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Hi,
The engine light just came on in my 2002 Outback with about 64k miles. I just had the 60k service done at 63k a few weeks ago. I've put on about 600-800 miles since that service. Has anyone else had this problem with their Outback? It looks like I am going to have to take it back to the dealer, which is really irritating.

I read a few threads about wet weather causing this in a 1997 model. I did just run it through a car wash on Tuesday and am wondering if somehow this could have got something wet that could have caused this. However it didn't come on right after the car wash, it came on today (Thursday). We've had some snow from the weekend, it has been cold ~20/30 degrees and I do park the car outside.

TIA!
 

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I called the dealer and they think that maybe it has to do with emissions because the car is driving fine.

I also found this thread via google - http://experts.about.com/q/831/3144894.htm.

Is this a common problem? Does anyone know what it should cost to fix the emissions? I bought the car in California and I know they have higher standards than Pennsylvania.
 

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I would reccomend you go to a local AUTOZONE auto parts store, or a local independent auto repair facility. They will be able to pull the "error code" from the computer. Please post up the code here. Both sources should also be able to tell you what the error code means.

"emissions" isn't a very descriptive error. That could be pointing to an exhaust leak, a bad oxygen sensor, or a clogged/bad catalytic converter. You need to know specifically WHAT the error code was, so we can determine the cause/problem.

Assuming the problem is an exhaust leak, a new exhaust component and new exhaust gaskets (if applicable) should solve the problem. If you cannot afford 'new' parts from subaru, check your FLAPS (Friendly Local Auto Parts Store) for non oem replacement parts. As a last, and cheapest resort, check your local junkyards.

Assuming the problem is a bad Oxygen sensor, Dealership replacements tend to be about $150-$200. again, check your FLAPS and online. You should be able to buy one for between $50 and $100 (much cheaper than the dealer). You will need to know WHICH oxygen sensor is bad on cars with multiple oxygen sensors. The front sensors are usually different than rear sensors, don't assume one will work in place of the other. As an absolute LAST RESORT, you can try a used 02 sensor from a junkyard, but I personally do not reccomend them. O2 sensors are critical, always go new.

Assuming the problem is a bad catalytic converter, like the link that you provided, Subaru should fix it at no charge. US Federal emissions law mandates that all cars have a 7 year 70,000 mile emissions warranty. You are under both figures, so Subaru should replace it at no cost to you. As stupid as it sounds, rust and o2 sensors are NOT covered, only cracks in pipes/flanges, and cat converters).

Since you just had your 60K service done, you could try to ding the dealer for not noticing a crack in the exhaust or a severe rust spot about to let go. They should have noticed that. They might give you a break on part cost or labor if you only want to go to the dealer. If the problem is 02 sensor or cat converter, there really is no way that the dealer could have forseen the failure, so it's not really their fault for not catching it.
 

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I called my local repair shop where I usually get the oil changed and they said they can check it for $25. I scheduled it for tomorrow afternoon, so I'll post the results.

Thanks, it was really helpful!
 

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Autozone, Advance, and many other National parts stores will pull the code for free--don't let yourself pay for that service when some do it for free. Then you will more than likely know what the CEL is, and if it is needed to be looked at if it comes on again so you don't panic. Brian
 

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It is the front oxygen sensor that caused the error. He said it came up 3 times. I think I overheard him say error code 245, but I could be wrong.

They are ordering the part from subaru for $89. I looked at some other sites and found the cheapest for $85, so I just let them order it.

btw, I wish I lived close to an AutoZone, unfortunately I live about 30 or so miles from the closest one.

Should I have the rear oxygen sensor replaced as well or wait for that to go?

Thanks again!
 

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Wait on the rear one. The rear one only senses temps and tells the computer if the catalyst is doing it's job. As far as I know. Brian
 

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The rear o2 sensor takes readings just like the front. The ECU then compares the 2 readings, and looks for a "difference" between the 2. If there is no difference between the 2, or if the differences don't occur fast enough, or to a big enough "scale"...the ECU will throw another code.

Since the only code recorded was front 02 sensor, the rear must be operating properly (i.e...there was always a "difference" betwen the front and rear sensors).
 

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wonder413 said:
I think I overheard him say error code 245, but I could be wrong.
That code came up as this under the generic codes:
P0245 Turbocharger Wastegate Solenoid A Low

Always ask to see what code was tripped, or to have him print it out. Always verify what they are doing to your car matches the code to avoid any unnecessary work. You have to keep those guys honest. Sometimes the gas cap not being on tight can throw a code. Investing in your own code scanner is one of the best investments you can make. Also this site is pretty good for looking up your own codes:
http://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/subaru/index.php
 

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Doh! They did put the code on my quote, it is P0130. O2 sensor bad bank 1 sensor 1.

Thanks for the resource for looking up codes. I was wondering if there was a site that provided that information.
 

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the "check engine" light came on my 2002 outback wagon. paid the dealer $110 to tell me there is nothing wrong with the car and that the sensor probably got wet from snow! NOT a happy camper!
 

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ouch!! who is your dealer? that seems like a lot for them just checking out the problem.

i have to say it seems our gas mileage has improved with the new oxygen sensor. it is almost back to 400 miles per tank :)
 

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When it comes to the CEL, I suggest to anyone near an auto parts store to go get it checked for free. Autozone, Advance, Pep Boys....Most of the larger national chains do the scan for free and can give you the printout. It really helps a bunch. Brian
 

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Brian

Which auto parts store do you recommend in the area? I live in Papillion. Have a CEL on, probably emissions as the car runs just fine.

David
 

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Hi David. Right across the street from my house (Bellevue) is a brand new Advance Auto. They are very nice there and will give you the printout of the CEL code. They will also reset it for you if you tell them, that way it may or may not come on and stay on again. Sometimes the problem goes away.

So take 370 to Bellevue and it is right on Harlan (370) in front of No-Frills (old K-Mart). That is right across from my house. About a quarter mile before Galvin Road.

Oh, and they take used oil, too. Brian
 
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