Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Could be leaves in the blower?

    kinda like when you stick a straw on the spokes of a bike to make it go tick tick tick.?


  • mrk610mrk610 Posts: 378
    I to thought it was the timing belt tensioner. The dsr that looked at my car said not it was piston slap .The problem I have is that it doesn't make any noise when cold and idling ,only when I drive it . Also sometimes when I stop and the engine is is up to operating temp it will still knock fo a few seconds when I accelerate.I've just about gone crazy over this so I'm just going to live with it and enjoy my suby.

    mike k
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'm with mike, check the base of your windshield, the cowl, where air comes in, for blockage.

  • Hi All
    My car got back from the shop on Monday with no knock. The invoice reads " cleared computer memory and add additives". The knocking was good until I tank 89 OCT gas this morning. I called SOA and learn that my car is scheduled (dealer didn't call me about it?) for new computer upgrade. I was ensured that this problem will be fixed with the upgrade. Anyone has any experience with this?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think they some times have to send the ECU to headquarters to be re-programmed. You might have a loaner ECU, or they're fixing another one and will swap it out later.

    What's puzzling is that the dealer didn't talk to you about this.

  • juice

    You are probably right. I called the dealer and I was told that it will take 3 days minimum. It looks like they will send it out for re-programing. I am really considering to switching to another dealer. The SOA customer service was very helpful (unlike Toyota's).I hope it is the problem and they will be able to fix my car.
  • freddi1freddi1 Posts: 14
    I just got a used 99 Outback SW, 30th anniv. LTD. 30K miles, great shape. It starts to shimmy at 62mph. Dealer balanced tires and it still shimmies. He says it the hard Michelin tires. Any suggestions on how to correct shimmy & dealer? Purchased it on 3/9/02. Thanks!
  • retnavretnav Posts: 25
    Subie owners. I am in the process of purchasing a 2002 Outback ltd wagon for my wife. Word of mouth over time has been great cars. Consumer reports says recommended buy, gives good,but not outstanding marks. Reading various boards re Subaru there appear to be a number problems with these cars; engine knock, brake failure, shimmy at 62 mph, brake squeal. I know cars are cars and any given one can have any problem. My wife's '89 Toyota has had some minor problems, but has been a reliable performer. My Honda's and Acura's ditto and the dealers have been very responsive. Do you folks feel that Subaru dealers are pretty responsive. I'm getting somewhat reluctant about this car. Test drive was fine. Reactions! Thanks
  • mikenkmikenk Posts: 281
    Based on Consumer reports long term test data, Subaru ranks in the top tier with Lexus/ Toyota / Acura / Honda for overall brand reliability, well above all other car manufacturers. Can you have problems with Subarus? Absolutely, but percentage wise, a lot less than other companies. Dealers vary across all manufacturers, some are good, some bad.

    Personally, My experience with several Subarus have been excellent with reliability and dealer support. I currently own a OB VDC and a WRX wagon and have not had any problems at all, except for squeeling brakes when backing out the OB in the morning. Th Outback is the nicest cruising car I have ever owned; the WRX is the most fun.

    The darling of Consumer Reports currently is the Passat. It seems that all mid size cars are judged off of it; however, I preferred the Outback for quietness, ride compliance, looks, and reliability.

    The bottom line: drive all your potential choices and pick the car you like, but keep in the back of your mind the overall reliability history of the company.

    Just my opinion,
  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Posts: 464
    After 14 months and 24K miles with my 01 Outback (my 1st 'roo), I have been quite pleased overall with the car -- yes, there have been a few problems here and there, but were I buying all over again, I would still get a Subaru...although next time will be a WRX wagon! I have owned a few new Hondas over the past decade and still believe that they are built with higher quality materials than my Subaru, but Honda abandoned the wagon market just when it was getting interesting so I shopped around. None of my Hondas ever required me to return to the dealer to fix broken things because they were assembled flawlessly. My Subaru, on the other hand, has had just a few minor things go wrong this past year (squeaky power windows, broken hood prop rod). The only major complaint I have with the car is the crummy clutch that has shuddered since the car was new but has been deemed "normal" by the dealer. Otherwise, the dealer has been very pleasant to deal with and seem eager to help.

    Looking at some of the other boards here makes me believe Subarus seem to be holding up rather well (Christ, look at some of the domestic boards and read about THOSE problems).
  • errolcwerrolcw Posts: 3
    I just purchased a new 2002 Outback limited and discovered that the speedometer is about 6% off -- when the speedometer shows 70 you are really going 64-65 mph. I varified this difference and took the car back to the dealer for service. When they checked the speedometer against the computer they agreed, however, when comparing the speedometer against the ABS speed sensor they too got the 5.5 - 6% error. I have never had a car off that much. The dealer contacted Subaru tech support and was told that the speedometer could be off as much as 7%. We are now contacting the Subaru Area Rep. Besides being a nuisance, it also will cheat me on my warranty. Has anyone else had this problem? I checked mine with another car and also with my GPS. I would like to know if this is a pervasive Subaru problem or a problem unique to my Outback.
  • eric102eric102 Posts: 122
    My 02 Outback is 2 1/2 MPH off at 70 when checked with my GPS. Actual- 67.5, Speedo- 70.

  • armac13armac13 Posts: 1,129
    check last summer over a distance of 100 km showed it to be 1.5% off, demo radar trap in Richmond yields error of just over 2%.

  • freddi1freddi1 Posts: 14
    No suggestions on my shimmy??? ;-(
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Paul: we have an SoA rep who participates in these very boards. She helps out when dealers aren't responsive, and results have been great.

    Plus, CR put Subaru and Toyota on top, with 12 problems per car (2001 models), and Honda and Nissan tied for 3rd at 14 problems per car. So noone is perfect, but odds are best with a Subie or Toyota. :-)

    I was surprised, but they said the average car already had 21 problems, for 2001 models! They must include every little squeek and rattle. Or the owners they survey are nit-picky!

    Shimmy? Hmm, the tires could be out of round. Did they check the alignment, too, or just the tire balance? It could even be a wheel hub/bearing. Ask the dealer to inspect those.

  • peterson10peterson10 Posts: 116
    First, on reliability: I've owned three Subarus (currently, 2000 OB and 2002 Forester) and regard them as the equal of any other car at, or near, the price range. Consider that EVERY Subaru purchase is made only after giving due consideration to the offerings from Honda, Toyota, and (now) VW and Audi. Very few Honda/Toyota/Etc. owners have ever even considered driving a Subaru, so to have grown so strong in so short a time must surely be a testament to the quality of Subaru's vehicles. I have had a few problems with my Subes, but no more (fewer actually) than with others. My Civic used to go through brakes like I go through scotch! And don't get me started about that Blazer!

    Now, some irony: I've read with detached interest about the engine knock some folks have detected, and suddenly I find I'm growing uneasy about my own OB. Is it my delusional mind or is my engine beginning to knock? What exactly does this "engine knock" sound like? Stupid question I know, but I don't know if I'm hearing valve clatter, piston slap, or just the uniquely punctuated sound of a boxer engine. My OB engine makes a distinct ticking sound when idling, hot or cold, and it seems to be more pronounced than it once was. Can one of you experts clue me in on what to listen for?

    Thanks mightily,
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I advance the timing on my Miata, and during that procedure heard some pretty obvious pinging.

    How would I describe it? Think Woody Woodpecker. Knock-knock-knock-knock, loud and obvious, once you've heard it. At least a harmful knock will sound that way.

    It is quite different than valve clatter, which my Miata has before warm up. Much louder, more distinct.

    Boxers sort of growl, but that's normal. A machine-gun-like RAT-TAT-TAT-TAT sounds distinct, and it probably pre-ignition.

  • I was asked to review this message board, however after reviewing all the comments about engine knocking I thought I'd share. I have a 2001 OB and notified the dlr of the "pinging" at appx 8k miles. I was told it was bad gas, and possibly my driving habits... Then I eventually had the memory erased a few times, knock sensor replaced, and even had the computer replaced. The knocking has not gone away, and the dlr even stated the problem can't be fixed because it's an engineering issue. This has been very frustrating. SOA has stated that the lemon law in my state expired at 12k miles & the documentation SOA recieved from all the work orders show that the dlr did not document my knock concern until just after the 12k mile mark during an oil change. my OB has now appx 27k miles on it & I'm getting a little upset that they can push out the issue until it's too late, & it looks as if others may be going through the same "piston slap" problem. I am now going to get all my documentation/witnesses together & will have to proceed legally. It's obvious that the only way to get this problem fixed is to stand & be heard. Oh.. I initially went through thr dlr I bought the car from for quite a while & they kept stalling, I even asked for documentation regarding the problem and the dlr refused to provide any. I finally got so frustrated, I got a little upset thinking I was being stonewalled & the dlr asked me to not come back. I believe this was thier way of correcting the problem. I went to another dlr & they were "human" & tied different things,also advised me of the break shim problem, but were unable to fix either.
  • mrk610mrk610 Posts: 378
    I also have the 2002outback wgn love the car and the only problem I have is the piston slap as per my dsr . Mine sounds like a piece of wood bieng hit against a solid object . Not the best discription sorry . Pinging in my opinion sounds like a metal rattle .Valves sound more like a ticking . The boxer engine has a very different sound then other engines .I have the auto and love it ,it took about 3k miles to learn how I drive and the shifts are nice a crisp now. Some people have said that the piston slap sound can also be caused by a bad timing belt tensioner.
    Who really knows what sound is made by what . As long as the car runs good and doesn't burn oil and gets good fuel mileageI can't really say any thing negative . About dealers it all depends on were you go some are very good some stink .

  • subearusubearu Posts: 3,613
    (correct me if I'm wrong...famous last words!)

    I thought that 'piston slap' was what was referred to as the cold engine noise, similar to a knock, that goes away as the engine warms. The only way to fix it is replace the block with a 'short block' (?). But, this noise is a normal noise and is not harmful - as long as it goes away as the engine warms.

    Engine ping - happens warm or cold, usually accelerating, like the timing is off or something. Sounds like pebbles rattling. May go away with an ECU reset, different spark plugs, different gas brand.

    Having said all that, I have occasionally heard our '00 OB to have the cold engine 'knock', but again, it goes away as the engine warms, usually within 5-10 minutes. I typically try to keep it under 3k rpm during this time too.

    Try posting in the 'Meet the Members' topic under the Subaru Crew. A SOA rep (Patti) frequents that board and may be able to assist you in getting a resolution to your 'ping'.

  • peterson10peterson10 Posts: 116
    Wow, I guess describing a sound isn't any easier than describing a color. Thanks to all the helpful replies. Based on your descriptions I feel confident that I don't have the knock/slap condition, so I can once again sleep at night (all that pacing was driving my gerbils crazy).

    The distinct engine sound I'm hearing, at idle, sounds like a sewing machine; yeah, that's it, one of those solid old black-enameled Singers. The sound is the same whether hot or cold, and gets swallowed up by all the other sounds when driving, so I assume its just regular valve noise after all.

    As for "pinging", in my experience (not with a Sube, of course) "pinging" is always accompanied by a subtle loss of "umph" (power); like you're suddenly towing a trailer - worse up hill or under load. No power loss here, so again I assume its just normal valve noise.

    New question: lately my brakes seem to make a strong friction-noise, like a belt sander (oh, no, not another noise description), but only after the car has sat all day and/or night. After the first few stop signs the sound is gone. I though it must be surface rust on the rotors but I don't see any, and it occurs in all conditions: wet, dry, cold, warm. The brakes (the car) are just 14k miles old, so I'm not willing to entertain the thought that the linings are shot. But if you all tell me they are, I'll blindly agree.

  • tewillitewilli Posts: 1
    Believe it or not, car makers are fully aware that their speedometers are inaccurate. I recently read an article that discussed this very topic. They did tests on most major brand cars and the findings were somewhat surprising. It turns out that European cars ie. BMW, Audi had the largest speedometer error. Japanese cars were in the middle and American cars were the most accurate. Not a single car tested indicated a lower speed than actual. Since speedometers are no longer connected via a cable, but rather connected electronically, it seems highly unlikely that this is an accident. Whether the manufacturers set them this way to give a margin of safety, to make them seem like they get to the magical 0-60 a little quicker, or to make the warranty shorter than advertised was unclear in the article. Although it obviously accomplishes all three. If the dealer tells you that this is normal, well, it is I guess - S.N.A.F.U. if you get my drift.
  • duke511duke511 Posts: 1
    I've followed the discussions for two years and finally have the opportunity to get your expert opinions. I have a 2000 Outback with/ 27,000 miles and so far we've loved the vehicle. At 10,000 miles we smelled antifreeze, brought it to the dealer and they determined that the freeze plug was leaking and needed replacing. Yesterday, we smelled more antifreeze, brought it to the dealer and freeze plugs are fine but now the head gasket is leaking and they will replace. While none of this is costing me anything, I'm concerned about these two events. Do any of you know of any recurring problems the Outbacks have regarding the above issues?? Am I just paranoid?? Any advise is appreciated.
  • mrk610mrk610 Posts: 378
    yea my piston slap noise also goes away in about 3-5mins from cold start. My friend has nicknamed my car the 24k sewing machine because of the way it sounds . Which i kinda like other then that I have had no other problems . I drove a friends taurus the other day to the Phila Airport and what a diffrence driving in the rain and wind . Car was all over the place ,and I was constantly adjustung the steering . My outback feels so solid in the same conditions . Gotta love that AWD
    mike k
  • en5en5 Posts: 9
    I have the following problems with my 2000 Legacy wagon:
    1. There is a burning rubber smell in my car after driving for couple of minutes, it is most noticable whenever I stop at a light or when I park the car in my garage. I've seen some earlier posts about this and in my case it cannot be undercoating dripping on the exhaust, my car is almost 2 years on the road with 23000km, besides the exhaust looks clean. Could this be the clutch?
    my clutch is not the smoothest by any means.
    2. I also experience steering wheel vibration. 4 months ago my dealer replaced both front driveshafts ( after 3 visits )and it helped for a short while now it's coming back, it's very random, one day it shakes like crazy another day it's smooth as a rock.
    One thing I noticed that might be related to both problems is that the rubber boot on the passenger side driveshaft is only approximately 2" above the exhaust ( catalytic converter ), that seems a bit too close to have a piece of rubber filled with grease to a very hot pipe? Any thoughts?
  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Posts: 464
    My 01 Outback (H4/5sp) with 24K miles on it still makes intermittent "burning" smells, but it is not always the clutch (which sucks). The burning clutch smell is not as "rubbery" as the other burning smell I get from the car. It seems worse after driving on ice or other slippery surface that would cause the AWD to vary its normal 50/50 split, but I cannot say that it's the only time I've had it happen. Freeway driving on dry roads is another time that the smell can get powerful. The dealer says everything's fine, and the car drives fine otherwise, so I haven't pushed the issue.

    As far as the vibration goes, I have experienced a slight vibration in the steering wheel at freeway speeds since the car was new. The tires are in balance (apparently, but who really knows) and the problem is not consistent. Most of the time, it's rock steady, other times the vibration is apparent. These wheels/tires seem very succeptible to minor changes (such as rocks in the tread, mud on the wheel, etc) so I tend to think that's what's causing the vibration.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I get a similar smell on both my trooper and my subarus in rain/snow weather. I beleive it is the salt used on many roads that sprays up on the hot underbody, causing that smell. I'd still ahve it checked out though.

  • en5en5 Posts: 9
    Thanks Brian, it seems like your symptoms are very similar to mine. I've also noticed that the smell coming out of the clutch is different it's kind of "sour" ( ex. starting in reverse on an incline )but this other smell is more like rubber burning, sometimes I can even smell it when I start the car and back it out of the garage. I want to take it to my dealer but I know it would be waste of me time, I exactly know what they're going to say " your car is working fine, there is nothing to worry about " ( keep on driving until your warranty runs out and then come back )

    I have 2 sets of wheels with tires, one is original rims with potenzas and the other is a set of 15" forester wheels with michelin pilot alpins, it doesn't matter which set I put on it still makes these strange vibrations.
  • peterson10peterson10 Posts: 116
    Wierd, I just got a whiff of rubbery odor on my drive in today: first time ever, and I've had this car for two years. Fortunately, it went away after a minute, so I'm prepared to assign the odor to the car in front of me.

    As you probably know, differential fluid smells pretty rubbery when it gets hot (i.e. the tranny is cooked). Perhaps the extra load on the viscous coupler and/or LSD would cause a slight bit of this odor yet be perfectly alright; I dunno. I would say, if the smell never disappears, but only grows stronger, get it checked out immediately. My first Legacy siezed up suddenly one cold winter day: O-rings in the rear differential had blown out. I smelled the rubbery smell, but didn't assign it to the transmission until I started to hear/feel the carnage. By then it was too late. SOA fixed it quick, and I took back all (most) of the nasty things I said at the time.
  • erics6erics6 Posts: 684
    My 2000 Outback (automatic) with 41 thousand miles on it also has a rubber type burning smell. Usually is most pronounced when driven for some distance. Especially strong in snow/ice and rain. Dealer found no leaks and said he's seen a number of 2000's with the burning smell. One of my co-workers has a 2001 Outback that also has a burning smell.

    I also get a vibration or shimmy through the steering wheel at highway speeds. I've changed tires twice with many attempts to balance the tires at different shops, and the dealer has looked at the brakes and tires and found no problems. Different road surfaces do seem to effect the shimmy. I really notice it when I hit the brakes hard slowing quickly from a high speed. Brakes feel fine but the wheels shake.
Sign In or Register to comment.