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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I have a long twisting tale of pain and disappointment. Everyone on this forum seems keen on helping with issues like these - Help me Obi Wan Kanobi, you're my only hope. My car has now been out of my possession for 5+ weeks!

So, my tale begins with a head gasket replacement. Expensive, but seemed to go well. Heads were resurfaced, timing belt, water pump, etc. After putting the engine back together, the mechanic who fixed it said there was a knocking noise, which they determined was a worn cam shaft, which they replaced.

After this, he said cylinder 1 was not firing, so he replaced the fuel injector.

Now here's where the wheels come off the track. The car now has a rough idle, major vibrations, sluggish acceleration, an won't start cold, or will start and stall. I live in Summit County, CO, at about 10k above sea level, so it's pretty cold here.

(Aside: I have had a CEL on for some time now with codes pointing to emissions control, possibly O2 as well, it's been a while since I've had them checked, but presumably my mechanic has checked them as well...)

The mechanic thought the rough idle could be electrical, so he slapped a new battery in it and said it should be fine. It's not. After leaving the shop, the car lurched several times, the CEL blinked for a few seconds, which freaked me right out, then stopped blinking. Got home, tried to start it this morning, and it wouldn't turn over. It comes close, but won't get there.

After trying to start it several times, I checked under the engine and there was a slow drip of oil, which lasted about 30 seconds then stopped (this also freaked me right out).

***The mechanic never charged me for changing the cam shaft, I have no record of this service ever taking place. Is he screwing me here, trying to avoid copping to a bad install, or am I just being paranoid?***

Mechanic says he checked the pressure, and timing several times over with no results and that he as no idea what is going on. Is there any kind, noble soul out there in the ether who can help me with this issue? I have had to hitch-hike in the middle of winter now for OVER A MONTH. I am at my wit's end, and $2,200 deep into this repair.

Thanks for reading,
-D
 

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I'd agree with "could be electrical" but tossing a battery in is the wrong answer. Should have checked the grounds between block, body & battery first. Very likely forgot to reinstall one or it just didn't seat well when they reattached it.

Getting the belt on a tooth or two out of time is another possibilty, and roughly as likely as the above. Some subarus have confusing alignment markings, this guy wouldn't be the first to make a mistake there.

I don't know what to tell you about the camshaft. Needing to do anything to it, and not charging for it are both weird.

The oil drip could just be spilled oil being shaken knocked & shaken off by the vibration issue. Keep an eye on the dipstick but it doesn't strike me as panic time yet.

Start with the electrical grounds.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for the speedy reply. Is this something I can do myself with a voltage meter (with no real mechanical knowledge), or should I get it back to the shop. I only ask because it is currently stuck in my driveway not starting. Again, my profound thanks.
-D
 

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Well, a standard VOM isn't really going to let you measure conductance across the test points. You could measure resistance but that won't be a conclusive test.

Edit: you should be able to test resistance between the negative post of the battery and any bare metal on the engine block and see really close to zero ohms. I haven't done this test on a Subaru with a VOM so I'm not sure what to declare as an acceptable range. But in general, on any car, it should be a very low reading. It can be misleading though... best to do a proper conductance test with a specialty meter.

There is no harm in just breaking and making the contacts involved, essentially flying blind but it's free and has essentially zero chance of making things worse. You can DIY this. I don't know all of the grounding points- what year is your car? that would help us.

Since all of the engine management on all subarus since about 1990 are measured by electrical levels, a lousy circuit can explain quite a few of your symptoms. Because the ground is effectively a bus connector, a lousy ground can mess with multiple sensors and systems simultaneously.

You'll be looking for the fat webbing wires that go from battery to block and body to block. There are also smaller ground wires used for localized systems. Give us more specifics on the car and maybe someone familiar with that year will post a proper list of wires to check. It's probably not more than 4 or 5 total. The general method is to disconnect, scrub both contact areas with a small wire brush and reconnect. Particularly bad ones might benefit from contact cleaner spray. Some are just thin wires with push-on connectors, others are heavy webs with bolts to secure them.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Duh, how could I forget that somewhat important piece of info. It's an automatic 2001 OB w/ cold weather package, if that matters. Thanks again for your help, rasterman.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Also, I've seen several posts in these forums referencing TPS reports, but not one mention of the new cover sheets we're putting on them now. If you could just go ahead and do that from now on, that'd be grrrrreat. Did you get the memo?
 

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I also just recently had my HG replaced and now i have a rough idle problem. Could this have to do with the thicker gasket (mls) compaired to the OEM gasket? I heard someone say the thicker gasket causes a change in compression in the cylnders? I haven't had any starting issues yet. I have the EJ25 motor in my car
 

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+1 to Rasterman's post.

An indication of a repair gone awry would be the running condition of the engine prior to service compared to after. Codes or issues prior, and after.

Give us what you got.


And no, the MLS gaskets will not cause a rough idle.
 

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No codes or idle issues for me prior to my HG replacement. Just overheating . Now it nvr overheats but idles so rough it shakes the car at times! I still have no codes showing up now when driving. I also had the waterpump, fuel pump and fuel filter done with the HG. A ton of money sunk into this rough running car!
 

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No codes or idle issues for me prior to my HG replacement. Just overheating . Now it nvr overheats but idles so rough it shakes the car at times! I still have no codes showing up now when driving. I also had the waterpump, fuel pump and fuel filter done with the HG. A ton of money sunk into this rough running car!
Have you inquired to the shop that did the work? Maybe have them recheck the timing marks. Could be off a tooth and cause irregular idle and run smooth at speed.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Update: My car did start this morning, then promptly stalled. it started again after a few attempts. I applied some gas for a while to keep the RPMs up and got it going. By the time I got to work 10 minutes later, the engine was at operating temp. It idled in my parking space with some rumbling. I turned it off then restarted it without any difficulty. It has now been sitting there for almost 9 hours, here's hoping it will start up when I go home. I will take it to the shop tomorrow and post an update.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
crshbandit: does your car start fine? if it does, do you live somewhere particularly cold? does ambient temperature have anything to do with what we're talking about here? Seems like if my problem is electrical, cold would exacerbate the trouble.
 

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Cold temps always reduce the amount of electricity a battery can deliver. The battery is the sole supply during startup.

A poor ground isn't generally going to change with temperature- there are rare exceptions but as a rule it is a constant tax on all flow in the system.

The problem is that with a weakened supply and a steady significant tax, your results won't be good. At some point there won't be enough left to start the car.
 

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Yes Kerplum, I do live in the midwest so very cold here right now. I think it could possibly be a timing issue. I know this is a zero interference motor so I don't want to mess with the timing myself. I do have a timing gun so I can try and check it to see if it is off. I will have to do some research online to find out about disabling the vac. advance and where the timing marks are located. I also hear a weird humming noise coming from the engine. It became much louder when I popped off the air filter cover. I am wondering if I have some kind of vac. leak going on here. The guy that did my HG job wants nothing to do with working on this car anymore. He had a difficult time doing the HG and now he won't return my calls so I guess I am on my own.
 

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+1 on timing belt issue. My wife jumped the timing belt 4 teeth a few years back (don't ask...) and the car would *almost* start, then stumble and stall.

JP
 

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If it does end up being a timing issue or something related to the repair, then you would have recourse against the shop. He can't dodge it. He has to carry responsibility whether he goes in and redoes the work, repairs damage caused by his work or refunds cost associated.

And in order to get anything in return from the shop you have to show diligence on your part in attempting to give them the chance to make it right. Repeated failures in contact by phone would not necessarily cut it. Try going to the shop and speaking with him. If he doesn't want to work on the car anymore, get confirmation that he will cover your cost in correcting the issue caused by his work. You shouldn't have to pay twice.
 

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On timing marks: There is a notch in the crank pulley and timing marks on the cover. You will not disconnect timing advance because the engine firing is controlled by the ECM. Absent a vacuum leak you will know the timing is off because the timing mark will fluctuate instead of remaining steady.
 

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I'll second what cardoc said.of course...................sometimes though....its worth the extra $ to go to the Subaru dealer....and ALWAYS pay with a credit card............that way you can dispute the charges and you DO NOT have to pay until you are satisfied.

I have done this a few times...ALWAYS works......

Good luck....and drop by the shop and see what your mechanic will do..bring someone along as a witness......
What does your receipt state ? Warranty ?
 
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