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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,815
    Your regular host may have an estimate on that---to my mind, it's 10 hours labor on the books, so with all the other odds and ends, seems fair enough to me.

    Well at least the radiator has to be cleaned out. You've got to do something to it--it would be negligent, in my opinion, to cool a recently refreshed engine with a dirty old radiator. I'd also consider a new oil pump as long as everything's apart.-- or at least an inspection and measurement of it internally.

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  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,000
    Yeah, I agree on both points; you should definitely rehabilitate the radiator to ensure maximum effectiveness, and $1,400 for both head gaskets is a good price. In general, I'd say typical estimates are around $1,800 for both.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Quick question: Clockwise up, or clockwise down? (on my 99 LGT)
    Need to lower 'em a smidge, and I can't remember which way to turn the bloomin' screw! :confuse:

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,815
    Who knows, but it doesn't matter. Just aim it against a wall and watch to see what happens.

    Always adjust the vertical (nearer the fender) first, then the horizontal.

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  • Horizontal is fine. Vert was too high.
    CCW is down. Half a turn was enough to tell which way they were going.

  • Has anyone ever had problems with the car feeling like it is wobbling? My (trusted) mechanic said he could not find anything wrong, but wondered if it had something to do with making sure the lug nuts were torqued exactly correct. It seemed to be much less noticeable after he put the wheels back on and made sure the lug nuts were torqued exactly right, but it only seems to be better, as opposed to gone completely. I bought a torque wrench and loosened and re-torqued to 70ft lbs but the problem didn't go away completely. Any ideas?
  • The brake rotors warp regularly.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,000
    Warped rotors? That is not going to make the vehicle "wobble" unless the driver applies the brakes.

    Is this something that has come on gradually or started suddenly?

    I suspect worn tie rod ends or ball joints.... possibly both.
    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
    Sounds like bad wheel bearings, a common failure given the age.
  • The black vinyl finish coating is peeling off two of the five roof rails that are attached to the roof lengthwise on my 2002 Outback. Has anyone else run into this, and did you try to refinish them? It looks as though the rails would need replacement to do it correctly. How big of a job is it to get access to the attaching devices? It would probably require removal of headliner and that looks like a pain. Thanks in advance.
  • I bought it at 113k and it didn't start wobbling until around 120 - 125k. I've noticed that it seems somewhat intermittant now; i.e., it seems fine, and then I'll come out of the store (or wherever I drove it to) and it will seem much worse, followed later by it seeming less wobbly for awhile.
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 694
    Could you have a tire with tread or sidewall separation? That can feel like a wheel wobble.
  • My mechanic checked the tires two different times (and he and I have rotated them) and I have the same issue, which seems to rule out a tire issue unless they are all bad, which I was assured that they are OK.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,000
    I still suspect ball joints or, perhaps as AJ suggested, wheel bearings. Try this: put the front end on blocks and pull/push hard on the top of each front tire. Do you perceive any movement of the wheel in or outward? If so, you have a wheel bearing issue. Check the boots on your ball joints and your tie rod ends. If any of the boots are "blown," then you likely have issues with those joints as well. Play in those joints will result in "wiggle." You can check your tie rod ends for play by locking the steering wheel while it is up on blocks, then trying to turn the wheel on one side by pushing/pulling on the front of the wheels.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Thanks (to all) for the advice. I will put the car up on jack stands and try what you suggest.
  • krallkrall Posts: 17
    I have a 2001 Subaru outback wagon (4cyl, 5spd). I've had two 4-wheel alignments done in the last 10,000 and both have shown my left-rear camber is at -0.9 or -1.0 degrees. My tires are wearing so uneven that I "may" need a new set after only 50K on a 70K tire (see related post No. 8137).

    Is there a way to adjust the rear camber and if so, how can I do this. The tire shop told me it was not adjustable and that they couldn't help me.

    Thanks in advance for the suggestions.

    I've had a ton!! of work done lately and have some reoccurring problems that may be related - please see separate post No. 8137 )
  • krallkrall Posts: 17
    I've recently put a ton of $ into my I have a 2001 Subaru outback wagon (4cyl, 5spd) and have some re-occurring problems that I’m trying to determine whether are tire related. At present, I have tires that have uneven tread wear but still have 4-5.5 32’nds left on them. My tire tread depths are as follows (measured outer/inner depth in 32’nds of an inch): | 4.0/4.5 | 4.5/5.0 | 4.5/5.0 | 5.0/5.5 |

    Symptoms: Briefly, it feels like my care wobbles at low speeds; at speeds >50mph I feel a shake in the steering wheel; at speeds >35-40 steering wheel shakes when breaking; my car pulls hard (1-2-seconds could be off the road when not holding wheel) to left or right depending on how the tires are rotated.

    I’ve had the following work done in the last 2,000 miles:
    - new center differential $$$
    - replaced right-front axle, ball joint
    - 4-wheel alignment and balancing (rear camber off -0.9 | see Post No. 8136)
    - new rotors (pads replaced ~4,000 miles ago and rotors were turned at same time. However the rotors still sounded like something was dragging and it turned out (supposedly) that the rotors were warped, so I replaced them. However, I suddenly have the same symptoms that I did 2,000 miles ago before replacing rotors)

    As stated earlier I'm trying to determine what’s going on here and whether:
    (a) my tires are causing my symptoms and need to be replaced,
    (b) my current tires will ruin my new center differential and need to be replaced,
    (c) I got a set of bad rotors and they should be replaced at no charge (shop says I must have hit a puddle and warped them after 2K miles), or
    (d) I need to continually keep dumping $$ into my car (which I can’t afford) to fix something further that hasn’t been caught.

    I greatly appreciate your advice!!!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You said the tires are worn unevenly, how old are they?

    A lot of times the tread will last a long time but that doesn't mean the rubber hasn't aged beyond its useful life.

    I had some Nitto tires that lasted forever and still had tread left in them, but what was a quiet tire for the first 40k miles because obnixiously loud after that. I swapped them out for a set of Falkens and the ride was so much more quiet it wasn't even funny. The Nittos had tread left but they were done.
  • krallkrall Posts: 17
    The tires are 3.5 years old and have about 49,000 miles on them. I thought I've felt a tread-shift for about 15,000 miles, but the tire shop hasn't been able to find one.

    Any thoughts about whether I need new tires; affect on diff; wheel shimmy, etc? Thanks again.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,000
    In my experience, anything is adjustable.... given the proper persuasion! But, of more concern, is that this problem is occurring with relative suddenness. It usually takes something occurring, such as (memorable) contact with a stationary object, work performed (such as replacing shocks, ball joints, tie rods, etc), or similar in order to foul an alignment, especially camber and in the rear wheels, no less!

    Vibration at speed may be more due to a poorly balanced tire than anything else; have you addressed that, using a high-quality machine such as a Hunter balancer?

    Strong vibration when brakes are applied tends to point toward a warped rotor, but it can also be caused by uneven braking (as in left side grabs harder than right) combined with worn ball joints, tie rods, or steering linkages. You can usually feel the difference in the steering wheel - warped rotors usually cause a vibration through the steering column, but do not cause any pulling either left or right. Uneven braking or worn parts will cause a strong pull to one side or a fast, strong, alternating pull left and right (so, it feels like a vibration, but it causes the wheel to move right and left).

    I don't buy the "deep puddle" theory. I have driven through many a puddle with no ill rotor effects, so unless the rotor is junk or they were super-heated for some reason, a puddle is not going to warp them. I put 220,000 miles on the original rotors of my '96 Outback and they were still as true on that day as they were nearly 12 years and 220,000 miles prior. Have you adjusted the lug nuts to ensure there is an appropriate, and evenly applied, level of torque? Over-tightening, especially when unevenly done, can warp rotors.

    Based on the information you supplied regarding individual tire tread depth, I do not think the tires on the car are causing differential damage.
    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
    Have the wheel bearings inspected since that was a common issue with Subarus that age. It could explain the shimmy, though most of the time you also hear it. Chunk-chunk-chunk-chunk, speed dependent pitch, is how I remember it.

    Tires are relatively cheap. 49k miles is a lot, I think. I've only owned one set of tires that ever lasted that long, and guess what? It was those Nittos that were making all that noise.

    Check the bearings first, but if they're OK I'd get new tires.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,815
    this is a long shot, but if your mechanic replaced your axle with rebuilt ones from China, that can explain vibration problems. Many of these units are out of phase--simply not well-balanced.

    My Subaru guy refuses to install them anymore.

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  • krallkrall Posts: 17
    Thanks to all that have chimed in! I'll answer a few questions raised in responses and go from there.

    In response to xwesx (No. 8140)
    The tire shop says that "there is no factory adjustment for rear camber", so they never attempted to adjust it even though the camber was at -0.9, -1.0. It looks like -0.9 is the threshold b/w acceptable and unacceptable camber according to their graphics.

    *-* Are they correct that rear camber can not be adjusted? If not, what to do? *-*

    I did have the tires balanced, but I don’t know what machine they used. All they do is tires, so I figure it’s a good machine… (I can hear you laughing)

    Thanks for the excellent clarification regarding the types of shake/vibration I could feel in the wheel when braking. After thinking about it more, when braking I feel a fast, strong, alternating pull left and right. That said, the car veers hard to the left of right, depending on how the tires are rotated and when braking, that doesn’t change – it simply pulls to the same side it did prior to applying the brake.

    *-* Given that the direction of pull changes with tire rotation, do you think that this is a tire issue or part failure or something that was not tightened during alignment? The pull began immediately following the last alignment, however the wheel alternating left/right when braking only began recently *-*
    In response to ateixeira (No. 8141).
    I assume the wheel bearings are fine given all the work I’ve had done recently on axel, ball joint etc. But will check. I appreciate the advice.
    In response to Mr Shiftright (No. 8142).
    Yes it was an after market axle, prob. China made. The first axle they put only lasted 1-week. Not sure if this axle is beginning to go, but there’s not clunking when I back up with the wheel cut all the way, and have had it checked twice recently (by pulling on it with the car up).

    *-*How would I check this myself, or if I brought it back to the shop, what would I ask them to do? *-*
    Again, thanks to everyone here, but unfortunately the work was done by different shops, so I’m not sure where to go first. The work went: axle | then differential/ball joint, etc | then alignment/balancing. Who should I bring the car back to first. Thanks again!!
  • Some of what you've posted sounds a little like the problem I am having with my 2001 Outback (I haven't had a chance to put it up on blocks as suggested above yet, but will do so this weekend). Saying that, I loosened and re-torqued the lug nuts on all 4 tires and, for the time being, the wobbling has gone away. Although I would think something else is wrong leading to the wobble, my mechanic said he did not think anything was wrong with the suspension on two separate occasions and started wondering about lug nut torque. I have the steering wheel pulling back and forth at all speeds and merely speeds up the faster I go, but like I said above, after the lug nuts were re-torqued, the wobbling went away (almost completely). I'm just curious if that makes absolutely any difference on your '01, and if that sounds like any specific problem to anybody. I do not feel the car pulling one way or the other, or making any noise, so could a wheel bearing go bad and not make any noise or make the car pull to one side or the other? My problem has been going on (as stated previously, somewhat intermittantly) for over 10k miles now.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,000
    (I can hear you laughing)

    Hahahaha; I swear that I did not start laughing until I read that bit....!

    But, point taken. I was thinking that perhaps there was a significant out-of-balance issue, but I doubt this is the case. Mediocre machines/technique may result in large lead balancing weights on the rims and subtle vibration at high speeds, but nothing like you are experiencing.

    You say ball joint(s?) were replaced! Both of the fronts? If that is the case, and you have the side to side movement without a change in "pull" direction, your brakes likely are grabbing evenly, but you may have some play in the tie rods. This all started happening immediately after the last alignment? How about toe-in? Toe-in means the front tires point toward one another a little, sorta like this: /-----\ in order to track the road properly. If that is not adequate, those tires could be grabbing all sorts of funky and it may not be consistent, especially if there is play in suspension joints that allows the pressure to be relieved through movement in one (or more!) joints. It could pull left for a while, then shift right after you turn a corner or negotiate a curve, then go back again after the next maneuver. Normally an alignment shop checks the condition of things like tie rods, ball joints, etc., because worn suspension components means an alignment is not going to help. But, if the shop is just after the quick buck, who knows?

    What a headache!
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,000
    Doing a little research on rear camber, the information I find is that the rear control arm is the primary candidate for adjusting the camber, but is not adjustable from the factory. Now, this is where my "anything is adjustable" comment came in, because I adjusted the fork on my old van in order to adjust the caster (which was "non-adjustable") on the driver side. Essentially, it involved a torch, sledgehammer, and colorful language. I bent the fork just enough to pull the caster into spec. But, it was not the most graceful or scientific approach. Similarly, I suspect the rear control arm could be "manipulated" to decrease the negative camber on the rear.

    So, here are a few things that could cause the caster to be out of spec: if the negative caster is too little, it may be due to worn rear control arm bushings. The bushing are replaceable. If too great, it could be due to a weak spring or a bent strut.

    The control arms are also replaceable, and you could put an adjustable control arm in there. The one I was looking at a few minutes ago was Perrin, I think, and a pair was something like $250. :surprise:

    Another suggestion, that I gleaned from NASIOC, is that if the car is not quite tracking properly, the rear subframe could be slightly shifted from square in relation to the chassis of the vehicle. There are, apparently, four bolts that attach the subframe to the chassis, and those can be loosened to allow for adjustment of the system (by a professional!). Also mentioned were camber bolts, that could be fitted retroactively, in order to adjust the wheel assembly's relationship to the strut. This was suggested only if the integrity of all other parts in the rear suspension were verified to be in good order.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • pathtomaxpathtomax Posts: 215
    Question regarding my 2001 Outback Ltd Wagon, 131,000 miles

    The last time I was at the dealership for a quick oil change, they mentioned that my tires seem to be wearing at the edges. I do have my tires rotated regularly at 6000-7000 miles and they currently have about 30k miles on them. They noted that I may need to replace my "adjusters" and if they started this process it may take more time and require more work.

    Any idea what these adjusters are ??
  • krallkrall Posts: 17
    Hi All -I had planned to post that the problem was solved - but alas it's not :<(

    Here's an update on my situation.

    (1) Had 4 new tires put on, balanced, 4-wheel alignment.Still had wheel shake at high speeds and under braking.

    (2) Had front rotors turned and put on new front pads. Took great care to make sure all wheels (lugs) were properly tightened (star pattern) and torqued to 75 ft/lbs.

    **WOW - problem was gone (so I thought). Although, I still felt the slightest vibration in the wheel, had no visible skake and the car tracked straight.

    (3) This morning on the way to work the shake came back (200 miles since turning rotors and new pads and new tires were put on). At speeds around 65-70 I would get an intermittent wheel shake (very minor) and then when braking above 60 the wheel shake returned (wheel turns back and forth very rapidly). If I tap the brakes I don't feel this, but if I apply some pressure (not slam on the brakes) the wheel shakes, but the car continues straight - no pulling.

    I've been driving very carefully (not aggressive) trying to allow the pads to seat. This is so disheartening - I've dumped thousands into this car (see posts above) and simply can't continue to put $$ into this car.

    Any further suggestions are greatly appreciated - I need to figure this out quick.
  • Disheartening to hear this news, as I am dreading going through the same thing with my '01. I can report that, once I increased the torgue on the lug nuts to around 80ft lb the wobble has decreased noticeably, although it still exists (the front tire wobble seems to have decreased the most, the back still feels like it is wobbling). I started at 70ft lbs and each week or two have been going up in 5ft lb increments and at 80 it seems to have helped more than it had before; i.e., it doesn't seem to be wobbling intermittantly like it had been. It feels just like it did when I first upped the torque to 80 last Friday. I think I will probably increase the torque to around 85ft lbs and see if that makes it better. I also noticed that it did not seem to be holding the torque very well at 70 and 75 as I was re-torquing at least every other day when I was torquing to those measurements (sometimes even later the same day). A mechanic friend of mine (whose last job was at a Subaru dealership) said he would check it out for me also so I will post again with anything substantive that he tells me, but if you want to try absolutely everything you might want to up the torque again (and check to see if it is holding that measurement). As ridiculous as that advice sounds to me given all that you've done so far, it can't hurt.
  • krallkrall Posts: 17
    Thanks for the advice, I did just check and the torque held - 75 ft/lbs. I could increase to 80, but wondering if there isn't something else going on here (bad rotor, caliper, tierod... hard to believe that something could be broken down there given all the work and number of folks who have looked at it).

    Thanks again and any other thoughts are also welcome.
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