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*NEWBIE AND ESSAY DISCLAIMER*

Well to start off I’ll explain my various situations I’ve found myself in for the last year...

I was the owner of a 2001 Volvo v40 1.T, a car purchased for $3200 on Craigslist from my grandpa for my 16th birthday. After about a year and a half I found the car not really fitting to my outdoorsy lifestyle, so I started doing research on cars, which I grew up with no knowledge about besides if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I wanted a car that was good in snow but still good as a commuter. My friend owns a wrx and he told me to look into Subaru and I found myself in love. I sold my car and saved up extra money to buy a 2004 forester XT Auto with 132xxx on the odo for $7000 from a small used car bad credit dealership in Burbank CA. On the 4 hour drive through traffic I fell in love, especially with the feel of a turbo in a practical wagon. Months later a long story short I found myself broken down on the side of the 395 in the desert of California, after a long day and a minor repair, we took of back to my mechanic. He specializes in subies, and basically after a whole 3 days with it he had terrible news. Me and my family both being clueless about cars we didn’t notice the engine was somehow swapped with a 2.0L JDM EJ with only about 30,000 left til it’s death. Many Tears and feels of anger later the dealer was super understanding and took it back full money refund.

Traumatized I went on the hunt for a new subie, straying away from anything even remotely modded. I found myself looking at the outback model. I loved the idea of a quirky weird wagon suv thing with awd, but the power was too low on any base models and the turbo ones had all been devastated by previous owners. After all this, I discovered the flat 6 variant of the Outback. The research proved that everything wrong with a 4 Cyl Outback was fixed and upgraded for the 6 Cyl (head gaskets mostly... also I mean it’s a poor mans porche right?).

Anyway I found a great looking 2008 Outback 3.0R L.L. Bean with only 69,xxx on the odo. My parents went and looked at while I was at work and they said that it was great. Me just being in a rush and wanting to have a car again said, okay go ahead and get it. It was at a much greater price than I origainally wanted but I saw the promise in it.

Skip forward 4 months and what??? A f***ing destroyed transmission? How?? .... yep. Always thought that pound sound when it shifted was odd, evenly though my parents said the dealer said it was supposed to sound that way... facepalm....
So incredibly over all this maintenance i threw $2000 out for it( on top of $2000 from warranty) without a lick of understanding from the dealership. I found past records and everything of a undisclosed past problem with the transmission, and he said I forged the documents.

*SKIP HERE FOR IMPORTANT STUFF*

Anyways I have a brand new shiny tranny with only 73,000 on the odo and a whole new understanding of cars than ever before. But still a few things make me feel uneasy about the car ...

I get about 15 mpg avg ( I do live in Southern California and it is summer )
But I still feel that this is significantly lower than most, and with premium and California taxes I’m chopping a new limb off every week.

A slight wobble at low rpm and speed, at about 5~20 mph a slight wobble occurs and occasionally a slight grind sound with low throttle input.

Rust on exhaust and CV axles, the exhaust is worse than the CV axles but it all scares me.

It sounds like a coin in a laundry machine after my car is turned off from underneath my car.

And my tires are terrible $80 tiger paw Walmart all seasons.

My car whines a lot, with engine rev noise and while turning. When my steering wheel is full lock it makes a sound that also scares me.

And gosh dang that throttle feels odd sometimes, was looking into a throttle controller but didn’t know if it was worth it.

Anyways sorry for the essay but any advice and/or things to know would be greatly appreciated ?

I freaking love the car though and I will do whatever it takes to save it, it’s perfect for me.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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6,759 Posts
Welcome, and sorry for all the troubles you've had so far.

Addressing a few of the issues you raised:

- 15 MPG in start/stop city driving is pretty normal. If these are most of your miles driven, then you'll probably have to accept this. If it's not up in the mid-20s on he highway, you might look into this.

- The rust is pretty normal and probably nothing to worry about, unless it's structural on the body. Perhaps the car lived in a different part of he country for a while.

- Not sure what a "coin in a laundry machine" sound is about - you'll probably have to provide us a better description - like where does it seem to come from, is it every time you shut it off, etc.

- If tires have reasonable tread left on them, you can put off doing anything about them right now. Save for the other issues that are more important.

- Whining a lot needs better description - is it tied to engine rpm, car speed, turning left / right?

- Steering wheel held at full lock always makes sounds; if you have fluid and it looks normal, I wouldn't worry.

And finally - please fill out your profile; it helps all of us!
 

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2005 3.0R
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228 Posts
I get about 15 mpg avg.
As mentioned above, stop-and-go traffic will drink fuel like gatorade. You should do much better on the highway.


A slight wobble at low rpm and speed, at about 5~20 mph a slight wobble occurs and occasionally a slight grind sound with low throttle input.
Is it a steering wobble or a whole-car shake/wobble? Could be the driveshaft carrier. There's a rubbery gasket that holds the bearing in the cradle. The material degrades over time and can allow excessive movement at low speed. I had a similar issue, but in my case it was exacerbated by the carrier being knocked about 30 degreees, probably from plowing through a snowbank.


My car whines a lot, with engine rev noise and while turning. When my steering wheel is full lock it makes a sound that also scares me.
Sounds like power steering to me. I'd check (or just go ahead and replace... it's a $2 item) the o-ring on the pump and the hose between the pump and reservoir.

tires are terrible $80 tiger paw Walmart all seasons.
Tires are tires. Not much you can do about that, other than replace them. Just make sure they all match and inflated properly.

That said, if you've got a relationship with a Subaru specialist, get them to go over some of your concerns. They probably have experience with most of these issues and can actually clap eyes on it. ;-)
 

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Premium Member
03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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17,839 Posts
when you know your budget for tires, go to Discount Tire and have a discussion. Great customer service and they can tell you what tires in your porice range are popular on soobs in your area - maybe with some alteration if you have special needs (off-road, dedicated highway cruiser, etc.) Tires on your car MUST be identical, not just same size - same brand/model as well - check the manual when using a 'donut' spare for special instructions.

I agree on power steering - 90% chance an o-ring will fix it. If accessory belt is cracked/glazed, you might change that too.


If you aren't able to DIY much, in a new thread, post your city asking for a shop recommendation - someone may know of a good independent shop nearby that are subaru-friendly.
 

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2005 Outback R LL Bean 3.0 H6 w/ 5 speed sport shift
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596 Posts
OK, so take a deep breath and prepare for the pains of new ownership of a used Subie!

So, you have a good engine that's not going to blow the turbo shrapnel through the engine and you have a relatively new transmission (I'm assuming it's a 5 speed sportshift).

That pretty much covers the big ticket items!

Now, you need a priority list.

As the other posters have said, first place to look for the whine is your power steering pump. Do a search on here for bleeding or air in the system of the power steering pump and you'll find detailed instructions on how to go about this cheap and easy repair.

Vibrations can originate from a variety of locations and you'll have to rule out those areas one at a time. First thing to look at are your axles - are the ends painted green? OEM axles came with green paint on the ends and those are what you want. Aftermarket axles can be a problem.

The transmission mount is another problem area and they seem prone to break causing a shudder or vibration.

Drive shaft is another potential vibration problem. You can't really tell if the u-joints are bad until you drop the driveshaft then rotate it and check for a notchy feel in the joint. Also, you can check the carrier bearing. If you suspect you have a problem, look around for a driveline shop that is known for rebuilding Subaru driveshafts. Otherwise, you'll have to purchase an entire aftermarket and those come with some issues.

Select the sportshift option and see if anything changes with sound and vibration. That causes a different shift mapping and may give you some information to come back here with so members might be able to point you in the right direction.

Lastly, read, read, read on this forum and you'll learn so much! As many will agree, you need to become a fairly proficient mechanic or at least have to know the "speak" if you are going to take care of this car yourself...otherwise, you'd better get a second job!
 
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