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2001 outback's engine died


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#1 st2eelpot

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 11:14 PM

65k, engine started making a funny noise (sounded like inconsistent valve tap). I took the car to the dealer and they found the timing belt tensioner was broken. Costed $400 to have it replaced. Then they discovered something else was wrong w/ the car. I discovered they had over-filled the engine oil, and I told them this (should've shown them in person when I arrived), though the dealer later changed their story about that.

At any rate, they've diagnosed the problem as a bad engine bearing. However, that doesn't seem to make sense. Typically that makes noise, has a reduction in power, and is best diagnosed by opening up the engine. None of those scenarios existed. I think they over-filled the oil and killed the engine that way.
Anyway, they contactd SOA, and SOA is willing to throw in parts if I pay for labor and I get basically a new engine. The other option is they credit me some $ and I trade the car in there. If you do the math, I'm actually getting more of a profit if I do the trade in for a new car, then sell it. So, next week I'll have a 2004 outback.

This car has been a piece- clutch problems for over 30k, blown head gasket at 36k, broken plastic from the factory (leaked rain into trunk door internals), consistently wears tires incorrectly, and now the engine has died at 65k. I don't think I got a 'Monday' car. I think I got the 'Friday after drinking at lunch' car.

Maybe the next will be better.

Does anyone know of any problems the 02, 03, or 04 outbacks are experiencing?

Cheers,
Dave

#2 ccrinc

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 01:17 PM

It appears that these people don't know squat (or won't admit it because in many cases they're not allowed to).

If any of the tensioners on any of the EJ25 engines break while you're driving, you have valves bent, broken, maybe even piston damage. Part of it depends on how fast you were going when the part breaks. I'm amazed you actually were able to drive it to the dealer!

On the DOHC engines, if the belt is off by as little as 3 teeth, your engine can and probably will suffer significant damage.
I know the SOHC engines are touchy too, but not sure how many teeth off will cause damage.

Overfilling an engine with oil won't cause bearing damage. Sheesh! :moon:
It can cause seals to blow out, but you gotta have a lot of oil in there!

Emily
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#3 mbutkus

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 03:17 PM

My '01 Outback was just in for that timing belt tensioner. They replaced it to try to get rid of the taping noise. It didn't, the dealer will now change all 4 pistons as it is engine slap.
Car has 51K and everything being done under powertrain warranty. Did you ever have it in for the taping noise and did you keep the paper?"
this is a known problem.

#4 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 04:50 PM

Seems possible to me the dealer scr@wed up the tensioner/belt change and the oil is a side issue. How much overfilled was it -probably need more than a quart too much to hurt something - others may know. Did you get noise when you picked the car up after the work? Usually, the vehicle with bad tensioers exhibit noise on cold starts that goes away after a few minutes. Evidently the tensioer doesn't pump up fast enough and the belt slaps the inside of the covers causing the sound.(I'm not an expert - just read a lot of stuff here on these great forums). I do think the stealership is responsible and if the overfill is the way to get them to 'step up' then by all means pursue it. I think you should either push to have them absorb all the costs or buy you an extended warranty - blame the oil overfill (basically, if oil is up too far the crank can beat it into a foam - foam is compressible and the oil pump can't move it well - leads to poor oil delivery) tell them 'If you were in my position, how can you be sure this didn't greatly decrease the lifespan of the engine?" - kinda stuff.whatever.
good luck

#5 ccrinc

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 11:26 PM

Piston slap? BS!!!! The "new" style of tensioners are garbage and actually make a noise that nearly perfectly mimics piston slap.
It's the piston slap that will usually go away after warm up when they expand and stop wobbling (best word I can think of to describe it).

Incidentally, tensioners do not "pump up". If they're off, they're off, and you're in trouble! :banghead:

Wish you luck in getting this resolved.

Emily
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#6 alias20035

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 03:49 AM

Originally posted by ccrinc
Piston slap? BS!!!! The "new" style of tensioners are garbage and actually make a noise that nearly perfectly mimics piston slap.
It's the piston slap that will usually go away after warm up when they expand and stop wobbling (best word I can think of to describe it).

Incidentally, tensioners do not "pump up". If they're off, they're off, and you're in trouble! :banghead:

Wish you luck in getting this resolved.

Emily
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I haven't had the timing covers off of my EJ25 in my 2001 Outback. I have changed 5 timing belts on my 1993 Legacy's EJ22 engine though.

Is the EJ25 tensioner a simple hydraulic spring mechanism like the older EJ22?

The first time I changed the timing belt in my 93 Legacy I was horified to find the that tensioner was too large to fit in my bench vise!! Ended up lowering the car onto it to compress it for reinstallation, definitely not a recommended procedure. My first drive with the new timing belt was to the store to get a larger vise.

I have heard that some tensioners just fail suddenly, as did many of the WRC cars a few years back (something like five races in a row with both of Subaru's entries).

Some questions:

[list=1]
[*]The belt tensioner slap sound you describe, when does it occur? Only when cold, only when hot, all the time?
[*]I am assuming that the tensioner slap occurs from an area below the AC compressor, correct?
[*]Are there any signs that the tensioner is about to fail?
[*]Is there a reliable replacement?
[*]Should we be opening the timing belt covers once and a while to check the belt tension?
[*]What do you think about the longer timing belt service interval on the newer Subaru's (168,000km vs 96,000 previously)?
[/list=1]

My 2001 Outback's EJ25 engine has a slapping #4 piston which I verified with a stethoscope. It goes away when the engine water temp hits about 100F.

#7 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 07:47 AM

Perhaps there is more than one type of tensioner, but recently there has been a lot of complaints about it. If Emily says you could have another bad one installed you have to respect her. They know a lot about these engones. I wonder if the tensioners are just a dice toss or if there is a newer version available - could be the dealership just grabbed an old style of their shelf - voila! same problem. All the piston slap issues do get reprted as going away after warmup. So do some reports of tensioer noise - maybe folks not equipped with stethoscopes (or decent service personnel) are getting the noises confused.

#8 st2eelpot

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 09:15 AM

I'm farmiliar with the traditional valve tap er piston slap noise subies make, and this is definetly not that. My engine actually never developed that noise.
The dealer showed me the broken timing belt tensioner, once it had been replaced, and it was obvoiusly broken. The side of it had been chewed on by the timing belt, metal shavings were abound, and it was in obvoius need of repair. Once that had been repaired, one of the noises the engine had been making was gone (a dinstinctive 'clunk' the engine would make when removing my foot from the gas after hard acceleration).

What remains is what I thought was the valve tap noise, but this is *not* the normal subie valve tap. It's loud enough that I can hear it inside the car, w/ the windows up, and the radio up loud, at speed (that's the scenario underwhich I first noticed it). It's extremly loud outside the car obviously.

It doesn't happen as much when the car is cold, more when the car is warm. It does not happen while engine breaking or during normal to hard acceleration. The car seems to have the same amount (if not slightly more) power than usual. It seems to happen when there is a relatively small, consistent pull on the engine (i.e. 60mph in 5th gear on a flat highway). Plus, now that I have the car back from the dealer (to take out my radio, remove bike rack, etc.) It has gotten much worse (and I've driven it probably 50 miles total?).

The engine was overfilled by approx 1 quart I think. I handed the dealer a 5qt container of oil, and from what I can tell they poured the entire thing in.

It's actually making enough noise I'm getting concerned about driving it at all.

Will probably end up w/ a new subie tomorrow or Wednesday, which doesn't concern me a huge amount since I'm actually making a tiny profit in all of this (including a 25% reduction in value of the new car when driven off the lot).

Will sell this one either immediatly, or before the 36k warranty runs out.

Cheers,
Dave

#9 1ABAJA

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 11:44 AM

That is cool that SOA is stepping up..or atleast the dealer made sure that the problem was corrected to your satisfaction!

Cheers indeed,

Josh!

#10 st2eelpot

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 04:23 PM

Just got off the phone w/ the dealer. Will have a new O4 outback equipped identically to the one I'm losing tomorrow for around $10600 plus tax. Not bad. I guess that whole "I'm not driving another subie after this" speech played out pretty well, considering that is lower than what he originally quoted me.

However, I will be selling this one w/in the first 36k I believe.

Maybe I'll send this dealer a Christmas present..... oh wait, what am I thinking.

Cheers,
Dave

#11 alias20035

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 05:03 PM

Originally posted by st2eelpot
I'm farmiliar with the traditional valve tap er piston slap noise subies make, and this is definetly not that. My engine actually never developed that noise.
The dealer showed me the broken timing belt tensioner, once it had been replaced, and it was obvoiusly broken. The side of it had been chewed on by the timing belt, metal shavings were abound, and it was in obvoius need of repair. Once that had been repaired, one of the noises the engine had been making was gone (a dinstinctive 'clunk' the engine would make when removing my foot from the gas after hard acceleration).

What remains is what I thought was the valve tap noise, but this is *not* the normal subie valve tap. It's loud enough that I can hear it inside the car, w/ the windows up, and the radio up loud, at speed (that's the scenario underwhich I first noticed it). It's extremly loud outside the car obviously.

It doesn't happen as much when the car is cold, more when the car is warm. It does not happen while engine breaking or during normal to hard acceleration. The car seems to have the same amount (if not slightly more) power than usual. It seems to happen when there is a relatively small, consistent pull on the engine (i.e. 60mph in 5th gear on a flat highway). Plus, now that I have the car back from the dealer (to take out my radio, remove bike rack, etc.) It has gotten much worse (and I've driven it probably 50 miles total?).

The engine was overfilled by approx 1 quart I think. I handed the dealer a 5qt container of oil, and from what I can tell they poured the entire thing in.

It's actually making enough noise I'm getting concerned about driving it at all.

Will probably end up w/ a new subie tomorrow or Wednesday, which doesn't concern me a huge amount since I'm actually making a tiny profit in all of this (including a 25% reduction in value of the new car when driven off the lot).

Will sell this one either immediatly, or before the 36k warranty runs out.

Cheers,
Dave



I wont diagnose your problem, since the dealer already did, and most likely in a correct manner. I will just add the following information for the readers:

Solid valve lifters tap consistently at low intesity, so some valve tapping is normal. The sold lifters must be periodically adjusted and it not correct you will get substantial valve tapping.

Older Subaru's with hydraulic lifters occasionally tap due to a clogged lifter and/or defective oil pump. Try adding valve quiet to the oil. It worked on my 93 Legacy.

Subaru flat engines are prone to piston slap, in particular the #4 piston. This is due to the extremely short piston skirt. The piston slap can be confused with valve tapping, but it will generally go away after a few minutes when the engine warms up. Piston slap is a problem Subaru owners must live with since there is no solution short of redesigned engine. Piston slap is not the end of the world, many Subaru's run for a half million plus miles with piston slap, unfortunately some do not..... If the piston slap does not disappear when the engine is warm, it is either very severe piston slap, or not piston slap at all....

Piston slap is caused by either too much clearance between piston skirt and cylinder wall, or defective crankshaft bearing, or connecting rod or bent crank. Piston slap can either exist on its own, or be caused by something. Could the bad tensioner have caused a crank bearing to fail thus causing piston slap? I believe that this is what the dealer diagnosed, and is the reason for Subaru to be so reasonable in dealing with this problem

EJ25 DOHC engines are interference engines, timing belt break or tensioner problem will mean the end of the engine.

EJ25 SOHC engines are freerunning engines, timing belt break or tensioner problem could but wont likely mean the end of the engine.

Failed camshaft tensioners are apparentely quite common and this I knew, that they sounded like piston slap I did not. I posed a few questions for Emily at CCR, hopefully she will respond.

An extra quart of oil should not kill an engine, since oil is taken into the heads and internal passageways the oil level in the pan should be reduced, so the connecting rods and crank are not immersed (which is bad). Also no real risk of the oil getting into the PCV and air cleaner with only an extra quart. Was oil present in the throttle body?

My 93 Legacy burned oil so I would always add a half quart or even full quart beyond the full mark to reduce my topping up frequency. My Legacy only burned oil because the engine revved at 4000 RPM on the highway, fifth gear was too short!! Did this trick for 200,000 km and had no problems. Usually burned a liter every 3000km, which was about halfway between my oil changes.

#12 lmdew

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 10:39 PM

What do you need for the 2001? Lmdew@hotmail.com

#13 mbutkus

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 10:53 PM

I will record the "noise" my '01 makes when it is below 30 degrees. It's going in on Wed.

We'll see Friday. Even getting a loaner!

#14 st2eelpot

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 08:25 AM

I'm getting around $16.5k for the 01. It has some extremly minor paint scratches, dents, and dings from all the rock climbing and mountain bike places I've dragged it, though the interior is nearly perfect. Keep in mind that at this current point it still needs a new lower half of an engine, has 65k (all warranties have run), the suspension is very lose/worn, and I've driven the piss out of it (though I have had mixed results from Dunlop tires, I love the Z rated ones that subiegal recommended). The car is clearly not worth that much $ in my opinion.
Plus, I'm picking up the new car in a few hours (and I'm in east TN).

I see you're in CO. I bought it in Longmont (sniff sniff, oh the memories.)

Cheers,
Dave

#15 Matt

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Posted 13 November 2003 - 06:18 PM

I've just finished reading this thread and its left me a bit puzzled.

We have two Imprezas in my house, both with the 2.5 motor. I've had a series of check engine lights with my '01 RS, but no other problems with the 2.5. I do check the fluid levels on a regular basis, and I do find that the cars seem to like Castrol a little better.

I've only heard of a few total failures of the 2.5 motor. Most of those have been on vehicles that have added aftermarket turbo kits. However, a few were the somewhat troubled 1997/1998 2.5 phase 1 motors that had trouble with head gaskets and some short block failures. Both of these happened to a good friend with his '98 Legacy and after both were fixed, the car is running strong and putting up with ridiculous amounts of abuse and is around 130k miles or more now.


Anyway, at just over 11,000 miles, our 2002 Outback Sport began to make some strange noises. I checked all the usual bits, fluids, belt tension, etc. I call the dealer to schedule an appointment to have the problem fixed. It was a pretty bad rod-knock sound and I had a hunch it was the timing belt tensioner. I had read several accounts about this happening on a few of the new bugeye Imprezas (2002 and 2003) models. The car was in the shop for about three hours and I got a new timing belt and tensioner. Haven't had any issues in the last 28,000 miles with the car. Your situation sounds very unique and it sounds like its reached a decent outcome. Its very odd that this problem occured on your 2001, since my RS has the same motor and currently has a bit over 75,000 miles. Maybe your car was a dud...but I believe your new Outback will be much better and give you several years of trouble free driving.

Also...why not ask the dealer to throw in a Subaru GoldPlus warranty...they're good for 6yr/80k miles and are just about bumper to bumper. :)

Just a thought to keep you in the Subaru community and to add a piece of mind once you leave the lot. :cool:

Best of luck with the new car.

#16 alias20035

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Posted 13 November 2003 - 08:34 PM

Among my group of friends and coworkers there are about 30-35 Subaru's of various age.

With this large group of Subaru's it is possible to make the following generalized statements about Subaru's:

They all suffer from piston slap, some worse than others, no adverse effects (exploding engines) noted thus far.

One of my friends had a timing belt fail on a 2.5 DOHC, and the valves were broken by a piston hit, and there was damage to the piston and cylinder wall. New long block was required....

No timing belt tensioner problems noted. I have heard that this is quite a common problem, but I have not seen among my group of friends.

The first generation 4EAT (changed to 2nd gen in 98/99), all fail with torque bind at about 200,000km. $800 for the redesigned tailshaft, no subsequent failures noted since aside from failed duty solenoids.

Failed bearings inside the 5MT affects 50% of models at about 250,000 km or so. Causes a buzzing sound from the transmission, but transmisison can still last forever with this noise.

Some 5MT transmissions have a problem where it pops out of gear, sometimes 3rd, somtimes 5th. Seems to affect Impreza's the most.

Rear wheel bearings are a common problem, perhaps lasting 140,000 km on originals and then 60,000-100,000 on replacements. The replacements never last as long as the originals. I got together with a few friends to invest in a Subaru bearing replacement tool, very worthwhile....

Rear wheel bearings on Foresters last maybe 50,000km. They suck..... replace the original ball bearing ones with the roller bearings from the Legacy, and no further problems.

Aside from the torn CV boots, and the occasional center driveshaft hanger bearing failure, the driveline is very reliable. Loyales/GL's with SOTF 4wd suffer from U joint failures, but not the AWD models.

Subaru electirical systems are pretty much bulletproof, aside from occasional coilpack failures (perhaps 10%-15% failure rate over 200,000km).

#17 mbutkus

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Posted 15 November 2003 - 11:39 PM

Just picked up my OB on Firday evening.
I paid for plugs... they charged me for labor? But hey, a $54 bill for 4 new pistons and rings.
It is quiet.. really quiet. I had to stop and get something from the back and while getting into the car... could not tell if the engine was running.
NO noise at startup at 40 degrees... none.
No more tapping when accelerating.
Since they had to crack the engine I got a new rear oil seal and that should stop the oil leak from the back of the oil pan.
That leak hits the exhaust manifold shield and makes the car smell when at stop lights.
Got a bunch of other seals/gaskets since they cracked the engine. So at 51K I have basically a new engine. (new timing belt and belt tensioner from first try)
Gas mileage is still great so the timing is right.
42 miles and everything is good :brow:
If you want to hear my piston slap... go to www.butkus.org
Look for Subaru Piston Slap between the two rulers.
Right click it and SAVE the file if it plays too fast. It needs Quicktime. It's 1.2megs. It suppose to be sound only but doesn't seem so.

#18 2Outbacks

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 06:57 AM

I just joined the ranks of the head gasket failures at 42000 miles. This car (2001 OB Ltd sedan) has also had its timing belt tensioner replaced, but it still has the tapping when it's cold.

My 98 0B 5MT has had the clutch problems mentioned on this board as well - the shudder (unfortunately, the TSB only covers 99 and newer) and the pedal sticking to the floor because of the poorly designed master cylinder.

It's depressing and may be heresy on this board, but I think I might buy a Chevy next time (I have $3500 in rebates on my GM credit card and none of my previous GM cars ever left me stranded or had major failures at 40K miles).

#19 1ABAJA

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 04:26 PM

Sure, you have had problems with your ride..."you fell victim"

What now, trade them/it as is and buy a chevy? (please no)

Why don't you ask some Subaru Pros in your community to help you out with it! That way you get to keep the car, you get hands on knowledge as to what is going on with your car, AND you save some cash!

That is what the USMB should be all about!

Josh!

#20 mrk610

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 07:44 PM

How long has you car had the piston slap noise . Did your car make the noise all the time or just when it was cold . MY outback has the slap noise but only on cold start and it goes away after about 3-5mins of driving . I have tried to get SOA to replace the short block but they always come back saying that as long as the noise goes away there is no damage done .I do send the oil out every time I change it to blackstone labs for an oil analysis. So far the analysis has said that my engine has less then normal wear. I have used mobil 1 since my 2nd oil change . I was able to get SOA to give me a 7year 100k subaru gold warranty with no deductable free of charge. :brow:

So my original question was did your outback make the noise all the time .

Thanks
Mike k

#21 2Outbacks

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 08:55 PM

No, I'm not planning on getting rid of either of them at the moment. I'm starting to put a lot of miles on the 98 because my commute is 100 miles each way, so I was thinking of getting an '05 when they come out. If they haven't fixed these problems though, I may have to reconsider.

#22 1ABAJA

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 10:50 AM

Punk!!! How could you even talk about an 05 Legacy....I am so envious! Every picture I have seen makes me drool! I would love to replace the 03 with an 05! I best not even mention it around the ole lady....I'll be sleeping on the couch again!

I tried showing her some pictures of the 05 Legacy...you know, trying to condition her....NO SALE! I don't know what engine or transmission they will have....somebody said something about a five speed auto????

Josh!

#23 2Outbacks

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 12:17 PM

Just another question - since I've had one head gasket fail, what are the chances of either the other side failing or this one failing again?

#24 99obw

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 12:47 PM

I personally would never replace just one of them. The additional parts and labor to do the second one is small, but very large if you have to do it in the future.

I don't know the average longevity of the Phase I replacement head gaskets. Ours has about 30k on it. (fingers crossed)

#25 Dr Farco

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 07:21 PM

Hi; I'm a newbie here and am exploring
this neat informative site. I just bought a used 98 Outback with hi miles for a to work car. Was very pleased with it till on the way home after picking it up. It died
suddenly! I have a 87 Dl wagon 4WD that did the same thing. Timing belt failure! But after pulling the covers on the 98 I found the tensioner laying at the bottom. It seems that the tensioner mounting bolt snapped! The belt was fine
and rather new looking. If anyone changes a belt, it's probably best to replace the cheap Japanese steel bolt with some good American steel for the tensioner. Don't know yet but I probably trashed the engine. I was planning to change the belt 1st thing after getting the car home , at which time I would have probably broken the bolt anyway.
(and still have a motor in one piece)
Just didn't make it. :(




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