All Wheel Drive Auto: Independent Seattle Subaru Service


Why All Subaru Parts Are Not Created Equal

Broken Subaru Clutch Disc

At the shop one of the more common things we see, and hear about are repairs that just didn’t last.  Usually its “cheap part” related.    Such is the case with the  “Made in China”  clutch disc pictured below.

Broken, Made In China Subaru Clutch Disc
Broken, Made In China Subaru Clutch Disc
Broken Subaru Clutch Disc
Broken Subaru Clutch Disc

This part lasted a little over a year, and is actually a clutch job we had previously quoted out and lost to a competitor due to our “perceived higher price”.  But when there was no warranty 14 months later, we got the chance to do it right for the customer.

When it comes to repairs and maintenance on your Subaru there is really not much from China that should ever be installed in your car.  If you are calling around for a price and the price is your main concern, you truly need to understand that repairs are not going to be the same at every shop.   A good independent Subaru Service facility will use Subaru parts, and parts made by the vendors that supply Subaru and really nothing else.  Shopping for Subaru Repairs are not the same as comparing who has the best price on the same pair of Nike’s.  The shoe is a known, it will be the same where ever you buy it and its reasonable to look for the best price as most likely the retailers have a similar cost basis.   A good Subaru shop using the best parts they can will have a much higher parts cost than a general repair shop does and as such the price will be lower then the dealers but may not be the lowest you will receive when shopping around..

A general repair shop (one that works on everything) will use what is available to them by their primary vendors.  Vendors we don’t use, Vendors that other Subaru shops across the nation wont use  because its a completely different type of business and line of parts, parts names you see at parts stores and see on TV, parts that just dont belong in Your Subaru.    I can list a thousand part names that have no business being installed on your Subaru.

The  companies that make clutch parts for Subaru.    None are sold at the popular parts stores because they have the O.E. Business  and wont get involved in a race to the bottom for prices.

So when calling around for prices on services, or looking for parts for your weekend Subaru Repair project, be aware of what you are buying,   In the case of this Clutch paying to have it done twice in 14 months obviously didnt add up to any real savings.

Thanks For Reading


All Wheel Drive Auto

Helping you get the most out of your Subaru!


26 Responses

  1. Justin,
    Thanks for keeping this blogs alive and answer so many questions. Been here, done the Six Star gasket in my other Baja, got into an accident car is gone I was so impressed with the car before and after the accident…Back to do another gasket in another Baja, this one is a manual, what clutch do you recommend? Its only got 30K from 2003 ( I know, lucky me !) should I change the clutch while the engine is out?

  2. Justin,

    Great site! Thanks for all the info. Do you have any online parts resource that you would recommend? Parts that you don’t sell yourself? I live up here in Alaska, closest Subaru dealer is 300 miles away.

  3. Hello Justin,
    I’m looking to get new rear brake pads for my 07 outback. Have any suggestions as far as manufacturer? Thx

  4. Again, I just want to say Thank you, Justin for all the help you have given me over the years from thousands of miles away! I had a transmission replaced on my 1998 Subaru Forester 2 years ago and everything has been fine. I was sideswiped by another car on the passenger side midsection a few months ago and after all repairs everything seemed fine. Until recently, when I have had sporadic problems mostly while driving uphill between 2nd and third gear. While accelerating the gears seem to get stuck in neutral when transitioning between 2nd and 3rd (I think) and then after a few seconds of “being stuck” they go into gear. The fluid levels are fine and other than that there are no other problems. I am really hoping it is not the transmission. It seems like a switch or something that is not set properly. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

    1. Lisa,

      I think you are describing the transmission is slipping in between shifts, the fluid level could be low, or the transmission may in fact be ready to be rebuilt. Its a small possibility of a shift solenoid issue as well, but you would have a blinking At temp light on start up which you did not mention in your post.

      Sorry I don’t have better news


  5. I just read your article on wheel bearings and I certainly can relate. I have a 2003 Forester and in the last 18 months have been living wheel bearing nightmares! The right rear went and also the hub. (of course!) It was recommended at the time to replace the left rear as it was sloppy. Next came the left front one month ago. More wheel bearing noise a week ago, do I figured right front. (noise coming from front end.) They checked it–it was fine, but slop in right rear and was replaced. Repair shop felt it was front differential carrier bearing. After suffering several sleepless before I could get it to transmission shop, found the transmission was fine and seems to be left front wheel bearing. The one replaced a month ago. They use Precision bearings. Is there a problem with these bearings?

    1. The only bearings that should be used are the updated bearings from Subaru.

      Use the search feature, and you should be able to read one of the wheel bearing articles.


  6. 50 of the vehicles I have owned never required any major repairs. There is a recurring question on your site and others which ponders whether to keep or buy a Subaru and face the risk of considerable repairs, or get another vehicle .
    I find myself in this quandary as well. after all, my history of success enables to say with confidence, that there are still vehicles out there which are reliable, economical and affordable . However I do agree with you that the most individuals face an uphill challenge in attaining one. I would recommend it if someone knows a good local mechanic that you trust , ask him what are some of the best running vehicles he is good at working on, that’s the best bang for the buck in your price and preference range. also ask if he knows where to buy 1. and whether you get one through him or get 1 through patience and diligent searching; bring it , and have him confirm it’s a solid buy.
    1 main reason why I am saying this is to help answer the question: to subaru or not to subaru. as Justin has stated; subarus are not more complicated than other cars , they are just different . and Justin demonstrates the need for complete knowledge about subarus , in order to have an enjoyable subaru buying experience. it’s my opinion that HG, and other repairs that some subarus require is not a reason to avoid them. however unless you know a highly knowledgeable, trustworthy and affordable local subaru mechanic ( not the dealer), a subaru might not be the best 1 to buy. but if you do know 1 they are are a great vehicle to buy.

    as a gear head and an entreprenuer , I am working on a new project.
    I am discussing some deals with this local garage . and, I am also a client.
    my 01 subaru is the second vehicle I have bought from them. As well, they have assured me an enjoyable subaru purchase. however the gearhead in me wants to go through every inch of my new ride. At the same time , I don’t want to come across as trying to look a gift horse in the mouth , or such. This lead me to finding your site. I’m working to learn all about my new subaru in order to determine the level of knowledge my mechanic possesses on subarus. I want to ensure that it was built to last a long time, and learn proper maintainence. if its not up to my standards I plan to build another 1 with him – combining the quality specs I have learned.
    2 weeks after purchase, the check engine light came on . I pulled a code , and forget what it was. but I think it was oxygen sensor number 2 . so I put a bottle of seafoam and brought it to the shop. I was told that I needed to put super unleaded. I was also told that most people just continue using unleaded .
    I am rather confused about this . and can only conclude that the subaru company would have to either provide a solution for this , or plan to stop selling vehicles in the US.
    Justin, could you possibly clear up the confusion? Or is there just no way around this ? ( I have read a few mentions here on your site).

    Thanks A Bunch,


    1. I believe I found the answer to my question regarding the o 2 sensor and check engine light . it appears my subaru is covered under a service bulletin .

      Service Program Bulletin WWF-89

      Subject: Engine Control Module (ECM) Reprogramming

      Bulletin Description:

      Subaru of America, Inc. (SOA) has determined that some affected vehicles listed below may require ECM reprogramming. The ECM logic for the air/fuel ratio circuit may not be broad enough to accept the signal parameters of the A/F ratio sensor. Should the A/F ratio sensor signal repeatedly fluctuate beyond the parameters of the ECM logic, the CHECK ENGINE warning light / Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) will illuminate steadily while the engine is running, advising the driver of a malfunction and the need to seek repair service. Reprogramming the ECM will broaden the allowable A/F ratio signal parameters and correct this condition.
      This condition is a software issue and has no impact on vehicle emissions or driveability.
      This service program will involve reprogramming the ECM on affected vehicles.

      It can be found by entering vehicle year and make in the Lit / Bulletin Number:

    2. Opinions create confusion.

      But I cant even begin to answer your question with out some basic model information to let you know if your Subaru requires 87 or 92 octane fuel.

      From there I don’t bother with 87 because I understand what the octane rating means for the engines longevity. You have a better chance of engine knock, and subsequent damage the lower the octane fuel you use, that is a scientific fact and not one unique to Subaru.

      GEO Political situations that are to large to bring down to the level of what you pay at the pump are the reason for the three grades of fuel.

      In other pars of the globe where Gasoline is not a Subsidized enterprise you will see a higher price but also a higher octane, the potential to explain the multiple reasons for this would take me a year to summarize and write about, which would take away from answering all of the other questions I get plus try to run a good Auto repair shop “on the Side”. At at the end I may if you believe in conspiracy or just the way big business works you may understand the complications of attempting this feat.

      The statement below

      “2 weeks after purchase, the check engine light came on . I pulled a code , and forget what it was. but I think it was oxygen sensor number 2 . so I put a bottle of seafoam and brought it to the shop. I was told that I needed to put super unleaded. I was also told that most people just continue using unleaded .
      I am rather confused about this . and can only conclude that the subaru company would have to either provide a solution for this , or plan to stop selling vehicles in the US.”

      87 octane doesn’t cause the check engine light to come on for an 02 sensor code it comes on for a sensor parameter or condition.

      Sea foam is not anything that will fix anything, you should take a course on OBD II to better understand the complexities of the systems and gain an understanding. This is just nothing I can explain in a post I would need to teach a class.

      This is a Subaru repair forum, if you spend some time on a Toyota forum, or a Chevy forum etc, you will find a trend of similar problems, aches and pains about money spent ,same type of seafoam and 87 octane questions.


  7. Justin,

    I have an 06′ Impreza 2.5i that threw the P0420 code recently. She has 78k on the odo and I am wondering if the Subaru warranty on the cat goes beyond the 60k powertrain warranty?

    Much appreciated. Love the blog.


    1. Hello Emach,

      The catalytic convertor is actually covered under the federal emissions warranty for 8 years or 80,000 miles, if in fact that’s the cause of the PO420, as it could be something else such as the front air fuel sensor or the rear 02 sensor.

      Hope that helps


      1. Justin,

        I only really see the P0420 DTC in very cold weather. Yesterday it cleared on its own after I did some spirited driving and cycled power. That would seem to point to the cat. Do you agree?

        1. Hi Emach,

          Yes it would point to a Catalytic convertor, but more importantly one that may still have life left in it. If it was here we would perform an induction service to burn away any carbon, followed with a few tanks of higher octane fuel, along with some octane boost along with some more spirited driving.

          Hope that helps


          1. hi Justin ,

            major props towards your site , in depth writing skills , and dedication towards honing a lifelong skill.
            I have several honed lifelong skills, a few which led me here ( gearhead, social entrepreneur , and recent 2001 subaru forester owner).
            much of my automotive skills stem from the eighty’s . I totally enjoyed providing super stock ,augmented , US vehicles as a business , and prowling back alleys and junk yards to find killer muscle car deals for myself. Gas prices eventually killed that romance for me. recently inspiration has rekindled some of that romantic relationship with automobiles . it’s largely due to working with a local garage for over 4 years, and their recent behavior demonstrating they are subaru fanatics . the head mechanic has a real cool demonstration with 1 toyota and 1 subaru each cut in half. and he explains that it took like 3 saw blades to saw the Toyota in half, and like 7 blades for the Subaru . He also includes a few other build qualities of Subaru ( types and amount of welds, oregami type reinforcements, etc). so suffice it to say that subaru is 1 of only a few vehicles that provide me the type of driving experience I enjoy . However I feel that I must say there have been over 70 vehicles through the years which I have owned/regularly driven , and made a profit after driving them for a while . None of them ever left me stranded except for 1- and it was a Subaru. but it was still a great experience , and I broke even with it .

  8. Wasn’t sure where to post this posting so here it is, you may move it if you’d like.

    When searching for coolant leak had to remove belts and A/C idler puller wheel. When all back in place the idler pulley squealed. The last time this happened to me the pulley bearing froze up and broke the belt resulting in another trip to the shop to replace both.

    The Subaru dealer in Topeka, KS (great shop by the way!) could order in belts but said the A/C idler pulley was no longer available through Subaru. Locale parts houses did not have it either. No Subarus like mine in local junk yards, KC, MO area.

    The NW is much more Subaru country so would the A/C idler pulley be available in your area?

    Alternatively, would need to find an alternator with dual V-belt pulley and bracket for it for a non A/C EA82. Would have to remove the A/C compressor from my EA82 and get a new, smaller belt.

    ’87 Subaru GL WGN, 1.8 L EA82, 5SP MT, 4WD, carburator, A/C and power steering.

    Thank you.

    1. While the NW is a meca for Subaru’s, the loyales are harder and harder to locate good parts for.

      You should be able to find those parts but will need to look into some alternative measures such as forums like the ultimate Subaru message board. I did ask one of my guys who has a good selection of used loyale stuff he does not currently have what you are looking for.

      Hope that helps and good luck


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