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Subaru Legacy/Outback "Check Engine" Light Problems



  • It is called, "Limp Home Mode".
  • My car's timing was off, after I had a NAPA shop put a new belt on, the tensioner was bad, and they failed to tell me it was bad. They wanted $1600 to replace all the parts including the water pump, but the pump is still good. I didn't pay them for anything but the belt but they didn't tell me about the tensioner most likely because they wanted me to buy all the parts to put on it. None of the parts were Subaru parts which is why I didn't want to have them put on, plus they all cost more than the Subaru parts as well. I never go back to the same shop that did the bad work in the first place. The car still ran like crap after the timing was corrected, still misfiring. I asked the shop that corrected it to find out why its misfiring to replace the camshaft sensors on it, cuz there is 2 of them. They didn't get passed the timing belt because I was running out of money to give them to continue looking, so now I am going to drop it off at Subaru dealer in town for a day and hope they find the problem. I am hoping it's a bad spark plug or the camshaft sensors or something less expensive than a valve or piston or fuel injector problem. I don't know but I will post it on here. It may because I was using ethanol mixed gas in it for awhile, quit using it about 3 or 4 months ago. Noone use ethanol in your Subaru, the engines are not made to handle it, and it is dirty and bad for all engines.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,148
    I am glad to hear that you may be getting closer to sourcing the problem, but sorry that it is costing you so much (time, energy, and money!). Thanks for keeping us posted.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Well, I pulled the plugs out, and they were too short, so I think I was given the wrong plugs to put in a couple years ago when I changed them out. I put iridium high performance plugs in today, and it fixed the misfire issue, however it is still making a weird howling sound and seems to "slip" while I'm cruising on the road. and there isn't as much power as there should be,. I think that may be an injector or a bad valve or who knows. Maybe a sensor. Anyone have any thoughts? I can hear the turbo sucking and blowing air, but there's still a disheartening sound once in a while. But it runs sooo much better with the new plugs, so there must be another problem. I have yet to replace the camshaft sensors, I am taking it to Subaru so they can look at it all day on Tuesday, so maybe they will have an answer.
  • tm14930tm14930 Posts: 2
    First the cars history: We bought it through private sale in Aug '11 from a little 77 year old lady who drove it 9.5 miles a day 5 days a week, only in good weather, to her family's business and back, and always garage kept, meticulously maintained. We know the people and the history. It had 17000 + miles on it, now it's just over 19,000 miles.
    Now the problem, about a month after we got it, I got the code for the rear o2 sensor passenger side and just replaced it with OEM from dealer, and cleared the code. I just blamed it on time.

    In third week of February I got the p0154 code, bank 2 sensor 1 no indication. I Replaced this one with OEM also and cleared the code. But this time the code keeps coming back after
    20 miles or so. Well now put my meter on it at the connection when the sensor connects to the harness at the manifold and here are the reads with engine running.

    harness side: blue- 3.77 white - 3.77 blk(under blue) - 14.0 blk(under white) - 14.0

    sensor side: yellow - 3.18 red - 14.0 white(under yellow) 3.77 blk(under red)3.77

    I also damp wiped the throttle body, but it didn't need it.

    there were no vacuum leaks found. and no brittleness in the hoses.

    Fuses are good

    With the mileage I don't feel a tuneup is neccesary, as the car runs like a top.

    Question is, where do I go from here, ECM reflash?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    May as well since there's no expense involved.

    I had a misfire and it turned out to be the ignition coil. I had rodents in the engine bay and they chewed up some of the wires, too.
  • tm14930tm14930 Posts: 2
    Just a quick follow up. The check engine light is gone!

    after about 50 - start, wait 30 seconds, and shut off cycles, on a fully warmed up engine the light went away on it's own and as soon as it did that I erased the p00154 code, No indication, and rechecked it.

    I have the Haines book which I've used for my 02 OB vdc, but wanted to try the Chiltons book. While they are quite similar, there are differences.

    I think that between the two books I have better reference material to go by.
  • csmilichcsmilich Posts: 11
    I figured out was wrong with my 2006 Outback, it's japanese lol. No but really the turbo was going out for like 2 months, and finally blew the gaskets and shaft. The oil was fouling up the spark plugs, so when the dealer tested the codes it said it was misfiring, but it was the turbo leaking oil that caused the misfire. So if you have a turbo in your Subaru and you have around 100,000 miles, get it replaced it fast. But don't buy the subaru turbo, its too expensive and you can get an aftermarket one much cheaper that will be a better quality.

    Just do it before it goes out completely and shoots oil in places it shouldn't be. It ran like a champ right before I traded it in for a Ford F-150, got a great deal so I couldn't pass it up. Also replace the knock sensor and the cam shaft sensors too and the timing belt. Don't hesitate cuz it will screw you out of money.
  • mcharliemcharlie Posts: 22
    edited April 2012
    14,000 miles. Ever since new, whenever trip mileage was reset, the Average MPG counter would start at 31 MPG and work down to the average MPG within 30 miles.

    After an oil change 4 weeks ago, now it starts at 21+_ and takes forever to count up to the average. (On a recent trip, 120 miles 'downhill' it took all of that 120 miles to stabilize at 26 mpg.

    Before this started, we, on average, got 28 - 29.5 mpg, now the mileage is down to 25 - 26 mpg. NO CHECK ENGINE LIGHT HAS COME ON, same gas station, same route every day...65 miles to and from Carson City, Nevada and Reno, Nevada...all freeway driving.

    Oil used is full synthetic Castrol.

    Dealer says nothing wrong.....makes no difference whether or not the average mpg is ascending or descending. WAIT A MINUTE!! Something had to have happened to make it change from a start of 31 and working down, to starting at 21 and going up, with the actual mileage dropping 3 - 4 MPG.

    Any thoughts as to what might be the problem?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,148
    Why would it start at any point? In all Subaru vehicles I have owned that have a fuel economy readout, they show --- for the first mile after a trip meter reset, then display the average economy. So, the initial display will vary depending on the type of driving experienced in that mile. Sometimes the initial display is in the mid-20s, and other times it is in the mid teens. Where it goes from there again depends on conditions.

    Is the average economy you stated above (28-29.5 vs. 25-26 now) calculated or based on that readout? If calculated, then something has changed (or is wrong, such as a sensor providing erroneous/poor feedback). If taken on faith (e.g., based on readout only), I would do some calculations before getting too concerned.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • phxmotorphxmotor Posts: 9
    A check engine light can be read with a simple $50 code reader. If you can tie your shoe you can read your CEL.
    Read it, then do what it says. The day of working blind are over! Could not be simpler. Modern cars are NOT more complicated...that is mere shop=talk...get a cheap code reader...if you don't understand the code, Google it and a hundred people will have already posted the solution.
    Don't work blind.
  • phxmotorphxmotor Posts: 9
    A simple $50 code reader will answer the issue once and for all. No reason to guess. Its only nonsense shop-talk to think reading CEL codes is difficult. If you do not understand the CEL code, google it and a hundred people will have already explained it in detail.
    Everyone should have their own $50 code reader. Its made owning a car soooo much simpler and cheaper to own.
    Cam sensor? Crank sensor? MAF? MAP? Knock sensor? Bad plug wire? Couldn't be easier. Just plug it the button. Done. Never...ever...need to get suckered by a shop. Remember AAA? They report that a full 50% of all car repairs are unneeded & unnecessary. Its true! Save money...get a code reader! (the cheapest ones are fine)
  • phxmotorphxmotor Posts: 9
    95 Subarus use OBD2 scan tool. Why do people answer things with wrong answers? Some 1995 Fords use OBD2 scanners as well.
    Every Subaru owner knows this. Telling the owner of a 95 that they need an OBD1 reader is nuts. If ya dont know an answer why do ya say ya do?
  • texvet1texvet1 Posts: 1
    if a class action gets started I want to be in.. today my wifes 2011 outback started doing this, I can tell you I have not been happy with the change in Transmission and the electronic E brake, who would do this to the best all wheel drive car on the market? and if its sooo great, why doesn't the WRX have the same crap on it?
    when they scratch their head and say I don't know, they are really saying, sucker! because when your not around the mechanics are joking about what a piece of crap a car is when they are all by themselves without management.
  • mcharliemcharlie Posts: 22
    Welp! Failure number 5! 2011 Outback, now 16,000 some odd miles, 11 months old. No cruise, check engine light and whine in trans when hard accelerate. This is getting disconcerting. Can't go anywhere for fear the car will quit or the cruise won't work, or the E brake will lock on again. Going to talk to a lemon law lawyer end of this week and see if I have any recourse against Subaru. What a shame...We had 250,000 trouble free miles in our 2000 Forester, and now this..sorta sours me on Subaru.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sorry to hear that. Lemon law may be limited on mileage, at 16k yours may be too miled up to qualify.

    Good luck, though.
  • mcharliemcharlie Posts: 22
    The vehicle is still under warranty..not even a year old...already checked, yes, it is covered and already have law firm pursuing this option. The Dealer is scrambling to get help from factory now......
  • kldbhkldbh Posts: 2
    edited July 2012
    I have a 2007 Legacy GT sedan with turbo- first post but after reading all the previous posts, having same issue. Approx 88,000 miles, first starting happening in Nov 2011 at just over 80,000 miles. Getting same runaround- have done required, recommended maint per manual, good gas, no demanding driving conditions (live in CA). Recently replaced spark plugs and did 75K maintenance early to help solve problems. Just had at dealer on Mon, 7/4- returned to me evening of 7/5- didn't even last a week this time. Supposedly, tech support at Subaru has been contacted- was told replacement of computer module would not be covered under my extended warranty because nothing would link back to that but looks like this posting trail might provide some ammunition. Thanks everyone for your help and will postl if anything comes out of it. But...Mainly posting this so if any class action suit is ever pursued, I am able to put our two cents in. Just like other posters, this was my 5th Subaru, 3 of which were Legacys, 1 impreza - 2005 GT was totaled in accident so will never know if this would have developed, replaced with essentially identical car with 2007 model.
  • mcharliemcharlie Posts: 22
    The dealerships are is **always** a gas cap issue.....not something a lemon law will help....well...after the 2nd 'gas cap' report, I marked the gas cap, and when the light came on again, I had a neighbor, who is an attorney and a notary, inspect the gas cap and noted that I had marked it for easy identification. I then took vehicle to the dealership, where, yes, you guessed it, they 'found' a defective gas cap, which they stated, they replaced. End of lemon law here..nothing to prove the ame thing had happened 3 times in the year. Welp, went back to my attorney neighbor, had him inspect the 'new' gas cap, and guess what, Subaru must be manufacturing all their new gas caps with my secret identification, because this one still had my mark, which was photographed, and then the photographs were notarized, as was the statement my attorney neighbor wrote (on his practice letterhead). I do believe Subaru is going to buy me a new Subaru over this one. We have filed a preliminary notice of intent to sue (initiate) an action against the dealer and Subaru of America. If we are lucky, we may even get the service manager and his service writers to serve some jail time for fraudulantly falsifying documents to avoid a legal action.

    In short...gang....don't let these dealerships get away with the loose gas cap crap...mark your caps and make sure you get the info documented before you take your vehicle into the dealership for the umpteenth time for the warning light issue. There is no doubt in my mind that Subaru is trying to cover their asses because they do NOT know how to fix the problem.
  • kldbhkldbh Posts: 2
    that is such an interesting comment- I was initially told in Nov 2011 that it could just be a loose gas cap when I contacted dealer about bringing in the shop. Yesterday, the same service person that helped my spouse on Monday told me that he couldn't figure out why anyone would have told me it could be a gas cap issue. Obviously, I am not the only one who has been told that could be an issue and I believe even the manual mentions that could trigger the lights. Incidentally, NOv 2011-code P0457 EVP leak detected
    Feb 2012- code P0304- misfire cylinder 4, replaced all spark plugs
    March 2012- misfire Cyl 2 and 4- update on ECM done
    July 2012- code P0304- loose connector on ignition coil 4
    will wait and see what next code is ---
  • I have a 2007 Legacy GT my check engine light comes on steady and cruise control blinks and the car has I S and S# mode the S continues to blink also.
    The Code is P00011 Camshaft Sensor Timing Advance . Advance auto and Auto zone has a free scan. Had it fixed one year later it is back.
  • skiera2skiera2 Posts: 1
    I have a 2007 2.5 legacy gt as well and just ran into overheating issues last weekend. I took it into a subaru specialist and while he couldn't guarantee me, he thought that if I replaced the radiator that would solve the problem. I drove it up a mtn pass in Tahoe and as I was going ip the hills again, the temp began to spike just below the red line. I broughht it back in the shop since the $800 repair didn't repair the issue. Now they can't find ant hydrocarbons in the exhaust, no excessive consumption of coolant, no contamination of the oil, cooling fans are they are concluding it could bea blown head gasket. This is not common in this model year. Has anyone else run into similar issues? I don't want to spend $3000 if this head gasket isn't the problem.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,148
    Very unlikely for the GT's block to have a blown head gasket. With them finding no evidence of that, I wouldn't go for broke quite yet.

    How many miles are on the car? There's no mention of thermostat or water pump yet, or even the possibility of an air bubble in the block some where, so it seems there's still some checking to do.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Last week my check engine light turns on, thus disabling ebrake, cruise and traction control. Took it in to the dealership. They told me loose gas cap bs. Light comes on 4 days later, either a sensor or engine problems. Back to the dealership I go.
    Btw. Double checked my coolant again, somewhere I'm losing coolant...
  • winter2winter2 Posts: 1,801
    I am in the market for a new car. My final choices are a Subaru Outback or a Honda CR-V AWD. I have been reading a goodly number of the posts here and I am getting a bit concerned about purchasing a Subaru. I realize you see lots of them out there and the few owners I have spoken with are quite pleased with them. Some have > 100K miles on them and have been problem free.

    In reading some of your concerns, I have some suggestions.

    1. Before you replace the MAF, clean it with the appropriate solvent. I do this yearly and I can feel a difference and it is cheaper than a new MAF.
    2. De-carbon the engine. Unfortunately we are stuck with ethanol and the amount will be increasing to 15% in the near future. I use Power Foam from Amsoil. Make sure the engine is fully warmed up. You disconnect the intake hose at the throttle body and start the engine. Spray the Power Foam into the throttle body. The engine will cough, sputter and run badly while you are spraying and may almost stall.
    3. Once the can is empty, shut off the engine and re-attach the intake hose to the throttle body.
    4. Wait ten to twelve minutes, re-start the engine. It will run badly and smoke will appear out of the tailpipe. Drive the car sort of hard to blast the crap out of the engine. The smoke maybe blue, brown or black. Once the smoke stops, then you are done. I have done this to various Dodges, and Fords with good results.
  • mcharliemcharlie Posts: 22

    I would check with your local Subaru dealer before doing this. I have had he heads off 150,000 mile Subaru's and have seen no indications of carbon build up. And these newer Subaru's burn ultra clean.

    Doing a MAF cleaning and/or decarbonizing the engine may void any emmision warranties.

    A thought about increased ethanol content of fuel. Some vehicles, Subaru is one, do not support high alcohol content fuel. That may change on new models, but through 2012, alcohol fuels are not recommended. Here in Nevada, our fuels go 3% ethanol for emission control in the winter. Both my 2000 Forester and my new Outback run like a lame race horse during the 3 months we have to endure the stuff.
  • dswissdswiss Posts: 11
    Pick the Honda. You won't be disappointed.
    I had a new Subaru Legacy and it had lots of problems. Now, any car can have problems, so the issue really is how the company takes care of the problem. And with Subaru, I experienced incredible frustration. The bottom line was that no dealer knew how to fix the problem, and Subaru would not help at all. They kept stringing me along until the warranty ran out.
    With Honda on the other hand, you will get super service. They stand behind the product and they have superior engineering.

    good luck
  • winter2winter2 Posts: 1,801
    I find it interesting why you had the heads off at 150K. You give no explanation as to why. I also know that some local Subaru dealers offer intake and combustion chamber cleaning services (chemical) that will not impact the warranty. I have spoken to these dealers and none of them said that me pulling the MAF and cleaning it correctly would impact on the warranty. If I screw it up, that would be on me.

    As to the ethanol content in fuel, I hate it. Our Mercury Milan runs best on fuels with little or no ethanol. The more ethanol there is in the fuel, the worse the car runs, especially at idle, which becomes rather bumpy.

    What you maybe experiencing in the winter is the ethanol picking up any moisture in the fuel tank and pulling it into the fuel system, thus the loss in performance.
  • winter2winter2 Posts: 1,801
    Thank you for the input. I am sort of surprised at the lack of company backing by Subaru who I have been given to understand makes a decent product. I like the Subaru as it is fairly easy to work on versus other cars I have looked at. I also liked the fact that engine turns fairly slowly at 60 mph (1750 rpm) versus the Honda (1900 rpm). But if Subaru is unwilling to backup it's product, then Honda it is.
  • mcharliemcharlie Posts: 22
    edited August 2012
    {{I also know that some local Subaru dealers offer intake and combustion chamber cleaning services (chemical)

    Money maker, that, as a rule, has no benefit to the operation or maintenance of the vehicle. Like undercoating a car back in the 60's. Easy money, high value. Now, in the early 70's, BMW DID have a serious problem with crud build up in the entire air induction system, from the MAF through the head. So bad, in fact, all devices had to be pulled and cleaned with walnut shell blasting. Talk about an expense to the vehicle owner! Datsun (remember them...before Nissan?!!)...used to sell an chemical fuel injection cleaner treatment, it was quite a involved setup, what with hooking up all the tubes and hoses to the system. (Usually the 260Z) Oh, and *Trained* (sic) Subaru technicians performed the service, not car owners. Seen this dodge before....I worked as a dealership tech all the way through service department co-ordinater in my career. I have seen first hand how manufacturers get out of doing a service under warranty. I saw Saab buy it big time when their 900S models started burning up Garret turbochargers. Factory said it was owner not letting the turbo spin down before turning the engine off. They would replace the first turbo under warranty, but after that, the owner was on the hook for a $2000.00 repair. A lawsuit took care of that policy....... Long story short, just make sure your Subaru dealer says it is ok for you to perform the cleaning service..and to be safe, get it in writing, to cover your interests.

    {{What you maybe experiencing in the winter is the ethanol picking up any moisture in the fuel tank and pulling it into the fuel system, thus the loss in performance

    No, Subaru's do not run well on ethanol. And the ethanol is not in the fuel to control moisture absorption from winter's higher humidity...I'm not sure what the emission reducing process of ethanol in gasoline is, but the powers to be think it works. (The key here is 'thinks') Besides, the new fuel filters do a good job of separating moisture out of the fuel before letting it through to the fuel system. MC
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