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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • I have a 2001 Outback and had to replace front and rear brake pads and have the rotors resurfaced at 20,000 miles. Just last week the front pads were gone again at 35,000 miles. This time my dealer replaced the rotors. All this has been under warranty, but the next time I'll have to pay. I know of a number of people that have had the same problem. It sounds like a design flaw, but Subaru of America says it's not their problem. I think we should make it their problem! Are your brake pads still OK? I have a friend with a Forester whose pads lasted 50.000.
  • I have a 2001 Outback with the same brake problem, and a number of friends with the same problem on Outbacks. Front pads and rotors resurfaced at 20,000 miles. Rear pads and resurfacing at 22,000 miles. Front pads and new rotors at 35,000. Next time I'll be off warranty. One friend's car has been repaired three times in 35,000 miles. Another friend with a Forester just had her brakes done for the first time - at 55,000 miles! I'm convinced it's a design flaw of the Outback, and Subaru of America won't admit it.
  • It looks like alot of us are in the same boat - premature brake pad an rotor failure. If every one with this problem would call Subaru of America 1-800-SUBARU3, maybe we can get them to realize there is a problem and get them to make it right. At least they could extend our Warranties.
  • mrk610mrk610 Posts: 378
    I just installed the subaru security system upgrade . It wasn't to bad to install. My question is all the alarm features work except 1 . When I alarm and disalarm the car the parking lights don't flash . In the directions I got it says that they flash once when alarming and flash twice when disalarming . Is there a secret to programming the the system or am I screwed .

    Thanks all for reply's
    Mike in South Jersey .
  • 4wdave4wdave Posts: 16
    This is my second Outback wagon -- both had a "burning rubber" smell. Mostly when driving in the snow. What repair did you have?
  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487
    Well, FWIW, the brakes on my 02 Outback H6/auto were still good when I traded it in at 45000 miles. I estimate the brake pads would have needed to be replaced at 55-60000 miles. Rotors needed to be resurfaced at about 12000 miles, under warranty, and were fine thereafter.

  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487
    That's the smell of the auto trans clutch pack in the center diff. Normal if you are driving in the snow with lots of slippage. I sometimes smelled it when driving up a winding mountain road to go skiing.

  • gord7gord7 Posts: 16
    At least Subaru owners in the US get some relief with fast wearing brake pads and rotors. Here in Canada apart from machining of warped rotors under warranty you are on your own. Brake pads and new rotors are excluded from Warranty as wear items.

    The Legacy/Outback is not a heavy car that rapid wear should be expected. I agree with earlier comments suggesting questionable quality.

  • Is this brake issue an expected problem on the 05 Outback? 2.5i in particular, not the XT or H6 versions ....

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Rotor size has grown over the years. I think they upsized it for 2002 and then again for 2005 with the redesign.

    2005 models are also lighter, which puts less strain on the brakes, so odds are the 2.5i will be fine.

  • I have a 2001 OB Ltd. with 55,000 miles, original brakes and rotors. About 75% of my miles are from city driving. I hope the folks with premature brake/rotor problems can get things resolved with SOA.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My Forester has its original brake pads at 69k miles! :-)

  • I have an '02 bean that got the driver side wind noise "fix" from the dealer a while back. Now the door panel won't stay attached and the rubber seal comes off every couple hundred miles. Car is out of wrarranty.
    Is there an easy way to replace the clips (if so, how to remove?) or fix them (add another piece of plastic or something???
  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487
    Dealers are notoriously bad at dealing with issues like this, so your story is not surprising! If you know which clips ara damaged or missing, you can order replacement parts.

    There are about 5-6 pop-clips to hold the door panel on.

    Which rubber seal are you referring to?

  • The seal is the one on the bottom that goes around the edge of the door panel (speaker and light are right next to this seal). The clips (white plastic "friction" type clips with round discs) appear to all be in place, but the plastic rings are more flexible now that they have been
    pushed in and out several times (I imagine they would eventually fatigue and break).

    Question is, how do I remove them from the door panel - do they twist outlike a bayonet mount?
  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487
    The clips slide sideways into slots in the door panel. They are real easy to get out and replace (they often come flying out when the door panel is removed, in fact). I think the rubber seal is attached to the panel istelf, semi-permanently, but I can't recall for sure.

    I have some pics of the door and door panel here (from my 02 Bean):

    These show a rear door.

  • Thanks Craig! The bottom 5 clips are the ones I think I need to replace. I think I can do it without taking the whole panel off, but thanks to your instructions I think I can manage to take the whole thing apart and do it right.
    Many Thanks!
  • Looking to buy either a turbo xt or the h6 Outback.
    1.I was wondering if their are any reliablilty issue with the turbo
    after ,say, 100k miles.
    2.Does most of the turbo components have to removed
    to replace something on the engine, like a alternator, causing more labor time?
    3. Frame less windows. Do they seal well or do you have a lot of wind noise?

    Any input would be helpful. Thanks in advance.
  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487
    Nowadays, turbos are pretty reliable. Many people with other Subaru turbo motors have gone well past 100K miles. Subaru uses a water cooled bearing and has a pretty robust design.

    The turbo is down near the rear passenger side of the engine. It's pretty much out of the way of everything else. Only time you'd need to remove the turbo is for major engine work.

    I'd say 3-5% of the cars have wind noise problems from the factory but this can easily be corrected by adjusting the angle of the glass and seal. My last two Subarus have been fine in that regard, but my wife's 03 Forester needed a little adjustment.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,858
    Also regarding the frameless windows: they do well over time. My '96 has no wind noise and it takes a lot of wear and tear from living outside year round with 6 months of snow/ice. Both the gussets and seals are original.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • zman3zman3 Posts: 857
    I have had absolutely zero issues with the frameless windows on my 98 Outback. I've never had a hint of noise or air/fluid ingression and I have done nothing as far as maintenance to the seals in 6+ years and 90K miles here in Minnesota. The only minor drawback is the residue that the seals leave around the edge of the windows but that is easy to clean off.

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    juice: Sandy has got to be the most perfect 98 Forester I know! You're still on the original pads!? SOA should sample some of Sandy's DNA and make sure it's in all future models!

    efland: Subaru has been building turbo engines for years now, most recently with the WRX, Forester XT, Baja Turbo, WRX STi and now the Outback XT and Legacy GT. That's a lot of turbo engine experience!

    Same here with the frameless windows. My 98 Forester after 6 years had no problems with the seal.

  • otis123otis123 Posts: 430

    Any chance you have pics of the front door clip locations (when you did the gusset replacement)? Rear door pics are excellent!

    Replacing my auto day/night compass mirror tomorrow.


  • 4wdave4wdave Posts: 16
    I have a 2002 Outback wagon with 70k miles of mountain driving and I just now had to replace the pads. No warped rotors. I'm thrilled. Maybe you're dragging the brakes and you don't know it?
  • My 2005 OB Ltd non-turbo auto has 2000 miles. After driving several miles using the Sport Shift manual mode...shifting myself...I smell what seems to be burning transmission fluid when I get out of the car.

    Also, it was 35°F this morning. As I drove down the street in regular mode, the transmission was having trouble shifting… as if it was having trouble getting fluid..until the car warmed up.

    Are these normal quirks?
  • How do you remove the power window switch cluster (bezel?)? Is it just held in there by friction? Will a wide putty knife be ok to pry it out?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My windows seal perfectly.

    My wife's car will occasionally have some wind noise, but when we lower and raise the window again it stops.

    Hasn't happened often enough that we've even bothered having it looked at.

  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487
    When cold, the transmission purposely delays shifts in order to help warm up the engine/transmission quicker. You would probably notice it holding the lower gears longer, and then shifting more abruptly. Once warmed up it should be fine. You are not the first person to notice this and wonder, but it's perfectly normal!

    Not sure about the smell, are you sure it's auto trans fluid? There have been a wide range of odors that people notice, and some only appear in certain weather conditions or when you drive differently.

    You may smell a slight whiff of burning clutch when driving in the snow with lots of slippage, or driving on winding roads with lots of tight curves. That would be the clutch pack in the center diff doing its job, and is normal.

    Then there's the smell of undercoating burning off the exhaust, which usually goes away after some long trips (where the exhaust really warms up). That's normal.

    Some people have gotten a rotten-egg smell from the exhaust, which is not normal. A burning auto-trans smell would also not be normal! So if it continues, have it checked out. As a first cut, maybe check the AT fluid level.

  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487

    The bezel is a real pain to get out. My advice would be to pull it out by the upper/outer edges in any way you can without damaging the plastic or door panel. The bottom of it has a locking tab, so don't bother prying there!

  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487

    I did the gusset repair on my wife's Forester, not my Bean. So I never had to open the front door of the Bean. I would guess that the clip locations are similar front to rear, but you probably won't know until you pull the panel off!

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