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Subaru Baja Engine Issues

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,831
edited May 2014 in Subaru
Having an issue under the hood of your Baja? This is the place to discuss it and work out a solution.

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  • No, I did not change my mind. Edmonds removed my original post. I am still having the same problem with noise from the Subaru Baja engine. My original post stated that the engine on my Baja sounds like a lawn mower if not warmed up for 20 minutes. Now the noise stays longer, and is apparent when the engine is warm. I also now hear a slightly knocking noise.

    I have only had it to the dealer once so far, they stated that the noise that I hear is normal for an engine of this size. I adamantly disagree with this. The noise was not there in the month of December and into the first week of January. Today it is over 30 degrees outside, the snow is melting, yet the engine noise is very apparent. Still less than 3,000 miles. I don’t use this vehicle very much any more. It will be going back to the dealership again for the noise as soon as I have the time.

    I can in all honesty say that this is the worst vehicle that I have ever owned. I originally thought that I would just trade it off, but my conscience got the better of me and I just thought about the poor bloke that would inherit my problems.
  • dcm61dcm61 Posts: 1,552
    I can't remember if you mentioned it or not in your original post, but did you listen to another new / low mileage Baja on the dealers lot to see if it's also noisy?

  • Prior to my first / original post I did not have the time to test drive another Baja. Since that time however I have had the opportunity to test drive 4 new models. I did not go back to the dealer that I purchased the Baja from. I drove to visit my brother in Madison WI. My brother and I drove two different Bajas and there was no noise. I also drove to the Minnapolis / St. Paul area and drove two more Bajas, no noise. All four Bajas sounded just like mine when I first purchased it. No clacking noise coming from the engine.

    I just can’t take the clacking noise. I drove the Baja today and my blood pressure just goes through the roof. I thought the Baja would be a fun car that would meet all of my needs. It is fun, I do have to admit that, and it does meet my needs, but I do not think that I will be keeping it because of that noise. I know it is not normal, no mechanic outside of the Subaru dealership believes the noise is a normal engine noise. My confidence is gone. All I wanted from Subaru is to fix the noise.

    I have been looking for a replacement and I probably will be trading it off on a 2004 Chevy S-10 short box / Chevrolet S10-Crew Cab . This will meet my needs and the engine is quiet and there is no clacking.
  • dcm61dcm61 Posts: 1,552
    Have you contacted Subaru of America (not the dealer) about the noise? If not, call 1-800-SUBARU3 and open a case. When you call, ask them to review the case with Patti (the SOA rep that posts here at Edmunds).

  • Yes, I did contact Subaru America. Case number: 581029. I have contacted them via email three times, and by calling the 1-800 number twice. After contacting Subaru America via email and phone and after the mechanic from the Subaru dealership where I purchased my Baja told me that this was normal engine noise, I attempted to make another appointment with a different dealership. While explaining noise, I was cut off, and was told that Subaru just issued a memo on this noise and that due to a re-design of the engine, the noise I was hearing was normal and that they could take a look, but that there would be nothing that they could do for me. I did not make the appointment. This conversation indicated to me that if a memo was just issued, I must not be the only one complaining. I then proceeded to contact a Lemon Law Lawyer that is licensed in Wisconsin and Minnesota. He believes that I have a legitimate case. I’ve had it though, I should not have to fight this hard. It will be easier for me to take a loss and trade the Baja in. One thing is that I will never forget this buying experience.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    IMO you really should make that appt. For it to even qualify as a lemon, you have to let them attempt to repair it (or at least diagnose it) several times, the law varies by state.

    For Minnesota: 1 unsuccessful repair of a completely failed braking or steering system likely to cause death or substantial bodily injury, 4 attempts or 30 business days out of service for other defects.

    For Wisconsin: 4 repair attempts - 30 days out of service.

    I'd also recommend you fire your lawyer. If he's a lemon law specialist he should be more familiar with those laws. That's like a school teacher not knowing her ABCs.

    Take a deep breath, call 800-SUBARU3, and make that appt. You'll get better results by working with them, instead of working with 800-WESUE4U.

  • Juice
    I am quite familiar with the Lemon Law in both Minnesota and in Wisconsin, and don't really need you to lecture me on law. I needed clarification on which law would apply since I live in Minnesota and the car was purchased in Wisconsin and reciprocity between the two states.

    Regardless the Subaru Baja I bought is junk. The engine noise drives me crazy, and is developing more problems as the days go by. I am sure that it will not be a problem meeting the criteria for either state.
  • This is a modified version of my original post. The post was removed by Edmonds sighting: Rights of Third Parties
    You may not submit Postings that contain personally identifiable information about other people, such as their phone number, street address or email address, or information about other people that could result in an invasion of their privacy or their harassment.

    The original post contained names, email address's and phone numbers.
    The modified version, removing this information is listed below.

    11-29-03 I purchased 2003 Subaru Baja. Purchased with 12 miles.
    My Baja currently has less than 3,000 miles
    Today's date: 01-29-04
    Three weeks ago I noticed a different noise coming from the engine, when the engine is cold. The noise is very loud and apparent when the engine is cold, in drive, and when you accelerate. A constant clacking noise that sounds like your lawn mowers engine. The noise subsides when the engine is warm, but can be still heard. Currently I have to let the Baja warm up for 15 minutes before the noise is reduced.
    On 01-21-04,I called the dealership that I purchased the Baja from for an appointment to have this noise checked out. I gave the dealership the details of the problem and made an appointment for 7:30 a.m. on 01-22-04. Later in the afternoon on 01-22-04, the mechanic from the dealership called me at work and informed me that the noise that I was hearing was normal for this size engine, to which in turn I strongly disagreed with him. If the noise were normal for this size engine, I would have heard it before. I did not hear it on the two times I took the vehicle for a test drive, and did not hear it all through the Month of December. When questioned on why the noise just had started, I was told that it may be "environmental". I did not buy this, but could see that there was no use arguing with him on the phone. I picked up the vehicle after 1:30p.m. That afternoon.
    Service Ticket: 77815
    CAUSE: BYB85
    Luckily for me I work for a company that is in the distribution business. We have our own mechanics that maintain a fleet of vehicles from cars, trucks, and vans to semi trucks. I requested that they listen to the noise, which they did. The consensus was the noise that we were all hearing was caused by the "lifters". This was their opinion only from hearing the noise, since they cannot work on the vehicle due to the warrantee.
    I filed a complaint online at with Subaru the afternoon of 01-22-04 and received the following reply back:
    Thank you for visiting the Subaru Web site and for your message. We are sorry to learn of the circumstances that prompted your message. Your frustration is understandable. We will contact XXXX Subaru about your concerns. Once our research is completed we will contact you.
    Again, thank you for contacting Subaru of America, Inc. Should you have any questions regarding this reply please call us at 1-800-XXX-XXXX (1-800-XXX-XXXX). Refer to the case number 581029 when calling as this will help expedite your call.
    I called the 1-800 number and requested to speak with this representative on 01-26-04. He was unavailable. I left a message with the representative detailing the problem, and was told that my complaint would be recorded.
    I called the 1-800 number and requested to speak with this representative on 01-27-04. He was unavailable. The representative that I spoke with on the phone this day was not really willing to help me and stated that my case was assigned to XXXXXXXX. I reiterated my problem with the vehicle and requested that this be noted in the case.
    Which brings us to today, 01-29-04. Feeling that I was not getting any correct answers and that my problems were not being addressed I decided to make an appointment with another Subaru Dealership. I call the dealership this afternoon and attempted to make another appointment for my Baja. Once connected to the service department I started to describe my problem and was cut short by the service department lady. I was informed that a new notice / memo was just issued by Subaru regarding this noise, and that I could make an appointment if I really wanted to, but there was nothing that they could do to help me, and that Subaru is stating that this noise is a normal noise due to the re-design of the engine and as long as it goes away after 20 min, when the vehicle is warmed up there is no problem.
    So now I drive a vehicle that sounds like a lawn mower until the engine is warm enough that the noise subsides. I have not heard back from Subaru.
    Original posting above.
    Since this post, I have test driven 4 other Baja's, none of them make the noise as described above. I have contacted a lemon law lawyer and am aware of what steps need to be taken for this law and the reciprocity between the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, and do not believe that I wish to pursue this path. It is to time consuming.
    My point is that dealership number one said that there is no problem. Dealership number two didn't even want to help me. And I have received no more correspondence with Subaru when contacted via the internet. When calling the 1-800 number provided I received no assistance or help. Yes, I probably could try to make another appointment with another dealer and drive over two hours one way to have them look at it, but I shouldn't have to do that. I am very honest person, so much so, that I will return a pen to a supermarket if I mistakenly forget to return it after writing a check. I want nothing from anyone that I have not purchased, or worked for. All I wanted from Subaru, was to have the noise corrected. I was not concerned that started so soon after purchasing the vehicle, and I wanted nothing else from anyone. Nothing is perfect, but everything can be corrected. But all I received is resistance at every turn.
    So that brings us to today. I cannot live with the noise from the engine, it absolutely drives me crazy. When accelerating it sounds like playing cards clothed pinned to fork of a bicycle that clack from the spokes in the wheel. Even if the noise goes away after 15 to 20 min., who has that much time to wait for a vehicle to warm up several times a day. When I was a young boy I was told to choose my battles wisely. Even now if the noise was corrected, how could I be assured that I would not have to go through this in the future with any other issues or problems. I took tomorrow off from work and an planning on trying to trade the Baja off. I feel it would be easier to eat a few thousand dollars than to feel frustrated, it may just be time to simply move on and learn from this lesson.
  • I'll look into your case first thing tomorrow.


  • in there. It has escalated and will get the appropriate level of attention. It will have to go back to the dealer though. I read that you've consulted with an attorney and I know that this is because of your frustration, but I believe that he/she will tell you the same thing. Give us a chance please?

    Once again, I'm sorry about your frustration and the problem. We will do our best to try to help.

  • mkeirmkeir Posts: 4
    Well.... I must say I was one of those eager new buyers , excited to make the transition from a Honda to a more rugged, durable , well appointed Subaru and Selected the Baja Turbo with Leather interior . 7400 miles later, my short block is replaced because the engine mysteriously " threw a rod". 300 miles after that , back to the Subaru dealership because they apparently crimped a line between the engine and the turbo unit causing the car to vibrate /shake/hesitate at 65 mph and generally run too loud.

    Am I disappointed .. YES. Has Subaru listened to my complaints YES .. have they done anything besides the standard " I feel your pain" routine .. NO. To add insult to injury , let me add that the dented the front quarter panel at the dealership while installing the new short block , failed to clean the car after the finished their repairs and left greasy hand prints on the door handles and post.

    Its not as if I am surprised at the car being back at the dealership. It was the very concern i shared with Subaru in reporting the problem. Exactly how many times does a dealership have to replace a short block .. not many I'm guessing ( or at least hoping)... so what are the chances they are going to get everything exactly right ... slim ? Not really their fault . You wouldn't; ask a surgeon to replace a heart on his own without any practice or assistance , would you ?

    Nightmare YES . So if any of you lovely representatives of Subaru are out there, I hope you read this . I hope you respond appropriately and give me a new car that has been properly assembled from the beginning .

    Wait . One more insult. The car failed in the middle of my business day on the way back to my office from the closing on a $900K piece of property. Because another dealership was 17 miles closer in THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF MY HOME < OFFICE AND DEALERSHIP WHERE I PURCHASED THE VEHICLE< I HAD TO PAY $47 TO HAVE IT TOWED BACK TO WHERE I BOUGHT THEIR DEFECTIVE BEAST.

    I'll let you know if Subaru stand up to their reputation , but so far a BIG BIG BIG DISAPPOINTMENT
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    There's no need to shout.

    Yours is the very first major engine problem on the EJ257 engine at Edmunds, the first.

    Your dealer was awful they deserve to hear it.

    Call 800-SUBARU3 and be polite, see what they can do to remedy the situation.

    Tip: do not shout. I used to work in a Help Desk and those people got nowhere fast. The polite ones get the best service.

  • mkeirmkeir Posts: 4
    Thanks so much for the advice . In fact , I haven;t shouted at anyone... including the dealer ... yet. The dealer has even thanked me 4 times for remaining calm, through out this situation.

    I don;t think the dealer is awful .. i don;t even think that subaru or their products are awful .

    I do think that this should have popped up on their radar screen by now as i have spoken to the Subaru customer servcie 3 times, My dealer 4 times, the regional subaru rep once .....I don't think that being calm is getting anywhere .

    As an update . I just got the call this afternoon ... yup .. thats right ... not getting the car back today . I am told that the part did not arrive , but everything , inlcuding the dent repair should be done by next wednesday ... so i have to arrange for a ride to the dealership to pick up a loaner ... sigh ... I wish i would have saved a little longer and bought a mercedes or lexus where the servcie department actually picks you up and/or deliver the loaner vehicle.

  • fritz9fritz9 Posts: 9
    I don't have all the details in front of me as I have just found this site, but I also have a 2003 Subaru Baja with engine noise. The car was purchased new so I have been the only owner and I know how it has been maintained. I bought the car because suited my needs and because of Subaru's reputation. Loved them both but the car has become somewhat of a disappointment. Early in it's life the car aquired the noise spoken of in the other posts. A knock (if you will) when cold going away when the engine has warmed. But now the noise doesn't go away at all. It is very loud when cold and lessens when warmed but still loud and very noticeable. The car now has approx. 65,000 miles on it so it hasn't set still much. Love the car but knowing the maintenance that it has recieved I'm very disappointed in it's durability as most of the miles on this car is highway running as you might guess. After some searching online for answers I have found that I could have a waterpump recall but since I have never recieved any notice can only assume that the recall in question doesn't affect my car. BUT since I found out about the recall I will be contacting my dealer and seeing if by chance mine notice "slipped through the cracks". The noise that I'm hearing seems to be, I'm guessing, a piston "slap" and from what I can tell is worse on the rear two cylinders. At first when I heard the noise and it went away when warmed I considered it to be normal becuase of the engine configuration and such........have heard very similar noises on many other brands with the "flat" style engines. But then about 50,000 miless it very quickly stopped going away when warmed and is there at alllll times now and I realize now that there is a problem to be fixed. I am very familiar with automotive engines as I am a auto Tech. of almost 30 years and have experience with many different brands. I carry Master Tech ranking with BMW, Chrysler and ASE and was quite proud of my choice of the Subaru for my new purchase. I just hope that it remains a good choice for me.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Has it created any problems running or is it just a noise issue? Still, that gets annoying.

    My Miata will knock if I mistakenly lug the engine. Sounds painful.
  • fritz9fritz9 Posts: 9
    It hasn't created any issues other than the noise at the least that I'm aware of. Although I wouldn't be surprised if the computer system is making "adjustments" for it. The knock sensors come to mind but there hasn't been any check engine warning lamps or poor performance issues that I have picked up on. The fuel economy is still over 20 mpg too. I have tried a number of different fuels and even tried disconnecting the battery to let it think about be'n bad if it was computer issue but no change. Yea this has gotten bad enough that people look at it and comment on the noise. Not a good showing for Subaru. I love the vehicle and would love to keep it for years to come but really don't want to have to deal with major repairs either. And to it's credit I never had even one warranty claim with it to this point. Has been a GREAT car to this point.
  • Hey folks, I have the knock also. Love the vehicle. Sounds corny but I switched to mid-grade fuel and synthetic oil. Warms up quickly and the noise is no-more. 65000 miles, still runs strong for a 4banger. Wish the 3.0 h6 was an option. Any questions just ask.
  • fritz9fritz9 Posts: 9
    I have been using Mobil 1 for over 50000 miles and have tried many brands and grades of this point no luck changing the noise. It is very loud when cold and is less when warm but still very the point that ppl ask about the noise. Still searching for a answer. Have a case opened with Subaru Tech. now. Will be making a appointment with the dealer this week to confirm the noise and hopefully get some answers. :)
  • mkorkmkork Posts: 1
    Has anyone gotten an explanation of what the tapping is? My '04 with 16000 miles does it all the time, worse when cold. All I could get from the dealership guru was "normal", yet no response when I asked where it was coming from or why they all weren't that way. "Normal" seems to be just a major shirking of responsibility to me. Any comforting words would be appreciated, especially from the Subaru rep. Mike
  • fritz9fritz9 Posts: 9
    I have a appointment with the dealership on Friday the 20th, hope to find something out then. I also have a case and case # with Subaru on the concern. I would expect to be given a explanation of the cause and repair if any at that time. Jim
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I would try a slightly thicker oil if you are having tapping issues. This is very common on Subarus, especially when cold.

  • fritz9fritz9 Posts: 9
    This is much more than a "tapping" noise. I am and have used for 50,000 miles Mobil 1 Synthetic 10W30.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    You do know that Subaru does not suggest that you use synthetic oil in them right? I believe it's right in the owners manual.

  • subearusubearu Posts: 3,613
    C'mon Mike, you know that as long as the oil (synthetic or regular) is the proper grade and quality - and that it's changed regularly, that it's acceptable. In fact, I think one of the Subaru sponsored chats asked this question. I believe it was ok as long as change intervals were maintained.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I know that, and you know that, however, my point and I was trying to help him out here, is to NOT tell them it's synthetic... Or at least don't make it a specific point to do so, because they'll look to get out of a warranty claim if there is or could be one.

  • subearusubearu Posts: 3,613
    Good point. Hopefully it'll be something "simple" like a tensioner and not a cylinder skirt or whatever they call 'em.

  • fritz9fritz9 Posts: 9
    Well at the time of Sept. of least in a verbal form they had no opposition to synthetic, it was specifically asked at that time. They just suggested that it was no better than the dino oil and that in their eyes was a waste of money.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Well at the time of Sept. of least in a verbal form they had no opposition to synthetic, it was specifically asked at that time. They just suggested that it was no better than the dino oil and that in their eyes was a waste of money.

    Verbal is not written, I'm fairly certain that the manual will specify non-synthetic. Just giving you a heads up.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,993
    As long as it meets minimum specifications and is changed on an appropriate schedule, there can be no grounds for warranty denial based strictly on the brand of oil used. But, I agree with Mike on this one - it is possible that they will balk because of the use of synthetic. So, keep it on a need-to-know basis, as they will certainly do the same with you.

    Seat of the pants, it sounds to me like piston slap (which is a battle in and of itself to get warranty coverage, just ask Larry!), but who knows at this point.

    I am the worst about divulging more information than necessary and I cannot even begin to relate how many times that honesty, that...... trait... has bit me in the rear. :sick:
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • dealer recommend synthetic oil at my 5000mile check up. Thanks for the info.
This discussion has been closed.