and tells it when to detonate and all kinds of stuff. I'm going to replace it this week and pray that its the problem, so keep that in my if yours starts to do weird things like mine does. The engine light comes on when something triggers it but it could be alot of different things. I hate this kind of crap
  • So, I replaced the knock sensor, it runs alittle smoother but it's still misfiring, if thats possible. So Ive replaced the timing belt, O2 sensors, mass airflow sensor, ignition coil packs, plugs, and knock sensor. What's left? I'll put as much into the car as I owe on it before I find the problem. I'm thinking it's an electrical problem more than mechanical. Who can I call to get viable ideas before I trade it in? It's really pissing me off
  • Cam or crank sensor? If the car has one, I would lean towards the cam sensor. This is like the rotor in an old sets the timing of the spark..if it is bad, you will experience the symptoms you are describing. Again...I do NOT know if your engine has these sensors........Good luck..I know how frustrating a problem like yours can be!
  • After 6000 miles, my new (6 months ago) Outback with the Lineartronic CVT transmission, is hitting 30 MPG. I was beginning to think all the 30 plus MPG reports were BS. I chalked up the 25 -27 MPG we were getting, to driving at high altitude (5000 feet plus) and mountainous roads. I am happy now!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    The car does have a cam sensor. Generally, however, it will throw a code if the cam sensor is out of spec. Did you ensure the alignment on the timing belt was spot on when it was replaced? If it was off by a tooth or two, it will make it much more difficult for your knock sensor to compensate.
  • I had a NAPA shop replace the timing belt, so I assume they did it right, and if they didn't, I won't know, I'm not a mechanic. The code that came up was a misfire code, I guess. I switched the coil pack with cylinder 4, the one that was supposedly misfiring, to cylinder 2 and the code than said misfiring from 3 and 4. I didn't do anything with 3. I replaced all 4 coil packs last week. I haven't checked the codes recently since I've replaced the coil packs. So as far as I know there isn't a cam sensor code popping up. I was told the cam sensor might be bad 2 days ago so I'm going to replace it. It's really starting to piss me off really.
  • Thanks for all the replies in trying to help me figure out the problem. The subaru dealer here hash't been too helpful. They've told me it could be a bunch of things, but I don't have the money to spend on the time it'll take for a shop to find the problem, but we'll see
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Well, try the cam sensor. It will cost you $50 or so, but it s incredibly easy (and fast) to replace. If that doesn't do it, I'd speak with the shop that did the timing belt and ask them to verify the cam/crank alignment. I'm not entirely sure how yours is behaving, but an "off by a tooth" situation would likely result in no noticeable difference at idle, yet occasional issues while driving.
  • I was told by a mechanic that when the computer senses a problem that will further damage your car by driving it, it goes into a certain "mode" (he told me the name of it, but I forgot it)....basically it means that it only gives it enough fuel to drive about 30mph. It tries to limit what the car can do, to protect itself. I just had a similar issue with my 09 legacy gt. the check engine light came on and the cruise control light and s-drive indicator light started blinking. I live on an island, so it will be a week or so before I can get it to a dealership, but he is going to read the computer tomorrow to get the code. But he did explain that subarus have this protection mode, so maybe that is why yours slowed down and felt like the brake was on??? Just a thought...
  • It is called, "Limp Home Mode".
  • My car's timing was off, after I had a NAPA shop put a new belt on, the tensioner was bad, and they failed to tell me it was bad. They wanted $1600 to replace all the parts including the water pump, but the pump is still good. I didn't pay them for anything but the belt but they didn't tell me about the tensioner most likely because they wanted me to buy all the parts to put on it. None of the parts were Subaru parts which is why I didn't want to have them put on, plus they all cost more than the Subaru parts as well. I never go back to the same shop that did the bad work in the first place. The car still ran like crap after the timing was corrected, still misfiring. I asked the shop that corrected it to find out why its misfiring to replace the camshaft sensors on it, cuz there is 2 of them. They didn't get passed the timing belt because I was running out of money to give them to continue looking, so now I am going to drop it off at Subaru dealer in town for a day and hope they find the problem. I am hoping it's a bad spark plug or the camshaft sensors or something less expensive than a valve or piston or fuel injector problem. I don't know but I will post it on here. It may because I was using ethanol mixed gas in it for awhile, quit using it about 3 or 4 months ago. Noone use ethanol in your Subaru, the engines are not made to handle it, and it is dirty and bad for all engines.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    I am glad to hear that you may be getting closer to sourcing the problem, but sorry that it is costing you so much (time, energy, and money!). Thanks for keeping us posted.
  • Well, I pulled the plugs out, and they were too short, so I think I was given the wrong plugs to put in a couple years ago when I changed them out. I put iridium high performance plugs in today, and it fixed the misfire issue, however it is still making a weird howling sound and seems to "slip" while I'm cruising on the road. and there isn't as much power as there should be,. I think that may be an injector or a bad valve or who knows. Maybe a sensor. Anyone have any thoughts? I can hear the turbo sucking and blowing air, but there's still a disheartening sound once in a while. But it runs sooo much better with the new plugs, so there must be another problem. I have yet to replace the camshaft sensors, I am taking it to Subaru so they can look at it all day on Tuesday, so maybe they will have an answer.
  • tm14930tm14930 Posts: 2
    First the cars history: We bought it through private sale in Aug '11 from a little 77 year old lady who drove it 9.5 miles a day 5 days a week, only in good weather, to her family's business and back, and always garage kept, meticulously maintained. We know the people and the history. It had 17000 + miles on it, now it's just over 19,000 miles.
    Now the problem, about a month after we got it, I got the code for the rear o2 sensor passenger side and just replaced it with OEM from dealer, and cleared the code. I just blamed it on time.

    In third week of February I got the p0154 code, bank 2 sensor 1 no indication. I Replaced this one with OEM also and cleared the code. But this time the code keeps coming back after
    20 miles or so. Well now put my meter on it at the connection when the sensor connects to the harness at the manifold and here are the reads with engine running.

    harness side: blue- 3.77 white - 3.77 blk(under blue) - 14.0 blk(under white) - 14.0

    sensor side: yellow - 3.18 red - 14.0 white(under yellow) 3.77 blk(under red)3.77

    I also damp wiped the throttle body, but it didn't need it.

    there were no vacuum leaks found. and no brittleness in the hoses.

    Fuses are good

    With the mileage I don't feel a tuneup is neccesary, as the car runs like a top.

    Question is, where do I go from here, ECM reflash?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    May as well since there's no expense involved.

    I had a misfire and it turned out to be the ignition coil. I had rodents in the engine bay and they chewed up some of the wires, too.
  • tm14930tm14930 Posts: 2
    Just a quick follow up. The check engine light is gone!

    after about 50 - start, wait 30 seconds, and shut off cycles, on a fully warmed up engine the light went away on it's own and as soon as it did that I erased the p00154 code, No indication, and rechecked it.

    I have the Haines book which I've used for my 02 OB vdc, but wanted to try the Chiltons book. While they are quite similar, there are differences.

    I think that between the two books I have better reference material to go by.
  • csmilichcsmilich Posts: 11
    I figured out was wrong with my 2006 Outback, it's japanese lol. No but really the turbo was going out for like 2 months, and finally blew the gaskets and shaft. The oil was fouling up the spark plugs, so when the dealer tested the codes it said it was misfiring, but it was the turbo leaking oil that caused the misfire. So if you have a turbo in your Subaru and you have around 100,000 miles, get it replaced it fast. But don't buy the subaru turbo, its too expensive and you can get an aftermarket one much cheaper that will be a better quality.

    Just do it before it goes out completely and shoots oil in places it shouldn't be. It ran like a champ right before I traded it in for a Ford F-150, got a great deal so I couldn't pass it up. Also replace the knock sensor and the cam shaft sensors too and the timing belt. Don't hesitate cuz it will screw you out of money.
  • mcharliemcharlie Posts: 22
    edited April 2012
    14,000 miles. Ever since new, whenever trip mileage was reset, the Average MPG counter would start at 31 MPG and work down to the average MPG within 30 miles.

    After an oil change 4 weeks ago, now it starts at 21+_ and takes forever to count up to the average. (On a recent trip, 120 miles 'downhill' it took all of that 120 miles to stabilize at 26 mpg.

    Before this started, we, on average, got 28 - 29.5 mpg, now the mileage is down to 25 - 26 mpg. NO CHECK ENGINE LIGHT HAS COME ON, same gas station, same route every day...65 miles to and from Carson City, Nevada and Reno, Nevada...all freeway driving.

    Oil used is full synthetic Castrol.

    Dealer says nothing wrong.....makes no difference whether or not the average mpg is ascending or descending. WAIT A MINUTE!! Something had to have happened to make it change from a start of 31 and working down, to starting at 21 and going up, with the actual mileage dropping 3 - 4 MPG.

    Any thoughts as to what might be the problem?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Why would it start at any point? In all Subaru vehicles I have owned that have a fuel economy readout, they show --- for the first mile after a trip meter reset, then display the average economy. So, the initial display will vary depending on the type of driving experienced in that mile. Sometimes the initial display is in the mid-20s, and other times it is in the mid teens. Where it goes from there again depends on conditions.

    Is the average economy you stated above (28-29.5 vs. 25-26 now) calculated or based on that readout? If calculated, then something has changed (or is wrong, such as a sensor providing erroneous/poor feedback). If taken on faith (e.g., based on readout only), I would do some calculations before getting too concerned.
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