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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-29-2012, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by 7stars View Post
Although I haven't been driving the car, I've gathered some additional information by understanding the VIN number. It seems like the car has AWD MPT without any slippage features. From what I understand this means that the torque defaults to a 90% front and 10% rear distribution. When the car accelerates, the torque may be transferred more to the rear.
You do have the standard "active torque split" AWD without a LSD in the front or rear. The whole 90/10 thing is a huge myth's never been in any real literature from Subaru anywhere, nor is it anywhere close to true. According to Fuji Heavy Industries, it's "usually" 60/40, but that doesn't even describe it well since it varies so much all the time. On the FreeSSM thread here, it's found that from a stop it's almost always very close to 50/50, and it also hits that whenever there's a slip or you floor it. Even when cruising down the highway at a steady speed, it never goes as low as 90/10.

...and the FWD fuse should be under the hood in the box near the driver's side fender. If it's not there, some of the older cars had it in its own holder on the passenger's side near the firewall, but I think for 2000 up they moved it.

RIP Outback: 2008 3.0R LL Bean "Senior Citizen Gold" 99,150 miles

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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-07-2012, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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I visited my parents these last 4 weeks which involved a plane trip so I hadn't been driving the Outback for some time.

The active torque split is interesting to understand. I had noticed from the VIN and from the fact that it's not a Limited edition that there's no LSD. The proportion of torque between the front and rear wheels I had quoted is from a (non-Subaru) web site that I can't find at the moment.

With regards to the squeaking/slapping sound; I drove with 4 people (including myself) and we didn't hear the noise. My co-worker (who drives a 98 Impreza) said that the noise is probably affected by the load. With a total of 2 people in the car, I notice the sound, especially when passing parked cars on my left which apparently echoes the sound towards me. Strangely, my passenger doesn't hear the noise.

When I got back from parents, I drove the car for about 20 miles with no issues whatsoever. The following day, I noticed for the first time that the car wouldn't start immediately. When turning the ignition key on, a rather strange squeaking noise came from the engine, but the car wouldn't start. I estimate that I had turned the ignition on for less than 2 seconds. Up until that moment the car had always started straight away. When I tried to turn on the ignition for the 2nd time, the engine started accompanied by the same squeaking noise. I kept the engine running while parked and the noise stopped about 20-25 seconds after starting. I then drove for about 30 miles (combination of city and highway) with no issues whatsoever.

Looking in the manual under the section "Engine Noise" there's 3 entries under "Type of sound" which I believe could correspond with the noise I heard. "Squeaky sound", "Rubbing sound" and "Timing belt noise". The term "Timing belt noise" is not a very descriptive sound but it could well be the noise I heard.

When the car didn't start on the first try, I had an immediate feeling that it was somehow caused by a lack of power although the battery looks like it has been recently installed.

In any case, I'll be having the timing belt (and closely related parts) replaced very soon. From what I'm reading, it seems like a failing timing belt can be disastrous for this model's engine (post '96 SOHC). I'll see if I can reproduce the sound tomorrow with my Impreza co-worker.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-07-2012, 11:34 PM
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For the rear noise, check the axle boots as mentioned, although the rear axles rarely fail. Also, check the rear sway bar. It's a steal bar that runs from one rear wheel hub to the other. It should be connected at both ends and not touching anywhere besides a rubber bushing on each side that it runs through.

When I first got my Subaru there was a clunk in the rear of the car. I later discovered it was the jack that wasn't properly secured. You can twist the knob on it by hand it expand it and snug it into it's spot. (My car is a Sedan, I'm not sure if the wagons are different.

As for the engine noise. If the timing belt was slipping your engine wouldn't be running and would probably be damaged. The timing belt has teeth on it to lock into the cam sprockets. It's more likely to be the serpentine belt which is the main "fan" belt you see under the hood.

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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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I had someone (friend of a friend) look at the car and the following issues were observed:

- the front sway bar was broken. Not the connectors wherein the sway bar hangs, rather, the bar itself was broken off on the driver's side.
- the front tie rod on the passenger's side was not ok.
- the brakes were fairly worn, especially on the front.

The sway bar, both tie rods on the front, all 4 brake rotors and brake pads have now been replaced. I also had the timing belt, tensioners, pulleys and water pump replaced.

Now, the car suddenly handles like it should. I hadn't realized how bad it was handling until now. The braking is very nice. Previously they produced a very bad noise upon coming to a complete stop. This could probably be due to the fact that the front brake pads on the driver's side were completely worn down. I also had some issues where braking on the highway would slightly affect the car's direction. Those issues are now gone.

Apparently, the timing belt seems to have been in reasonable shape, but the tensioners and pulleys did need replacing.

With regards to the slapping noise I had previously observed; it's hard to say whether the noise is there or not because now I have a new noise going on. It sounds like the front shocks are a bit springy. Depending on the road conditions, it sounds like there's springs in the front that are going up and down. I otherwise don't notice much up and down movement, it's just the sound. I've also observed a light thump which came from under the car. I've observed this only once.

As if this isn't enough, I got a check engine light and autozone's computer reported that the catalytic converter needs replacing. I've already discovered that this reporting may be due to the o2 sensors (notably on the front?), but at the same time I can imagine that the converter itself is almost done for.

In any case, I'm getting an alignment done tomorrow. We'll see what the mechanic discovers.

Thanks everybody.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 10:57 PM
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Make sure that all wheels are adjusted to "0.0" toe in for the alignment.

As for the P0420, read this thread first, then whatever your mechanic says, ask him for proof of his findings.
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post #16 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-15-2012, 12:36 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the link. I do notice that I consistently get an electric shock when closing my door after getting out of the car. This was happening before and continues after the repairs. I believe there may be an issue with the grounding.

We'll see what the mechanic has to say tomorrow.

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post #17 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-17-2012, 04:00 PM Thread Starter
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So I took the Outback in for an alignment but I ended up postponing this.

The mechanic mentioned that the steering rack boot is severely torn and requires replacement. I'm not even sure what his exact quote was but it was well over $ 300. I didn't go along with this, and as the replacement is going to require an alignment, I postponed the alignment for now.

I'll have to see if I can get the boot replaced some other (cheaper) way.

I'm not sure what they call it, but the bar that the steering rack boot covers is attached to the wheel. Is it difficult to remove this bar from the wheel? Some people say you need a pickle fork, others say there's a special clamp to remove it, and still others say that both a pickle fork and clamp are going to bust or else damage the boots and say you just need a large hammer to hit the thing at the right spot.

I'm not really planning on doing this myself, but I'm just curious to know whether it's a big job or not.

The mechanic also stated that the catalytic converter situation can often be resolved by a thorough cleaning. The cleaning costs ~ $ 150. Replacing the converter was quoted at $ 1100.


Last edited by 7stars; 11-17-2012 at 04:10 PM. Reason: Forgot to mention that catalytic converter situation.
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post #18 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-26-2012, 12:55 PM Thread Starter
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I replaced the pinion bellows (if that's what they call them) together with a friend of mine who has more experience with this stuff. Looks like the older bellows were pretty worn/torn.

There was a single leak coming from a tearing upper radiator hose. We replaced both the upper and lower hoses and there are currently no engine leaks whatsoever.

I'm going to get the alignment tomorrow.

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post #19 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-27-2012, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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I finally got my alignment done and I'm happy with the result.

I also purchased an OBD adaptor from Amazon. It comes with a blue tooth interface and it was cheap as dirt. I was able to reset the Check Engine codes from my phone. After some grace period when there are no codes being reported, the code reporting is now "complete" and the P0420 code hasn't come back (yet).

The car still makes some squeaking noises, apparently coming from around the wheels or suspension. I mentioned this to my friend who helped me with the replacement of the bellows. He inspected the suspension and shocks and said they look fine, at least for their age. He greased some areas around the suspension and told me it may take some time (days to weeks) for the grease to settle in such that it may reduce the squeaking. I'll see how this develops.

I'm currently very happy with the car and do appreciate all the feedback provided.
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post #20 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-28-2012, 01:56 AM
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I haven't investigated yet because of other issues with the vehicle but I thought it might be one of the

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