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Hey guys,

So heres the deal, my poor 2004 Subaru Outback Limited Wagon has been slightly abused and not taken care of. I have a list of things below wrong with her and I am asking for any and all advice on what I should do and how much it should cost. I am pretty busy so it will probably be shop work but I am trying to know a little something before I get in there. I also need to pass inspection soon so keep that in mind.

1. Tires. I need to replace at least the front tires. Should I replace all four because its an all-wheel drive? Either way, any tire suggestions? Preferably under $160 each and at least 50,000 guarentee.

2. Brakes. Not sure if they are bad, will check when the car is jacked up. If they are, how much should I be paying for say pads and shoes?

3. Exhaust. A stick booted up under my car and broke the exhaust pipe in half. Right above the bolted joint leading to the muffler...bad news bears I know. Any idea on cost?

4. Check Engine Light. Have been told its the catalytic converters, will ask the shop guy, but how much should this cost me since they are doing the exhaust anyway? If not, any other suggestions on what the light means? It has tripped my cruise control so as long as the light is on I cant use cruise control.

5. Headlight. I know its not the bulb, only on the low beam and it seems to be a connection issue (wiggling the wires makes it work). This one I could handle myself, but any suggestions on how to go about doing this?
 

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Hey guys,

So heres the deal, my poor 2004 Subaru Outback Limited Wagon has been slightly abused and not taken care of. I have a list of things below wrong with her and I am asking for any and all advice on what I should do and how much it should cost. I am pretty busy so it will probably be shop work but I am trying to know a little something before I get in there. I also need to pass inspection soon so keep that in mind.

1. Tires. I need to replace at least the front tires. Should I replace all four because its an all-wheel drive? Either way, any tire suggestions? Preferably under $160 each and at least 50,000 guarentee.

2. Brakes. Not sure if they are bad, will check when the car is jacked up. If they are, how much should I be paying for say pads and shoes?

3. Exhaust. A stick booted up under my car and broke the exhaust pipe in half. Right above the bolted joint leading to the muffler...bad news bears I know. Any idea on cost?

4. Check Engine Light. Have been told its the catalytic converters, will ask the shop guy, but how much should this cost me since they are doing the exhaust anyway? If not, any other suggestions on what the light means? It has tripped my cruise control so as long as the light is on I cant use cruise control.

5. Headlight. I know its not the bulb, only on the low beam and it seems to be a connection issue (wiggling the wires makes it work). This one I could handle myself, but any suggestions on how to go about doing this?
Tires--ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS replace all four. If you run mismatched tires for long enough, you'll probably have some expensive drivetrain issues to deal with.

Brakes--Pads and rotors aren't too bad, and they're easy to change. Rotors are probably around $35 a wheel for aftermarket ones and pads are probably ~$100 for decent aftermarket pads for front and rear. Subaru parts are going to be higher..

Exhaust--I'd take it to an exhaust shop and have them cut out the bad section of the pipe and weld in a new piece if possible. Subaru exhaust parts are very expensive! Shouldn't be expensive to do this, though---if there's enough unrusted pipe to work with and they can weld in a new piece you're probably under $100.

CEL--What's the code? It's probably not that the cats are bad...Subaru cats last a LONG time and shops often misdiagnose that. As for the cruise control, that's normal...basically a little prodding from Subaru to actually fix it rather than ignore it until your next emissions test.

Headlight--This is a little tougher to troubleshoot--I'd start by checking fuses, progressing onto relays (swap known good one of the same type for anything that could be related to the headlights), playing around with a multimeter until you find the problem after that. Someone else might offer better guidance here. Is power getting to the sockets for the bulbs (easy to check with a multimeter)--I'd assume not if you know you have good bulbs in it.
 

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Tires. Totally understandable, any suggestions on brand? Looking for all-season, lots of Vermont driving.

Brakes. I am aware they are pretty cheap to do myself, any ideas what I should expect from a shop?

CEL. Not sure on the code but 3 shops have said cadi so far and I have heard the code is relatively reliable.

Headlight. I have checked with a multimeter, everything checks out fine, thats why its kind of weird.
 

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uh - did you have the codes BEFORE the exhaust was severed? Cause, knocking the exhaust apart would DEFINITELY set codes!


agree with what they all said but, don't sweat the P0420 (is that the codes? if not, what are they?) code until everything else is repaired first. Likely just the exhaust leak - could be vacuum leak, PCV valve, or fix with an anti-fouler spacer.

if you have an automatic, put in the FWD fuse, move the better tires to the front, drive in FWD until - A: you can afford a set of 4 or B: the fronts are worn down to the same circumference as the rear.
 

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depends how/where the exhaust broke but generally speaking it can be welded back in place for $40 - $75 if you can find an honest repair/muffler shop. most places would rather bolt in a new part and make more money though. but then you end up with newer...but cheaper metal...that rusts earlier than the original pipe. the pipe is usually worth repairing and welding or sleeving back together, i've done it a bunch of times and many folks (all over the boards) have it done. i can tell you a place in pittsburgh, PA and morgantown, WV that does it for $40.

converters are not likely to need replaced. repairing the broken exhaust and getting it leak free will likely fix it.

if not there's a $5 repair to the P0420 code which is the one most mechanics think means the converters need replaced...total overkill and poor decision.

get us the actual code, not what the person thinks it means, but the actual numbers. it's free at many national chains to get read, advanced auto, autozone, etc.

you can buy new headlight sockets and splice them in yourself for the headlights.

brakes - highly variable depending on what parts you get and what pads you get, what part of the country you live in, if anything else needs addressed, etc - but i'd figure $150 - $200 for one brake job (so $300 - $400 for both front and rear).
 

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In case anyone was wondering, just said screw it and brought it to a mechanic today. Heres the price breakdown.

Tires - $550
Exhaust pipe + muffler repair - $100
Front + back brake pads + back rotors - $600
New catalytic converter - $1200
Oil change + headlight repair + fuel injector cleaning + labor + and whatever else - $250
 

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In case anyone was wondering, just said screw it and brought it to a mechanic today. Heres the price breakdown.

Tires - $550
Exhaust pipe + muffler repair - $100
Front + back brake pads + back rotors - $600
New catalytic converter - $1200
Oil change + headlight repair + fuel injector cleaning + labor + and whatever else - $250
LOL, your guy probably has a payment due on his new bass boat.

Get at least two more quotes - his brake job is way too expensive. Don't change the cat now, fix the exhaust damage and then see if the codes clear and it passes a sniffer test. If so, then your cat is fine.

Tires - there is no way we can say if this is in line since you don't give us anything to work with - what brand, model and size? Four tires? Road hazard warranty?

Good luck, don't let anybody rip you off. I recommend that you take your car to a muffler shop for the exhaust work, a brake specialist for the brake job, and for the rest go to the dealer or a general purpose service shop that knows Subarus. You will get better work and better prices by going to specialty shops. Avoid the quickie lubes!

John Davie
Spokane WA USA
 

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The only thing I see on your list that seems realistically priced are the tires. I just spent $545 for a set of 4 Pirellis P6's (sp?) on my wife's car. That was with mount, valve stems, balance, etc. They are a bit softer and don't last as long as other brands.

Muffler, I'd expect closer to $50. But, I haven't seen your problem.

Brakes all around, $400.

Seriously, don't buy the cat just yet. 1 Lucky Texan is right, a P0420 code could be something as simple (and cheap) as a rear O2 sensor.

Oil change $40, headlight repair - has the actual problem been found? - Fuel injector clean - Sea Foam or ~$40.

The "whatever" would send me packing. Yup, shop around a bit.
 
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