Last post on Dec 06, 2011 at 11:51 AM
You are in the Subaru Legacy & Outback
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Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Wagon
#10614 of 11746 Problems with my 04 Outback
Mar 18, 2005 (1:43 pm)
I bought a automatic '04 Outback in June 2004. I did a lot of research before buying the car, and I know several folks who've got Subarus and love them.
Unfortunately, so far, I have not loved mine. I'm interested in knowing if the experiences I'm having with the car are typical, or unique. My current dissatisfaction with the car and the dealership has reached the point where I am seriously considering selling it.
Two weeks after I bought the car, it started failing to start on the first turnover a few times a week. When it did finally start, it would surge and rev itself, which you could hear and see on the tachometer. It has continued to do this for the last eight months, in both hot Texas summer weather and our version of "winter" (30-40 degrees.) The dealership insists that since they're not getting any computer codes from the car, there's nothing wrong.
While the owners manual and the dealership told me the car ran on 87 octane, it does not. It detonates ferociously on anything less than 89 octane, and even then, it still periodically pings. It even pings intermittently on 91 octane. I know higher octane gas is better in general, but I bought this car to be my economical dog/bike/camping gear hauler, and I would very much like it to run on 87 octane.
My previous vehicle was a Z-28 Camaro, and it required 93 octane. That was cool, because it also had 285 horsepower. If I'm going to have to pay for expensive gas, I'd like some torque or a turbo to go with that, you know?
My car averages 16 mpg in city driving. I drive about 3 miles one way on city roads to work every day, and I'm definitely not putting the lead foot down. The best gas mileage it has ever gotten was 26 mpg, and that was on a trip out of town on mostly highways. Is it me, or does this mileage seem very low for a 4-cylinder car? None of my friends with 4-cylinder Foresters or Outbacks get mileage this low. I complained about this issue to the dealership recently (Austin Subaru in Austin, Texas) and they told me the mileage estimates that Subaru gives out are EPA estimates and thus, are mostly fiction. Well, ok.
I asked them to do a mileage test themselves on the car. They did, by topping off my 89 octane-filled tank with 91 octane, driving it 27 miles, topping it off again and proclaiming to me that it gets 31.3 mpg. There is no way in Hades that it gets 31.3 now or has ever gotten 31.3 mpg, but the dealership service manager adamantly insisted that it does and that if I'm not getting this mileage, it must be my driving.
Have any of you EVER gotten 31.3 mpg in city driving in your automatic Outback?
I love the design of the car, the room, and clearance, and the interior. I'm beginning to think, though, that my particular Outback is not so sound.
Mar 18, 2005 (2:06 pm)
See if they can reflash the ECU.
I'd at least reset it to get a fresh start. If mileage is that bad something is not right. Knock sensor maybe?
#10616 of 11746 Re: Problems with my 04 Outback [charlotte7]
Mar 18, 2005 (8:19 pm)
Three miles one way is barely enough to warm-up the engine. It wouldn't surprise me if you get similar results, in your driving situtation, switching cars with a friend and driving their Forester or another Outback.
In my understanding, octane has very little effect on mpg. And driving 27 miles on a warmed-up car to determine gas mileage sounds like a bogus test. Drive the car one foot and it might calculate to 100mpg!
Starting Subies: many of us have found that allowing the fuel pump to pressurize the lines first eliminates starting problems. Do this by turning the key to "on", wait a few seconds until the fuel pump stops "whirring", then start the car.
#10617 of 11746 Re: '04 problems. [ateixeira]
Mar 19, 2005 (6:29 am)
I agree with juice, it sounds very much like your ECU is fouled up. Get them to reflash it, or if you don't trust them, try pulling the negative terminal off the battery for 30 minutes and then hooking it back up. At least that will reset some of it.
16mpg for a 3-mile city drive on a cold engine? Sounds about right. AWD extracts a mileage penalty, and it is most noticeable in stop-go and slow speed driving. Your commute is probably the worst possible set of conditions as far as gas mileage is concerned.
#10618 of 11746 Re: Problems with my 04 Outback [charlotte7]
Mar 21, 2005 (9:22 am)
Actually, the gas mileage does get that bad when driving that little. I have a friend who bought a 03 OBW brand new. Almost from the start, he was averaging 13-14 mpg. He finally admitted that he was driving only a couple of miles at a time, if that much. When he took it on a road trip, he did get 26 mpg. Like previously stated, the car has no chance to fully warm up in 2 miles.
#10619 of 11746 '05 Legacy Side Impact Safety
Mar 22, 2005 (9:48 am)
I'm in the market for an '05 Legacy 2.5i, and was thoroughly impressed after the test drive. However, upon checking with the IIHS, it rates side impact safety for the wagon as "poor" for the driver. I find that hard to believe with both driver side and curtain airbags standard for the driver. This is enough to be a dealbreaker for me, however, and I was surprised to hear that the smaller Forester had better side impact safety than the Legacy. Any thoughts on why this might be, or any word from Subaru on how they plan on improving this rating?
#10620 of 11746 Are you sure that Forester was
Mar 22, 2005 (10:19 am)
tested using the same SUV sized impact as Legacy ?
#10621 of 11746 Re: '05 Legacy Side Impact Safety [awd4me]
Mar 22, 2005 (11:56 am)
Well, the Outback is the same body only with higher ground clearance, and it appears to ace the side impact tests (perhaps not the same exact test as IIHS, but it has aced 2-3 tests in multiple countries).
I believe ground clearance works in the favor of the Forester and the Outback -- it puts their floor structure higher into the impact area where it offers structural integrity. Since the IIHS test simulates being T-boned by an SUV, it would stand to reason that higher vehicles would fare better.
There is some black magic in the side impact tests -- many manufacturers put reinforcements, beams, and simple straps inside their doors to perform better in a particular test. This helps in ratings, but may have zero relevance to any given real-world crash scenario. So you really need to understand that when looking at the ratings. A car might do great in the IIHS test, poor in the NHSTA test, and excellent in an Australian test. But none of those tests are exactly what you may encounter on the road!!
I would say to do more research on this, including looking at other tests of the Legacy and those done in other countries. And then draw your own conclusions.
In my opinion, knowing how well my Outback rated, I can't see a reason why the Legacy would be that much worse -- so in my opinion, I would say it's a peculiarity of having 2" less ground clearance and the specifics of the IIHS test. In certain real world accidents, the Legacy might actually do better than the Outback!
#10622 of 11746 Headgaskets still an issue in 2005?
Mar 22, 2005 (8:51 pm)
I was very close a week ago to buying an Outback wagon with the 2.5L. Loved everything about it. Researched the web a bit and got scared to death by the seemingly infinite web sites and postings regarding the "2.5L headgasket leaks from hell" issue.
I've seen posts affecting the 2.5L from ~1999 through 2003. Nothing on 2004 or 2005 models, but from what I can gather nothing much has changed in the engine over these years.
I deeply want to avoid any sort of hassle factor of a 10 issue arguing with the dealer over this sort of stuff. Esp. considering it is such a major part - not something like a strut or a rattle.
So please educate me.
My salesperson claimed the whole issue was originally a bad batch of gaskets that they worked through. I took that as total BS given I've read people having to replace the gasket at 60K and then again only 20K later. Why wouldn't the replacement gasket be the "better" one if true?
#10623 of 11746 Re: Headgaskets still an issue in 2005? [codecruncher]
Mar 23, 2005 (10:08 am)
I can offer up a part of the explanation, but maybe one of the other regulars can finish the story.
'96-'99 - DOHC 2.5l (phase 1 engine). There is some truth to the change in gasket design and materials used here. Replacement gaskets seem to be holding up ok.
'00-'04 - SOHC 2.5l (phase 2 engine). There was talk about various tests on gasket change, but don't think anything was really done. The problem is in the upper block (deck) design, and how much dimensional change the 'open deck' goes thru with heating cycles. It is apparently enough to scrub the gasket into failure over time. An 'additive' is used (kind of a stop-leak) to prolong life, but time will tell if it is effective. Yes, there have been reports of repeated failures but it is unclear if when those gaskets were changed, if the additive was used. My '02's were changed at 15k miles, but the dealer (and later Patti) told me that the additive was not needed in my case. Why? I could never get an clear answer....
Turbo motors: These use a different (closed deck) upper block design that is more thermally stable, and seem to be immune to failure.
Newer 2.5l without turbo: Very good question! Did they change the block, or just relying on the additive? Maybe someone else can complete this chronology....