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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • I also drive a 03 LL Bean Wagon...about 1 and half months problems at all except that the OnStar has a hardware recall notice to me yet about the transmissions park thing.

    I won't let them touch my tranny if it means taking the tranny out to fix a pin. Hands off my loveable Subie.

    I firmly set the parking brake at all times when parked, so I don't worry about it slipping out of park.
  • jfljfl Posts: 1,385
    In the past, I mentioned that at 30k, the service manager said my 2000 Legacy L didn't need the spark plugs changed, that it was not 'til due 60k.

    I figured he was wrong but went along with it. I just changed the plugs and wires (at 55k) and replaced plain ol' Champions (not platinum) with NGKs. The most difficult part was getting the boots off of the plugs, the rest is really quite straightforward.

    Also checked the brake pads, still have 6mm front and 4.5 mm rear. The limit is 1.5mm. In the coming weeks, I'll flush the radiator and replace the brake fluid.

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    I don't doubt you for a second that the circumference can be off even with the same tires, milage and pressures. I just wanted to point out that there were no obvious errors. My friend has been diligently rotating tires every 5000 miles or so.

    We're scratching our heads.

  • jimmyp1jimmyp1 Posts: 640
    I believe you certainly could do them independently, and probably not waste that much labor, but I just think that 90k miles in a Legacy Turbo is close enough, and I might as well do them both. Also, I didn't mean to associate the second gear occasional grind with the throw-out bearing, that's just something I've wanted to do for a while.

  • On the same topic re tires, I've noticed that both the front tires on my 2000 legacy wagon with 25 000 miles has uneven wear. They've been rotated every 6000 miles and the alignment was done at 20 000 miles yet the outer edge(aprox 1 inch in from the side wall) is wearing about twice as fast as the rest of the tire. The rear tires seem to be ok. The portion with the excessive wear has no cupping, just less tread depth. The vehicle does not pull to one particular side when I let go of the wheel on the highway and there is no vibration. Does this sound like an alignment issue ie incorrect camber...or would something else be causing this?


  • locke2clocke2c Posts: 5,038

    I agree with you and suspect that #2 is what happened. the viscous fluid is a lot like ATF, and when sheared until severely overheated, it can turn solid too.

  • My car is an 02 OBW with the H4 2.5 Phase II engine. Since new, its been noisy when the engine is cold and quiets down in 5 or 10 minutes. The noise I hear is a 'clattering' or as I have referred to it, like a sewing machine on steroids.
    At 300 miles, on my complaint, the dealer replaced the timing belt tensioner to reduce the noise. This had little or no effect. I now have 12K miles and because its getting colder in the NE, the noise is all too apparent, I think because it takes the engine longer to warm up.
    A couple weeks ago, I made an appointment with the dealer to leave the car overnight and go out with a tech the next AM for him to have a listen. A loaner was provided...thanks SOA. We started out and I wanted to go up a hill so I could duplicate the drive from my house every AM. The noise is louder with the engine under a load. About 100 yards into the drive, I told the tech that the noise he was hearing was what I was complaining about. His response was immediate: "Road test over". We drove back to the dealer lot.
    The tech proceeded to explain to me that the clattering is an inherent part/characteristic of the boxer engine. He referred to the engine as crude and said that while other Japanese big makes put huge resources into making their engines quiet, Subaru does not. I asked if there was anything wrong with the engine and he said no. In other words, dead end, live with it.
    I've read almost all the posts on these Subaru boards from their beginnings. I'm familiar with the Phase I noisy engines (97-99 2.5's IIRC). But I thought the newer SOHC engines were quiet. I'm confounded as I believe much thought and engineering goes into Subaru cars and yet they still have engines that make so much noise when cold. I'm impressed with all other aspects of the vehicle. I'm coming from a very expensive and recent Oldsmobile with so many problems that I traded it after 18 months so I'm just thrilled at the fit, finish, versatility and value my OB offers.
    Please, could anyone with a 00 or newer (99 for the Foresters) Subaru tell me their experiences with cold engine noise. Do they all do this, as the dealer would have me believe. Also, what exactly is going on to make the noise and are there any remedies? I've read about the replacement pistons but only in the older 2.5's. Is this an option for me? Patti...any suggestions?
    BTW: To satisfy my curiosity I drove an 03 OBW off the lot for a test spin to see if the noise was in that one and yes, it was. But that still doesn't make me feel any better about mine.
  • Idaho Doug says...

    2 - Be sure your gas cap is tightened thoroughly after fueling up. Get it to click at least 5 times before stopping when you tighten it. This is a critical seal on today's cars to be sure the engine's fuel injection system is working properly.

    Not in NJ. It is illegal, and verboten, to pump your own gas here. Did I mention that unleaded regular goes for $1.34-$1.26 here? :)
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    I'd suspect the alignment. If you've gotten the alignment a 20K, chances are the wear pattern was already in your tires and it was too late to correct for it.

    Also, lots of places offer alignments, but many of them are often not very accurate. Did you go to an alignment specialist or a general shop? Specialists are a little more pricey, but I find it well worth my money.

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    While it's true that boxer engines are a little more noisy when cold, "crude" is certainly far from the truth. That's a term better reserved for American muscle car engines.

    Although unlikely, it may be that your noise is caused by piston slap. In any event, I'd document your case with SOA and see if a different dealer can take a look. Another possibility is to have a regional tech representative take a look as well.

  • jcy02ob,

    I bought my first Subaru ('03 Forester) just three months agon and am also adjusting to the "noise" from the I4. I would have to agree with the tech, if my experience with Japanese engines these past ten years give me enough credibility in your eyes.

    The bigger makes I'm familiar with (Honda, Toyota) do seem to have engines that run smoother and quieter. In contrast is the boxer engine. I noticed it right away but was comfortable with it and have been comfortable with it the last few months. It's been close to 30 degrees where I live and it does sound louder, but all-in-all I consider it normal and part of the adjustment of owning a subaru because of the boxer engine.

    I can sympathize with your concern. Ownership of this brand is a very foreign (and thus - new) experience and I react with concern as well since there is no baseline against which I can judge this vehicle within the brand. But reading your post and others similar to it and the responses, my expectation is it's normal.
  • Many engines have their characteristic sound to my well tuned automotive ears. Often, this unique acoustic signature is due to the engine's unusual design, such as the raspy Porsche engines (opposed engines like the Sube engine), the chirp of the old VW Beetle engine (minute amounts of pressure escaping from the block seams due to unique construction technique), the horrid rattling of most American V6s (V6s are inherently unbalanced), the hum of a BMW inline 6 (inherently balanced), etc. I think you have an inordinately good ear for someone not in the auto industry and all you're hearing is a unique acoustic signature of the boxer style engine. My well cared for Sube engine is faintly dissonant upon cold start as well, which disappears after warm up. I suspect it is unique to the opposed cylinder design and would not be concerned about it. Congrats on the curse of good hearing! (also, your prior experience with the Olds has undoubtedly left you a tad paranoid and has made listening for trouble an automatic reflex).

  • Ken,

    Stop scratching your heads and pull out a tape measure. :-)

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    that one gave me a chuckle!

    I had a '97 OBS with the 2.2L DOHC, and the valves clattered and chattered like that every time it was cold, just for a minute or two, then it went away.

    Every Subie I have ever had prior to that one did the same thing, except the sound stayed all thru the drive with the oldest ones.

    It certainly is not faintly dissonant - if you have the radio off you will hear it.

    BUT, it is perfectly routine for the engines Subie makes, and cold definitely makes it worse. if you live in the southwest, you probably will not hear the noise at all during the summer.

    And my experience is that the engines last forever, so clearly the noise is not doing anything detrimental.

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

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Wow, I better start saving my pennies for that legover! :) I dropped by the TXIC forum cause I heard there was a big-to-do over there and figured I'd weigh in on it, trying to straighten stuff out over there not just in TXIC. :)

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    I'll tell my friend to do that as soon as he gets his Forester back from the shop!

  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    Most midgrades at modern stations are mixed immediately at the pump. Half from the regular tank, and half from the premium tank. My Subbie works best with midgrade and I've never had a problem with it being bad gas just because it's midgrade.
  • lspivalspiva Posts: 49
    Everybody. I just need a general advise on what type of engine oil is better for 03 Forester. Is old style original or syntetic? I always though that syntetic is better because it thinner and then it is easier on the engine parts in day to day commute traffic. On other hand, I have heard that because syntetic is too thin, it migh cause a likage from the engine. Last time I changed my oil for syntetic and did not really see any improvement in a way of fuel economy or engine performance. So now I am close to my second oil change (I change it every three months or three thousand miles whichever comes first) and would like to hear opinion of the Subaru owners which oil do they use. Thanks in advance for your time. Leo
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Isn't 60k kind of late to switch and obtain any benefit?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    waterguy: take it back and demand 1) an apology and 2) a full detailing of the under carriage and engine bay.

    Boxers have, by design, perfect 2nd order balance. That's why even though it's a big four banger, at 2.5l, it still doesn't use balance shafts. An in-line four of that size with no balance shafts would probably shake itself right out of the engine bay!

    That said, they do have a characteristic growl. You can hear a Subie coming. A Honda/Toyota/Mazda/Nissan basically sound the same, like a sewing machine. And not all are quiet, for the most part they save that for the Lexus and Acura models.

    The 2.5l is bored out from the same block as the 2.2l, so the cylinder walls aren't as thick and it'll be more noisy. Any big 4 cylinder will be, basically.

    Look at the H6 - it's super-smooth and a lot more quiet. I had to look at the tach to tell it was running.

    Now, back to the H4, and Leo asks the question at the perfect time. Would synthetic help? I think so. It flows better, and doesn't get as thick when it's cold. When you start your engine, it takes about 7 seconds to establish oil pressure. Even after that, the oil isn't flowing very well until it's warmed up, so try to avoid putting much load on this (actually, any) engine before it's warm. Note that BMW has a variable redline on some engines, it's as low as 4000 rpm when the engine is cold.

    But yeah, synthetic flows better and doesn't get as thick when it's really cold. That will quiet the valve clatter sooner, at least in theory.

    Another alternative is an engine block heater. It's a factory option and fairly easy to install, from what Pat said in a chat (he installed one on his GT, lives in frigid Canada).

    Good luck.

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    Synthetic oil trumps conventional oil in every way. It resists breakdown better, holds a more constant viscosity over a broader range of temperature, less likely to form sludge. There are tons of reports of owners that used synthetic oil, tore down the engine well after 100K miles and found it to be sparking clean.

    The only downside to synthetic is price. It costs 2-3X more per quart than dino oil.

    It's a misconception that synthetic oil is "thinner". Synthetic oil is available in a wide range of viscosities. What you probably are refering to is seal leakage from using synthetic in an older engine. Sometimes, older engines have build up from conventional oil helping to plug up faulty seals. Using synthetic can unlodge these plugs and cause the seals to leak.

  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    There are pros and cons for each type.

    Conventional Pro. Inexpensive. New SL Classification has some synthetic in by nature in the lighter weights, and much better anti-sludging capabilities than in the past, better on seals (Causes slight swelling). CON harder to start in cold, leaves deposits inside engine, doesn't have the long range capabilities of synthetic; slightly higher gas mileage.

    Synthetic. Pro: Keeps inside of engine cleaner; can be used for longer intervals due to higher detergents and cleaners as well as the oil itself; slightly lower gas mileage (1-2 MPG); less likely to sludge or fail. Cons: costs up to 4 times the cost of conventional; doesn't help seals (although it doesn't hurt them, it won't plug up small pinholes and leaks out quicker).

    If you're going only 3 months or 3,000 miles, synthetic would be a waste of money. If you go 5,000 miles or 5 months then it could even out. You shouldn't have seal problems on a new vehicle with even a pure synthetic.

    On my older Subbie, I now use a 50% mix of high mileage oil and synthetic and go 4,000 miles or 6 months which ever comes sooner. This works very well for me. What you should actually use is still a subject of debate.
  • We have a 93 subaru legacy with auto tranny. Miles = 130k. Sometimes with no rhyme or reason the transmission will not engage into reverse, other times it engages just fine and still other times if you wiggle the shift lever it go in. Anyone have this experience or can give suggestions?
  • hondafriekhondafriek Ottawa CanadaPosts: 2,970
    At 60.000 miles I would carry on with dino, but I would change often,around every 3,000 miles.

    Cheers Pat.
  • kevin111kevin111 Posts: 991
    If Convential Oil gets higher gas mileage, I thought this would be a benefit.
  • tyguytyguy ColoradoPosts: 1,172
    micpc1: The problem could be a faulty neutral safety switch. Neutral safety switches use electric contacts to sense what gear the gear shifter is placed in. The contacts can wear out over time since they rub against each other, but wiggling the selector helps make contact with a less worn piece of the contact patch.

    I've never had to replace one in a Subaru, but I have had one fail in a Toyota Camry. If I remember correctly, the part was several hundred dollars, but the installation time was short.
    2015 Subaru Outback, 2013 Audi A4
  • lspivalspiva Posts: 49
    Guys, thanks for your responds. Here is another question that bothers me. I have a Chase bank Subaru Back certificates that can be used for paying for the maintanence of the Subaru cars at participated Subaru dealerships. So if I ask my dealer to replace engine oil with a syntetic one, how will I be able to identify if the oil that dealer used was in fact a syntetic and not the conventional? The dealer that I am going is charging $33 for conventional oil change and $58 for syntetic. I just don't want to overpay $25.
    Thanks again. Leo
  • mikenkmikenk Posts: 281
    I buy my own synthetic and let the Subie dealer change it; he deducts the price of the oil from the oil change special they always run.

  • If anyone could give me some help with this problem it would be wonderful! I've been experiencing problems with my clutch and the dealer doesn't seem to know what to do about it. The car is fine for the first 20 minutes or so of driving but then the clutch starts to groan as I depress it and it stiffens up. It is a very audible sound that gets worse the longer you drive the car. So far in their attempts to solve this problem, the dealership has lubed the clutch cable, replaced the clutch cable and replaced a bushing. None of which has had the slightest effect on this problem.

    Furthermore, as the cold weather sets in again, I am starting to experience yet another problem that I had last winter but went away during the summer. When you are engaging first gear the clutch will often make a whining sound like something isn't engaging and you sort have to baby the car into gear. The dealership has adjusted the clutch several times but this hasn't done a darn thing either.

    I am reaching my limit. The car is less than two years old and was bought to replace my VW after I watched it get towed for the fourth time in one year (it was less than five years old). I bought the Subaru specifically so I wouldn't have any of these problems and I am feeling very let down and very frustrated. The guy at my dealership keeps telling I shouldn't worry because these are great cars - but that doesn't really solve my problem!

    Any ideas????
  • lspivalspiva Posts: 49
    I had the similar problem with my 97 Nissan Altima. The clutch pedal was groaning as you describe. The Nissan dealer replaced bushing and cables 3 times during 8 months interval. After I have called to Nissan customer center, dealer replaced the entire clutch and manual shifter. After which relieve had finally come. I would suggest to contact SOA and request that local Subaru representative had evaluated the problem that you are describing.
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