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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'm going to guess, but check near the underhood fuse box. Should be near there.

  • rossarossa Posts: 1
    I have a 1999 Subaru Legacy wagon that has developed a problem at least 6 months ago and as of yet is not resolved.

    The problem is this: when you fuel upm the car doesn't want to start. This only happens immediately following the fuelling process. The only way to get it to start is to depress the accelerator until ignition occursm after which you may have to pump the accelerator to keep the engine from stalling. You can shut the engine off one (1) minute later & it will start fine. Very cold weather has no effect on starting.

    The only time the problem arises is when I or a family member has to gas up.

    Has anyone seen this before?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    The spark plugs and fuel filter have been replaced but there is no improvement.

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    Solution: Never add fuel again, and you won't have any problems starting (at least for a while...). :)

    OK, seriously... One possibility that comes to mind is that something is messed up in the evaporative emissions system. Pumping the 'gas' really doesn't get you more fuel, but more air, as you are moving the throttle plate, and a sensor is then telling the engine computer how long to open the injectors. So it sounds like some signals are getting disrupted.

    Most people 'top off' the tank, and on some GM and other cars this has caused the emissions systems to log a code, and even disrupt normal operation. Have you tried maybe filling up only 3/4 of the way, or something short of full? This would be a good first test. If it runs well, we can then look deeper into the tank venting and monitoring systems.

  • My wife bought a new Legacy wagon and wants to pull a utility trailer. I said, "no problem, I can install that." It's so easy to say... I checked the price online for a plug-n-play trailer wiring kit and went to the local parts store. I bought a class II hitch, bolted it on and it fit like a glove. I didn't buy a wiring kit because they said they could only get a generic one that I'd have to splice in.

    When I re-checked online, I found out that I can only by a trailer wiring kit for a Legacy OUTBACK wagon and not a plain legacy wagon. Unfortunately the parts guy at the Suba dealer was surprised to learn the same thing. Is this a marketing thing? Does anyone know if the '05 Outback wiring kit is compatible with it's lower ground clearance sibling?

    Is there a valid reason why we shouldn't tow a utility trailer with this car?

    If I opt to splice in to the tail light wires, are there any precautions I should take to make sure this isn't my most expensive option?
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    I am kind of surprised that they didn't address this on the new '05 body style, as this was a source of irritation on the '00-'04 versions as well. OBW's came prewired (you still had to add the interface to drive type 1157 taillight bulbs found on utility trailers), but it was simply plug and play to a connector in the right rear fender well. Regular Legacy wagons required splicing.

    The real problem, IIRC, was that in addition to the signal wires, you needed a fresh +12v supply capable of driving all of the trailer lights (something like 10 amps). I believe that the interface unit also acts as a buffer. It draws almost nothing from the cars lights - just a signal that something is happening, and creates a fresh drive on the 4 pin plug using the new +12v supply. If you simply 'tap' directly into the taillights without this, you might load them down, and some electrical systems really don't like that! Plus, you would have to change the trailer to match the separate turn signals not mated to the brake lights.

  • calberscalbers Posts: 1
    2001 Outback, 50k miles. After hearing noises when turning sharply (parking spots etc.) brought the car to the dealer in Philadelphia. Diagnosed as leaking DOJ boot... they ordered the part (under warranty) only to find the axle joint needed to be replaced. They ordered the new part and supposedly repaired the axle (also under warranty). My wife noticed the car was still making noises when turning sharply. We brought it back. Service mgr drove it with my wife and said "something is definitely wrong." So they had a look, tightened something (??) up... and said "it's safe, it's normal... blah blah" Now it's two days later, sound is almost as loud as when we first brought it in. And it makes considerable noise on a routine U-turn... no need to turn the steering wheel to the maximum. This next time will be the 7th time I've taken it in in 2 weeks, things are getting time consuming and frustrating. Has the problem been misdiagnosed? Is this a common problem? Are there any possible alternative problems that I should mention to the service techs? Should I take it to a different (and even more inconvenient) dealership? Wife is 7 months pregnant and we're wondering about safety issues as well. Any help would be much appreciated.
  • gearhead4gearhead4 Posts: 122
    I agree with fibber2. I have seen this problem before. The temporary solution is, as fibber says, fill the tank no more than 3/4 full.

    The evaporative emissions control systems captures fuel vapors from the fuel tank and stores them in a charcoal canister until the engines draws the vapors into the intake system to be burned. If the the vapor tube pulls liquid fuel from the fuel tank into the charcoal canister, it can cause "flooding" when you start the engine after a fill up.

    The question is Why is fuel getting into the vapor line going from the fuel tank to the charcoal storage canister? On some vehicles there is a purge control valve that could cause this problem. Sometimes, the charcoal canister needs to be replaced.

    A good certified fuel system mechanic will know what to do. The 1999 Legacy is a good, reliable automobile. Many of them have 150,000 miles and are still rolling. It's worth investing in a few new parts.

    Jim W.
  • u_r_a_busu_r_a_bus Posts: 3
    I have a 94 Legacy wagon with those pesky automatic shoulder restraints. Both of them have stopped working. My mechanic has quoted me $600 per seatbelt to fix them. Is this a repair that i should be able to do myself? I have found replacement motors for around $200 each. Would it generally only motor the fail? Or are there other parts that commonly fail on these belts? Does anyone have experience with this? Any help appreciated!

  • suboutsubout Posts: 15
    I have Outback 2005 3.0L VDC. In the morning when it is cool around 50F and I startup the car 1st thing in thing morning. I notice the first few minutes a strong exhaust smell outside of the car if I go outside of the car. This dose not happen on a warm morning. The smell goes away after a few minutes. None of my old cars ever did this. This is the 1st time I own a 6 cylinder with dual exhaust, is that why? Is this normal? Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks...
  • rprossilrprossil Posts: 62
    I'm considering buying an '02-'04 OBW but can't get a completely comfortable driving position because the center armrest is too low. Does anyone know if there is an extension available like for the Foresters or if the one for the Forester or Impreza will fit? I like the vehicle but I need to figure out a way to solve this. Thanks.
  • lfdallfdal Posts: 679
    I posted this yesterday, somewhere, but apparently not here????

    Anyway, does anyone have an idea on how much I should expect to spend for a set of plugs installed for an 03 OBW 2.5L? Just trying to get a sanity check before I take it in for some of its 30000 mile work. Also, is there a way to inspect the timing belt w/o disassembling the engine?

    Lastly, where is the PCV valve located on this engine? I think its on top of the intake manifold, toward the back left side of the center. But confirmation's been hard to come by.


  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Posts: 464
    Most of the dealers near Sarcamento wanted around $80 to do the spark plugs on my WRX...I'd imagine your OB would be roughly the same.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Plugs are not hard on that car, much easier than on the more narrow Forester and Impreza. You have more clearance on the sides of the engine. You do need to remove some intake plumbing and the windshield washer fluid reservoir.

    I'm not sure about your PCV valve, but on my '98 Forester it's pictured below.

  • ji11ji11 Posts: 3
    I have a 2000 Outback Limited w/72,000 miles and was told today I need a new transmission. The transmission doesn't want to go into drive. Once it gets into gear it shifts fine but it doesn't want to get into drive especially on an incline. Is this odd? I can't help but think that this is a little early for a new transmission. Car has had all maintenance work done by Subaru dealership, including all oil changes. Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
    Thank you.
  • lfdallfdal Posts: 679
    2003 OBW with 28k - transmission changed due to internal seal failure.

    At least the $ 4200 was covered under warranty.
  • lfdallfdal Posts: 679
    juice and Brian - Thanks for the quick response.

  • litmanslitmans Posts: 1
    i dont have any ideas but i do have the same problem - but for both left and right turns. exact same symptoms - only happens after driving for 30 minutes or so. ive taken it to the shop twice now and they havent found anything.
  • suboutsubout Posts: 15
    Have 2005 Outback Wagon 3.0. It came with Perimeter Alarm from factory.
    Dealer said if I want to add a shock sensor to it, it is a subaru add on.
    I called another dealer & they said perimeter alarm already includes shock sensor.
    I then called a few other dealers & some said it is a add on & others said it's included. Does anybody know the correct answer? Please advise?
    I even called Subaru 800# & got 2 different answers?
  • lfdallfdal Posts: 679
    Silly suggestion, but have you tried thumping the windows hard enough to simulate a shock? A couple of taps should be enough to settle the matter, especially if you've had another vehicle with a shock sensor in it.

    Another option is to physically look for the module, but I'm sure you'd rather not be climbing around under the dash just yet :D
  • tbru00tbru00 Posts: 2
    I also have a 00 Outback with 73k miles and the transmission that went out earlier this week. I drove the car (no problems) to pick up a friend at a Ford dealership and when we got back in the car it would not go into gear. This sounds like more than just an anomaly. The car has been fully serviced AT the dealer since I bought it. This is very ODD! The subaru rep said they would pay 1/2 but I am still not happy. I wonder how often this happens?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Call the number above and see if they'll pay for the other half. ;)

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    Mine ('96 OBW) is often stubborn about shifting to D on inclines... and sometimes well after....

    But, it has done this for the past 100K miles and it has never become any worse, so I don't know any better than to just let it be and deal with the higher RPMs on the occasion when it happens. Usually it is in the same place.... on an overpass after a stop light on the expressway. I stop at the light. Go on green.... am usually at 60 mph by the time I reach the apex of the overpass, and it just hangs out in 3rd until I am part way down the other side of the overpass before shifting to D. If I think about it, I will often manually shift through the gears as I accelerate from the light (2 - 3 - D) and it usually responds immediately to my commands unless I am accelerating rapidly just before I shift to D for some reason.

    When is the last time the tranny fluid was changed out?
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775

    My '02 OBW should be identical. The timing belt cover is split, enabling you to remove a section over the drivers side head. From here, you can inspect about 6" of the belt at a time. Make a chalk mark so you know where you started. You will need a socket (pretty big - like 1.25" ???), a 4" extension, and a breaker bar to slowly crank over the engine a quarter rotation at a time. Then with a flashlight and an inspection mirror, you will be able to see both sides of the belt, and the teeth.

    As Juice said, I had to remove some of the intake tract, and the washer bottle. The job took me a solid hour, so figure labor rate, plus your dealer's markup on plugs. I'll bet $80-$100....

    On my engine, the PVC was not at the end Juice's photo suggests. I have just a nipple there. One of these days, I need to take off the other end and finish the job.

  • ji11ji11 Posts: 3
    Hey thru00,

    Thank you for your input. I hate to ask, but would mind telling me the name of your dealership so I can ask mine if they'll do the same? My dealership made me no such offer and I wonder if they would if I told them about your dealership. I'm sorry your transmission is broken like mine. I don't know how often this happens, but the company I work for has a 99 Forrester that had a new transmission put in at around 80,000. At the time I figured it was just a lemon and never imagined I would be in the same situation in a couple months.
    Thanks and best regards,
    Greensboro, NC
  • ji11ji11 Posts: 3
    I checked the transmission fluid level and it was fine. The last time it was changed? Hmm. I would guess either the big 60,000 service (at the latest) or one of the three services I've had since. I'm not sure and unfortunately I left the maint. book in the car. Does changing your transmission fluid make it shift better? Thank you for your response.
  • tickmantickman Posts: 16
    I had the same problem. One of the brake lights stays on even with the key off. It turned out that the harness was defective. The car supplies +12V to the trailer harness even with the key off. It appears that the converter box (stuck to the side of the spare tire well) shorted out internally, and started feeding +12 to one of the brake lights.

    If your dealer installed it, they should fix it. I bought mine from an online dealer, and didn't save the receipt. My local dealer offered to replace the harness if I could produce the receipt. Since I didn't want to spend $90+ for the Subaru harness, I bought a converter at WalMart for $15, and spliced it to the 6-conductor cable that connects to the car wiring. Works great.
  • kat95kat95 Posts: 49
    I do wonder about the headgaskets failing. Is this a common issue among the 2.5
    liter engines. Do subaru headgaskets fail more readily than other vehicle? What are the signs to look for? I had a 95 impreza with 88,000 which I sold last year and had no gasket problems. I now have an 05 Legacy and hope that I will get many happy miles with it. I do love Subaru, they have gotten me through many
    bad winter. :)
  • tbru00tbru00 Posts: 2
    Call Subaru America at 1-800-Subaru3 get customer service on the phone. They will give you a case number and also call your dealer. That is how I worked it out. They were very helpful and professional on the phone. I expressed that I was VERY upset but I was not rude or yelling.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Your 95 Impreza probably had the 2.2l engine, only the 2.5l was affected. Even then, it was mostly 99-02 model years, and those are covered under an 8 year 100k mile warranty if you use a conditioner the dealer supplies.

    We haven't seen a pattern of had head gaskets from MY2003 and later, so I think you'll be fine.

  • digobwdigobw Posts: 4
    It must also be noted that some 2002 head gaskets changed over to the improved gasket. If you have a 2002 and did not receive a notice, pass your VIN to Subaru and verify if you are lucky. My 2002 OBW falls into that category.
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