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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • Here's a strange one. A couple months ago, I flushed and refilled a '96 Legacy Wagon 2.2 with Dex. After I'd finished filling it, installing a new Subaru thermostat and gasket, and burping a bit of air I took it for a drive. 3 miles from home I happened to look at the temp guage and it was approaching the hot peg! I immediately stopped and left the engine at a fast idle with heat on full blast, but it did not come down after a couple minutes so I shut it down and popped the hood for max cooling.

    Called my wife to bring the truck and tow strap and sat there wondering what had happened. After about 5 minutes, I restarted it and the guage quickly returned to normal. Cancelled the rescue and drove home. The next morning I burped a bit of air out of the cooling system vent - not much.

    Fast forward to today. Flushed my '97 in the same manner, installed a new thermostat and gasket, then backed it into the garage for a level surface to burp air with the cooling system vent. A little came out, but I sat with it idling and some revving and watched the needle climb up almost to the peg just like the other car did. Jumped out and reached under to feel the lower hose as it leaves the bottom of the block/thermostat housing and the hose was barely warm where the upper hose was really hot. Hopped in and drove it around the block and the needle immediately dropped to normal. Parked it in the garage and mentally filed this under "Huh?"

    A couple hours later, I went to the garage to check for seeping fittings and the like, and noted that the cooling system had sucked in at least a pint from the overflow tank (I'd cleaned and refilled it, too). So I topped it off again.

    Anyone got a theory on this mystery? Did BOTH new Subaru thermostats simply stick for a while when opened the first time? Or is there a known propensity to get an air bubble around the thermostat so it won't get hot enough to open despite the block coolant getting too hot?

  • blaneblane Posts: 2,017

    Were your two Subaru thermostats the correct part number and temperature range for your vehicles? Or could your dealer have dealt the wrong ones?
  • lakepoplakepop Posts: 221
    Sure sounds like the thermostats did not perform correctly. If it happens again....change them out for the CORRECT ones.
  • dudedude Posts: 123
    Hey everybody. I wrote about a month ago about my sunroof problem on a 98 Legacy GT. Well, still no resolve. Called the Added Security again and they insist that even though I need to buy the whole assembly with the motor, they are not go'na reimburse me for the motor. I got a name of a guy, who is some kind of Subaru Team Leader, Chad Seifert, and I'm sending him a letter about this problem. I hope he's the right person. Juice, if you can tell me who'd be a better person to address this letter, I'd appreciate it.

    Also, I got a Subaru repair manual, where it describes how to replace a sunroof, doesn't look like it's too complicated but I'm hesitant to do it myself. I could buy the whole assembly for $100 on the junk yard so, it ain't too bad. So, I'm wondering what I should do. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.
  • Yep - all 4 were correct, said '78C' stamped right on the housing in all cases.
  • Speaking of thermostats, does anyone know if the AT has a different thermostat than the MT ?
  • Has anyone come across having a noise from the timing belt housing area near the water pump? 66k miles, is this usual happening and when do you change the timing belt on these cars? Also, has anyone replaced their emergency brake handle? Mine just broke. When it rains pours. Thanks
  • jay_24jay_24 Posts: 536
    How can I remove the review mirror and re-mount it up a little higher? Probably(hopefully) something simple, but I have no clue...

    Why? being tall (6'5") the mirror is too low even when pushed up as high as it will go. When I say too low, I mean, it block my view of other cars at intersections and on-ramps. If I could move it up another inch or so it would help me peek under it...

  • miksmimiksmi Silver Spring, Maryland, USAPosts: 1,246
    Jay, I feel your pain at 5'9" and a long torso. Sorry, I'm not sure how I'd go about such a mod.



  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    Fuel injector cleaners are fine, just don't do it at places like Jiffy Lube where they overprice the cleaners to fatten their profit margins.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    dude: stick with your plan, see how it goes. Personally, I would not try to replace a glass moonroof myself. Kind of like I don't do any plumbing at home, either. One mistake and you're flooded.

    conan5: got your e-mail, too. Lots of folks replace the water pump at 60k as a preventative, go ahead and do that and the belts, which are probably worn. At a minimum, have them inspected and re-tensioned.

    Jay: make sure you're trying every adjustment possible. There are two "elbows", at the glass and at the back of the mirror, so you should be able to get it way up there near the headliner.

    If it's glued on, like some cars, it might be hard to get out. We pulled one off a Lumina in a junk yard for my Miata, since it had lights on the bottom, and the glass cracked.

  • I was debating the synthetic vs traditional oil question at lunch and one of my friends asked if there would be any environmental benefits to using synthetic. I don't know enough about it to even venture a guess.

    Any thoughts?
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    When you mean environmental do you mean in the manufacturing of the two types of oils or the end emissions?

    Synthetic oil does slighlty improve gas milage so there is probably some advantage there. However, I have no clue as to their relative impact for manufacturing.

  • Hope some one out there can provide a clue.

    When my 2002 Forester hit about 6K (bought it in January, this was June), it started bucking really hard when I backed out of the driveway and put it into 1st gear. Smooth and slow, racing the engine, didn't make a difference. After the first few miles, the problem goes away. It doesn't always happen, but about 90% of the time.

    In July I was driving home when I started to hear a metallic screech from under the car - which went away when I pushed in the clutch pedal at a stop sign and did not return.

    I took it straight to my dealer, left it overnight, and of course it did not perform for them in the morning.

    This is continuing still - when I start the car in the morning, when I start it to come home at night. It did fade to almost nothing when the weather turned cooler yesterday, but it is still there.

    What in the transmission or clutch could be doing this?
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    in theory you should be able to go with a longer drain interval too so you use less oil through the life of the vehicle.

    in fact I am convinced that the reason car manufacturers advocate longer mileage intervals between oil changes everywhere else on earth except N America is because they will be crucified by environmentalists for being so wasteful of oil.Given car running costs are much higher in the rest of the world as a general rule compared to N America, I can't see them going for 7-10K changes elsewhere as a way to save money as things should definitely be more likely to go wrong mechanically and not be caught in time with longer intervals and that should outweigh any savings from more frequent lower costs oil changes.
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    Sounds like you could have some clutch chatter going on there. It's not completely uncommon. Did you have the dealer log your concern even if they didn't find anything? I'd keep trying the dealer -- if it's that common, it's bound to be something they can replicate.

  • I can't believe all the Subbie problems I'm reading.I think the WRX is just as bullet proof as a Types S Acura.
    So what's as good as a Forester , Legacy,or Impezda station wagon(TS)?
    My wife has an 02 GT Limited Subbie with great gas milage . The only problem she had was it skipped sometimes and the dealer said to run a tank of premium thru it.
    So should I buy a Forrester for a winter car in Maine or not? Thanks
  • I do the 3K interval. I have kept my cars an average of seven years, and they were humming at trade-in time. So I have no reason to change.
    Does anyone here do the 7.5K change and keep running well over a similar period? (Your testimony would give me a reason to consider changing my schedule.)
  • I've really good at saving service forms, ever since I bought a Ford.

    What is mystifying about the clutch problem is that it only happens when the car has been sitting for several hours. Once warmed up, no problem...
  • Doug: I'm guessing air at the temp gauge sensor. You cured it when the rest of the air purged itself. I've let my cars idle in the driveway with the radiator cap off for a few minutes after a coolant change - invariably, I have to top off the radiator a bit.

    Jay: Try a heat gun & some dental floss, using the floss to separate the mirror mount from the glass. Works for decals on exterior paint, but those mirrors are really stuck on there! (sure as I've said this, wife's mirror just fell off the windshield yesterday... Safelite re-glued it no charge, but the timing's a bit humorous)

  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    the 3K interval is an oil company scam. look at the German makes and even GM which use oil change indicators in nearly all their new cars to tell you when to change oil. While this may only provide a "minimum" change interval, using data to show how the engine is running makes far more sense than deciding on an arbitrary mileage. Everyone I know who has one of those inidcators never see it light up for at least 5-6 K minimum and many Mercs don't for almost 10K!
    the same engine in a Euro market car will have a factory recommended change interval twice that of the US. go figure. the 3K interval can't have anything to do with what is really technically needed!
    the only reason I see to ever change at 3K is if you get someone to look under the car to check for other things going wrong you may not have the inclination to do yourself. I can certainly vouch that several cars I have had may well not have lasted as long as they did as I would have missed torn CV joints and minor oil leaks, leaking water pumps etc etc till it was too late but because I had taken them in for an oil change they were noticed early. the actual change of the oil at 3-4K had nothing to do with it though!
    you should change at least every 6 months though (even the manufacturers who say go by the change interval indicator say never less than annually) as the various additives to the oil degrade with time.
    On my Subes and my wifes Chevy I usually change about 5K or whenever the change oil light comes on, which has never been less than 6K in her Ventureand once was still not lighting by 9K but 6 months were up so it got changed. I know lots of people with early/mid 90s BMWs and Mercs who change 7-10K and have no problems and it isn't just because they may be "better engineered", its because 3K is nothing more than propaganda by oil companies and oil change places!
    yes it may only be only 20 bucks for piece of mind but its a heck of a lot of oil used in total by the driving public and quite honestly my 4 months in the Gulf 10 years ago wasn't exactly something I would like to see others have to go through. though it seems history will shortly repeat itself! some things are worth fighting for but BP Amoco and Jiffy Lube isn't it!
  • locke2clocke2c Posts: 5,038
    um, as an owner of one of those bimmers with long change intervals perhaps I should say something.

    1. it doesn't have a "normal" oil capacity. my 3.0L inline six uses 7 quarts of oil.

    2. those long drains are ONLY possible with full synthetics. the lights will tag through quickly with mineral oil.

    3. oil temp is critical for oil quality. lots of very short trips contaminate the oil because it never reaches a self-cleaning temperature. a rule of thumb for this is 5 minutes after the water temperature gauge reaches normal temp, since few cars have an oil temp gauge.

    btw it's $53 to change my oil at the dealer, but only they (or someone else with a $1500 scantool) can reset the lights. considering that's with a new filter and 7 quarts of bmw's special formula Mobil1, it's not a bad deal. I always have changed my own before now...

  • I get terrible mileage, 24/gal, on my legacy '98 wagon. I just bought this car to replace by '88 Volvo wagon, which got 30. Is 24 considered good for Subaru? In my case it's 24% more money for gas.Would anyone out there like to buy a '98 Legacy for cheap?
  • I do 5K intervals with regular oil (no synthetic), and my car has 210K on it and is still going strong though I drive it hard.

    I think 5K is a good compromise between what the oil companies say and what the manufacturer says (7.5K in my case).

    The other advantage to a 5K interval is that it's easy to remember. When the odometer rolls around to a 5K multiple I change the oil. I don't need a little sticker on my windshield to remind me when the next change is due.

    I really hate those oil company commercials where they imply that you are taking big risks going beyond 3K. Independant studies seem to show otherwise...
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    some years ago I read a monograph on this subject, IIRC there have only been a few studies looking at 3k vs longer intervals in regular passenger cars and the numbers of vehicles involved would probably not provide a strong enough statistical difference to really say anything one way or the other. Large commercial heavy vehicle fleets however have shown little disadvantage with extended intervals (more than the 3K but not of the 10-20K advocated by some synthetic makes like redline etc - even there they advocate changing the filter if not replacing the oil completely) but these fleets also have very extensive preventive maintenance programs. The US Army did a study of I believe it was medium trucks. 3k intervals made no difference to the through life mechanical repair costs of the fleet examined but vastly increased costs overall due to the far higher number of oil changes compared to far higher oil change intervals.

    I had a 84 UK spec 318 when I was in Europe. Changed oil 5K religiously and put on over 80K (miles not km) in 2 1/2 years. I know its still running. Its passed through several people at the place I worked at since I left.
    This is the only car I have ever done my own oil on. This after I took it to the main West London dealer who didn't tighten the drain plug! Good thing someone who noticed my trail of oil honked me when I was only a few streets away! They were charging close to UKL60 then and I was only a "poor civil servant". If your BMW dealer is only charging $53 for 7 qts synthetic , you are getting a bargain! My local Jiffy Lube charges $48 for 5 quart synthetic changes!
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    OT question, but do you wait to change oil until the indicator comes on, and do you need a scantool to reset it every time?

  • Our Subaru Forester is now 4 years old and has 86,000 miles. In the 4 years we have owned the car, we have experienced numerous problems. Starting with the rotors warping every 20,000 miles with virtually no pad wear (this happened direct from the factory so it is not related to "over tightening"), to the CV joints failing at 45,000 miles with only highway miles, to the main oil seal failing at 55,000 miles, the front exhaust header developed a leak around 65,000 miles so the car sounds like a lawnmower (this is another rare and exceptional experience and can't be repaired, must be replaced....part alone is $250 and we have to wait a week because it is not in stock) and now the rear oil seal failing at 86,000 miles. Throughout all of these problems, the car has died several times on me when in traffic. The check engine light will come on and it goes into "limp mode". It takes 3 miles to get it back up to highway speed and has no power. After you turn it off and restart the car, it is fine. Had the oxygen sensor replaced with no effect. The first 5 or 6 times, I nearly had a nervous breakdown, but now I'm used to the unreliability of the car. When the main oil seal failed, we spoke to both the dealer and the local Subaru rep. We were told that we shouldn't think this was early or unexpected. We were thinking of trading in the car on a new Subaru but were also told that they would deduct $1,000 off the trade in because the car had this problem. Wouldn't even work with us on fixing the problem. Maybe I'm a neophyte, but when we purchased the car, all the reports said this was the type of car that just kept on going. I am extremely disappointed in the quality and response to the design/manufacturing flaws in this vehicle. If the SoWest Subaru rep reads this, I want you to understand that you have lost a repeat customer. I have been asked several times by strangers what I think of the car and I'm sure you can imagine what I am saying. We are going to fix this latest failure (huge time and expense) and trade it in (on another type of car) as soon as possible. We have come to the very obvious conclusion that this year has serious failure issues with all seals, i.e., main oil seal, rear oil seal, recall on Master Cylinder, CV joints, etc. What a piece of JUNK!!!!!!! Thank all of you Subaru Problems readers for letting me vent!!!
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    I don't want to minimize or trivialize your situation, but your experience clearly runs counter to that of most Subaru owners.

    We've got a '96 Impreza Outback with over 80K on it, and a '01 Forester with over 30K on it, and have had no problems with either vehicle.

  • It's okay if you trivialize our situation. Go back through the 277 messages before mine and I think that you will indeed find that our problems are not unique. We just appear to be one of the lucky few that have had all of the "inherent" design problems in 1 particular vehicle. Also, you will probably note that most of the vehicles with these problems were manufactured in 1998....obviously not Subaru's finest moment. I'm glad that you have not had to endure our experience. You are the Subaru owner that we had expected that we would be.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I was on the 7.5k mile interval, but changed after seeing the Toyota engines sludge up. I know those aren't Subies, but I was amazed at how quickly oil can break down given certain circumstances.

    So now I'm changing every 3k, still using dino oil. No big deal - I enjoy doing it, it keeps me in touch with my cars.

    Hmm, 7 quarts at $3.50 per quart car, luxury budget! ;-)

    Edit: Loosh figured out his problem. The leads were dirty on the battery, and cleaning them fixed it.

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