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Exhaust leak on 97 Legacy. Big $$$$. I'm torn on what to do.


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27 replies to this topic

#1 Nbe1210

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 01:23 PM

My 97 legacy Brighton wagon is leaking exhaust again but this time it is under the front seats from what seems to be the cat. I took it to my local guys who will weld anything and they said it was too much. They have already patched this exhaust 3 or 4 times and the leaky cat was it. They quoted me around $600 to replace the exhaust/cat and said they would try to save the muffler. They are pretty honest in my experiences with them.
So here is my dilemma.....Thr car has 150k and change, the head is leaking ever so slightly but not too bad (I rarely ever need to add any oil or coolant), the transmission has been shifting a little funky lately and I'm sure there are other parts ready to go any moment.
Also....I just bought a 09 forester for my wife as we have our first baby coming in 3 weeks or so. I can't be driving around with an exhaust filled car with a new little girl. I have had my window down the past couple weeks despite how cold it has been here in NH. I don't know that we can afford another loan right now. Is it worth fixing or should I be on the market for another car? I am pretty handy but not a welder. There is something to be said for the evil you know.

Any ideas???? Thanks any help, I need it.

#2 MR_Loyale

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 01:36 PM

If you spend the $600, will the rest be fairly reliable?  If so then it is a no-brainer. New cars cost way more than $600. Heck that is a car payment. Sounds like a lot until you consider getting a loan and paying forever.



#3 Nbe1210

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 01:47 PM

That is my problem. The car has some quirks and I'm torn whether to fix it or move on. It's been a good car but has seen some problems lately. I might fix it and it runs for 2-3 years no problem or another big ticket item breaks and I'm in trouble again. I guess I'm just looking for some feedback. I've got about 3 weeks or so until the baby comes to figure it out. Thanks for any help.

#4 86BRATMAN

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 02:06 PM

The thing I've always considered, sure a $1000 repair is a lit to eat at one shot.  But then again the average car payment these days is $300, so its either keep your old vehicle running and drop some money on it every 6 months to a year or say the hell with it and drop $4-500 a month on something new.  When you really put it into perspective you can see what is the most economical choice to make. 



#5 MR_Loyale

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 02:09 PM

Quirks as in the brakes are on their last leg, tires are bald , windshield cracked, broken axle boots and white smoke coming out of tailpipe?  Or perhaps some belt squeal a paint chip and broken wiper blade?  Do you do your own repairs or pay to have them done?


Edited by MR_Loyale, 22 February 2013 - 02:10 PM.


#6 Nbe1210

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 02:30 PM

There is some rust behind the fenders, on the wheel wells and on the jam of one of the rear doors (typical I think), as I said the tranny is shifting funny and the head is leaking a little.  I get some random clunks from the front end which makes me think something may be on the horizon. 

 

I just replaced the front brakes, stereo, o2 sensors and climate control myself.  Both rear struts were replaced in the last few years.

 

I can repair some things but I have my limits.  I'm handy and can figure things out but I am not a mechanic and do not have all the tools needed.  I basically have wrenches, sockets etc. I figure things out as i go and usually do ok largely thanks to this site.   I think this one is over my head considering how rusted together the exhaust is under the car.



#7 MR_Loyale

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 02:40 PM

I guess the other aspect is ot consider your finances. If you are barely scraping by then you probably better keep it and get the exhaust repaired. If you are doing alright and feel you got your value out of the car and don't want to do any more maintenance, then get another car.



#8 WoodsWagon

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 03:11 PM

It is probably leaking from the donut gasket between the cat and the midpipe because the spring loaded bolts that held it clamped together have nothing to hold on to anymore.

 

A split flange and some longer bolts are your fix here. The flange clamps on to the pipe to replace the rusted off nubbins that are there. The bolts now have something to hold onto and it holds the joint together. They look like this:

41E-8V9QfkL._SX300_.jpg



#9 grossgary

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 03:34 PM

in general that car is easily capable of 200,000 miles so another year or two should be easy...better than getting a loan.

 

headgaskets are leaking externally?  weird for a 97 model, but if it's coolant I'd be adding a bottle of Subaru's Coolant Conditioner they require on all 2000+ EJ25's for the same symptom.  It repairs an externally leaking headgasket (coolant only) almost every time if you get it early enough before it's bad.

 

exhaust sucks.  you can get a year or two out of the cheap ebay exhaust parts, i've gotten them as low as $80 a piece before for a new converter.   find a used non-rusty one on a forum or have one shipped from south/out west.   you should be able to repair this for $250 or less with a used part, ebay parts, welding in new pipe (which is almost zero cost and all labor)....etc.  i'd never pay anywhere near $600 for this repair. 

 

i repaired one exhaust from the headers back for $225 for parts shipped from out west that weren't rusty.

a friend had the rust cut out and new pipe welded in a month ago for $45.

 

there's options, gonna take some work but it beats a car payment.



#10 Nbe1210

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 04:12 PM

Thanks. This is the info I need. Now I have some hope. $3-400 is a lot less than $600. For me anyway. I'll look into some salvaged parts and the split flange too.
Thanks for all the help. This site has saved my @55 a few times already so add this to the tally. Good people.

#11 grossgary

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 05:19 PM

if you want more detailed information take a picture and post it on here and we can give more detailed advice.

 

a found a catalytic converter on craigslist for $25 too and it was aftermarket but unused, just welded on some pipe and good to go.

 

exhaust is really annoying, but with a little effort you can find some options out there.

 

ideally you get the rusty junk off and get some less-rusty pipe in there.  the stock pipe is actually very robust and lasts a long time, it's much higher quality metal than most pipe or the cheaper stuff in stores/ebay. 

www.car-parts.com  problem there is they usually don't sell catalytic converters.

 

i have a few converters that are fine except for rusty flanges if you want something to work with and yours is too rusty.  i've saved them just for that purpose myself.  but one from out west non-rusty would be better.  post in the parts wanted section here and other forums like subaruoutback.org



#12 gregB

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 07:57 AM

When I had my exhaust problem on mt 97 GT wagon, I could not find a split clamp that fit right.

 

Any P/N or web site info for the pic above or one that fits stock exhaust size?



#13 Rooster2

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 10:13 AM

If you can find a cut, bend, weld muffler shop,  they should be able to fix your exhaust for a lot less then $600. Usually they are a family owned muffler shop, not your Midas, Car-X chain store shops. Both my OBWs had the pipe break at the resonator. My shop torched out the rusted pipe, welded in a new pipe, and I was out the door for about $45. Suggest you look into it.



#14 MR_Loyale

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 11:11 PM

If you can find a cut, bend, weld muffler shop,  they should be able to fix your exhaust for a lot less then $600. Usually they are a family owned muffler shop, not your Midas, Car-X chain store shops. Both my OBWs had the pipe break at the resonator. My shop torched out the rusted pipe, welded in a new pipe, and I was out the door for about $45. Suggest you look into it.

 

+1 My exact experience as well. Midas and Mieneke are ripoffs. Years ago I recall my 72 Dodge Dart, took it to Meineke about a wheel issue. The crooked tech called myself, father and brother into the shop where the car was on the lift. He then proceeded to tell me how the exhaust was bad and needed to be replaced and as proof he grabbed the channel locks and proceeded to wrench on the pipe as hard as he could,. My brother told him if he broke it he bought it. The guy's face was all bunched up as he put all the pressure he could to force a hole in the exhaust but it was a new exhaust and he couldn't even make a dent. I was pissed and told him to take the car down and we left.

 

Ma and pa muffler shops that can torch a section in are the best. They won't rip you off. There is one called Doc Muffler in Spokane Wa I recommend on Division for those out West.  Most towns have them. Their shops may not be as fancy, but they know what they are doing.


Edited by MR_Loyale, 23 February 2013 - 11:11 PM.


#15 Nbe1210

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 08:29 AM

I'll look into a muffler exhaust shop and climb under the car this week to try to see exactly what's wrong. I'm skiing today since I will not have time to do that once the baby is here. The place I took the car earlier this week that quoted me the $600 are guys that will usually patch/band aid anything so I won't get my hopes up. I would like to get another couple years out of the car so I question buying cheap pipes and cats from eBay that will quit right after the warranty is up. I replaced the cat back pipe on my Toyota truck many years ago and I bought an aftermarket pipe. It didn't fit so I took it back and bought the Toyota one for $75 more and I weighed probably ten pounds more and didn't feel like it was made of rice paper.
Thanks for all the help. I'll report back when I get something going.

#16 Nbe1210

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 02:55 PM

I found this on C-list.  Does anyone know if the exhaust on a  97 legacy is the same as a 98 outback?  This is about 5 minutes from me and I can check it out this weekend if they respond.

 http://nh.craigslist...3625761662.html

 

Thanks again for all the tips and advice.  The fumes are getting worse so i need to move.  I've found that with windows up and the fan on at least 2 I have a enough positive pressure to keep the exhaust out.  Open windows seem to be drawing in the fumes now.

 

Does anyone know a good shop in SE New Hampshire or Southern ME if this doesn't pan out?



#17 chaz345

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 06:34 PM

The thing I've always considered, sure a $1000 repair is a lit to eat at one shot.  But then again the average car payment these days is $300, so its either keep your old vehicle running and drop some money on it every 6 months to a year or say the hell with it and drop $4-500 a month on something new.  When you really put it into perspective you can see what is the most economical choice to make.

This is exactly the way I approach things. Driving a high mileage Legacy 160 miles a day means I'm going to need a "major" $500 or so repair once or twice a year for a monthly cost of, we'll go high and say $100. Or driving a new car, where I've got no guarantees that it won't need anything major and I'm definitely spending $300 a month on a payment. To me it's a no brainer.

#18 chaz345

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 06:38 PM

I found this on C-list.  Does anyone know if the exhaust on a  97 legacy is the same as a 98 outback?  This is about 5 minutes from me and I can check it out this weekend if they respond.
 http://nh.craigslist...3625761662.html
 
Thanks again for all the tips and advice.  The fumes are getting worse so i need to move.  I've found that with windows up and the fan on at least 2 I have a enough positive pressure to keep the exhaust out.  Open windows seem to be drawing in the fumes now.
 
Does anyone know a good shop in SE New Hampshire or Southern ME if this doesn't pan out?

If your leak is at or before the cat, then that exhaust from CL won't solve your problem as it is everything behind the cat. You could look into what the parts cost at www.rockauto.com if you have someone who will install your parts for you. Growing up in Vermont I remember the joys of exhaust in the rust/salt belt well. Don't miss it a bit.

#19 Nbe1210

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 09:25 AM

My thought is if this pipe works out I can pick up a cat somewhere (used or new) and piece this thing together for considerably less than $600.  A friend has a lift and I could get it up and figure it out, hopefully with minimal welding.



#20 Nbe1210

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 11:26 AM

I'm finding lots of Outback exhaust systems but not many Legacy exhausts.  Does anyone know if they are the same from the cat back since the engine is a different size?  I have looked up parts online and they seem to be different part #s.  Thanks



#21 86BRATMAN

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 11:59 AM

as long as its wagon to wagon or sedan to sedan you'll be fine



#22 CNY_Dave

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 12:29 PM

The flange on my cat completely disintegrated, not even anough for a split-flange to grab.

 

I have a spring on each side of the exhaust pipe flange that just goes forwards and hooks to a hole in the body.

 

My system is to figure if you spend $100 on parts/reapairs for a months driving, you are deep into the positive side of the investment.



#23 Rooster2

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 03:55 PM

My thought is if this pipe works out I can pick up a cat somewhere (used or new) and piece this thing together for considerably less than $600.  A friend has a lift and I could get it up and figure it out, hopefully with minimal welding.

Used cats are hard to come by. Wrecking yards can't legally sell them to anyone. I got lucky once, and had a yard worker I know give me one "on the side." I tipped him well for his work, and made sure no one in the office saw what we were doing.



#24 Nbe1210

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:26 AM

I spoke with the seller of the 98 Outback exhaust.  http://nh.craigslist...3625761662.html   He says he has the cat/s (not sure if both or just one) and the o2 sensors as well.  I'm going to check it out this afternoon. 

 

Bratman said above that the 98 outback exhaust should fit my 97 brighton as long as it is wagon to wagon.  I have gotten mixed part numbers from different sites.  Some match, some don't.  Does anyone else have any experience with this as I don't think i will be able to tell just looking at it?

 

Keep your fingers crossed for me.  I may get out of this bind for ~$200 after hangers, gaskets and other random stuff.

Thanks for all the help and I'll post my progress.  This car has some years yet (I hope).



#25 Nbe1210

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 01:52 PM

I picked up the exhaust the other day and it looks good. It includes both cats so it is everything that i need. I grabbed a couple gaskets and some hangers and will hopefully be putting it on soon. My one concern is that the existing flange upstream from the front cat is going to dissolve when I take the old exhaust off. I was planning on cutting the bolts with a grinder. Any tips on how to remove it gently or just hope I get lucky and it is not totally rusted out? Any suggestions on what type of bolts to use also? All I need to do is reattach the muffler I bought to the exhaust, as it would not all fit in one piece in the car, and attach the front cat to the existing exhaust. Thanks




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