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Subaru Legacy/Outback Engine Issues



  • sbcvulcansbcvulcan Posts: 3
    I am looking at one Legacy 2.5 GT in particular and I have some questions. Looking at a turbo, would be first one I owned.

    Some questions

    1. Is an 05 with only 25k miles and two owners. I find that suspicious, do you?

    2. Has been brought in three times with service from the 20k to 25k mile mark for Engine/powertrain computer/module check. Is this an indication of a problem? I saw this on carfax report

    3. The battery was xchanged in 2007, rather early for an original 05 car?

    4. The car whines on acceleration aside from the whoosh of the turbo. Is this an expected sound with this car. The automatic trans turbo was not loud like this manual i tried, although obviosuly I am revving much more.

    5. Is there any reason to get one transmission over the other in thsi model?

    Any opinions, answers to some or all is appreciated. Thanks.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,312
    1. Difficult to say. Can you determine length of ownership in either case? If the first ownership was long and the second extremely short (encompassing the 20-25K period when the shop visits occurred), that may be indicative of a systemic problem. And, given it is still under 5 year / 60K powertrain warranty, Subaru may have deemed such a problem to be owner-error and therefore not covered under warranty.

    2. Again, hard to say. Obviously, there was some sort of problem or concern, but without seeing the tickets, what is it? Different things, recurring, etc?

    3. Subaru batteries are weak. Depending on the climate, I think replacing the stock battery after two years is about right. I would replace mine much sooner to hedge my bets against being stranded somewhere when it is really cold....

    I cannot comment on concerns 4 and 5.
    2008 and 2010 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My 98 Forester only had one coil pack, that's interesting.

    Any how, the electrical connections usually have a locking retainer you have to push in to slide the connection out. Try a light and maybe a mirror, too.

    While I'm at it - here's a great purchase - I got a "headlight" that I can wear as a head band, so the light aims wherever I look, that was the BEST purchase I have made in terms of tools in a decade. I love it. Use it ALL the time. I strongly recommend one.

    It's smaller than this but you get the idea:


    That plus a mirror and you should see it.

    Good luck.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My 2 cents' worth...

    1. Yes a little suspicious. Guy buys it, totals it, sells it to his brother in another state, good luck tracking the wreckage.

    2. Again, yes, because combined with the low miles it means this car has not been healthy most of its life.

    3. A little early, could be another symptom of a car parked due to not running properly.

    4. Yikes. Diffs, trans gears, AWD, who knows. Run don't walk.

    5. Manual is the perfect match for the turbo, IMHO.

    I'd pass, seriously, this one has red flags all over it. The 2010s are coming out so people will be trading up, leaving plenty of good used ones for purchase.
  • yatesjoyatesjo Posts: 186
    3. Subaru batteries are weak. Depending on the climate, I think replacing the stock battery after two years is about right. I would replace mine much sooner to hedge my bets against being stranded somewhere when it is really cold....

    That is interesting to hear. I was shocked when our 2005 Legacy battery failed after only 3 years. My Ford worked on the same battery for 9 years, when even the alternator failed at 5 years, and the Miata was on it's original gel cell per the markings for 13 years before it died (absolutely amazing if you ask me). I'm in San Jose so the batteries are never stressed by cold temperature extremes; when I was in MO I was generally happy to get 5 years on a battery.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think I got 5 years out of the battery in my 98 Forester, but it only had something like 265 CCAs.

    The replacement battery I got had very nearly double the CCAs, and it was just much easier to start it after that.

    Had you checked the fluid levels and added distilled water every year? I think nowadays batteries are often overlooked.
  • sbcvulcansbcvulcan Posts: 3
    I'm not buying it. THe dealership never had the previous owner call me nor did they call me back. I 've never seen any dealership so disinterested in selling a car. It had been there two weeks.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Good decision, IMHO.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,312
    I think I got 5 years out of the battery in my 98 Forester, but it only had something like 265 CCAs.

    Yes, that is what I mean by "weak" batteries. The CCA rating on them is horrifically low. In extremely cold weather (colder than about -20F, which is common in Fairbanks), all presets on my radio, etc., would reset on my car due to the amount of juice required to start the car. It started, but the engine cranked slowly. In comparison, replacing that battery with with a 600 or higher CCA, the engine cranks quickly, without unduly stressing the battery.

    Now, one can add a "battery blanket" in cold climates, which will heat the battery when the car is plugged in (other heaters such as an engine block heater, oil pan heater, and transmission heater are required equipment) and nurse the battery. However, doing so only makes the driver more vulnerable to problems when the time comes that the car could not be plugged in and must be cold-started. With a good battery, no such nursing is needed.

    I have batteries, such as the one in my old '69 Chevy truck, that are on year ten and going strong in this climate. The stock Subaru battery just will not last that long due to the demand placed on the battery. I would much rather spend the $100 to replace it early on than find out just how long it will last, because the day it fails will inevitably be when I am at some remote location with temperatures in the "highly unpleasant" range. ;)
    2008 and 2010 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,312
    I agree with that!

    However, if the GT is a wagon, 2005 is the last year of that option and the only year of the turbo-GT-wagon combo, so they are a unique breed.
    2008 and 2010 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    True that, paisan got one and they are a rare (but good) find.

    2 owners gave up on it after such low miles, though? Even if it's not a scam, that's still a red flag.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,312
    Agreed; it certainly warrants caution. I think the original poster made a good move by moving on, especially given the seller's less-than-forthcoming approach. :lemon:
    2008 and 2010 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • I have a '92 Subaru Legacy 2.2L (Automatic) that has recently had issues with the harmonic balancer. I have called around and gotten multiple prices and now am not comfortable which option to choose at this point. Most of the advise I can get is from people who know very little about Subaru's. My quotes are $318.99-69.99 and cannot seem to get an explanation to the very LARGE difference in price. I keep being told it could be a 'kit' but when I'm looking at's a pulley with a rubber piece in the center. It does not seem this could be an assembly? If so would it be wise to just get the damper instead of the whole pulley? The problem has been that it will not stay tight and continues to back off of the bolt that goes into the crank shaft housing (crank shaft pulley) Now it will not still wobble a bit (so it's parked till fixed) even after being tighten. My guess is the rubber has somehow warn from one area creating an unbalance thus getting it to continue to keep backing that it won't tighten (after the 3rd retighten in less than 1.5 weeks) I'm afraid I may need to also replace the bolt too..I've never done this before and know little about cars over all but any advise or direction would be GREATLY GREATLY appreciated!!!!
  • krallkrall Posts: 17
    I have a 2001 OB (4-cly, 5-spd). At present the engine bucks at moderate to hard acceleration < 2500 rpms (in any gear).
    ... deleted post.....

    Sorry for the trouble. I went back out after posting a disconnected/reconnected all spark plug wires from both coil and plugs. One of the plugs wasn't completely engaged to the plug and must have not been firing under load. Phew....
  • Can anyone tell me when it is "common" that these gaskets go? I had a 99 OUtback (sold it last year) but am looking at a 96 Legacy L X Wagon w/178,000 m. Car seems to run well , only noticeable problem was rattle in fan when turned up over level does heat OK.

    Plan to use vehicle on limited basis ("dog" car)...

    Recall having rear differential gasket replaced on my 99 at 120,000 so am wondering IF this one may already have gone through these repairs.

    Selling price of car is $1800 and otherwise I think it seemed noises, rattles (aside from fan noise) power OK

    Maybe I am asking "should I buy this car?"

    I 've just heard that it's common for Subarus to need "bearings" and these seals after 100,000 and hope the previous owner may have already done this..(can't contact person but it is a one owner car in otherwise great conditon).

    Thanks, Liz
  • Looked at a 96 Legacy wagon w/ 178,000 . Car is in great shape, body excellent, no weird sounds or indications of trouble that I could find when I drove it. Asking $1800.(I just need car to transport my dogs so won't be driving much).

    Used to own a 99 Outback (bought it used w/48,000) it was fine until around 85,000 mi
    and then started replacing many part: rear differential seal was something that went at 123,000 and I fixed it but got a new car (Honda).

    Just wondering IF you think this is too risky or should I assume the previous owner (can't contact person but it was one owner car) probably has replaced many of these pricey items already?

    As I said, I do not plan on using this as my main car...

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    At 178k, the gasket would have failed long ago.

    What matters now is how it was taken care of. Ask to see the service history. Check for the common issues - noisy wheel bearings, oil leaks at the gaskets and front and rear main seals.

    The good thing is most problems you can see or hear, i.e. they should be fairly obvious if you look carefully.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,312
    Does the car have the 2.2L or 2.5L? It could be either in '96; I am not sure if Subaru used the 2.5L in other models aside from Outback, but I think they did. I never had bearing, differential, or transmission issues with my '96 Outback up to 220,000 miles.

    Service history is important to know; otherwise, you really have no idea what you are going to get.
    2008 and 2010 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
  • subvtsubvt Posts: 1
    So how much did it end up costing? I'm facing a similar problem.
  • I replaced the starter with a new one, when I put the key in it, the bell was chiming, then when i turned the key everything went dead, the windows now go up without the key in the ignition, the heater fan also turns on, the turn signals make a solid buzzing sound when turned on, plus when i turn the key to the on position and hit the break to put the car in neutral to back it off the ramps it wont turn go into neutral but i can hear the switch for the shifter clicking as it does when u hit the button to take it out of park.....i am totally baffled anyone have ANY idea where to start with this problem or have any ideas it would be much appreciated..
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 693
    Check the engine/battery grounding to the chassis. I believe it is at the starter motor. If ground is open all electrical functions will interact. Is there a loose strap by the starter...or is there such a left-over part after putting in the new starter?
  • First like to thank you guys for this forum! Great job! I have a 98 Subaru Outback that just had an oil change & fuel filter change. When we start the car up there's a significant amount of thick blue/white smoke that comes out for a bit then burns off after running the car a bit. But there's still a minor amount that comes out while driving. Is this a major concern? We are very strapped for money and would like to know if this is an expensive fix. Thank you.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,772
    I'm not sure if I am following this right. You mention an oil change. Did the blue smoke just start happening right after having the oil change, or did the amount of smoke change considerably then, or is it an ongoing problem?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Is the oil level correct? Maybe the crankcase was overfilled.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,772
    That was what I was thinking, but the OP disappeared.... (in a cloud of blue smoke?)
  • izzy812izzy812 Posts: 1
    edited October 2010
    Did you ever get this issue resolved? I am looking at buying a used '96 and it has a ticking when it starts and gets faster and just a hair louder when I accelerate. I want it as a first car for my daughter. Thank you
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,312
    That noise is most likely valve chatter. Unless the contact points have worn significantly, this will likely quiet down if the oil is fully topped off. Check the oil; if it is still making the noise and the oil is full, then either the cam lobes are starting to get worn or the ticking is coming from another internal component.

    Subaru's, especially older ones, are famous for valve chatter. People (around here anyway) like to say they sound like sewing machines.
    2008 and 2010 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Thanks all for this forum! It's great to have a place to bounce ideas around.
    So currently I have a 1998 subaru legacy L thats overheating. All the fluid levels are good and the thermostat is new. Noticeable lack of power and some new mechanical noise coming from engine, doesn't sound like valve lash but just as consistant. Oil light keeps coming on and only cold air blows from the heater. I think possibly cracked head......any insight on this would be great.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,772
    Unfortunately, I think you on the right path. The DOHC EJ25 engines are prone to head gasket failure. Once combustion gases get into the water jacket, you get air pockets that prevent the heater core from providing warmth to the cabin, and causes hot spots that do further engine damage.

    If you act quickly, you might be able to save the engine. Run it like this and you will kill it quickly.
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