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Subaru Legacy/Outback "Check Engine" Light Problems



  • if it's cat/con before 100,000 Subaru should replace it. Mine blew at 102,000 and they wouldn't touch it. My closest Subaru dealer is a snake so that's the last place I'll ever take it or buy from.
  • My 2001 Outback had check engine light on for some time. It ended up being the O2 sensor. Much cheaper than a catalytic converter.
  • I have a 2003 Outback with the 2.5L engine with 90k miles. At 75k the head gasket blew and based on other posts this issue is not uncommon. Now at 90k the engine keeps overheating when I go above 45 mph. I've had the radiator, water pump and thermostat changed based on my mechanics advice. Even after changing all these parts the engine is still overheating. The mechanic was stumped and called in Subaru and they said that they have seen some cases like this and that the engine is shot and needs to be replaced. I've never heard anything like this, the car idles and runs fine at slow speeds but once I start to cruise at speeds over 45 mph the engine will overheat. Has anyone else heard of a similar case?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If the engine overheated badly, it can happen. The heads can get warped.

    If it's not severe, they may be able to machine the heads so they're flat and true again.

    This would be the case for any alloy block (as opposed to heavy cast iron).
  • Subaru did pay for the turbo. I had to pay for the labor. Since the turbo failed, I did have some metal shavings in the engine that left some scratches. But the dealer felt that I didn't have to do a major engine overhaul. The car is running great right now, but I fear that the catalytic converter will go next or something else. I've got 67K miles on this car...I was thinking I should probably replace the car in the spring -but I really don't want to. What are your thoughts?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It will probably be fine if the dealer thinks so, but if it makes you worry about it all the time, then go ahead and trade it in, because it's not worth the stress.
  • Hi all,

    I posted this in another thread, but I've got an update and wondered what some of you thought.

    About 3 weeks ago, my "Check Engine" light came on in my 1997 Subaru Legacy. The day after the light came on, my temperature gauge in the car started slowly climbing, as if the car was overheating after 20 mins of driving. I turned on the heat and the temperature gauge went back to normal. I took it to have the code read, and it threw the P1502 code, which is for a radiator fan function problem. However, the temp. sensor and both the fans are functioning properly. I've checked the fluids, I don't seem to be having any leakage, and I just had the car tested for hydrocarbons in the cooling system and it came back clean.

    The car is fine on long drives and on the freeway but starts to overheat when I’m idling or in stop-and-go traffic. I was concerned that this might be a head gasket issue, but all the posts I've read about HGs have the car overheating at higher temps. Any thoughts? A friend suggested a flush, so I'm going to try that next. I'm loathe to take it in and rack up $$$ while someone digs around trying to figure out what the issue is.

  • Do you live in an area where you have to buy fuel with ethanol? When I stopped using that and went back to "real" gas, our cars are performing much better and getting better gas mileage.

    Wonder when this ethanol boondoggle will end. Probably not until all our engines are destroyed. :(
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    It's a shame, really. What a waste of corn.
  • Thank you Cindy for the warning about the turbo. My experience after six years and 36,000 miles has been extremely positive and I'm going to hold my subie until it reaches at least 100,000 miles.
  • This forum has been very enlightening. I have no issue with paying for maintenance but these repeated trips with no resolution and the "deer-in-the-headlights" expressions are getting old. The catalytic convertor was replaced at 105,000 along with the two related sensors. The CEL typically comes back on within three weeks of service. Dealership has checked the codes and reset things 5 or 6 times only to have the CEL illuminate again and again and again. It's been a good car other than this annoying issue.
  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    If you've found one of the few places in the US selling real gas, please post the info on WI has a fair number of stations selling real gas, followed by 10 stations in AL and 9 in SC. Most states have none, a few have 1 or 2 stations. If the pump is not labelled, you cannot assume that its ethanol-free. Many states do not require pump labelling and you don't know what you're getting unless you test it yourself.
  • 2005 Subaru Outback 2.5 xt turbo- check engine light is on and the cruise control light is flashing. Just had a remote starter installed for Christmas-could that have caused this problem? Thanks!!
  • There are so many stations that sell real gas here in Oklahoma, that I could not begin to list all of them, and in College Station, TX, you can't buy gas with ethanol!

    We have the benefit of living in oil country! Or as they say here "earl". ;-)

    However, in Dallas, you can't find ethanol-free (real!) gas. Supposedly it's due to the air quality, but that is so bogus! Ethanol causes more pollution than real gas does. This has been a con job from the beginning.
  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    Well, now I'm jealous! I can't even get pure gas at a marina here for my boat. There are only 2 stations selling the good stuff in MD and they are 3.5 hours away. If the EPA allows 15% ethanol this summer, I'll be forced to sell my boat to someone who can afford to replace motors more often than I can.

    Ethanol reduces fuel economy, so the same amount of gas gets burned - there's no decrease in emissions. Further, there is so much demand for corn that its being planted everywhere - including where it should not and heavily fertilized. The fertilizer runs off into our waters, leading to the Chesapeake Bay, already choking on nitrogen. So the feds throw money at removing nitrogen from the Bay, and throw money in the form of subsidies to the ethanol producers, who buy the corn and drive up the prices and hire more lobbyists causing more corn to be planted & more runoff - its ridiculous. Those of us not growing corn or producing ethanol are the big losers.
  • Check engine light came on (97 Outback 2.5, 201000miles) . I checked oil and trans fluid levels, both were good. As I drive the headlights, actually ALL the lights blink or dim at lower RPM's when I hit the brakes. The lights return to full brightness after a few seconds. I'm not a vehicle tech but I'm thinking alternator or maybe the battery ????
    Any thoughts are welcome.
  • Everything you say about ethanol is true, and it has even been shown to cause more respiratory problems than the emissions from real gas. Ethanol is a boondoggle supported by the farm state politicians who are beholden to huge agribusinesses like Archer Daniels Midland. In fact, there are several Illinois congress critters (from both parties!) who are demanding that the EPA stick to the schedule of requiring more ethanol in gasoline. It has nothing to do with air quality or energy policy and everything to do with politics. As usual, follow the money!

    My daughter and SIL just moved back from MD a year ago. I'll ask them if they know of any places there to buy real gas. I understand your frustration. Ethanol will eventually ruin your engine and make your vehicle perform poorly along the way. :(

    Or, you could join us here in Okieland! You wouldn't believe how much lower our cost of living is here.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    E10 is mandated here in MD, too.
  • Sounds like the cooling fan isn't working. Can you see or hear it running while idleing?
  • I am having the same problem without the remote starter!
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