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I have a 1999 Legacy Outback, 5-speed, with I believe a 2.2 engine. The car has about 212k miles on it and I recently purchased the car with about 207k. Unbeknownst to me the person who I bought the car from had removed the check engine light, so I have been driving this car around... all the while the check engine light has been on and sometimes flashing. So I replaced the spark plug wires(not NGK), and replaced the plugs themselves. When I took the plugs out, the one in cyl 4 was a completely different type than the other 3, so I have no idea when that one was last changed, if ever... but I also got a new coil pack. After all that, the car is still misfiring so I took the car to a mechanic and they told me the timing of the engine was off and I needed a new belt tensioner. Put it all back together and still the car was getting a misfire. They kept my car for 3 weeks running tests including the leak-down and compression test multiple times. They said they checked everything they could and ultimately returned the car to me stating I needed to replace the engine. Cause being: the engine overheated in the past causing the valves to slightly warp? Well needless to say a whole new engine is pretty expensive and also, how can my car be passing all the tests on the valves and somehow they are warped? Ever since I got the car back it has been misfiring more and more. When sitting in neutral at a stop light often my car will drop RPMs for a second or two and then pick back up. It doesn’t seem to have too much trouble accelerating, but this is my first manual car so it’s hard to tell what is the car and what is me. But she does fine as long as I don’t get too close to 3000+RPMs then the check engine light will start flashing, which I’m told means that the catalytic converter is sustaining damage?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Do I really need a new engine? Is there a way to tell if I have faulty injectors, EGR valve, crankshaft, Cam sensor, etc.. without having to just start shelling out money to replace them? I don’t have many tools and also don’t know much about cars, but if it’s something I can do I will figure it out. I only have this one car though so I’m scared to take it apart and mess something up. Anyways the car keeps going some 5k miles after I got it, she is a trooper, just needs some help. I can’t afford to take it to another mechanic.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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Is it still showing 303 and 304? My first thought with the 303 code is the vacuum hose on that cylinder's port. I'm trying to remember if your model has vacuum actuated cruise control or not. If it does, there's a hose for it on cyl 3 port. There's also the regulator vacuum hose on that side, I believe. With the MAF system, any air leak at a single cylinder will cause a misfire on that cylinder. Valves don't warp. They get bent when they impact a piston and the compression will be low on the cylinder with damaged valves or you'll get a loud popping noise in the intake tube or exhaust when its running. Cylinder 4 has the brake booster vacuum hose port, so same deal. Other than that, look for vacuum leaks, check your battery output and grounds. Ampere flow needs to be really good for all the electrical parts to function proper.

Start there and let us know.
 

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1999 30th Anniversary Legacy Outback DOHC 2.5L 4EAT, 2008 Impreza WRX 2.5L 5MT, 2008 Impreza Wagon 2.5L 4EAT
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Was the new coil an OEM or aftermarket? Should have NGK plugs and NGK or OEM wires. Get a used coil from an auto wrecker or pull and pay yard. If compression tests are good that seems to rule out bad valves. If you have the compression test or leak down test results post them here.
 

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@cardoc et al:

Doesn't the 1999 still have the separate ignitor between the ECM and the coil pack? Like the coil assembly, it's basically two separate circuits, one to trigger the cylinder 1&2 coil, and the other to trigger the cylinder 3&4 coil. Just as a regular misfire in cylinders 3 & 4 can be caused by a bad 3-4 coil, it could also be caused by a failing 3-4 ignitor circuit. Replacing the coil in this case wouldn't resolve the misfires.

Not sure, but I believe the ignitor is mounted either on the firewall or on the right side strut tower.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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14,475 Posts
@cardoc et al:

Doesn't the 1999 still have the separate ignitor between the ECM and the coil pack? Like the coil assembly, it's basically two separate circuits, one to trigger the cylinder 1&2 coil, and the other to trigger the cylinder 3&4 coil. Just as a regular misfire in cylinders 3 & 4 can be caused by a bad 3-4 coil, it could also be caused by a failing 3-4 ignitor circuit. Replacing the coil in this case wouldn't resolve the misfires.

Not sure, but I believe the ignitor is mounted either on the firewall or on the right side strut tower.
Didn't think about the igniter. Here's a pic: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/901866-post5.html
 
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