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Outback Woes...


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34 replies to this topic

#1 Stoneman

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Posted 21 January 2004 - 07:35 AM

Quick background: 2001 Outback wagon, 62,300 miles, 4 cyl...

At 55,000 miles, the brakes disintegrated without warning. One day they were fine, no shaking, no fade, no degredation what so ever. Next day, gone. Toast...

At 60,000 miles, blown head gasket. After some serious pissing and moaning, Subaru decided to cover the cost seeing as the car was only a bit over 2 years old. (I didn't get the extended warranty). Big kudos go to the service manager at the local stealership for stepping up for me like that....

At 62, 300 miles (now), the tranny pump goes on my way to work. Yip, tranny is now toast. Naturally, it's not covered at this point and Soob wants ungodly amounts of money to remove & replace. After some more serious bitching, Soob offers to pay 2/3 of the replacement costs. The 1/3 I hafta shell out is less than any local shop will charge me. Once again, big kudos to the service manager for taking this up with Soob...

Now I didn't just go out one day and decide I wanted to get an Outback. I did my homework and researched this purchase. Commuting roughly 500 miles a week to & from work in New Hampshire, the Soob seemed like a no brainer. Safety, reliability, decent mileage, and longevity were all issues that the Soob seemed to handle well...

Up until a few months ago, I woulda considered myself a Soob owner for life. THAT'S how happy I was with it. Even after the brake incident, I still felt confident in my decision to go with the Outback. The head gasket issue is when I started to get a bit concerned. I've put many miles on many vehicles and NEVER would I expect to run into an issue like this so early in a vehicle's life. The fact that Soob covered the repair eased my mind a bit. But it doesn't negate the fact that there's obviously a problem here...

Then the tranny goes a mere 2000 miles later. Makes no sense to me to be having THESE kinds of problems this soon with a vehicle that's supposed to be so damned reliable. Typically, the stealership denies any inherent problems of these sorts and assures me these are isolated incidents...

Still owing a few thousand $$ on this thing, I'm a bit concerned about what it'll cost me to keep this thing running now. Can any of you please shed some light here for me? What else can I expect to be failing next? Any common big ticket repairs I should be bracing myself for next?

Needless to say, I can't be more disappointed with the Outback. I'm almost certain this'll be the last Subaru I'll ever own...

Thanks for listening, thanks in advance for any info you can provide...

#2 cookie

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Posted 21 January 2004 - 12:39 PM

I am a Forester owner not an Outback, but you have the most expensive stuff covered I think.

#3 Valkaru

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Posted 21 January 2004 - 12:59 PM

Dang, Stoneman, that is not a happy list.:mad: I am running neck-to-neck with you, and even live in NH! Bought the car based on everyone's love of it, longevity, etc... Owned since new end of 2001, cleared 64K miles this morning on the way in to work in Manchester.
Replaced the brakes at all corners at 49K, rotors replaced up front.
Manchester Subaru replaced the timing belt tensioner on warranty at ~53K miles (I had knocking that only got worse when cold, joked that it was a diesel but had me scared for $$), and paid for a new belt while it was pulled down.
They then replaced both head gaskets at ~58K miles, and threw in the water pump and thermostat while they were there.
I also was sold on the car, but I agree these are major items early in a vehicle's life, warranty or not. Hearing about more folks having head gasket problems (and now transmissions seem to be getting 'popular'), on a second/third generation engine is pretty sad.
Can I recommend the car to another person, only with warnings about problems that I have had that seem to be COMMON.
I still enjoy driving the car, feel that it was a fair price for what I got, but am getting a bit more concerned about the transmission now. We were planning on keeping the car to ~180K miles (another 2-3 years):(
Good Luck on whatever you do, and Speed Safely:D:D

#4 tacode

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Posted 21 January 2004 - 02:28 PM

'99 Forester -
alternator at 28k
head gasket and water pump at 42k
front crankshaft oil seal at 46k
brakes at 62k
rear bearings around 60k
rear bearings AGAIN at 71k

Actually, I was happy aboout the brakes - they didn't fail, they just were too worn to pass inspection - coulda gotten another 10k out of them. The rear bearing thing has me a little concerned, though. But, all in all, I'm still happy with my Forester. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Aside from a complete engine failure, AC failure, or gremlins in the electrical system, I think you've gotten the biggies.

I'm hoping to keep this car at least another 5 years.

#5 Stoneman

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Posted 21 January 2004 - 04:45 PM

Wow Dave! The similarities with our vehicles is astounding! Must be all that damned commuting to Manch, eh? Man, I'd love to NOT hafta go to Manch every friggin' day...

When they did the head gaskets, they thought it best at the time to also do the timing belt. Didn't say anything to me about the water pump though. Guess I'll start keeping an eye on that then too. Do the water pumps on these have those little 'fail holes' that I'm used to with my Chevy 350's? Or is this another wunna Soob's 'wait til it fails' sorta deals?

I've said since I got this thing that it'd be my 'quarter million mile car'. Sad that it's failing at 60K. Would *I* recommend one? Never, not in a million years...

Again though, Manchester Soob's service manager (Sal) did the upright thing by taking up my issues (and getting them mostly covered) by Soob...

I won't even get into what a joke the salesman was when I bought it. I SWEAR it was his first CAR sales job. Didn't know squat about vehicles, and couldn't understand what I meant when I told him I didn't care what color I got. It's a longer story than that, and definitely funny...

Best was when he was braggin' about the horsepower of that little 4 knocker. He thought I was some kinda daredevil when I told him that my streetbike has almost as much! Yeah, he was a tool...

#6 Lesbaru

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Posted 21 January 2004 - 08:58 PM

The more I hear about the Phase 1 2.5's, the more grateful I am to the USMB for educating me and Scott (Hi Scott!) for selling me his 2.2.

Remind me to send Shawn some money...:D

#7 joybell

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Posted 21 January 2004 - 09:26 PM

Why didn't Subaru scrap the 2.5L and go with the reliable 2.2L? Is there all that much difference in power? Can the 2.5L engine in the Forester/Legacy be replaced with the 2.2L?

#8 Nug

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Posted 21 January 2004 - 11:26 PM

I think the 2.5 is cheaper to manufacture, for one. The 2.2 is made with some special casting method.

#9 Scoobaroo

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 10:25 AM

I've got an '02 OB with the phase II 2.5 and i'm watching the head gaskets like a hawk. So far, so good with only 24k miles, but all this talk about phase II failures has me a bit worried.

How hard can it be to design a frickin' head gasket that lasts 200 k miles?

Subaru auto tranny failures are pretty rare at 60 k. I think you just got a bad unit. At least they are picking up some of the tab.

#10 Valkaru

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 10:51 AM

Scoobaroo:
I have been surfing around (since before I bought the car and constantly since), and this head gasket issue on the Ph II engines seems to have become popular in the last 9-12 months. Some comments indicate the gasket WAS redesigned, and cars built after late 2001 are not impacted at all (that have been noted) and those that had gaskets replaced since 2002 have been OK also. So IF it happens w/in or near the warranty, it will get fixed and be ALL better:D

#11 joybell

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 11:01 AM

WWP-99 Service Campaign - Cooling System Conditioner

Subaru has determined that certain 1999 through 2002 model year 2.5L equipped Subaru vehicles may experience an external coolant leak from the cylinder head gaskets. This is the result of normal relative thermal expansion and contraction variations of engine parts. As a precautionary measure, SOA is recommending that a special conditioner be added to the engine cooling system to prevent leaks from occurring or to correct existing leaks.

Only early Phase II 2.5 liter engines are affected by this campaign. Phase I 2.5 liter engines (some 1999 model year and prior years) are not affected. Countermeasures applied to the manufacturing process for those 2002 and later VINS not affected by this campaign have eliminated the need for this campaign to be performed on those vehicles.

In the future, it will be necessary to add Genuine Subaru Cooling System Conditioner to the SUBARU vehicle cooling system whenever the engine coolant is replaced. The updated recommended service procedure as well as intervals for coolant replacement will be added to all applicable service manuals. As a reminder, we will include an update page in the owner notification letters that should be added to the Owner’s Manual and Warranty and Maintenance Booklet. We ask you to keep in mind that replacement of fluids (including Subaru Cooling System Conditioner) during inspection and maintenance services are not covered under warranty.

If the vehicle owner has this Service Program repair performed promptly, Subaru will extend coverage under the Subaru Limited Warranty on the vehicle for cylinder head gasket external coolant leaks to a period of 8 years or 100,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Warranty coverage begins on the date the vehicle was delivered to the first retail purchaser. If the vehicle was used as a demonstrator or company vehicle before being sold at retail, warranty coverage begins on the date the vehicle was first placed in such service. As a further condition for this extended warranty coverage to apply, the vehicle owner must have Genuine Subaru Cooling System Conditioner added to the vehicle at any subsequent cooling system services at the interval specified in the Warranty and Maintenance Booklet under the heading “Schedule of Inspection and Maintenance Services”.

Dealers will automatically be sent an initial quantity of Genuine Subaru Cooling System Conditioner. Dealer bulletins and affected VIN lists will be mailed to dealers in early February 2004. Owner notification letters are scheduled for mailing in stages.

#12 cookie

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 11:13 AM

I alredy paid for my replacement head gaskets and I hope it was not issued at that time.

#13 2Outbacks

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 12:53 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, even after the timing belt tensioner was replaced 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!)

#14 joybell

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 12:59 PM

It is just out to the dealers now.

#15 cookie

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 01:11 PM

maybe a bit late for me and many others, but this will help folks for sure!
I was also interested in 2 Outback's reply as I had the clutch sticking to the floor defect.
I followed the TSB and replaced hose, slave and washers. Still not enough volume and replaced the master and it is cured.
I wonder how many folks had that problem?
I really like the car to drive and this makes it worth the problems to me.

#16 remarcable

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 07:26 PM

I love my subaru and have decided to stick with it until it falls apart.

I came this close to buying a miata and selling the outback, but I got a Dodge GC van loaned to me while the outback gets worked on. The outback handles like a go cart compared to the horrible handling characteristics of a top heavy FWD american made minivan.

On the list at 56K miles (99 outback)

- front and rear brake pads
- Struts+Springs all 4 corners
- brake rotors front and rear
- Water pump (weeping currently)
- Thermostat
- Timing Belt
- LEAKY HEADGASKET
-"funk" odor in cabin must be eliminated
- bald tires need replacing but can wait

All in all this will cost me around $2000 assuming I install everything myself and the dealer decides to not honor the 60k mile warranty. If the dealer repairs the headgasket under warranty I'll have a cool grand left to spend on bushings and swaybar mounts and stuff like that.


I really should not have to drop 2 grand into a vehicle with only 56k miles on it.

On the upside, my transmission is working great and my engine is squeaky clean (coolant tends to do that).

I have stopped suggesting people buy Subarus with the 2.5 engine. I make sure to specify 2.2 liter turbo when making car suggestions.

#17 cookie

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 07:30 PM

the shade on those head gaskets! At this point I can' remember wether I spent $5,000 or $6,000 to bring mine up to the condition that it should have left the factory in.
This coming year it will get new struts and I will probably do the brakes while I am in there.

#18 Scoobaroo

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Posted 23 January 2004 - 08:37 AM

Originally posted by Valkaru
Scoobaroo:
I have been surfing around (since before I bought the car and constantly since), and this head gasket issue on the Ph II engines seems to have become popular in the last 9-12 months. Some comments indicate the gasket WAS redesigned, and cars built after late 2001 are not impacted at all (that have been noted) and those that had gaskets replaced since 2002 have been OK also. So IF it happens w/in or near the warranty, it will get fixed and be ALL better:D




Thanks. I think my OBW was produced in 11/01. Does this mean that I might have the new, new, NEW improved head gaskets?

#19 Valkaru

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Posted 23 January 2004 - 09:42 AM

Scoobaroo:
I do not recall at the moment where I saw the various comments (and it is ALL really just one person's opinion, fact or fiction), but here are the sites I regularly watch: forums.nasioc.com/forums; www.i-club.com; www.subaruoutback.org; plus USMB, of course:D
NASIOC has a Legacy, Baja and Outback forum, while I-Club just has a Legacy forum. It was on one of the Legacy or Outback forums on those two sites I saw the message about the redesigned head gasket and people that had 1-3 replacements until the latest design was installed.
You may want to go and do a search for head gasket on one of them if you want to see more info.
Wish I could be more specific, and/or find a single soid reference of info that is direct or nearly direct from Subaru. Most of the time, it is information passed along with the best of intents, but only repeating what a service writer or similar has told someone.
When all is said and done, Speed Safely and Live in Moderation. It will all come out in the end, we only hope the end is a LOT farther away than we fear.
And now back to our regularly scheduled program, "Working for a Living"

#20 Ranger83

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Posted 23 January 2004 - 04:00 PM

Sir, did you buy this vehicle new, or used? What was the mileage when you got it? Did you buy it from a dealer?

A friend of mine had all kinds of problems with a used Toyota he bought with 65,000 miles on the odemeter. He had a lot of unusual problems, and eventually was able to contac the original owner - who had put nearly 120,000 miles on it. It had been wholesaled out, then sold through a couple of dealers, during which over 50,000 miles disappeared from the odometer.

Brakes at 50-60K are one thing, a head gasket and tranmission problems are pretty rare.

This site tends to amplify some problems. I have 8 friends with 97 or 98 Outbacks with no head gasket problems, with mileages of 50K up to 191K. Mine has 126K and no such problem.

#21 brus brother

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Posted 23 January 2004 - 09:36 PM

With about 35K miles on the odometer, the auto tranny on my 00 Legacy GT was slow to shift from reverse into forward. SOA installed a reman. transmission. Fortunately, satisfactory service after unsatisfactory FACTORY. Mechanic immediately knew what he was dealing with as a known problem so be on the lookout if you are still under warranty.

#22 pjsemmer

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Posted 23 January 2004 - 10:14 PM

I shudder to think that those of you with Outbacks/Foresters who've had so many problems with them would be indicative of the majority of those cars, rather you all are the exceptions who may have received the "lemons" of the bunch. Lemons exist with just about any car on the road. I owned a '99 Acura CL for 2 years which came from the factory with a defective auto transmission that needed to be replaced, front disc rotors that needed replacing at about 8000 miles and a V6 engine that burned 1/2 quart of oil between oil changes.

I am happy to say (while knocking on a wooden table!) that my '99 Outback has been relatively problem-free since I bought it in October of '98. It currently has 54K miles and I've always done oil and filter changes every 3000 miles using Mobil-1 synthetic, have gone through 2 sets of front and 1 set of rear brake pads, new fuel filter, K&N air filter, new belts and plugs and have changed the coolant once (at 46K miles). I also changed the tranny fluid and filter at about 38K miles.

I feel bad for all of you who have had so many problems. I am glad that we have this forum though, so other owners know what to look for and try to take counter-measures to try and prevent things from happening.

#23 Valkaru

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Posted 24 January 2004 - 08:33 AM

Ranger: Sir? Who you callin' Sir? I work for a living:D:D. Original owner (0.7 miles when I test drove, my neighbor was teh dealership finance guy and delivered my car to my house so I could ride my motorcycle:D:D, so only 2.1 drivers on the car, and I have done ~99% of the miles myself), 2 dino oil changes before 10K miles, then Mobil 1 every 3-4K miles since then. Every maintenance before due or completely worn out (although the brakes only had a few hundred miles left if I hammered them). I will agree (and was trying to take into account) that the website(s) can amplify problems, considering the same person may post in 3 or more places, but it is still one problem. Luckily, I only have one user name, so everyone knows it is the same whiner;). Hearing others tell that techs and service managers advise they are doing 2-3 per week tells me the gasket is a bit more pervasive than that, but this is also just heresy. My one argument against that is that Subaru is extending a warranty and correcting these issues, which goes against the grain of most car mfgrs I had experience with. Of course, I could also take that as a VERY positive note, that they are fixing things that are even borderline, and I hope to come around to that feeling.

#24 cookie

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Posted 24 January 2004 - 05:51 PM

most manufacturers will step up to the plate.
Ford did a whole lot of head gaskets on those V6s a few years back, and they sure did a bunch of Firestones didn't they?
GM replaced the entire engine 20,000 miles off warranty on an early V6 for a fleet car I was in charge of.
Frankly I am glad to see Subaru recognise this problem. Like many folks when I had the dealer do my head gaskets the techs admitted they saw a lot of them.
If they do a couple a week I wonder what percentage of Subarus they sell that is?
Even if it is 10% it is too much.
On the Mazda we have in Kiwi the dealer gave us a new head gasket on warranty and called us to come down and get it. I thought that was pretty nice.

#25 calebz

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Posted 24 January 2004 - 07:20 PM

a head gasket and tranmission problems are pretty rare.



BZZZZZ..

I'm sorry, thank you for playing, but you have missed out on the grand prize for today's round of "do you know your subaru"

Local Dealership here averages 3 Phase I EJ25 headgaskets per week. Also told me that the number of Phase II gaskets coming through is on the rise. States his personal belief that they arent torqued properly at the factory.. At one time recently, they had 9 of them at once in the shop for the same thing..He has one guy that spends a lot of his time doing nothing but EJ25 headgaskets.. he's gotten really fast at it I hear.




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