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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    I get static on my car radio (AM stations only) that changes with speed and is more evident when the blower motor is on. Is this an indication of something tied to the misfire?

    Also, the garage that inspected the car says that I am allowed one not ready. I think I am going to focus on the P0420 code. I replaced the upstream O2 sensor. Next payday, I will do the downstream.
  • hammerheadhammerhead Posts: 907
    You're hearing alternator whine and static that varies depending on blower motor speed?

    Bad ground on the radio. Has nothing to do with the misfire.

  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    Phil, I glanced at your profile and saw a 2000 Forester and what looks like high mileage per year.

    P0420 is catalyst efficiency. That's caused by the rear o2 sensor only, never the front, so your front o2 sensor was a waste I'm afraid.

    It's also likely the catalyst itself and not the sensor, if you have a lot of miles. Call some muffler shops and find out how much they want for a new catalyst and installation. Should be around $250-300.
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    Around 200K in March of 2006 I replaced the Cat. In previous post (March of 2009) I explained that some antifreeze got into the cylinders. It is my feeling that the O2 sensors got fouled.

    I can get a Cat off the Internet for about $260. And since I removed the head myself, the Cat is a piece of cake.
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    I see, Phil. I had the heads off my '99 Impreza RS twice, and got quite a bit of antifreeze in the exhaust both times-- some oil, too, but less. No problems with trouble codes or driveability, other than burning off the stuff when firing up the car afterwards.

    I'll concede that my car had much fewer miles, roughly 30k-40k, but I don't think this would harm the oxygen sensors. They could be due for replacement anyway though, of course!

    If you've driven a lot of miles since March 2006, your cat could be bad (again?). Unfortunately, I've seen P0420 caused by misfires and other stuff that really doesn't have much to do with catalyst efficiency, in my personal opinion. So there is some risk that you're going to replace all these things that make logical sense, and still not have your solution.

    What's the answer? I dunno, how much for a complete engine from a salvage yard? ;)
  • phil2000phil2000 New JerseyPosts: 195
    I do not know if you read my posts from the start (Nov 07) that so much junk went through the exhaust with the bad valves. That the sensor needs replacing. I am going to give it a shoot. I need to get the car to appoint that it can be inspected. I have been blessed that I have only gotten pulled over twice for the window sticker(over the pass 18 months).
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    Phil-- nope, sure didn't. But I'm more confident in your path now. :)
  • I was so excited last year when I bought my very first new car, but, ever since 3000 miles I have this god awful rattle when I accelerate low rpm's. I have had it in 4 times. The first 2 times they said they didn't hear it and that I wasn't used to having a subaru. Then I took the mech for a test drive and he said that it wasn't normal. Could be gas or exhaust. The last 2 times they had it for 2 weeks and still now not fixed. They did an engine clean and told me it was a hickup!! Are you joking? I feel like they are giving me the run around, and I shouldn't have this inconsistent noise for a brand new car. It does it in between 20-40, if I let off the gas then lightly press the gas again. It normally does it when its hot or I have been driving around all day. Its spiratic which is why I know something isn't right. If I new this I would have went for a toyota!! My bf just got an impreza 09 hes just about at 3000 and his just too started making the same rattle. Everyone that has heard it outside of the dealership has said it sounds like a valve rattle. Subaru says no, but can't seem to find a problem. All they keep saying is that i need to use Conoco plus gas, and Ive been doing that and its still making the noise.......I want this noise to go away. People look my way when it does it. I feel like I am driving around with a lemon, and the dealership thinks just because Im a girl, I don't know what I am talking about. HELP :confuse:
  • I don't know what the noise is and I appreciate the frustration, but please, before folks start tossing terms like "lemon" around, do a little research into what really constitutes a "lemon" under various state laws.

    In addition to federal law (the Magnuson-Moss warranty act) and the Uniform Commercial Code, there are state "lemon laws." Most state lemon laws specify that a manufacturer must provide a refund or replacement for a defective new vehicle when a substantial defect cannot be fixed in four attempts, a safety defect within two attempts or if the vehicle is out of service for 30 days within the first 12,000 to 18,000 miles or 12 to 24 months.

    I'm sure it's annoying to you. It may be an "anamoly" of certain Subarus. But that doesn't make a car a "lemon." So far we don't even know it's a "defect", let alone a substantial one or a safety defect.

    Sorry if I seem overly technical or unsympathetic, I am not unsympathetic.

    Unfortunately my experience is that virtually no car maker today makes cars that don't have an Achilles heel or 2 or 3. I'm reading about brand new Hondas with all kinds of issues. Our '05 Matrix has gone through 3 belt tensioners, a water pump and a power steering pump in 18 months so I'm certainly not going to assume that a Toyota would do any better than your Subie.

    Good luck figuring it out, I'll be curious to hear if others have the same issue and if anyone has found a cause or fix.
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    I'm not so sure about an Achilles heel, I think you might have been trying to express that no manufacturer or individual car model is perfect.

    About the noise -- Is it detonation? Have you tried premium fuel (91-93 octane)?

    I'm not sure what engine is in your Outback,but I'm guessing that some of them available require premium, or strongly suggest it which is the same as require.
  • ...both actually (Achilles heel & non-perfection) ... for example, as anyone who's owned Audis recently (like me for 12 yrs.) can tell, there are elements of non-perfection in otherwise great driving cars, and there are also Achilles heel type of issues (failing control arms, coil packs, etc.) that still don't make a car a "lemon" per se... just an infuriating car to own. ;) ... or the serially failing belt tensioners in our Toyota Matrix (all under warranty, not costing us $ but they destroy the myth of unfailing Toyota reliability).

  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    >(all under warranty, not costing us $ but they destroy the myth of unfailing Toyota reliability).

    like our new tranny at 45 K in our 06 Sienna! just like in our 95 Windstar and 00 windstar which is why we bought a toyota in 06! at least our 00 venture went 130K with no tranny problems!
  • and I just read yesterday about a TSB on '08 Honda Civics for cracked engine blocks (!) ... at least they are replacing them, but yikes.
  • tim3tim3 Posts: 28

    I appreciate your ideas, but I can eliminate all of them except the fuel pump.

    - My dealer changed out (or should have) the fuel filter at the 90K service though it wouldn't hurt to replace it again just in case.
    - I put a bottle of Techron in every oil change.
    -The dealer found the #3 spark plug wire was "burnt and carbonize" when I took it in two weeks ago and replaced the entire set as a result. It didn't help.

    But here's the weird thing. I did a 3,300 mile road trip last week and the car ran flawlessly. But once I got home and did a lot of around town driving, the bucking returned.

    So, why does it only do it after extensive city driving and not on the highway? It seems like if it were the fuel pump it would do it all the time.

    What do you all think of a computer re-flash? The car is now at 101K.

    Thank you!
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    The major thing that changes between city and highway driving is throttle input, load and heat. Especially heat, in the summer.

    Heat won't affect your fuel pump much, though. How's your coolant temp? Does your engine get hot in town?

    However, you could definitely generate way more load and throttle % in town than on the highway-- assuming you are cruising on relatively flat ground. If you're passing people a lot or driving in the mountains, then that's a different story.
  • tim3tim3 Posts: 28
    Thanks for feedback and interesting observations...I think I understand what you're saying, but it's still pretty unclear to me what the problem could be.

    Since day one, the temp gauge always stays planted in the same spot just below the middle no matter what kind of driving I'm doing.

    But I live in Tucson so it's definitely a hot climate, and the problem is for sure worse in the summer. What could that mean?

    As far as the highway driving, we went from Tucson to northwest Montana with a few side trips up and back. There was plenty of mountain driving on a variety of roads, interstate cruising at speeds between 65 and 80 in 100 degree heat at times, and even 150 miles of some worse off-road driving I've ever done (the car barely made it) and still no issues whatsoever.

    On another forester forum, there was an extensive discussion of a similar problem many people were having and the fixed seemed to be a computer re-flash. The service advisor at my dealer knew of the fix and looked it up, but said it was for later models.

  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 694
    But I live in Tucson so it's definitely a hot climate, and the problem is for sure worse in the summer. What could that mean?

    Just an odd thought...I wonder if localized hot spots are causing pre-ignition. The wrong heat range plug used to cause such problems. With emission controlled engines running extra hot to control smog, there is not much margin for error. Even if cooling is ok at cruising speed, water flow might not be quite adequate at low rpm. Just because the temperature gauge is happy doesn't necessarily mean every cylinder is adequately cooled: Note the cooling redesign on the new 3.6 liter versus the 3.0 liter engines to fix that problem so as to permit lower octane fuel. Does substituting 91 or 92 octane fuel fix it?
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    Since day one, the temp gauge always stays planted in the same spot just below the middle no matter what kind of driving I'm doing.

    That was my recollection of Subarus, too. I was asking because even though your temp gauge doesn't move, it probably is a 'harder' environment in city driving in the summer than cruising on the highway.

    Your bucking is a little weird. It's a severe problem, but somewhat unusual that it's relatively hard to duplicate. I would think that a Subaru dealer could plug in their OBDII scan tool and generate logs or watch in realtime to aid in the diagnostics. However, going with my original fuel pump theory, fuel pressure is not reported to OBDII. But if you were seeing a lot of knock sensor activity, I think that would be a good clue.

    Regarding what would a re-flash possibly do?

    - It definitely will reset learned tables for timing and fuel, even if they flashed the same code you are currently running. This would be the same as resetting the ECU either with a OBDII tool or by unplugging the battery for 1hr+.

    - They could change the fuel and ignition advance maps, and possibly the knock sensor responsiveness. I don't want to jump to conclusions, but I remember some older Subarus had a hyperactive knock sensor which caused problems until reflashed. (Some owners/hobbyists, however, didn't wait and instead used their own repairs, like a rubber washer under it. That's scary-- don't do it!)

    BTW, I'm not talking out of my butt about the OBDII stuff. :) I have an Accessport for my Evo, and tuned the car with it, read diagnostic logs and realtime performance (while someone else was driving of course). I don't know what capabilities the Subaru dealerships have with their tool, but in general you could do a lot with OBDII monitoring.
  • I have an 08 Impreza 2.5i auto trans, and have had the same problem since the car was nearly new (after 1000 mi, have 14k on the car now). I am sure it is engine ping, some kind of uneven combustion problem. High octane gas makes no difference. Have had it to the dealer three times; they claimed they couldn't replicate the problem (and I do feel I'm being talked down to as a female). I finally called Subaru of America, and I am dealing with the regional rep. My car pings accelerating up a hill, shifting between 2nd and 3rd, 3rd and 4th, pulling away from a dead stop, etc. etc. - and yes it is worse in warm weather. A new car SHOULD NOT be pinging. These are made to run on 87 octane. I encourage you to stick to your story, and get Subaru of America customer service involved if the dealer won't acknowledge a problem.
  • My 2005 Outback Wagon will run very rough for 3-5 miles while traveling on thruway at 70 MPH then it seems to be ok. It happens about once a week. The average mph displays goes to ----(dashes) then appears with approx. 26mpg and slowly increases. Any ideas?
  • tim3tim3 Posts: 28
    That's an interesting thought. But gasoline brand and octane rating have no impact on the problem.
  • tim3tim3 Posts: 28
    I know the dealer did a scan and it apparently came up completely clean. I was under the impression that they did it in realtime, but I could be wrong about that part.

    So, is reflashing the ECU really the same as resetting it by disconnecting the battery? I tried this a long time ago and it didn't have any effect. I thought a reflash was something the dealer had to do.

    I don't know if this is at all related to the knock sensor, but the car does ping at highway speeds in the summer with the A/C on unless I put a higher octane fuel in it.

    I think posted earlier that I used to regularly overfill the gas tank :blush: and it would buck badly as I was pulling away from the gas station until I stopped, turned the car off and restarted it immediately. Then it would run just fine. I keep wondering if maybe I damaged some aspect of the emission control system by regularly overfilling it and this is now causing the problem. It's the same bucking and lurching just under different circumstances now.
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    I have to admit, I'm a bit mystified as to what exactly could be the problem-- it's the sporadic nature of it that leaves me without a good answer. I can answer more about the ECU though, so that sounds good right now. :)

    There's 3 things that can be done to an OBDII ECU:

    - Reflash. Totally resets all parameters including idle speed. Even if you reflash the same code (ecu map), you will remove any learned parameters.

    - Realtime. This is what the ecu has done on its own to learn your detonation, idle quality, engine load, etc. You can also tweak some parameters here if you have the right tools, but not all of them like in a Reflash.

    - Reset. This is in fact the same as removing the battery for a sufficient amount of time. The realtime parameters are discarded, and you are back to the base map. (Whatever was reflashed last.)
  • tim3tim3 Posts: 28
    Now, I get it. I think. It sounds like it would be worth it to try resetting the ECU again. The last time I removed the negative battery cable it was just for a minute or two. It sounds like I should do it for longer -- like an hour or more?

    I don't have the tools or the knowledge to do a real time on my own, so I'll leave that to the dealer if it gets to that.

    This is a very mystifying problem for sure. My brother who has been a mechanic (mostly Ford and GM) for 30 years as no idea either.
  • I assume you haven't gotten a CEL (Check Engine Light) from this ... may be worth having a shop check for trouble codes to see if anything comes up tho' I'd expect the CEL to be on if there are any stored trouble codes.
  • picachupicachu Posts: 7
    Took the car to the dealer over the weekend and it was hooked up to the ac machine. Of course there was a different manager on duty this time and everything checked out ok. This tech says the temp got down to 40 degrees in the shop and the cycling is normal so the system will work more efficiently. Sounds like a bunch of bull but we'll see after I hit 10k on the car.

    I have also been hearing a noise after backing up and driving forward. The tech heard the noise and says its the antilock brakes performing a self test. If the car sits for more than 15 minutes and then is put into reverse and then drive a self test is performed. The tech said most people don't hear the noise.
  • aveskiaveski Posts: 7
    I have a ‘08 Legacy 2.5 special Edition with almost 59k. Just has an oil & filter change today at the dealer.
    The technician stated that the rear trailing arm bushings are worn and will need to be replaced in order to get an inspection sticker. Will also need a four-wheel alignment.
    Driving is 75% on interstate and 25% local and secondary roads in Maine.
    I have a few questions.
    Is this early, mileage wise, for the bushings to wear? Anyone else have the same situation?
    What is/should be the average cost to repair?
    Thanks for your help.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Never heard that before, so I guess it does seem early.

    It's just a rubber bushing, though, right? Can't cost much to replace.

    To be honest my concern would be what caused that premature wear? Alignment maybe?
  • In my state (Virginia), the amount of fraud associated with the safety inspection program is pretty remarkable. I think it's unlikely those bushings are worn out. I think it's quite likely that in this recession the dealer's new car sales are down, maybe way down. Guess where they might try and make up the slack.

    Have you noticed any clunks, noises, changes in handling? Why not get down there and look yourself? Or ask the mechanic to point out the bushings and explain the evaluation of wear. (and be prepared for a creative explanation).

    Maybe there is no fraud in your neighborhood on inspections, but in my area it's the norm. Especially in this economy.
  • girlcarbuildergirlcarbuilder Baton Rouge, LAPosts: 218
    Yeah right! If this is true, Subaru quality has really sunk lately to a very low. Time to poke your head underneath and look at the "bad components." You are looking for cracked decomposing rubber parts that are made into the metal parts of the suspension.

    I can never stress this loud enough to any car owner. Even if you do not work on your own car. Get a shop manual from the auto parts store and learn where parts are and how to determine if they are bad. When your mechanic is feeding you a line, fire him!

    I seriously doubt you have a problem. We have units kissing 300K and all of these bushings are in good shape so far. But as I said, LOOK AT Them and see for yourself. Not sure, take it to a well known independent alignment shop and ask for a wheel alignment. Oh, I also seriously doubt you will fail inspection with this problem unless you have extremely worn tires or a steering wheel pulling big time! Don't have that problem do you. That makes me question this dealer that much more.

    Another note. We just bought a new Toyota and it will stay in my shop for repairs! If jobbed out, it goes to a carefully screened shop out there! Dealers are well known for claiming stuff going wrong when nothing is. I had a laugh recently when I saw the first service for the new Toyota costing $200. Check/adjust the front and rear brakes, change the oil and rotate tires. Who do they think they are kidding? Yet, people continue to pay that kind of money for nothing! Guess it pays to be dishonest!

    One final note. On an 87 Mitshibishi years ago, I caught a bad bushing when I had raised the rear end for inspection. I had begun shaking each part side to side and front to back looking for play. I caught one bad bushing when the whole wheel assembly moved about 3/4 of an inch from front to back. Shake on these things, push on them looking for anything that is loose or making noise. Grounded that vehicle on the spot.
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