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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • Hi
    I hope this is the right place to post.
    2 days ago my CEL came on. I'm in new england, and it's been mighty cold. I checked the gas cap (I had been to a full service gas stn), and when I turned it, it wasn't on completely tight, but I did hear the vapor/gas hiss when I opened it, which made me think it wasn't just the gas cap.
    I took it to my mechanic, and they read the code PO303, CYL 3 MISFIRE. But when they checked the engine, they couldn't detect any misfiring. So they reset the light, and I came to get it. Went to start it up, the light came on again, w/ same message.

    My understanding is that this isn't a cat converter or 02sensor like I've read about or it would return a diff. code, and is likely spark plug or wires which I had replaced at 60,000. So they're covered, I'd "just" have to pay for labor.

    Does anyone have any other suggestions or advice?

    Also, I've got the infamous noisy valve-lifters that are annoying and no one's been able to fix, if anyone has any experience w/ that as well.
  • dudedude Posts: 123
    I doubt they'd put 10W30, since in winter months they usually use 5W30, especially here in Colorado
  • locke2clocke2c Posts: 5,038
    10w30 was definitely quieter than 5w30 in my '99 SOHC 2.5L.

    both were synthetics.

  • Jim,

    Not putting anti-sieze on the lug nuts to avoid loosening suggests it may not have been done correctly. It is absolutely key to put anti-sieze on the threads only. Do NOT put it on the acorn nut's taper where it fits into the rim holes. The place where the nuts and rim go together is where the friction to hold the nuts takes place. The threads generate lateral force to pull the rim face tightly to the hub and have very little surface area for generating the holding friction of the nut. It's all about having clean mating surfaces between the nut and wheel - even if it's an alloy with the flat faces or flat washers.

    Properly lubed threads mean greater holding friction with the nuts. What you experienced is the normal slight loosening of wheels after a bit of driving. That's why virtually any guide to putting wheels on instructs you to recheck them.

    Brett - brake fluid will not impact brake pulsing at all. The fluid simply presses the pistons against the pads and has no other movement. It's still a good idea to flush and change, of course!!

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    In cases where I have seen a manufacture state any instructions at all concerning torque and conditions, the specific wording has been "clean, dry threads". I have never run into any mention of anti-seize, and as you stated Doug, it creates a tremendous risk if improperly applied. I am not sure it is a wise idea unless habitual rusting is a problem.

    I was not at all surprised that the lugs loosened on new alloy wheels, only to the extent that it happened. All metals are subject to 'elastic deformation'. Temperature excursions and further mechanical stress can lead to creep, strain relief, etc. - all forms of permanent, or 'plastic deformation'. The lugs probably didn't turn loose - the mating surface forces changed. The lugs are chromed steel, the wheel a composite alloy of aluminum and whatever (probably some silicon, and other trace stuff). The first application of compression always results in the most change. Some alloys and casting techniques aggrevate the problem.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    alf: that code is simply saying there was a single misfire in that cylinder. Could be from something simple like condensation in the gas. Try a bottle of DryGas, giving it time to cycle throught the fuel system. It abosorbs any water in the fuel lines.

    Or you could try to reset the ECU. But if the mechanic reset the code and it tripped again, that probably won't help.

    For that mirror, try folding the mirror in, then put a small, inconspicuous piece of duct tape in the gap where it folds. That might stop the hissing.

    It's odd but a golf ball is dimpled for a similar reason, it actually travels farther with dimples than a smooth one would. Funny, no? You do not want it too smooth.

  • Turn the key to "ON" position for 2, 3 sec. before starting up. I had the same problem before.
  • lakepoplakepop Posts: 221
    Well I got schooled on this one!....Did a review of a number of sites concerning mounting wheels. I was surprised to see thet ALL of them stated NOT to use any lubricant on the lug nuts/studs.
    So Steve is right on with his comment. All the sites I visited also stated the stud threads should be clean and dry!
    I also noted that a few sites recommended a coating of antiseize on the hub/mounting surface but I digress...
    OK Steve..........good job!
  • I think it's wise to recommend clean dry threads as to do otherwise invites the legal liability of people putting lube where it can loosen. Torque settings for automotive fasteners assume a light coating of oil always present on new fasteners to prevent corrosion during shipping and storage. This is identified in an SAE treatise on the topic somewhere - I'll try to find it.

    I use antisieze on my wheel lugs because I live in a northern climate where we change to studs in the winter each year. The added wear of this twice yearly change (plus anything that would normally require wheel removal) makes pricey stud replacements more common here than other areas. The antisieze is an excellent insurance against the galling and thread wear if used properly.

    Excellent comments on material deformation, Steve. Look closely and you'll see that you have steel inserts in your alloy wheels so that the only contact is steel to steel with the fasteners. And a good reminder for us all to recheck wheel nuts after a change - thanks!

  • My 1999 Forester sounds like a washing machine during cold weather starts---I am told this is normal. I hate it because it sounds like a previous Rabbit deisel I once owned.

    I am considering a 2003 or a 2004--My dealer tells me that they have eliminated this problem--Should I believe him??
  • axp696axp696 Posts: 90
    I'd ask what exactly was the problem, and see whether the parts involved are warranteed and if a deal can be struck on fixing it. Your car is only 3 years old, I think upgrading to a new model because something is obviously broken on yours is a bit premature.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    Doug, mixed bag on this one. While my Honda Odyssey has them, the OB does not. I don't believe that the wheels I bought (house brand from Tire Rack made by FOMB in Italy - makers of Mille Miglia, etc.) have them either. Thus the steel nuts are indeed compressing aluminum alloy. All the more reason to check them periodically.

    David/John (?) Lakepop: Thanks for your comments! Actually the use of antisieze on the hub mounting surface was new news to me also. Both my new Honda and Subi had it - the first time I had seen it on any of my new cars.

  • I have an automatic 2002 2.5RS with 29000 miles on it. At 22,000 miles I had to replace the back tires because of extreme wear on the inside edge. The dealer said it was alignment and that I hadn't rotated them as often as I should of (only once in that time period). I had the dealer do the 4 wheel alignment. It is now only 7000 miles later and I have the exact same wear problem. 7000 miles is way too quick as I had just had it aligned and I don't drive the car hard. Has anyone else seen wear like this on just the inside of the rear tires?

    Other problems:

    My check engine light just came on, gas tank cover was tight.

    Cold start hesitation - when first starting off the car hesitates and then accelerates quicker than I expect - dealer said Subaru is aware of the problem but doesn't have a fix yet.

    Driver's side window got stuck half way up. Dealer fixed under warranty.

    Rubber window seals slip out of place allowing leaks- so far able to get back into place myself.

    I really like the car, but am not used to having as many problems in a new car.

    Taking car to dealer 12/16/03 for CEL and to look at tire wear. If anyone has had problems with tire wear or alignment please email me at Thanks!
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    Perhaps you might want to get a dealer to take a closer look at it or even take it to another one for a different opinion. While piston slap is not unheard of, I think it's rare with the Phase II engine that's found in your 1999 model. It's also the same engine in the 2003 model so I don't think trading-in is going to really make a difference.

    Boxer engines are a little noisy on cold startups, but if the sound goes away after 5 minutes or so, it shouldn't be a problem.

  • joybelljoybell Posts: 275
    My family has owned Subarus for years. I've had a Chaser and a Loyale Wagon, Mom still has an Impreza Wagon. I would love a new Subie but can't afford the price anymore, so I went shopping for a Forester (the only Subaru wagon type made in Japan). I found one, a 1998 model, and the salesman told me that they are replacing the engine after 140,000km and that this sometimes happens on Subies from the years 1997 to 1999!!! We have had very reliable Subies, so what happened? Did they have a Domestic (non Japan made) engine in there?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Didn't some of the first year Phase II engines get a Phase I block, something like that? You probably have one of those.

    IMO a trade-in would resolve the problem either way, because only a small percentage of vehicles were affected.

    knowlen: it's probably still the alignment. Go to a specialty shop. Usually they have a range it has to fall within, instead ask them to get it exactly right, even show them your tires.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's the Phase I engine. A small percentage had piston slap, and a few also had front main seal issues (oil could leak). We're talking a few, most didn't of course. I have a '98 and it's only even been to the dealer once in almost 5 years.

    All Forester were made in Gunma, Japan, including the engine. It's been the most reliable Subaru in the lineup.

    I doubt they are replacing the actual engine. They might be changing the seals and/or gaskets, but that's perfectly normal for the mileage (87,500). In fact, while they are at it they should probably go ahead and do the timing belt, all other accessory belts, and the hoses too.

  • locke2clocke2c Posts: 5,038
    actually the front main seal is not rare and it is not limited to the 97-99 DOHC 2.5L.

    the front main seal will go on nearly all EJ series engines produced to date at some point. many before 100k miles, some as early as 30k.

    it's a known weakness. not a critical concern because it's easy to replace, so long as you don't let it go or consistently run the engine low on oil.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Is it more common on the RS, vs. the Forester? I just haven't heard of many cases in the Forester threads. Perhaps RS owners push their engines much harder?

  • locke2clocke2c Posts: 5,038
    ah, no Juice my comment was not based only on RS experience.

    a few 1.8L guys were grumbling about it and a few Subaru dealership techs posted in one of the threads that they replace front main seals all the time.

  • axp696axp696 Posts: 90
    A friend of mine has a 2002 WRX sedan that had the same problem, but with the front tires. He noticed it 4 months after buying it. He said taking it to the dealer to realign it appears to have fixed the issue, so maybe yell at them good so they'll take 10 extra minutes to do it right?
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    Well, if the dealer is indeed "replacing the engine" I would guess it's the shortblock. In that case, you would probably be getting the newer Phase II shortblock which is generally more robust than the Phase I model.

    Actually, the Impreza wagon is also manufactured in Gunma as well.

  • nygregnygreg Posts: 1,936
    What is involved with replacing it? Remove timing belt, remove crankcase pulley, then what?

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    I think it was the tail end of the Phase I engines were getting Phase II blocks, but not the other way around.

    I personally use only alignment speciality shops. While any shop can do alignments, I've found that only a few can do them right.

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    I have an older friend who owns a garage in town. Many years ago I was struggling with removing the harmonic balancer on my Datsun 810 after the rubber coupling failed at something around 100k miles. Ed saw me working on it, and came over to lend a hand. When we got it off, he picked up a screw driver and rammed it into the front oil seal. My jaw dropped as I watched my supposed friend intentionally damage my car! He smiled, and told me to pick up a new seal when I ordered the balancer. I have mixed feelings about his approach, but understood the message.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You're probably right, Ken.

    That wouldn't explain his problem, then.

  • Subaru dealers often receive bulletins about special problems that we might have, but we are unaware of these bulletins because they are not made readily available.

    How can one get access to bulletins that relate to specific problems and remedies?

    Is there a particular subaru web?
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    Those TSBs are like the 'holy grail' of autodome. Sometimes you can get some info from the NHTSA site, but even then only an intro to the problem, but no data on the solution. There are some subscription services available for the private repair shops, but on a fee basis. On the Honda board there are some service techs who sometimes share that data, but nobody here on the Subaru board that I have seen. Patti sometimes advises a person to call the 800# when she sees a particular problem mentioned, but again, she does that in an unofficial capacity, and carefully.

  • Thanks Steve--maybe someone would like to compile a list as a servide rep from Subaru---wishful thinking.
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