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Subaru Baja Engine Issues



  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    dealer recommend synthetic oil at my 5000mile check up. Thanks for the info.

    They can tell you anything you want, but it's what's in the book that counts... :)

  • fritz9fritz9 Posts: 9
    Made my appointment at the dealer for my engine noise. Took them no time at all to give their diagnosis. They agreed with what I had said in my very first letter here in the forum about it. It IS piston slap......and they did NOT say that it was normal. They said they would pass the information on to Subaru as I have a case number with them already on this concern. The odd thing about this is that they did NOT charge me ANY fees/diagnosis at all. Was a complete freebee even though the car is out of warranty. Have to wonder if they have seen this many time before and are considering the possibility of further work. Not sure what to make of the "free" diagnosis.
  • fritz9fritz9 Posts: 9
    Just checked my owners manual for oil specs. It specifically says that any oil is acceptable as long as it meets the specific classifications set in the manual. What I have used has met that from the beginning. :)
  • sdycus10sdycus10 Posts: 3
    I drove my 2006 Baja (5000 miles) on Trailridge road in Colorado (approx 12,ooo feet) over the weekend and the engine died a dozen times. It always dies when I am coasting at about 3500 rpms and I push the clutch in. At this point the rpms go right past idle and the engine dies. Its almost as if no fuel is making it the engine. It always started right away after the event. The dealership in Boulder (low altitude) said they couldn't reproduce the problem (no surprise there as they are only at 5000 feet). They said maybe the ECM needed more time to adjust the fuel/air ratio...blah blah blah. This is dealership speak for, "The computer didn't show any codes so therefore I can't do anything."

    Anyone have any ideas before I head back up into high altitude?
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    I'm assuming your Baja is not a turbo, correct? I think if it were a turbo, this would not have happened. From what I've read turbos (all turbos) are much better than non-turbos in high altitude areas.

    Are there any Subaru groups or clubs in the mountain states that you could contact? My guess is this is a fairly common problem in the Rockies. My understanding is because the air is so thin up there, that the air/fuel ratio gets all screwed up at high altitudes.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Also check your fuel filter if it's the type in the engine compartment. I'm not sure what year they switched it over to the in-tank style.

  • sdycus10sdycus10 Posts: 3
    Bob and Mike,

    Thanks for the replies. My Baja actually is a turbo. I had the dealer check the fuel filter and it was clean. I was thinking mass air flow sensor or o2 sensor but they claim that if any of that was off the ECM would have shown a code. The ECM had no stored codes. I had also considered bad fuel but I only use name brand 91 octane fuel. Very confusing.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Very strange.

    As far as octane goes, the thin air actually makes it less important. That's why gas stations sell lower octane gas in the mountains.

    I think you just got a bad batch of gas. I'm very surprised it didn't throw a code, though. If you see a fuel tanker at the gas station, get gas somewhere else. The process of filling up those old tanks kicks up all the debris that's normally at the bottom of the tank.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,920

    Must be quite a luxury to have pipe-fed fueling stations! If you ever come to Alaska, turn a blind eye to the tankers or you will run out of fuel long before you find a pipelined station. ;)
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • hi.... i've got a 2003 outback wagon with the 2.5l '4', now with 63k miles.... (which has been properly maintained ),earlier this year my primary service garage noticed an oil leak from one of the manifolds, and they alerted me to a known problem from subaru about gasket leakage...
    i brought the lead sled to the dealer, and they replaced the head gasket and replaced the timing belt for the price of the part only, very nice....since they had to take the old one out anyway to perform this work....
    now, the next morning, the car sounded like my college '62 beetle, a loud ticking noise which with increasing rpms, became less noticeable... quite obnoxious.....
    my primary garage listened and thought perhaps the valves needed to be adjusted, so i then contacted the dealer, spoke to the service folks, and was told in no uncertain terms that the work performed could not have impacted the valves, and i then asked them why the engine now makes a most unpleasant and still persistent ticking noise, when it did not exist in any way prior to this major engine work..
    what i got was nothing, no answer, they don't know why this is..... not quite a satisfactory reply.....
    the car is going to the dealer next week, and the owner will personally take the car home, and drive so as to hear the problem (which is worse at cold start up)....(because the service dept steadfastly states that there is nothing really wrong with the car, this noise is not uncommon or abnormal, yeah right !!!!!!!)
    i've read ad naueum about piston slap, valve adjustments, and wondering if this is a much more common problem than we all know....
    i do have an extended comprehensive warranty from a 3rd party purchased from the dealer when initially bought, thank god for this, i hope to get my monies worth...
    spending thousands of dollars for what is touted to be a quality product and now having to deal with this disquieting noise is unacceptable and insulting to all those who've purchased these subarus in good faith.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,920
    My guess is that this is not "piston slap," but something else caused by the work performed. Does the '03 2.5L have hydraulic lifters? Perhaps, if so, they unintentionally allowed one (or more) of the lifters to drain and did not check them prior to reinserting. One way to narrow down the issue is to take a screw driver, place it against the head/valve cover on each side and put an ear up to the butt of the driver. You should be able to clearly hear from which side the sound is coming. If it is the same side as the work was performed, that should help strengthen the thought that this is was caused by the work.

    Does the car otherwise run smoothly? If so, it is likely that they at least set the timing properly. Keep after them - this sounds like a resolvable situation (in your favor!).
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • fba01fba01 Posts: 1
    my '03 has been has never had any problems at any altitude. it sounds like air and/or fuel flow is being impeded.

    I have my maintenance done at 'Nice Car' Subaru shop in Fort Collins. Bob, the owner, is a Subaru fanatic and would probably discuss this with you.
  • caliberchiccaliberchic Posts: 402
    Be sure to post a review for "Nice Car" if you have a moment. See the banner at the top of the page to take you to the review page.
  • I noticed a small oil leak at the bottom of the Oil filter of my 06 Baja (with 80k mostly highway miles). I changed the oil and filter and still notice a small amount. I can't tell where it is coming from? I don't see any stream. Of course, now that I changed the oil it is very clean and harder to see.

    Anyone heard of this? Did I damage the seal? Does this sound like something serious? At this point the leak is barely noticeable - but I tend to worry.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Well, a loss of oil can be catastrophic, while a new oil filter runs a couple of bucks.

    So I would begin by replacing it. Make sure you wipe the surface clean and be sure the old gasket doesn't stick on (that set more than a few CR-Vs ablaze around 2002 or so).

    Also, don't overtighten it else it might pinch the oil filter gasket. I'd even dab some clean, fresh oil on the gasket so it slides on smoothly.

    If it's not there, I would tape a clean paper towel under the car overnight and use that to help trace exactly where the leak is. Use a plumb bob.

    Best of luck.
  • Thanks for the suggestions. At this point I don't see anything on the ground - there is a plastic cowling under the filter so any oil is caught there. What I have seen so far is extremely modest - maybe I left something on the gasket or overtightened. I was mostly concerned that there might be a leak in something expensive such as head gasket, oil pump, etc - but just a little dab on the oil filter.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587

    I'd just check the oil level each time you stop for gas, that should be often enough.

    I think there is an oil light if the level gets low, too (not sure about that).
  • Thanks again. I regularly check the ground and under the car each day - so I doubt that this will get by me. I actually had it at the dealer yesterday as well - they had to replace the cat converter (under warranty luckily) and they took a look. They said it was from the oil change and wiped it off. I think something else is happening - but I will monitor as well.
  • hi... fyi...
    the dealer replaced numbers 2 and 4 pistons, and by god,
    what a miracle, the obnoxious piston slap was eliminated !!!
    praise the heavens above the i had (and have) an extended
    warranty......... 1800 bucks later.....
    shame on subaru, the latest consumer reports car issue,
    lists the same engine for 2003 as being extraordinarily problematic,
    as it received an all black circle, noting that customer complaints
    were overwhelming....
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Not due to piston slap, by the way, but rather due to head gasket failures.

    So piston slap wasn't all that common.
  • There's a washer that has to be replaced every time you change the oil filter. Most places don't carry them. I buy six or so at once from the dealership and then make sure anyone changing my oil uses one. Otherwise, it will leak every time. Substitute washers don't seem to work and you can't reuse the the old one.
  • sdycus10sdycus10 Posts: 3
    Just an update on my '06 Baja Turbo that dies at high altitude (driving on I-70 to go skiing). Multiple Subaru engineers, techs, district managers, etc have duplicated the issue while driving my car. Everything except the engine has been replaced, but still no fix. This has gone on for 12 months. I am losing faith in Subaru.
  • Glad I found this forum, hope someone can offer some advice.
    Here's my problem. Bought a 2003 Subaru Baja about a month ago from a used car dealer, several hundred miles away. Of course within a week of getting my Baja home I notice a little leaking oil, so I took it to a local repair shop; no problem was located. Now it's leaking a lot more oil, so I took it to a Subaru service shop were they found 2 leaking gaskets; cost to repair: $2600.
    My question: Are head gaskets considered lubricated components? I ask because this car has a 60-day warranty which covers all lubricated components. The used car dealer refuses to reimburse me for what he calls "an oil leak"; he also became belligerent and blames me for the damage! :sick:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sounds like a rotten dealer.

    Time to lawyer up, if you ask me.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,920
    Strictly speaking, head gaskets are not lubricated components. Examples of those would be internal moving parts in the engine or drivetrain components such as U-joints, CV joints, differentials, etc. Head gaskets are merely a barrier to prevent the lubricants from going where they are not supposed to go. In this case, they failed. I suspect the previous owner sold the car for this reason, the dealer knew about it, and then sold you the car at an inflated price without disclosing the defect.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They are seals for the engine, though, moving parts that are lubricated.

    Wonder if that matters?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,920
    It might be up to a court of law at that point. This is a "guarantee" from the seller, nothing more. In the end, unless a customer challenges in court, the parts covered are left to the interpretation of the seller. :mad:
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ellorensellorens Posts: 1
    2 questions 1st i have changed my oil several times and have not replaced this "special" gasket, whats up with that? and no oil leaks .2nd i just hade my emmisions done on my car it passed perfect however when i left my check engine light has come on and it will not go off, what should i do
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Borrow or purchase a code reader, and let us know what the error code is.
  • pkassubepkassube Posts: 1
    I have serviced my Baja regularly and ever since last summer there is a smell of burnt oil. Now it has started leaking. The Subaru dealer recently replaced the oil pump and the timing belt. They said the leak was from the oil pump. Now the leak is much worse and an independent garage is saying - head gasket, lifters.... $2000 - $4000!!!! From what I am reading, the Subaru dealership should have known about the possibilities and looked at this when they had it ripped apart!! :mad:
This discussion has been closed.