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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • The catalytic converter I purchased (for less than $300) and the official part I was quoted the $950 installed price was both the front and the back combined (with the short piece of pipe connecting the two). I checked and both the 2001 and the 2003 aftermarket part has the same part number, so I still think that $2,500 seems way to steep, unless the official (Subaru) parts are actually different parts and the 2003 part is radically different from the 2001 official part.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    I think the 2003 part would be different and also if it were a California car it would be more expensive.

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  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    No, that does not seem steep. It seems like a downright fleecing! Definitely shop around....

    Also, you might find out the code that was stored in the computer. If it was P0420, "Catalytic Converter Below Threshold," it may be more complicated than a "bad cat." Oxygen sensors that are beginning to gum up with deposits can cause false positives for the P0420 code, and that means if you replace the cat, you might still have the code return.

    Now, if the oxygen sensors are original on the car, and especially if you have noticed a drop in fuel economy either lately or gradually, it may certainly be time to change the sensors. I think they are somewhere around $100 each.
    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
    Personally I'd buy a generic (1 or 2) high flow cat from the web and have a local exhaust shop cut out your old ones and replace them with the new generic cats. They run about $150/each on the web and installation probably another $150/each.

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  • I was told by the local exhaust shop that no generic cat. converters would fit on the Subaru. I was told by another mechanic, after I kept having the same problems with the check engine light coming on (P0420 - Cat inefficiency) after putting the aftermarket part on that (on the forums used by mechanics) they have found that Subaru's seem to not play well with others (i.e., they only seem to like genuine Subaru parts). When my alternator went out earlier this year they tried replacing it with a non-Subaru alternator and it wouldn't fix the problem, but when they put the genuine Subaru part on it worked fine. Has anyone had luck with a non-Subaru cat? Just curious.
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  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Did you have engine overheating?

    Cracked blocks are rare. Gaskets fail and then overheat, and some times the heads end up warped. That's more common. I wonder if that's what your mechanic meant? Warped heads?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    No, not with a cat. I have used many other non-subaru parts (including a solenoid for a starter) and never had any issues at all.
    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
    Yup I use magnaflow high flow cats. You have to have a muffler place weld on the flanges from the old cat and the bung for the O2 sensor.

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  • I am glad to hear that non-official parts still work (at least sometimes). I suspected that I might need a new oxygen sensor, but my mechanic said he did not think that was the problem. I had to replace (I believe) the front sensor a couple of years ago but have not replaced the other sensor. I might try to replace the other sensor just to see if that makes a difference since, as someone said, they are relatively inexpensive and I am sure that the other sensor is the original (129k miles). Do you think that this could be the reason I keep getting a P0420 code reading?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    It could definitely be the sensor. What happens is that the first O2 sends a signal and then the 2nd one sends a signal the ECU compares them and if there isn't a large enough difference in what it's sensing, it throws a code.

    Do you smell rotten eggs behind the car? That's a sign that your cat is shot. If it's clogged then you'll have real poor acceleration and the car will feel choked.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    He's also right at the "due date" for a cat failure on that particular car. Mine went at 130K right on the button, right on schedule, along with the head gaskets.

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  • Hi there, I just bought this 2002 legacy wagon standard. 110,00- kms original owner bought new tirwes. I now have 119,000 on it and noticed alot of difference in performance since 1st purchased 6 mos ago. Firstly, the engine is much louder than before, the radio sucks, and whenever I turn sharp into parking spots I hear a strange noise and feel vibration in the tires or wheels. My hubby thinks it's the AWD grabbing the cement??? It seems to be getting worse. Oh yeah, and my check engine light never goes off apparently its the fuel sensor?? HELP ANYONE???
  • Hmm, sounds like you said kilometers here. I'm not entirely sure what the US conventional equivalent is, but here's some things to keep in mind:

    A louder noise from the engine, when and where do you notice it? Is this something with idling while you're stationary, or all the time? I wonder if this could be the sign of a new muffler? (I replaced a muffler on my `01 Civic about a year ago at ~80,000 miles.)

    Why does the radio suck? Is it a setting that possibly could have been changed (my young nieces love playing with the knobs on the radio and I caught them changing the bass way up accidentally, making the sound ... suck.) Check your settings, set the treble/bass/fade/balance to where you want it. Perhaps you were overzealous with the bass and blew the speaker? See if it's coming from just one speaker, or if the bad sound is from all.

    Other thing, check your CD. Try other CD's compared to radio. This'll tell you if it's a signal reception issue, or an audio issue.

    I'm pretty sure that Subarus in 2002 had the all-time AWD, so I don't think that when you make a sharp turn the AWD suddenly kicks on as you suggest. This could possibly be something related to the axle (the forum gurus can explain better I'm sure), but from the perspective of a novice do-it-yourselfer, I'd say just pop the hood and check on the fluid levels of your power steering. Per your owner's manual, if you're taking a sharp turn as to moving the wheel to the extreme side (where you can't turn it in that direction any more), you should not hold it in this position for more than 6 seconds or you could damage the Power Steering pump.

    If your fuel sensor is throwing out an error code, it's possible that the wrong ratio of fuel:air is being deposited into the combustion chambers, which could explain why it sounds like it's running a little rough around the edges. Error codes are never a good thing, stop by AutoZone and get the OBD II checked for free.

    Good luck!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    Regarding the engine noise, please describe it, if possible. The first thing I suggest is to check your oil, if you do not do that regularly. Subaru engines are very temperamental when it comes to oil level. You do not want them over full or very low. If the oil level is low, the likely sound you here is the valve lifters "clacking." Topping off the oil as indicated by the dipstick should silence the noise almost immediately. Again, though, this is just a guess without you offering more of a description.

    Radio - not going to touch it. Pilot's suggestions are probably as good as any in the absence of a description.

    Noise on turning: One of two things - either it is a differential on the fritz or it is a CV joint in one of the front axles. If the sound is just a grinding when turning sharply in *one* direction, it is a CV joint. If the car shudders (vibrates badly) and there is chirping from the tires when you turn sharply in either direction, that is a differential. I would hope for the CV joint. ;)
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ted55ted55 Posts: 11
    My 2000 Outback has made a noise when making right turns since the day I purchased it with 56K on it. It now has 92K and it is more of an annoyance than anything else since it really has not gotten any worse. It is a a rotational shudder type of sound that increases or decreases in intensity depending upon the speed that I'm travelling in the turn. It also is more pronounced the tighter the turn. It does not do the same thing on left turns which leads me to believe it may be in the right axle(?) I have replaced the front brake rotors twice thinking that one may be warped but it didn't resolve the problem. I had it to the dealer once and maybe it was Murphy's law or they just didn't feel like investigating it but they told me they didn't notice anything wrong. Any suggestions???
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    Is it *only* a sound, or can you feel that shudder at all? The way you describe it makes me think that you have a bad bushing on the driveshaft for the rear wheels. But, I would expect the noise to be accompanied by a slight to significant accompanying shudder that is felt (like someone is thumping the bottom of the car).

    My '96 Outback did this when I purchased at 83,000 miles. I do not think it would have been a major issue if I had never addressed it, but it probably would cause some premature wear on the driveshaft components. A used replacement part was $230, but I never had the issue again after 140,000 additional miles.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ted55ted55 Posts: 11
    It's only a sound, not a vibration. I'm extra confused now though because I just read another posting here from a guy with a similar issue right on down to the fact that it occurs on right turns only. He thought it could be wheel bearings and that was what was recommended for changing by Teixeira. If this is the case, is it a difficult job to tackle by a backyard mechanic like myself?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    That it might be, if it is early in the failure process. I think those years required the bearing to be pressed though, which would require specialized equipment. So, if it is a pressed bearing, then yes, for a backyard mechanic it would be difficult. :(
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    First thing to inspect if you hear odd noises are the wheel bearings. Start there.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Depending on the noise, I'd agree with Wes that it may be an axle.

    A bearing is not easy to change especially not without a press.

    Checking the bearing is pretty easy, shaking the wheel you'll hear a tinny noise similar to putting pressure on the sides of a soda can and there will be slight movement in the wheel in/out as you push on the sidewall.

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  • I have a 2002 legacy that had the EXACT same problem. It is the differential. Mine would be fine when the car was cold, but not fine when it got hot (maybe about 30 minutes of driving). The differential gears got screwey. $700 part. The way you know is if the car is stationary and you can move the wheel back and forth no problem but it gives you trouble at low speeds in either direction. I have a manual transmission and those cars have a different system verus automatics. My check engine light is on right now, but the last time is was the ignition control sensor and the car would cut out every once in a while. I need to take it back in. I like the car, but it has sort of been a maintenance headache.
  • Hi-

    I'll roll two issues into one post.

    1. I hate first gear in my car. Unless I over-gas it, the car shutters when it gets going. Anyone else have this issue? I bought the car 3 years ago and it's been a problem the whole time. The dealer said the clutch plate is the problem but it's nothing to worry about.
    2. I feel like there is too much wind noise on the driver's side. It seems like there is a leak. Anyone else have that issue? Thanks.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sounds like clutch chatter to me, and I do think it's the pressure plate the dealer mentioned.

    We had a 2002 Legacy and while we did not have that issue, I always felt the throttle was not linear at all, but rather an on/off switch that made it hard to make smooth starts.

    We also had a slight wind leak on the driver's window seal, but opening and closing the window would quiet it. You can adjust the window angle to try to quiet it. bitman did that on an Outback and documented the procedure in the Legacy/Outback thread a while ago.
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    my 02 WRX had the infamous clutch shudder, SOA were replacing them for free if people complained, don't know if it applied to Legacy/outbacks too.
  • ted55ted55 Posts: 11
    That was it! I took it to the dealer and they diagnosed it as bad wheel bearings. $680 later, the only groaning I hear now is myself when I open my wallet. They also informed me that I have a small oil leak coming from one of the heads, and for a mere $690, they can fix that too. I told them I'd keep topping off the oil (which is barely perceptible) and put newspaper on my gagrage floor for a while till I can save up the $. Does that number seem a bit steep to you? One other question, with that name, are you Brazilian?
  • This past June I bought a 2006 Outback 2.5i w/28,000 miles from NJ Avis. It's now got roughly 33,300 miles on it, and while I've done basic things like occasionally check the oil and coolant, maintain the tire pressure, and keep track of gas mileage (which has been around 26/27 mpg) I haven't had the car serviced. (I did have it inspected in NY state, which is required by law if you buy a used car out of state.)

    So this past week I joined and was flagged for 30,000 mile/30 month maintenance -- both overdue. I found a nearby Subaru dealer in Rye, New York, made an appointment, and asked how much this 30/30 maintenance would cost. Answer: $649 plus tax.

    Here's what says 30/30 maintenance consists of:

    Recommended Inspection Fuel systems, lines and connections
    Inspect Drive belt(s) [Except camshaft]
    Inspect Camshaft drive belt
    Replace Engine oil
    Replace Engine oil filter
    Perform Replace engine coolant and inspect cooling system, hoses and connections
    Replace Air cleaner element
    Replace Spark plugs
    Inspect Transmission/Differential (Front & Rear) lubricants (Gear oil)
    Inspect Automatic transmission fluid
    Replace Brake fluid
    Inspect Disc brake pads and discs, front and rear axle boots and axle shaft joint portions
    Inspect Brake linings and drums
    Perform Inspect brake lines and check operation of parking and service brake system
    Inspect Clutch operation
    Inspect Steering and suspension
    Perform Rotate and Inspect Tires

    Is this service worth $649 -- essentially $700 with tax -- and, if not, what should I do instead?

    I haven't had any problems with the car so far ... it's driven just fine.
  • Basically a tire rotation, oil change, brake, cooling and tranny fluid change. Seems like way too early to change plugs but that's me.

    Everything else is an "inspection."

    If you can eyeball hoses brakes and stuff, I'd just bring the car to an indie. My guess is you'd be saving yourself $300 at least.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I run a subaru specific shop in NNJ and we do the 30k mile service all the time (did one yesterday actually) and we charge $365 for the same 30k but with Amsoil Synthetic fluids. We charge an additional $75 for non-platinum plugs but usually only do those at 60k intervals.

    Dealers charge way way too much. If you need any other info shoot me an e-mail and I can get you specifics.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I was just reading another thread and someone said they paid $600, which is in the same ballpark. Ask for a discount, dealers will usually agree to 10% off or so.

    You guessed it, I'm Brazilian.
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