Subaru Legacy/Outback Transmission Problems

caliberchiccaliberchic Posts: 402
Having transmission problems, post here?


  • vpekulasvpekulas Posts: 14
    Hi all,

    I have a very annoying problem with my 2001 H6 Outback. A few weeks ago the battery light and the exclamation point light came up on my dashboard and a few minutes later the car died - no power.

    I've waited an hour or so, started the car and drove to a garage. They took apart the alternator changed some chip on it and said all fixed.

    Three weeks later the same things happens. I take it back, they changed the battery for a brand new one and said all fixed.

    Now a week later the same thing again. I paid over $500 and was without a car for almost a week in total, just to have the same problem a month later. The guys who specialize in auto electro told me that they can't find anything wong with the car - everything has been checked.

    Any idea what I might be dealing with here and what's a good (any) way to find the cause ?
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    Have you had the 01 OB H6 all this time without this happening? It certainly sounds strange and I wonder if there's something simple, like a dome light left on or something that is causing the discharge.

    Also, what did the $500 cover? Most shops will warranty their work for 1 year so you shouldn't have to pay for the same problem in one month. Going out on a limb here, but are you sure they put in a new battery? Have you until this point been on the orignal battery?

  • vpekulasvpekulas Posts: 14
    The car was fine for the last 10,000 KM's that I have had it. This problem appeared out of nowhere. There were no lights left on at all - the strange thing is that it looks like the alternator isn't chairing up the battery all the time but only sometimes. The problem presents itself only after driving a bit, never right away after starting.

    The shop changed the chip in the alternator and put in a new battery (yes, brand new). I won't pay them again, the problem is that they will come back saying that the car is fine since the lights (and the battery dies) at random. I can be driving with everything on for 3 days with no problems and then I come back a day later be driving 20 minutes just for the battery to die.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sounds like an intermittent problem, that's why they cannot duplicate it and troubleshoot it. This may be tough to fix. They have to see it while the problem is still occuring.

    If you have AAA, see if next time you can get it towed to the shop while the problem still exists, so they can see it.

    I work in tech support for PCs, and I'd swear all computers work perfectly the minute I get my hands on them. ;)

  • rpkoz1rpkoz1 Posts: 3
    I have a 1996 legacy wagon , it has been in storage for about 9 months . about once a month we would run the engine, this past weekend it would not even turnover ..When i connected the battery charger, the front right parking lamp ,the dome light and the right tail light started to flash ... Everything in the car was turned off.... Any thoughts to what it might be??
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My Forester does that when I disconnect the battery and reconnect it. I cycle the keyless locks on and off a few times and it stops. Do you have a keyfob like that? If not try the power door locks.

  • rpkoz1rpkoz1 Posts: 3
    Thank you , That worked perfectly ....

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Schweet! Score one for the forums. :)

  • sandman52sandman52 Posts: 36
    My daughter called today and said her '95 Outback started stalling a couple months ago when she would have the clutch in while making a turn, or coming to a stop. Recently though she says it has started hesitating when she is accelerating, and sometimes she has a problem getting it up to speed when entering the freeway, which is making her a bit nervous about getting stranded especially with her 4 month old in the back seat. Also having an intermittent check engine light. She had it in to a local shop and they did a computer check that said she had an "airflow error" in the computer history, but that it was checking out OK now. They replaced her fuel and air filters along with a new air conditioner compressor since that wasn't working for the tune of $800 and she's running low on repair money. Any ideas on what we can check before she ends up bankrupt trying to diagnose the problem?
    Thanks in advance for any tips you can provide!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 14,721
    I am surprised that the ECU recorded any code, but my bet is on the mass airflow sensor in relation to the stalling. I think that, new, the part is somewhere to the tune of $400, but you can find them used for less than half that. The hesitation might just be fuel injectors needing some assistance. Have her run a few bottles of injector cleaner through the fuel and see if it helps that part. It might take a few though, so run them on back-to-back tanks (one bottle per fill up).

    I replaced my MAS in response to a "ghost" stalling problem that would trip the CEL but record no code. After wasting several hundred dollars in fruitless diagnostics, a local indpendent Subaru mechanic suggested I try the MAS. I did - purchased a used one as my repair money was all but gone - and have had no problems with the stalling every since (5 years now).

    Best of luck to your daughter. -Wes-
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Thanks Wes.
    I'll see if I can find a used MAFS for her, and see if that does the trick.

    Thanks again!
  • 2001 Outback H6 3.0, 205,000 KM's (=128K Mi)

    As it seems over the last few weeks I've been noticing that the car is getting lazier more and more when it comes to acceleration. Looks to me that the 1st and 2nd gear is not producing quite as good as it used to. In reality it really only kick in on the 3rd gear. What can be the possible causes ? Should I check the s.plugs (I don't think they have been ever changed).
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Tune-up time.

    I'd change the plugs, yes, but also the spark plug wires. The miles are very high, so if you haven't already I'd flush out the fluids (radiator, ATF or gear oil, rear diff oil, etc.).

  • Spark plug wires ? Never heard of that, is that recommended by the manufacturer and does it really need it ? I've done the flush about a month ago of everything but the rear diff which was still good from the last time.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I would definitely do the spark plug wires if they are original. On my Miata I only get 30k out of them.

    On my Subie, a chipmunk, of all things, chewed up my wires to I changed those a short while ago.

    Mine was misfiring, so I actually got a Check-Engine Light, but the tune-up fixed it.

  • OK I'm convinced :)
    Is there a guide available somewhere on the net that shows how to get to all 6 s. plugs and change the wires ? I'd like to do this one myself. Thanks.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Hmm, I don't think so.

    The wires are easy. Just replace one at a time, right after you remove the old one. There are 6 and I believe there will be different lengths, 2 short, 2 medium, and 2 long. One of each length for each side.

    Use the same path as the stock wires.

    Haven't done plugs on an H6, but it shouldn't be much different than any other boxer. Access may be a bit tight.

  • I had a similar problem: both brake (exclamation point) and battery lights went on, no power steering. Cause: the idler pulley had fell off so there was no tension in the serpentine belt. The ball bearings froze in the center of the pulley causing it to stop and the bolt just fell off dragging the pulley with it. Cost of repair: 10$ for a new ball bearing reinstalled in the pulley.
  • tjhmtjhm Posts: 1
    I have a 1996 Legacy Station wagon 2.5 4 cam
    I loved the car until 2 weeks ago
    Check engine light is intermittently flickering on and the car is stuttering.
    I can do 100 miles fine and then suddenly it all comes back.
    The dealer has replaced exhaust, oxygen sensor, fuel filter and run a diagnostic.
    Initial diagnostic showed oxygen sensor problem (replaced) and airflow sensor (not yet replaced)
    Furthur diagnostics have revealed nothing - I think that the dealers think I'm mad! The car runs fine for them (on their limited test drives)
    I am tearing my hair out!!! Please help
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I would get new spark plug wires (I'm sure they're due by now), new spark plugs, and if all those don't help, a new ignition coil (only about $80 or so).

    Power is stuttering so it's probably spark.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 14,721
    I agree that it is likely spark, but since the spark is electronically controlled it could be more than just the mechanicals themselves. Since your ECU coded an airflow sensor issue, you might consider replacement of it. The part is expensive, but extremely simple to replace. I had the problems noted above with the MAS (likely) and never was a code recorded, though the CEL did illuminate. So, at this point it is hard to say, but I concur with juice that it is likely either spark or something that controls the timing of it.

    Interesting that you say the CEL is "flickering" on. I have never observed that behavior and was not aware it was able to simply "flicker." I wonder if that is indicative of something in and of itself? How many tanks of fuel have you run through the car in the past two weeks? Perhaps there is/was a little water in the tank. A bottle of Heet would eliminate that possibility.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • The same thing happened to me in July 2006. I was on the freeway and in slow moving traffic and my car died. I was able to get it to turn over and stay on long enough to get it to the shoulder while I waited for a tow truck. The Subaru dealership I took it to didn't find anything wrong with it after 2 days of testing. When I heard a similar noise in late August (a high pitched buzz - I heard it prior to the July breakdown), I drove it into another dealership and they ended up replacing the main electrical relay. I still don't have any confidence in my car, which is sad, since I bought a Subaru with the hopes of having it for years (and hundreds of thousands of miles). Now, I am thinking of trading it in for anything but another Subaru. :(
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Why? That's a very rare problem, what are the odds that it would happen again? And changing brands doesn't necessarily improve those odds. For MY2004 Subaru was Consumer Reports single most reliable brand, so switching to anything else might actually make your odds worse! :surprise:

  • That's so funny you should write that (re: changing brands doesn't necessarily improve the odds). I have been thinking about purchasing a 2004 or 2005 Chrysler Pacifica and in reading the boards have discovered that it has an electrical problem similar to the one I have experienced with my Subaru. Let's just say that I am going to be in research mode for a while before I make any rash decisions. :)
  • So the same thing just happened to my wife's '01 VDC. Where did you get the bearing???? :confuse: :(
  • Called the local Sube dealers. They had no clue. $50 for the idler. Only one in stock at one of the largest Sube dealers in the country, Dellenbach, Ft. Collins, CO.

    Fortunately, last night I ran across a posting in a Mazda forum. They use the same NSK 6203DUL1 bearing for the idler pulley in the Mazda 6. So I called the local Mazda dealer, Spradley-Barr, Ft. Collins also. They knew immediately what I was talking about and said they get the bearing from Carquest Auto Parts and the number is 203SS. I called Carquest, 4 in stock, and have a better bearing that is the 203FF which is sealed both sides with steel. ~$10.50 ea.

    BTW, they're easy to press out and in with a 6-inch vise and a set of impact sockets as the spacers. Loctite the bolts on re-installation. Now how to get the belt back on... :cry:

    Hope this helps someone!
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    "Now how to get the belt back on... :cry: "

    In cartoons, that's when the lightening bolts are coming out of the guys head! :P
  • While tightening down the bolt on one of the idlers, I realized that it was the tensioner. So just a 14mm wrench on the idler bolt to move the tensioner arm to where it is not tensioning the belt. Viola!
  • All cars from '96 on will flicker the MIL when there is a misfire. The misfire could be from the ignition or the injectors though. I came over to this forum because I just picked up a '96 Outback with 134000 miles on it. I can't believe how good this thing runs, I work on Fords & most won't go that far! What kind of fuel mileage can I expect from this car, 2.5 dohc and auto trans?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 14,721
    When I picked mine up 8/2000 with 83.5K, it averaged ~27. Now, at 220K, it is at more like ~22.5. However, in the past 3 weeks I have had the dreaded P0400 (EGR system) code, so I plan to run it through the paces come spring and will probably address old oxygen sensors, so it might kick up a few mpgs. At 130xxx I probably got an average of 25-26 out of it.

    Be wary of head gaskets and oil leaks from the camshaft seals and/or valve cover gaskets. Otherwise, quite a decent car.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • I do have an oil leak at the rear of the engine. It drips right onto the exhaust & really stinks up the garage after I shut it down. It looks like a rear main seal but I hope it is just valve cover gaskets. The acceleration seems to flatten out at times, on long moderate accels it doesn't pull evenly. I'm going to look into this during the week, any ideas?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 14,721
    That leak sounds like valve cover gaskets. Honestly, I have not heard of any rear main leaks... not even on mine and I would venture to guess my car has leaked more oil than any dozen other Subarus combined. However, since replacing the head gaskets (unrelated problem) at 192.5K, I have had zero oil leaks (almost 30K miles now), so I am hoping those days are behind me. The oil dripping onto the exhaust was so bad before I fixed it the first time (144K) that I would have to shut off my defroster or it would fill the cabin with smoke. :blush: The dealership from which I purchased the car overfilled the oil by about 1.5 quarts and it blew the gaskets/seals all to pieces. I noticed the overfill within about 100 miles, but within another month it was leaking 1/2 quart every tank (~250 miles). That was at 84K miles. By 144K when I finally fixed it, it was around 3 quarts per 250 miles. All 4 cam seals, the valve cover gaskets, and the oil temperature sending unit were all leaking profusely. The crank seals were fine though - in fact, I never have replaced the rear main on it.

    As for acceleration, mine does not pull real strong between ~35 and 50 mph unless I intentionally hold gears longer and accelerate aggressively, but I think this more a function of the gearing and shift points than it is a "problem" with something in the drivetrain. This engine can rev high with no problems though - max torque is achieved at 5500 RPM if I recall correctly, though I rarely take it that high as I am used to old vehicles like my '69 Chevy C20 (307) and there would be pieces of iron all over the highway if I tried that. :D
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • 1996 outback I changed my driver head light and had to remove my battery to do so. I put everything back togeather and the light works fine but my blinkers go on and off intermitinly with a cliching sound my radio blinks also. I cleaned the crossion of the battery and cleaned both tremonals. also the blinker on my dash are not on. dose anyone have an idea. thanks
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 14,721
    Do you have the optional remote door locks / alarm? If so, that is it. There should be a reset button located on the left kick panel a up under the dash (behind the hood release area). The owner's manual should also mention the reset steps... I think!
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • I have Legacy GT 01 with 85K, sometimes it is hard to shift into 1st, 2nd or reverse gear (or simply impossible), although clutch pedal is fully pushed. What is possible source for that problem? What needs to be fixed to eliminate it?
    *Car has customized rims and low-profile tires
  • from the day we purchased our wagon, the doors randomly lock on their own, sometimes leaving keys inside or even in the ignition. subaru service turned the lock-out prevention from on to off but the problem has continued. anyone else have this problem or a solution? thanks.
  • Not sure about the 96, but the 98 and newer ones that i own require that when the battery is disconnected and the parking lights start flashing, you can turn them off by simply cycling the door locks with the remote. HOWEVER, that flashing is an indication that the computer has lost its memory. The procedure is to start the car (no AC, lights, defrosters etc.) and allow it to reach operating temperature (i typically allow the fans to turn on at least once) WITHOUT touching the throttle or anything else for that matter!!! When the fans turn on, the computer should be happy and you can then turn the car off (again, without touching anything else mentioned above!). The car is ready to drive normally now when restarted.
    I believe eventually the car will re-learn itself if this procedure is not followed, but not exactly sure. Easy to do and I recommend it anytime the battery is disconnected long enough to start the lights flashing.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 14,721
    That is why I find this situation strange. I have a '96 and I have never had a "flashing light" situation. And, there have been plenty of times when I have had it apart long enough to reset the ECU - the two times I had the engine pulled not withstanding.

    Anyway, considering no response thus far from the original poster, all must be well.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ENGINE lights and more... Yes, my 75 year-old mom had the same oil leak problem on her '96 Subaru Leg. Outback Wagon and at 120K they pulled the valve covers off and did a gasket job--due to wierdness of when oil is checked, 50% of the time it looks low, 50% looks normal. I admit I did
    that--and yes--car was level! AND I'm a trained machinist! Am I human? Does being a cave-man count? far as the "check engine" light goes, she's had the same problem for years--the car will stall or sputter a bit then the light comes on and the car runs fine until the light goes off. 6 months ago she paid (without family knowing) $275.00 to have the light checked out and a crankshaft sensor replaced. Light comes on again 3 weeks ago, she takes it in--always to the dealer, they tell her "oh hey now its got 123K on it, you need all the valve shims checked and adjusted" (ain't they they hydraulic--wink wink??) and "the check engine light isn't the same thing it was 6 months ago, so its not covered under warranty--it's too technical for you to understand." All without family knowlege again... BTW car has been nicely cared for--will cruise easily at 90+++... I finally find out 2 hours after she says yes to a $1,400.00 estimate after they talk her into doing 4 more jobs, including tire rotation, a new key, blah blah... So I call, the guy says "oh yeah well we didn't do the valve shims 6 months ago when we had the valve covers off cuz nobody thought of it." So I also look at ALL the bills for last 9 years--looks like she's paid thousands for recalls. WTF??) All she wanted was her $4.95 oil change with her little coupon. One question is--in CA, would it be OK to ask them if they are commiting elder abuse without being sued for hurting someone's feelings?? So as I write this they called--the guy says "ohhh yeah those valves ARE hydraulic." I want to see a naked head and check with own eyes before I blow a gasket!! Hey Happy New Year and Good luck to all!!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 14,721
    ???? !!!!! :mad:

    That is unbe... well, nevermind, I have come to believe quite a bit to be possible. :blush:

    Push it - perhaps contact SOA (800SUBARU3) and report it to them first, maybe talk to legal counsel if you can get a free consultation to find out what else you can do. Maybe chew out some higher-up at the dealership in a public place for taking advantage of their customers..... and definitely convince your mother to find a new shop or find one for her.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • I own a 1998 Subaru Legacy Outback. When I bought it (used) the airflow control panel buttons are not lit at night. I just assumed it was normal but now I"m wondering if there should be lights under there? There are lights on the radio controls and the gauges all light up. If there are supposed to be lights in there, is there an easy way for me to fix it or is it dealer only? If someone has done this before could you please let me know or e-mail me [email protected] Thanks!
  • I own a 1998 Subaru Legacy Outback. When I bought it (used) the airflow control panel buttons are not lit at night. I just assumed it was normal but now I"m wondering if there should be lights under there? There are lights on the radio controls and the gauges all light up. If there are supposed to be lights in there, is there an easy way for me to fix it or is it dealer only? If someone has done this before could you please let me know or e-mail me Thanks!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 14,721
    They are supposed to be lit but tend to be the first set of lights to go out. Somewhat difficult to replace, but doable. Some owners here have done it (though not I - I preferred to just memorize their location and not worry about illumination). At 220K on my car, none of the lights worked except the defroster, 1/2 of the radio, and all but the fuel gauge's backlight on the instrument cluster.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Thanks for the answer- Does anyone have directions as to how to fix the lights, if I get up the ambition???
  • rpkoz1rpkoz1 Posts: 3
  • I just changed the same bulbs on my '96. Start by releasing the temp. cable on the rt lower side of dash at the heater box, then unscrew the bezel around the radio & heat controls, the screws are behind the cup holder. Now remove the heater control & unscrew the bulbs. there is a cover that needs to be removed also on the back of the control head to gain access to the bulbs. It sounds harder than it is, it didn't take more than 15-20 minutes. Is the hazard switch supposed to light up? I think I have a bulb out there too.
  • trying to replace the Automatic Transmission filter on a 1997 outback and having a hard time getting the filter out to replace.
    am i supposed to remove more that the pan?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    It may be a spin-on type.

  • there are two metal tubes the restrict how much the filter can move, hence why i cant remove it. im not sure one is for the dipstick, but to remove the filter it looks i may have to remove at least one of the tubes. what i am unsure about is how to properly remove them. would the shop manual cover something as specific as thant?

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I rarely delvue into the AT as they are costly if you mess them up. Rather have someone else responsible for it.

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