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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • ktrevinoktrevino Posts: 1
    My mother is experiencing a similar problem with her Legacy. It starts intermittently. It doesn't crank, it appears dead although the rest of the electrical system seems to be working, headlights and such. Sometimes it will start after a few tries, other times it will start after a few hours, sometimes it will start after a rest overnight. It is parked in a doctor's parking lot now, as it didn't start Friday or yesterday when we tried it. So far, one mechanic disconnected the alarm system, but the problem continued. Now we are being told that the car thinks it is in gear, so it won't start. Apparently, we need some kind of gear sensor. (about $300 to replace). Has anyone else experienced this problem? It sounds a bit like Lisagre's problem, but not quite....

    Thanks for any enlightenment....
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    Gear sensor... Probably they are refering to the neutral safety switch. Next time it will not start, try turning the key to release the shift lock (I am assuming an automatic here, but the same concept applies with a manual shift), and run the shifter thru the gears and return to either neutral or park. Try the ignition again.

    I had one fail on a Toyota Camry. It was easy enough to replace, but incredibly expensive for the part (like $400 or so...). Being a nerd engineer, I took mine apart and rebuilt the contacts after hearing the price.

  • richyoungrichyoung Posts: 31
    First, please forgive me if this is the wrong forum, but I have 2005 Legacy, so I figured to try this first.

    I know that I am probably being too anal about this, but I would *love* to get rid of those safety warnings on the visors. I would have attempted a sticker-ectomy if the visors were plastic, but I am much more cautious with them being cloth. Any ideas, or should I just let this go.

    Thanks for the help!

  • johnpawjohnpaw Posts: 2
    An earlier posting detailed the woes of NOT being able to find the 6 prong female connector ,,,,,, needed to complete the hitch wiring. AMEN. I must now resort to splicing the harness into my existing tail/stop/blinker lights and running new ground and 12 volt lines.
  • Hello, I have a legacy 94 and my engine stop when it is cold. I retry many and after many try, my engine run ok. Have you seen this problem with your car ? Best regards Emeric
  • rooprairooprai Posts: 1
    I was wondering if any other navy blue Subaru Outback owners could do a CLOSE check of their paint to see if they, too, have spider veining under the clear coat. This is especially noticable around the hood of the car, where the front quarter panels meet the hood. We noticed this early on, shortly after purchasing our 2000 Outback in January of 2001 (we bought it brand new). That spring, while doing a detail wash and wax, we noticed what appeared to be paint crackling all around the front half of the vehicle. We took it back to our local dealer and they had the front quarter panels and hood repainted. The next year, the spider veining (as they called it) was back. They refused to do another paint job on it as it was now out of their warranty for body and the paint company had only a 1 year warranty on paint (it was a little over a year). So, we've kept a close eye on our car as well as other Navy Blue Outbacks in the area. We live in Boise, it seems everyone drives an Outback. We have indeed noticed the same spider veining on all navy blue Oubacks we've examined. However, the Subaru dealership in town still doesn't do anything about our car and it seems no one else is concerned with this problem.

    Any advice?

    -Tiffany Rooprai
  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Posts: 464
    Tiffany, I had an 01 Outback (navy blue) that I purchased new that had the same problem. I noticed that the paint on the front fenders appeared to be cracking under the clearcoat, and it was spreading like a cancer. It started in one spot, but eventually affected the hood and both front fenders. The car was already out of warranty (with about 50k on it) but only about 18 months old when I brought it up with the dealer (I lived in Reno at the time) who called a district rep in to take a look at the car. He acknowledged that there were problems with the paint process at the factory that caused some of the cars to need repainting.

    In retrospect, I probably would have lived with the "crazing" (as they called it)...the car was in the shop for 5 weeks getting fully repainted, and the body shop never could get the car back together solidly. When I finally got the car back, things rattled incessantly, trim parts fell of the car, the windows didn't seal, etc. It was maddening. I finally ended up trading the car in after leaving the car with the body shop 5 times to get it fixed...the car just wasn't the same after the body shop tried to put it all back together.

    Anyways, it's apparently not that uncommon, but I'm surprised that your repainted sections repeated the crazing -- I would have guessed that a full repaint would cure the problem. Since it was a primer problem, perhaps the body shop you went to didn't properly sand the car down?

  • redruredru Posts: 2
    We also need help with a starting problem.
    This my first forum so hope this is the way to begin.
    The problem is with a 92 Legacy 2wd wagon with 145,000 Km. About once a week it will take a few minutes cranking before it will fire, then starts and runs rough for a few minutes. When it starts there is no black exhaust smoke to indicate flooding. Dealer has had the car several times and changed some sensors, crankshaft rotation and camshaft timing? Also siad that once there was a 'soft' code on the O2 sensor,but did not replace it. Car is in great shape otherwise and driven several times per day. The dealer has been very helpful with loaner cars and currently has the car for a few days trying to reproduce problem.
    Thanx for any thoughts you may have."> :confuse:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Those are the 2 areas to consider.

    Are the spark plug wires original? If so, I'd change those. I'll assume the spark plugs are in good shape.

    Also check the fuel filter and see if they can test the fuel pump.

    Did the '92 have a distributor? If so time to change that as well. This fixed a similar problem in my mother-in-law's Taurus.

  • I pulled mine right off - didn't hurt the cloth. Just do it slowly...
  • redruredru Posts: 2
    The 92 does not have a distributor. I believe it is a fuel starvation problem myself,if it was ignition it should be flooded after a minute of cranking. Whether it is the fuel system or a sensor indicating no fuel is required, is a question. The dealer seems to be going after sensors. Oh, another symptom,possibly related,is an abnormal amount of pinging occasionally. Should get the car back wed or thurs and will write what they
  • rwoodsrwoods Posts: 129
    How did you arrive at the nickname "juice"? Just curious.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My initials are A.J., and that became apple juice.

    Most people just use "juice", it's catchy and people remember it.

  • busybeebusybee Posts: 1
    Yessir, I have the exact same problem on my 93 Legacy with same mileage: stalls some of the time around 60mph on the freeway or going up a steep hill. Starts right back up about a minute later. No mechanics can diagnose the problem, and it has gotten steadily worse over about 2 years. I heard another episode of Car Talk about a Subaru Legacy where Click & Clack mentioned the Crank Angle Sensor or the Ignition Coil as possible culprits. I haven't tried these or the valve treatment yet either. I am taking my car in this week to try to fix the problem, so we can finally sell it. I'll let you know if we find the solution. Also, please post again if you find the solution for your car.
  • masteryodamasteryoda Posts: 41
    Hey everybody, I'm just about ready to do the 90K service for my 98GT wagon and I was wondering if anybody had this service performed in the denver metro area and how much did they pay for it. Also, is there a list of things that need to be done for this service so that I know I'm not getting charged for something I don't need?

    THanks a lot.
  • In July of 03 I bought my wife a used '98 Outback with 105000 (km) on the clock. The car seemed in all respects to be in great shape. In the following months, I noticed a burning smell each time she stopped after a highway drive. We live in a rural area and the car was getting almost all highway miles and use was straight ahead dry payment driving. After four months of ownership, the car developed a serious "clunk" in the rear end when turning a tight circle on dry pavement. This was especially bad when in reverse. A trip to the dealer found that the clutch pack needed replacement. A rarity according to them. The repair was carried out and afterward, the car performed flawlessly except for the continued burning smell that could be noted following a highway drive. This was just about every time the car came home since we live in the country. Nine months later and about another 30,000 km, the problem was back. The dealer was in awe and replaced the clutch pack without charge. I drove the car to Toronto a few months later only to have the pack bind up again. The dealer found that the clutches were undamaged this time. They kept the car a week trying to determine the cause of the binding and eventually replaced the outer axle bearings. Within a week, the binding returned. The dealer kept the car for two and a half weeks and replaced the inner and outer axle bearings, the housing, the control module along with the clutch pack and fluids. Apart from my initial payment for the first repair, I am only out my time and milage getting the car back and forth to the dealer who is about an hour's highway drive away. They have given me a replacement vehicle each time. My problem is that I now have a vehicle that I bought on the basis of reliability that I cannot trust. I have since discovered that plugging in a fuse will disengage the rear wheels. This stops the binding and puts the car into front wheel drive mode but doesn't really cure the problem. WHAT DO I DO? SHOULD I SELL OR REMAIN FAITHFUL TO WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE A BRICK OF A CAR? Wondering in Nova Scotia
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775

    I certainly understand your frustration, but under the circumstances, I think the dealer deserves a gold star for bending over backwards. Their investment in parts, labor and rental must by now exceed what you initially paid by 2-3x. And as the car is out of warranty, they are taking the full hit for this. I definitely think you should stick this out and hopefully the real cause will be found.

    Now some thoughts, as some of the details don't seem to add up. Maybe I am missing something....

    Clunking and binding on a sharp turn is usually a problem for the limited slip rear ends, but I guess could happen in any rear differential if it gums up. I assume limited slip was optional in '98 ??? But that is separate from the center diff which is located in the tail section of the tranny.

    The smell that I have occasionally noticed, and others have reported seems to be from the center diff. Usually noticeable in my case after snow driving, or other aggressive situations when the center diff has been working hard to distribute power front to rear. Inserting the fuse disengages the electronically controlled clutch, putting the car in FWD mode. So it sounds like some of their effort has gone into the center diff. Yet it sounds like they have also changed out most of the rear axle components as well.

    I have to admit that I am confused, and don't see the connection at this point. They changed clutch packs from the center or rear? Electronic module is definitely center, inner and outer axle bearings are rear half shaft related, "housing"(??) is what? Rear diff? / center diff? / outer rear axle hubs?

    Keep us informed. I would love to hear what does the trick,

  • Thanks for the prompt response, Steve. I tried to be as brief as possible with my original post and still get all the info in so let me clarify. First, I was looking for some feedback and you've given me that. My wife loves the car and wants to stick by it and with the work that the dealer has done, it really shouldn't fail again. Second, you are right about the dealer. When the car first failed only four months after my purchase, they were genuinely concerned to have me facing a major repair/bill so early into my ownership. The clutch pack and work they did that first time was warranted for a year. It was just over a year by the time they worked on it again but still Subaru Canada sprung for the bill. Since then, the dealer has paid the tab for a loaner and all of the time and materials they have put into the car. That makes four times in the shop with me only paying for the initial repair. You can't ask for better than that. Thirdly, let me try to clarify the repair. I am mechanically inclined, but didn't get to see the car disassembled which would have given me a better sense of what they did so I can only relate it second hand. My apology for the confusion. The binding created a noise that sounded as if it was coming from the back of the car but there was no real problem with the rear end. The binding and noise was coming from the center differential. This last time in, the service manager really didn't know what to do since she felt that they had done everything possible the last time. She explained to me that they started at the rear wheels and traced through to the center differential looking for anything out of spec. She said that something as small as uneven tire pressure could stress the clutch pack and cause it to fail. That was the reason for the axle bearings. There was some wear and they didn't want to ignore anything. The rear end was fine. The housing I referred to is in the center differential. She described the clutch pack as operating within a casing which can be damaged when the pack fails. Keep in mind that the clutch pack hadn't failed the last two times but they replaced the pack and the casing just in case. They also replaced the electronic control module as well as a valve assembly. I noticed on the work order that they substituted a 3.7 mm clutch pack with one of 4.1 mm. The service manager didn't mention this and it looks like they may have opted for something a little more heavy duty. So that is about as clear as I can make it. I really can't imagine that the problem can come back after all that they have done. Thanks again for the reply. I'm just looking for someone to second my decision.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775

    Yep, it all makes more sense now! The center diff comes into play on turns as well, so clutch pack binding could cause some wheel hop and smoke. Still, I am surprised that you have had so much trouble (not a common complaint judging from the posts on these boards). But you cannot beat the way your dealer has treated you.

    Now as long as you do not run into any head gasket problems, you should have a good period of trouble free motoring.

  • puglover1puglover1 Posts: 5
    The transmission in my 2005 legacy suffered a massive failure at 7,700 miles. After rebuilding transmission , repair facility tells me that the noxious burning transmission fluid odor can not be gotten rid of and that it must burn off over time. Does anyone know how to fix this problem so I can tell the Subaru dealer how to do it? They insist there is no solution.
  • seanuseanu Posts: 7
    Hey, I'm new to the forums here, and I just wanted to post a minor issue with my '05 Outback. The lock on the rear hatch was stuck, and my wife couldn't get the thing to close. I took a look and found a small piece of rubber blocking the metal part of the latch. I managed to clear the rubber, and the latch is working. It appears that the white plastic housing has cracked, and I will still need to have it replaced.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If the oil spilled on the casing or undercarriage you could try one of those car washes that cleans those. Maybe get under there with some Simple Green and spray the surrounding areas before you rinse it off.

  • puglover1puglover1 Posts: 5
    Thanks for your response. The Subaru repair supervisor told me the fluid is in sealed channels under the exhaust system and they can't get to it. Does this make sense to anyone? Has anyone else had this problem?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Doesn't sound right, I think under the exhaust is pretty much clear?

    And if it's truly sealed how could you smell it?

  • puglover1puglover1 Posts: 5
    Thanks, I'll respond to them with your advice. I really want to get my car back but am not accepting it while it is smoking from the burning fumes.
  • I have a 1997 automatic Outback wagon with 102K miles on it, and about 12 months ago I noticed an "issue" with the car. At random times (anywhere from 2 week to 4 month intervals), I will start my car, whether it is in Drive or Reverse, and the car will barely accelerate. I can have the pedal all the way down to the floor, and the car will barely move, feeling as if there is excessive drag or something on the car. Eventually, the car loses momentum, and stops moving altogether; however, the car never stalls out or turns off--the engine still works, but the car comes to a complete standstill. At this point once it loses its momentum, even if I continue to press the pedal to the floor, nothing happens--it's almost like the tires lock up. There are varying degrees of this problem--sometimes it is severe enough where I literally have 5 seconds to get the car pulled over before I know it will stop moving altogether, and then horrendous mechanical sounds come from underneath the car (and it becomes almost impossible to turn corners), and other times the car will go for 1-2 miles, but each time I slow down, i lose momentum, never to be restored, until I eventually have to pull over. Once I turn the car off, I restart it 1-3 minutes later, and the car starts up & goes perfectly. I have brought my car into the subaru dealer twice, and general mechanics 3 times--they cannot diagnose the problem. And, because it happens sporadically, it's difficult to anticipate the problem for a mechanic to catch. The temperature outside doesnt have anything to do with the problem (it was happening on 100 degree days in Florida and 50 degree days in Vermont). So, I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on this matter for me? I love my car, but it's a little bit alarming that I do not know if "this turn of the key is going to be the time that the car has problems". I have heard mixed opinions on whether it is transmission related--all of my mechanics have said no, but some lay people believe that it must be transmission related. In the past year, I have driven my car down & back up to Florida without any problems, and I drive high mileage during the week for work. Thanks for your help!
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    I am sure that what they mean is that the tranny fluid found its way into the shields surrounding the exhaust pipes and catcon. Some of this stuff is bolt on, some spot welded, and difficult at best to remove and re-install on anything less than a brand new car. Push it, and see if they will try and remove them, but bear in mind that you might have to live with rattles and creaks for years to come.

  • kat95kat95 Posts: 49
    Sorry to hear about your transmission, what model legacy do you have i or gt?
    Was this a manual or automatic?
  • federfeder Posts: 1
    Hi Donn,

    I've been reading your messages re the overheating problem. I have the exact same situation with my 01 Outback Wagon with 94,000 miles. Your last message was approx 18 months ago. Did the head gasket replacement truly resolve the problem? Has it been fine ever since? I just had the 90,000-mile maintenance service done as well as the timing belt and drive belts replaced. Still the problem is there but only when I turn on my AC and particularly on very warm days.

    Anxious to hear from you!

  • puglover1puglover1 Posts: 5
    My legacy is an automatic, 4 cylinder, i. The torque converter bushing failed.
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