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Subaru Legacy/Outback "Check Engine" Light Problems



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Gotta love it:

    which would see plaintiffs get a $100 to $200 and $1,000 discount on a new Honda and trial attorneys get $8.5 million
  • I started having problems with my 2002 Subaru Outback. First, check engine light came on which was the catalayic convertor. Then, the overheating started which blew a head gasket. Got a head gasket job. Then, the radiator blew, had to get another hg job. While, getting the second hg job they replaced the timing belt kit. Now my car makes weird noises, whines. Mechanic said the power steering fluid leaks which is some of the whinning. Now he told me I need the differential replaced. But never offered to do any of the work. Now, my car whines and when I turn the steering wheel the wheel squeals but there is something wrong with the front tires. Now he says motor is blown we put 20/50 oil in it and is running okay with no knocking from motor but still whines and turns funny or front tires feels funny when you turn the car. What to do?
  • Time to buy a new car!
  • jd_24jd_24 Posts: 92
    Get a new mechanic?
    Head gaskets are typical for the 2000- 2003? Subaru models. I jsut had ours done on a 2001 Outback. Some of the rest, might just be due to age? However I'm at least wondering about the mechanic's ability. Seems a bit curious it all went bad right after the head gasket job.

    Time for a new Subie. New ones won't have the head gasket issue due to a redesign.
  • When I bought my '07 Legacy in 2006, I... fell in love. And, just like a married couple who can't stand each other anymore, I learned to despise some of its traits. Subaru, consider this my application for divorce. Without further ado, here are the recurring issues I have had over 7 years of driving this car:

    1. Wheel bearing failure. Three times I had to replace the undoubtedly cheap wheel bearings on my car, the first before 30,000 miles. Fortunately, neither bearing seized on the highway, but the possibility of it makes me cringe. Subaru, you ought to know better. Much better.
    2. Leaking head gasket + front cam seal before 150,000 miles. Huge disappointment. I bought this car on the premise of better reliability than my previous Mercury Mystique. But hell, in 175,000 miles, my Mercury never developed serious engine problems. Nor faulty wheel bearings, ever. As kids like to say these days: WTF.
    3. A pandemic of electrical issues before 150,000 miles. The past two years I must have been stopped by the cops an average of 1x/3 months for broken lights. Boy, how these things went. And then there is the radio which refused to turn on, even with the engine running, before coming back a few days later. Again, never saw any of this in my cheap cheap cheap Mercury Mystique.
    4. Oh, the... tires. Three times I had to replace four tires because of a single sidewall cut to a single tire. Stretch a $125 tire replacement into a $500 4-tire replacement anyone?

    That's right, Subaru. I want a divorce. And I am not sure I want to ever see you again.

    ...despite the amazing ways in which that Legacy zipped through snow while everyone else skidded, especially on slopes. Or the ways it steered, always so tight and responsive, with zero body roll. But. In the end, I want a car that works, not one that doesn't (notice the double-negative anyone?)

    And what is up with the new CVT? I love the concept, but boy, step on the gas just a bit and does it get loud inside. It sounds like a mechanic hammering metal on metal - at a rate of 4000 hits per minute. Add to that the annoying high pitch drone that accompanies the hammering - a drone which, now that I think of it, reminds me of my mother's sewing machine, as its pulley drive system plugged away... Just amplify the sewing machine by, oh, a factor of 100 and you have the Legacy. So quiet.
  • mcharliemcharlie Posts: 22
    edited February 2013
    Perhaps you should have gone someplace that sells good steel for the CVT trans.....the CVT in my 2011 outback is quiet and oddly enough, efficient. Thought you had an Outback..the CVT trans was only available in the 1989-1994 Justy's, then Subaru discontinued the CVT box until the introduction of the Lineartronic CVT in the 2010 cars. Now..I *DO* take Subaru to task for their mileage quotes for the 2011 Outback/Legacy line...they say the Outback gets 29 we get is 26 (90% highway driving of 70 miles or more)..even thinking about taking Outback to court because of the advertised mileage figures don't come near to actual. I have enough Outback and Legacy owners (Right here in my small area alone!) to join me in a class action against Subaru, for misleading mileage figures. I have already talked to the DSM and he IS worried, as he knows the courts have already sided with the customer on poor mileage complaints. (Against Honda, wasn't it, last year??)
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Was there one against Honda? I know that Hyundai was taken to task on their Elantra claims.

    The CVT certainly sounds different than other automatics (DSGs sound different than others, too), I didn't find it noisy or unresponsive in the Legacy I drove.

    I certainly agree with lifeson34 about the handling on the third generation outback and fourth-gen Legacy cars. It was wonderful; night-and-day different from the fourth/fifth generation (2010+).
  • I just looked it WAS Honda..the hybrid model. I never drove an earlier Outback, so have nothing to compare. I know our 2011 is very nice...but, oddly enough, it is not as wind stable as our old 2000 Forester.....Not as stable on ice and snow either, but still quite good. We had opportunity to rent a new, 2013 Forester a few months back. WOW..what a piece of crap..sounded like we were in a tin can....not solid at all...close the door and instead of a 'THUNK', it sounded like a stone dropped into a bucket. Sure glad we didn't find a 5 speed Forester and opted for the more cush Outback! Now..if only Subaru would get the electrical issues ([Check Engine Light] park brake, cruise control, etc.) solved, I would feel a little more secure on trips with the car.
  • winter2winter2 Posts: 1,796
    edited February 2013
    I purchased a 2013 Outback 2.5i Premium in October of 2012. I have a bit more than 4K miles on it and it is fine.

    This is my first car with a CVT and this CVT is different from the 2012 and earlier Outback CVT. I have driven both and the newer version is more responsive and has significantly less of a "rubber band" sensation than the older version when accelerating. This version is noisier when accelerating as it whines. On level pavement, the CVT is dead quiet.

    Fuel economy is good for what the car is. The one long trip my wife and I took from MD to NYC got us a bit more than 27 MPG with average cruising speed at about 70 MPH through hilly country (we do not take I-95) and the engine barely had 1500 miles on it. Our 2010 Mercury Milan with 2.5L four and FWD does not do any better on that trip.

    The doors and body structure on the Outback are solid and all of the doors and the tailgate give a solid "thunk" when closed. Even the base Subaru we considered had the same solidness to it. Even at speed there is no "hood shake" that I can see.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,732
    I cannot argue with a number of the man's comments, as unfortunately it doesn't sound like he had the best ownership experience.

    One area where I'll object:

    4. Oh, the... tires. Three times I had to replace four tires because of a single sidewall cut to a single tire. Stretch a $125 tire replacement into a $500 4-tire replacement anyone?

    ...despite the amazing ways in which that Legacy zipped through snow while everyone else skidded, especially on slopes.

    Catch that? The tight control of uniform wheel rotation - both a blessing and a curse....
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Aye; I can commiserate on that one. I suspect many of us have been there over the years. My only sidewall loss in four Subaru vehicles cost me $900 last summer to put a new set of tires on it. But, that's the breaks, too. Sidewall cuts are pretty rare in normal road use, so that's just plain bad luck having three over such a short period of time.
  • bob192bob192 Posts: 19
    I had a left rear tire damaged and needed to replace it. we put two new tires on the front and moved the front two to the rear. That was nearly a year ago. No change in handling or winter driving.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    edited February 2013
    Whether it impacts your car's AWD system adversely all depends on how much wear difference there is between the two pair of tires. By replacing a pair, you eliminated the most noticeable issue, which would be a rotational difference between the tires on the same axle, but the two axles would still rotate at slightly different speeds, which then puts stress on the center differential to compensate. You won't necessarily feel it, but the strain will do its damage over time.

    As long as the tread depth on the tires is within 2/32's of the same, it shouldn't be an issue at all.

    Unfortunately, that wasn't the case for my car, plus I wasn't going to pay the money the local shops wanted for replacing the stock tire. Those things are junk, anyway. So, I spent $900 on a new and far, far better set. The other option was $350, and that was just a single tire. I don't feel bad about the new set; I just wasn't planning to buy it for another couple of years!
  • I shut the engine off yesterday and sat in my car for no more than 5 minutes listening to the radio. All of the sudden the radio turned off, alerted, I tried to turn the engine on and the battery was dead. I had all accessories available, it cranked weakly a few times and then stopped. I went inside and made a phone call for help. Maybe 10 minutes passed, and I cranked it and it started right away. Bad battery? Alternator? Sensor? I can't find anything conclusive. And "YES" the check engine light has come on intermittently for a week prior.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    A battery can recover slightly, but find out why it was discharged in the first place.

    If it starts again after a long drive, the alternator is working.

    How old is it? 5+ years and I would no longer trust the battery. I replaced the one in my van at Costco for less than $80. Piece of mind well worth it.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    What car do you have? The issue may be poor grounding rather than a problem with the battery or the alternator. That would make perfect sense if you were experiencing what seemed like a weak battery, then it seemed to work fine shortly after.
  • mcharliemcharlie Posts: 22
    That's true...earlier Subaru's were notorious for having ground issues.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,732
    Chicken & Egg issue.... A false CEL and erroneous fault code could be logged because of an intermittent electrical issue such as a bad ground that glitches the ECU. Or, a real code that could help lead us to the actual source of the non-start condition could be present. Get it read out and lets see if it tells us anything useful.
  • winter2winter2 Posts: 1,796
    This morning it was announced that Subaru was recalling cars with a starting problem covering several model years through 2013.

    Upon doing some research, I discovered that the recall was limited to those cars having the factory remote start capability. If the FOB gets damaged, it could start the car without you even knowing it. My Subaru does not have remote start.
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