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'01 Outback Problems


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16 replies to this topic

#1 Brandon

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Posted 14 December 2003 - 02:56 PM

I am new to the board and I am posting because my wife and I are having a lot of trouble with what is basically a new car. We have an '01 Outback wagon, it has less than 30,000 mile and it has had all of its scheduled maintence. It also gets its oil changes every 3000. About a month ago I noticed oil and coolant on my garage floor. We had to have two head gaskets replaced. Yesterday, we were driving and without any notice we started having transmission problems. The transmission did not seem to engage and by the time we got the car off the highway and close to home (all down hill about 4 miles) the transmission went. While trying to go up a shot hill I believe the clutch was burnt out. The car cannot be moved on its own now. The car is a 5 speed and my wife drives it mostly not on the highway. She has been driving 5 speeds all her life so I cannot imagine it is her shifting.

So in short, problems are in the last month or so.

1. Leaky head gaskets.
2. Burned out clutch

Any ideas? The car is still under warranty, but like other people on this cite, we bought this car because they are know for being very reliable.

Thanks.

Brandon

#2 alias20035

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Posted 14 December 2003 - 03:11 PM

Originally posted by Brandon
I am new to the board and I am posting because my wife and I are having a lot of trouble with what is basically a new car. We have an '01 Outback wagon, it has less than 30,000 mile and it has had all of its scheduled maintence. It also gets its oil changes every 3000. About a month ago I noticed oil and coolant on my garage floor. We had to have two head gaskets replaced. Yesterday, we were driving and without any notice we started having transmission problems. The transmission did not seem to engage and by the time we got the car off the highway and close to home (all down hill about 4 miles) the transmission went. While trying to go up a shot hill I believe the clutch was burnt out. The car cannot be moved on its own now. The car is a 5 speed and my wife drives it mostly not on the highway. She has been driving 5 speeds all her life so I cannot imagine it is her shifting.

So in short, problems are in the last month or so.

1. Leaky head gaskets.
2. Burned out clutch

Any ideas? The car is still under warranty, but like other people on this cite, we bought this car because they are know for being very reliable.

Thanks.

Brandon



External head gasket leaks are a regular occurance on the Phase II EJ25 SOHC. Phase II leak externally on the left rear side in most cases, and this is not nearly as serious as the internal head gasket leaks on the Phase I EJ25 DOHC. Very few Phase II EJ25 SOHC external head gasket leaks repeat the failure if properly serviced the first time.

Did oil contaminate the clutch? Subaru has a TSB to repair clutch judder, but not one for premature clutch failure. It could be a problem with the hydraulics, is the clutch fork moving its full extension? Subaru has several TSB's related to the hydraulic clutch system.

Your clutch failure would be do to the folllowing:

* hydraulic problem (sounds likely since disc failures are quite gradual and are usually described as a slipping clutch)
* oil contamination
* manufacturing defect
* improper free play adjustment (clutch partly disengaged all the time, causing quick wear out of the disc)

#3 Brandon

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Posted 14 December 2003 - 03:20 PM

Thanks for the help. Due to my ignorance, what are TSB's? We just had the car towed to the dealer. Due to time of day and obligations we were trying to get to (getting food etc to a local Ronald McDonald House) I was unable to look it over.

As for the head gasket, there were two, I believe both rear and were external. The shop indicated there was no coolant in the oil pan and it had not been going on for long. Is there anything with this I should be looking out for?

Thanks for the post.

Brandon

#4 alias20035

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Posted 14 December 2003 - 03:33 PM

Originally posted by Brandon
Thanks for the help. Due to my ignorance, what are TSB's? We just had the car towed to the dealer. Due to time of day and obligations we were trying to get to (getting food etc to a local Ronald McDonald House) I was unable to look it over.

As for the head gasket, there were two, I believe both rear and were external. The shop indicated there was no coolant in the oil pan and it had not been going on for long. Is there anything with this I should be looking out for?

Thanks for the post.

Brandon



Technical Service Bulletin (TSB), they are issued to dealers for common problems, they are sort of a hidden voluntary recall which only applies to owners that have the problem and complain about it. TSB's can be found at Subaru Techinfo. You have to pay to read them, but for free you can know which ones exist and the dealer can provide the details.

Check the following two TSB's:

03-51-02R - Cold Clutch Judder (refers to a rough clutch when cold)
03-52-03R - Clutch pedal sticking (refers to the pedal sometimes sticking down)

Some dealers change both head gaskets, while others only replace the failed one, that said all of the failures that I have seen are on the left side only.

I would clean the engine of all coolant and oil residue, down the road this will make spotting the telltale light green/white line on the back or bottom of the engine easier to spot. Also watch the coolant level and any sweet smell (which is usually coolant boiled on the exhaust). Most of the external leaks occur when the engine is very cold, and once the engine warms up the leak will seal itself. Eventually the cold temp part time leak becomes more serious as the head gasket degrades.

#5 alias20035

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Posted 14 December 2003 - 03:35 PM

You can also find TSB's at http://www-odi.nhtsa...b/tsbsearch.cfm

Although this list is not as complete as the one on Techinfo.Subaru.Com

#6 alias20035

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Posted 14 December 2003 - 03:42 PM

Here is TSB 03-52-03

The clutch judder TSB is not on NHTSA.gov.

#7 forester2002s

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Posted 14 December 2003 - 06:14 PM

I've read a lot about potential problems of head gaskets failing.
Fortunately this hasn't happened to me yet, nor do I want to experience it.

My question is: Would it help if I were to periodically retighten the cylinder-head bolts to the correct torque? I know that this used to be recommended on new cars after the break-in period.

Anyone have any experience with this?

#8 alias20035

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Posted 14 December 2003 - 10:54 PM

Originally posted by forester2002s
I've read a lot about potential problems of head gaskets failing.
Fortunately this hasn't happened to me yet, nor do I want to experience it.

My question is: Would it help if I were to periodically retighten the cylinder-head bolts to the correct torque? I know that this used to be recommended on new cars after the break-in period.

Anyone have any experience with this?



The retightening process was listed in the Subaru service manual for my 85 GL and my 93 Legacy after a head gasket replacement, but it does not seem to be indicated any Subaru newer than 94.

If and when my head gaskets ever go I plan to switch to studs which allow far more accurate torquing. Subaru's "tighten to x lb ft and back off 1/2 turn and then another 1/4 turn" torquing instructions are quite bizarre, most other cars are torque to x lbs in sequence and retorque in 1,000 miles. I had to retorque the head bolts on my parent's Chevy Astro van, what a pain that was, absolutely no room to do the work!

The issue might be that the head gaskets expand after installation to fill any gap, and retorquing them could cause some problems.

I have never seen a loose head bolt on a Subaru, seen them on Fords, GM's and even a brand new Toyota Camry.

The Phase 2 EJ25's aren't blowing head gaskets nearly as often as the Phase 1's. I recently saw my first Phase 2 with a blown gasket, the left gasket was leaking coolant (common Phase 2 problem) and the owner drove several hundred KM with low coolant, the result was severe overheating and a failed right head gasket and warped head, so this one can't be blamed on design or manufacture.

#9 Rolls Canardly

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 09:48 AM

Yikes!
I too have an '01 Outback. It has 53k miles. Lately, I've been smelling antifreeze--mostly when the car is warming up, but noticeable when stopping, etc. No puddles or obvious leaks that I can find, just the smell. Also, I have observed coolant consumption of a few ounces per outing. I am dropping it at the dealership tomorrow. Wonder what they'll find?

I'm also going to have them address the clutch "judder".

Are these problems routinely covered by the 60k drivetrain warranty?

Thanks!

#10 alias20035

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 05:53 PM

Originally posted by Rolls Canardly
Yikes!
I too have an '01 Outback. It has 53k miles. Lately, I've been smelling antifreeze--mostly when the car is warming up, but noticeable when stopping, etc. No puddles or obvious leaks that I can find, just the smell. Also, I have observed coolant consumption of a few ounces per outing. I am dropping it at the dealership tomorrow. Wonder what they'll find?

I'm also going to have them address the clutch "judder".

Are these problems routinely covered by the 60k drivetrain warranty?

Thanks!



Likely the common leak on the left rear head gasket, the coolant runs down the back and under the engine onto the exhaust where it boils and creates the smell. You don't usually get a puddle.

When the car is up on a lift you should be able to note signs of coolant residue on the engine block near the left rear part of the head gasket and above the exhaust collector.

This is a very common problem, everyone that I know with the Phase II EJ25 SOHC here in Canada has had this problem, no exceptions. It usually starts to occur in -30C weather, and gradually the point at which this problem occurs starts at warmer temperatures as well (like -15C).

Some dealers change both gaskets, but others just replace the failed left one (it always seems to be the left gasket that leaks). It's a toss up as to whether it is best to change the good right side gasket as well, if the dealer is experienced and can do the gasket properly then it too should be changed.

Head gaskets are under the 5/100 warranty, and I think Subaru has a hidden extended warrenty for this particular gasket leak, I have two friends that have complimentary repairs for this outside of warranty.

#11 Valkaru

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 12:46 PM

Just to chime in, had posted this note (I thought) a month or so ago. Of course, now I am starting to smell oil AGAIN :banghead:, with 3K miles on the new head gaskets. I am holding out til after XMas, but am watching fluid levels. Since the warranty is only to 60K miles, I am afraid I'll be fighting a little, but the head gaskets are only ~2 months old.
- Loud clattering at startup, initially when very cold (25-30K miles) finally started even on warm/hot days. I initially thought it was piston slap, but at 54K miles took it in with an oil burning smell and the clatter. They could find no leaks, but replaced the timing belt tensioner on warranty. I bought a new timing belt for $89 just to be safe.
- 2 weeks later at ~58K miles, I started smelling anti-freeze, and within 2-3 days noticed the level going down. Dealer replaced both head gaskets (oil on the right, coolant on the left, thank you), along with a new thermostat and water pump because it is good practice.
The car has always run great, and I love it, but this much work this young makes me worry a bit.
Speed Safely!
David

#12 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 01:46 PM

wouldn't there be a warranty on the repair work? Possibly extending beyond some imminent 'new car' powertrain warranty?

#13 Atomic Robot

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 02:09 PM

"Head gaskets are under the 5/100 warranty, and I think Subaru has a hidden extended warrenty for this particular gasket leak"

Alias- how would you find out if this were the case; would it show up as a TSB somewhere?

#14 cookie

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 07:13 PM

and both types of clutch failure on my 99 Forester.
Get this done while you have the warranty as I got to pay for mine.
Seems satisfactory after fitting the latest bits about six months ago.
I have hopes that now I can catch up to you 2.2 owners in the next few years operating costs.

#15 Rolls Canardly

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Posted 21 December 2003 - 04:36 PM

Update on my particular situation:
Took the car to the dealership, they were courteous and professional. Asked them to address the coolant leak, clutch judder, and do an alignment, which the car needed.

The verdict on the coolant leak was a head gasket. They replaced the left side under warranty. They called and asked if I wanted a new timing belt for the cost of the part--$60. I said go for it.

The clutch problem they said would cost $1100 for new clutch and flywheel. Because it wasn't a "safety issue" they would not cover it. I told them to forget it. I can get used to it, I suppose.

I am satisfied with the job they did on the alignment.

Spent $142.00 and I hope my car is good to go for a while. I think my opinion of Subaru reliability has taken a hit. New head gasket after only 53k miles? Glad it was covered under warranty, but WTF? My old Mazda must have spoiled me--170k trouble-free miles and the original clutch when I sold her.

#16 2Outbacks

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Posted 24 December 2003 - 01:13 PM

Welcome to the wonderful world of Subaru defects!

I have a 98 5MT OB wagon and an 01 OB Limited sedan. The 98 has had clutch problems (chatter and the pedal sticking to the floor due to a defective master cylinder design which took 3 YEARS to diagnose), and the 01 has the clattering when cold as well as a head gasket failure at 42K miles.

I wrote to Subaru to express my concern over their design defects, and received this response:

"...The life expectancy of any mechanical device is subject to many
considerations. Every automobile will arrive at a condition that calls for minor, sometimes major, repair work. Subaru of America's warranty policy is designed for the protection of the owner for a limited time or mileage.

We have reviewed the warranty history for both vehicles and investigated your concerns with Lancaster Subaru dealership, and have been advised that Subaru has honored the terms of the manufacturer's warranty. ..."

Make no mistake, I like the cars themselves; but I've never had another vehicle in 25+ years of driving that left me stranded or required major engine repair at less than 100K miles (and that includes quite a few GM cars!)

#17 cookie

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Posted 24 December 2003 - 01:22 PM

defective clutch master cyl. I have had all the usuals from defective head gaskets to clutch disk, pressure plate,etc.
On the clutch actuating mechanism I folowed the Subaru bulletin when I had the clutch sticking to the floor.
I changed the hose, the gaskets, and the slave as mentioned in the bulletin.
I still had insufficient pressure from the master so I changed that and it was cured. Now I don't think I needed to change the hose and slave, but this is good PM anyway.
On the clutch itself using the latest numbers it is not necessary to change the flywheel.
The new disc and plate have all but totally cured my clutch chatter and slip, but I do not operate in the extreme cold that some of you do.




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