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Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Wagon
#8421 of 8657 2001 Outback catalytic converter and head gasket
Jan 25, 2011 (10:03 pm)
I have a 2001 Outback Wagon 5 Speed Manual Transmission with 114K miles. I live in Los Angeles.
My engine light came on and will not go out. My car is also losing oil, a quart every 5K or so.
I take my Outback for repairs for years to a reputable independent repair shop in LA.
I was told today that I need a new catalytic converter, and that I have oil leaking from both head gaskets. I know that 2001 Outbacks have had head gasket problems, but my car is over 10 years old and has over 100K miles. What shall I do? I can't sell the car because it can't pass CA Smog testing (required when you sell a car) without a new cataytic converter. The new heads will be expensive, due to the labor costs. I figure I am looking at over 3K repairs for a car worth maybe 4.5K.
Do I keep driving it until it dies, fix it, buy a new one. I am thinking about calling Subaru to complain. I think 2 head gaskets going bad with only 114K is a manufacturing defect. I love my car, love Subarus but I may now have to replace the converter and head gaskets, and the car only has 114K. I have had Hondas with many more miles and much less problems.
Any thoughts, suggestions?
#8422 of 8657 Re: 2001 Outback catalytic converter and head gasket [mtnsun]
Jan 26, 2011 (3:46 am)
The head gaskets and cats are common problems with these cars. I say drive it until it stops.
#8423 of 8657 Re: 2001 Outback catalytic converter and head gasket [mtnsun]
Jan 26, 2011 (8:44 am)
The converter may not even be the problem. It is also possible that the oxygen sensors are showing their age. What was the code? P0420? If so, I would simply reset the code at this point and see how long it takes to return. The only way to determine whether the cat is truly going bad is to do a "smog" test that sniffs the tailpipe. If the car is within tolerance, it is most likely not the cat.
As for the head gaskets... better oil than coolant! a quart every 5,000 miles is not bad at all, but it is bad that the leak is HG-related. Have you replaced the timing belt yet? If not, and you plan to keep the car, I would replace the gaskets. Otherwise, you could sell it, but with leaking gaskets I daresay it is not worth $4,500.
#8424 of 8657 Re: 2001 Outback catalytic converter and head gasket [mtnsun]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Jan 26, 2011 (10:05 am)
You are supposed to use a special coolant to prevent head gasket deterioration so if that got neglected at some point, that might be part of the problem.
But the 2.5L engines are notorious for this issue, and Subaru isn't going to do anything about it at that mileage.
If you really love the car, it pays to fix it. I wouldn't wait until the engine self-destructs, no.
If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can send you to a very good Subaru shop.
#8425 of 8657 Timing Belt
Feb 02, 2011 (9:22 am)
I just got this email from my dealership: Did you know that Subaru recommends that the timing belt on your 2003 LEGACY be changed every 7 years or up to 105,000 miles? Our records indicate that your vehicle is due for this service. I've heard a lot about the importance of replacing the thing at 105,000 miles but never the part about 105,000 miles OR SEVEN YEARS. My 2003 Legacy wagon (purchased 9/11/2002) has 57,500 miles on it. Does Subaru really recommend that I change the timing belt, and if not, should I do it anyway?
#8426 of 8657 Re: Timing Belt [gjksn]
Feb 02, 2011 (9:36 am)
I have not heard the time limit before, but rubber belts do suffer the effects of age as well as use. I certainly would not let the belt go over ten years, just because it is much less expense and effort to replace the belt periodically than to ruin the engine should it break.
I replaced my '96 Outback's belt at: 83,500 miles (4.5 years old), 144,000 miles (3 years old), 192,000 miles (2.5 years old - I also replaced the pulleys this time). Every time it was replaced, it looked perfect aside from the timing marks, etc., on the back side of the belt being extremely faded.
I did the initial replacement because I had just purchased the car and it was closing in on the 105,000 mark, but the other replacements were simply due to having the engine apart for other reasons.
#8427 of 8657 Re: Timing Belt [gjksn]
Feb 02, 2011 (10:37 am)
That assumes you drive more than 15k miles per year, which is crazy.
So no, I doubt the 7 years thing.
#8429 of 8657 Re: Timing Belt [robr2]
Feb 02, 2011 (11:15 am)
Yeah, but they would likely go with 12k miles/year. Like the warranty - 3 years/36k, 5/60k.