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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair

revkarevka Posts: 1,750
Subaru Legacy/Outback problems and solutions. Thanks for your participation.

Hatchbacks / Station Wagons / Women's Auto Center Boards


  • I also have a 2001 H6 LL Bean outback. Since it was new I have had periodic problems starting car.
    always when it is cold and mainly in the Winter.
    The symtoms are when starting the car the engine
    shakes as if only firing on half the cylinders. If
    I turn off the car and restart, it usually restarts ok. Sometimes I have to crank longer then
    usual to start. I advised the dealer about the problem. They stated nothing is showing on the computer as a problem. Yesterday I had to restart three times to get the engine to smooth out.
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    In addition, look for direct links to the Edmunds' Maintenance Guide, as well as other related Subaru discussions/features on the left side of the page. Hope this is helpful. ;-)

    Hatchbacks / Station Wagons / Women's Auto Center Boards
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My only problem is that Subaru doesn't sell a bigger vehicle with 3 rows of seats. C'mon Subaru! :-)

  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    3 rows of seats??? How about something with enough rear hip and shoulder room for 3 adults or two adults plus a child seat in the back seat? I was looking at the Legacy earlier this year but it was just too narrow back there to really put 3 people in the rear. Needs at least another couple of inches to be comfortable.
  • nematodenematode Posts: 448
    We have not had the same good luck as other with our Outback. Its had TONS of "small" problems. They are almost all fixed (except the ping) but it took 15 unscheduled trips to the dealer. The significant ones were leaking door seals, a front door that became totally misaligned somehow, brake pedal would go nearly to the floor before providing any stopping power.....and plenty of others. Still we like the car. Those things dont detract rom the quiet, smooth, ride and its stellar performance in the snow and rain.

    I did hear rumors of Grand version of the line but I dont know what became of it. A Grand OB would have been cool. 6'' wider and 12-16'' longer would have made it perfect.
    One of the more odd things is that there is no Subaru minivan. Just about the biggest complaint is what juice just reflected. Need bigger vehicles. My opnion: I dont want or need an SUV, I want an AWD minivan. My only options currently are the Town and Country AWD and the Venture/Montana with Versatrak. There is the Astro AWD but if I'm going to get better have 400hp. My family has had horrible luck with DC transmissions so the TC is out. The Montana looks kinda funny to me so thats out. The Venture is actually pretty nice but when compared to the Toyota or Honda it just seems really unrefined (engine and chassis). The other draw of the Venture is that we will have maxed out our GM dollars at $3500 by then easily. Probably cant even use that much toward it.

    Still, Subaru should listen. The OB is fine for us now with just 2 people and a dog (sometimes 2 totalling about 200lbs) but its just too small for much more than that.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Hmm, I say go for an AWD Venture with the $3500 credit and get 0% financing for the remainder.

    I drove a Rendezvous, and it was OK. It really deserves a better engine, IMO. Verstrak is FWD until you get slip, so no full-time AWD.

    Did you guys see the new Subaru concept at Tokyo? It was discussed in the Future Models thread.

  • I've seen a lot of comments about brake squeal in reverse on starting up the first thing in the morning, or when the car's been sitting for a while. My 2000 OB has squeal going forward, seems to go away after one or two stops, but comes back with what I consider to be medium to medium-hard braking. Has anyone had a similar problem, and could this just be pad squeal? I had them looked at when I had the O2 sensor recall, and the dealer "cleaned and adjusted" them, and said they were fine. Other than that, I like the car so much that we specifically rented and OB in September to spend 6 days in Yellowstone, and found that it's a great car for moderate "off-roading".

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Call your dealer and ask if he's heard about the brake-shim fix. That has quieted the brakes on a few cars already.

  • Thanks, Juice. Have you heard whether the shims work for this type of problem, or just for the "morning backing-up squeal" problem?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The fix was intended for the AM squeal, but it may help all around, I'm not sure.

  • Actually, Subaru technically does make a 3-row vehicle now. The name escapes me, but the first Subaru minivan went to market just a couple months ago. The reason I say "technically" is that it isn't really a Subaru, it's just a re-badged Opel Zafira, and Subaru producing it with their badging was obviously influenced by GM's buying of 20% of Fuji Heavy Industries.

    Still, Opel or no, it's a 3-row Subaru. Whether it gets out of Japan or not is a different story. We may see a real Subaru 3-row though if that WX-01 "Emotional Multi-Wagon" concept gets produced...ever. Who knows.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The name is Traviq. But an in-line four mounted transversely and with FWD is not a real Subaru.

  • ob11ob11 Posts: 28
    My only problem with the OB is that I also test drove a GT limited sedan (in silver) 5 spd.
    What a car!!! bought the OB anyway......
  • I'm cross-posting this, I hope nobody minds...

    Hi All,

    I've been reading this site for quite sometime and have found it very enlightening, thanks for your posts.

    After 4 years of research and waiting, I bought a '01 Outback Wagon H4/5sp in July. After 6 months of use, I have recently started having problems with the steel frame in the driver seat pan. As some have noted, the seats are rather deep and now every time I swing my left leg over to get out of the car, the steel frame cuts into my hamstring. It's to the point now actually where I have trouble walking and have actually consulted a doctor.

    I suppose it has taken these 6 months for the foam (?) padding surrounding the steel frame to break down enough for the frame to become so pronounced or I would have noticed it sooner.

    Has anyone else experienced this? Any ideas on how to fix/replace this seat?

    I have tried lowering it as much as possible, but the car is high enough off the ground that even at its lowest, my leg rests on the seat edge while touching the ground. I've taken to various acrobatic tricks to evacuate the car now. Incidentally, it does have the electric motion controls, which I would be fine without.

    Thanks and regards,
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    While you're waiting here for feedback, you may want to see what information you can find in this archived discussion: Seat comfort in Outback. Also, have you tried looking in Edmunds' Maintenance Guide to see if you can find any related TSBs (technical service bulletins). For future reference, look for direct links to our maintenance guide and other related articles and discussions, in the additional resources on the left side.

    And btw, don't worry about cross-posting. I often encourage people to post in more than one discussion, especially when they're experiencing a problem. Not only will it help in getting you more feedback, but it will also make it easier for others on down the line... to find your information. Good luck in finding a solution, and please keep us posted. Thanks.

    Hatchbacks / Station Wagons / Women's Auto Center Boards
  • li_sailorli_sailor Posts: 1,081
    I said small block, I meant short block, I guess I could have just said engine block. In any case, insurance has agreed it's all under the accident so its covered, that's a relief. Now we have to wait for the check to be cut and the replacement to be ordered. At least the engine will be largely new when they're done, but it looks like we'll get to week 14 at least before it's back.

    rsholland: I would have thought so, too, but the replacement interval for the timing belt is not mentioned in the manual.

    n8wvi: Not sure which engine it is (the manual is in the car right now) but yes, it's an interference engine. It's a timing belt, not a chain.

    onfoot: Well, you had some other problem there, ours started with the accident and the piece of metal stuck in the cylinder.

    Seems the big mistake here was on the part of the collision guy who sent the car to Subaru for the valve job without re-assembling the car so Subaru couldn't test the engine. He suggested it to save Subaru work (it appears). Of course, maybe they wouldn't have found the problem either...that car ran fine for quite a while before dying.
  • got a stone chip on my subaru forester "98 windshield.Can pay insurance deductable,but glass shop suggested, it maybe better to "repair"the nickel size crack and keep the original windshield.Is something wrong having the windshield replaced???
    Also,is the 60000 miles maintanance price $700 correct?why it is so expensive..?anything that has to be done at this time without spending so much money.???Thanks..Yes.I got a answer.Thank you but,still with the same doubt.If I can replace the windshield,is anything wrong with that?leaks,no original part,etc??
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Let them try it. They tried on my wife's Mazda and the crack just got bigger. Ask for a warranty if they can fix it, you have nothing to lose in letting them try.

    60k miles is a major service. They ought to replace just about every single serviceable part on the car. I can think of a bunch of stuff: oil and filter, fuel filter, air filter, spark plugs, plug wires, PCV valve, tranny oil, differential oil, 02 sensors, alignment, tire rotation and balance, etc.

  • I have a manual 02 OB and have noticed since day one that, when I accelerate (most noticeable from a stop), the car seems to hesitate in its acceleration. It's pretty consistent and I'm certain that it isn't my driving that's causing it; the clutch is all the way out.

    It happens in 1st and 2nd and is most evident when I'm in need of high acceleration, but it only does it once, and then goes.

    On another board, someone suggested it was a plug misfiring.

    Any ideas/experience around this?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Well, it's brand new, otherwise I'd suggest you check the plugs, wires, fuel filter, stuff like that.

    You could check the throttle cable and remove any excess slack from it (but leave some or it'll idle high).

    The only other thing I'd try is to change brands of gas, to see if that has any effect.

  • It's probably those crappy Champion plugs that Subaru puts in new cars. I've read NUMEROUS complaints from people about them, and once people switch to NGK, the problems disappear. My '00 OB Sedan also has a very slight hesitation, but I'm used it and its no big deal (by the way, its an automatic).

  • I'd be interested to know how many people out there are happy with the manual transmission on this model. I've got a 2002 Outback ltd. w/ 5000 miles on it.

    I'm finding it very hard to drive smoothly in lower gears. Lots of shuddering going into first and second at what you'd normally think would be the correct rpm. I've got to rev higher than usual to make sure not to stall when entering intersections going into first from a dead stop and then from first to second.

    Also the horrible burning smell in stop and go traffic. Anybody else here getting that?

    The dealer says we're driving it incorrectly and that's whats causing the burning or stalling. He says with a hydraulic clutch you can't move forward slowly easing the clutch in and out in stop and go. That you have to let it all the way out to avoid burning the clutch plate which of course you can't do because it will stall if you're moving slowly, which is of course what you'd be doing in stop and go. So what are you supposed to do hit the guy in front? I want to say that I can drive a manual and have never had a clutch wear out before at least 110k on other makes of vehicle. Has anyone with this problem figured out how to drive through it?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Check the manual trans fluid. Consider changing it, maybe with synthetic gear oil. It's a relatively easy job on the manual tranny (remove two plugs, drain, replace bottom plug, refill, replace top plug).

    I put synthetic in my Miata, and the shifting in cold weather got a bit easier.

  • I purchased my used 1996 legacy outback last August. There have been many check engine light episodes-mainly when starting cold in the morning, in winter, in damp weather and always when going up hills.The dealer can't seem to find the problem. Now the car is loosing power and stalling when going up hills-the dealer tested it yesterday and it stalled for them but they can't locate the problem. The car always starts easily when turned off and on. The problem seems to be getting worse and has become a safety issue.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The CEL is really just a symptom. I'd look at the following:

    * spark plug wires (most likely culprit)
    * spark plugs
    * fuel filter, fuel supply
    * air filter
    * water in gas tank (use dry gas, keep tank full)
    * fuel injection (get a throttle body servicing)

    I bet one of those will solve it. Our 626 was hesitating big time, and the throttle body service fixed that. On they say spark plug wires are often the fix for a loss in power.

    Good luck.

  • nic99nic99 Posts: 1
    About a month ago my '98 Outback Wgn over heated (?) - temp gauge hot, blackish smoke, no steam, horrible coolant smell as well as nice pattern of coolant all over drivers side tire through holes in rim. It has 105k miles but I'm not ready to give it up yet.

    Since then, it's been to my local mechanic twice and dealer once, neither of which could get the temp to rise again. I've had radiator cap replaced (only holding 9lbs pressure v. 16), air bled from coolant lines, thermostat replaced, and two head gasket tests which were both normal. Less than 24hrs after picking up from dealer the temp shot up again, coolant level was low, that great smell was back. When I called dealer, they said to check oil & did it look like caramel? It doesn't - regular old oil, which incidentally they also changed. Now the dealer is telling me they'll keep it overnight to run pressure tests all night, but I should replace the engine, which is roughly $2300 incl labor (used engine). I think they don't have a clue, but figure why not start over....

    I know nothing about cars save where to put the key, gas, and washer fluid. Does anyone have suggestions on what I should be checked next? My local mechanic suggested possible cracked head, but the dealer said they couldn't do just that, had to do the whole engine. Though its amusing to have my son ask "Mommy did your car blow up today?", I'd really rather have a solution. Any help would be appreciated - Thanks!
  • Sean, to me the Soob seats are a weak spot. I'm getting used to them, but they are too hard for my taste. Anyway, my '01 L seat cushion was replaced at around 500 miles because the metal wire frame within was tweaked. It has been fine but still hard since. Also, I usually support some of my weight with my hand on the rocker sill as I exit.
  • 2000 OB with few problems, but the original battery seems to leak and has corroded the hold down bracket. This is not corrosion on or around the terminals. I am concerned about sheet metal corrosion over time. Has anyone else seen this with the no-name battery's that Sube puts in their cars? I find this particularly annoying since almost every car I have ever owned has had some sort of battery box corrosion problem. My '74 Opel was the worst, our '88 volvo 760 Wagon was also pretty bad, now a Subaru.

    You would think that after designing cars for over 100 years that automotive engineers could make a battery area that didn't rot out. Put the battery in a plastic box for crying out loud!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The water levels may have been too high. The distilled water becomes acid, and if it leaks it'll corrode pretty much whatever it touches.

    Check the water level, remove some with a dropper or turkey baster if you must, just don't touch it with your hands.

    I would replace the tray, it should be cheap, and if not try an aftermarket one from Pep Boys, Trak Auto, or NAPA.

    nic99: I'd let your mechanic have another look, I guess. Ask him to check if the fan is working, i.e. nothing is blocking it.

  • I've got this too in an 01. In addition to Juice's advice, I make up a solution of baking soda and water and carefully rinse off the top of the battery and the tray. Don't let it get into the battery itself though. It might help.
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