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Subaru Legacy/Outback "Check Engine" Light Problems

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Comments

  • obwnyc97obwnyc97 Posts: 2
    Having the CEL code is essential to be able to help. It costs nothing to get the code pulled at an auto parts store (Autozone or such). Costco sells a cheap code reader (something like $40 I think) that may be worthwhile because you can determine the code, reset the system and see if the same code is generated after driving a bit.

    I mention this because I had several different emissions related CELs over a six month period. Very hard to figure out what was going on. Gas mileage was OK though idle was a bit rough. I cleaned the air filter, mass flow sensor, checked purge solenoid, etc., etc. and was ready to change O2 sensors, EGR valve and the upstream catalytic converter. Then I systematically reseated every vacuum line. I have not seen a CEL since (over two months now).
  • bb2010bb2010 Posts: 2
    Thanks for the suggestions. The car was towed in on Monday the 22nd, they still have the car as of March 30th with no end in sight. First claimed it might be a wire harness and they replaced that. Now they are talking about transmission issues. I have gone to Subaru of America and had a case number opened. We are discussing options and I will see what is offered. It is a crime when a car acts up as soon as you take possession of it. I keep being told that they have never had this happen before, I am starting to doubt that. I don't want this car anymore, I see a long string of problems down the road if they ever manage to get this one out of the service bay. Ironic that I would have bought a Toyota if they weren't having problems, I was told by so many that Subaru is a great brand. I am expecting them to do the right thing, will let you know. :lemon: :lemon:
  • obwnyc97obwnyc97 Posts: 2
    Re: Cleaning mass airflow sensor

    Make sure the cleaner is non-chlorinated. The chlorinated ones will harden the plastic and allow infiltration into the electronics. They sell "MAF cleaner" -- it's just non-chlorinated carb cleaner .
  • cemcconcemccon Posts: 6
    Yesterday, I was driving along on the highway in my 2009 Outback (approx 21,650 miles) with the cruise control on. All of a sudden, the cruise control disengaged itself, and the check engine light came on and the cruise light started blinking. I thought the problem may have cleared itself after sitting overnight, but the check engine light / blinking cruise light still happened during the morning commute (I commute about 75 miles round-trip per day ... which makes not having a working cruise control VERY MUCH A PAIN IN THE YOU-KNOW-WHAT). You think with all of the technology available today, instead of a generic, generally useless check-engine light, autos would display a problem-specific code (like an ABEND code in a computer program) that you could then look-up to see what the problem is. Since there is not a Subaru dealer in the town I work in, having it serviced is a big pain in the rear. I'll start by re-tightening the gas cap. If that doesn't work, I'll go to the auto parts store to have the code read for free. Pfooey...
  • cemcconcemccon Posts: 6
    Well, I called the dealer, and learned a few things. 1) If the CEL is solid yellow (which mine is), I am not damaging the car by driving it. 2) The CEL will be solid red or flashing for more serious, stop driving and have it towed type of problems. 3) For whatever reason, Subaru has designed their vehicles (recent ones, anyhow) such that the cruise light will blink, and the cruise control system deactivate (I.E., not work at all) while the check engine light is on, irregardless of the seriousness of the issue. I'm going to head over to the auto parts place at lunch to see if they can read and / or clear the CEL for me.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,732
    The flashing "Cruise" got your attention, didn't it? Yep, that's what it is designed to do. The CEL alerts you to a potentially worsening problem that could disable the vehicle down the road, or at the very least, result in a marked increase in emissions. Yet people will ride around with that pesky light on forever and just ignore it otherwise.
  • cemcconcemccon Posts: 6
    @#$ing gas cap not tight!!! Now, is that REALLYworth a CEL?!?!?!? C'Mon!! Maybe a blinking fuel icon / fuel warning light, but not a CEL. Jeepers.
  • cemcconcemccon Posts: 6
    Yep ... used to just disconnect the CEL or put electrical tape over the thing in the ole 81 Buick Skylark back in the day...
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,761
    edited April 2010
    #$ing gas cap not tight!!! Now, is that REALLYworth a CEL?!?!?!? C'Mon!! Maybe a blinking fuel icon / fuel warning light, but not a CEL. Jeepers.

    Yes it is. The gas cap is part of the emissions system and if it's loose, it's out of EPA specification.

    IMHO, spend $50 on a basic scan tool which can clear the CEL and read them yourself.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I was gonna post the same thing.

    It's not Subaru's idea, they have to comply with OBDII.
  • cemcconcemccon Posts: 6
    Alright; I tightened the gas cap, and cleared the code with the scanner thing at the auto parts store. Made it home OK, but then the CEL came back on again this morning!! ARG!!!! I know it isn't the gas cap this time.... I guess I'll have to take it back over to the auto parts place and see what the darn thing says this time. Unless Subaru opens a dealership (or at least an authorized service center) in the town I work in, this will be the last Subaru I buy. What a mistake.
  • cemcconcemccon Posts: 6
    Maybe they Do have to comply with the OBDII, but they sure as hell don't have to disable the cruise control while doing it. CRAP on a stick.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited April 2010
    Maybe they force a limp-home mode when that malfunction indicator light is on? Really not sure.
  • snowbeltersnowbelter Posts: 286
    It takes several driving cycles to clear a CEL after a loose gas cap has been tightened. I don't know if clearing the CEL with a scanner speeds up the process.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,732
    Automakers are being 'encouraged' to find ways to get you to comply with emission standards between your annual inspection. Consider yourself lucky that you are only suffering a minor inconvenience. Proposals on the table for OBD-III include telemetrics that alert the local EPA office for issuance of a fine, and possibly even the disabling of the vehicle altogether for continued non-compliance.

    Clearing the code resets the clock on this event. If it occurred this soon after, then the problem still exists. If the system won't pressurize, there is a leak somewhere. It could be a bad gas cap bleed valve, or the O-ring seal. Or, it could be any one of a dozen other places in the tank, lines, vapor recovery canister, purge valve, etc.

    Assuming it is still under warranty, let the dealer handle it. Make an appointment, and ask for a loaner given your situation.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My friend owned a Lincoln Aviator, and had an ABS sensor failure. The whole car stopped. He could not drive it at all.

    Had to have it towed to the dealer.

    When he found out the problem he was furious, naturally. A sensor takes down an entire vehicle? Yep.

    Vehicles are so complex, but they should have a fail-safe, and at least continue operating in some sort of limp-home mode.
  • trevwtrevw Posts: 4
    First time reader and first time poster. Solid CEL and flashing cruise light came on 2 days ago. Checked the manual and noticed that this could be caused by the gas cap being loose and sure enough it was loose. I tightened the cap but the CEL remains on; how long should I wait before I take it in? Or would it be better to just head down to a parts store and get the code read? Thanks!
  • gilson1gilson1 Posts: 4
    think it's 50 miles or so
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,732
    Welcome to the club!

    Under normal conditions, and assuming that the gas cap was the one and only problem, the computer should clear the code out in a few drive cycles. It is checking that the fuel vapor recovery system can properly pressurize and hold the value before it releases the error state.
  • trevwtrevw Posts: 4
    That's what I was afraid of; I've put over 50 miles on it and we've made 6 trips with it (if that counts as a drive cycle...). Anyway, I need to take it in to get a rear wheel bearing replaced, yay for the extended warranty on that, so I guess I'll see what they say about the CEL while I'm there.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,732
    A drive cycle is a start from cold, full warm-up, with a few miles driven before shutdown and complete cooling off. The system must go from 'open loop' (cold) to closed loop (using the oxygen sensor as a feedback to regulate emissions and performance). This allows the vapor recovery system to work, and for the computer to see that all is well. Your day of driving might not have met the criteria. Don't panic yet! (there's plenty of time for that...).
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited April 2010
    If you're near MD/DC you can borrow my ODBII scanner to reset the code, to see if it comes back on.
  • trevwtrevw Posts: 4
    Hey good news...the CEL is off! Thanks for keeping me from panicking and thanks for the offer ateixeira. :)
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,732
    Glad to hear it. So out of curiosity, per my definition of a drive cycle, how many did it actually take for it to turn off?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sweet! Karma at play. Soon as someone offered a hand, it cleared itself. :shades:
  • trevwtrevw Posts: 4
    It was probably 4 drive cycles (so the light was off on the 5th).
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,732
    Thanks! That's a good data point.
  • sarah03sarah03 Posts: 1
    check engine light could be the catalytic (not sure how to spell it) converter. the 2005 models have had a history of that particular issue. Emission controls have been a historic issue for subaru's. i would get that checked. you can have it plugged in at napa or auto zone for cheaper than a mechanic would charge.
  • yasuyasu Posts: 7
    Thanks for your message. I have tried that to the tune of 3000.00 and a few other things at the same time which accounts for that price tag. That is how much it cost me that year to get a legal inspection sticker. That lasted about two weeks. It has been five years and the light is still on. Two last attempts before I "sell" it? A mechanic where I work says that (he works on many Subaru's)he thinks it may be in the gas cap compartment or something like that. He will read the codes to determine that. If so, it will cost about 425.00 to fix. A fool and his money! Car runs well and gets good mileage etc. The other? A whole new exhaust system..which I have never had done. After that? Park it when the inspection this year runs out.
  • jim801jim801 Posts: 1
    Since Feb. 2009 we have replaced 6 sensors for the same problem. I am getting sick of talking to the dealer about this problem. You know it's bad when you have the dealer on your speed dial. First it was a fuel sensor now it oxygen sensor. It happened again last night,after it was in 10 days ago. If my wife didn't like the car so much would be get ride of it.

    Have you fixed the problem?
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