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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Drain it facing down hill, so that's the lowest point in the cooling system. That'll get more coolant out.

    I filled it up, then turned facing up hill, and topped it off. For the next couple of days, I topped it off again. You should probably "burp" the system with that valve we discussed, though, to get it done quicker.

  • hondafriekhondafriek Ottawa CanadaPosts: 2,970
    I drained mine last year when I got the car to install a block heater, to tell you the truth I did not do anything special when I refilled and I never had trouble with air bubbles, my heater works just fine.

    cheers Pat.
  • bluesubiebluesubie Posts: 3,497
    IMHO, it's a gamble. Actually getting anything done on your car is a gamble. I've used American Tire/Tire Associates (NJ) and they have been excellent in regards to service and quality of work (alignments and new tires).

    OTOH, I had work done at Meineke and it was complete junk (the service, the manager and the work). Their warranty was 90 days on the labor and they hosed up my rotors (problem surfaced in 4 months). They didn't even know how to remove the wheel covers on my OBS and each cover is marked with "rotate this way ----> " or something like that. They ended up ruining one without telling me and I made them replace it.

    In the future, I would only use OEM brakes or maybe performance brakes on the WRX.

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    My '90 Camry V6 had rear disks. First they broke a carrier/caliper bolt and claimed it came in missing. Fortunately I was watching when it happened and saw where the technician threw the bolt head. I entered the shop floor, picked up the head and matched it to the broken stud! They then pulled off the rear rotors without manually retracting the mini-drum parking brake shoes first (rotating the star gear thru the little port). The rust ridge grabbed the shoes tight, damaged the spring retainers on both sides.

    They extracted the broken stud, but I ended up spending 3 hrs repairing the parking brake system in my driveway that night. Never again!!

  • jfljfl Posts: 1,385
    The ceramic brake pads (post 6116) sound interesting, may consider that next time. I'm using my Subaru credit card rebate coupons to pay for pads and other parts. 8~)

  • In the last year my Outback has had oil leaks repaired four times. It has 88,000 miles. Twice for camshaft seals, once for main seals, and once for the valve cover gasket. It is all under extended warranty but if this is going to be a continous problem, I may have to dump the car which I hate to do because I really like it. Is this an ongoing problem with this car and is there a permanent fix so I do not have to do this so often>
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    just kind of an old car thing, IMO. The only one you have not yet done is the rear crankshaft seal, which is going to be expensive, and if you have a manual transmission, it would serve you well to have this seal replaced when you replace the clutch.

    The camshaft seals are important, because oil can get on the timing belt, but the others you mentioned are not very important, worst that will happen is you will get some oil on your driveway.

    Oil seals wear out on all engines in all cars - this is not a Subaru-specific problem.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • I disagree with Nippon on that. For a 4 year old engine to have this many oil seal issues is not acceptable to me no matter what the brand. If I knew that an engine was going to suffer that much work before 100k, I wouldn't buy it.

    I believe this engine and year is among the worst Subaru engines ever for oil seal integrity and from what I know your engine will continue to have this problem. It has been discussed on these boards a bit. Apparently, the 2.5 you have was fixed in subsequent model years.

  • stevekstevek Posts: 362
    I was talking to a mechaninc friend yesterday about replacing timing belts, I have a 99 Forester on which I think it needs to be repalced at 60K and a '01 Legacy GT which needs to be replaced at 90k. He said since the water pump is driven by the timing belt and it is internal, it is a good practice to replace the water pump when doing the timing belt.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    We kicked this one around for a while last year. I am of the opinion that a well designed water pump can last the life of the engine. So if the belt tensioner is OK and loading does not change much, the pump will never know....

    I tend to go this way as on some engine bays the working room for access to the pump is so poor, you put more at risk (as well as the cost) than if you just left it alone and took your chances. I have never done a Subaru, so I cannot comment on what is required (only Toyota). So far I have won, but your luck could always change. You could then face the joy of getting to do it all again!!

    Steve (the other)
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    For $150 extra I did the water pump last time I did my timing belts, better safe than sorry.

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    Mike weighed in with an opposing opinion....

    (Good morning, Mike!)

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    It's Friday, there is an Auto-x tomorrow and Track event on Monday! :) What could be bad?

  • jimmyp1jimmyp1 Posts: 640
    additional cost, maybe even a little less.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Glad to see the legacy is being cared for ;)

  • stevekstevek Posts: 362
    to replace the pump when the belt is beign replace that you are already paying for labor
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Same goes for the front seals. Go ahead and change those when you do the belt. It's all cheap preventative maintenance.

    Of course on my last car I did the belt at 60k, and skipped the water pump. It was totalled at 107k and the water pump never failed, so it would have been a waste of money. But would it have lasted until 120k, the next timing belt change? Who knows.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Herman: I wonder if they improved the quality of the seals and gaskets. Ask your dealer if he put OE ones on there, or if there have been improvements.

    That does occur on the Phase I DOHC 2.5l once in a while, though most are fine (including mine). The Phase II SOHC design arrived in 1999 on Foresters and Imprezas, and in 2000 on Outbacks and Legacys.

    Keep your oil change intervals short - 3000 miles. Also, do NOT switch to synthetic at this point - it flows better and hence leaks sooner. Stick with dino oil, 10w30 or 10w40, nothing thinner than that.

    With new seals and everything torqued down properly, the odds of it happening again are low. Generally I suggest that people change the seals when the timing belt is swapped, since labor is paid for.

  • 60,000 miles; whatever they do, I can not get proper alighment, left front tire rubs on the body by turns, steering "dances" if road is uneven; if the car gets in the pothole, it feels like hits it with the weight of the whole body. Struts are 7 month old, front and rear. Nobody can figure out what it is. Any ideas from Subaru team?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My guess is the tires are out of round. You can balance a tire that is out of round, but it doesn't mean it's truly round.

    If it only happened in snow/ice, I'd guess you were getting ice stuck in the wheels, increasing unsprung weight a lot, which affects handling and balance.

    Did you get new OE struts? I wonder if they are too soft for your springs.

    Beyond that, are you the original owner? If not, you may have a bent frame. Hope not, though.

  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    Mine's a '91, but I've replaced the camshaft and crankshaft seals 2 times, with one only lasting about 30K. Thank heavens the rear seal is still holding up OK. If I'd known, I would have replaced it when I did the Klutch, but no one told me.

    When My 30K seal leaked, I had been using synthetic for about 18 months. Went all over. In your case I would avoid synthetic like a plague. Go with a High Mileage oil like Valvoline Maxlife. They are high quality oils and have special additives to maintain the seals better. Change frequently to keep the seal additive levels up. (Say 4 instead of every 5 thousand miles.)

    Don't buy a seal sweller. That softens them too much.

    Engine-RX has been known by some to stop small pinhole leaks.

    And, Yes, at least in the older models, engine seals replacement is not unusual, according to my Subaru specialist mechanic. The only major weakness in the engine IMO.
  • jimmyp1jimmyp1 Posts: 640
    It's going to get all new belts/hoses/plug wires/plugs/and a few more odds and ends this weekend. I think it's the cleanest version of such a car around. And I aim to keep it that way, until the day you fly down here.... :)

  • romy4romy4 Posts: 17
    I just had the first oil change done on my 2002 Outback. It only has 2400 miles, but I've had it since June. While at the dealer, I mentioned a noise and slipping sensation which ocurred several times when starting to accelerate slowly after having been in reverse. It has also seemed to lag a little on upshifting between second and third.

    The service manager came out and told me that the transmission has a definite "glich" and that Subaru is going to replace the transmission. While I am happy they are going to do this, I am somewhat taken aback that my beautiful, new wintergreen wagon requires such a major operation!

    I researched and test drove many SUVs and wagons and the decision came down to either a 2003 Forester or an Outback Wagon. I finally chose the Outback and am very happy with it overall. I just hope I didn't make a mistake. Does anyone know if Subaru puts in a new or remanufactured transmission in a case like this. I neglected to ask, and am hoping it is new and has the "park-rod" revision already addressed.

  • Who put the struts in and what brand?
    What size tires do you have on it?
    Original Subaru wheels?
    How long have you owned it?

  • jfljfl Posts: 1,385
    It's a tough call at 60k. On MY 2000 the timing belt is changed at 105k and I would definitely replace the waterpump then.

    Had a waterpump bearing fail on an old Honda Civic. It cost less than $50. But replacing it required removing the main pulley, timing chain, covers, and other parts. An absolute nightmare. (And I'm a former Fiat owner!)

  • My friend just bought a 2003 Outback Wagon. She is 5'2" and must have seat fully forward in order to reach the gas/brake pedals.

    She is very concerned with the min. distance she should be from steering wheel (internet posted is 10"; is that correct?).
    She has owned a '97 Loyale wagon for 12 years and never had this problem on long trips. Likewise with rental cars prior to buying this new vehicle.

    She contacted the dealership purchased from and the service manager was quite abrupt and rude to her bringing her to tears, and not listening to her problem. The service manager even insinuated that she was yelling at him (so others in the office would hear him say it such that they would attest to it) but she NEVER raised her voice, and was very polite, etc. She got the feeling that the service manager knew exactly what she was talking about and said she was handicapped and didn't know what she was talking about.
    < She had researched and found on the internet that the newer Outback wagons were not suitable for SHORT people because they need to be right against steering wheel thus a safety hazard if airbag deployed. In addition, she has back problems and due to a slight bulge in the middle console nearest gas pedal, her right leg is slanted such that after long trips (1 hr +) she has extreme back pains.

    The dealership would not help her, despite the fact that she WAS a customer of this dealership for more than 12 years, doing all recommended service and spending 1000's of dollars in repairs on her '90 Suabru Loyale. They said the NEW car needed to be handicapped modified. She is reluctant to do this possibly spending $1000 or more, so she asked them to "buy back" the car and she would take the substantial loss in value depreciation. They never got back to her. She summizes that if they bought the car back they would be admitting guilt and the fact that they knew about this problem but never told her.

    Now, she either has to
    a.) Find an appropriate company in the Boston/north shore area to retrofit the gas and brake pedals, or
    b.) trade car in for a NON-SUBARU product. She insists on having a WHITE car for safety reasons, and the Forrester does not come in white. She also needs a wagon (she is considering a Saturn).

    If anyone in the community knows of a bonded/insured company that can quote retrofitting the vehicle for bringing brake and gas pedal closer to seat, please e-mail me at If a SUBARU representative can contact me with some help, that would be great.

    (I too am a Subaru Outback owner, purchased my car from the sale dealership, and will NOT take my car back to this dealer for service in protest of the dealership's rudeness and insensitivity to my friend).

    Very sorry for this long post, however it has been an extremely upsetting ordeal for my friend after spending $25K on a new car.

  • romy4romy4 Posts: 17
    Didn't your friend take a 2003 Outback model for a test drive prior to purchasing it? It would seem it would have become evident that she could not find a comfortable seating position.

    Where on the internet did she find information that newer Outbacks are not suitable for short people? I must have missed that one in my extensive research before buying my 2002 Outback. I'm 5'4" so would like to know.

    The Forester does come in white. When I was looking this past summer there were several 2003 white Foresters on my dealers lot, they had already been sold to a local TV station. Both the Forester X and XS with the premium package are available in white.

    It's not that I don't sympathize with your friend, but not all cars are comfortable for all people. If she is comfortable in a Forester, perhaps the dealer could cut her some slack and let her trade for a Forester. Especially since she has been a loyal customer for 12 years.

    This seems like a classic case of buyer's remorse.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Fiat? That says a lot! LOL

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I checked my oil this weekend, and definitely no leaks on my '98 (48k miles). It's been about 1500 miles since I lasted changed the oil. Make sure you check on a level surface, FWIW.

    Romy: we own almost the same car (2002 Wintergreen, but 5 speed). That's not a common problem so I imagine that the replacement tranny should be fine. Besides a recent hiccup and recall that affected 800 units, they are very robust.

    Brad: there is no excuse for treating a customer rudely, so I'd boycott them, too.

    There are pedal extenders, though. I'd try a local auto parts store like Trak Auto, NAPA, or Pep Boys. If that fails ask your mechanic to build a custom solution, maybe with spacers or something.

    Romy is absolutely correct, you can get a Forester X in Aspen White with the slate lower cladding, or a Premium that is monotone white (with cloth or leather). The only model not offered in white is the XS without the premium package.

  • jfljfl Posts: 1,385
    "Former Fiat owner" means I'm used to working on a car. At least the Fiat was very straight forward to repair or modify (ie. dual Weber carbs - one throat feeding each cylinder!).

    The Honda was just a pain for mere waterpump.

    Will continue with the 60k tune-up on the Subie in the next couple of weeks. That was a really good checklist juice posted here some time ago.

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