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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,000
    Strictly regarding the brake pad, I would stay that you have one (or both) of two problems. 1. your brake system is not functioning properly and the left rear is doing most of the braking work (you should notice long braking times but not necessarily pull to one side since it is a rear) or 2. your brake pad is constantly rubbing against the rotor. What kind of mileage are you getting with your car? You might get somewhat lower mpg than average as a result. Perhaps find yourself a flat parking lot or empty street and stop the car. Put it in drive and let it move without any input from you. How fast does it move? It should move along at about 5-6 mph if it is idling at 650 (or whatever the standard idle, I think it is 650?). Eh. Just some random thoughts. Good luck!

    I have a '69 van that I recently diagnosed as having problem 1, except that it is the driver's front that is doing the lion's share of the braking. I replaced the front pads last summer and was blown away that the driver's side shoes were nearly gone while the passenger's side still had 50-60%. I started it up a few days ago to wake it up from winter hibernation. After I got it out of it's hole and up onto the ice, I found it was next to impossible to stop because the only wheel that would lock up was the driver's front... the rear drive wheels would just keep pushing me along as if I was not braking at all... I'm gonna have to work on that one in a couple months. :-D
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • stymiedstymied Posts: 3
    Thanks Mark and Dave, that's more good info. I don't need to use the actual cigarette lighter, I'd rather have the power source for other things. Think I'll swing by radio shack though...
  • occkingoccking Posts: 346
    Highway with slight grade downhill. Constant jerking back & forth. Slight, but noticeable.

    On level or upgrade no prob.
  • occkingoccking Posts: 346
    I have a built in hands free kit for my cell phone (wouldn't do it any other way) They cost around $240 or so installed but it keeps you phone charged all the time, you know where it always is (in the cradle) and the hands free quality of a built in set much better than other options.

    You can now order a custom bracket that is made for every new car model out there that enables you to mount the hands free right on, or off the dashboard. I forgot the name of the supplier but any Verizon store can order one for you. Only cost around $25 or so but well worth it.

    Well, the subject at hand is using the cigarette lighter adapter. As you can see, don't need it for cell phone, but while travelling used constantly for Garmin GPS & no problems at all.
  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487
    I used a cell phone charger in my 00 Outback and 02 Outback for a combined 5 years without nary a problem. In addition, I have fiddled around behind the dash installing stuff for the stereo, and the wiring to the lighter socket is standard wiring that goes to a standard fuse in the panel. I wouldn't worry about it at all, though there may be some truth that it damages the socket's ability to handle the lighter element afterwards (not a big deal for me).

    If I remember right, my Outbacks did not even come with a lighter -- just a plastic plug. My 05 Outback does have a lighter element. Oddly, there is not enough room to plug any type of cell phone charger in there, but it's no biggie -- I use the socket in the center console bin. In fact, I installed a second socket in there for my iPod charger.

  • 95legacy95legacy Posts: 26
    Well, if it's a slight grade than the downhill assist won't come on. Just so we're on the same page, by slight grade I mean any hill that doesn't cause the car to gain considerable speed due to gravity. My mom has a '99 Outback (auto) with DA. I think it's only on automatic's.

    Downhill assist: The car tries to keep the road speed (or trail speed as it may be) the same when you go down a hill so, you don't have to much. I'm getting the impression that this isn't the problem at all.

    I'm sure you don't want to hear this but, since you're both having this issue it sounds like a Subaru issue. AND HERE IT COMES!! I would talk to your dealer. Ouch!! Not having to deal with a dealer is partly why I joined a forum.

    Well, not all dealers are satan re-encarnated.

    Sorry I couldn't be more help.

  • 95legacy95legacy Posts: 26
    The squeeking/rubbing could be any number of things. Is it a constant squeek through a turn or does it come in and out?

    It could be related to the brakes. Check your wheel wells for anything loose, you're tires could be rubbing.

    Finding a trustworthy mechanic can be tough. Especially when you're a college student. I go to school in Upstate NY and I just asked my friends who their parents went to.

    I'm looking for an answer to the vibration. I'll get back to you.
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,783

    Mildly infuriated as I wrote this last night and then lost it - the joys of computers!

    I had a similar problem with my 99 OB Ltd.

    Subaru here in Australia immediately replaced the Engine Management Unit which partially solved the problem but did not remove it entirely. I found the surging when coming from a long downhill run rather exciting. West of Melbourne, there is a long downhill run coming off a mountain range followed by a flat area then gentle up-slope leading into steep climb. Under these conditions, the throttle goes from a long spell of being closed, when the vehicle is running down hill with engine braking to slightly open throttle to gradual opening and finally hard acceleration.

    Subarus are fitted with an adaptive learning profile in the Engine Management Unit that modifies its behaviour based upon the most recent driving behaviour. This is weighted toward the most recent throttle settings but takes about twenty minutes information in total. If you have accelerated hard away from a few sets of lights, the throttle will seem sprightlier but if you have been very conservative, the car will seem less sporty.

    Now, here is the hard part. Analogue systems allow continuing variation between off and on but digital systems, as used in modern computers and engine management systems, offer a range of discrete settings. When the engine has been very lean, as for example after running down hill for a lengthy period, the application of even the smallest throstle setting will introduce a significant increase in fuel input.

    That explains the surge. Once applied, the throttle will back off, leaving a lean spell. Rich, then lean and so on. I'm not sure what you call them in the States but here we refer to sudden jolting as "Kangaroo Hops" (typical of learner drivers in manual cars).

    The fix is happily straightforward. Here in Australia, Shell sell a Premium Unleaded fuel with detergents and other additives branded as Optimax, which dramatically reduces the surging behaviour. This was recommended by Subaru of Australia and shows a reduction in fuel usage of about 10%. Offset against this is a price premium of about 5% but eh net effect is a cost reduction of some 5% and the elimination of many dirty fuel issues. I expect that similar premium fuel is available in the USA.

    Incidentally, Subarus seem prone to issues of cheap fuel. Whilst it is tempting to think all petrol is the same, the majors genuinely do modify their product through additives, to improve its characteristics.

    If you are able to run replicable testing (say through a regular run over similar time and route, it is worth experimenting. I have found variances of about 15% from best to worst. I don’t want to sound like an advert for the big oil companies, but it is definitely a case of getting what you pay for!


  • My 2002 outback with 42,000 miles has had two oxygen sensors go bad. The symptoms were at first the car just died - I took it to the dealer, and the computer didn't show anything. So I went camping, and on the way it started coughing. By the time I got to the campsite it was really obvious that fuel was being provided to the engine in spurts. When I started it from cold at the campsite it backfired and died a lot. I ended up driving it home using 2 feet in order to rev the engine when I backed off the accelerator - otherwise it would have died on the highway.
    Then just recently the car seemed like it was running rough again, and again it stalled. I think the stalling was more likely to occur when the car was cold so I took it in to the dealer, and told them to wait until the car cooled off to drive it. It was another front oxygen sensor gone bad.
  • kat95kat95 Posts: 49
    I just purchased a 2005 i Sedan and immediatly replaced the Potenza tires. I read all the reviews on, stating that in wet weather they are horrible. My safety comes first, I didn't want to take any chances.
  • krzysskrzyss Posts: 848
    new tires ?

  • rwoodsrwoods Posts: 129
    I too was heavily influenced by all the criticism of the OEM tires on my '05 OBXT Ltd. on these Subaru boards as well as at the Tire Rack. So while on vacation last week I ordered 4 Michelin Pilot Sport A/S tires after only 6,500 miles with the Bridgestones. The improvement was immediate, especially in the wet. The Michelins are somewhat harsher and the gas mileage suffered by almost 3 mpg on a thousand mile trip from Florida to Long Island (from 24 to 21mpg) but I still feel the tires are worth it. I'm hoping that the mileage will improve after this break-in period.

  • I was reading this post - found it while I was searching for some sort of answer to a similar problem - and I was wondering if anyone had any ideas.
    I've got a '99 OB Leg wagon 2.5 litre. she has about 139,000 on her.
    About 4 weeks ago, I went through a GIGANTIC puddle. And all hell has been breaking loose ever since!
    My catalytic converter went, along with the o2 sensors. We replaced that. The car was fine for a couple of days. THEN: it rained again.
    We found that there were 2 hairline cracks in the ignition coil. At any hint of dampness in the air, the car would actually miss fire on cylinder 3. and would not stay running. I'd step on the gas with no response, and complete loss of power.
    So we replaced the plugs, the wires, and the ignition coil.
    The next day, after this repair was made, it rained... so for fun, i thought I would see if the car would act up again. It was fine. hmm.... did the new wires, plugs and coil solve the problem? That was last saturday.
    Guess not cuz I got stranded again in another rainstorm tonight. However, this seems different than last time. I didnt go through any deep puddles, for one thing. But here's what's got me stumped...
    The car will start, it starts like a champ - but it wont stay running. It sputters and kicks, and then stalls. I could not get it home, even. The idle jumps in rpms between 500 and 1500.
    I am lost! Is my fuel filter junked up? Did somehow driving in rain manage to get water into the system? The engine seems to behave as if it is not getting a proper constant supply of gas, or maybe the gas is crappy or has water in it or something. The fuel pump must be ok, it's getting gas enough to start the car, every time i crank it. But it just wont stay running...
    After managing to get it started, I kept it in park, and leaned on the gas pedal. After multiple attempts, it stayed running, although very rough and sputtery still. I got brave and put it in drive, made it about 200 yards, and it stalled while running - that was a little scary, no power steering and all...
    I have quite a lot of love for this car, and a quite lot tied up in repairs at this point. Any suggestions out there? I love my outback... but i am afraid to take it anywhere for fear of being stranded.
    \Whatever advice you may have would be great before i go blow another grand on parts and repairs *sigh*
  • rob_mrob_m Somewhere North of BostonPosts: 813
    First, I would look for a cracked or disconnected vacuum hose. A single little hose can wreak a lot of havoc with the engine management. Next, have the timing checked. The timing belt could have jumped off 1 tooth. Good Luck! Rob M.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,000
    I am wondering why driving through a puddle would have caused these problems....
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • tmurraytmurray Posts: 1
    I have the same problem on my 2005 Outback that I bought in Aug 2004. The problem has just shown up in the last month. I have not had it to the dealer yet but anticipate I would have trouble proving it because it is intermittent. Hence I checked to see if anyone else had the problem
  • 95legacy95legacy Posts: 26
    I second the disconnected/cracked vaccuum hose idea. In fact that just happened to me. It started every time without a problem but, after a couple seconds it stalled unless I gave it a lot of gas. If I didn't keep the rpm above 2000 it would stall, say at a stop light. If I did drive it it was really rough, kind of jerky.

    It seemed like I had a little more control over it though because I have a stick (I'm assuming you have an auto). Not quite enough control though. Losing all power can be rather interesting in heavy traffic.

    Do you know if it's a vaccuum hose? I think your current issue is different than your last problem with the cracked coil.

  • ckeatorckeator Posts: 10

    It sounds, being that your problem is one-wheel specific, that the caliper is sticking on that axle/tire. The car most likely vibrates because the caliper is pulsating against the rotor. Personally, I would change the caliper, put on new rear rotors and pads (both sides), and see what happens.

    Possibly a bad strut or wheel bearing could also be making the squeak, which is not unlikely if you've driven the car with a sticking caliper for 5000+ miles.
  • We have an '05 2.5i Outback with a manual transmission and the de-cell surging while on cruise is VERY noticeable! It is always there but more pronounced on down grades. I've yet to bring this to the attention of my dealer (an hour away) and came on here to see if anyone had the same complaint. Was wondering if this is being dealt with and finding here the worst. No it's not being dealt with very well. Has anyone gotten satisfaction? Would like to go to the dealer with information. ANYONE?
  • starwindstarwind Posts: 9
    Someone took a pressure washer to the side of my '95 Legacy Outback and the two or three inch chunks of the silver strip came off in several places. Any suggestions on how to repair or replace? I'm sure a body shop could peel off the old one and put on a new one for a $grand, but there's gotta be a better way.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,000
    HAHAHAHHAHAHHAHA! That's soooo funny because I just did the same thing on mine. I rented a pressure washer to clean my rabbit hutches in preparation for the next round of babes and since I had time to kill, decided to wash the car. The dirt came off pretty good, but so did the decals! I'm not too concerned about the appearance of cheap crap like that, so I just used the washer to rip the rest of the decals off too. Use some "Orange Blast" solvent to take off the adhesive, and you'd never know it was supposed to be there... but the solvent will go through the clear coat eventually, so be sure to work fast and wash off any residue. I honestly cannot figure why the mfg'r would have bothered to paint the lower section silver, the top part green, then put silver stickers over an otherwise nice junction between the two. Eh, the only problem I had with removing them is that there are a few spots that would not come off.... especially the pin stripe. I'll keep working at it, but I honestly don't care about cosmetics too much... adds "character." ;) A little bit of additional effort and I'm sure it would all come off without a trace and nobody would be the wiser. In my opinion, that sure beats trying to put it back on! But, good luck with whatever you try to do.

    As long as it is mechanically and functionally sound. :shades:
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • 2greys2greys Posts: 1
    I have a 2002 Outback that has had O2 Sensor issues. I have had two replaced already before 36,000mi. Now the warranty is out and the light came on again, the gas cap remedy did not fix the problem. Does anyone now if an O2 Sensor gets wet for a period of time if the light would then come on. Thanks.
  • michael2michael2 Posts: 31
    question, at my last fill up, the gas station attendent pumped i gallon of regular into my tank before i caught him. i've used nothing but premium since getting the turbo, and filled up the rest of the tank with premium. will this screw up hurt my engine
  • lfdallfdal Posts: 679
    One gallon out of a tankful should do 0.0 damage.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I premium is 93 octane, regular is 87, and you put in 1 gallon of regular and 13 or so or premium, your octane will still be 92 or higher. You're fine. Some premium fuels are just 91 octane.

  • 95legacy95legacy Posts: 26
    If you do care a little more about the cosmetics I might have a solution. I don't know if it is a one piece decal but, remove the rest of it off where it is damaged. Clean the area with vinegar or something better. I don't know the extent of your knowledge of cars but, you definitely want the area for the new decal to be free of residue, especially any old wax from past washings.

    I just saw a set of these decals on eBay. I'm almost positive that you could find one or two sides with a little time. eBay is a great source for this kind of stuff but, make sure you read a members' profile before you buy from them. It's rare but, once in a while you'll find a bad businessman.

  • starwindstarwind Posts: 9
    Colby, thanks, that is helpful advice. I'll watch ebay. I think I might be able to just replace a section of the decal. It won't look like new, because there will be small seams, but I won't have to get the whole thing straight at once.

    Anyone else have some suggestions?
  • metman1metman1 Posts: 1
    Hello, I was hoping someone could help me out. You see, about a year ago I purchased a 2001 Legacy. The car drives very well but there seems to be "ticking" sound coming from the engine, especially at start up. I did some searches on this site, and from what I can conclude, it is probably lifter noise that I am hearing which looks to me as a fairly common issue among Subaru owners. I would first like to know if this is true and secondly, is there a specific oil that anyone can recomend that might help with the noise? Any thoughts would be much appreciative!!!
  • hey, found this site tonight, after getting tired of trying to explain to the dealer what's going on with my car. its a '98 legacy outback with the all weather package. i picked it up at a kia dealership (shhh, i know), and im already having a couple of problems with it.

    when i got it, it had just over 95 000 km on it, so i thought it would be a nice little pick up. heres the problem though. after driving on the highway one day, i stopped for coffee and the whole inside of the car started filling up with smoke. aparently, its a $7 gasket that was leaking oil, and the dealership said they fixed it. im still smelling the smoke occasionally though, and im not sure if they just didnt clean the old stuff off or not. ive heard this is a pretty common problem, but am i going to have to replace it every time i take it on a trip?

    heres the second, and potentially much larger, problem. ive been noticing that when it shifts from 1st to 2nd, that its a pretty hard shift. its not nearly as smooth as any other car ive driven, or any of the other gears for that matter. you dont have to be pedal to the floor for it to happen either, quite the opposite actually. it does the same thing sometimes (most of the time) if im slowing for a redlight. its like its fighting to get it into first, and it lurches when it does. ive also noticed that when i make a sharpish right hand turn, ie. an off ramp, or into a parking lot, that it makes this loud clunk/grinding sometimes when i step on the gas. i can feel it through the floorboards, and im not sure what it is, but its not something that sounds like it should be happening.

    anyways, i appreciate any help you guys/girls can give me here. thanks ahead of time.
  • zman3zman3 Posts: 857
    Regarding the transmission shifting issue. My '98 does that occasionally. So far it hasn't gotten any worse over time. I notice a hard 1-2 shift a lot more often than a 2-1 downshift, especially under light throttle. That hard shift is very pronounced. It has been doing it since year 1 and I am not too worried about it.
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