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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair



  • jay_24jay_24 Posts: 536
    Mike, (mrk610)

    What part number did they use for your new pistons? just curious if we got the same? did they do a timing belt for you too?

    I had pistons 2 and 4 replaced 2 weeks ago or was it 3? Gas milage has been better, piston noise is less but its also warmer temps outside.

  • nathhnathh Posts: 1
    I suppose I'm just another one of the thousands who is stuck with replacing a head gasket well before it should be due. I have just 85K on my car but now need $1300 in repairs.
    Is $1300 reasonable for a dealership to fix the head gasket? how many of you with this car and engine ('97 2.5L) have had this problem? I think we should write a letter to subaru
  • On my 2003 Legacy I was experiencing "rapping" sound when under load with a cold engine. Having just traded in a 2000 Legacy that did not make such sounds, I was insistent that the noise was not normal.
    The dealer replaced two pistons and that seems to have solved the problem. No more "rapping".

    My gas mileage has not improved, and may have been reduced. I'm getting 19 MPG in suburban driving, 25 on the highway with my 2003 Legacy wagon 4eat.
    The Legacy I traded in (2000 Legacy Sedan 5 spd) performed much better with 22 MPG in town and 31 MPG on the highway. The EPA rated the Auto trans equipped Legacy higher than the 5 speed manual version, but my experience shows the opposite.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's the case in general, the MTs are more fuel efficient than the ATs for any given model, despite what the EPA claims.

    I do think your engine is still green, give it a few thousand miles to break in.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Call 800-SUBARU3 and open up a case number. It's long past the warranty but they still might help. Be polite and mention these forums.

  • Hi All,
    An intermittent noise that seems to be getting worse on my '02 LL Bean: When reversing (especially when car is cold, but sometimes when warm) I get a vibrating (sounds like a brake dust or a heat shield vibrating). Coming from right front, but only in reverse. They just replaced front pads at 22k, and sound didn't go away. No other problems. Any ideas???
  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487
    Does the car have to be rolling to make the noise, or can you hear it when stopped? Is the vibration at engine speed, does it change with RPM?

  • psgpsg Posts: 72
    Maintaining and Charging Lead-Acid Batteries by Trojan Battery Company. [87K]
  • jfljfl Posts: 1,388
    Phil, thanks for a great reference article.

  • Craig,
    Good question - it only makes the sound when moving backwards. Comes from right front and seems to change in frequency as engine rpms and speed increase (may also be affected by turning the wheel, as is often the case when backing out of a space). I'll have to do some testing to see what the sound is for rpm, turning, and moving straight back indpendent of each other and report back.
  • I just had my wife's '02 Base Outback serviced by our Subaru dealer. They had to repalce the battery which was original equipment. I noticed that the new Subaru battery has the RED rubber cover over the positive terminal, however, I'm not sure if the negative (ground) terminal has a cover as well?

  • mrk610mrk610 Posts: 378
    I got my car back today .Picked up on the way to work. the rental car I got was a 02 Pontiac grand prix. What a piece of junk . Anyway I have noticed no noise at all when I started the car cold today . It may be me but it sounds quieter then b4.Here is the break down of the parts for the job .
    1 pistonset os 0.06a part # 12006ac910
    1 pistonset os 0.06b part # 12006ac920
    1 ring set part # 12033ab010
    1 eng gasket set part # 10104aa040
    1 o-ring part # 806917070
    1 sealing oil pan part # 11122aa000
    1 o-ring part # 10991aa000
    1 oil seal part # 806733030
    1 gskt cylinder head part # 11044aa521
    1 oil filter
    1 oil filter gasket
    They preformed a cylinder leak down test on all 4 cylinders and also a cylinder balance test.
    I have to do a major cleaning of the engine area this weekend . That way I can keep a eye out for leaks . It is mighty dirty and there is some residual oil/antifreeze/trany fluid around from the service .I don't know about better fuel economy since I only picked the car up today ,but I'll keep tabs on it.

    Mike k
  • Matt: Check for a small rock or other foreign body between the brake disc & the dust shield. You'd be amazed what a racket a really small item can make in between there, and it can be directional. Surely, though, something like that would have been resolved when the brakes were done.

    Grasping at straws here as well...
  • jfljfl Posts: 1,388
    Most cars are negative ground. Therefore, most metal parts contacting the positive battery terminal would conduct electricity. So the positive terminal is often covered. It's not necessary for the negative terminal.

  • fitzy2fitzy2 Posts: 11
    I have just purchased a 2002 LLBean (13K). I researched these cars for a year and a great deal presented I had to buy.......just was wondering what, if anything I can expect by way of repairs etc....I really hope to keep this car for about 10 years...what are my odds.
    I really appreciate the mail platform and any regards.......Irish 1.
  • subaru_teamsubaru_team Posts: 1,676
    Make sure you call us (1-800-SUBARU3) or go to - contact us and provide your ownership information. You'll need to have the last eight digits of your vehicle identification number to get things updated. That way, you'll be in the loop for any future communications.

    You should get many happy miles in your Subaru. The folks here are very helpful if you have questions.

    Congratulations on your purchase. It's nice to have you with us!

  • I am a very satisfied owner of a 1996 2.2 Impreza, which I bought new. My car has 147k miles & is still going strong. I've had very few repair expenses beyond what would be considered normal maintenance & wear items.

    My step-daughter also drives a 1996 Impreza, one which my wife bought new a few days after I purchased mine. Her car has over 152k miles with a similar track record.

    I have an opportunity to buy a 1999 2.5 Legacy SUS with about 50k miles on it. I know the car well, it is owned by someone I work with. It has been maintained well, and is in excellent condition. I thought it was a "no brainer" purchase, until I started looking around the internet.

    What is all this talk of head gaskets, over heating, & blocks being replaced? I was shocked when I started reading about all the complaints. Should I count on spending approximately $1000 to $3000 on a repair in the next 50k miles if I purchase this car? Also, there seems to be an "old style" & "new style" engine block, & the change came about during the 1999 model year? Should I be looking to see if this car has the newer style block?

    I was really excited about this car. We have a 2000 Nissan Sentra which we would like to sell, & replace with this Subaru - the Nissan, in my opinion, can't compare with the quality of a Subaru (even though they own a big part of them). But I'm comparing it to the trouble free performance of our 2.2 Imprezas, & I'm worried that the 2.5 engine might be a problem. Can anyone elaborate?
  • K9LeaderK9Leader Posts: 112
    Kevinch, who is considering buying a 1999 SUS, wrote:

    What is all this talk of head gaskets, over heating, & blocks being replaced? I was shocked when I started reading about all the complaints. Should I count on spending approximately $1000 to $3000 on a repair in the next 50k miles if I purchase this car? Also, there seems to be an "old style" & "new style" engine block, & the change came about during the 1999 model year? Should I be looking to see if this car has the newer style block?

    Try to remember that this is a "problems and solutions" board -- people will post when they have a problem. The postings about head gasket problems are informative and the issue should be a consideration in your buying decision, but bear in mind that the vast majority of Subaru owners haven't had HG problems and will never have HG problems.

    Regarding "old" and "new" style of 2.5 engines, you probably mean the DOHC "Phase I" vs. the SOHC "Phase II," and, yes, the change was sometime in 1999. More veteran and knowledgeable Subaruphiles than I will have to shed light on exactly when on which models the change came. Check the paperwork on the one you are looking at to see if it is the DOHC or SOHC.

    The Phase I head gasket problem is one of an internal leak -- coolant leaking into the engine and mixing with the oil. Warped heads is one result, and (help me here more technically savvy ones) possible accelerated internal engine wear.

    The Phase II head gasket problem is one of an external leak -- coolant leaking to the outside of the engine, usually in very small amounts, but it smokes (the coolant hitting the manifold and/or exhaust pipes) and smells. This is less serious and catastrophic than an internal leak. As long as you are adding new coolant faster than it is seeping out, no real damage is done. I have not heard of any catastrophic failure on a Phase II where the gasket totally blew allowing so much coolant out so fast that there was no longer enough to do the job. I have heard of cases where the owner never put more coolant in and after slowly leaking out over a long period of time, there was no longer enough coolant left to do its job.

    The Phase II external leak is the one that Subaru has recently addressed with the coolant conditioner fix and extended warranty coverage. I have a 2000 OBW and had the fix done last month.

    If the '99 SUS you are looking at is a Phase I, don't automatically scrub it from your list. I'm looking for a '95 - '99 Legacy/OB/SUS sedan for my son (and as a winter weather backup vehicle for my wife's '98 Toyota Sienna, which is not good at getting up our hilly street when it ices over), and have not ruled out the 2.5 Phase I (although I would probably prefer a 2.2). Have this one checked out by a good mechanic and/or do an oil analysis to see if there is any leakage already occurring.

    Whatever you decide to do, good luck!

  • Just read your post regarding your piston replacement. Am very happy for you. As I have mentioned before my 99 Outback Phase I has piston slap and SOA will NOT replace the block even though they originally agreed to do the piston change until they realized it is a Phase I. I would be interested in knowing if they showed parts and labor costs involved in your repair. SOA has offered me a $500 credit towards any new Subaru that I bought in the next year. I suspect that your repair ran as much as $2000 and if they were willing originally to do the same to mine, offering $500 seems like a sharp stick in the eye!Any numbers you can come up with would be a big help. Thanks, Jack
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    senturi: I don't think both of my terminals are covered, FWIW.

    Irish1: congrats. The H6 engine is, IMHO, Subaru's most reliable engine. Take good care of it and stick with us, I think you'll get those 10 years easily. Nobody's perfect, but Subaru is pretty good and we have Patti's support in case it's not.

    Kevin: we have 5 Subies in our family, that's 10 head gaskets, none have ever leaked. I agree with K9Leader, people come here to seek help for a problem, so we see a disproportionate amount of them, naturally.

    The EJ22 in your two Imprezas was quite good, gasket problems were less common. The EJ255 is from the same block, but the extra displacement does put more stress on it, and it has had more problems than the 2.2l versions.

    On the other hand, the H6 has been nearly bullet proof, so look for a good used LL Bean. Even the 2.5l H4 from 2000 and later now carries an 8 year 100k mile warranty on those gaskets if you use a conditioner Subaru will provide.

    Piston/block replacement is rare, I've only seen a handful of those since I joined Edmunds in 1999. You're just as likely to win the Lotto.

  • jay_24jay_24 Posts: 536
    I doubt it cost $2000. Maybe $1000??, since they had the engine in/out and completed in a day. The service manageer mentioned there is access to the piston and pin such that the entire engine doesn't have to be broken down. My copy of the invoice just says waranty work.

    They were also nice enough to replace the timing belt when doing mine.

    So far mine still clanks a little(much less), but I think its better. It just hasn't been nearly as cold since it was fixed so its harder to tell.

  • K9Leader - thank you for the very well thought-out response. I used to work at a domestic-brand dealership many years ago, & again at a VW dealership. You are correct - the "population" of vehicles in the shop, or those posting here, are going to represent only the problems & must be viewed as the true percentage they represent.

    There are the other Subaru internet forums; but on those too I think you might have the "squeaky hinge" syndrome. People who might not frequent internet forums, or who usually just cruise & read, might join & post when they've been hit with a large, unexpected repair bill.

    However, to represent the flip side:, while rating the 1999 Legacy "5 out of 5 stars" for overall reliability, rates the engines of the 97, 98, & 99 with a "Significant Problems 'Red X'". The reason given for each year is various "Occasional Problems", but the HG issue is listed on each one. For 2000 & 2001, the overall 5 star rating is the same; the engines are rated with the "Moderate Problems 'Yellow Exclamation Point'", listing the only issue as the Air/Fuel Ratio Sensor.

    Juice, also thanks to you. Of those 5 Subarus, how many are 2.5s, what models & what years, if I might ask? Are they high mileage?

    I think this is a Phase1 engine, but I'll double check to be sure. Please understand: my wife & I really WANT this car. We had figured on waiting another 2 years or so before buying another vehicle - our home needs some work, my step-daughter's college tuition, etc. have limited our funds. But then this car came along, which I've known since the day it was purchased. It's the completely decked-out SUS (is that an Anniversary Edition?) with 50k miles. The tires are new (& he put on OEM Michelins), & it has new brakes. It's really in nice shape, & I assumed that these cars had the same reliability & reputation as our Imprezas. I was totally shocked to read otherwise.

    (Juice - the $$ is another reason we want this car, & really don't want to go the extra distance on a newer H6 yet.)

    Let me add another question to all: would someone who purchases a 1999 Phase1 2.5 with the original head gaskets be wise or foolish to simply have them replaced before there are any signs of failure?

  • mrk610mrk610 Posts: 378
    I agree with jay24 I didn't get any prices with my repair bill . Mine took 1 1/2 days to complete . I'm still getting a little burning smell but it is going away gradually . Probable from all the fluids that were spilled during the piston change . I don't get any slap noise with the new pistons but time will tell .

    Mike k
  • rob_mrob_m Somewhere North of BostonPosts: 813
    If you are comfortable with the history of the car, it was well maintained, and the price is right, why not?

    I have a 99 Legacy GT LTD sedan with a 2.5 dohc engine, purchased new. Manufactured 7/98, so I think it is Phase 1. It has 98k. This is my third Subaru. I drive it to work 90 miles a day.

    Repairs for the past 5 years are nominal. Tires @ 38k - Bridgestones - enough said here. Brakes @ 80k. Ignition Wires @ 90k. Purchased the 100k warrantee which covered the speedometer @38k, transmission gasket @80k and power antenna motor @95k. Broke even on the cost here.

    It runs great, and feels almost as good as the day I bought it! I expect the same over the next year until I am ready to by a new GT.

    I had a 96 Outback with the 2.5 purchased new. Traded for an 03 Outback last year at 85k. Repairs. Rotors @20, 44, 60k. Tires @ 60k. Alternator @ 62k (later reimbursed by SOA). No reason - just wanted a new car.

    Unless something totally unexpected occurs, you should not expect any major expenses. Your best bet, have it checked out by a certified mechanic. Unsolicited advice, don't touch the gaskets until necessary.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    We have:

    * '98 Forester, 60k miles (my baby)
    * '99 Outback, recently traded for a minivan (3 kids) with 40k miles or so
    * '01 Outback Limited, low miles
    * '02 Legacy L, my wife's car, 20k miles
    * '03 Forester X, sister's car, new

    Obviously we wouldn't be repeat buyers if I wasn't confident in Subaru. Not only that, I think they're the only manufacturer here with official presence, and Patti is just great.

    For the record, my '98 Forester is TOO RELIABLE, curse you Subaru, for I have no excuse to trade it in for my beloved XT turbo model, argh! LOL

    I have:

    * original brake rotors
    * original brake pads, even
    * both original gaskets
    * zero out-of-pocket expenses outside of maintenance
    * 25 mpg lifetime average

    Heck, I still have the original spark plugs in there, though I'm about to change them at 60k. Even the timing belt only gets changed at 105k.

    Maybe if I could get something to fail the wife would let me get that XT. Any ideas for a hard-to-trace sabotage? ;-)

    I got 28k miles out of the tires, but all 4 other Subies are still on the originals.

  • tyguytyguy ColoradoPosts: 1,172
    In regards to your question about replacing the headgaskets before symptoms appear, I would advise against it. As mentioned, the head gasket issue does exist, but does not affect all Phase I engines. Not only could you be wasting money on an unnecessary repair, but, like any major repair, you take a risk of the mechanic making a mistake. Personally, I'd rather take my chances with the Subaru assembly workers than the mechanic.

    Internal failed head gaskets rarely rupture all at once; they typically start leaking small amounts and give off symptoms to the observant person:
    1. Mixture of oil in the coolant or vice versa.
    2. Decrease in the coolant level and subsequent increase in oil level, or vice versa.
    3. White smoke out of the exhaust (burning coolant).
    4. Temperature gauge spikes (last symptom before major gasket failure).

    Basically, just watch the fluids for anything unusual. If the temperature gauge ever spikes near the red, pull over and turn off the engine. Simple engine tests will verify if a gasket has or has not failed.
    2015 Subaru Outback, 2013 Audi A4
  • nygregnygreg Posts: 1,936
    It is interesting that the MSN data suggests 2000 & 2001 have air/fuel ratio sensor issues. I don't recall ever reading of a fail in this forum.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    See, I can tell you that's inaccurate.

    The model with the touchy intake was the 1999 Forester and Impreza. Those were the first year Phase II models. Outback kept the phase I until 2000, so it and the Legacy never had that issue.

    If you messed with the intake at all, any mods like a cold air intake or those S-AFC computers, it would blow up your MAF and cost you $370.

    So their data is off, it was 1999.

  • nygregnygreg Posts: 1,936
    your talking about mods. But were there many fails on stock air/fuel sensors? I don't think so.

  • ebony5ebony5 Posts: 142
    I just had two plugs put into the front left tire of my '96 OBW. How reliable are they? Will the wheel alignment or anything else(tread wear for example) be affected? The tread is still good on the xw4 Michelins but if I have to replace that one tire I will have to replace all four and I would like to avoid that, but not at the expense of safety; that the tire with the plugs could fail. I often go away on weekends-highway driving-plan on going to Philadelphia on Sunday. I have 67k on the car now, it is in good condition and plan on keeping it for as long as possible. I live in N.Y.C. and the weekend trips are often to snow country in the winter. Does anyone have any suggestions for an all season 205-70-15 tire. I have considered replacing with the original xw4s, the new Michelin Hydro Edge or Nokians but they all are a bit pricey so I am interested in a less expensive alternative. Thanks
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