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#4432 of 8657 Bad gas mileage and other problems on my '04 Outback
Mar 18, 2005 (1:39 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 where I bought it 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 want it to run on 87 octane. My previous car 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 other friends with Foresters or Outbacks get 16 mpg city. I complained about this 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.
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 don't get 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 (2:08 pm)
No cross-posting please.
#4434 of 8657 Re: clunking noise in front suspension [ndtommy]
Mar 18, 2005 (2:12 pm)
My 97 OBW does the same thing - worse in the cold, I think, when the rubber contracts a bit. It also seems worse when my snow tires are on. I agree it seems to be the front sway bar bushings.
Mine is noticeably better after I liberally spray the bushings with lithium grease, as previously suggested. I just do it concurrent with oil changes every 3k miles.
#4435 of 8657 Re: car stalling at stops but starts fine [raja3]
Mar 18, 2005 (8:09 pm)
It seems like I have exactly the same issue, only I have 99' Outback, 5sp (68K miles). What scares me is that when the dashboard lights start flashing (all of them - Battery and BREAK first, then, Check Engine and Oil Pan in a couple of seconds), the accelerator does not work. It could be a coincidence, but when it happened today I pressed alarm lights (blinking lights - trying to steer off the road) and the problem went away.
Also it did stall two weeks ago when I waited for traffic light.
I even have an extended warranty untill 70K, but how can I reproduce the problem (it is very rare)?
Any help will be greatly appreciated.
#4436 of 8657 Re: Bad gas mileage and other problems on my '04 Outback [charlotte7]
Mar 18, 2005 (10:07 pm)
Your 3 mile commute is the killer -- that is an extremely short drive. You probably spend a lot of fuel starting/stopping and there is very little actual driving in the middle to make up for it.
Whenever the car is not moving, you get 0 mpg. It takes an awful lot of driving at higher mpg to weight out the 0 mpg events. That is why stop and go city driving is bad, as well as short trips. On the highway, the car is not necessarily any more efficient, but you tend to have longer "runs" and far fewer 0 mpg events. So the average goes way up.
So, in the end, it's probably not the car -- it's the simple mathematical reality of driving a short distance.
Mar 19, 2005 (4:23 am)
Some of you should start checking out Subaru enthusiast sites, where the head gasket issues; hesitation; and poor mileage are covered in detail, including fixes and responses by dealers and SOA.
- Warm hesitation seems to be a common complaint on Subarus, with lots of theories but no cure. Mine has done it for a long time. My wife won't drive it.
- Subaru is taking care of more-recent customers on the headgasket problem. The issue is that they are doing nothing for the 97-99 owners that 1. put the Outback on the map, and 2. are in the market for a new car. After I complained to SOA about replacing my headgaskets, they sent me a six-month coupon for $1,000 off a new Subaru. Despite this, the dealer (Manchester Subaru, Manchester, NH) I bought a Honda Accord instead.
- We live in the city and in pure city driving got 20 mpg. The best mileage we have ever gotten (two different 97 OBW) was 28.4, and that was once. Taking it easy we get up to 27. Average mixed driving is about 25.
These forums here at Edmunds are funny. The Subaru owners ave lots of happy talk, while places like ulitmatesubaru.net report lots of problems. Honda Accord owners seem to report lots of problems here: but on VTEC.net they're mostly happy. Nissan Quest owners here are positively venomous: every one I've met in the RW loves their Quest.
#4438 of 8657 Re: Scubies [garandman]
Mar 19, 2005 (5:47 am)
These forums here at Edmunds are funny. The Subaru owners ave lots of happy talk, while places like ulitmatesubaru.net report lots of problems
Probably because people who visit those sites are there because they have a 1. a problem, and 2. are not happy about it.
The Edmunds forums are not as much 'funny', but rather a group of individuals, whose common bond is that they either own, or have owned Subarus. Many have owned more that one. I currently own my 3rd (99 GT LTD Sedan) and 4th (03 Outback) Subaru, and will be replacing the GT with an 05 GT LTD.
Happy talk? My GT has given me 121,000 trouble free miles in under 6 years. Other than regular maintenance, and one set of tires and brakes, that's all I have needed to do to the car. Yes, I am happy, and will purchase another. I was so happy with my 2nd (96 Outback) that I traded it for the 03. Reason? Because my wife saw one in Seamist Green, and liked the color.
Mileage has been discussed many, many times. I believe that there is no magic, and sometimes rational number for mpg, where there are so many factors which can affect mileage.
What have you done about your warm hesitation problem? My guess is that it needs a fuel injection system cleaning. Costs about 70 dollars. Cured the problem on the my 96 Outback. Hesitation problems were caused when we started using the car for a lot of short trips, and errands around town, and rarely took it out on the highway.
Just my 2 cents. Rob M.
#4439 of 8657 Re: Scubies [garandman]
Mar 19, 2005 (6:42 am)
About the only thing I want to point out is that most of us frequent multiple Subaru enthusiast sites in addition to this one. I look at 3-4 of them on a regular basis. Very few of us are Edmunds-only, so I don't take the different tone here to be an issue. Actually, all the sites have a different flavor. For one thing, because of the strict rules and the format on Edmunds, we're less likely to get into mods, projects, and hacks here. That alone gives this forum a lot less depth.
#4440 of 8657 happy? plz see the discussion when the b9 nose first appeared
Mar 19, 2005 (8:13 am)
heck even the name benign
#4441 of 8657 Re: Bad gas mileage and other problems on my '04 Outback [charlotte7]
Mar 19, 2005 (2:06 pm)
I had ONE 350-mile run that gave me 31.2 mpg five years ago with my 2.5L '96. But, the speeds were an almost perfect 55-60 mph and I may have stopped the car 4 times total and did 0 passing. Also, the terrain was quite mountainous and the general tendency was an overall decrease in elevation. Since then, the best was 28 and the normal highway (those 100% trips at ~65) mpg is about 25.5.
Cleaning the fuel injector system along with an ECU flash is probably a good idea. If you drove the car on several distance trips during the first two weeks, the car may have "adapted" to your driving habits incorrectly, and now it is programmed for distance instead that incredibly short 3-mile trip.
If the car has run poorly for that long, you may consider taking a peek at the spark plugs too, but it is a bi.... er, uh, troublesome... task as there is not much clearance with which to work.