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2005 Legacy 2.5i Wagon 4EAT; 2005 Forester XS 4EAT
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672 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I'm new here, and I'd love to get some input on the '01 VDC.

I've been in talks with a used car dealer who specializes in Subarus. He picked up a real gem at the sale last Thursday, and I have first dibs on it.

It's a 2001 Outback VDC with 225,000 miles. It looks like it has less than 100k on it. It's just about perfect, inside and out.

It was a 2-owner, and the second owner bought it with 6,600 miles on it. The 2nd owner must've taken extremely good care of this VDC, as there's barely a door ding or paint chip on it. The undercoating is in excellent shape, and there's absolutely zero rust underneath it or around the rear wheel wells.

The exhaust system looks fairly new, and looks to be OEM, as the muffler is stamped Subaru right on it. It's super smooth and the engine is nearly silent. The transmission shifts perfect, even when cold. The leather shows barely any signs of use, and there's no odd smells or musty odors hinting at a leaky sunroof.

There is an issue with it, and he's going to try his hardest to get it fixed before I decide to buy it. The VDC OFF and CHECK ENGINE lights are on. He pulled the codes, and it's showing an O2 sensor. I believe it's Bank 2 Sensor 1.

He cleared the codes. Upon restart, neither light came on until about 4-5 seconds later. As soon as the CHECK ENGINE light came on, the VDC OFF light came on a split second later. This was repeated 2 more times. The ABS light is not coming on with the VDC OFF light.

We also noticed a very faint smell of burning oil and some very light smoke coming out from under it after we drove it for about 20 minutes. We're leaning towards the engine shine stuff the selling dealer sprayed on the engine, but he is going to investigate it further.

I apologize if the VDC OFF and CHECK ENGINE light combo has already been discussed, but it seems most say the ABS light is on with it.

I'm not overly concerned about having VDC, I just don't want to be without ABS. In this case, it appears I should be fine. He told me he'll take it to the local Subaru dealer to have the VDC checked and codes read if needed.

I spoke to a good friend of mine about him to double check his integrity. I was assured he's a man of his word, and does his best to sell only near-perfect (mechanically) Subarus. He's not afraid to pull engines to replace head gaskets simply because they're leaking a little oil. He also told me he only uses the Felpro 3-layer gaskets. If he needs pistons, he only buys the ones made in Japan (I forget the brand) that are Teflon coated. He also does timing belts and water pumps while the engines are out.

If anyone has some advice, I'm all ears. He's not overly familiar with the H6, especially the VDC systems, so any pointers I can give him would also be appreciated.

He said his price for this car should be in the low $3,000 range, which seems like a very fair price. He doesn't price his cars based on "book" value. He sets prices for a fair profit only.

The only other thing we noticed it could use is new tires. The tread is pretty good, but they show some dry rot, and have some coupling.

Thanks in advance for any information you can give!
Ron
 

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2002 Outback Sedan H6 3.0 VDC
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151 Posts
There is a fuse slot under the hood labeled FWD. If a fuse in IN this slot it will turn off the VDC system. The VDC system incorporates a series of sensors to determine the current behavior of the car, if one of these sensors is bad or disconnected I believe it would also cause the system to trip off while still allowing ABS to work. A Subaru Select Monitor could tell you more.

Even with VDC off, the VTD(Variable Torque Distribution) system is still working, which is a huge benefit for the VDC cars.

As for the smoke, the H6 engine is known to leak oil from the front case, valve covers, and oil cooler gasket. There are plenty of topics on all of those here. A lot of people just let them slowly leak.

Next time you look at it, take a look at the muffler. There should a bulb piped out of the side of it. This is a bypass valve designed for the H6 engine and was the original muffler that came with the car.

Where are you located? A car like that here would quickly sell for $5k. If you weren't in a hurry you could probably get $8k for it.

-Tim
 

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2005 Legacy 2.5i Wagon 4EAT; 2005 Forester XS 4EAT
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672 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
There is a fuse slot under the hood labeled FWD. If a fuse in IN this slot it will turn off the VDC system. The VDC system incorporates a series of sensors to determine the current behavior of the car, if one of these sensors is bad or disconnected I believe it would also cause the system to trip off while still allowing ABS to work. A Subaru Select Monitor could tell you more.

Even with VDC off, the VTD(Variable Torque Distribution) system is still working, which is a huge benefit for the VDC cars.

As for the smoke, the H6 engine is known to leak oil from the front case, valve covers, and oil cooler gasket. There are plenty of topics on all of those here. A lot of people just let them slowly leak.

Next time you look at it, take a look at the muffler. There should a bulb piped out of the side of it. This is a bypass valve designed for the H6 engine and was the original muffler that came with the car.

Where are you located? A car like that here would quickly sell for $5k. If you weren't in a hurry you could probably get $8k for it.

-Tim
I'm in Altoona, PA - Outbacks usually fetch a premium here as well, but as I said, the dealer is a very fair guy.

So, it's possible there could be a fuse IN the FWD slot? Could the previous owner have done this to possibly get better gas mileage? Could this trip the Check Engine light for an O2 sensor?

Yes, the muffler has the bulbous looking thing coming out of the side of it.

I hope if there are any leaks, he'll take care of them. He's very picky about leaks.
 

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2002 Outback Sedan H6 3.0 VDC
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151 Posts
If there is a fuse in the slot, removing it would be a simple and free solution to your VDC light. It's doubtful, but a possibility and I like to start with the simple things. A fuse in that slot, even with the normal automatics, does not improve fuel economy, but there are other reason someone might want to disable VDC. I doubt it would cause on O2 code, that's probably a separate issue.

The oil cooler is a simple leak to fix, the valve covers are a bit harder and the front case is a royal PITA. To give you an idea: I had a shop replace my timing chains, tensioners, guides, oil pump and water pump. To get to all of those you have to remove that front cover. Just to remove it and then reseal it when they were done cost me ~$1400 in labor. It's not an easy job. There are several dozen allen head bolts that need to be removed, each one a different length. Usually the radiator has to be pulled or the engine has to be removed depending on how patient your mechanic is. 15k miles later and mine is slowly leaking again, and it will continue to because I will not be removing it again.

-Tim
 

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2005 Legacy 2.5i Wagon 4EAT; 2005 Forester XS 4EAT
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672 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
If there is a fuse in the slot, removing it would be a simple and free solution to your VDC light. It's doubtful, but a possibility and I like to start with the simple things. A fuse in that slot, even with the normal automatics, does not improve fuel economy, but there are other reason someone might want to disable VDC. I doubt it would cause on O2 code, that's probably a separate issue.

The oil cooler is a simple leak to fix, the valve covers are a bit harder and the front case is a royal PITA. To give you an idea: I had a shop replace my timing chains, tensioners, guides, oil pump and water pump. To get to all of those you have to remove that front cover. Just to remove it and then reseal it when they were done cost me ~$1400 in labor. It's not an easy job. There are several dozen allen head bolts that need to be removed, each one a different length. Usually the radiator has to be pulled or the engine has to be removed depending on how patient your mechanic is. 15k miles later and mine is slowly leaking again, and it will continue to because I will not be removing it again.

-Tim
I just talked to him. He said the valve covers have very minor seepage, and he's going to see if they may just need tightened a bit. He's also going to steam down the underside of the engine, as it appears it's never been cleaned quite that good. Everything else is dry - no other leaks. He also ordered the O2 sensor - driver side. It should be in today, and he'll get it in. He said a tie rod and CV boot were also replaced yesterday. It's going for state inspection this afternoon.

He called the Subaru dealer, and the tech said there's a switch hidden somewhere for the '01 VDC system. The tech is supposed to find out exactly where it is and call him back. I know this is contrary to what I've read on here. He is going to check for a fuse in the FWD slot.

He's still amazed by the condition of this Outback for the miles. And yes, it has a new Subaru muffler on it, and the rest of the exhaust looks excellent.
 

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01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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15,464 Posts
Does the MIL/CEL work? If there is a code stored that deals with engine performance, the VDC light will be on due to an issue related to its operation. It comes on when temperature exceeds 215F, cam codes, map codes, crank codes, etc....

The VDC uses the engine and transmission controls along with ABS function to control the vehicle. It could be a fuse inserted in the FWD/VDC OFF slot, but could be internal.

The EZ30D is a tough engine. When taken care of, expect a really long life.

And when/if something happens, they are relatively easy to repair.
 

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2005 Legacy 2.5i Wagon 4EAT; 2005 Forester XS 4EAT
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672 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Does the MIL/CEL work? If there is a code stored that deals with engine performance, the VDC light will be on due to an issue related to its operation. It comes on when temperature exceeds 215F, cam codes, map codes, crank codes, etc....

The VDC uses the engine and transmission controls along with ABS function to control the vehicle. It could be a fuse inserted in the FWD/VDC OFF slot, but could be internal.

The EZ30D is a tough engine. When taken care of, expect a really long life.

And when/if something happens, they are relatively easy to repair.
Thanks cardoc.

The light does work. I'm not sure of the actual code number, but it came up O2 Bank 2 sensor 1. Initially, an O2 heater circuit fault was listed, too. After the codes were cleared, only the O2 Bank 2 Sensor 1 reappeared.

He should have the new sensor installed, or will be doing so this morning. Hopefully that clears up the VDC OFF light. He got a new direct fit sensor from NAPA for around $160. He said he hasn't had a lot of luck using universals, so he doesn't buy them anymore.

We both thought it seemed odd that after he cleared the codes (several times), the VDC OFF light didn't come back on until a split second after the CE light. This was happening while the engine was cold.

He should be calling me today about picking it up.

Is it odd to be excited about trading a car that's 4 years newer with 100k less miles for this VDC?

That's what I'll be doing... trading my '05 Saturn Vue Red Line AWD (Honda 3.5 V6 and 5-speed auto) with 125k on it. My Vue is more unique, but I'm sold on the overall quality of the VDC. Plus, I think the H6 will get a little better gas mileage, which is my main reason for doing this.
 

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2005 Legacy 2.5i Wagon 4EAT; 2005 Forester XS 4EAT
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Discussion Starter #8
I talked to him today. The lights are staying out since he did the O2 sensor. He said it will need valve cover gaskets, but they're not bad right now.

It'll also need tires next year, but they're still decent for now.

I should be getting it tomorrow.
 

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2003 OBW 2.5L 4EAT
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Just out of curiosity, what type of tires are you running and where do you have the dry rot? (sidewall, between tread etc)
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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Replace the spark plugs and valve cover gaskets at the same time. Plugs are very tricky on this motor and way easier with the valve covers removed.

Probably a matter of time before those gaskets need replaced, they're just common on most vehicles with any age/mileage on them.

Also - the CV's spray grease which burns off the exhaust.

*** The serpentine tensioner pulley bearings fail all the time on these engines. I would replace the bearings in both of them right now. The bearings are $5 each and take 15 minutes to replace. Super easy.

His comments about headgaskets and timing belts won't matter for this engine - the headgaskets aren't issues on the H6 (big issues on the H4's) and the H6 engines don't have timing belts.

$3,000 should be a great price for that condition too.
 

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2005 Legacy 2.5i Wagon 4EAT; 2005 Forester XS 4EAT
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Discussion Starter #12
Replace the spark plugs and valve cover gaskets at the same time. Plugs are very tricky on this motor and way easier with the valve covers removed.

Probably a matter of time before those gaskets need replaced, they're just common on most vehicles with any age/mileage on them.

Also - the CV's spray grease which burns off the exhaust.

*** The serpentine tensioner pulley bearings fail all the time on these engines. I would replace the bearings in both of them right now. The bearings are $5 each and take 15 minutes to replace. Super easy.

His comments about headgaskets and timing belts won't matter for this engine - the headgaskets aren't issues on the H6 (big issues on the H4's) and the H6 engines don't have timing belts.

$3,000 should be a great price for that condition too.
That's what I was thinking. He just replaced one of the CV boots due to a light tear, and a tie rod end.

What is a good spark plug to use? I used the OEM Denso Iridium plugs in my Honda-powered Saturn Vue.

The only issue I'll have this time of year for doing certain things is decent weather, since I don't have a garage.

I could easily see this car priced around $5,000 based on condition alone. I'd never expect to find one this clean with those miles, especially in the snow belt.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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+1 to Dave above - stick with original plugs, whatever the manual/Subaru says.
 

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2005 Legacy 2.5i Wagon 4EAT; 2005 Forester XS 4EAT
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Discussion Starter #15
What are the stock plugs? With 225k on it, who knows what plugs are in it?
 

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2005 Legacy 2.5i Wagon 4EAT; 2005 Forester XS 4EAT
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Discussion Starter #16
I sold the Saturn to a different dealer for more money. I ended up getting this VDC for $3,300 + fees.

The steering wheel now wobbles above 60-65 or so. It didn't do that before when I drove it. He did rotate the Firestone tires on it. Between doing that and the new tie rod end, I think new tires and an alignment will cure that.

Something new after I got gas yesterday: the CEL came on - P0420 Bank 1. That code wasn't coming up before, and he replaced the front O2 in Bank 2. I'm going to check out the PCV valve soon. That seems to be a likely culprit from what I've read on here. Since he replaced the O2, the VDC OFF light hasn't come back on, only during startup for systems check. :)

He did say the valve cover that was seeping had a bolt that was about 1/2 turn loose. Maybe that'll stop the seepage until I can get them replaced.

I'll try to get some pics soon.
 
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