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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • I am posting this here since the symptons described by jlawton2 are so similar to the problems I have experienced with my 00 Forester over the last year. I have taken the vehicle to 3 different dealers one of whom actually replaced the whole clutch assembly but the problem persists. The dealers said exactly the same thing to me about letting in the clutch and never letting it slip. However as pointed out it is very difficult to not slip the clutch especially when trying to parallel park on a hill for example. (and anyway how does the clutch know if it is being activated by a mechanical linkage or hydraulic pressure) I also have juddering when starting off and even sometimes a burning smell when just starting the engine-as the clutch pedal has to be depressed.

    All complaints to the dealers have been met with a dismissive "don't drive it like that" comment. I find this particularly annoying as I have diven all kinds of manual transmission cars on 3 continents for over 30 years and have NEVER experienced these sort of problems before.

    I also contacted the Subaru tech support people and have quite a file with them. They did send their District Service Operations Manager (Mike Pelkey) out to look at the vehicle. Subaru's position on this is that they will replace the clutch if it fails completely (at no additional cost) but they will not admit that there is a general problem which warrants a recall. They tell me that each problem is delt with individually (the old divide and rule trick) .

    So although I do like Subies, I had an Impreza for 4 years before purchasing the Forester, I don't think I will be buying another. I strongly believe that Subaru do have a marginal clutch problem on both the Forester and Legacy since they use many of the same transmission components. Implying that people do not know how to drive is not going to win them repeat business.
  • nowakj66nowakj66 Posts: 709
    The Subaru Outback LL Bean is so close to the car I want to buy but for one thing -- the front seat passenger leg room is very cramped.

    Has anyone come up with a solution to this -- seat position, extending the seat track, etc.?

    I'd love to get a Subaru Outback LL Bean but I may be forced to a VW Passat wagon for the increased front passenger leg room.

  • eric102eric102 Posts: 122
    The drivers seat is easy to do (see some of my earlier posts), but I haven't tried the passenger side yet (but will). Just by looking under the seat (I haven't removed it yet), it doesn't look to difficult, probably cutting some new notches on the rails and changing the position of the stops. Worst case would be taking the rails into a shop and having them modified. If you really like the car, I wouldn't let this be the deal breaker. I sure like mine (base Outback).

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    David: it's true, the pressure plate on Subaru's clutch is not very strong. They've gotten better but are still the weak spot in the powertrain. It may even be designed that way, so the clutch fails before any other drivetrain component does.

    Nowak: it can be done.

    Eric: was it you that was going to try to take pix when you also do the passenger side?

  • eric102eric102 Posts: 122
    That was me, I'll take some pic's when I do the seat mod.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Great, please do. I told ya lots of people would be interested. :-)

  • nowakj66nowakj66 Posts: 709
    Thanks in advance for the photos Eric! I appreciate your helpful spirit! Maybe you can save the LL Bean purchase after all!

    -- Joe
  • I have been following the posts on the AM reverse
    brake noise. The brakes seem to be very sensitive to moisture. The second month I had the outback I went on vacation and left the vehicle in an outside parking lot at the airport for a little over two weeks during Winter months. When I started out to return home I thought the wheels were going to come off the first few miles. I ended up having to have the rotors turned at about 5,000 miles. I checked on the brake shim that was mentioned on the board. The subaru rep told me that the shim is no more than a pull tab from a pop can. I decided to pass on this at this time since it did not sound to high tech to me.

    I have a question on the automatic H6 LL bean outback wagon. Mine seems to have transmission slap when it shifts. If I get onto the gas it seems to be smoother when it shifts but does not help the gas milage. This seems to occur mostly when going up a hill or incline.
    Any thoughts on this? Maybe that the way they are.
    This is my first subaru.
  • otis123otis123 Posts: 438

    I have 16K miles on my LLBean. Love the car, especially in the snow!

    I had my rotors resurfaced at 10K - they were acting up when I braked off the parkway at 75 mph = warped. Only non-routine service so far.

    I have also noticed a slight "slap" here and there (maybe 5-10 times in total). Only happens when the car is under light load (like when shifting from 2nd to 3rd going slow on a flat road). Don't think much of it, though. And my last car was the reference point for all mid-priced transmissions - a Camry - can't get much smoother than that for the price.

  • Ralph, I also like the beaner. I have about 12,000 on it. The problem with the transmission slap happens coming up the hill just before my house so I notice more then. Yes it is usually under light load. If I punch it, it shifts smoother.
    I traded in a Nissan Patherfinder for the LLbean and I find that it meets my needs. I very rarely go off the beaten track where I would need the low 4 wheel dr. The gas mileage is a lot better and the ride and handling are superior.

    What kind of tires are you using on your LL bean.
    I have the stock all season Firestone Wilderness on mine. It seems to do well in the snow.
    Last month I leased a 2002 A4 quattro. I did buy snow tires and steel rims and wheel covers for it.
    I got the Dunlop graspic DS1 package from tire rack. They seem to be doing a good job. My wife drives it more than I do, but she has no complaints so far. The tire certainly has an agressive tread pattern with a large footprint.
  • ob11ob11 Posts: 28
    I also had a hard time driving my 5 spd. I noticed that I had to concentrate to engage the clutch smoothly in first gear. I attribute this to a couple of factors. I think the throttle is touchy, especially when the engine is not up to temp. I think the ECM does funky things to keep the motor from stalling. I don't know if I operate the clutch/tranny correctly, but at each shift point ~ 2800 rpms, I disengage the clutch while simultaneously getting off the throttle. Then I shift, engage the clutch, and then throttle back up. I try not to let the r's fall off too much while shifting so as to not slow the car due to engine breaking. When I am in stop and go traffic, I try to engage the clutch with no throttle. I try to let enough distance open up up in front of me so that I don't have to stop rolling slowly forward. I use the clutch to moderate my speed. (This is very hard to do with a lot of aggressive drivers nearby as they feel that any open space is theirs!) It also frustrates the hell out of SUV drivers, as they can see open space over the top of you and cannot believe the your not kissing the next cars bumper. Anyway, could someone explain how to use a manual tranny, and if meets Subaru's criteria of correct usage?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Don: despite what the rep said, I've heard of 2-3 people who got the brake shim kit fix and it did work to quiet the brakes. The noise doesn't do any harm, though, if it doesn't bother you.

    Check the ATF fluid level anyway, just to be safe.

    I would use a little throttle when you let up on the clutch. I also try to creep in 1st gear in bumper to bumper traffic, though.

  • Am I going crazy? Just purchased a 2002 O/B LTD. GREAT car. However, the first thing that happened is I'm getting a vibration when turning; the dealership (which has been great, so far) has heard of the problem...think it's the power steering hose, but Subaru has no fix yet. 2) the braks squeal every time I back up. This started at 900 miles. I now have 1133 on the car. 3) Am I crazy or does the heater/ac fan dip when I step on the gas? 4) Now, this morning, pulling into the garage at work, I get a "Clink" when I shirt into park and feel the same "clink" on the steering column. Am I just having "new car syndrome" or are this little things going to turn into big things. It's hard, because I love the way the car handles.
  • otis123otis123 Posts: 438
    I have the stock tires, but can't wait to replace them when the time comes with more quiet tires. I'm currently looking for another ~30K car....passat4motion, H6 VDC Outback sedan, highlander4WD are on my short list. Do you like the A4? I'm just having a hard time looking at anything non-Japanese...
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,785

    Clunk when shiftikng to Park is probably a Park Interlock of some sort. Are you making sure you have your foot on the brake when shifting too or from Park.

    Vibration when turning may be binding rubbers on sway bars. I suffered noises on turning when my Outback was new. Dealer removed and lubricated rubbers.


  • Hi:

    I have a '97 Legacy Outback with 102K miles. Been a real good car, though my mileage has always been between 18-24.

    About two years ago one of my fog lights went and a year latter the other one went. The dealer said since they broke because of being hit by road stones they were not covered under the warranty. There was a small hole in one light and the other one was cracked.

    The dealer said it would cost $321 to replace. So for the last year I have been driving without the fog lights. Is there a cheaper replacement and how difficult are these to replace?
  • ob11ob11 Posts: 28
    Joyridea4, I bought the same winter pkg. from tire rack. We haven't had much snow here in central CT. The couple of times it has been slippery, I have to actually try to make the car slide. The combination of AWD + the limited slip differential and the aggressive tread snows makes the car feel unstoppable like a dozer!
    Happy motoring!
  • Juice, thanks for the advise. I will check out the trans. fluid.

    Ralph, I know what you are saying about Japanese cars. I have had three Maximas, one camry, and one pathfinder. I have been happy with these vehicles, but Iam always looking for something new. I did a lot of research on the A4. I see no down sides to it. As I stated before I traded in a 99 Passat 2.8 for the A4. I wanted to go to the next level. So far we are happy with the decision. Don
  • I am glad to hear that this package seems to be working well. I was not sure how they would work since I was not familiar with the tires. Tire rack
    gave them a good reconmendation, so I went with them. I had been using Michelin Artic Alpin the last two years. They were very good, but were 15" and would not fit on my new A4.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    There is a fix for the AM brake squeel. Ask the dealer to install the shim kit.

    Lithium grease is sold in spray cans. You can spray the rubber bushings that hold the front and rear sway bar in place to quiet them. Or let a dealer do it. They are easy to see if you remove the wheels (i.e. during a tire rotation is a good chance to do this).

    fog lights? I would go aftermarket. No way are they worth that much cash. For $500 you can get true HID driving lights.

  • I recently noticed that my auto dimming rear view mirror would not always dim down when lights approached from the rear. I thought there was a problem with the mirror. I cleaned the sensor, and there still was a problem.
    I finally removed the rear seat center head rest and the problem went away.
    Second problem I have noticed is that when the passenger puts down the sun shade on the front passenger side it hits the rear view mirror. I have to move the mirror to use the sun shade.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    There was a discussion about this in the Legacy/Outback threads, and they recommended moving the rear view mirror down a bit (there are two elbows, so you can re-position it).

  • subearusubearu Posts: 3,613
    it pivots not only at the mirror connection point, but also at the window point.

  • Thanks for the info. I will check it out.
  • I have a 2001 L.L. Bean Outback. The car surges when you take your foot off of the brake. The climate control is off so it isn't the air conditioner, which is what the service man claimed was causing the problem. Also, over the last month I have been experiencing difficulty starting the car. It doesn't always happen, but here are the symptoms: turn the key and engine cranks but doesn't start; press gas pedel once and turn key - doesn't start; press gas several times while turning key - doesn't start; press gas continuously until engine begins to fire and eventually starts. The service man said this was normal. I don't think so!
  • subearusubearu Posts: 3,613
    Does the hard starting happen after the vehicle is warmed up or been driven for a while? It almost sounds like vapor lock.

    Not sure about the surging. Does it idle smoothly or fluctuate a lot?

    If possible, try another dealer service area. You can also call the subaru 800 number and log a call.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Some of the early production cars had bad ECUs, and it sounds like that may be afflicting yours. If your dealer isn't responsive, try another one. H6 owners on these threads have noted improvements after the ECU was swapped out.

    Also, do call the 800 number an open up a case number, and if they still aren't responding let us know and we'll put you in touch with SoA directly (you need the case number first).

    It'll get resolved, just be persistent.

  • On Jan 04 I posted a message about my "96 Legacy Outback stalling. Juice suggested a number of remedies--we had the spark plugs and wires replaced last year--mechanic has also done throtte service. Last week the dealer replaced the ignition coil thinking that was the problem. The car is still stalling--same pattern -- stalling when run cold and going up incline or hills. This morning I warmed it up for ten minutes and no problem. Should I have to warm the car up every morning--what else could be wrong?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The only other thing I can think of is the gas tank's pick up is towards the front, so try to keep the tank 1/4 full or more. Otherwise it could slosh around and pick up air in the fuel lines, causing the hesitation.

    Try the fuel filter, too, which takes only minutes to change. Have them check the air filter while they're at it.

    Just a guess. Warm ups are not a bad idea, but should not be required.

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