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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195

    Thanks for the post. I need to get the engine out so I can properly work on it. This also give me the opportunity to address the piston slap.

    I have a manual transmission do I still have turn the engine? Also how do I take off the 22mm bolt to get to the timing belt cover? Last time it was a bear to remove.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    I do not think you will have to turn the engine for the MT; the clutch parts will come off with the engine.

    That bolt is torqued down pretty well. Once you have the engine out, the easiest way may be to put a flywheel holder (cheap tool you can get at Sears, Napa, etc) on the flywheel sprockets to hold the crankshaft steady while you bust it loose.

    A friend showed me a neat trick he had learned while working on airplane engines: pull a spark plug, turn the engine so that the piston on that cylinder is at the bottom of its stroke, then insert a few feet of nylon rope into the cylinder. Turn the engine to compress the rope (make sure you are turning the engine in the same direction it needs to go in order to resist the torque) until the engine stops moving.... then pop the bolt off! :shades:

    I have done it a couple times, including on my '96 Outback, and it worked perfectly both for removal and installation.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    With the engine out, what do I do to fix the piston slap?
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    edited October 2010
    Three possible answers here:

    Have a machine shop overbore the engine, I believe for subaru this is +1mm. Buy +1mm pistons from either Subaru (I strongly do NOT recommend) or from a domestic piston supplier who stocks the type you need. (SOHC 2.5L, right?) I wouldn't spend a ton for a normal car; you aren't rally/road/drag racing. JE, Wiseco, etc. (Fun fact: last 2 pistons I've bought were Wiseco. However, they were for dirtbikes. :D)

    PS, the reason I don't recommend Subaru branded pistons is because their wrist pin and skirt design is stupid. That's why some engines developed piston slap in the first place. This problem will be much more effectively solved by an aftermarket piston.

    Option 2, the one I recommend: don't disassemble your existing longblock at all. Buy a lower mileage 2.5L SOHC longblock from a salvage yard, preferably under 50k miles. Install your intake manifold and accessories. If the yard only wants to sell a complete engine, I guess you take it.

    Option 3: buy a new longblock from a Subaru dealership or aftermarket tuner. This is gonna be major $$$ but obviously the critical parts of the engine are literally brand-new.
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    Do you have any sources for the longblock and a price range?

    Option 1 sound interesting. I replaced the rings on a 1985 Laser. That required popping the head, drop the oil pan and pushing the pistons out the top. So, I might be inclined to play around with this engine. My concerns are the special tools I might need and what is involved working on an horizontally opposed engine.

    I think Wes did this kind of overhaul. If I get a longblock does my car still qualify for mileage longevity (331,875).
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    edited October 2010
    The car does, but the engine doesn't! :P

    I didn't mess with the internals of the short block at all on mine, but it was quiet and smooth up to the day I wrecked it (220,000) so there was no need to go in there. I don't recall needing any special tools at all for mine (it was the DOHC 2.5L), other than a 12-point 14mm socket for the head bolts, but you must already have one since you replaced one before. The piston rod & crank bearing bolts likely use 12 and/or 14 mm. While I pulled the oil pan on mine, I don't recall the exact setup in there.

    I don't remember when you last replaced the water pump on your car, but you might consider doing that along with the oil pump if you end up sticking with your current block. I think whether or not you choose to switch blocks should hinge on the condition of the head mating surfaces once you get it out and can inspect it.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    edited October 2010
    Do you have any sources for the longblock and a price range?

    If you google for '2000 forester 2.5L SOHC salvage' you'll get hits for all the major web-enabled autoparts salvage groups. They're not *that* webified though, so expect to ultimately end up talking on the phone to a dude at the specific yard who has it.
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    I have the intake manifold off and see oil pooling on the passenger side head assembly. The driver side is dry, until I can get the engine out of the compartment, I will not know if the bottom is leaking.

    I need to get a perfect straight edge to check the block with. I wish this forum allowed me to upload pictures.

    Wes, a lot longer than two hours to pull the engine. I want to grow up to be just like you {smile}.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited October 2010
    You can host pictures in CarSpace and then share them here.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    Well, it probably took me longer than two hours the first time I did it! :blush:
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Hi, I get a different answer to towing a Subaru every time I as k- WHY, what's so hard about this question - so please will a fully qualified Subaru tech clear this up for me?
    Every dealer I talk to gives me a different answer !
    Reason for asking is I am trying to decide what Subaru we can tow behind our RV motor home.
    1) Can I tow a manual shift 2010 Forester all wheels on the ground? (I think YES).
    2) Can I remove/insert the AWD fuse to swith it to FWD and then tow it on a dolly (Front wheels up), I get conflicting answers to this question.
    3) Can I tow an automatic Subaru 4 wheels down if I insert/remove the AWD fuse making it FWD. Dealers say NO, but if it is switched to FWD why can't I tow it on a Dolly?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    For sure #1 is YES, with a manual you're fine. The viscous coupling can handle any difference in rotation between the front and rear axles, and it's purely mechanical.

    The other questions are more complex. The FWD fuse disengages the rear axle but I think the ignition might have to be switched on.

    I think you'd need all 4 wheels off the ground to be safe.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    Do NOT tow a Subaru with an automatic transmission - just don't do it! A trailer that can handle that small car will cost you about the same as a remanufactured transaxle, so why take the risk? The fuse simply engages a solenoid to disengage a clutch pack, but it still creates wear inside the center differential and it will more than likely make your car a permanent FWD after one trip behind the RV.

    I had a friend who towed his 2002 Impreza up from Anchorage several years ago (~360 miles) using a dolly and the fuse (he turned his ignition on, if I recall correctly, to make sure the solenoid circuit was engaged but I am not sure if this is necessary or not). A few months later, during the winter, he was headed up his driveway when a Chinook blew through town (making temperatures very warm and the snowpack extremely slippery) and his car could not make it up. He realized that while his front tire was spinning, he was getting nothing out of the back. So, he put it up on jack stands and sure enough, the rear portion of the AWD was not working at all because his center differential's clutch packs were shot. That tow was the only likely thing that would have caused it.

    The manual transmission system can be towed with all four on the ground with no problem.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    Sorry - not a professional mechanic, just a reasonably good shade tree one! But I think I understand enough to further cloud the issue and confuse you!!

    The owners manual covers some of these scenarios in the towing section. You can download one in .pdf form from the Subaru web site.

    With a manual, everything is immersed in gear oil, so the wheels forcing shafts to turn is usually OK.

    With automatics, without the engine running the pump, bearings get cooked. ATF isn't a very good lube, and without it circulating and being cooled, it quickly cokes and turns to grit. Therefore towing with 4 wheels down is limited to very slow speeds, and short distances. I'm not convinced that the fuse thing for the automatic's electronically controlled center diff fully disengages the link between front and rear. My owners manual doesn't talk about the fuse in towing situations, and simply says never tow with 2 wheels down or you will cook the diffy. Thinking about it, that does make sense, as the center diff uses ATF pumped thru passages from the main tranny section. Without it running, the rear bearings in the tail diffy section would cook even if the electronic clutch pack didn't attempt to couple and drive the rest of the tranny.

    Net, I believe that you have to disconnect the drive shaft if you want the rear wheels on the ground (with fronts on a dolly) and you want to tow at speed.

    Hope this helps.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    And as usual, while I spent my time carefully composing and constantly being interrupted, Wes jumped in and answered the question ahead of me!

    Well, actually I learned as well. So in your friends case, towing with fronts up, rears down & electronics disengaged still damaged the clutch pack, but did not completely seize the unit as I suspected it might.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,925
    No, it did not. He had it in neutral, too, so I don't know if the results would have been more catastrophic had he not. :surprise:

    What you were saying makes sense. I was thinking about it strictly in terms of friction surface wear, but overheating that fluid would wreak havoc in there too.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    I was perusing Outback ads on various Craigslists, and found this gem:

    - 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback, 2.5, 4 cylinder, 175000 miles
    - Has toggle switch to change from AWD to Front Wheel Drive, very nice in summer time

    Hm, I do have a blank :shades: spot in the dash for my '97 that could handle a switch.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It's not really meant for long-term use, though.

    This is one of those "at your own risk" situations.
  • OK everyone, thanks for your input. Although I did not get a definitive answer from a certified Subarua tech person I think there is enough evidence here for me to make a decision.
    1) A Forester with manual transmission can be towed all wheels down, it can't be towed with the front Two wheels on a dolly.
    2) No way shape or form can an Automatic transmission Subaru be towed for long distances (Unless ther drive shaft is physically un-coupled).

    So I got a 2007 Manual shift Forester with 29,500 miles on it - guess what? on my first trip out today I find it has a transmission noise when I gently touch the gas at above 55 mph. Kind of a growling, or high speed knocking noise. The noise is not there if I go into neutral and touch the gas pedal, only when I am in gear (3rd, 4th, or 5th).
    Anyone got any thoughts on this ? Yes I am going to take it back to the dealership where I bought it.
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    Car Talk had a person report, that he was towing an AWD vehicle. After 50 miles going up hill in the heat, the car caught fire. It started in the transmission area.
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    What rpm and throttle input is causing this noise? Is it turbocharged (xt) or not?
  • Hi Colin:
    RPM's can be anywhere from 2500 - 3500, throttle is just barely open.
    No Turbo.
    I am sure it's not engine related because when I go to neutral at say 65 mph the noise goes away and if I put on a touch throttle the noise does not appear, if in gear 3,4, or 5 under exact same conditions the growling/rattling noise appears. Loudest when driving at 65 - 75 mph with very little throttle.
    Frequency seems to be about same as wheel/drive shaft speed. I feel that is is a worn gear somewhere because when no power is transfering from the engine (Coasting) noise is not there, but when just powering on noise is worst (Back-lash between some gears??), and when hard powering noise is there but not so bad (Power overcoming gear back-lash ???)
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    I wouldn't be so sure based on your test. Revving in neutral has close to zero load, and it is markedly different than accelerating or maintaining steady speed in top gear.

    Gear whine is present at all speeds.

    I'm not saying it is impossible that you have a transmission or other driveline issue, but I think it's also possible that you are hearing detonation. Detonation will not occur when revving in neutral but I will say that if it's occuring with light throttle in a higher gear it should also occur with heavy throttle in *any* gear.

    Any noise when you give it 100% throttle?
  • Thanks for your comments Colin:
    I took it to the Subaru tech shop, he heard a few things and tightened up a couple of clamps and hose supports etc. and then we road tested it. On the road test I had problems making the noise again, so we assumed that there was some resonance noise that was fixed by tightening up clamps etc. The tech said if there were something like a bearing or gear damage he would definitely hear ti, it's not something you can miss. So we left assuming all was well - Not.
    On the way home (15minutes) the noise cam back again, so it seems like something has to warm up before the problem can be heard. Will warm it up again and have the tech ride with me.
    Your points - Detonation, most unlikely, I know this noise and it's nothing like that.
    Gear wine - no, it is a definite growling with knocking noise.
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    Interesting. Another item that it could be, since you mentioned it only happens when warm, is the cam/timing belt tensioner.

    The tensioner has a hydraulic piston and when it starts to fail it often does make noise primarily when warm and under load. A few people, however, have noticed noise only at cold-start. My opinion is that it depends on if the tensioner is locked in place or if it loses tension and compresses.
  • Hello All,
    I make the same 600mile round trip all highway since the car was new. It consistantly got 32-33mpg even with snow tires in winter until this last trip.Variables all the same except in Oct. I had the 30,000miles tune up (spark plugs etc.) I got 29mpg, this time which concerns me. Any ideas?

    Thank you.
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    With electronic ignitions, the computer module is constantly checking the sensors and adjusting the timing for optimal performance. As the spark plugs wear, the computer adjusted the timing to maintain a constant mpg. When the plugs were changed the computer need time to reset. How long that is will, I do not know. Someone else in the forum will have to chime in.
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    edited November 2010
    Phil is definitely on the right track, and this kind of variance could be normal depending on weather conditions, speed, driver aggressiveness, and so on. If there is a physical cause, though, my two guesses are fuel quality-- which you have very limited ability to influence-- and spark plug type & gap.

    If they install the wrong plugs or have them set to the wrong gap they could affect economy. You probably would have a rougher idle, too.

    My personal guess: normal variance.

    But you can dig into some of these things if you want. I would start with a fuel system cleaner to rule out bad fuel. Chevron Techron is the best by far. (Everyone will copy it when the patent expires.)
  • In California our fuel formula gets changed in October causing a drop in MPG, could that be your issue where you live?
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    It is a combination of factors that will affect mpg "your mileage may vary" is the phrase that come to mind.

    I have owned three "from the factory" car since 1985 and tracked their mileage through warranty expiration. I found that even though my commute was consistant, my mpg would vary +/- 4 mpg from the cumulative average.

    As stated before, weather (humidity, air density, wind speed/direction), traffic, driving habits (subtle ones), fuel, vehicle condition (tire inflation, normal engine wear, and vehicle loading. Also, I learning during pilot ground school training the keeping the plane clean improved aero dynamic performance. Dirt adds drag.

    Just keep in mind the going from 32/33 mpg to 29 mpg is not to bad. But, keep and eye on it over the next few fillups.
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