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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • edunnettedunnett Posts: 553
    I recently had the gear oil on my manual transmission replaced with synthetic 75w90 by a shop down the road. (I have an '01 forester) they only filled it with about 2.5 quarts of the 3.7 they should have put in and I noticed a gear grinding that I never had before when down-shifting to first. The grinding happened only about 5 times over the 2K miles that I drove it before I discovered the problem and had them correct it. There was no other symptoms related the refill problem and the grinding has not recurred. I'm wondering if there could be any long term tranny damage that I should be worried about. If the car is shifting great now, would I be wise to have a transmission shop or my dealer check it out just in case??
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    could be caused by driveline lash, like you mentioned, but I would be very surprised on a forester this new.

    Also, are both your posts the same car? If so, is it not possible the two things are related?

    Any damage the low tranny oil could have caused is already done now, and cannot be easily found by a transmission inspection. Plus, I would think that as long as it had some oil, there would not have been much damage.

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

  • First the gearbox oil. I would not sweat the low oil level as there's a bit of tolerance for this built in to the gear box itself. By this I mean there was lubricant in the box and unlike an automatic transmission that needs the level to provide cooling and proper pressure, the gear oil in your box merely gets physically slung around to provide lubrication. Much simpler. There is no way to assertain that there was NO added wear, just that it would be unlikely unless you were running the car very hard during this period (racing, towing). Personally, I'd ask them to drain and refill it for free after a month or so just to clean out any suspended metal wear present from the low level.

    On the rear diff lash. Based on the history of the vehicle, I'd have someone check the oil level in the rear diff. I doubt your noise is the rear gear lash as it would be very consistent. That's simply improper gear spacing, which would stay the same no matter what gear you used. See if you can reproduce it in other gears as well by repeatedly letting off and pushing on the gas abruptly.

  • edunnettedunnett Posts: 553
    Nippononly: yup, both postings are same car. i have heard the clunk for some time now. i can only hear it with rear windows open. the gear grinding down into first seemed singularly related to the low fluid level and unrelated in time and space to the clunk. the clunk occured long before the fluid level being low and the resulting grind. ugh.

    thanks to you and IdahoDoug for your comments. i still wonder what could be causing this clunk. i'll be taking it into the dealer soon to have them look and will let you know what i find. was just hoping some folks might be able to help me point the dealer in the right direction... any further insight would be much appreciated! -elissa
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    When you went back in with a low gear oil level, did they just add fluid, or flush and refill? I'd have it flushed and filled with fresh gear oil.

    I'd do the same for the rear diffy. While you're at it have them put in synthetic and consider it an upgrade. But make sure they fill it up! :-)

    Nice save Patti. Good to hear, Brad.

    Low mpg - how cold has it been? Consider a block heater if it's below freezing every day for more than 3 months. The oil gets real thick and mileage is awful until temps warm up internally. Or use a thinner oil, 5w20, or synthetics, which flow better. Plus try a different gas station.

    Mark: I think since it's documented you are fine. Look at it this way - I doubt they've ever had a block failure 3 times on one car!

    Or trade up for a Phase II (2000 or later on Legacy/Outback), which seems to have cured that problem.

  • kate5000kate5000 Posts: 1,271
    I know that was discussed a few times before, but couldn't locate it via the SEARCH function...
    I had CEL for some time (usual remedies like Dry Gas and changing gas brands did not work this time), then it disappeared... but I'm getting a much lower mileage now: about 17-18 mpg in mixed city/hwy! I used to get at least 21.5 in mixed driving, and 23.5 on hwy.

    Thanks in advance!
  • nygregnygreg Posts: 1,936
    I believe you disconnect your negative battery terminal for 1/2 hour. Then reconnect, start the car and idle for a few minutes while you mention sweet things in the air vents.


    P.S. be careful not to simultaneously contact the positive and negative terminals with the wrench.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Keep in mind the engine will run rich until the ECU leans out the fuel mix, so the first tank after a reset will actually have poor mileage.

    Dings are such a bummer. I make sure to tell everyone riding with me to open doors carefully, even use my own fingers wrapped around the edge of a door to prevent a ding. I also park in end spots no matter how remote, it drives my wife crazy! I tell her I need the exercise.

    But even when I park at the last spot, way, way, over to the far side, some eejit STILL manages to park crooked next to me and swings the door wide. I have a couple of dings myself.

    Another time, my nephew was banging his power ranger against my paint. Hard enough that the white paint from the action figure came off on my 1/4 panel. Luckily, it came off with a good waxing. Hard to be mad at a cute nephew, though.

    Anyhow, I think Pat was looking for moral support, and that's cool. Noone likes to find a new ding, an OCD Clubber in particular.

    Any time any shop works on our cars, even for free, I re-check wheel torque. Often it's off. Heck, they might make more money on a future brake job if they overtighten.

  • hondafriekhondafriek Ottawa CanadaPosts: 2,970
    It does not matter where you park, Murphys law says some fool will find you at some point and leave their calling card.

    Anyway dings are gone, taken care of by the dent specialist, if it were not for the chipped paint on one of the dings you would never know they were there, $80 CDN. covered the cost, a lot less money than repainting panels and still keep the origional paint.

    Cheers Pat.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Can/did you fill the chips with touch-up paint?

    I still have that dime-sized ding I touched-up, looks okay a year later.

  • dudedude Posts: 123
    Just called around to find out how much 60K service would cost here in Denver metro.

    Burt - $670
    John Elway - $480

    Needless to say that I've chosen Elway dealer for my service next monday. Plus I got a 20% off coupon on both parts and labor, so the damage shouldn't be too big.
  • lakepoplakepop Posts: 221
    Note that when you reset your ecu via the battery disonnect you will lose your odometer reading and your radio presets. Also IF you have an alarm it will trigger when you be ready.
    When you reconnect/restart not touch the gas pedal! Let it run for 10 mins or so...shut down and should be good.
    Also note that a reset takes you back to the factory PRESETS and will start to adapt to things from there. It does NOT necessarily mean you will have bad gas FACT given your situation it may be BETTER.
    Hope this helps.
  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    Did you call Flatirons Subaru in Boulder ? The just did my 30k for $380. All the fluids, plugs, tire rotate, inspect everything, nice folks, might be far for you.

  • dudedude Posts: 123
    Yeah, flatirons is pretty far. Plus, if you paid $380 for 30K service, would it be a lot more expansive for 60K? Besides, Elway is like a block away from my job.
  • i too park in the last/empty spots of the parking lots. good for exercise AND keeping the vehicle as dingless as possible (which agree is like fighting the inevitable sometimes)
  • dudedude Posts: 123
    I've seen a few times on TV an ad for a ding removal. I'm not sure how good it is, but here's the link:
  • lakepoplakepop Posts: 221
    My bad on what happens when you reset. You will lose trip meter/clock/radio presets. Sorry if you thought I meant odometer (total car mileage).
    By the way...............did it clear the non blinking CEL ?
  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    30k and 60k are the same service. Considering that I had them change the transmission and diffy fluids as well, (recommended, not req'd), it was a pretty good deal. Used my Subaru MC credit to keep the out of pocket to a minumum (~$80).

    I bought my car from John Elway West, but I wasn't too impressed with them. Their "no haggle" price was a bit ridiculous, but I got the car on the VIP program, so I was able to side-step all of that nonsense. I think it annoyed them no end, and they treated me like they were losing money on the deal. I won't be back.

    At the time, the service department was sharing space with the John Elway Jeep, and they were a bunch of Jeep guys. Couldn't spell Subaru. The only reason I went there was that I had test-driven a few times from there, and I thought I'd offer them the business. Won't make that mistake again.

    I understand that they've now built a new facility across the street, and are much improved.
    I work in Broomfield, so the trip to Flatirons in Boulder isn't that far out of my way.

  • axp696axp696 Posts: 90
    I'm in the market for a 2003 Impreza 2.5RS, and in my research, I'm come across quite a few people complaining about the clutch wearing out prematurely (30K-50K miles, eek) and the rear wheel bearings needing to be replaced, often repeatedly. Reliability is my number one concern. Were either of these things ever officially addressed and replaced with better parts now, or am I just going to hope that I don't end up with a bum clutch or wheel bearings? A lot of these complaints were with various models over the past 5 years, and while I'm sure it's the vocal minority complaining(searching review sites for Honda reliability problems yields some great horror stories too, but I've owned enough to know how well 99% work), I'd rather be safe than sorry.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Right off the bat, no worries at all with the wheel bearings. The 2003s have a new design and no longer suffer from bearing failures.

    Even on old ones, it affected a small % of Subies, all of mine are original (1998, 49k miles).

    As for the clutches, the key is they don't "wear out", they just tend to chatter on a cold/damp morning, until they warm up. So owners complain about how they feel, even though they still work and last a long time.

    It goes away after you warm up, and this bothers some far more than others. What I would suggest is that you test drive a used Subie to see how you think the clutch feels. Again, mine has the original clutch, despite some towing and beach driving, plus constant heavy loads.

    In addition, the 2003 clutch supposedly got a valve that limits their clamping force, at least that was the case on the WRX. My guess is kids were dropping the clutch for quick starts, and Subaru found a clever way to prevent clutch abuse. I'm not sure if the RS gets the same clutch.

    Finally, my last comment is that it's common knowledge that most bad clutches are on WRXs, and even then on cars that are heavily modified. If you ask me, if you modify your WRX to make 260-300hp and expect a bone-stock clutch to handle it, you're being pretty naive. Budget for an ACT or Ludespeed Stage II clutch if you spend that much on the engine, to keep it balanced.

    Good luck shopping for your new car.

  • axp696axp696 Posts: 90
    Thanks, I'm glad to hear the 2003s have a new design for the wheel bearings. As for the clutch, it seemed a lot of complaints were from people driving stock RSes that claimed to be experienced manual drivers and were dumbfounded as to how they clutch broke (not just chattered). I'm sure this is the vocal minority, since everyone I've ever met has loved their Subaru, but I'll see about finding a used one to drive.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Not a lot of clutches broke like that. They may start slipping after a bit of abuse, but I'd argue that anyone driving like that should spend the $300 or so on the ACT clutch parts.

  • hondafriekhondafriek Ottawa CanadaPosts: 2,970
    Yeah I have touched up the chip where the ding was for now will do a better job when it gets warmer,just want to keep the rust at bay for now.

    cheers Pat.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    As someone pointed out before, when you're transfering a large amount of power simultaneously to all four wheels, occasionally something is going to have to give. In a 2-wheel drive car, it will normally be the wheels that break traction but Subaru's AWD systems pretty much prevents that from happening. That being the case, it is far more preferable for that something to be the clutch rather than the transmission or the engine.

    -Frank P.
  • edunnettedunnett Posts: 553
    On my last trip to the dealer I struck up a conversation with one of the guys in the service department (not a mechanic however). I was wondering out loud why so many Subarus sell as automatics (other than the WRX) and why so many dealers stock a grossly disproportionate more autos than manuals. He said his next car would be a Subaru and would be an automatic tranny - partly for the convenience, and partly due to the fact that the clutches have trouble holding up to the weight of the vehicles (speaking more specifically of the heavier models). I thought that was an interesting comment. I infer from that they they do a lot of manual clutch adjustments and replacements on the heavier subies. -elissa
  • Hi,

     I have a 2003 Forester with 6700 miles on it. Today I noticed an occasional shimmy in the steering wheel while going 40 - 55 mph. At first I thought I had a flat tire and almost pulled over. Then it went away. On the way home from work, it happened again, a couple of times. When I took my hands off the wheel briefly, I could see it going back and forth about 3/8 of an inch, to give you an idea of how noticeable it was. When I got home from work, I noticed big chunks of ice stuck near 3 of the wheels (I live in Buffalo), and I kicked those off. Do you think that could somehow have caused it? Should I take it in to be checked? Anyone else run into this?

      THanks for any comments,


  • Does anyone know if this is common? Just had an overheating problem over the holiday weekend at 20,000 miles. We were 500 miles from home at the time & might have to make a 1000 mile trip to get the car back.
  • Kiplinger's Dec 2002 issue shows that Subaru's tend to have high maintenance costs. For example: (service cost over 1st five years, based on the "Complete Car Cost Guide")

    BMW X5 3.0________$3382
    Ford Escape XLS___$2259
    Honda CRV LX______$1743
    Hyundai Sante Fe__$2410
    Jeep Liberty Sprt_$2277
    Land Rover Disc'y_$5528
    Lexus SportCross__$2665
    Mercedes E320_____$3042
    Subaru Forester___$3685
    Subaru WRX Sport__$3919
    Subaru Outback____$3785
    Toyota Rav4_______$1922
    Volkswagen Jetta__$2500
    Volvo V40_________$2653

    It has the highest service cost among wagons and 2nd highest among SUV's. Do you guys find that Subies cost a lot more to maintain? I always thought Subies are low-cost & relatively trouble-free.
  • mikenkmikenk Posts: 281
    I have not seen the Kiplinger magazine, but they must be smoking something funny. I have the WRX. I added up all the dealer recommended maintenance costs, which is more than recommended by Subaru. It was $1341 for 60k miles and $1529 for 75k miles. At 75k miles, I will not expect that I will have any other repair costs.

    I recently sold a Volvo. Any magazine that believes any Subaru will have higher maintenance cost than a Volvo is not credible.

    Did they list all the details? if so, please list.

  • zman3zman3 Posts: 857
    My 98 Outback has had less than stellar reliability, fortunately all covered by the standard factory warranty:

    1) Front strut mount
    2) Passenger seat rail
    3) Wheel bearing
    4) Head gasket
    5) Short block
    6) etc

    But in 4.5 years of ownership and 65K miles I don't think I have spent more than maybe $1200 (WAG). Service average of $3785??

    My costs:

    15-20 oil changes
    30K maintentance
    60K maintenance (cheated a little in that I did some stuff with the shortblock replacement at 53K)
    Front brake job
    Rear brakes soon

    If some of the warranty stuff had happened outside of warranty it would have been a lot more but I find it hard to believe that the average is $3785. How do they calculate that?
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