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2001 H6 OBW
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, my last car that I had for about 6 years now is 2001 Oldsmobile Alero. My wife and I purchased a 2000 Subaru Outback H6 with more miles on it than our previous car. Now, I am purchasing an EVEN OLDER Subaru Outback from my in-laws. It's a 1996 Subaru Outback Legacy (2.5L). It relatively low millage for the age of the car. This makes me a little weary but it could also be a good thing at the same time. Does anyone know of any common issues with this year and model? :confused:

One quick note: I just looked at the timing belt (behind a plastic cover!?!?) and it looked surprisingly good. There are brand new tires on it, breaks have been changed recently. I plan on hooking up my OBDII reader as soon as I get the battery charged.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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headgaskets are a huge issue on that motor, they fail all the time. sypmtoms are bubbling in overflow tank and completely random overheating. folks are always surprised with this motor, how random it will overheat, but that's actually very common. compression, leak down, and oil/coolant mixing are worthless tests and mean nothing on that motor.

you'll want to verify the age of the belt, if it's old it needs replaced. actually the timing belt pulleys and tensioner need replaced to be considered a reliable daily driver in my opinion. a new belt is completely worthless on what are approaching 20 year pulleys. the pulleys are all old as dirt and devoid of grease by now. being a 96 it probably has the old style tensioner which is a good thing, they are much more reliable.

it's an interference engine so if the timing belt breaks or a pulley seizes you will incur bent valves.

ebay timing belt kits are great - they're inexpensive and include all the pulleys you need.

common issues:

knock sensor - you'll get a code and they're cheap and super easy to replace

torque bind - change the ATF and never tow it with two wheels off the ground or drive it with mismatched tires.

P0420 - catalyst efficiency code - just come back and search here for the $5 repair if it ever comes up. completely benign code that doesn't affect performance at all, it can't since that sensor isn't even used by the ECU.

cylinder misfire codes - means the plugs and wires need replaced. OEM NGK plugs and Subaru wires are best. don't get cheap wires for it if you go aftermarket, the cheapies can cause a cylinder misfire out of the box.

oil leaks - valve cover gaskets - very common.

if you do the timing belt - consider resealing the oil pump and tightening the backing plate screws with locktite - a few are always loose. it's easily done once the timing belt is off.

they easily make 250,000 miles if you keep them from overheating (headgaskets) and keep them full of fresh oil. other than the timing belt none of the things mentioned above will leave you stranded....so do the timing belt job thoroughly and these things can make a relatively cheap and reliable 100,000 miles.

i believe around 1996 there was a recall or frequent alternator problem. they're like $65 new from Subaru.
 

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2001 H6 OBW
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey, awesome! Thank you for the detailed reply. This is EXACTLY the information I was looking for. :29: According to "my.subaru.com" there were two recalls for this model. The alternator, as you mentioned, and the front tow hooks were too low. On my.subaru.com it shows that both have been taken care of on this vehicle. Apparently the tow hooks on the bottom of the car were too low and would strike a speed bump (or whatever) which would cause the air bags to go off!

If anyone else has some input, I will take anything you have! I want to know what to do now while the engine is partially taken apart.

Thanks!
 

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2011 Subaru Outack
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I would note that the head gaskets don't "fail all the time". That makes it sound like you'll be replacing yours every few years.

Subarus are generally owned longer than normal cars, and its common for A Subaru to need A head gasket to be replaced sometime after 120K miles. Mine went on my last Suby (02 OB) at 140K. Most people only own cars for 5 years, never even reach 100K miles, and never realize that all cars require this service eventually.
 

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Grossgary pretty much covered it.
Those were the very early 2.5 years the cooling system is pretty fragile and fairly limited so keeping a very close eye on coolant condition - proper OEM thermostat - and any signs that the HG is starting to leak its always ALWAYS cheaper to go in and replace a failing HG before it causes major issues cooked engine- pitted cylinders etc not to mention the cost of a tow if you get caught in a bad spot when the old girl says enough is enough etc.

If the HG's are OK and you stay on top of the oil changes and keeping good quality coolant then you should be OK. All the things about timing belt age - the pulleys and guides - water pump - etc etc still applies its just an old car you need to really watch out for old stuff just being tired, aged and easily just letting go etc. But with most of that stuff handled and known history of the car being cared for no reason it shouldn't be reliable and a nice cheap safe car you can depend on.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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Did the 2.2 have the HG issues as well?
no. the 2.2 was the most reliable and easy to maintain engine Subaru made in recent times....unless we want to talk about the elderly EA81 (no timing belt OR timing chain!) and gutless EJ18 which is just an EJ22 with smaller pistons.

Phase II EJ22's are somewhat more problematic - but they're so rare you're unlikely to get one. They're only found in 1999 Legacy's equipped with EJ22's (the lower end models) and 1999-2001 Impreza's.
 

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2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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Hey, awesome! Thank you for the detailed reply. This is EXACTLY the information I was looking for. :29: According to "my.subaru.com" there were two recalls for this model. The alternator, as you mentioned, and the front tow hooks were too low. On my.subaru.com it shows that both have been taken care of on this vehicle. Apparently the tow hooks on the bottom of the car were too low and would strike a speed bump (or whatever) which would cause the air bags to go off!

If anyone else has some input, I will take anything you have! I want to know what to do now while the engine is partially taken apart.

Thanks!
edit: whoops did not realize I was responding to a old post.

1996 2.5s (the initial year for the US and Canada, these would be called 1995 2.5 in the rest of the world),...also required high octane gas. ....a lady in California that had one said it would ping a bit with lesser grades of gas in it.

by US model year 1997 they had changed things a bit, and made them to take regular 87 octane.
 

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2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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1998 Subaru Legacy Outback 2.5L
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compression, leak down, and oil/coolant mixing are worthless tests and mean nothing on that motor.
How would you differentiate between a blown head gasket and a cracked head on this engine? I have a 1998 Legacy Outback 2.5L that is overheating.
 

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How would you differentiate between a blown head gasket and a cracked head on this engine? I have a 1998 Legacy Outback 2.5L that is overheating.
Easy:

1. It's the headgasket - those are the worst engines Subaru ever made. I mean, they're still decent but just not Subaru's shining star of achievement. They eat headgaskets like middle schoolers eat halloween candy.

2. If you're unsure start another thread or go to a Subaru specialist to diagnose your specific symptoms and issues. Those particular engines have very specific and predictable head gasket failure modes. It's going to be really obvious to a Subaru person what I just told you in #1. It overheats randomly. After starting to overheat - you have hot cabin heat for a minute - which cools down to cold shortly afterwards. Symptoms start out randomly and can be spaced long intervals. These can overheat and then not over heat again for weeks or months. Slowly they're increase in frequency until they're overheating alot. Eventually youll see bubbles in the overflow tank. If the gaskets have already been replaced then failure modes vary a little more.

3. Subaru NA engines rarely crack heads unless it's just beat, abused, and neglected at which point I wouldn't want to keep the engine regardless of what the failure mode was. Most of the "cracked head" comments are simply mis-represented headgasket failures only.

4. Cracked heads can happen - but so can shifted cylinder liners, cracked cylinders, casting flash issues, porous block issues...all extreme outliers with such low probability they are generally only considered on a case by case basis, not universally tested and ruled out in all circumstances.
 
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