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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Posts: 1,798
    1 foot deep? Outback or Forester only have around 8" ground clearance so you'll probably hang up car in a pothole that deep.

    I've hit 4" deep potholes in my '09 Forester with Nokian tires. That brought a really loud crash/bang but it didn't seem to hurt either tire, wheel or vehicle. Still, I'd avoid potholes if possible.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Shoot, my Miata scrapes bottom on speed bumps, LOL.

    The Forester is excellent at absorbing impacts like that.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    I'm a handy but cheap SOB! There, I admit it... And that $13 becomes about $20 with shipping.

    Take the twist tie from a loaf of bread, and strip off the plastic. You are left with a sufficiently stiff wire of around 30 gauge. Perfect for cleaning out those sprayer. Done it on multiple cars over the years. It's also a good size for cleaning out varnish deposits on the carburetor jet of your lawn mower.

    I'll bet you never knew a loaf of bread could have so many uses!
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    The depth of the pot holes was not such that I scraped the under carriage. I do know from time to time when I pull into a driveway and certain road conditions, there seems to be a little knocking(ball joint, tie-rod ends).

    Since this is a new vehicle and I used savings for the downpayemnt. I can not afford to replace them. Who knows what the dealer will say about it and the warranty(did I void it).
  • danielldaniell Posts: 128
    Hi all,

    Ok, so while it could have been our Forester, it happened in our Civic which I usually drive. She was driving on a 40 mph road, on a blind curve and noticed at the last moment that cars were stopped in the middle of the road due to a previous accident. Road was wet. She braked really hard, car spun, hit the (very low) curb and went in the grass. Other than a ton of mud everywhere, no other damage was visible when she came home. However when I drove the car today, a rumbling noise could be heard at speeds above 35 mph.

    Looking more carefully, the back right wheel shows a 2.5" dent. More importantly, the axes of wheel seem bent so that the lower part is more towards the center of the vehicle (in the left-right direction), and also the front of the wheel seems to point a bit towards the center of the vehicle while the back seems to point outside. I took both back wheels off, and there is no visible damage to brake lines etc. Car is reasonably stable at speeds of 70mph, with very minor steering wheel shake. There seems to be however a lack of stability going over bumps/potholes even small ones.

    My questions are: is this something that can be fixed by a regular alignment? Could the rumbling be caused by the wheel bearing being damaged when she hit the curb? The rumbling is very similar to the noise our Forester made a few weeks ago, which was indeed a rear wheel bearing.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,908
    Possibly. The rumbling could also be the tire's tread being chewed up as it tries to move in a direction that does not agree with the rest of the car (that's the reason for the instability when going over bumps). I imagine that a suspension component is most likely bent (such as an A-arm), but taking it to an alignment shop should yield answers on that front.
    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
    I would think it very likely that suspension components are bent beyond what alignment can correct. Axles might be too, in the rear this is cheap but up front it usually is cv joint and axle.

    Go to alignment shop for diagnosis, then decide what to do. Don't go to the Honda dealership first-- I can just about guarantee they will go straight to worst-case / most expensive replacement repairs.
  • danielldaniell Posts: 128
    edited May 2011
    Thank you both.

    The answer is... all of the above. I had the wheel bearing replaced at Sears Auto, instant reduction in noise. I have no doubt that it needed replacement. They looked into doing an alignment but claimed that the rim was out of specs and needed replacement first. Went to the dealer, bought a new rim, and had the tire moved to the new rim at Sears Auto. Now they say that some (trailing I believe) arm is bent and needs replacement. My understanding is that this is a fairly long arm that goes from the middle of the car to the rear wheel, and the wheel bearing hub, drum, rim etc. are all attached to it. Apparently only the dealer has that part. Between the part and the labor (they said close to 3 hrs.) they want $400, then another $80 or so to do the alignment.

    How does this sound?

  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    Hmmmm, trailing arm makes sense. Look at it and think carefully. What part under that car will keep it from moving in the same direction of the impact. First part to prevent forward or rearward movement on a trailing arm design is a trailing arm system. Next are the upper and lower lateral links.

    Takes a lot of force to bend one of these! I would carefully inspect the frame mounts as well. Bushings in the arms could be heavily damaged as well. Some bushings are replacable and some are not. Use your eyes and carefully compare both sides. Another excellent method is to get a tape measure out and cross measure from a common member of the frame on both sides. eg. left front frame control arm mount to right trailing arm mount and right frame control arm mount to left trailing arm mount. Tricky to avoid obstacles like exhaust system.

    I would do this inspection myself, because I have had alignment shops misdiagnosis "bent parts" in the past! The last diagnosis was for a front wheel spindle when the real problem was an incorrectly assembled trailing arm assembly that caused a 87 Mitz to lean to one side! Being a Civic, specific year and sub model data would help.

    An alignment shop has to have a good rim to make the checks, because the equipment is mounted to the rim.

    I would check with if the car is old enough to see if they have a good trailing arm. Check and see what years your Civic matches up to widen your search.

    Anyone spinning a Subie a recently? This applies to you as well. But being a Subie, not as likely to happen. Physics does have its limits though!
  • danielldaniell Posts: 128
    edited May 2011
    Thank you for the very detailed answer. It's a 1998 Honda Civic, my commuter car, only 86k miles on it.

    The impact was sideways, and as far as I can tell, only the rear passenger side wheel hit something. Apparently that was enough to cause fairly severe damage.

    I have checked on several places on the internet, and the lowest new part is about $230 + shipping. The dealer wants $260 for the part. I checked, but I am in Cincinnati, and they don't have any store here.

    There is no way I can do the inspection myself (no ramps, jack stands etc., only have the car jack) plus more importantly I am not knowledgeable enough to know what to look for. If that is indeed the problem, given the cost of the part I would think that $400 is quite reasonable???

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Kudos to the diagnoses being posted here...color me impressed.
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    edited May 2011
    Given the information at hand, if this resolves the problem, not a bad price. AT 86K with proper care, you have not broken it in yet!

    Being a side impact that raises more concerns about frame mounts and the mounts on rear suspension axle components. That is because the trailing arm becomes a "crow bar" pushing against each end. Not to mention a possible axle bend.

    Bottom line, if it aligns up after the trailing arm is replaced, count your blessings. You got by cheap! On the other hand, if it was my car, with my knowledge and your lack of tools I would have it fixed also. That price sure beats replacing the car. Let us know how it goes.

    Thanks for the compliment Ateix'.....took a few bang ups on my end to learn! School of "hard knocks" I guess. lol
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    School of "hard knocks" I guess

    Isn't that the course on pre-detonation? :D
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,908
    Hahahaha, AJ.... that was good for a decent laugh!
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • danielldaniell Posts: 128
    edited May 2011
    Follow-up on this - took the car to the dealership and they claim that with the naked eye they cannot see any damage to suspension components. Car has no rust, and original paint can still be seen on suspension components. The mechanic said that usually when suspension components are damaged the paint cracks/peels off. Sounds reasonable, but perhaps not for slight damage.

    The Sears auto alignment printout shows that toe is out of specs for all 4 wheels:

    Front Driver: 1.42 degrees
    Front Passenger: -1.24 degrees
    Rear Driver: -0.65 degrees
    Rear Passenger (this wheel hit the curb): 1.73 degrees

    The desired toe should be around -.04 to +0.16 degrees for all 4 wheels. I am surprised that all wheels are this much off.

    Camber is fine for all wheels except for the wheel that hit the curb, which is just a bit off at +0.4 degrees, should be -2.0 to 0.0. Caster (front wheels only) is fine too.

    The Sears tech said that all this cannot be corrected with an alignment. Going to Firestone this Thursday to get yet another opinion.

  • once_for_allonce_for_all Posts: 1,640
    the book defines this code as "idle air control performance"....can anyone re-define this?

    The engine died as my wife turned into the drive way...she was between gears downshifting, and it threw the CEL when the engine died. It started right up and has been running fine since. I cleared the code and it hasn't popped up again in the 25 mile morning commute.

    Any ideas?

  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    The idle air control solenoid is standard on most fuel injected vehicles. It's how idling is done.

    The Subaru unit occassionally gets plugged or fails. A while back in this topic, I posted a link to a discussion about it from another forum...

    I think this was it:
  • once_for_allonce_for_all Posts: 1,640
    Colin, thanks for the link! I read about 15 pages of it, then went out and popped the hood...that's not me at all, I've got the 2.5 non-turbo engine and there are no coolant lines going into the area.

    Still, the idea that an MAF or some other valve is dirty is probably the case. I'll need to do some more looking...

  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    edited May 2011
    Well, the most likely is the IAC. Yes-- your underhood looks quite a bit different, lacking the turbocharger and plumbing :) -- but the IAC solenoid is there, and it is probably dirty. The MAF sensor is also fairly fragile and generally has no problems if you use a good air filter and change it appropriately, whereas the IAC is durable but does get some gunk in it due to combustion gasses.

    I would go out and have a look to help ya, but I sold my '99 Impreza 2.5RS a number of years back... it's surely on the intake manifold, probably near the throttlebody. I'm sure Girlcarbuilder can quote chapter and verse. :D
  • once_for_allonce_for_all Posts: 1,640
    this one isn't the old 99 engine either, it's the FJ that has been in many of the Subies for much of the 2000 decade. I didn't see mention of them in the thread. There are some electronic sensors and units in that area, I'll explore them. After 140k, it's about time for something to start acting up.

  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    Uh, nope, that's one thing I am sure of. :) You have the same basic EJ25 in your 2003 Forester 2.5L that I had in my 1999 Impreza 2.5RS. I am pretty sure that in '03 it was MAP sensor only for air metering, whereas my '99 had a MAF sensor.
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    Toe is adjustable on front by screwng in/out tie rod ends most cars. The front wheels appear to have been in a sideways slide as well. Note one + and one - reading. Not concerned with these readings.

    There are usually bolts in the rear with offset washers to adjust the rear. In both cases, there are limits of adjustment. I am concerned on the one rear reading. Hopefully it can be adjusted out or close enough for "government specs."

    My reaction is if Sears can guarantee they can align and show correct readings, let it rip. Dealer shop is correct, but paint does flex to a slight degree. So, you are correct there. Toe would be knocked into the car given the direction of impact. If they can not fix it, the mounts for that lateral link may need to be adjusted in a frame rack. Ouch. Probably 2-4 hours there at a good body shop. Tire wear will be the final judge in the end. If the tires have a good bit of miles, I would take a wait and see how they wear before I did a frame rack after alignment. The other practice I have used on lower annual mileage cars is do the tires rot out first, before the damage ruins them? If they rot out first, don't sweat so much about it.

    See what the other shop says, tell them nothing at first and see what they say. Play dumb blonde time. Personally, I usually use an independent shop for my alignments, one with a good reputation.

    As for a final note, I have a 2010 Toyota Yaris bought at auction for $7600 that took a side hit. It lined up, but the jury is still out on tire wear. She took a side hit in the drivers sides. Good deal for 16.5K miles. Annual planned mileage is 10-15K. Tires will rot off her!
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    The EJ25-II in my '02 OBW would be virtually identical to what you have in your Forester. The IAC is mounted on top/side of the throttle body - position does vary with manual vs auto. I don't have a photo hosting site, but could shoot someone a page from the shop manual if that would help.
  • once_for_allonce_for_all Posts: 1,640
    Thanks! I know where it is, thankfully it's easy to get to.

    Just waiting for it to hiccup again....not sure that it wasn't an errant clutching by my wife, or some other passing mis function. If it's dirty, it will act up and throw another code eventually. I completely downloaded all the 2003 Forester pdfs so I'm good to go if I need service/diagnostic procedures.

  • pathtomaxpathtomax Posts: 215
    edited June 2011
    Hello again...just went my 2001 Outback (144,000 miles) was up and running again, the Check Engine Light comes on. As you probably remember, I had the Radiator, Water Pump, and Head Gaskets replaced about 2 months ago.

    They notified me at Subaru that the P0420 code is that the catalytic efficiency is below the threshold. Estimate for repair $1,055.

    So, my questions:
    1.) Can I get this cheaper anywhere else?
    2.) Can I just continue to drive *and feel horrible about hurting the environment*
    3.) Should I just buy a certified 2008/2009!
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    edited June 2011
    You ABSOLUTELY can get a qualified, independent exhaust/muffler shop to do re-do the exhaust from the headers back for far cheaper than $1,055.

    They would use a/an generic catalytic converter(s) and weld up exhaust pipe. They would expend far more skilled labor, but it would cost less.

    -O2 sensor, $75ish (could be as much as $100, could be as little as $40)
    -2.25" (estimated) in/out catalyst, $200ish
    - galvanized exhaust pipe, $100ish
    - generic muffler, $60ish (if necessary)
    - labor, est 3 hrs @ $65/hr, $195ish

    $650 is my bet on a competent, privately owned exhaust shop.

    DO NOT go to Midas, Rapid Muffler, etc. They are largely untrained and they don't care. They're just like the dealerships for the most part, bolting on overpriced OEM made-to-fit parts.

    PS, you might just start with replacing the O2 sensor. It's fairly easy other than they can get stuck, but if you remove while the exhaust is hot they usually come right out. At 144k, such things are not uncommon. The catalyst could be done, too, and that's my assumption above.

    Hope this helps! :shades:
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    Yup, just did this one on the 2003 Impeza. Jacked up whole car onto blocks, dropped the whole exhaust. Dragged it out from under car. Bought new system with new O2 sensors. Assembled new system on ground and then dragged it under and hung it back up. Spent about $500 at and a few hours of my labor. Oh, have antiseize handy for exhaust manifold studs and O2 sensors. Get a new set of exhaust manifold gaskets as well. I prefer not to weld a system. That way I can replace individual components as needed later on.

    I hope you are past head gasket problems, because antifreeze and cats do not get along.

    On the 03, the state of MO forced the repair to finally happen. Something about thou shalt not drive and pollute at the same time or thou shalt not get safety sticker and license! I opt for number 2 until they force me to do something! You get the final call on that one though! 144K? 03 made about 250K. Maybe because it is a highway unit.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,908
    Assuming the cats and oxygen sensors were not fouled by antifreeze, there's a good possibility that there is nothing really wrong with the cats. My car threw that code intermittently for years, yet the emissions inspections never noted any increase in exhaust "pollutants." In fact, the first inspection after that code started throwing actually yielded better results than it did two years earlier!

    Of course, had the CEL been active, they would have failed it for no reason other than that. The nice part was that it would throw the code, I would reset it, and then it would usually be quiet for a week or two before throwing again. That way, I could "get away" without fixing the elusive problem, if it was a problem at all.

    I think you should just keep the code cleared and sally forth as is unless your fuel economy is noticeably poor. If that's the case, then you probably have an issue with the oxygen sensors not giving good feedback.
    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
    I’m very much in Wes’s camp on this one. Look in any automotive forum on the web (including this one), and I’ll bet the number one CEL issue out there relates to the rear-most (#2 or #3) oxygen sensor. And unfortunately, many are too willing to plunk down $750-1200 on a quick fix, and wind up back on the boards complaining that the issues returned a few months later.

    A P0420 is as you said - low cat efficiency. Basically, it indicates that the cat cannot burn off all of the remaining fuel in the engine exhaust. But the rear sensor is just a monitor, and nothing more. Unlike the front sensor that actually feeds back to the ECM to adjust fuel mixture, the rear sensor is simply a tattle-tale. You got that code because at some instance in time, the sensor’s voltage output was too high.

    I’m a firm believer in spending a little up front on proper diagnostics, or at least trying the least invasive part swap first, before jumping to replace a cat. The code is an indicator of some type of problem, but what? Was it a one time event, or is this a steady-state problem? Is the cat failing, or just slightly degraded? It the sensor fouled, or just slow to warm up? Is there a wiring problem? An ECU issue?

    What if, as Wes suggested, you cleared the code and kept driving. Would it return, and if so, how soon? Along with the error code there is a report on the activity of around 20 other sensors stored at approximately the same time (within a few hundred milliseconds). This is known as the snapshot or freeze-frame data, and it tells a lot about the conditions that induced the error. These cars use the old ISO protocol, so the data stream isn’t perfect, but, for instance, the log might show that this only happens for the first seconds after transitioning from open to closed loop operation (a warm-up issue). Possible diagnosis – the internal heater on the B1S2 sensor or wiring to it is bad, and the sensor is just a bit slow to come up to temp. Once warm, everything is fine.

    Did the dealer do a real-time scoping of the continuous data output? Is the sensor always out of spec? How about a tailpipe sniffer? Is there lots of unburned fuel, or is it squeaky clean?

    I can get into a lot more detail on this if you are interested. A single code means absolutely nothing unless you have data to go with it. It’s just the beginning of the search, not the end result. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, at least not yet!
  • pathtomaxpathtomax Posts: 215
    Hello everyone,

    Thanks AGAIN for so much help. The CEL has been intermittently going on and off the past week. So, I did a little shopping online and found a good deal (in my eyes).

    They are taking my 2001 Outback Ltd with 145k... and I am getting a 2008 Outback 3.0R LLBean, 36k miles, with Nav (that I didn't actually need).. out the door- $20k.

    I think it was a great deal... Deep Bronze color and LOVE the LL Bean seats too! It comes with winter tires and I complained about how loud they were driving it in they are throwing in brand new tires too.

    Deal...or no Deal.. LOL :)
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