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Subaru Impreza Outback Sport & TS



  • Fred:

    There are a lot of opinions on this subject... here's mine:

    IMO: Avoid any blue tinted bulbs, and in general anything that claims, "HID look" or "Xenon look".

    I have used Sylvania Xtravisions in my OB. They did seem to be better than the stock ones, not a huge difference, but maybe 10-20% better. Very similar color temperature to OEM, but brighter. However, they lasted only 10 months or so. Yes, I installed correctly, didn't touch the bulb, etc.

    So, carry a spare if you go aftermarket.

  • hypovhypov Posts: 3,068
    I stay away from those. They are likely to be the "Xenon" wannabe as utahsteve had described.
    They only look brighter when you're looking at the headlights. Their illumination... worse than OEM.

    Your $ would be better spent, in your case would be, investing in a set of auxilary lights. Would cost more than the $10 bulbs, but it does help in very dark places and a good insurance for spare bulb on the fly should the headlights go out in the middle of driving.

  • Utahsteve, Dave,

    Thanks for the advice. My gut feeling was to steer clear. I'll do that for sure now.

  • cbmortoncbmorton Posts: 252
    There are some good aftermarket bulbs that are designed to actually put more light on the road at the stock wattage, instead of having a trendy colour with less light. Unfortunately, the pickings are rather slim in the 9007 size of the 2002-03 Impreza. The Philips HiVisibility (aka Philips Premium) is a +30% bulb that does come as a 9007. Cost is around $30/pair.

    I'm using Philips' +50% VisionPlus in my 2004 low beams. The light colour is slightly whiter than stock, and they put out noticeably more light.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I had Hella H4+30 bulbs. They are marketed as "Xenons", and probably did create a slightly whiter light.

    But...the catch? They lasted about a year, no longer than that. I had 2 pairs, in my Miata and in my Forester, not one of the 4 bulbs lasted longer than 14 months. And at $28 or so per pair, delivered, it didn't seem worth it. Stock bulbs usually last 5 years or longer.

    So, just budget for that, or maybe get 2 pairs, one a spare set. Or even just carry the stock bulbs in the glove box if the new ones, which burn hotter, fail early.

    I've heard more positive reviews of the Phillips bulbs mentioned above, but soured on the idea of having to swap them out every year, not knowing where I'd be when they blew out.

  • cbmortoncbmorton Posts: 252
    This is true, they don't last as long. Good illumination is important to me so I'm willing to bear the cost of replacing the bulbs more often, although I hope for more than a year's use considering I only put on 12k km annually. The only other downside is how much fun it is (whee!) to replace the low beam bulbs on a 2004.
  • cbmorton: Where do you purchase the Phillips bulbs? I have had no luck finding them at major chains here. I'd be willing to try them in my Outback.

    A while back I bought some Sylvania Silverstars, I just had to try them out. Here's two links that show them vs. OEM:

    They do have a very subtle blue tint that couldn't really be seen in the package, so I got suckered in by the marketing. I wish I would've stuck with the Xtravisions at half the price and better performance IMO.

    The problem: The whiter light is a *little* brighter, at least it looks like it is because it's more like daylight, but causes more glare in heavy snow. Haven't tried them in rain but I've heard the problem is the same. A yellower light tends to be better in inclement weather, IMO.

  • cbmortoncbmorton Posts: 252
    Steve: the Philips VisionPlus bulbs aren't widely available over here, although they're very popular in Europe. I got mine from a UK-based company that sells them online, but since then I came across a US site,, that offers them as well as the Osram Silverstar, the other highly-rated +50% bulb.

    There's been a lot of debate about the Sylvania Silverstars (different than the Osrams) on other Subaru boards I follow. A lot of people who use the Silverstars like them, but the main selling point seems to be the colour, and they're advertised by Sylvania as having 'the look of HID'. Ultimately the blue tint reduces the light output so I know they're not for me.

    The VisionPlus bulbs have a blue-tinted end to whiten the light slightly, I assume, but most of the bulb is clear so they're still almost identical to the stock colour. I read a lot of positive comments about them before I got them, and I've found they give me a bright, even beam pattern.
  • Recently, I read that Honda's chief engineer who developed the 3.0L SOHC V6 engine for the Accord that officially generates 240HP and 212Lbs/ft of torque with regular fuel, admitted that the engine can generate at least 10-15 HP and 10-15 lbs/ft of additional HP/torque, with premium fuel. The reason was the high compression ratio of the engine at 10:1, which is essentially a compression ratio typically requiring premium fuel. The 2.4L 4-cylinder Accord engine however, does not have any such benefit, due to its 9.7:1 compression ratio, which is something that is truly designed for running with regular fuel. Thus putting premium into the 4-cylinder, would not add to any power benefits.

    I wonder if the same principle could be extrapolated to the Subaru 2.5L engine. It too has a high compression ratio of 10:1 and the official power output of 165HP/166lbs/ft of Torque, is measured with regular fuel (for marketing reasons ??). Companies rate such high compression engines as able to run with regular fuel, mainly by using sophisticated knock sensors and retarding the timing (to prevent knocking), thus holding back the true output of the engine. If this is true, then the 2.5L engine may really be capable of generating more with premium. If so, then the 2.5L engine could theoretically generate 175+HP and 180lbs/ft of torque, if filled with premium fuel, with absolutely no other changes ! Just a thought.

  • Octane does not generate power. Octane prevents detonation and pinging. A friend who is an engineer for Texaco and deals in just this stuff told me lots of tech details that are beyond me. The bottom line is that if your car doesn't detonate or ping there is ZERO advantage to using a higher grade fuel. It can actually be a detriment to the performance of your car.

    Also, the difference from 9.7:1 and 10:1 isn't low to high compression. If you went from say 8.5:1 to 10:1 then you'd have a significant compression increase. Use the lowest grade that doesn't detonate or ping that is still at least the grade recommended by the manufacturer.

    Keep the other money in your pocket. Or figure out the difference, say 15 gallons at 20 cents is $3. Put three dollars in a cookie jar. Every fill up put the difference in the jar. Once a year go out and eat steak and spend a night in a nice hotel with your significant other.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    The NY Times had an article stating that the engine controls on some modern engines are adaptive and will "learn" what fuel you are using (by the onset of ping") and reprogram themselves to give appropriate performance.

    The gain from using premium with such adaptive engines was only a few horsepower.

    My 2001 VW knocked on regular, ran fine on midgrade (manual called for premium even though it was normally aspirated). My V6 Mustang knocked on regular, runs fine on midgrade. My 2.3 PZEV Focus halls monkey butt on just plain regular. I haven't tried upgrading the fuel, it's too costly.

    It takes a tank or two to learn, so don't judge the change on one tank of gas.
  • applies to the engine management retarding the settings from the factory settings in case of ping or detonation. It doesn't "crank up" if you are using premium in a regular fuel required engine. It "cuts back" to accomodate less than ideal fuel. At least that's how the engineer explained it to me. Again, according to a ph-d engineer, using fuel grades higher than the recommended grade "only increases the value of my stock in the company. It doesn't improve performance on the vehicle." Now, that may be wrong but he told me flat out it only puts more money in the gas companies pocket and indirectly in his. YMMV
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    But publicly (EPA postings etc.) my Golf claimed to run on regular, in the actual manual they asked for premium. Go figure.

    In think the rated horsepower was based on regular. At least they haven't been sued yet for overstating horsepower, like Ford, Mazda, and Hyundai (anyone else?).
  • is just the follow through to my taking the word of the engineer I know at Texaco. If that isn't correct he certainly made it sound good. Made a believer out of me.

    As an aside, I was driving a Lincoln Mk VII at the time. It would knock under heavy throttle. I couldn't run anything but premium even though it was supposed to run on regular. He told me to fill it with Texaco premium and put a silver bottle of STP in. He said run a total of 5 tanks of Texaco premium through it and then switch to Texaco regular. I did that and for the remainder of the time I owned it I never had a problem again while running Texaco regular. It was a few cents higher than other stations regular but much less than the premium I'd been buying.

    Texaco and Chevron, at that time which was 1993-4, both put the amount of cleaner and other additives in all their grades that were mandated for premium. That made the lower grades run cleaner. That's what kept me running ok on the Texaco regular.

    Maybe all coincidence but it worked then and I believe he told me the truth on it all. Since then I don't go any higher than the manufacturer calls for and I'll run a silver bottle of STP through if I need to.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It's interesting because I have a Miata with manually set timing. Stock setting is 10 degrees before top dead center.

    Experts swear up and down that advancing the timing to 14 degrees before (4 degrees earlier) increase HP by 3-5 or so. The risk? It might start to ping. But dyno charts prove the timing advance gives you more torque.

    I did just that. With the same 87 octane, I don't get pining, so I still gained the same HP anyone else would, even if they used 93 octane and I didn't. So premium fuel did not result in HP, timing advance did.

    Some go as far as 18 degrees before top dead center. The interesting thing here is that you MUST use premium fuel at that timing, but at that point you get diminishing returns, i.e. no noticeable increase in power beyond 14 degrees.

    OK, follow me for just a minute here.

    Now let's apply this to Subaru's ECU. A fresh ECU with no memory will run rich and start the timing probably conservatively. They don't want it to ping off the bat.

    Timing is advanced until the knock sensor says "that's enough" and the ECU learns how far to advance the timing. Note that this is ever-changing, due to altitude and conditions. My Miata does ping under a strong load, but only a little.

    So the Subie can potentially make more and more power if conditions are right, even with 87 octane. I guess it depends on when pinging would begin to occur.

    But...Subaru tunes the ECU of the 2.5l to run on 87 octane, so I doubt it would benefit from any more than that. In other words, it's probably not pinging at the ideal setting for spark timing with regular fuel.

    The H6 is tuned for premium, the ECU and cams (and who knows what else) can take better advantage of even more timing advance, so it makes more power with 93 octane. Supposedly 212hp with 93 octane, 208hp with 87 octane.

  • The "admission" by the Honda Chief engineer was not a myth ! So it might mean that the Honda 3.0L V6 engine output, when measured with premium filled in, was around 250-255 HP, since it is an engine that is truly designed with premium in mind. But when 87 Octane fuel is added, the engine management system (EMS), retards timing to account for the lower octane and thus is able to generate "only" 240HP, which is what Honda publicises. Quite a few people would refuse to buy a family car, if the more expensive premium is required, due to which car manufacturers get around it by putting in sophisticated knock sensors that would prevent knock by retarding timing (at the expense of engine power), thus allowing them to "recommend" regular fuel for the engine. With premium, the engine is free to advance timing to take advantage of the higher octane fuel, even though it is not publicised. Of course putting premium into an engine with a low compression ratio, is wasting money since the engine cannot take advantage of it. Some people foolishly put premium into such engines to enrich gas companies, with no benefit to the engine whatsoever.

    In fact quite a few companies freely advertise that their cars "can run" with regular fuel with a slight degradation in performance and power, over the recommended Premium. What this means is that with the lower octane fuel, the EMS retards timing below the knock threshold, allowing the car to run with regular fuel but at a power level below the advertised one. This generally happens with premium priced vehicles like Luxury branded nameplates like Acura, Lexus, Infiniti, BMW, Mercedes etc.

    Interestingly, the 2.4L DOHC i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine in the Honda Accord generates 161 HP (with regular fuel) while the similar 2.4L DOHC i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine in the Acura TSX (European Honda Accord) generates 200HP with "mandatory" Premium fuel. Of course the compression ratio of the TSX engine is higher at 10.5 while the Accord version is lower at 9.7.

    I was just speculating whether the Subaru engines also gain from a higher octane fuel, specifically due to their relatively higher compression ratio. A compression ratio of 10.0:1 for the 2.5L Subaru engine is fairly high, and is definitely something that can take advantage of premium fuel, even though you do find engines nowadays with 10.5 and 11.0 compression ratios.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'm sure that TSX has hot cams, besides that higher compression ratio, that is. I bet it would make 190hp even with 87 octane.

    In fact I know so - Honda also has a variant of this engine tuned to run on regular fuel that makes exactly 190hp! CR-V owners are asking for this engine to make it into that car.

  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    Message 2492, great post Hunter!
  • Does anybody know the front vs rear power split on the awd for an '02 OBS with the auto trans? This would be with no outside influence causing loss of traction or weight transfer etc. Just motoring straight down the highway on a dry road. The Subaru website is pretty clear that with the manual trans it's 50/50. But it's vague about the auto. I've read two different sets of numbers elsewhere of 60/40 and 90/10 ( the 2nd set seems a little too weighted to the front, but I'm no engineer ).

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Publications say 90/10, but some Subaru engineers Patti put us in touch with said 80/20. I'll take their word over some marketing brochure, but that's just me.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    80/20 is the torque split "initially" but under acceleration, braking, turning, slipping, etc it can go to 50/50 if need be.

    90/10 was the 1st gen of 4EAT prior to '96MY.

  • In September 2003 I Purchased a 1999 Impreza Sport. Overall I am very satisfied with the vehicle. One annoyance I have is that for some unknown reason, I cant begin fueling and fill up the tank without the pump clicking off constantly. First I tried positioning the fuelling nozzle in various places. I virtually have to try to keep the flow at a trickle in order to fill the tank. My Subaru Service team spent one day checking out the problem without success. They tested the sensors, checked the filler tube for obstructions and Blew out the vent lines with an air hose. They are stumped. I still spend hours at the pump. Any Suggestions?
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    I looked in the wheel well and the cause on my Scion is obvious...the gas tank line is extremely narrow (less than a garden hose!), not like the earlier generation filler tubes which are quite fat in comparison. I can't refill the Scion without angling the gas pump nozzle in at just the right angle.

    Look under the car and see if the Subaru also has a very narrow filler tube....
  • bluesubiebluesubie Posts: 3,497
    I've only seen a couple of other folks with this problem. My wife used to have it on her 99 OB, but it went away.

    In NJ, you can't pump your own gas and everyone was telling me that it was the attendant. It happened no matter where I went. The dealer had never heard of it, but there were two people in New England on another forum that had the same problem.

    Maybe open the cap, and let the tank breathe a little before inserting the nozzle. That's my highly technical advice. :-) It hasn't happened in a couple of years on her car.

  • crashton6crashton6 Posts: 245
    I've had the same problem with my 2000 Forester twice now. My fix was to go under the back of the car & check all the hoses that go to & from the charcoal canister. You will find the canister under the right rear fender. I found them to be quite loose fitting. They are just pushed on without clamps of any kind. My fix was to clean up the connections & to use tie wraps to clamp the hoses down. That fix worked for a year then the car started to exhibit the same slow fueling behavior. My second fix wast to cut all the tie wraps off & clean the hose to canister connections again. This time I got some small stainless steal hose clamps. This has done the trick for the last two years. I believe the tie wraps just loosed over time. If the hose clamps loosen it's just a twist of a screw driver to retighten. I hope this helps you.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yep, when I put my trailer hitch on, I had to remove that canister. If a hose stays loose, you'll even get a Check-Engine Light!

    Don't ask me how I know, but I love the tie-strap idea.

  • crashton6crashton6 Posts: 245
    Yes I had to remove that canister & it's nest of hoses to put my trailer hitch on too. The mini hose clamps work better that the tie wraps, but do cost a couple of $ more.

  • cbmortoncbmorton Posts: 252
    An interesting product announcement from Subaru: a 2.5TS sedan will be added to the Canadian lineup only, starting in February, at the same price as the 2.5TS wagon. However, the TS sedan will also add standard 16" alloy wheels and a 'wide-track' sport suspension. No word as to what, if anything, will happen to the 2.5RS.

    The 2.5TS sedan is being shown for the first time at the Montréal International Auto Show, at the Palais des congrès in Montréal (9-18 January).
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Seems like that *is* the RS sedan. Maybe they'll drop the RS?

  • cbmortoncbmorton Posts: 252
    Another product planning meeting I'd like to have attended. The TS sedan only gives up fog lights, sport interior, and rear spoiler to the RS but will be priced CDN$4000 less. Maybe the RS will quietly disappear for 2005...
This discussion has been closed.