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Not exactly an Outback, but "close enough" for a replacement...need a bit of help plz

Finally found a replacement for the LegoWag'n on Thursday from a dealer in Philly, drove her home and had today to dive into it (general maintenance, minor repairs, oil change, etc). All said and done, $2050 out the door.

Its a 97 Legacy GT full size wagon. Automatic, fully optioned with 169k miles on it (150 of which are mine). Has a minor exhaust leak (factory welds on rear of mid pipe hanger rusted out), weatherband radio/power antenna are inop, etc. Typical wear and tear. Overall a well taken care of car, but its showing its age in dents and dings.

So, heres the problem: Seafomed the car, took it for a 20 mile drive. Came home and changed the oil, replaced the upper rad hose, and took her for a drive. I now have a tapping/scraping sound coming from the left front when the car shifts, and at cold start. Timing/pump/HG's have all been replaced. My question for you guys is, :wtf: did I do? Only thing I did was change oil, which I've done hundreds (if not thousands) of times in the past. Pop drain plug, unscrew filter, replace plug gasket, reassemble and fill. Also seems to be lacking power, almost like an intermittent miss. From a standing start it feels like the car builds more and more power slowly as I drive along, and I can feel the engine bucking a small bit. When it shifts, it almost sounds like something rubbing on the tire for 2-3 seconds (max), or like a rattling/scraping heat/dust shield. My question for you guys is, do you have any suggestions as to where I should start looking? I can't tell if its coming from the trans or somewhere else. Reason stands that I have multiple issues to address (the possible misfire, as well as this noise). The car has new NGK plug wires (and from what I am to understand, new plugs). I did have a CEL come on yesterday while driving (just past the 120 mile mark on trip meter), P0130 for front O2 sensor but cleared it and was trouble free. I do have a CEL on now that I need to read and clear, but I am positive its related to the fact that I pulled the brake booster vacuum when I seafoamed the car.

My possible list of items to check (correct me if I'm wrong or feel free to add to the list):

Bad ground wires
Fouled/worn/incorrectly gapped plugs (former 2 unlikely, latter possible....and FFS I hope its not this, getting to these plugs sucks donkey dung)
Bad crank sensor (pulley? I hear a lot of talk about "check your crank" on subarus)
Incorrect timing

(Mods, feel free to move this to the appropriate forum if I have mis-posted and accept my apologies. Not entirely certain where this thread would fit in. Oh, and the cake is a lie! Why must you temp me so, Admin :D :p )


48 Posts
Could it be a loose heat shield in combination with bad wires, plugs, or distributor (or whatever subaru used that year)?

I'd read the code and then start simple.

1,401 Posts
if the t-belt tensioner was not replaced it could be causing some trouble.

if you plan on keeping and driving this car long term, replace the plugs and wires. NGK plugs, and subaru wires, or a very HIGH quality alternative. cheap wires will / can cause misfires right out of the box.

NGK plugs come pre-gapped.

the knock sensor can cause a loss of power when it gets old, you can get one on ebay delivered for ~$15. they work great.

with the engine idling, watch the crank pulley. if it has any wobble, it could indicate a lose, warn, crank key and this could cause the timing to be off a bit.

i would check the timing. 3 screws each side for the cam timing covers. rotate the crank by hand to line up all the cam marks. (hash marks, NOT the ARROWS, NEVER the ARROWS.) if any do not line up you found it. if all line up then i would check the crank position.

this is a litle more work. you will have to remove the crank pulley bolt and then rotate the crank until the key way is straight down in the 6 oclock position. (you can do this with out removing the pulley or the timing cover. locate the key way and mark the pulley. reinstall the bolt and torque it ot 135 ft lbs.) if th crank and cam timing is correct the problem is elsewhere.

you can buy a mechanics stethoscope for $4 at harbor freight or ~$10 at the parts store to help listen to and locate the noise maker.

in theory, an owner, seller, shop, dealer can replace the timing belt and say so, but not touch any of the idlers, water pump or the tensioner. they are telling the truth, they did replace the timing belt. but they may not have a complete timing betl job.
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