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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, I'm a somewhat new Outback (wagon) owner with some questions. One of the questions is specific to residents of Central Ohio, which I see there are several of here. In October 2004 I bought a used 2000 Subaru Legacy Outback Limited with about 46,800 miles on it. Automatic transmission. It was a lease return originally from Hatfield Subaru. I bought it at the Ricart "Used Car Factory" (I always feel stupid saying that because it's such a cheesy name) down off Route 33. Ricart bought it at auction according to the Carfax report. After driving it for about four months, I have some concerns and questions about it, which I'm hoping you guys can give me some help with.
  1. I got an oil change last week at a Valvoline Instant Oil Change place. I would have done it myself, but I wimped out because it was so cold outside. I will never go back to that place again, but that's a tale for another thread. (Short version: They broke the tray that is supposed to be removed to get to the oil filter. Best I can tell, they didn't remove it at all, and just tried to get their **** filter wrench in behind it.) Anyway, I had them put in 5W 30 Durablend oil, which replaced the 10W 30 that Ricart used. would the change to a lighter weight oil cause a noticeable increase in engine noise? I ask because the engine just seems to run louder than before. No knocks or anything like that; just louder.
  2. Sometime in the last week -- I noticed it after the oil change, but it could have been happening before -- I noticed the engine is VERY loud at 3,000 RPM or higher, and seems to have very little pep to it. When I got the car, I could accelerate to 80-90 MPH without much difficultly, but now the car seems to be very sluggish. I would compare the sound to a car with a glass pack exhaust. A very loud, very deep sound inside the cabin, and even if I floor the pedal, there's just no "jump" as I would expect. When running at normal highway speeds with RPMs between 2,000 and 2,5000, the car runs very quiet. Does this seem abnormal to anyone? If so, any ideas what might be the cause? I use medium grade gasoline, fluid levels appear to be normal. If the Valvoline morons put something in the transmission or dif, could that cause something like this? (I'm very paranoid now after my experience there.)
  3. Sometimes -- not always -- I notice a burning oil smell when stopped at traffic lights or after pulling into my driveway. I've checked on and around the CV boots, checked for obvious signs of fluid leakage onto the exhaust, and haven't noticed anything which would cause this. The smell goes away once I start moving, and isn't always present when I'm stopped. I hate intermittent problems.
  4. My self-dimming rear-view mirror no longer dims. It worked great for about a month and a half, then slowly started to give out. For a while it would dim, but would not get dark around the edges. Throughout December, it got worse and worse until just an oval in the center of the mirror would dim, and now it doesn't dim at all. The wire in the back is plugged in securely, the compass works fine, and the light indicating that the dimming feature is enabled is lit; it just doesn't dim. Anyone know if this is repairable, or would I just have to replace it if I want a dimming mirror again?
  5. Ticking noise when the engine is cold. I guess this is "a Subaru thing" that I've come to accept. The tick goes away once then engine/transmission gets up to temp. Many forum posts on various sites would seem to indicate this is a common occurrence and nothing to be concerned about. Correct?
  6. Finally, the question for central Ohio residents... is there one dealer you're recommend over others for service? All the recalls and service programs are still pending for this vehicle, and I want to get them addressed this week or next, if possible. Geographically, I'm closer to Byers Dublin on Sawmill/Billingsly, but don't object to driving elsewhere if service is better at another dealer.[/list=1]

    Thanks, all!
 

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Thanks for the reply, OneOBS,
There is a small section of the under carriage pan that slides out for access to the filter. Is that missing?
Not missing, but there's a piece of it missing directly under the filter. It's as if they just snapped the back edge of it off. That's why I think they tried to force a tool or something rather than sliding the tray out. I guess there were no bright arrows pointing at the plastic screws, saying "remove me first to change oil filter" so they just tried to get at the filter any way they could. I will definitely be changing my own oil from this point forward as I did with my previous car.

I crawled under the car a couple weeks ago and couldn't believe how easy it was to get to everything compared with my ol' 14-year-old Nissan Stanza! That filter was a pain in the arm to get at.

Subarus don't like it when someone spills a little oil. You will smell it, as you described, for some time.
I've got a piece of newspaper under the car tonight to check for drips, but I'm pretty sure there are none. I've been smelling the oil occasionally for a couple months, though. I'm guessing something is leaking somewhere and I just haven't yet found it. I'm fairly certain that they didn't put a new washer on the plug.

Noise - Check your intake ducts and make sure you don't have anything that's come apart.
Everything is tight except for one thing... the "air appendix" mentioned in this thread. One of the rivets holding it onto the duct has been torn through the duct, so only one side is attached. I have put it back in place and it's currently held on with duct tape. I also suspect that the guy at Valvoline did this while trying to get the air box back together. It took him two attempts and about five minutes to get it back together. The first attempt, he had the filter in backward. This was part of the story that is for another thread and is another reason I will never go back there again.

Your mirror is toast
That's what I figured, but thought I'd ask, anyway. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Alright, when looking under your car, use a flashlight; sometimes there are things that you can't see without shedding some light on the subject. The oil dripping under the car is coming from the drain plug. It's tight, so I suspect it's leaking around the old crush washer which I'm sure wasn't replaced. I'm going back to the place tomorrow to discuss things with the manager. Breaking part of my car is entirely unacceptable, as is leaving the place with a leak like I have. I'm just afraid they'll simply torque the bolt tighter instead of doing it the right way because they won't have to eat the cost of the oil that's lost when I try to make them pull the plug and replace the washer. (Do I need a Subaru-specific washer from a dealer or will any generic one do?)

There is evidence of an oil leak at two points where the oil pan is bolted to the engine. One is on the left side of the pan and the other is on the back side.



Here are two photos of the tray under the oil filter which I believe the "tech" at the Valvoline shop broke. I'm not sure what color that pad was originally, but it's completely saturated with oil now. Based on the amount of road grit stuck to it, I suspect this has been accumulating since before I bought the vehicle last October. Is it worth trying to get this tray and pad replaced? (Note: The oil drips on the floor are not from this vehicle.)



Signs of another leak near what I assume is an engine mount? I can't tell whether the oil is fresh or not. It's still wet, but very dark, unlike the clean oil that's leaking around the plug. To help with orientation, the white thing in the foreground with writing on it is the new oil filter and the oil pan is on the left.



Lots of oily/greasy gunk. (Left side of the car.) There is also a similar amount of gunk on the very front portion of the exhaust. All CV boots are intact, no grease on any of them or any visible external indication of damage or contamination. I can also find no definite source of this oil, but it's probably just blown off something ahead of it while the vehicle is moving.



I apologize for all the newbie. I have only basic knowledge of cars; I'm comfortable doing simple things like oil changes, but can't always tell what things are by sight. For example, the head gaskets that seem to be a somewhat common point of failure... I don't know where they are, nor what to look for.

Thanks for your patience and help! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
... I was real careful with the pan, but even so, it got pretty battered up. Did you inspect it before you took it in? It may have been pretty beat up from just road debris.
Not closely, but I did look under the car a couple days before and don't remember the piece that is now missing now being gone at that time. The whole plastic piece under the front end is full of cracks and breaks, courtesy of the previous owner, so it's definitely possible the tray was already broken and I just didn't notice.

As a bit of a follow-up, I found the source of the loud engine noise and engine power loss. I went to the dealer last week to pick up some parts (oil filters, air filters, ten crush washers, and touch-up paint) and installed one of the air filters this afternoon. The three clips along the top of the filter box were securely attached, but none of the three tabs on the bottom edge were in their slots. In effect, the bottom of the filter box was open, allowing unfiltered air to be drawn into the engine. With the new filter installed and the box closed (properly) the loud engine noise and sluggish acceleration are gone!

So a new question: How much -- if any -- damage could be done to an engine when unfiltered air is allowed to enter the engine for about 300 miles worth of winter driving? A saving grace, I suppose, is that the opening was relatively small and close to the engine, so not a lot of crap would be sucked in, but it still makes me a little nervous.

I never would have thought two people working on a car could mess up so many things in twenty minutes. And all because I didn't feel like crawling under the car when it was so cold outside. Never, ever again.
 
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