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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello everyone, this is my first post on your forums. I have been browsing through these forums for the last couple of days as I am now a proud first-time owner of a Subaru Outback. A little backstory; I bought this car with a friend, we are both students living in Montreal and we just wanted some additional mobility to go camping and whatever. The car is a 1998 ob, it is fully loaded so I guess its just the fanciest one they made at the time. It has 373,000km! I bought it 5 days ago off a used car lot. The guy told me it had been sitting for about 3 months.

Ok so the technical stuff.
-The (a-t oil) light flashes while the car is turning on but turns off when the car is driving
-the Check Engine light is always on
We put about 100km on it in the 5 days since purchasing. Today we checked the oil and couldn't get a reading off the dipstick, this was alarming, we topped it up with 3 litres of 5w30. We then started smelling burning oil whenever stopped in traffic, also alarming. I think it is leaking out of the oil-pan plug and getting splashed onto the exhaust.

A little later, during the same drive, two dashboard lights came on at the same time. The (!) indicator and the (Battery) indicator. We didn't notice any change in performance so we kept going and were able to turn the car off and then on again but when I finally got home I parked and turned the car off and then tried to turn it on again

HERE IS THE PECULIAR PART

So the car would not turn back on, the starter didn't even try. No clicking sound. All the lights still worked as with the power locks and windows but the radio wouldn't turn on. I tried again 4 hours later and this time the engine cranked several times but wouldn't start. The power accessories became very sluggish and the lights became dimmer.
This is where I am now.
fyi, I am pretty sure the battery is good because it still had the right time on the clock after sitting on the car lot for 3 months and needed a boost to get started the first time.

Any thoughts?
 

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The flashing AT Oil Temp light is indicating that the transmission control module on-board diagnostics has found a fault.

The CEL on could be related to the transmission problem, or it could be for yet another problem, perhaps related to the engine.

The engine oil dipstick is notorious for being difficult to read -- there's lots of posts here about it and suggestions on how to get a reasonably good reading.

The oil leak could be from the pan oil drain plug, from the valve cover gaskets, from the "separator" plate at the back of the engine, from various seals etc. If you're losing a lot, especially something like 3 litres in a few hundred kms, find out where it's leaking because you could lose the engine if it's driven with too little oil.

The (!) and BATT lights coming on at the same time usually mean the alternator has stopped working. You were able to continue driving for a while on the battery, but there wasn't enough left in the battery to restart the car.

Sounds as if the car will need a fair amount of work to get it into some sort of reliable condition. Do some reading of the threads using the Search function to narrow down the information on individual symptoms. There's a lot of information already available here, and we'll all try to fill in any gaps in response to your questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks plain OM,

I took the battery to a parts store and they said the negative cell was dead and the battery needed to be replaced. I hope this means that the alternator is ok though I know that a bad alternator can be the cause for a bad battery.
I couldn't see any oil on the dipstick today which leads me to believe that my dipstick is not getting an accurate reading. Another thing to troubleshoot..
 

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Not much point installing a new battery without checking the alternator and the wiring, both of which can lead to a dead battery. (By the way, there's no "negative cell" that I'm aware of; not sure what they meant other than perhaps the battery was dead.)

If I'm reading the thread correctly, it was only two days ago that the oil was topped up because there was no indication on the dipstick; now it's back to the same thing. Sounds as if there's a really large leak. You won't get very far, especially if you want to go camping etc, with that type of loss, on top of the other issues the car apparently has.

From the sounds of it, there might well be other problems, especially on a car with that many kms; for example, suspension, steering, brakes, tires, etc. it might be an idea to have a mechanic assess what needs to be done to get the car into reasonable, and safe, operating condition.
 

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It might be an idea to have a mechanic assess what needs to be done to get the car into reasonable, and safe, operating condition.
Very good advice!

No offence but, if you could not see all these problems before the purchase it's time to admit you could use some help and get professional advice. Car inspections usually run $150 (US) or so. Once you have a real list you could probably do a lot of the work yourself. If you don't get some eyes on help you'll find yourself throwing more money at the car than you have and not getting a better car.

Next time I advise getting the car checked out before you buy. Of course sometimes the price is right so you take it and worry about issues later.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yeah you guys are right, I am researching now for a mechanic who can at least give it a thorough inspection so that at least I have a list of things that I can choose to do myself or let the mechanic do. For a Quebec car is has an amazingly small amount of rust and it was very cheap so we took the risk without getting an inspection. Now I am going to have it inspected anyway so its a bit of a lesson to me, get it inspected first! I am pretty handy with fixing things but yeah, as for diagnosing I find that I am scratching my head more then anything.
 
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