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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,919
    My Escort fit that bill for me: It was terrible about battery terminal corrosion. Then, I replaced the cables last year and added another large grounding strap from the negative terminal to the body.

    What do you know? No corrosion at all the last year I owned it! In other words, it's a resistance game. Try adding (or replacing) a grounding strap on your car and see if it makes a difference.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • steverstever Posts: 52,571
    I walked out to the garage an hour ago and popped the hood and the battery is pretty clean. The petroleum jelly I smeared on the terminals back in the fall may have helped? Took a good sniff of the coolant overflow tank and it smelled fine (didn't really smell of anything).

    Got the craigslist ad drafted but maybe I'll talk myself out of it. Just makes little sense to have two cars when neither gets driven that much.
  • hammerheadhammerhead Posts: 907
    Tesoro gas makes my car run like ca-ca. Switched to Chevron, issue fixed. Costco has 5 times the EPA required additives, and I fill there when I shop as well. Like someone else suggested, try a change of fuel flavor first.
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    Interesting. After reading the article and tearing the first, right side easy to remove head, I went to the left side. That side was a bugger to get off due to corrosion. It also had the worse leak problem.

    Needless to say, conversation ensued about relocating the ground strap. I have added another one on an 89 Mazda a few year or two ago. Nice to hear the Escort experience. Might be worth trying it on the Subie as well. The left side has a bunch of timing electronics there. Cam shaft sensor on head. Ground on block. Think that thought out later to try. As for the article about running Subies and not storing. That does seem to be the case. 1st engine died a high speed head gasket failure. Lost it at 286K. The one I service as stated before, could not have had more than 100K is clearly a 98 engine. Clearly a acid build up from oil/blowby gases? The 94 I am getting ready to deal with is at 247K and the youngest '03 unit is at 271K. I am dreading the last one. It will be work on every end of that sucker including valves. Oil galley, clutch, rear main, head job, timing set and everything else up front. Been a very trouble free unit. Everything in house. Too many mechanics have overcharged and beep beeped up! My new curse word! FCC approved!

    On the other hand, by having extra cars in the fleet and grouping together with other family members who can drive, we can take the time needed to do a job right and not cut corners.

    But before you holler.....sure beats car notes! Some states also have provisions to keep your tags, remove your insurance and store the vehicle. If you do this like me, make sure you tag the steering wheel that unit is in storage so a family member does not take it out when it is grounded! This is also a good time to pull maintenance. I rotate them in and out of service so they all get some use. The older cars are great for winter if they have heat. We save the newer ones with good a/c for summer.

    As for the "the inevitable head gasket failure" I always say, anything goes over 200K: things get interesting above 300K! I try to move those cars to winter use in LA. We have a lot of snow here you know! So Steve, I hope you reconsider keeping Subie around. Hard to beat that 4 wheel drive system in snow and the maintenance is not all that bad. Besides, several of us in forum have a lot of road we have already been on. Oh, highway unit....fuel pumps go around 250K+! We now consider pulling before it beeps somewhere in nowhereland. Another thing to add to that 03 list to do.

    Second ground.....maybe attach somewhere on left head? Graphite head gaskets not the greatest conductor. Painted new head bolts not great either. Thoughts anyone? Attach to mounting bolt on front bearing housing near cam shaft sensor?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,571
    edited March 2013
    We have snow in the forecast all week and there's a fresh inch on the ground just this morning (and it's still falling). Here's a pic from last week's shoveling out the in-law's drifted sidewalk.

    I dunno, the van is more comfortable to drive and we could borrow the in-law's Buick if it died and we needed to go buy something. After 13 years, we're at the point with the car fund where we can pay cash, but interest rates are so low, who knows. Just don't like owning stuff I don't use and would rather see someone else run it into the ground (and freeing up half the garage would be nice too).

    Maybe one more winter (for the car and me. :shades: ).
  • snowbeltersnowbelter Posts: 288
    edited April 2013
    CR has posted a story today, apparently based on updated results of their annual consumer survey, of various used cars, foreign and domestic, to avoid because of problems. The Subaru Forester, 03-07, is on that list because of HG failures.

    I'm disappointed to see that CR readers are reporting HG failures in their Foresters. Subaru had led me to believe that it had solved the HG failure problem a few years back with a different gasket material and the required use of some sort of radiator stop-leak. Subaru has to have known that the HG leak problems were continuing and only changed engine design recently.

    I suspect this means that anyone who owns a Forester of that vintage, or perhaps even an Outback or an Imprezza (similar engines) is going to find that their vehicle is going to be valued less at resale or trade-in because even a vehicle without a failure now is at greater risk for needing an expensive repair sooner than later.

    I sure hope that Subaru redeems itself by extending the warranty on HG repairs to at least 125,000 miles. A modern engine that is properly maintained should not need an expensive HG repair even at 125,000 imo. The article doesn't tell us at what mileage HG failures are occurring.

    We've owned five Subarus since 2000, and so far have been lucky. Or it may just be that three of those Subarus are H6's, which appear to be pretty much immune from the HG failure problem.
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    edited April 2013
    I have 3 Subaru's under my care. 94, 97 and 03. The two older units as of now have had HG jobs. 250K, 94 and 97, 289K which that engine was lost due to a high speed failure only to have the replacement 98 engine fail at an approximate 80-100K miles of service. This is a very old problem for Subaru.

    Like I tell people, if it can not make 200K historically without major maintenance, it is junk on the lot brand new. Needless to say Subaru is not on our replacement vehicle supplier list anymore unless it is needed for 4 wheel service applications! Shame for Subaru.

    As for the H6 engine, it shares the same design flaws, but keep your oil changed and try to operate each car at least 10K or more miles per year. Check out the following website to read why these gaskets fail and use those preventive measures. You may be all right. Several of us agree these guys may have this figured out. As you may have already noted we pull a lot of miles out of Subies as well. Oh, I failed to mention, the 03 is in failure mode at 280K currently.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,571
    edited April 2013
    I checked with my mechanic the other day and he loves Subarus - makes a lot of money doing head gasket jobs on them. He pulled a recent ticket and the bill was around $1,300. He typically doesn't see them until 160,000 miles or so though.

    Mine is at 92,000 miles after a ~16 hour RT cruise to Chicago and I've decided to try to get one more winter out of it.
  • hammerheadhammerhead Posts: 907
    My '99 just flew north of 210k. Had the HGs, timing belt, etc. done at 124K, about 20K before I bought it. Nice timing, huh?
  • sgloonsgloon Posts: 323
    So, do you think the "new" foresters will have the HG problem as well? Has the engine design been changed enough yet to avoid that problem?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,571
    Better sell it Pauly- the timing belt will be coming due again soon . :D
  • hammerheadhammerhead Posts: 907
    I did the math - not til 129K, 19K from now. Heck, that's maybe 2 years around here! Plus, we've got the '95 for the kids to share, so that will keep the miles down on the mom & dad fleet. And I'd much rather drive this one than one with too many gadgets... although financially, I should think about getting something a bit fresher & getting it paid for before I retire.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited May 2013
    Well, we won't see any coolant leaks, because now the coolant no longer flows through the gaskets. The heads have separate cooling lines.

    That also means the gaskets have far fewer holes and seams, so certainly the odds of failure are much lower.

    Don't worry, we still have front and rear main seals to worry about. ;)

    Just teasing, no car is perfect. I'm sure Dodge and Honda owners would be delighted to get 160k miles out of their transmissions. $1300 repair bill they wish!

    Per Steve:

    He pulled a recent ticket and the bill was around $1,300. He typically doesn't see them until 160,000 miles or so though.
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    Very good question......if you read that website link I sent, the answer could very well be no. Most of the units here have been hit with high usage until later in age. There is a lot on that link about oil changes and usage, not to mention other issues. Open road units here seem to pull 250K+ regardless of year which leads me to think their comments on that website have a lot of bearing. These issues come down to the H design and the materials of the HG itself. Basic nature of the beast! Time....will be the only indicator. It takes 20 years for an auto maker to get a good rep. Only a few bad years to get a bad rap! Ford for example would have to put out 20 years worth of good cars for me to even consider one of them. By then I may not even care about cars given my age!
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    edited May 2013
    So with this newer design we got rid of the possibility of sucking coolant, but now the only indicator of trouble will be increased oil consumption and blowby! Goodbye seals! Blow them all out so now we have to pull the engine to do a HG and replace all seals......not to mention the notorious oil galley! We now have no early warning feature! They must have hired some Detroit engineers!

    Maybe we need to wait 20 years for Subaru! Then again, my new Toyotas are all plastic! I wonder if that plastic can be used to buy the next car! Charge it! Fake money for fake cars?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I looked at the 2010 Siennas when they came out, and I'll keep my 2007, thanks very much. A lot of soft touch materials became hard plastic. The floor also is not longer flat.

    Cost cutting, big time.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,571
    Retirement? I see you segueing into the Chile/Lookout ski patrol scene full time. :D
  • hammerheadhammerhead Posts: 907
    Retirement will mean just shifting gears (remember, I'm a stick guy) - something part-time, without the life-and-death component. And I'll stick around here & use the ski off-season to try to resurrect my long-dormant golf game. DW has a few years left before she's eligible to pull the pin, so there will be house-hubby duties as well.
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    I had a 09 OB and I purchased a set of wheels with TPMS sensors from Tirerack back then. I now have a 13 OB, will those sensors still work?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,919
    You sprung for a 2013?! Congrats. They'll need to be reprogrammed to communicate with the car, but they should work.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • steverstever Posts: 52,571
    Somewhere around here I thought I saw a post about cleaning alloy wheels to stop a slow leak. I think one of my rims needs that treatment. My Outback sits a lot, and last week one wheel was down to 12 psi while the other three tires were still a bit over 30psi. Had the same issue with the previous set of tires so I don't think it's the newer tires. The leak wasn't that bad before though.

    Tricks of the trade?
  • samiam_68samiam_68 Posts: 775
    I bet you have a nail in the tire somewhere.
  • hammerheadhammerhead Posts: 907
    Steve- the original rims on my '99 had started to corrode to the point where bead leaks were becoming a regular occurrence - to the point one morning getting off work, 3 out of 4 tires were down below 20 psi. Prior to that I was able to wire brush or steel wool the contact point where the bead met the wheel (inside the edge), and that did the trick for awhile. Ultimately I had to splurge for new wheels.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,571
    Considering that I seem to average one flat a year, that very well could be it. Be cheaper than Paulie's solution too....
  • hammerheadhammerhead Posts: 907
    Well, given it's a 13 year old car (although it doesn't drive like it), I figure splurging for new wheels was almost justified. Didn't go whole hog with Subaru wheels - went the relatively economical route with something out of the catalog @ Les Schwab. Car looks good in 'em too.
  • pavolpavol Posts: 1
    I have exactly the same problem with my 2003 Forester. Would you mind to share the link where you were able to download the pdfs?
    Thank you for your help,
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    While you are in there looking at hoses, IAC so on, check carefully the hoses going to the PCV, to the crankcase and intake. Don't forget to check the other lines as well. The connection to the bottom of the crankcase and plastic tee has proven to be a problem. Usually I have seen a surging problem with this that comes and goes. Just a thought.

    I have learned over the years that any kind of air leak in the intake area can create some real thought provoking issues. Not to mention codes getting toss at you. Hoses must fit tight and snug. If it wiggles or has a crack, toss it. The above mention hose was replaced with heater hose. Cheap and readily available.
  • pilot1226pilot1226 Posts: 165
    My `09 Legacy has just over 46k miles. It's due for another oil change around 48k. I skipped the 45k service at my local dealer on principal: a lot of the things I do myself such as the cabin air filter and engine air filter replacements, and a lot of their "recommended" services aren't necessary to maintain the car per the owner's manual.

    At my last service, which was for a recall campaign regarding the front catalytic converter, the service rep said that I had some cracks in the A/C Belt (I looked later when I got home and didn't see them, but I expected the belt would have to be replaced around my 60k anyway) and that my brakes were low. Funny, because I didn't hear the agitator at all on the brakes until my ride home, I think it's coincidence.

    The last few major services I've done were over at the AZP Installs in Kenilworth, and they've done some good work for me. I'll most likely be bringing it back again for the brakes/rotors.

    I've noticed over the last few days of driving that there's been a pronounced vibration when I'm stepping on the brakes. I'm thinking/hoping that this is a brake/rotor issue. We'll see what happens after I replace them this fall.

    Should I be concerned about the belt if I couldn't see any of these cracks that were mentioned on the last write-up, and what typically is the lifespan of a belt?

    Another quirky thing that's happening with the car is something going on with the rims. I like the way the alloy wheels look, the 5-spoke design is great, but because they're a low-profile tire, I've had a few instances of impact-damage like potholes as a result.

    Apparently one or all of the rims were "bent" and "out of round," but I'm not feeling any vibration when I'm driving, only the above mentioned when I brake.

    It's also important to note that I'm also not losing air. I had the tires (OEM Yokohama) replaced with Bridgestone Potenzas at my local Costco due to the promotion they had which included road hazard, free rotations for life, and free nitrogen fill. When I had my Yoko's I noticed that in the colder months, October through March, one or more of my tires would activate the TPMS warning light. I'd fill them up with compressed air and be good for another few days. I don't think anything was wrong with the tires because as I'd completed rotations, the tires in the FRONT of the car were always the problem with the slow leak.

    I'm either attributing this to either a bad seat between the tire and the rim, or maybe not enough bead sealer, or maybe the nature of compressed air. Either way, since the new tires plus the nitrogen fill, I haven't seen the TPMS light - and I've had the tires for about 18 months now.

    I've found some refurbished/repaired OEM rims on eBay/Craigslist for around $125-150 per rim, which Costco will charge me an additional $15 per rim for to mount, balance, and nitrogen fill.

    But, I'm wondering if it's possible or even worth it to switch to a steel rim. I know they're not as pretty, but I've never had any problem like this before this car. I partially blame this on the low-profile tires, but I think part of it is the nature of the aluminum alloy being softer than steel.

    My questions, I guess, would be:

    1. Would a steel rim prevent the problems I've had with low-profile tires?
    2. Would I need to buy four brand new tires again to use with steel rims?
    3. Can I use a standard-sized tire with new steel rims if I did have to replace the tires at some point down the road?

    And a recap of the above questions:

    1. What could be causing the vibration when I brake (my brakes are low, rotors are original, never machined)

    2. Have switched from conventional to synthetic to conventional again for oil mostly for price. Is it worth or even possible to switch back to synthetic? I've heard problems with the gaskets swelling larger because of the bigger, natural, random size of conventional oil and the synthetic oil is smaller and could leak.

    Just curious as to how much of a hassle this whole thing would be to get done.

    Thanks again,
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    edited August 2013
    Ah, a person after my own heart. Learning by trial and error. Good for you keeping maintenance records. That makes it possible to see what works and what does not. Change your belt when you see a problem. Too many shops are loading the tickets. I find one, they are black listed here. A lot of them on that list!

    Okay, usually vibration during braking can be traced to a warped rotor. Take it for a slow test drive in a parking lot maybe. Let go of the wheel and brake. The direction it turns to is the side for the rotor to check most of the time. I doubt you have a dial gauge handy, but jack it up anyway. Turn the wheel where you can see the edge of the rotor and turn it slowly by hand. Watch the edge of the rotor in relationship to something fixed like the caliper holder. May need a tool to turn the rotor. Be careful not to damage lug threads. Look for the side to side movement. The worse the vibration, the easier to see the warpness. Get a repair manual from the parts store. Rotors are easier to change than most people realize.

    I have covered synthetic oil before. So you should be able to find that in posts search under my profile. Bottom line, New car is cheaper to operate long term on synthetic oil. Oil leakage is more of a problem on older units.

    Low profile tires/rims tend to have more damage from hitting bumps. I do not run them at all. All of the fleet units here have steel rims with a regular tire that provides more give between the rim and the pavement on impact. I recommend you watch what a lot of fleet operators do and why.
  • I usually see cracks,e tc., on belts after 4 yrs. or so, just did one on my '09. Also finally did front pads & rotors at 43k. Had no vibration but a lot of rust on the rotors and the pads were done.

    I've run synth. oil since new, changing every 5k-7500 miles, no leaks, no oil burning, etc.
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