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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They used a new head gasket material for 2002 and later models.

    Replacing earlier gaskets fixed the issue so long as the heads were not warped.

    We haven't observed any pattern of failures for 2002+, even hi-milers, so they seem to have put the issue to bed.

    160k? Wow, do you ever park?

  • sugardogsugardog Posts: 41
    Please refer to previous posts about rear diffy failure. (from sugardog)
    1999 Outback Limited with Manual 5sp tranny.
    Drivetrain noise again, dealer overhauled the center diffy to solve the problem,
    done under the dealer warrantee of 12mo 12k miles since they worked on the
    same area last year.
    Last year they overhauled the tranny mainshaft, replaced the viscous coupling,
    and replaced the rear diffy, all under warrantee.
    Cause of that problem was viscous coupling failure, which caused the tranny mainshaft and rear diffy to wear out prematurely.
    Now this problem.
    I had no problems until a year after I retired. Since retirement, I only drive about
    200 miles a month. The car sits for days, sometimes weeks.
    Is the problem due to lack of use?
    Should I replace the tranny fluid with synthetic gear oil?
    I know that some Subaru Reps. monitor this forum, please answer my questions
    if you can.

  • juice,


  • I just brought my 2000 Outback with 50K miles to the dealer due to some problems that seemed related to the transmission. Hesitation, srange noises. I was told that I needed a new transmission as one of the internal seals leaked. There was absolutely no leakage on the floor of my garage so it seems strange.

    This is my first automatic but it still seems that 50K miles is not very good. The dealer was able to get Subaru-America to pay for 70%, but it still comes to ~$1200 out of my pocket.

    Bainbridge Island, WA
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's almost 6 years old, I think they offered good will in paying for that much of it.

    Was the ATF still original? Or did you have it flushed at 30k miles?

  • Is there anyway for an owner to reset the tire pressure monitor on an '05 Outback 3.0R sedan? (Toyota has a push button and makes it easy - Subaru seems to want us to go to the dealer for everything).

    Any ideas on how to adjust the alignment of the driving lights?

    Any good web sites for other helpful hints (again, Toyota lets us reset the check engine light after an oil change but we have to go to the Edmunds forum to find out how.)


  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    Way behind in my reading, Doug. My understanding (and limited experience with an O2 sensor problem on my '02) is that the light will remain on until the 4th full drive cycle after the repair is made (or no more repeats from an intermittant bad sensor), but the codes and 'snapshot' freeze frame data remains for 40 drive cycles until it all clears out. And because you had multiple systems indicating failures, it is possible that you had 'pending codes' that don't set hard fail flags, but can impact the readiness status.

    With a scanner you can clear it all out on demand, but as Brian said, you will not reset all of the readiness indicators. You should also be able to clear the codes by disconnecting the battery. Perhaps you did not wait long enough. Next time step on the brake or something like that to draw down any reserves used in the 'keep alive' ckt (probably a large capacitor) of the ECU. Before I bought my own laptop based system (AutoEnginuity), I asked the folks at Autozone for help. They were willing to clear codes on request.

    A recent Subaru dealer bulletin listed this procedure for resetting readiness:
    1997 and later: Drive on flat road (highway) at approximately 50 to 55 mph for 30 minutes for warm-up.Then perform 10 minutes at steady speed (without any throttle angle change) at 50-60 mph.

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    I had the front O2 sensor changed on my '02 OBW (33k miles) two weeks ago under the Gold Plan extended warranty (zero $ deductible). I am out of the 3yr warranty. The charge to SoA was around $200 for diagnosis, part and labor. I asked what it would have cost me had I not had an extended plan. Answer was slightly under $400, so your quote of $385 is right in line.

    My 6 yr / 85k mile / $0 ded plan cost me $799 two years ago from a Subaru internet site, so I guess that I am now half way to the break even point.

  • doug900doug900 Posts: 7
    Thanks for the reply steve, but autozone said that they will not clear the codes because of liability, or some hogwash. I did disconnect the battery, and then turned the ignition key to the start position to bleed any residual ecu power, but the CELight came right back on, so I wonder if another problem developed? My wife has put over 300 miles on since the repairs , but still a CELight.

    This weekend, I check resistance on the O2 sensor heater wires at the engine end, for both sensors. I got 5 ohms on both, so I know I have good heaters, and continuity to both sensors,for the heaters. Plus, the sensor wires must be good, otherwise, the car would run like crap.

    The knock sensor was the third repair. That must be good, because the car had a new lease on life after I replaced that. Doug
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    Doug, I think you need to get it read out again to see what is going on. Sounds like something else is triggering the light.

  • lastarlastar Posts: 30
    I have a 2003 Outback Limited Wagon Automatic Transmission 4 cylinder and we are considering buying a Fold Down Camper weighing about 1,500 pounds.
    Has anyone had any problems with towing creating engine or transmission issues?
    Is the transmission cooler really needed?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    I have never towed a trailer with my OB but, for what it is worth, I have a friend who owns a Forester (not sure what year, but I think it is the last MY before the last major revision) and pulled a small UHaul trailer from Maryland to Wasilla, AK. He says the trailer weighed less than 2K and that the car pulled it "just fine," but he ended up having transmission failure about 6 months after he arrived in Alaska. It was replaced under warranty, though I am not sure it should have been!

    An extra transmission cooler is never a bad idea if you are frequently towing or carrying heavy loads.

    They do fine with short hops, even under heavy loads, but I wouldn't push it too hard. I towed a friend's '85 Chevy van (4500#?) about 20 miles a few years back - up and down some pretty significant hills - and it handled it just fine at 25 mph......
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    The car will tow 1500 just fine, as I believe your car is rated for 2000. Stopping is another story. Subaru says any trailer over 1000 pounds should have trailer brakes. This is for all Subarus, and most other tow vehicles too, BTW. Check your owners manual for specific info regarding towing.

  • lastarlastar Posts: 30
    Yes, the camper has electirc brakes and that's why I am getting the Brake Controller installed.
    I am more concerned with engine and/or transmission damage prematurely.
  • lozarlozar Posts: 1
    Somebody help me make a decision. So I have a 97 Legacy Outback (2.5 Double overhead) and she's overheating. I have gotten a new thermostat. Still overheating. I was aware of the 96-99 overheating/head gasket issue but I now personally face the issue. What do I do now? Is it worth looking for an entirely new engine (2000+) or should I have my mechanic tear the engine apart to diagnose whether it is a head gasket or a cracked block. If it is a head gasket and I get it fixed, does the engine generally stay uncracked for a long time after? My car is in the shop and my mechanic is waiting on my decision. Should I have him check the head gaskets or should I just get a new engine (i am a college student and have little money to deal with the problem, whats the cheapest way to fix my Subie problem?). Please help!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    Tough call. If you are in the situation where you will be getting it fixed one way or another and having a mechanic do the work, it may be less expensive in the short run to replace the engine. But, then you need to make sure that the engine you are receiving is of top quality or you may just face similar problems with that one down the road. You could have the mechanic diagnose the cause first before deciding on a replacement engine or a repair. Even if it is a head gasket, you could have a warped head due to the overheating and need to replace that along with the gasket replacement.

    Either way you go, you're probably looking at 2-3K for a fix and possibly more on the repair depending on what else is found while in there. :surprise: Depending on the # of miles on the engine, I'd probably go with the replacement. :cry:
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    sorry to hear about your tranny problems, I am on my 3rd legacy with 110K, had over 90K on the previous 2 and never have had tranny problems. On the other hand my wife's 95 Windstar needed a new tranny at 48K and Ford wouldn't pay a penny. Our 2000 had a new one at 38K - ford obviously learn from past experience - it also took the dealer two trannies to get it to "fit" right! (this time fortunately we had the ext warranty!) but at 60K its doing some weird stuff again. The only reason we have a 00 after the experience with the 95 was that Ford gave us 4K for also having to deal with their perpetually self destructing 3.8 engines, plus they had 0.9% at the time and the only people who would give us a half decent trade in was the Ford dealer we had purchased it from!
    I'm wondering what the Subaru dealer willl give me for the Windstar when I trade it for a Tribeca - probably a good laugh!
  • stellabstellab Posts: 4
    Hi everyone. Any ideas with this would be of great help.
    I have a '01 Subaru Outback 4cyl. 2.5L A/T with 93,400 and I've loved this car as you can see by how man miles are on it!
    Beginning of July- my check engine light went on and I brought it in -PO136 came up so the dealer replaced the rear o2 and I thought I was good to go. When I left the dealer, car all of a sudden was sluggish on acceleration, bucking intermittently and seemed like it was going to stall out at stops (once you put the gas pedal to the floor the RPM's would rise and it would seem to cough it's way out of it) and then at times it would drive so well! I was baffled.
    Got the tranny checked, all new wires, plugs, air filter, fuel filter, oil change but car was still acting funky. Then the CEL came back on. I brought it to a friend's shop this time and once again the Rear o2 sensor code came back on. He checked it out and said to could be the air idle control (b/c at standing idle car also seems like it will stall) but something def. seemed to be tripping that o2 sensor. Suggested I take it back to dealer since same code was coming up and I just paid them to diagnose and fix it. Subie said they wouldn't charge me to re diagnose since it was repeating the code. I was psyched. Some other friends thought it might be a clogged catalytic converter.
    Well, my car has now sat at Subaru for 2 full days and they don't know what it is. I was told could be wiring harness or ignition something or other ( I had no issues with ignition and couldn't understand how they came up with this UNTIL yesterday when I picked my car up again- now it seems to be having a little more trouble catching). I also remembered about a month ago my radio buttons were all screwed up- volume was now CD disc switch and moving between songs was no longer possible, it turned the radio back on. I thought this was weird, but it has pretty much corrected itself most of the time. I also have been leaving the same station on though.
    Needless to say, I haven't got a clue here. I'm thinking maybe all of these electrical/mechanical things are related somehow, but not sure and neither is Subaru which is scary. They keep looking into the National database and seeing which other Subaru dealers have faced similar issues and are going with what "fix" worked for them. When I asked what would happen if they replaced the wiring harness and it didn't do the trick, he said "good question". When I asked how much the harness and labor would cost, he refused to give me an answer only saying they would work with me b/c the CEL keeps coming up with the same code. I can only imagine. Anyone know a ballpark figure? ANY IDEAS??? I would really love to hear any feedback since the wiring harness comes in tomorrow and I have to bring them back my car.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775

    Responded to your post in "Problems".....

  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,770
    For those who might want to follow over to the response Steve, here's where you put it:

    fibber2, "Subaru Crew: Problems & Solutions" #5520, 16 Aug 2005 10:03 am


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  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    Gee Bob,

    If I knew that others would be looking at it, I would have 'wordsmithed' it a bit better! Wrote it in a hurry this morning.

  • Hello,

    I have the same problem w/ my '99 Legacy wagon. Began after driving at highway speeds for 45 minutes or so. Thumped on tight left or right turns (into a parking spot for example). It is now happing more frequently. My mechanic is sending me to the Subaru dealer. He thinks it may be transaxle viscous fluid, or (hopefully not) transaxle parts.

    Did you get to the bottom of your problem?


  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,783

    The problem may be much simpler to resolve. I had a 99OB and had dreadful thumping noise on turns for parking. Turned out to be the sway bar sticking in its joints. A short job to lube the rubber mounting points and thumps disappeared.


  • lastarlastar Posts: 30
    Is a transmission cooler really necessary? If yes, why doesn't Subaru sell it?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    I am not sure that it is necessary; I just said that it is never a bad idea if you plan to tow at or near the rated limit fairly often. It is much cheaper to spend a couple hours and one or two hundred dollars on parts to prevent you from needing to replace a tranny in the event that you push it just a little too hard.

    Subaru probably doesn't sell a supplemental cooler because they do not market (nor probably encourage) Subarus to be used as tow vehicles for anything more than perhaps a personal watercraft or an ATV.

    If you were set on putting one in, you could probably get a generic one, fashion some brackets for it, and mount it in front of the A/C radiator.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,770
    If I knew that others would be looking at it, I would have 'wordsmithed' it a bit better!

    Well you're always "on stage" here Steve :)

    At least we don't make you sing at the chats! LOL

    PF Flyer
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  • ive got a 2000 outback, when you start it up cold after at least eight hours when it is between 50-75 deg f in the morn it revs up to 3k till 160 deg eng temp. im a mechanic. i have been testing iac, nothing, i saw a bulletin from carquest saying that the computer is sensetive to the air injection to the injectors, but my car isn't setting the code like the bulletin says. any one got any ideas. im thinking i just need to reprogram the ecm

    i also forgot to mention that when it does warm up the idle keeps searching between about 600-1500 rpm

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    Grr. I'm tired, annoyed, and on the verge of downright frustrated. Ran a compression test on my 1996 EJ25 (phase I) engine tonight.... but for the bleepety bleeping life of me, I cannot find specifications for "normal" compression on this engine. I swear I read it once in my Haynes manual, and they swear they printed the specs in there at the start of Chapter 2-B, but darned if I can find it anywhere within the whole bleedin' book. Someone please take pity on me and list the #s.... please? As it is, I'm down one car for at least one day and fuel is up to $2.50+.... not looking forward to a 10 mpg day..... Assuming I can get my dilapidated old camper off my truck before I collapse from exhaustion tonight. :mad: :cry:
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,770
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    Why is everybody always picking on me?

    Tonight, live from studio A...

    It is OK to start without me, folks.

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