Head Gaskets, Using Oil, & P0420 Code - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums

SubaruOutback.org is the premier Subaru Outback Forum on the internet. Registered Users do not see the above ads.
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Rate Thread
Old 05-15-2011, 12:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Pittsburgh
Car: 2006 Outback
Posts: 8
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Default Head Gaskets, Using Oil, & P0420 Code

Numerous problems with my 2006 Outback 2.5i over the last 25,000 miles.
Currently at 122,000 miles with the "Check Engine Light On/Flashing Cruise". Dealer says code P0420 and gave me big $$ price to replace cat. Burning thru ~2 quarts of oil every 1,000-1,500 miles.

Some history:
*97000 miles-head gaskets replaced.
*108,000 miles- codes P0026, 0028, and 0302 triggered. Dealer asked if I had low oil or was not changing oil. I have oil changed every 3-4000 miles. First sign that oil was low. I also experienced shuddering at low rpms. Dealer said that this was due to variable oil pressure switch not working properly.
*111,000 miles-oil low. Using oil at high rate. Compression test OK. Dealer said that I need valve seals, piston rings, and possible shortblock. I declined for high $$$. Did smoke test at dealer and saw no blue smoke on startup or during engine reving.
*111,000 to 120,000 miles-continued to burn thru oil at high rate.
*120,500 miles- Dealer did reprogram of ECM per SOA recall WVU-31. After this reprogram, my car started to shudder again. It is OK at startup when engine is cold but starts to shudder again 5 minutes into driving.
*121,900 miles- "Check Engine On/Cruise Flashing". Dealer says code P0420 and that I need a new cat. I asked the dealer if burning oil would damage the cat and he said no.

Saw some posts on here regarding cat poisoning by antifreeze. I have never gone thru antifreeze, even with bad head gaskets. So not sure if that contributed. I also saw a post regarding a recall on 2006 outbacks regarding reprogramming of the ECM module to prevent cat degradation. I do not have a Low Emissions "tag" but the sticker under the hood says that it conforms to California regs so I am not sure if I qualify for that recall or not. I am the original owner but did not receive a notice.

Any thoughts? Suggestions?
frankiev is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 05-15-2011, 07:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: NC, Raleigh
Car: 2011, OB 3.6r Ltd/Nav
Posts: 97
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Default

My Suggestion would be to trade it in for something else.
Daycruiser is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 05-18-2011, 01:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
ETC
Registered User
 
ETC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Southern Ca
Car: 00 OB 07 OBXT
Posts: 5,411
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Default

How long have you owned the car ?

Did you buy it at this dealer ?

Did the dealer do all the repairs ?

Was the motor severely overheated ?

Were the heads checked when the repair was done [meaning were the valves checked for leakage] ?

What tests did they do to determine that the motor needed rings, guides and shortblock [not sure why you would need rings and a shortblock] ?

If there is some hope of getting the dealer to work with you on the costs of repairing the vehicle, maybe continue to work with them ... otherwise, find a good mechanic.

Burning oil can damage a cat, saying that it can't is just ignorant. Running a car extremely rich or lean or using the wrong sealant where the fumes can be ingested in to the exhaust stream can all damage a cat. The precious metals can either be depleted or superheated or carbon coated and render the cat effectively useless.

Oil doesn't disappear in large quantities, it's either leaking out or burning through the motor. Leaking out is easy to find ...burning is different. It can be from something basic like a stuck open PCV valve or more problematic like worn piston rings or valve guides.

A good mechanic should be able to tell you where the oil is leaking in to the motor. If the dealer would have done a leakdown test along with the compression test ... they could have been more specific as the exactly where the issue is. If the compression test was good, I'm not sure where they came up with the idea that the rings were worn to the point where the motor would consume that much oil. There are cases where you can have decent compression but have the rings that hold the oil back worn and lose oil over period of time. Sounds like basically they told you that they don't know exactly what's wrong and they want to just throw parts and labor at it until they figure it out ... a shortblock is basically a new motor minus the heads.

Find a decent mechanic, tell them that it's using oil but skip the rest of the story and see what they come up with. It could be the worst case scenario or, it could just be that one valve guide is leaking pretty badly .

If the cat is indeed damaged, there are aftermarket options that are less expensive then OEM that should last the rest of the life of the car if it is running correctly. Don't even bother replacing the cat until you get the cause of the oil leak straightened out, you'll just be throwing money away.

That p0420 may just be a damaged oxygen sensor, they are damaged by oil as easily as the cat is.

Good luck

PS with only the info you've given, that dealer service sounds incompetent . There are of course always more facts that seem to pop up later in the discussion ;]
ETC is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 05-18-2011, 06:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
Registered User
 
OhBe1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Edgewater, AA, MD
Car: '06 LOB, '03 Taco, '97 MX-5
Posts: 785
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Default

What symptom prompted replacing the head gaskets? I'm guessing they screwed that up, resulting in the other problems.
__________________
Black '06 LOB 2.5i MT Unlimited, JDM RSB, GY TripleTreds, LGT Mufflers & Leather Wheel, SubiMomo Knob, Inalfa Moonroof, Bypassed Clutch Switch, De-DRL'd, De-Chimed, & Straightened Headrest.
OhBe1 is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 05-23-2011, 12:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Pittsburgh
Car: 2006 Outback
Posts: 8
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Default

Thanks for replying. Sorry that it took a while to get back to you.

I am the original owner. I bought the car new back in August of ’06. I purchased the Outback at what I will now refer to as “Dealer # 1”. I will refer to the second dealer, located closer to where I work, as “Dealer # 2”. Here is a little more detailed history:

*96,472 miles- check engine light is on. Codes were P0026 and P0028 as diagnosed by a local garage where I have my oil changed. Took it to dealer # 2. They said that they did not recognize these codes! They did a compression test that showed all 4 cylinders to be good. They saw both headgaskets leaking internally and externally and suggested replacement. Estimate was $1750 including new timing and drive belts. They also said that the left rear wheel bearing was noisy. I mention this because I have recently learned that Subaru of America issued a TSB (03-58-08) where they agreed to extend warranty to 100,000 miles for certain 2006 Outbacks for real wheel bearing failure. Mine was not one of them! I had the rear bearing replaced by my local garage at 97,606 miles.

*96,504 miles- Check engine light back on. Car is using 3-4 quarts of oil between oil changes. (I have a local garage change my oil every 3000-4000 miles.) I took vehicle to Dealer # 1 who said that I have a head gasket leak. Estimate from Dealer # 1 of $1,460.

*97,024 miles- Dealer # 1 replaces head gaskets. Subaru of America agrees to pay for half due to previous head gasket issues with Outbacks and Foresters.

*108,040 miles-check engine light is on again. Dealer # 2, who had previously claimed that they did not recognize error codes P0026 and P0028, now says that I have these two error codes! Dealer # 2 attributes error to Variable Oil Pressure Switch caused by low or dirty oil. Vehicle is also shuddering on acceleration. Dealer # 2 says that the vehicle will shudder when the variable oil pressure switch is not working. Error codes cleared by dealer # 1.

*110,376 miles- I took the vehicle to Dealer #1 because I am using a high amount of oil (2 quarts in 1,500 miles). They tell me that they want to do a consumption test to confirm usage. We begin test.

*111,448 miles- consumption test verifies high oil usage. Dealer # 1 replaces PCV valve free of charge because they are not sure where the oil is going.

*112,320 miles- Dealer # 1 performs a compression test and it comes back good. They say that I need new valve seals, piston rings, and a possible short block. Estimate of $2,400 for seals and rings plus extra if shortblock is needed. Dealer # 1, a week later, says that he will work with me and lowers estimate for rings and seals to $1,940.

*120,497 miles- Dealer # 2 performs reprogramming of ECM per SOA recall WVU-31. Car begins to shudder upon acceleration after this re-programming.

*121,914 miles- check engine light is on again. Dealer # 2 says error code P-0420. Says that my cat converter has failed and needs to be replaced. Estimate of $1,075. Dealer # 2 says that vehicle is still learning how I drive after ECM re-programming. Says to bring it back in another 1000-1500 miles if it continues to shudder. Dealer # 2 also says at this time that burning oil will not damage a cat converter.

After all of this, I did some searching on this forum and found out about Subaru of America recall WVU-23 for 2006-2009 Outbacks equipped with the CA PZEV emission system. This recall was to remedy programming issues for the ECM that could prematurely destroy the cat converter. My Outback does not have a PZEV “sticker” but the emissions decal under the hood says the car conforms to “…California Regulations applicable to 2006 model year new LEV2 LEV passenger cars and light-duty trucks.” I also learned about the TSB for the rear wheel bearings on this forum at this time.

My wife then contacted Subaru of America and told them of our issues and disappointment with the recurring oil consumption and lack of notifications for the recalls and TSBs. Subaru of America agreed to look into our case. They took the names of both dealers. After a few days, they came back and said that our Outback was not impacted by either the TSB (rear wheel bearings) or the recall (WVU-23) for the faulty ECM programming. Subaru of America then said that they already helped us out once with the head gaskets and that our car is experiencing normal wear and tear for a vehicle with our mileage. They recommended that we go to dealer # 2 and have them try to diagnose the oil consumption issue and try to determine whether or not we need new seals and rings. They flat out said that dealer # 1 was incompetent. We told them that this was our second Outback and that we had ORIGINALLY planned on continuing to purchase Outbacks. (We traded our first in at 225,000 miles and it was still running well.) Unfortunately, with the poor quality that we have seen with this Outback and the lack of recognition from Subaru of America that they have systemic issues, we would not be purchasing a third and could not recommend to anyone else to purchase one. They obviously have recurring problems and are unable or unwilling to resolve their design issues.

To answer some of your other questions…
*At no time did we ever see the car overheating.
*I am not sure what tests dealer # 1 did to determine that we needed new seals and rings. I was the one that suggested to them about performing a visible plume test at 112,340 miles while they had the car in their garage. No blue smoke was seen at startup or during revving of engine during this plume test.
*The headgasket repair did eliminate the initial high oil usage issue.

On a closing note, my car continues to have the check engine light on + cruise light flashing, I am burning oil, and my car continues to shudder. I have an appointment with dealer # 2 this week to have the shuddering looked at per the ECM re-programming done under WVU-31.
frankiev is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 05-24-2011, 08:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
Super Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Oceanside, NY
Car: 2005 OBW 2.5L, 1989 Subaru Justy, RIP Blu
Posts: 7,291
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Send a message via AIM to nipper
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankiev View Post
Numerous problems with my 2006 Outback 2.5i over the last 25,000 miles.
Currently at 122,000 miles with the "Check Engine Light On/Flashing Cruise". Dealer says code P0420 and gave me big $$ price to replace cat. Burning thru ~2 quarts of oil every 1,000-1,500 miles.

Some history:
*97000 miles-head gaskets replaced.
*108,000 miles- codes P0026, 0028, and 0302 triggered. Dealer asked if I had low oil or was not changing oil. I have oil changed every 3-4000 miles. First sign that oil was low. I also experienced shuddering at low rpms. Dealer said that this was due to variable oil pressure switch not working properly.
*111,000 miles-oil low. Using oil at high rate. Compression test OK. Dealer said that I need valve seals, piston rings, and possible shortblock. I declined for high $$$. Did smoke test at dealer and saw no blue smoke on startup or during engine reving.
*111,000 to 120,000 miles-continued to burn thru oil at high rate.
*120,500 miles- Dealer did reprogram of ECM per SOA recall WVU-31. After this reprogram, my car started to shudder again. It is OK at startup when engine is cold but starts to shudder again 5 minutes into driving.
*121,900 miles- "Check Engine On/Cruise Flashing". Dealer says code P0420 and that I need a new cat. I asked the dealer if burning oil would damage the cat and he said no.

Saw some posts on here regarding cat poisoning by antifreeze. I have never gone thru antifreeze, even with bad head gaskets. So not sure if that contributed. I also saw a post regarding a recall on 2006 outbacks regarding reprogramming of the ECM module to prevent cat degradation. I do not have a Low Emissions "tag" but the sticker under the hood says that it conforms to California regs so I am not sure if I qualify for that recall or not. I am the original owner but did not receive a notice.

Any thoughts? Suggestions?


The engine is the issue. This is a dying engine, or replace the. The cat thing is an O2 sensro most likely.

And i never recomend this but the low oil doomed it from the start
nipper is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 06-30-2011, 06:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Pittsburgh
Car: 2006 Outback
Posts: 8
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Default Update at 125,000 miles:

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankiev View Post
Thanks for replying. Sorry that it took a while to get back to you.

I am the original owner. I bought the car new back in August of ’06. I purchased the Outback at what I will now refer to as “Dealer # 1”. I will refer to the second dealer, located closer to where I work, as “Dealer # 2”. Here is a little more detailed history:

*96,472 miles- check engine light is on. Codes were P0026 and P0028 as diagnosed by a local garage where I have my oil changed. Took it to dealer # 2. They said that they did not recognize these codes! They did a compression test that showed all 4 cylinders to be good. They saw both headgaskets leaking internally and externally and suggested replacement. Estimate was $1750 including new timing and drive belts. They also said that the left rear wheel bearing was noisy. I mention this because I have recently learned that Subaru of America issued a TSB (03-58-08) where they agreed to extend warranty to 100,000 miles for certain 2006 Outbacks for real wheel bearing failure. Mine was not one of them! I had the rear bearing replaced by my local garage at 97,606 miles.

*96,504 miles- Check engine light back on. Car is using 3-4 quarts of oil between oil changes. (I have a local garage change my oil every 3000-4000 miles.) I took vehicle to Dealer # 1 who said that I have a head gasket leak. Estimate from Dealer # 1 of $1,460.

*97,024 miles- Dealer # 1 replaces head gaskets. Subaru of America agrees to pay for half due to previous head gasket issues with Outbacks and Foresters.

*108,040 miles-check engine light is on again. Dealer # 2, who had previously claimed that they did not recognize error codes P0026 and P0028, now says that I have these two error codes! Dealer # 2 attributes error to Variable Oil Pressure Switch caused by low or dirty oil. Vehicle is also shuddering on acceleration. Dealer # 2 says that the vehicle will shudder when the variable oil pressure switch is not working. Error codes cleared by dealer # 1.

*110,376 miles- I took the vehicle to Dealer #1 because I am using a high amount of oil (2 quarts in 1,500 miles). They tell me that they want to do a consumption test to confirm usage. We begin test.

*111,448 miles- consumption test verifies high oil usage. Dealer # 1 replaces PCV valve free of charge because they are not sure where the oil is going.

*112,320 miles- Dealer # 1 performs a compression test and it comes back good. They say that I need new valve seals, piston rings, and a possible short block. Estimate of $2,400 for seals and rings plus extra if shortblock is needed. Dealer # 1, a week later, says that he will work with me and lowers estimate for rings and seals to $1,940.

*120,497 miles- Dealer # 2 performs reprogramming of ECM per SOA recall WVU-31. Car begins to shudder upon acceleration after this re-programming.

*121,914 miles- check engine light is on again. Dealer # 2 says error code P-0420. Says that my cat converter has failed and needs to be replaced. Estimate of $1,075. Dealer # 2 says that vehicle is still learning how I drive after ECM re-programming. Says to bring it back in another 1000-1500 miles if it continues to shudder. Dealer # 2 also says at this time that burning oil will not damage a cat converter.

After all of this, I did some searching on this forum and found out about Subaru of America recall WVU-23 for 2006-2009 Outbacks equipped with the CA PZEV emission system. This recall was to remedy programming issues for the ECM that could prematurely destroy the cat converter. My Outback does not have a PZEV “sticker” but the emissions decal under the hood says the car conforms to “…California Regulations applicable to 2006 model year new LEV2 LEV passenger cars and light-duty trucks.” I also learned about the TSB for the rear wheel bearings on this forum at this time.

My wife then contacted Subaru of America and told them of our issues and disappointment with the recurring oil consumption and lack of notifications for the recalls and TSBs. Subaru of America agreed to look into our case. They took the names of both dealers. After a few days, they came back and said that our Outback was not impacted by either the TSB (rear wheel bearings) or the recall (WVU-23) for the faulty ECM programming. Subaru of America then said that they already helped us out once with the head gaskets and that our car is experiencing normal wear and tear for a vehicle with our mileage. They recommended that we go to dealer # 2 and have them try to diagnose the oil consumption issue and try to determine whether or not we need new seals and rings. They flat out said that dealer # 1 was incompetent. We told them that this was our second Outback and that we had ORIGINALLY planned on continuing to purchase Outbacks. (We traded our first in at 225,000 miles and it was still running well.) Unfortunately, with the poor quality that we have seen with this Outback and the lack of recognition from Subaru of America that they have systemic issues, we would not be purchasing a third and could not recommend to anyone else to purchase one. They obviously have recurring problems and are unable or unwilling to resolve their design issues.

To answer some of your other questions…
*At no time did we ever see the car overheating.
*I am not sure what tests dealer # 1 did to determine that we needed new seals and rings. I was the one that suggested to them about performing a visible plume test at 112,340 miles while they had the car in their garage. No blue smoke was seen at startup or during revving of engine during this plume test.
*The headgasket repair did eliminate the initial high oil usage issue.

On a closing note, my car continues to have the check engine light on + cruise light flashing, I am burning oil, and my car continues to shudder. I have an appointment with dealer # 2 this week to have the shuddering looked at per the ECM re-programming done under WVU-31.

Now at 125,250.

Recent history.....At 123,027 miles, I took the Outback to dealer # 2 who checked the error codes. This time, I got the original cat error code (P0420) and also a new code that said I had a misfire in cylinder # 1. He told me I needed new plugs and wires in addition to a new cat converter. Surprisingly, he did not charge me anything for this analysis. At 123,327 miles, I took the car to my local garage where I had the plugs and wires changed. Both error codes cleared! He checked my emissions and there were no issues.The car is running fine 2,000 miles later other than it continues to burn oil.

Sad news is that I have now gone to two different Subaru dealers in the Pgh area who both seem unable to diagnose problems. The first dealer can't tell me exactly where my oil is going. The second dealer said that I needed a new cat converter for $1075 when all I really needed was a new set of plugs and wires! This forum helped me! Thanks!
frankiev is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 06-30-2011, 07:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 16,527
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Default

I really think think that the low oil issue is a major cause of everything down stream at that mileage point. There are some mechanical issues that can cause excessive oil consumption though if the car did not use oil prior to the issue cropping up they generally develop due to an over heat or some other harsh use that triggers it.

A failed cat could be a result of the engine issues or simply just a failed cat. Thats a easy fix at your local MA and PA muffler shop mine cost me $150 and took them 30 minutes to do while I grabbed a bite at a sandwhich shop across the street. Subaru will charge you upwards of $1700 for that alone.
subiesailor is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 06-30-2011, 07:08 PM   #9 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 16,527
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Default

Very possible you also just have nothing but inept dealers who generate shop income by doing fixes that are not needed etc etc.

Try using a high mileage oil at the next change. At that many miles your subaru should not need it but we have a Ford with 210,000 miles on it and we recently switched it to high mileage blend oil and its made a very noticable difference in the way it runs and oil consumption has dropped also. Worth a try
subiesailor is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-01-2011, 05:12 AM   #10 (permalink)
ETC
Registered User
 
ETC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Southern Ca
Car: 00 OB 07 OBXT
Posts: 5,411
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Default

We don't know the initial cause of the oil issue, could be a number of things ... reality is that you have to deal with it now.

If you really want to know where it's going [we assume that someone would notice many qrts of oil coating the engine compartment so ... it's going through the motor]... a decent mechanic should be able to narrow it down pretty quick. You can do a dry compression test and then a wet compression test, the difference in this test can tell them the state of the rings. If the rings are good, the valve seals are bad... but, just because the rings show bad, doesn't mean the seal are good ... Personally I would change the seals out either way.

Either way it's not exactly cheap to do the repair as it requires at least pulling the heads if not the motor as well.

If you're just going to run it till it won't run any more, run a heavier weight, high mileage type oil and, maybe some Lucas oil stabilizer or something similar. It might slow things down a bit.

I personally don't know of any Dealer that has rave reviews as far as service and troubleshooting goes. That doesn't mean they don't exist, people are much less likely to bother talking someplace up if they are satisfied with the service... when they aren't happy ... it's time to post ;]. That being said, I only had interaction with one in my area and, they were pretty clueless about Subaru's [when I asked for plug well seals and the parts guy couldn't find them on the fiche, the service manager told him "that car probably doesn't have them" ... they also told me they never surface heads because "Subaru heads don't warp" ... mine were out 2x the limit and I blow another gasket in 1500 miles based on that advice].

My advice, find a good mechanic that knows Subaru's in your area if you are going to have anything done, doesn't seem like the dealer is of any use now that you're on your own as far as paying.
ETC is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Reply


Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -4. The time now is 10:12 AM.



Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.3.2
Copyright 2009-2010 SubaruOutback.org. All Rights Reserved.