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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    my 98 legacy (132K) has been having increasingly frequent episodes of the engine not starting. You turn the key, all the electricals clearly are working , there is a click and nothing happens, if you turn it a 2nd or 3rd time it usually starts up. can happen 1st thing in AM , though seems to happen more if its been driven and then stopped for a short period. used to happen every few weeks but now can happen several times a day.
    there was one occassion where it seemed like once it started I turned off the ignition but the engine kept running!! That happened only once and never again. that seems like a ignition key switch problem but are the other times a starter problem or something?? had plugs, wires replaced at 120K. battery is new and charging properly
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    I have seen this problem quite a bit on the 96-99 bodies. Mine did it a few times when I first purchased it (83K on the ticker), but I replaced the starter solenoid and never had that particular problem again. Others have had it persist, so this one is a tough one to call.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • stevenm1stevenm1 Posts: 25
    My 98 Legacy (201K) was doing the same thing, except that it would happen when the engine was cold and sitting outside for a long period (our temps currently run about 10 to 20 degrees F.) I replaced the starter; so far the problem hasn't come back. I suspect that the only thing wrong with it was the starter solenoid; however, the local auto parts store only had the whole starter assembly available. The click you are hearing is probably the starter solenoid working, but it is not turning on the starter motor.
  • Is there a alot of premature clutch problem on legacy? I hear alot about this problem. Is it just on GT or on 2.5i as well? I am looking to get a legacy over summer or this fall and dont want to replace ctuch every 3000 mi. Some metioned about using aftermarket clutch but i am not sure if it will extend the life of the clutch. Am i better off with auto? Any recomemdation?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I think the clutch issues are on older legacies, not the newest generation. Also it's often the master/slave cylinders that cause problems.

  • jfljfl Posts: 1,385
    The clutch pedal sticking in the down position is listed on

    I recall that it happened more in warm weather.

    The dealer said both the clutch and slave cylinder needed to be replaced. And wiped out 600 subie bucks! :mad:

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    $600 is a bit steep. Although I guess with dealer labor etc. it could reach $600.

  • goosegoggoosegog Posts: 206
    Although the clutch was replaced the cylinder was not. Can't remember if it was bled or not. But that was a year ago and everything is still OK. And the new clutch doesn't stink like the old one when deliberately slipped.
  • I just bought a 1996 Subaru outback with 112k miles and a 2.5 liter engine. The front tires are Michelin, the rear tires are Goodyear. When I reverse the car while turning sharply I can hear the differential having trouble (in between the front and back of the car) and it's starts kicking a little bit as well until I straighten out the car. I assume it's because the tires are different, as I've heard that if they're even 1/4 inch off they wont' work with the AWD.

    So... I tried to put in a 20v fuse in the FWD switch under the hood, and nothing happens. There is no FWD light on the instrument panel, and the same thing happens on sharp turns. What should I do? Is there something I missed in attempting to switch to front wheel drive? Should I worry about the seperate branded tires or just live with it? If I leave it will it mess up my transmission and rear differential?


    Also, I have a cylinder 4 misfire. Any thoughts on that?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Is your car MT or AT The fuse only works if it's an AT. I would swap the tires for 4 new tires. Misfire could be wire, plug or possibly the direct fire box thing I forgot the name on top of the engine.

  • OK, not to beat a dead horse, but here I go again.
    When I first bought the car, I had rotor warp(f and r)in about 5K. Dealer fixed (Turned) under warranty. This happened several times again, being fixed under warranty up until about 35K.
    At one point, the (then) service mgr took me aside and said the rotors were defective, SOA knows, but little was being done. He then replaced the rears gratis.
    But I still continued to have probs w/ fronts, until after a couple of posts here, a great gal from SOA NJ contacted me and put me in touch w/ West Coast rep (young guy, can't remember his name) who test drove car and agreed rotors were warped and offered to replace gratis if I picked up labor. I agreed, then asked tech at dealer about the P/N and he suggested that the new suffix meant a new type of rotor.
    Well, these worked great, until I replaced the stock pads with a "hard" compound at indie shop, which scored the rotors and made 'em squeal. So back to dealer; he tells me rotors n/g, replaced them and pads. Took old ones home, miked 'em, 'n lo n' beholed, still good to grind. Stash for later use. BUT, new rotors developed warp; so back to dealer, he turns and replaces pads again. Now after about 6K, rotors warped again. :confuse:
    Whiskey TangoFox, I say... WTF???
    I'm thinking somewhere there was an old style pair of rotors that made it to my car...
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I've installed a lot of brakes on Subarus.(200-300) Guess what, I've never seen a set of warped rotors! Have I seen ones where there were pad deposits in the rotors and they acted like they were warped? Yup. But they were never actually warped. I would suggest a few things:

    1) Take the rotors you have at home, go over them with a piece of sand paper to clear them up.

    2) Get a set of good ceramic pads such as Akebono Pro Act pads

    3) Put the Akebonos on with the rotors you have off the car

    This should be good for now, then take the other rotors that are on the car off and sandpaper them and stash for later.

    Rotors on these cars usually last 50-70k miles, pads about 20-35k depending on driving style.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    First and foremost, get matching tires.

    If either pair is new enough, buy 2 new ones to match and be done with it. It was a mistake to replace only 2 tires, no doubt. The AWD is full-time so it is constantly wrestling with the tires trying to engage when it shouldn't.

    Change them ASAP.

    Misfire - do you have a code? At 112k miles, it could be any of several wear and tear items. Start with the spark plug and don't forget the wires, too. The fuel filter, PCV valve, air filter, next. Finally, if you still get a Check-Engine Light, swap out the ignition coil. Sounds hard but it's very easy, and it's only $80 for the OE part. There's only one, too.

    You're close enough to 120k miles that I would just do the 120k mile service early, and that involves changing all the things I mentioned anyway.

    Cheers. :shades:
  • Thanks, I'm getting the tires replaced with 4 matching ones today, and this weekend I'm going to venture towards taking out the coolant reservoir and battery to take a look at the spark plugs.

    Right now I'm pretty upset that after all the talk by the auto dealer I got this from about how his technicians wouldn't have overlooked anything in getting this car ready for sale the car can't even run safely on the tires it came with. And I'm suspecting that they just slapped on some cheap autolite spark plugs, too, instead of NGKs. The code was 0304 (I forget the first two letters, but it was a cylinder 4 misfire...) I also heard it could be a problem with cylinder 2 manifesting itself in a misfire of 4, but I'll save those unusual scenarios for after the swapping of the new spark plugs and wires..
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I had a misfire and it turned out to be that a chipmunk had chewed up my spark plug wires. :D

    Seriously, I see them under my hood to this day. Not sure why they love Subaru wires, do they baste them in au jus at the factory? :confuse:


    I'll stick with my recommendation to change the wires, plugs, and then maybe the ignition coil if the light stays on.
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Posts: 4,116
    I was thinking about this and I have a pretty big aversion to replacing parts until I know what is wrong. You can ohm out the spark plug wires and there is a spec for the maximum resistance. You can also check the spark plug gap and check it for damage.
    I would think there would be a factory procedure somewhere for testing the coil pack before just dropping $80.
    Plugs and wires are great maintenance tasks and it may be due for them anyway, but now you are talking about $30 for plugs, $40-50 for wires, and $80 for the coil pack. Thats $160.
    I realize when doing backyard stuff, some of the money that would've been spent diagnosing the issue is spent on replacing probable suspects, but its still good to test what is testable, IMHO.
  • Thanks for the input, I'll give that a try. Will also check existing rotors for true.

    But in a previous post, I believe it was you that mentioned something about "mountain rotors"; what are they? Aftermarket?

    BTW, Mike, where does one look for P/N's on rotors?

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    On plugs, why after all the effort to take them out would you not replace them? $30 for 4 plugs? what kind of plugs are you using? I think the NGKs are way less than $30 for these cars. I dunno, I guess I'm looking at $160 as being easy, cheap and will help the car run better in the long run, unless you have just done them.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Mountains are aftermarket smooth rotors, essentially stock replacements. We've had good luck with them as they are from Japan so they are a bit better than the cheaper ones out of Taiwan (Brembo, etc). I think we sell a pair of them for like $100 + shipping for WRX size. As for PN on rotors they will likely be in the "hat" the portion that attaches to the hub should have the PN there.

  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Posts: 4,116
    I dunno, I guess I'm looking at $160 as being easy, cheap and will help the car run better in the long run, unless you have just done them.

    Thats totally cool I can appreciate that. In my mind, preventative maintenance is different then repair, and I don't like spending money on repair parts unless I know its going to fix my problem. $160 is pretty easy and cheap, but if you are out that cash and you still have the issue, it starts to not look like such a bargain.
    It also comes down to how sure someone is that its the problem. On the Honda, I dropped $60 on the main relay when it wouldn't start after sitting in the sun because I was 85% sure it was the problem, so if this is a similar case, then its very valid.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    I agree with that - but only for the plugs.... if you are going to pull them, just replace them and be done with it. For the wires, sure, might as well esp. if they are originals. Coil pack, though.... I would wait on that one to see if it is necessary. Still, $160 is cheap preventative maintenance.

    If you have the service records, find out if the timing belt was replaced, fuel filter, fluids, etc. It might be a good time just to give it a good flush to set the ticker back to zero.

    I was going to look at buying a replacement '96 yesterday (green, just like my old one!), but was too slow in contacting the seller. :(
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I had a problem with my boat last summer, and in the process of trying to hunt down the problem replaced the cap and rotor, which turned out to not be the problem, however was an excellent opportunity to get the maintenance done on em. I also replaced the batteries in the boat too, which I'm not sure was the problem. In the end, I sold the boat before having a definitive answer on what the problem was. :(

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'm with mike on this one.

    Plugs are a pain on the Forester, as there is no clearance on the heads. Same with wires.

    Once I'm in there, I'm changing them, no question.

    To remove them, gap the plugs, wash my hands, clean the plugs, then reinstall would take a lot of extra time.

    I may waste more $ and parts but you're wasting a lot more time and human energy.

    I guess those are the trade-offs, and neither strategy is perfect. :sick:
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    :D Sometimes that is the best solution! :P
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • lilengineerboylilengineerboy Posts: 4,116
    I concur, but how likely is it the plugs are the problem? I have never had a vehicle problem that was cured by replacing the plugs. I have had spark plug wires go bad (some it was obvious because a rat ate them, some I did the water misting/arcing trick), so I can understand the wires contributing.
    I would probably check the wires before doing anything at all with the plugs.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Well, keep in mind a single misfire will trigger a MIL. It could run fun 99.9% of the time and you'll still get a light.

    I've removed some pretty worn spark plugs after 30k miles of duty.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    Same here. My Subaru's plugs always looked good after 30K, but hard to say how long those have been in there unless there is a service record of replacement.

    I have had bad plugs on my '69 pickup before. Changing them was like buying a new truck! It was all my fault though - just was not using it much and lost track of how long they had been in there! :blush:
    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
    NGK copper plugs run about $2 a piece...
  • izzy3izzy3 Posts: 2
    i'm new to this forum. I have a 1999 outback and makes a clunking sound every time i turn the corner. The sound only happens when the car has warmed up. It has 78000 miles. I had the cv assembly replaced on both sides and still makes the noise. It is a manual transmission. I need help. thanks
  • cptchetcocptchetco Posts: 32
    Damn: sure seems like a lot of problems on relatively low mileage cars.
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