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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • How long does the Check Engine light stay out after you reset?
    I'm chasing a similar problem - my '99 Outback Wgn (120 k mi) has been throwing an EGR/bad spark plug code every few months for a year. The car runs fine, and after "fixing" the problem the first few times, I just check to see if I'm throwing a new code for a new problem,and reset. I figure that there must be a stray signal getting into the system, and I'll just have to live with it.

    You might also see Subaru TSB #116000, CEL code P0705
  • I have a 2000 Outback with the original Subaru battery. This battery has lasted longer than any new car battery I have had- :) . I'm wondering if should I just go and get new battery now before I'm left stranded somewhere looking for a jump in the middle of the winter. How long have folks batteries lasted? Is there a test I can do on the battery?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,860
    In what part of the world do you live? If at/near/below the 45th parallel, you probably ought to replace it as it as likely taken its fair share of heat damage. If above or well above the 45th, you might be able to push it a bit longer, but definitely do a draw test on it to see how much umph is left. Cold starts require about 2.5x the cranking power as a startup at 50F+. If the battery is weak, you'll find out the second day it is less than 10-20F..... not a good way to find out!

    I go with NAPA (gold?) batteries. Not maintenance free, but they have never done me wrong and I have one in my pickup that was installed in August 1999.... it will start up that truck at -35F after two months of sitting and no battery heater! (I just found out recently that the pad had gone kaput... probably years ago by the looks of it! :sick: ) I'll be sure to log when it does fail. ;)
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • mrk610mrk610 Posts: 378
    I have a 02 outback . I have added the security upgrade you can purchase from the dealer . I tried to program one of my key fobs but i can't get the car to go into program mode. I followed the instructions in the owners manual but no good . I tried it about a hundred times .
    Anybody have any suggestions .

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Make sure you top off with distilled water. I didn't - and that's why mine failed. One of the cells was way too low. My fault.

    It was 6 years old at the time.

    Mike - sorry, never tried that myself.

  • dsaindsain Posts: 17

    I've gotten to know when to let off the gas a little to ease the shift, and the used car warranty has expired. It's not all of the time, and I spend most of my time at highway speed so I think I'll leave it for now. Thanks for your input.

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775

    You are most welcome.

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775

    Just to be sure, these are the instructions that I posted when someone else asked. They had lost a set of keys and wanted to disable the lost fob. It is basically what is in the manual, plus some rewording for clarity. Maybe there is some minor deviation that is hindering your attempts:

    Round Fob Programming Instructions

    Warning: Do not program your remotes with other Subarus in the vicinity as you may be unknowingly programming someone else's remote for your vechicle.!

    1. Disarm the security system (if your vehicle is so equipped).
    2. Open the driver's door and sit in the driver's seat.
    3. Close the driver's door.
    4. Place the ignition key in the ignition switch and cycle the switch from "LOCK" to "ON" ten times within 15 seconds. Be sure to stop at the "LOCK" position. (leave the key in the ignition) The horn will sound once to indicate that you are in transmitter programming mode.
    5. You must finish the next steps within 45 seconds of the horn honking.
    A. Open the driver's door.
    B. Close the driver's door.
    C. Press and release any button on the transmitter. The horn will sound two times to indicate that the transmitter has been programmed.

    The control unit can remember up to 4 transmitter codes, so your lost unit is still active and could potentially be used by a bad guy. Wipe it out by programming the new one and the remaining original two times each to reassign all 4 program slots. You can do this all in one step by repeating items "A, B & C" in quick succession.

    Exit Program Mode: After programming your remote, remove the key from the ignition switch. The horn will sound three times to indicate the system is now out of programming mode. Check that your remotes work properly at this time.

    Good luck,

  • dsaindsain Posts: 17
    One evening when leaving work a truck had blocked the road, so I figure this car can do this, so I cut through a field, went through a drainage ditch and back up onto the road. In the bottom of the ditch I hit a hard bump. Maybe a rock or a channel cut throuch the bottom that I couldn't see through the grass. Two days later I hear dragging when making corners (when I hit the stops in & out of the driveway). The stabilizer bar is broken at the right body mount. I'd like to replace it with a little stronger one, but I haven't been able to find many after market parts for this car. Does anyone know of any sources of good suspension or performance parts for our wagons?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The OE ones are cheap, FWIW. Wholesale for my Forester ran $82 for an 18mm thick one and $78 for a 21mm thick one. Don't ask me why the thicker one is cheaper, though.

    They probably make different sizes to fit the OB as well. If you have Subaru Bucks from a Chase Subaru credit card, like me, it might end up being free.

    If not there are aftermarket options, try Google for "Subaru Sway Bar".

  • aka1aka1 Posts: 110
    You can trick the mirror into thinking its night time with lights shining onto it... You do this by first identifying the two sensors, one for the front side of mirror (facing toward the windshield) and one towards the bottom half of the mirror facing backwards.

    Have a flash light with you- next turn on the car so you get electricity to the unit, use your finger to completely cover the front photoelectric sensor while covering the rear sensor as well- this should keep the mirror completely transparent, now while keeping the front sensor covered, shine the flash light into the rear sensor- you should she the mirror gradually turning translucent (darker- less light getting through).

    My Tribeca's works very quickly, my Lexus dims all the rear view mirrors (not just the center one).

    Hope that works...


  • My wife and I bought an '05 Legacy wagon last summer, and now at ~16,000 miles...

    She took it to the dealer for an oil change, and mentioned that the clutch makes a bit of a squishy or scrunchy noise during the last inch or so of pedal travel near the floor. So, they take it back for the oil change, and an hour later tell her that we need a new clutch, and it will be covered under warranty. She was so happy that they used the word "free" that she didn't bother to ask what happened and why we need a new clutch, and (more importantly to me) will it happen again?

    Any insight into what might be going on?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Scrunchy doesn't sound too good, so let's be glad they replaced it. There are some manufacturers that would call that wear and tear and hand you a bill for several hundred dollars.

    We'd need to know more to say what it was, maybe ask the dealer when you pick it up?

  • i too have an 01 outback (limited) and i am also having the exact same trouble . . . did you have any luck? the dealership wants me to buy a new one for $189 and have it installed, but i think that's ridiculous . . . write me back when you can and tell me what you found out . . . thanks- JJ
  • My '95 legacy wagon with 140,000 miles will not start when it rains or even if it is just very humid. It use to just have trouble starting so I use to pump the gas and keep at it a few times and it would turn over after a few minutes of trying but this morning it wouldn't start at all It has been raining for days so everything is wet. I am sure this is electrical but before I bring it in to my mechanic is there anything more specific that I should tell him to look at besides just electrical?? The mystery to me is that it starts on a dime and runs fine when everything is dry. It does not hesitate stall or anything just starting issues in the rain.
  • My 98 Legacy had a similar problem. Changing my plug wires did the trick. In the olden days, changing plug wires was easy, not so anymore!
  • My 98 Outback (automatic) pounds when starting from stop, particularly when going uphill or turning. The noise comes from the front end. I took this to my Subaru dealer, but they said that they couldn't hear anything. It's getting louder and I'd like to get it fixed. Any ideas what it could be? CV joints maybe???
  • I have the same problem with '99 Legacy and it has been going on for a year. I brought it to the dealership and they could not replicate the situation with a hose. They thought it was related to the drain from the factory installed sunroof. They also resealed the windshield and that did not help.
  • Thank you for the insight I thought much the same and I had the plugs and ignition wires replaced last winter so I think it is along those lines but I have not been able to pinpoint anything else more specific.
  • tp1966tp1966 Posts: 1
    i have the same problem except that the a/c has been in for service 8 times and actually quit on me.
  • jfljfl Posts: 1,385
    Are you getting spark at the plug?

    If the car has a distributor, was the distributor cap changed? Did it happen before the cap was changed? (I had a similar problem with an old Honda. Turned out the cheapo distributor cap had a "knit line" where the coil wire enters the distributor. Moisture would cause a short and the current never reached the spark plug. Solution: a factory dist cap!)

  • My '95 legacy wagon has a similar problem as well. It's at 177,000 miles and chooses not to start in any kind of weather. It is usually a couple months between each incident. It usually will not start when it has been sitting in the hot sun for a couple hours- but- sometimes it won't start when it's cloudy out and cold. There really isn't any rhyme or reason to it not starting. The actual process of it not starting is, I'll turn the key in the ignition and the dash board lights will light up , radio comes on, power windows work, but it will not turn over at all, not even a little bit. I had my mechanic check it out and he replaced the starter twice. But just yesterday the car spontaneously would'nt start. I called my mechanic back and he said "I give up"...If anyone has any insight I would greatly appreciate it.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,860
    Snowbird, does this happen when the vehicle has been recently driven, or only when it is stone cold (regardless of ambient temperatures)?
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • jfljfl Posts: 1,385
    Our beater, a 90 Honda Accord, did this. Our mechanic replaced a relay (possibly deep in the dash) and the problem went away. Of course, we never discussed if Subies have a similar relay...

  • hbxhbx Posts: 2
    I bought a 99 Legacy outback in the summer. I start to having same problems a couples ago. The car won't start in the first 2 starts. I have to sit in for a miniute or 2, start the key for several times. Eventually it will start, so far. This happens in the morning or when coming home when engine is cold. Is this a spark plug problem or igition wiring, or sth else. What are the steps to check each part? Thanks in advance for any help.

  • I hardly ever open the back moonroof and when I opened it the other day I noticed a significant build up of rust...I am guilty of always leaving the front moonroof in the tilted up open position and have often had to dash out in the rain and shut it. It never appeared that water was getting in, but it has obviously snuck under and built up under the other sunroof over the years (I have a 2001).

    Does anyone now if Subaru will cover this...I know a lot of manufacturer's cover rust problems even after warranty...will it be an issue upon resale or trade in of the car, ie is it worth fixing?

    Thanks all,

  • Thank you for writing back. The Subaru does not start after it has been driven and then has sat parked for no less than an hour and a half.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,860
    I had a similar gremlin with mine and have seen others with these symptoms as well.... all in '96 to '99 Outbacks (though I imagine it could happen with other Legacy trims). My problem, however, happened exclusively when the vehicle was "warm", meaning it had typically sat less than one hour since it was last driven. Sometimes the car was stone cold by then, depending on the ambient temperature. It was an annoying, but tolerable, problem (it usually happened about once every other day, or once every 5-10 starts). If it did not fire up promptly, you could crank it till the battery died without success. But, if you waited 5 minutes and tried again, it would often start. If not, repeat the wait/crank cycles until it does start.

    After wasting several hundred dollars trying to diagnose the problem (no code was ever tripped in the ECU, though the CEL would come on after every time this happened), I finally started following hunches. Oh, I should mention that it got to the point that the car would occasionally stall in traffic if the engine had not warmed up yet. After stalling, the same symptoms would appear.

    The first thing I replaced was the MAS (mass airflow sensor). That eliminated the stalling problem and reduced the frequency of my gremlin to about once every couple of weeks or so (maybe.... 50 or so starts?), but it was still there. Then I pulled then engine out of the car and replaced a whole slough of seals and gaskets to correct some horrific leaks. After reassembling, the frequency was even less.... about once a month. Then, in August of '04, I started having some severe problems that were causing flooding upon start up, rough idle, etc. I replaced the cam sensor, crank position sensor, and the knock sensor. The severe problems were eliminated, and oddly enough.... I've never had another recurrence of the dreaded gremlin. It is over a year now since the last time it happened (July 04).... and nothing ever stays that stable on this car for that long!

    If you want sensor locations, you can see them on the photo I posted for my head gasket rebuild last month. The crank sensor is located at the top-front-center of the block, the cam sensor is at the top-front-right (when looking @ the engine.... driver side), and the knock sensor is at the top-back and just right of the center of the block.

    I am not sure if it was random that this has not happened since replacing those sensors, but without a code in the ECU, gremlins can be hard to isolate. I do not personally think it is a mechanical problem.

    Keep in mind though, that your problem only seems to happen when the car is COLD rather than warm, so it may not be anything similar at all">link title. Argh. It's enough to cause madness! :mad:
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • hbxhbx Posts: 2
    Thanks for sharing your experience. I don't think I am that handy like you can do so many things. I will see how it develops and maybe have a dealer to check it out.

  • mcdomcdo Posts: 3
    We have a 2003 outback and it has been making a "clunk" noise everytime we turn a corner. I have taken it to several local repair shops and they can't find the problem. I finally drove the 50 miles to the nearest dealer and was told my transfer clutch needs to be replaced. The car has 61,000 miles on it. Is this normal? Can you fix it yourself?
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