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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone. So I've just embarked on a journey that will see me unable to handle car maintenance for 2 days, but at the same time I'm using the car to travel long distances.

I'm driving a 2000 Subaru Impreza Outback Wagon. 258,000KM/160,000 miles, and thus far it's been perfect mechanically. And the check engine light came on while I was driving on the highway today. Now, I've driven about 60km/40 miles with it on, and still have about another 350km/220miles to go on the trip (it's a trip for work, so I can't just abandon it). Some will be highway.. actually almost all of it, but it's driving into Toronto so there's definitely going to be slowdowns. I checked for leakage around the head gaskets, and they look the exact same and not leaking (visually). I checked under the vehicle for leakage but didn't see anything. The only thing that's a little suspect is the oil stick was low (but it was dark, so I won't be able to tell until the sun comes up). The Engine while driving sounds the exact same as before, no issues with shifting once it's warm, responds nice.

I don't have a way of checking the codes until Friday. But I've read that P0420 is the most common one and something that won't strand the car in the short term (say, a week).

When driving, the engine also didn't get hot, the gauge stayed the same. The timing belt was done 8,000KM ago so anything that could be going wrong with the engine would have been noticed by then, maybe?

All in all, I'm not 100% sure if I should be worried about the light until Friday.

Is it possible some catastrophic failure could happen (I'm going with head gaskets) even when nothing appears to be wrong?

It was also below 0 (in Fahrenheit) when the light came on.. something like -18 (C) outside, which is the coldest temperature we've had in about a year. Maybe something like that could contribute?

Feedback would be appreciated. What should I check for, visually? Or could it be a P0420?
 

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Did you fill up not too long before the light came on? An ill-fitted gas cap might cause the CEL to come on.

Leaks are not usually going to generate a CEL (unless the engine is dying as a result). It's more likely something that involves electrical functions or sensors.

It's rather difficult to suggest what it could be --there's too many possibilities. The only real way to deal with it is to have the codes identified.

If the CEL wasn't flashing (that would indicate a more serious issue), then it could have been a one-time glitch, perhaps due to the cold. If so, you might find the CEL goes out after three complete driving cycles, that is, cold start, full warm up, some mixed driving including highway, and cool down. (It would do this only if the fault hasn't reappeared during those trips.) The actual code, however, will probably be kept in memory for up to 40 cycles, so you can still have it read to see where the problem was located.
 

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sometimes a car might set a code with an altitude change. Even a weak battery.

Understand no one wnats to suggest everything is fine and you can drive safely but, you seem to have covered the bases and if the car is running well, I see no reason to 'panic'. But, without the code, it's all guesswork.
 

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It would be very odd for anything significant to happen. Check engine lights are common and usually benign. I have actually never seen a check engine light that was anything important to the safety of the vehicle, they've always been drivable...i've seen flashing check engine lights meaning multiple cyliner misfires where the car should not be driven due to severe misfires...but it basically *couldn't* be driven anyway.

*that being said* - like he just said no one wants to say you're fine and then you're stuck with a $5,000 engine replacement....we know nothing about the car, history, condition, drivability, code, etc.

Advance Auto parts, Autozone, and tons of other national chains read codes for free, if you have 220 miles to go then it's likely you'll pass something of the sort....and it appears you have internet to search for the closest one. check engine light is set and it's telling you the problem, i would just go get it.

My suggestion is go get the code read.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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^^ Dito. If its starting, running, shifting, then go with it while listening for anything odd. When you get the chance, post the codes.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
So far, so good. I haven't had a chance to check for the code, but it's still going smoothly. I have noticed there's a lower-rumble when my RPMs drop below 2.5 in 5th gear - originating from the catalytic converter/exhaust area (centre back, from my ear's perspective).

I should know by tomorrow what the code is, and I'll post it then.
 

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lower rumble.....probably a slight exhaust leak...P0420 code.

or it's a cylinder misfire causing little engine vibration which are shaking heat shields.

if it's the P0420 code be sure to get some tips here, it's a debacle.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Okay, so the code is: P0440. I know it doesn't cause any operational problems (in the short term). So... now what? I reset the code and it hasn't come back on right away, so that's a good start...
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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It's a general EVAP code. If there were no other codes, the gas cap was either a little loose or its time for a new one.

The EVAP monitor takes 2 drive cycles to complete and 2 to report most failures.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It's a general EVAP code. If there were no other codes, the gas cap was either a little loose or its time for a new one.

The EVAP monitor takes 2 drive cycles to complete and 2 to report most failures.
I have noticed since I got the car the gas cap is needlessly difficult to tighten after filling up; it cross-threads very easily and never seems able to tighten to the "click".
 
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