All Wheel Drive Auto: Independent Seattle Subaru Service


Subaru Model Guide and Tips

There have been a few requests for this over the last few weeks, so I updated an older article and added some tips at the end.  I am sure I missed a few things here and there but thats what editing later is for.

Subaru model list and engine configuration, U.S. specifications (As best as I can remember)


  • From 1990 to 1994 Subaru Legacy 2.2L engine, available in L, LS, LSI trim, hydraulic lifters, non interference, the LS and LSI were available with pneumatic suspension to address early ground clearance issues in the Legacy
  • Turbo model or “Sport” 2.2l turbo from 1991 to 1994 (non intercooled turbo)
  • Turbo discontinued in 1994 in the U.S.
  • 1995 brought a redesigned body with a lower stance and the added trim level of “Outback” but the same stance as the Legacy.The 2.2l stayed mostly the same but some configurations were produced with single exhaust port cylinder heads that can be problematic, And we of course started OBD II
  • Trim levels were Brighton, L, LS, LSI, Outback
  • The 2.5L (DOHC) was introduced in the LS and LSI models in 1995 as an option
  • 1996 brought the Legacy GT with a 2.5l engine, Legacy Outback with a 2.2l manual and a 2.5L auto transmission. The Outback has a higher stance but is still just a “trim” level of the Legacy
  • The 1996 2.5l has hydraulic valve train and composite head gaskets that are like in design as the 2.2l from 1990 to 1998
  • 1997 brings about mechanical valve train in the 2.2 and 2.5l and MLS (Multi Layer Shim) head gaskets in the 2.5l, these gasket tend to have some internal failures resulting in overheating, this can happen as early as 60k but on average most reach over 100k before there are any problems
  • Mid year 1998 brings about a redesigned 2.2l in the Legacy which is the design the 2.5l will follow
  • 2000 brings about the 2.5L (SOHC) and major overhaul of the models. While the Legacy and Outback are still the same platform they are now separate Models. This is the engine that has the famed external head gasket leak that lead to the WWP-99 campaign. While the coolant leaks were greatly slowed the gaskets can still be problematic for oil leaks and some external coolant and internal leaks as well
  • Legacy 2.2l, Legacy GT 2.5l, Outback 2.5L
  • 2001 adds the 3.0l H6 in the Outback models only and the VDC(vehicle dynamics control) is standard with the H6, this is a chain driven motor that if well maintained is one of Subau’s best, but if neglected will cost a lot to repair
  • The 2.2l is dropped out of production in 2002, and the LL Bean comes out and is only available with the H6
  • 2005 is a redesign, and the Legacy GT, and Outback XT is equipped with a intercooled 2.5l Turbo(DOHC) and available 5spd sport shift transmission.  In 2006 we get a Legacy GT Spec B with a 6 speed transmission but is very limited in production
  • From 2005 to 2009 there are many refinements and new emissions control devices including the PZEV (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) but no major changes
  • 2010 is a complete redesign of the Legacy and Outback both becoming larger in size and adding the CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission)


Limited production vehicle based on the Outback, was equipped with either a 2.5l or 2.5l Turbo


  • Limited production in 1997 2.5l DOHC
  • 1998 Available only with a 2.5l DOHC
  • Trim levels 1997 to 2002 L, S
  • 1999 2.5l SOHC
  • 2003 was a partial redesign and added the X, XS Trim levels
  • 2004 on Available with a 2.5L DOHC Turbo in the XT
  • Forester LL Bean has an H4
  • Some partial changes from 2004 to 2008 but major re-vamp in 2009 making the vehicle larger in size and a much broader appeal
  • The 1999 to present all use the same type of head gaskets that the Legacy and Outback


  • Introduced in 1993

Available with a 1.8l and 2.2l until the 1.8l was dropped

  • The Impreza RS in 1998 had the 2.5L DOHC in 1998 and the 2.5L SOHC from 1999 to present
  • Available starting in 1996 in Outback and Outback sport trim levels
  • Trim levels Brighton, L, RS, Outback and Outback Sport, engine configurations varied by trim level
  • In 2002 the Impreza WRX made its north American Debut with a 2.0l DOHC Turbo, Followed by the WRX STI in 2004 with a DOHC 2.5l but different from the 2.5 L in the Forester XT, In 2006 the 2.0L was dropped from production in favor of the 2.5L found in the Legacy GT, Outback XT and Forester XT
  • The 2007 STI is one of the more popular models as it has a better gear set for around town driving.
  • Subaru drops the sedan from the line up favoring a 5-door, only to bring it back as the WRX GT
  • The 2011 STI will be available as a sedan


Came out in 2006 and was redesigned in 2008 only available with the H6, The H6 has changed in size and power but is still the same platform.  This vehicle is packed with features, and has the capability of 7 passenger seating.

The Rest

  • Loyale produced from 1985 to 1994 1.8l and 1.8l Turbo, variations of the platform are RX, RS, DL, GL, GL10. The Loyale was virtually unchanged from 1990 to 1994 and was really only kept around as long as it was in the early 90’s because of concerns with the low ground clearance on the Legacy models. There are many configurations of these cars, some with dual range 4wd, turbo and a differential lock
  • Justy, we don’t see many of these and no one will pay us to work on them
  • SVX, Dropped out of Production 1996 and some 1996 sold as 1997, only available with the 3.3l H6, this was a car well ahead of its time with a lot of unique features. Was available in either 2 or AWD with an automatic Transmission only
  • Subaru XT, XT Turbo, XT6 very rare anymore. The XT6 model could be found with electronic power steering, pneumatic suspension and really was a car ahead of its time

Important Notes and tips, (with a bit of sarcasm)

  • Clutches are hydraulic starting in 1997 in all 2.5l versions, cable operated in the 1.8l and 2.2l up until 2000 or so. All cable operated clutches require an adjustment from time to time. Most cable operated clutches had a hill holder, a device that makes having a manual transmission on a hill a breeze.
  • The 2003 Forester brought back the hill holder but it is a hydraulic and cable operated device.
  • Starting in 1999 with the SOHC 2.5l Subaru went to a dual mass type flywheel. Some of these can cause a chattering issue with the clutch.
  • For any 1999 and Later SOHC models it is suggested by Subaru to add their coolant conditioner at every instance the coolant is changed.
  • There is a parking light rocker switch on the steering column of every Subaru, if bumped will cause the lights to stay on.
  • If your battery goes dead, or is replaced and now your lights are flashing, you have tripped your keyless entry/security system even if you didn’t know you had one. If you have a remote press the button, if not or the battery is dead try the following. There is a toggle switch taped to the keyless entry module wiring harness under the dash to the left of the steering column or if you are lucky the installing technician may have done it right and actually installed the toggle switch in the lower dash panel as is should be. Press the switch with the key on and all will be well. The good news is now that you know you have keyless entry you can purchase a remote, program it in and wahoo a new feature.
  • 2000 and newer models when the security system is tripped you must turn the the key in the ignition 3 times and the annoying horn noise will stop.
  • If you have a seat belt chime driving you crazy try inserting the seat belt into the buckle for, are you ready, 20 TIMES and the noise shall stop, it may take you several tries at this.
  • You need to service the battery on your Subaru every year or sooner, with no exceptions.
  • It really is a good idea to turn off the head lights and wipers before shutting the car off, that way they wont turn on while trying to start the Subaru in the dead of winter while the wipers are frozen to the windshield, and the battery must deal with the cold, the head lights, the wipers and the starter. Not to mention the radio, heater, seats, you get the picture. The reason your wipers are now running past the windshield is the linkage was damaged when the wiper blades were frozen against the windshield and the wiper motor tried moving them, kind of like a tongue on a frozen flag pole.
  • If you want the AWD system to last you want all 4 tires to be of like tread design and depth, so yes if you have a blow out requiring a tire needs to be replaced then yes you should make sure the replacement tire matches what is already on the car. This can be done 2 ways either buy 4 tires or one tire that matches the rest and have it shaved to match. Yes this can be done, but not in a hurry typically and you should never use your space saver tire for much longer than a few miles at low speeds or you will damage the differential. This is why I never suggest you pay a premium for 100,000 mile tires on your Subaru.
  • You probably dont need a flush, in fact most likely you dont, if you simply follow the maintenance guide in the owners manual you shouldn’t really need to ever flush your cooling system, or transmission fluid, how ever if you neglect your brake fluid, that may require a flush to remove moisture. You certainly dont need one at every oil change interval, regard less of what the teenager at the lube center tries to tell you.
  • The “I” in the maintenance booklet does not mean “Inspect” Look closer at the bottom, in fine print it states “I” = Inspect, Replace or Correct As needed. Do not be fooled into thinking the differential and transmission fluid is good for life. The GL5 gear lube is pretty much the same stuff that has been around, well since before I can remember.
  • Your Subaru Doesn’t need brake calipers replaced under normal situations, but it would prefer someone older than 18 replaced the brakes in a car you tote you family around in.
  • If you dont tighten the “gas cap” it will cause the check engine light to come on. If you forget to change and check the engine oil and it runs out, the engine may start making some very loud noises before ceasing to function and the “check engine light” will never come on. If your Check engine light flashes you need to stop driving the car. There is one check engine light and many different causes of the light to come on mostly dealing with emissions control devices, but sometimes more severe.
  • The ATF Temp light is kind of like the check engine light, and serious if it starts flashing and should be looked at fairly quickly.
  • Many newer vehicle will have a flashing cruise control light and no cruise control function if you are ignoring a check engine light(someone is trying to get your attention).
  • There truly are no instances when a check engine light will come on for maintenance. The guy that set his crack pipe down long enough to tell you this should be tarred, feathered and then forced to read the entire owners manual plus the service manual just for fun.
  • Because the check engine light came on last year for a loose gas cap doesn’t mean its on for a loose gas cap this time, if it is gas cap related, after tightening the gas cap the light should turn off after a few trips in the car, if it doesn’t its not the gas cap this time, its something new that really should at a minimum be looked at and from there decide if its something “worth” repairing.
  • Your Subaru, as will every other car cost you a lot more to own than any ownership study will represent.
  • If you decide that changing your oil less often than 3 times a year is a good idea, because Subaru and every other Vehicle manufacture makes it confusing, or Synthetics last longer, I assure you if the engine has a major mechanical issue out of warranty Subaru probably wont participate. The Subaru branded filter for all 4 cylinder model Subaru‘s are tiny little.
  • If every car lasted 300,000 miles with no real repairs needed how would any car company make a profit?
  • A Subaru is a great AWD vehicle with a low center of gravity that will get you to where you are going and take care of you if you are ever in an accident. Through the years Subaru has appealed to many more owners than just the Skier and Hiker with the many different models and trim levels.
As always thanks for reading

70 Responses

  1. Hi Justin,

    I just had the motor replaced on my 2006 Outback 2.5i with a 5-speed manual tranny. I had it done at a general repair shop and I supplied the motor. Fortunately the motor is working out fine. The problem is that I also had them change the clutch. It is an after-market clutch that I got online. We did not have the flywheel resurfaced as the shop thought it looked “pretty good” and that it would be all right.

    A few days after getting the car back the clutch started chattering when we would take off from a standing start. It just keeps getting worse. The shop says that we will need to get the flywheel resurfaced. We looked up the problem online though and found stories about people getting their flywheels resurfaced and the problem just coming right back. It appears that the best way to fix it is to get a new flywheel and clutch from Subaru. I saw in another post

    What would you recommend? I see in the messages above that you mention an “anti-judder” kit for 2001 Outbacks. Is there and “anti-judder” kit for 2006 Outbacks too? If there is, do you have the part number for it? I looked on and did not see one.

    Thank you in advance,


    1. Hi Larry,

      I would not have used anything other then the Factory clutch, resurfacing or replacing the Flywheel, until that’s done you will continue to have clutch symptoms. The Anti-Judder kit does not apply to the 2006.


  2. Hello Justin,
    Great information, I appreciate you putting all this together. My brother and I are in the process of trying to get a 1991 Legacy, 2.2L, manual trans back on the road again. Currently, the car runs ok but has a lot valve train noise (tick, tick, tick). It appears the 1991 has hydraulic lifters and I don’t believe these are adjustable but my brother disagrees. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!
    Como, Colorado

    1. Hi Kevin,

      They are hydraulic tappets and no they cant be adjusted. If one or more wont pump up the rocker arm shaft may have some blockage or the oil pump to body seal may be collapsed or sucked in allowing air into the system. Lastly if either happens to long the tappets or lifters will be damaged.


  3. Hello, Justin – I had purchased 93 Legacy L Wagon a few years back and it’s a manual 5 speed. It had 278k on the clock & with a bad/non-existent 2nd gear. At about 288k I had blown the rear differential(I believe). I just drove it as a FWD. Around the 298k I lost 4th gear and was fortunate to make a 12 hour trip back home by shifting 1-3-5. The other day a buddy of mine installed my spare 5sp trans. and a new Sachs clutch kit. BTW, the existing clutch had one of the four dual springs dislodged and floating in the housing–all this time. In fact, the flywheel did not have the usual wear. In other words, we did not feel a need to have the flywheel turned. Anyway, after adding the proper amount of new trans. oil we started her up. When I had engaged 1st gear the car did not move. My buddy asked to engage 1st again while he viewed underneath…this time he saw that the prop shaft was spinning while the vehicle was still stationary. My question is: If I replace the bad rear differential, will the problem be solved?…Or, is it possible the clutch was not installed properly?…And lastly, how in the heck was she even driving/moving with the bad transmission & clutch in the first place? Thanks very much in advance. -Randy

  4. At transfer light flash’s 16 times.changed fluid . No change.i put a fuse in the fwd slot and no light came on and their was no change.Any ideas would help.

  5. Hi Justin,

    I drive a 2002 Subaru Forester. It has 128,000 miles on it. Driving back from Kansas the check engine light came on – stopped to get it checked at a Autozone and it said it could be the catalytic converter or some emission problems. The week after it got really cold here in Colorado and I went out to start the car and the brake warning light is now on. I drove it around the property and the brakes still work. I checked the fluid reservoir and it’s at the normal filling. Could it have come on due to the negative temperatures?


    1. Hello Mollie,

      The Red brake light can come on for low fluid level as well as a the e-brake being set, make sure you remove the cap to check the level.

      If the level is good, the e brake not set the circuit will need to be evaluated. Also sometimes in a low charging situation the brake light will come on in correlation with the battery light.


  6. Hi there,

    I have a Subaru Legacy Brighton 1997 Station Wagon Auto trans, now…the car is full of petrol but because i need to get the indicator fixed before i can drive it again i was wanting to get the gas out if tried syphoning it with a hose didnt work so went and got a syphoning device from supercheap autos still no luck so i tried the internet and that told me you cant syphon gas from a subaru because it has a ball stopping any kind of hose from getting into the fuel tank.. soo i was back to square one again, i tried asking friends and they told me i could get it out by disconnecting a pipe from the fuel pump??could you please help me out with either where the fuel pump is located on a Subaru Legacy Brighton 1997 or how to get the fuel out please please please???

    1. The fuel pump is located in tank. Some 1997 have a drain plug in the tank under the shield, some do not.

      Why not just drive it until its low? Say 200 miles.


  7. Hi Justin,

    great site for the Subie owner. I have a 2007 outback, 4cyl auto w/~95k miles. Had it in to the dealer last week for the break line recall & was told I need a new head gasket. Not using any oil or coolent & never overheats, so how long do I go until I really really need the headgasket job? thanks john

      1. OK, thanks Justin. Now I understand that I need to get the timing belt replaced at 100K,would it make sense to go for the headgasket at the same time? what else would you recommend if I wanted to get a few more years out of my subie?

        1. If the HG are showing signs of leaking then yes its a good idea to do them with the Timing belt service, if they are dry however I would just replace the timing belt, and related components.


  8. Good day to you Justin,
    Thank you very much for your prompt response. I will definitely do what you advise. My concern now is if there might be a chance they would sell me a kit that is old and not up to date like the one you mention. Any chance you advise on a OEM Subaru parts “web dealer” for the anti-judder kit and updated clutch components for my 2001 Outback ?



  9. Sorry Justin, I did not mean to ignore your name or at the end not saying thank you, I truly apologize for that.

    1. Hello Justin,

      Do you recommend an OEM Subaru on line parts place to order the Anti Judder clutch and updated parts you mentioned for the Outback 2001 ?

      Thank you very much,


  10. HELP !
    2001 Outback Limited. When it was still under warranty, I could smell in the cabin some type of lubricant burnt, took it in the dealer and nothing was found to be wrong. At around late 27,000K miles began having problem with the clutch studdering (jerking) I have always owned manual cars, never had problems with clutch, so I know I was not driving the clutch. Warranty was up when finnaly I had to replace the clutch at around 37K, I did not go to the dealer for that, too expensive, I used NAPA parts and the flyweel was also rectified and resurfaced, clutch did not last but only 800 plus miles, did it again and now again lasting 1,500 miles, it is making rattle noises down there and of course the smell that I now know is the clutch burning. The sub, whick I love and well taken care of has very few K miles on. I live in Los Angeles. Do you recommend a Sub expert around here that it is not a dealer ? What parts and parts brand should I buy and where, also what would be a reasonable price to pay for the work.

    1. Hi Ed,

      Its kind of tough to recreate what has happened since 2001?

      For the 2001 Subaru Outback there is what is called an “Anti Judder” clutch kit that should be used, it includes a new flywheel and revised clutch components that is the only clutch components I would suggest for your era Subaru Outback.. The kit is available from Subaru and from Subaru only.

      I can only assume it would be around $1200 in LA for a clutch replacement (parts and labor price).

      I would suggest you involve a Independent Subaru repair shop in your area and have this resolved the proper way with the proper parts and a Subaru Tech making the repairs.

      Hope that helps


  11. My son has an ’06 WRX. It is overheating and we can’t figure out why. He has replaced the thermostat and water pump. A test for exhaust in the coolant system came up negative. A mechanic pulled the new thermostat and the car made it home without overheating, but idling in the driveway once home it began to overheat again. Do you have a clue what might be wrong.

    1. Hi Sharon,

      From here I can only speculate the test for Hydrocarbons in the cooling system may not have ben done correctly, or there are restrictions in the radiator that have gone misdiagnosed, maybe the fans are not coming on properly. Cant the “Mechanic” figure out whats wrong?

      There is a limit to what I can suggest to you from here, some things require a professional Subaru Technician to diagnose it locally and thats the case with where you are at.


  12. Hi, I recently had to get a new gear box for my subaru legacy station wagon 2.2 and the only gear box I could get was a 2,5. It was installed and my car is going but know my ATF oil keeps busting out what could the problem be?

    1. The final drive ration of a gear box from a 2.2l and 2.5l are different, I hope you also swapped out the rear differential?

      As far as fluid out of the trans, maybe its a leak that needs to be repaired, if its pushing fluid out of the vent you have a bigger issue if its just not overfilled.


  13. Thanks for the reply. Because I’m buying used waiting to find a non PZEA model is in my best interest. TB and HG ok, fancey cats and emissions control devices would be a lot to justify for me.


  14. Are there any problems with the 08 outback PZEV emissions model ? Gas blend, noise on cold starts, engine reving, etc.

    I also read depending on the state you live in the 150,000 mi emission warraty might only be good for 80,000. Do you know much about this ?

    I was already to buy that 08 till I looked up the PZEV. Now I’m thinking it might not be a smart buy.


    1. PZEV is just about marketing on the sales side, and Tax credits on the manufacture side. It has more complexities and potential expense than a non PZEV engine.

      Doesnt mean that one is better or worse the engine is basically the same just more technology aimed at reducing tail pipe emissions thrown at it.


  15. Justin,
    Great site. Thank you.
    Had our y2k Legacy since new. Currently 120k miles. T-belt service done 1.5 years ago along with cam and crank seals and water pump.
    Car has given unremarkable good service ever since new.
    Spark plugs currently about 20k miles old and about due for replacement.
    Wife says yesterday on the freeway the stopped working for no reason. Dash switch lights up but wheel switch will not engage cc. She started to experiment (long drive to Portland) and found that if she selected “cancel” on the wheel switch, then the cc would function.
    On her trip home, she found that this would no longer work.
    Any ideas? Could it be the wheel switch?
    BTW, although it took a while to get used to, we now find the 3 position wheel switch to be brilliant! Wish our other vehicles had such an intuitive, ergonomic well thought out switch.

    1. The common thing is a short in the brake light circuit due to a tail light socket issue.

      There are many many other possibilities however, and it need to be looked at locally.


      1. YES!
        You hit a bullseye suggesting a short in the brake light.
        By no coincidence the right BL was out. When I removed the housing to change the bulb I found that the wires had chaffed on the edge of the 5mm threaded stud that holds the assembly in.
        Just shifting the wiring over and resecuring, was enough to restore BL function.
        Next time I tried the cruise control on the highway Normal function, problem gone.
        Thanks for an excellent diagnosis and your helpful website. I appreciate your skill and experience.

  16. Hi Justin, I have a 2002 Forester. The manual says to take it to an expert to change the plugs. I refused to believe that was necessary and changed them myself. 🙁 My cruise control hasn’t worked since then. The car has 120,000 miles and runs good. The engine light has been on since the first day I bought it April 2011. I need to take it to a qualified shop for the engine light, but is there a quick fix for the cruise control? Also, the clock didn’t work when I bought it and I can’t find a fuse for that. Am I completely missing something on that? Oh, I forgot, with the lights on, my spedometer is lit, including the needle, but there is no light for the tach or it’s needle. Is this normal? It would be very nice to be able to see the tach at night, especially since my music often overwhelms my engine noise. Pleas help! By the way, excellent website you got here.

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Looks lie you figured out how to post a question. You can replace the plugs your self and there is also a lot of other things you can do your self but doing anything without a a factory service manual is silly, and no I don’t mean a Chiltons, I mean one from Subaru. As far as the cruise you could have done something wrong, it could be a coincidence, you could have a blown fuse I just don’t have any way of knowing what is wrong from here. I would start by checking the fuse and all connections, if your not sure how to do that there isnt much else I can offer.

      The clocks have a solder joint that fails you can remove the clock take it apart and have a look, if you can solder you should be able to fix it. You have a burnt out bulb in the gauge cluster, that does happen, they are just bulbs. It does require removal of the cluster from the dash to replace and I would do all of the illumination bulbs and there will be 5, they do in fact need to be purchased from the dealer.

      You should not however be ignoring a check engine light since April, it would be like ignoring the early signs of a serious medical condition, its not going to get better and may go from affordable to expensive.

      Hope that helps


      1. Thanx, Justin. That’s more than I knew. My income is limited, but ignoring the engine light is not an option in the long run. I can solder, and will check connections and fuses with a meter. I failed to mention, I think I have a gasket of some sort out. When we changed the plugs there was oil in all four places. A lot of oil. With the first one I thought I had a major problem, but then when all four plugs seemed to be immersed in oil, I decided it was just a really weird Subaru thing? A friend told me yesterday that its far from normal and that some gasket, I can’t remember, needs replaced. He said the problem would cause the plugs not to fire correctly and then the computer would advance the firing and my MPG would suffer. I am going to take it to a local shop, we don’t have an actual Subaru dealer. Does Subaru sell the manuals? And do you have any more advice? I am not a mechanic. I did electronics in the Navy, so am not completely unable when it comes to basic auto, but Subarus are a horse of a different color!

  17. Hi-

    Great website! Thanks for your time. I have a 2000 Legacy gt. The ebrake light and battery lights are always on and just recently the headlights don’t turn on when I release the ebrake. Alternator?


      1. Hi, Justin. Fantastic and incredibly generous info you’re providing here. Thanks!

        I have a similar problem to Len’s on my 2003 Outback Wagon. The battery warning light and brake light often stay on when the car is started after sitting unused for a day or two. Windshield wipers also sometimes move more slowly than normal at these times. The warning lights usually go off once the engine is accelerated to highway speed when I reach the main road, and stay off the rest of the day.

        Any ideas what’s going on? Thanks!

          1. Thanks, Justin, for the quick reply and info. Those seemed like the likely culprits to me too, but it’s very helpful to get expert confirmation.

            I’m curious, though: Why does the brake light come on in these circumstances? It’s not related to the charging system, is it?

          2. Hi Gary,

            Because the Anti lock braking system can be adversely affected if the system voltage drops below normal operating ranges and the car will leave you stranded if you continue to drive it the manufacture wants to get your attention.


  18. THANK YOU! Your site has help tremendously. I have an 05′ Forrester and at 89,000 miles the dealership said both my head gaskets were leaking. With the help of my father and your site I got Subaru of America involved (such a blessing). While they were under the hood (motor out – as I was told) they also did the 90,000 mile maintenace. 1,000 miles later and the reason for my email: Last night the cruise control stopped working. CC light is flashing and the CEL is on (not flahing). I took it in this morning to be read and I am waiting to hear back. I looked on line and on the surface it could just need to be reset or its the C.Converter. Seems odd I would be having more problems so soon. I thought you might be able to give me a heads up before the dealership calls me and I get another huge bill. Could the work prior have caused anything to go haywire or are 05′ forrester due for a new Catalyic Convertor at 90,100 miles? Thank you!

  19. Hi Chriss.

    I have a 1997 Subaru Legacy 2.0i LX Touring Wagon with 150.000 kms.. The car is incredible to long distance trips and it have a very good load capacity to carry heavy baggage.

    No much visits to the repair shop was needed, the usual 100.000 km. big repair and other minor issues was repaired. In general the car didn’t requires parts or aditional services.

    Yesterday, I detected a water drops falling from the bottom of panel to the left foot zone of the right front passenger seat. I was checked the tube on the right side of the engine for waste condensation water from the vent tubes and drops had fallen from it, but at the same time the same drops are falling inside the the cabin in the zone mentioned above. Today I dismounted the box of the panel (I don’t know the english name for this box to keep things into the panel), well, I’m trying to discover what is the problem with the condensation and how to fix that.

  20. Hi Chris,

    I would suggest the next step is to check valve clearance and perform a injector balance test.

    I know you are saying to your self How do I check valve clearance, and what is a injector balance test?

    The valve covers have to come of, the respective cylinder rotated until the valves are closed, a feeler gauge of the correct clearance inserted between the cam and the valve spring bucket, (or the other thirty names it has) until the clearance is known. Known clearance compared to specs indicates a problem with clearance or it is proved to be within tolerance.

    Injector balance in the car can be done with a fuel pressure gauge an injector pulse driver and maybe a buddy.

    The gauge is hooked up, max fuel pressure obtained with the Key on Engine off, the injector pulsed and the drop in fuel pressure recorded, this test is done for all four injectors, if the fuel pressure drop is the same, most likely the problem doesn’t lye here. Now I dont suggest this for the average home gamer, as if you screw this up you can damage your engine.

    These are the next two Logical steps.

    The engine IS misfiring, its just happening at higher Rpms and you dont think or observe as quick as the cars computer so it goes unnoticed by you but not the computer, if its allowed to continue, you can have future problems with things like abnormal Rod bearing wear from incomplete combustion or damage to the Catalyst from the intermittent cylinder misfires. Based on the Rear O2 Code the Catalyst may already be affected. I know the fact that it is intermittent makes it feel less pressing, but I also get to see these little things turn into larger preventable repairs.

    Hope this helps


  21. Hi Justin,
    Thanks for all that you do with this website. It is very informative and a gold mine of information for those of us who like to do some of our own maintenance.

    I have a question for you if you don’t mind answering it. I have a 1998 Forester MT with 212,000 miles on it. The CEL has been coming on over the past 3 to 4 months. I am getting the following codes intermittently- sometimes all together and sometimes not. P303, P304, P139. I have changed the plugs, wires, ignition coil, and rear o2 sensor but the CEL keeps popping up every couple of hundred miles. The car doesn’t miss a beat when the light does pop on. I had a valve job done at 180,000. I wish you were in Mass, then I would take the car to you. I just moved to this state so my next move is to take it to a local mechanic, but I thought I would get your take on things.
    Thanks for all your help,

  22. Hi Justin!
    So it is OK if the gauge is between the 0 and the 1 (just lower than the halfway mark)? Does this mean it is idling at about 1400RPM?

  23. Hey Justin,
    wow thanks for that!.. so that means it is STARTING at 2000-2200 and dropping to 1500? It idles VERY quietly.. lol which i guess is a good thing?!
    So basically it will never idle lower than 1000RPM? Or if it did, you would be in serious trouble as it wouldnt even register on the dial?

    thank again!

  24. Hi Louise,

    400 to 500 is low, it is controlled by the computer, so its not adjustable. If it is in fact down that low there is an issue that needs to be addressed, but I want you to be aware that the first mark off of the 0 is 1000 rpms, it throws a lot of people off.


  25. Hi Justin,
    I was wondering what the correct RPM for the 2002 Forrester is? Ours starts at about 1000-1200, then drops to 400-500 once warm.. this seems low to me.. but i have never had a Subaru before!

  26. Hi Justin,
    just bought a 2002 Forester S. Its great!
    Only issue i can see is that the radio / stereo volume dims to almost nothing on startup, gets louder then dims again.. and ONLY on startup. After like a minute it goes away and plays just fine as long as the car is running.. If you turn the car off.. same thing when you start up again!
    Any ideas?
    thanks for all the advise!

  27. Hi Christine,

    I hate to say this, but without hearing the noise there is just no way for me to know what the issue is.

    I could guess at something as simple as the front brake wear indicator hitting the the rotor or the front wheel bearing/and or hub failing.

    But there are so many possibilities, its all just a guess with out an inspection.


  28. Hi Justin,

    Thank you for a great website. I have a question regarding my 2003 Forester xs and am hoping to get some advice from you…

    The car seems to be making a swooshing scraping/clinging sound coming from near the tires when I turn my steering wheel towards right while driving. I had it checked out and the garage told me i had broken stabilizer pins and replaced them. However, the noise did not go away. What do you think might be the problem? Thank you very much!

  29. Ron,

    There just isn’t anything I can do for you.

    I can give advice on typical things and inform about typical issues, but I can’t diagnose a drivability problem over the internet, or the phone. You need to seek out a Subaru Expert in your part of the Country and let them have a look. Other than telling you to look at the plugs, wires, and coil there is not much else I can offer, you need to have training and knowledge to Diagnose newer car problems.

    There is a limit to what I can offer you from here.



  31. One more thing buy a code reader and use it! Some codes do not light the check engine light so it is a good idea to check from time to time. Also it will clear the code and then if it comes back you know that the code was for real and not just a sensor glitch. Then when you go to the mechanic you can tell them what code and when it occured

  32. Hi Sam,

    My advice is no doubt to late to be of any use to you know but for the next reader try the following.

    Try wiggling the steering wheel back and forwards while trying to turn the ignition switch. Fairly rapidly I might add.


  33. Keith,

    1997 is when the first gen 2.2l became an interference engine, it went from hydraulic lash adjusted valve train to roller hydraulic and finally mechanical lash adjusted valve train and became an interference engine at that time. Through the years I have seen many a Subaru of that era bend valves when the timing belt breaks..


  34. I have a 99 forester limited. Only recently purchased second hand. Everything is as you would expect, the mileage is good (172,000). I’m getting it serviced this week. But i just found that the ignition mechanism on the steering column has seized. When it worked perfectly ten minutes prior?
    any tips before i stick it on a flatbed?

  35. Good honest info … thanks.
    We have a 2003 Outback and a 2002 Impreza and both have had the cylinder head gaskets replaced. The Outback’s was done at 123,000 km at a cost of $1100 and the Impreza at 69,768 km at a cost of $1600. We bought the Outback brand new in 2002 and the Impreza used in 2007. When we had the same head gasket issue with the Impreza, we thought that was a bit coincidental and after some research we realized it was a common problem so we approached the dealer & he got subaru to pay for the Impreza’s repair. We thought of writing Subaru Head office about the repair for the Outback … but thought it would be a waste of time since the 60km warranty had long expired. Apart from the head gasket issue, we are happy with our Subaru’s. We will likely consider a new Outback soon … your thoughts on the 2010 model? Thanks. Gary.

  36. Thanks – this is a great resource! I have a 06′ Legacy Spec B and it’s a 5-speed. 07’+ Spec B.s got the 6-speed plus a Torsen rear diff (vs. viscous limited slip in the 05-06 2.5GT/Spec B)

  37. Justin,

    Thanks for taking the time to put this information together! This will be a big help when we go shopping for our next used Subaru.

    1. Well… I’m in a real bind and could REALLY use some expert advice and input. I own a 98 Subaru Legacy Outback, manual transmission. 2 days ago, the gears just stopped engaging. Since then I have been parked in front of a lady’s home with my 3 dogs and all my belongings in the world. I recently moved to San Antonio TX from Lake Tahoe. I am literally living in my car until I get myself established. My car is my home as well as my transportation to and from work. The car has run phenomenally with no real problems whatsoever. All the fluids are full. It runs great. And I really DRIVE it. A few days ago, I had my car running while I was giving someone a jump. The dogs were trying to get something on the driver’s side floor, and I heard them pressing full force against the gear shifter, grinding. I immediately disbanded that. Within a day or two, I started noticing the 4th gear not engaging. Sometimes it would, but I kinda had to grind it by pushing it a bit more to the right towards 5th to get it to engage. So I basically just went from 3rd to 5th most of the time. About 3 days later, I was just driving up a regular side street. I stopped at a stop sign. When I went to drive forward, I shifted into 1st. And it popped out. I laughed, thinking it was me. But then it never went into ANY gear again. I literally had to stop in the middle of the street and push my car to the side of the road. And I’ve been there ever since. I don’t know much about cars, but I have definitely familiarized myself with all the basics in the driver’s manual. I have no choice but to figure out how to repair this myself. I have no money. I just started working steadily. In 2 weeks, I start a job as a Kayak Tour Guide. And I will need my car for that job and to do just about anything. So… The bottom line is I have to learn NOW what to do and how and spend whatever money I earn daily directly on solving this problem. No room for error. I did download the repair manual, which is basically Latin to me. I’ve been reading blogs and sites like yours and asking people questions. 3 people who know cars have all told me I can remove the center console and there is a ball or button beneath the gear shift that I can insert into to adjust the gear alignment. And they’ve all said that it has totally worked for them. My inclination is they may be right. It does seem that the dogs grinding the be gears is the direct cause of the gears suddenly not engaging, since there has been absolutely no issue with the gears at all prior to this. So I don’t think it’s some other random issue with the tranny. So, it would seem this is something I can nip in the bud by correcting the precise problem NOW. At the very least, being able to identify what has happened and what the damage is and what part (s) need to be replaced or adjusted while the failure is pretty localized and specific, would be the most practical and inexpensive way to fix this ASAP and learn about my transmission at the same time. Please call or text me with ANY advice or input. It will be genuinely appreciated. Thank you for your time. 210.264.6789

      1. Hello Bruce,

        That is an awful situation to be in for sure. I hate being the one who has to tell you this, but it sounds like you have damaged the shift forks on the main shaft? You could try and Identify if the Linkage has become damaged? If its not that the linkage is damaged the transmission sounds like it needs to come out and come apart, and that is not just a simple task for the DIYer.

        Sorry but helping you fix your transmission just isn’t something I can offer over the web or the phone.

        Your situation sounds difficult and id like to help but there are limits to what I can offer.


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