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Subaru Legacy/Outback "Check Engine" Light Problems



  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,913
    Ah, okay. Thanks for clarifying, Steve - I didn't catch that and just don't have the time to review. :blush:

    If the turbo car is throwing a code, now's the time for a diagnostic tool to help point us in the right direction. I certainly wouldn't want any whining sounds with a turbo mounted onto the engine, either!
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • johnsub01johnsub01 Posts: 1
    edited October 2011
    I just fixed this exact problem I was having with my 01 Subaru Outback VDC. I believe you still have air in your radiator cooling system. You need to burp your system again believe it or not and it may take several times to get all of the air out.

    After the car is cool, take the radiator cap off and start the car. Let it run until it warms up so the fluid flows. Keep fluid in your reserve tank because as the air burps out of your radiator the fluid will back fill from the reserver tank. Check it every day for a while.

    I had my thermostat replaced three weeks ago and everything was fine until this week. I burped the system and it gurgled for 1.5 minutes. It sucked in more than half of the reserve tank fluid. Everything is good now. I probably did not have a bad thermostat in the first place.

    Two ways to check if you have a head gasket problem - check reserve tank fluid and oil; Smell reserve tank fluid. If it smells like exhaust or fuel there may be head gasket problem. Check your oil to see if there is water in it. Also indicative of a failing head gasket.

    Typical HG problems occur on 1996 - 1998 models. It was fixed after that I've been told.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,913
    Unfortunately, the problem was very common on the 2.5L engine all the way up through 2002 (and even a little later). Problems on more recent models still exist, but are not as widespread due to revised gasket material and the requirement by Subaru to have "stop leak" in the coolant as a matter of course.

    It has never been a problem on the 3.0L and 3.6L H6 engines.

    As far as the radiator goes, for a while there was a "burp plug" on the top of the radiator near where the upper radiator hose enters the unit. That is good to remove when trying to get the air out. On newer models, the shape of the radiator was revised to make the cap the highest point, with the rest of it sloping toward the cap.

    Parking on an inclined surface (with the nose up) or on automotive ramps will help as well.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Ditto.

    My 2011 Legacy has 650 miles when CEL, Cruise, Brake, lights came on while driving. Dropped off car at Puente Hills Subaru Sunday night. Was just told that it is an engine misfire and that they are still working on it.

    Am I in store for a ton of problems?

    I've researched this issue and have not found a definitive answer, just a bunch of "loose gas cap" posts. :confuse:
  • I see you didn't get any replies but I have to ask- I just had the exact same thing happen w/ my 2009 Subie Outback Legacy (except my fuel light did not come on I have a full tank)- did you figure anything out on your end that might be helpful to me? I am going to try the Battery/ Brake thing but thought you may have garnered more insight since you posted.
  • Not much info. Got a P0303 and P0304 error codes from the dealer, said there was nothing currently affecting the engine. They couldn't fine what caused the misfires.
  • stk99stk99 Posts: 2
    edited October 2011
    I have had the same thing happen as well on two 2012 Outbacks with the cvt transmissions. It happened on the first car twice. They thought at first it was the gas cap thing. The second time it happened they said it was a misfire issue. The dealer didn't want to deal with the situation and so they traded it out for the exact same car. I drove it for 8 days and it happened again. Only 400 miles on this car. Did the dealer have anything else to say on this? Just wondering, I'm taking it to the dealer tomorrow to figure out if its the same issue as with the first car.
  • Nothing else, just what I stated above. Please let us know what happens.
  • skymarskymar Posts: 2
    Ok - I hear you! I have been really disappointed with my new 2011 Outback for the same reason. I started having problems after the first 100 miles. At first it was only the check engine light that came on. I accepted the gas cap explanation from the dealer the first time, even the second time but now it has progressed to all the lights coming on. I was on the interstate, the inside lane, when all of the idiot lights came on and the brake light started flashing. Luckily I was able to get over to the berm and turn off the car. We checked in the book and found info about the flashing brake light which said that the ABS system had failed but it was drivable for short distance. We started the car and drove to the closest exit, pulled off to a gas station and called my dealer ship. They could not help - had no idea as to what was going on so suggested I call Subaru Roadside assistance. Got ahold of them and after some fumbling and mumbling about check engine light, gas caps and "Oh, I will need to talk to my supervisor" we where finally told they would be sending a tow truck and take us to the nearest Subaru dealership. Ok, it takes an hour for the tow truck to get to us. The young man is really nice and takes us up the road , one more exit, to a dealership. They of course are not happy to have us "dropped" in their laps - they are booked solid and can't possibly get to us until later that day or the next. "Errrrrrr" - I get a little testy and finally the manager sends out a tech to "clear and reset" the lights and sends us on our way with -"Oh, you probably just did not tighten the gas cap". I was not happy! We drove home (75 miles) after missing an important Dr. apt. and I immediately took the car to my dealership for service. They of course could do nothing b/c the info was "cleared" out of the computer" . I was sent on my way - again- with "well, it was probably just the gas cap". I DON'T THINK SO !!! Well here I am again, three weeks later and the car is sitting at the dealership AGAIN! On our way home yesterday all the lights came on AGAIN! Check engine light -steady, cruse - flashing, brake - flashing, skid-steady, low gas-steady. Only this time the longer I drove it the more it acted like I was riding the brake (which I was not) and the engine sounded like it was not shifting at all. I have been noticing more engine noise and a whistling starting. I also have told the service guys I have noticed the engine sounds like there is a sticky valve ( if your old enough to remember what that sounds like). So anyway - I have lost all confidence in this car and am at the point that I want Subaru to buy it back from me. Of course that won't happen so I guess I am stuck with this problem car. I think we should all gang up on Subaru and file a class action law suit. Anyone interested?
  • dswissdswiss Posts: 11
    Keep all your receipts and find out what the lemon law requirements are in your state.
    With so many CEL problems, I am surprised no law firm has started a calss action suit yet. I have lost lots of money on my Legacy, and I have no doubt I am not the only one!
  • stk99stk99 Posts: 2
    So I talked to the dealership here in Charlotte, NC where I bought it from last week. The Service Manager said that they are seeing this happen when driving in the manual auto mode. There is something wrong in the code and they are working on getting new code written for a re-flashing but don't think it will be out until at least the first of the year. He said that he could schedule a time for the Subaru engineer to come write a temporary code and then when the new permanent code is out I could come back in and get it re-flashed. So for now this is what I'm stuck with. By the way, the lights actually went off after the third time that I started the engine after driving a little bit each time. This was a suggestion from another forum that someone posted for my situation. Hope this helps someone else out there.
  • This has happened to me twice now. Once when the car was only 2 weeks old....Not only did all the lights start flashing, the park brake would not release. Had to manually release it to drive the car. Got to the dealer...they 'reflashed' the code in the 'brain' and said that should take care of it. It happened again after we had just returned from a 3,000 mile trip and was only 100 miles from home. No cruise control...thank goodness only 100 miles. Dealer said error report was leak in evp system, which they couldn't find, so they blamed it on a loose gas cap. Interesting, I told them, one would have though that *that* problem should have shown up 400 miles before when we last filled the car. That's two times..if it happens again, I will invoke the lemon ours still only has 6000 miles on it. I was told a new software flash would be out 'shortly'. Unfortunately, they had no idea how long 'shortly' would be. I reminded them that I was well versed in Nevada's lemon law and showed him the law.....I also told the service writer that this problem had better not happen again. They wanted to put something different down on the computer work order...I said no...and the work order of record better have my signature on it, as I wouldn't sign their revised copy. (Keep in mind, for a lemon law to be valid, the work orders ***MUST*** state the same issue...the complaint cannot vary.
  • This JUST happened to me this evening -- 06 Subaru Legacy, 68K miles -- driving down the interstate, all of the sudden check engine light comes on (not blinking), cruise light comes on (blinking) and I lose the ability to accelerate. Luckily I was on a down-hill freeway off-ramp and was able to "coast" to a safe parking lot. Earlier in the afternoon I noticed my car was a little hard to start and had to turn over twice...which NEVER happens. Anyway, called the dealer, of course, they have no idea. Should find out tomorrow...anyone have any ideas? :sick:
  • I have my leased 2011 legacy since Jan, 2011, 5K miles. All of the blinking lights, no cruise cont or ABS, etc, started this week. Just a lay person but I think that under the provisions of the Lemon Law, the dealer has to be given an opportunity to fix problem before legal action can be initiated. I'll be contacting dealer tomorrow. My son is an attorney in Cherry Hill, NJ (location of Subaru headquarters) and he's getting me the name of a specialist for this type of case, just in case it becomes necessary. If I get a negative result with the dealer, I intend to pursue the matter individually or as a part of a class action suit, whichever is appropriate. If someone else has already contacted an attorney and anticipates legal action, I would be interested. Will post results as events unfold.
  • Just Googled NJ lemon law provisions and this is the pertinent section for our issues. New Jersey Lemon Law 56:12-33 Presumption of inability to correct nonconformity; written notification.

    a. It is presumed that a manufacturer or its dealer is unable to repair or correct a nonconformity within a reasonable time if, within the first 18,000 miles of operation or during the period of two years following the date of original delivery of the motor vehicle to a consumer, whichever is the earlier date:

    (1) Substantially the same nonconformity has been subject to repair three or more times by the manufacturer or its dealer and the nonconformity continues to exist; or

    (2) The motor vehicle is out of service by reason of repair for one or more nonconformities for a cumulative total of 20 or more calendar days since the original delivery of the motor vehicle and a nonconformity continues to exist.

    b. The presumption contained in subsection a. of this section shall apply against a manufacturer only if the manufacturer has received written notification, by or on behalf of the consumer, by certified mail return receipt requested, of a potential claim pursuant to the provisions of this act and has had one opportunity to repair or correct the defect or condition within 10 calendar days following receipt of the notification. Notification by the consumer shall take place any time after the motor vehicle has had substantially the same nonconformity subject to repair two or more times or has been out of service by reason of repair for a cumulative total of 20 or more calendar days.

    I assume that all the states lemon laws are similar. They are all online
  • :lemon: Well - the engine light issue happened again as I was driving on the interstate on my way home from a Dr.s apt. All the lights were flasing, car lost accelration and felt again like the break was on. I decided to go ahead and just keep on driving the car home and then straight to the dealership. I walked in and told the salesman ( in a nice way) that I did not want this car back. I explained to him that what ever was wrong with this car has caused me to lose confidence in it and I was getting to the point of being afraid to drive it, especially when I had a time critical apt. Well, they kept my car and gave me a brand new Subaru Outback to drive while they decided what to do with mine. THis all happened exactly a week ago. I got a call from the service manager today that my car was ready to be picked up. I went in to talk to them about my car (I really did not want it back) but the service manager was out of the building. He is supposed to call me to tell me what they did to the car. I drove it home but am not real happy about it. I have to take my husband to the hospital tomorrow for more testing so we will see what happens. I will keep all of you posted and let you know as soon as I find out what they did. I do know that they had to rest all the keys to a new computer but not sure why. I really do not hold out any hope that this problem is fixed. My next step is to write or call Subaru. Has anyone called the company directly yet?
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    edited December 2011
    OK, maybe it's just me but I'll throw in my $0.02 here in the spirit of the holidays.

    You've had a car for the best part of a year, and up to now it's been pretty much trouble free. This past weekend you suddenly have a 'first event' problem and before you even have the dealer check it out you are already talking 'Lemon Law' and Class Action Lawsuits. What's wrong with this picture?
  • I have had the same problem for the past 6 months or so with my 2006 Outback XT, or maybe longer. It started with the gas cap not being tight enough, according to the dealership. I tightened it up good and It cleared up after about 4 days of driving. But since then, it has started up again, it has started to sputter, make a whistling sound when I accelerate sometimes, and run like crap, basically everything you said yours is doing. I replaced the O2 and Fuel Mix sensors, upstream and downstream, it helped for a short time, but now still runs bad. Replaced mass air flow sensor, and now just had the timing belt and other belts replaced, because the dealership told me after looking for 2 hours that the only problem they can find is the timing belt was a little worn out. Absolutely nothing else was found, even while plugged in to the scanner while being driven. They were baffled, they could feel the problems and know it was running harsh, but they didn't know. Said it's probably the fact I used gas with ethanol in it before and it built up carbon on the valves and cylinder. Told me to use 44K in it right before an oil change and right after it's changed, but i haven't gotten there yet. The new belts apparently did not help the problem, but I know the timing belt was due for a change, at least it won't break and destroy my engine. The codes have been reset when I replaced the air flow sensor right before I went to the dealership, but that didn't help the dealership cuz they had no codes to check. So, maybe it's a knock sensor, or some computer problem. I don't know. I'm not spending more money for someone to plug in their computer to tell me thy can't find a problem anymore. What did you figure out on your car?
  • yeah, you're screwed. My dealer took 2 hours to look at every possible problem, could not find anything wrong with the car even though it was running like it was misfiring, but they checked it out, everything out, and nothing. I'm guessing the one post about the air being in the coolant system might be the problem, wouldn't be detected by scanners, computers or any other way I imagine. One post I found said they replaced the knock sensor and it cleared up the similar problem we all have, so I don't know. I replaced O2 sensors and air flow sensor and plugs and just had the timing belt and all belts replaced. apparently it didn't stop the problem. I think Subaru has a major issue they are not admitting to, just like Toyota did last year. This is a bigger problem because noone can figure it out, and it causes the engine to stall in some cases. Mine hasn't stalled out yet, but it sounds like it wants to all the time. I might need to get rid of it sadly, it's a great car other than this engine problem.
  • No, mines a 2006 Outback with factory turbo. It's not the turbo as the problem, almost all of the other posts are of non-turbo cars, so that isn't the problem here. It's either a wiring issue for sensors, computer issue, or who knows what it is. my dealer could find absolutely nothing wrong with the car while it was there. Said it might be carbon build up from the ethanol gas I've used before, but I doubt it.
  • sheltyshelty Posts: 1
    I too have a 2006 subaru outback but it has 130k miles on it. The ABS, Cruise control and check engine light have only come on a few times and every time I'm backing up in a tough situation. Hard snow at the end of the driveway where I have to really gun it to get over and things like that. The first time I was stupid enough to pay Burt Brothers $90 to turn it off then someone told me to just disconnect the negative battery connection for a few minutes. Tried this again tonight and it worked. Must say I've never experienced the acceleration or braking issues some of you seem to have but if you live in snow country this might come in handy!
  • Theres.a problem with sensors I think. My car jerks and vibrates and misfires and the engine makes strange whirling and whistling sounds and the exhaust smells weird. I read that these are symptoms of a bad knock sensor. It listens to the engine and tells it when to detonate and all kinds of stuff. I'm going to replace it this week and pray that its the problem, so keep that in my if yours starts to do weird things like mine does. The engine light comes on when something triggers it but it could be alot of different things. I hate this kind of crap
  • So, I replaced the knock sensor, it runs alittle smoother but it's still misfiring, if thats possible. So Ive replaced the timing belt, O2 sensors, mass airflow sensor, ignition coil packs, plugs, and knock sensor. What's left? I'll put as much into the car as I owe on it before I find the problem. I'm thinking it's an electrical problem more than mechanical. Who can I call to get viable ideas before I trade it in? It's really pissing me off
  • Cam or crank sensor? If the car has one, I would lean towards the cam sensor. This is like the rotor in an old sets the timing of the spark..if it is bad, you will experience the symptoms you are describing. Again...I do NOT know if your engine has these sensors........Good luck..I know how frustrating a problem like yours can be!
  • After 6000 miles, my new (6 months ago) Outback with the Lineartronic CVT transmission, is hitting 30 MPG. I was beginning to think all the 30 plus MPG reports were BS. I chalked up the 25 -27 MPG we were getting, to driving at high altitude (5000 feet plus) and mountainous roads. I am happy now!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,913
    The car does have a cam sensor. Generally, however, it will throw a code if the cam sensor is out of spec. Did you ensure the alignment on the timing belt was spot on when it was replaced? If it was off by a tooth or two, it will make it much more difficult for your knock sensor to compensate.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • I had a NAPA shop replace the timing belt, so I assume they did it right, and if they didn't, I won't know, I'm not a mechanic. The code that came up was a misfire code, I guess. I switched the coil pack with cylinder 4, the one that was supposedly misfiring, to cylinder 2 and the code than said misfiring from 3 and 4. I didn't do anything with 3. I replaced all 4 coil packs last week. I haven't checked the codes recently since I've replaced the coil packs. So as far as I know there isn't a cam sensor code popping up. I was told the cam sensor might be bad 2 days ago so I'm going to replace it. It's really starting to piss me off really.
  • Thanks for all the replies in trying to help me figure out the problem. The subaru dealer here hash't been too helpful. They've told me it could be a bunch of things, but I don't have the money to spend on the time it'll take for a shop to find the problem, but we'll see
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,913
    Well, try the cam sensor. It will cost you $50 or so, but it s incredibly easy (and fast) to replace. If that doesn't do it, I'd speak with the shop that did the timing belt and ask them to verify the cam/crank alignment. I'm not entirely sure how yours is behaving, but an "off by a tooth" situation would likely result in no noticeable difference at idle, yet occasional issues while driving.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • I was told by a mechanic that when the computer senses a problem that will further damage your car by driving it, it goes into a certain "mode" (he told me the name of it, but I forgot it)....basically it means that it only gives it enough fuel to drive about 30mph. It tries to limit what the car can do, to protect itself. I just had a similar issue with my 09 legacy gt. the check engine light came on and the cruise control light and s-drive indicator light started blinking. I live on an island, so it will be a week or so before I can get it to a dealership, but he is going to read the computer tomorrow to get the code. But he did explain that subarus have this protection mode, so maybe that is why yours slowed down and felt like the brake was on??? Just a thought...
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