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Subaru Clutch Replacement

Subaru Clutch

Today’s featured service is Subaru Clutch Replacement performed on a 2005 Subaru Outback 2.5XT, brought to us by a client from Vancouver.

Subaru Clutch

2005 Subaru Outback 2.5 XT

While many makes of cars come almost exclusively equipped with automatic transmissions, a high percentage of Subaru vehicles are sold with manual transmissions. All manual transmissions have clutches, and inevitably clutches wear out and require replacement.

Our featured Subaru arrived by tow truck as the owner could no longer shift the vehicle into any gear. The clutch pedal sat on the floor and would not operate the clutch.

Like all modern vehicles Subarus us a hydraulic system to connect the clutch pedal with the clutch itself. Our first line of inspection was to examine the clutch fluid level: we found the reservoir empty. Further examination found that the clutch hose was leaking.

Replacement of the clutch hose and bleeding the hydraulic system restored operation of the clutch however it revealed other concerns. We were able to put the car into gear but it required a bit of force and occasionally made a grinding noise. Also on the road test we noted that the slightest press on the pedal had the clutch slipping. Clearly the clutch itself was worn out and needed replacement. These concerns had undoubtly been occurring before the clutch hose failed and caused the clutch to be completely inoperative.

Subaru clutch replacement is a fairly straight forward operation however it can be more complex than other vehicles due to the additional all wheel drive components. We have done many Subaru clutches but found something unique with this model and that was the use of a dual mass flywheel. The Outback 2.5XT features a high performance turbocharged engine. Though a dual mass flywheel doesn’t make a clutch any stronger the manufacturer must have felt compelled to use this system for other reasons. Usually this system is used to smooth out vibrations in the drive train and permit easier shifting.

Replacement of a dual mass flywheel clutch can and usually does add significant costs because the flywheel is a wearable part. On solid flywheel equipped vehicles the flywheel is normally ground smooth as part of the service. Because a dual mass flywheel contains 2 separate parts, attached by a bearing and springs it cannot be ground and even if it could be, there is a strong likelihood that the moving parts are weak or worn out.

Subaru Clutch

Old dual mass flywheel

When servicing vehicles with dual mass flywheels there are several repair options: 1) replace the flywheel with a new dual mass flywheel, 2) replace the flywheel and clutch with a solid flywheel conversion kit, 3) if the flywheel looks good just leave it. Generally costs for repairs are in ascending order. Dual mass flywheels usually cost between $1000 to $2000 dollars and you have to replace the other clutch parts: pressure plate, disc and release bearing for additional cost. The conversion kits are reasonably priced and include all new parts including a solid flywheel. Leaving the flywheel is the lowest cost option however there is a big risk that if the flywheel fails down the road that it will require the whole job to be redone.

Subaru Clutch

New singe mass flywheel installed

On our featured Subaru 2.5XT we opted to use the conversion kit. This ensures that the clutch will operate perfectly and leaves nothing to fail at a later date. When the clutch next wears out replacement is significantly less expensive.

There are reasons why dual mass flywheels are used however we have installed many of these conversions on a variety of vehicles from Dodge diesel trucks to other Japanese and European cars and they always shift smoothly and accurately. The dual mass system is never missed.

Subaru Clutch

Clutch assembly installed and ready for transmission installation. This view shows the pressure plate bolted onto the flywheel, the clutch disc sits in between.

For more about dual mass flywheels click here  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_mass_flywheel

For more about the Subaru Outback click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subaru_Outback

Subaru Oil Leaks – Diagnosis & Repair

Subaru Forester

Our featured service today is an oil leak repair on a 1999 Subaru Forester, brought to us by a client from Fairview, Vancouver.

Subaru Forester

1999 Subaru Forester

Subaru’s are great cars: very reliable, durable and practical. Like all cars they have repairs that are needed from time to time and on Subarus oil leaks are a common concern. While head gaskets are the most infamous, and expensive leak, this post features a less common one: the engine oil separator plate.

The oil separator plate is located at the back of the engine and requires removal of the transmission and flywheel to access. The part is inexpensive but the labour cost is high. If the vehicle is equipped with a standard transmission repairing this leak offers a good opportunity to inspect the clutch and replace it if required.

Subaru Forester

Rear of engine with clutch and flywheel removed exposing the oil separator plate. The red arrow points to the crack in the plastic plate which is visible just below the screw.

What function does the oil separator plate perform? It is part of the crankcase breather system and prevents engine oil from being sucked into the PCV valve and burned by the engine. The engine crankcase consists of the engine block plus the crankshaft, pistons and connecting rods: all major moving components of the internal combustion engine. During the combustion process a small amount of gases escape past the piston rings and valve seals into the crankcase: the breather system deals with these gases. In the ‘good old days' several decades ago engines had a road draft tube and these highly noxious crankcase gases would escape to the environment. The PCV system was the first major engine emission control device, developed to contain the blowby gases in the engine and reburn them instead of polluting the air.

On our featured Subaru the oil separator plate had cracked and caused a very large engine oil leak. The original plates were made of plastic and have been superseded by a metal plate that will last forever.

Subaru Forester

New oil separator plate installed. The rear crankshaft oil seal was also replaced at this service

Is this a common leak on Subaru’s? Not very. We replace head gaskets, valve cover gaskets, front engine oil seals and oil pan gaskets at a far higher rate. As a preventative maintenance service it is a good idea to replace the original plastic oil separator plate with the upgraded metal unit when your clutch is replaced. This oil separator system is used on many Subaru engines from 1993 to 2011.

How would you know if the oil separator plate is the cause of your Subaru’s oil leak? Only by performing an oil leak diagnosis. This leak can be tricky to see because it comes out the back of the engine right above the oil pan and is hidden by tin shielding at the bottom of the engine. The diagnosis involves removing the shield and viewing the leak is best done with a borescope inspection camera.

For more information about Subaru Foresters click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subaru_Forester

For more information about crankcase ventilation systems click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crankcase_ventilation_system

2006 Subaru Outback – Control Arm Bushings

Subaru Outback

This week’s featured service is control arm bushing replacement performed on a 2006 Subaru Outback.

Subaru Outback

2006 Subaru Outback

Control arm bushing replacement is becoming a frequent service at our shop. The increased wear seems to center around the design of the bushing which has changed over the past 10 or 15 years.

A bushing, in case you were wondering, is a flexible coupler. They are used in many areas of the automobile and are always found in the suspension system. A control arm bushing connects the control arm to the vehicle frame. Depending on the design of the control arm there can be up to 2 bushings. The other end of the control arm connects to the wheel hub, essentially the area where the wheel bolts on.

Subaru Outback

Control arm (red arrow), New control arm bushing (yellow arrow)

There are many different shapes and designs of bushings but all of them have the same basic components: an outer metal sleeve and an inner metal sleeve coupled together by a piece of rubber. The rubber is designed to flex and twist which is essential for proper suspension operation.

Subaru Outback

Old control arm bushing. The blue arrow points to a large crack in the rubber.

As you might guess the flexing rubber can only happen for so long before it breaks, and that is exactly why these bushing need replacement.

As I eluded to earlier there have been design changes in bushings and some of these are more susceptible to wear. The high wearing bushings are generally vertically installed and feature a rubber section that has some air gaps. My guess as to why this design is used is to allow more flexibility in the suspension.

Looking at our featured Subaru Outback this model year has this vertical bushing on the rear of the control arm and seems to wear out by around 100,000 kilometers. The previous generations of Outbacks used a different bushing design that is much more robust. I own a 2001 Outback with well over 200,000 kilometers and control arm bushings are still solid. It is unfortunate to see this very reliable design being replaced by something less reliable; though I guess I shouldn’t complain because it does benefit our business.

Subaru Outback

New bushing installed in control arm and onto vehicle

How would you know that your control arm bushings are worn? When they are badly worn you will hear clunks and creaks when you go over bumps. We recently serviced a Nissan Murano that had a very distinct clunk and pulling when the brakes were applied. Ideally it is best to replace them before this point. Routine inspections and service are the best way to find worn bushings. The good news is that these parts will not fail to the point of your wheel falling or breaking off, unless they are worn and clunking for years, which would probably be intolerable.

For more about the Subaru Outback click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subaru_Outback

For more about bushings click here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushing_%28isolator%29

Subaru Head Gasket Repairs

https://pawlikautomotive.com Bernie Pawlik of award winning Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC is talking us through a Suburu Head Gasket repair, and why this is something most Suburu owners will encounter. Pawlik Automotive has been 14 times voted as best auto repair shop in Vancouver, BC.

Mark: Good Morning. It’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. They’re 14 time winners of Best Auto Repair Shop in Vancouver. How’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: Doing really well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about Subaru head gasket repairs, so all over to you.

Bernie: Awesome. Well Subaru head gaskets are something we do quite a lot of at Pawlik Automotive and if you own a Subaru with the 2.5 liter four cylinder engine which most cars come with you’ll probably have to deal with the head gasket at some point in your time of owning the car so let’s have a look at a few things. I’ll explain why, where the head gaskets leak from and a few different issues about the head gasket and you can kind of get more of a sense of what goes on with these cars.
So the first thing I’m going to do is share an image, when it comes up, let me know when you see it Mark.

Mark: There it is.

Bernie: Are we there, perfect, good. So that’s a top view of a Subaru engine around a 2000, 2000 model year Forester, 2.5 litre engine. That’s the top view of the intake manifold that runs across the top those nice bright blue things are your spark plug wires, the alternator sits in the front, it’s the wire to the alternator’s got the nice red, bright red cap on it, so that’s basically the top of the engine. Now the head gaskets are down lower, kind of where those blue wires they kind of lead off the side, those go towards the cylinder heads. So what happens typically with Subaru cylinder heads, can you see that image Mark?

Mark: I can see it now

Bernie: Perfect. So this is the underside of the engine kind of a close up view of where the cylinder head gasket meets the engine, so the bright blue arrow that actually points right to where the cylinder head gasket is located and to the right of that is the cylinder head itself. Now the red arrow points to an oil leak and that’s typically what happens with Subaru head gaskets, they leak oil. Sometimes they’ll leak coolant as well and the cylinder head gasket is a very complex gasket, it seals the combustion pressures of the engine. It also seals oil and it seals coolant so there’s a lot going on and there’s an extremely high temperature so it works, the head gasket works really hard. Anyway so the red arrow, that’s the most important thing to look at, that’s where, that’s an oil leak coming out of the cylinder head gasket. You know, typically they can start off very slowly and not much to worry about but after a while they can become quite severe to the point of dripping a lot of oil on the ground.

So moving onto our next image, this is the actual cylinder head gasket removed from an engine that had a leak. The few arrows there point to various things; the red arrows all point to where the cylinder head bolt holes go, the very large holes in the middle, that’s where the pistons basically sit in the valves, that’s the combustion chamber of the engine. The green arrows point to coolant passageways so antifreeze flows through those while the engine’s running and that helps keep your engine cool and from overheating and I only pointed a couple of those passageways out and then the blue arrows point to usually where the problems with the head gaskets lie and if you look on the left side you can see all that black materials basically flaked off. The way cylinders Subaru head gaskets are made its typically a metal gasket and then they have some type of, I wouldn’t say it’s rubberized but it’s a type of coating and the coating through the heat and the cooling process it did, basically deteriorates after time and that’s when it starts to leak oil so typically those large passageways on the bottom will leak oil and that’s basically just the oil returning back to the bottom of the engine, it’s not under any pressure but its, you know it leaks over time. So that’s your head gasket that you’ll probably experience if you own a Subaru at some point. That’s kind of what it looks like when it’s old and taken apart. Just a view, this is what the cylinder head itself looks like from the inside of the engine. This particular engine had pretty high mileage and we actually had the valves redone on the cylinder head because it had, there’s a lot if you look on the left side, those are the valves and the combustion chamber, you can see a lot of blackish thick deposit and if you compare that to what you see on the right hand side there’s a lot of oil getting into that particular cylinder so we had the heads, the valves reground on this particular head and everything cleaned up.

Normally we don’t need to do that, there’s a variety of things that need to be done on Subaru head gaskets, sometimes it’s just a simple matter of changing the gaskets, the head bolts and it’s done, other times the work is a little bit more thorough.

Okay, so moving on, so that’s the cylinder head, just another example the items on the top, the two round pieces on the top, those are the exhaust valves and then the larger ones below are the intake valves and the round thing in the middle, that’s your spark plug. The head gasket goes around, sits if you can imagine from the last picture and I’ll click it on again so can kind of have an idea, that’s the head gasket, that’s the cylinder head. You can see there’s a correlation between holes and that’s how it all works.

Just another view of the top of the Subaru engine, this is with the intake manifold off and this is a job where we had the new head gaskets in, we’re putting it back together so the red arrows point to where the intake manifold bolts on and the actual red arrow actually points to the cylinder heads themselves. The blue arrows point to the timing belt cover and that’s a picture we’ll go into in a second. I just also want to reference that the green arrow which points to the, that’s a coolant pipe which, engine coolant flows through that pipe to the engine block. There are a couple seals in there, we always replace them, they rarely leak but while we’re doing the head gaskets its’ a simple extra jobs so those are some of things we do when we’re in doing a cylinder head gasket job to make sure it’s thorough; six dollars for some gaskets and a couple minutes of labour so it’s well worth doing while everything’s apart.

So the other big component on the Subaru and they can be an expensive maintenance item is the timing belt. These generally last about a hundred sixty thousand kilometers, you can probably push them a little longer, I wouldn’t recommend it because if it breaks pistons and valves collide and it costs a lot of money to fix. So it’s best to do it at a hundred sixty thousand kilometers interval. These, I basically show all the components we normally change when we do the timing belt. The blue arrows point idler pulley, so the timing belt runs along these pulleys and there are bearings inside the pulleys so we always change them because they’re worn, you never know when they’re going to fail and it’s best to make sure they’re all new. The green arrow points to the hydraulic tensioning unit, now it also has a pulley that can wear but it has an oil filled high pressure tensioning unit and it’s critical that keeps proper pressure on the timing belt. The light blue arrow points to the water pump. Again we replace these when we do the timing belt because A. it’s driven by the timing belt and if the bearing were to fail then it would damage the timing belt and cause the whole thing to break apart plus the water pump can leak so it’s best to change it when the timing belt is due and the last black arrow points to I’m not sure if that’s a crank shaft or cam shaft seal but there’s two cam shaft seals and a crank shaft seal, we always replace those when we do the timing belt.

So just kind of getting back to just a question you may have in your mind is well, what if I take really good care of my can, can I prevent the timing belt or sorry can I prevent the head gaskets from leaking and the timing belt is a given, it needs to be done at a hundred sixty thousand kilometers no matter how you drive. Can I prevent the head gaskets from failing and the answer is unfortunately no, it’s just the design maybe we’ll call it a defect which is just a design of the Subaru engine will typically cause the head gaskets will fail and you need to replace them.

So that’s hopefully gives you some ideas about what is involved with the head gaskets on a Subaru; as I said we do a lot of them at Pawlik Automotive, we’ve got some pretty good expertise on doing them. If you ever have any question you can reach us at 604-327-7112. Anything further to add Mark?

Mark: No. Thanks Bernie. Very thorough with lots of detail on how or why it takes so much time, why it’s a big job to change the head gaskets on the Subaru and possibly even why, you can see where the bolts are and where they aren’t so maybe that’s the reason why they fail. So we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. You can learn more at Pawlikautomotive.com or to book your next appointment. Give them a call 604-327-7112 Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark, talk to you again.

2006 Subaru Outback – Head Gasket Replacement

Subaru Outback

Our latest featured repair is head gasket replacement on a 2006 Subaru Outback, brought to us by a client from Port Moody.

Subaru Outback

2006 Subaru Outback

 

This is not our first Subaru head gasket post, nor is it likely to be our last. On every Subaru vehicle with a 2.5 Liter H4 engine this service is inevitable at some point in time. If you own one of these vehicles you will likely be faced with this repair. A frequent question that we get asked at our shop is how much does the service cost?

Before we get into that let’s look at what a head gasket is. The cylinder head gasket is far and away the most complex gasket on an internal combustion engine. It provides several functions all while dealing with different fluids and the high temperatures and pressures of the engine’s combustion process. The head gasket seals the oil pressure galleries, the oil drain passages, the engine coolant passages and the combustion chambers. On a Subaru H4 engine there are two head gaskets and each gasket seals two cylinders.

Getting back to costs: the simplest answer is that the minimum is just under $2000 with all taxes included. There are however many factors that go into this service that can and often increase this price substantially.

On Subarus there are two types of head gasket leaks that we typically see, the most common being oil leaking from the gaskets. This occurs on the single overhead cam models. The less frequent cause of leakage are combustion gas leaks into the cooling system and these seem to only occur on the dual overhead cam engines.

Vehicle mileage factors into the repair costs along with whether the timing belt has been replaced or is due for replacement. While the timing belt is a minimally expensive part and requires no additional labour at the time of head gasket service there are a number of other associated parts that should be replaced when the belt is due (usually at 168,000 kilometers). These include the belt tensioner and idler pulleys, water pump and front crankshaft oil seal.

Combustion gas leaks always require additional machine shop work to pressure test and resurface the cylinder heads. As mentioned previously this happens mostly on the dual cam engine. Labour to remove and reinstall the cylinder heads on the dual cam motor is also more labour intensive. Adding it all up, the dual cam is always more expensive than the single cam.

As you can see there are a many factors that come into play with each different head gasket replacement. Fortunately for the owner of our featured 2006 Subaru Outback this job came in at the minimal cost as the vehicle had low mileage, the heads were not warped and the timing belt was not due for replacement for a long time.

For more about the Subaru Outback click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subaru_Outback

For more about cylinder head gaskets click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_gasket

Subaru Outback

2006 Subaru Outback 2.5 Liter engine with several front engine components off

 

2001 Subaru Forester – Spark Plug Replacement

Subaru Forester

Our latest featured service is Spark Plug Replacement on a 2001 Subaru Forester, brought to us by a client from Burnaby, BC.

On Monday morning we were greeted by a phone call from a client whose vehicle we had just serviced the previous week. We had replaced his clutch and while the car ran great after being picked up, it started running roughly over the weekend. The check engine light also came on.

It’s always a bit distressing for us when we receive this type of call as we pride ourselves on doing great work and from this call we perceived the possibility that perhaps something from our work was not right.

We inspected the vehicle when it arrived and quickly verified that it had nothing to do with our recent clutch replacement. Diagnosis was the next step and from there we found a misfiring cylinder, something that had clearly developed since our repairs. Further exploration found the culprit: a severely worn spark plug in #4 cylinder.

Subaru Forester

Two spark plugs from 2001 Subaru Forester. If you look at the gap which the red arrow points to and compare it to the spark plug on the right you can see the large gap and a piece missing. This missing center electrode caused the engine misfire.

We replaced the spark plugs and along with it the spark plug wires. The wires were original and at 15 years of age were living on borrowed time.

Interestingly enough the failed spark plugs were platinum plugs, an upgrade from the originally installed type. While platinum plugs last longer they provide no additional performance advantage. Yes they do last longer but require additional energy to fire. You are better off to stick with the original manufacturer recommended plug and replace them at the prescribed interval.

For more about spark plugs click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spark_plug

For more about the Subaru Forester click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subaru_Forester

2005 Subaru Outback – Head Gaskets & Cam Case Seal

Subaru Outback

Head Gaskets & Cam Case Seal replacement on a 2005 Subaru Outback is our latest featured service, brought to us by a client from Richmond, BC.

Subaru Outback

2005 Subaru Outback

 

Cylinder head gasket replacement is something that many Subaru owners will experience, and it’s a service that we have discussed before in our blogs. What is unique about this particular service was that the left camshaft case was also leaking oil, and this is very uncommon.

The camshaft case on the 2005 Subaru Outback is sealed with a special high quality silicone sealer and it rarely fails. While the heads were off it was a matter of taking the cam case off, cleaning all components and carefully removing the old sealer. After applying the new sealer and reassembling the case to the head this leak was solved.

Subaru Outback

Camshaft Case removed and cleaned. Ready for new sealer and reinstallation

Head gasket replacement is synonymous with Subaru although it is not always needed. The issue is not present on the H6 engine and that is a good thing because the cost to do H6 head gaskets is triple the price of the H4 2.5 Liter engine. Are head gaskets better these days than the past? Only time will tell. We were told many years ago that Subaru had corrected this issue but we still see failures. To put things in perspective, most cars have some issues and while head gaskets are a significant one, Subaru’s are still great, reliable cars in most aspects.

For more about the Subaru Outback click on this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subaru_Outback

For another post about Subaru head gasket replacement click here http://goo.gl/rLDeO6

Subaru Outback

Top view of cylinder head with camshaft, rocker arms and camshaft case removed.

 

 

 

2010 Subaru Forester – 96,000 Kilometer Service

Subaru Forester

Today’s feature is a 96,000 kilometer service performed on a 2010 Subaru Forester, brought to us by a client from New Westminster.

Subaru Forester

2010 Subaru Forester

The 96,000 kilometer service has traditionally been a major service on Japanese cars. Why 96,000 kilometers and not the round number of 100,000? 96,000 kilometers is equivalent to 60,000 miles and because the US car market is so huge, and they still use miles the big market yardstick became the benchmark.

As cars have become more reliable and better built the 96,000 kilometer service is less involved than it once was. Going back 15 years and previously most Japanese cars 96,000 kilometer services included replacing all fluids: engine oil, transmission fluid, differential fluids, brake fluid, power steering fluid and engine coolant. There was a tune up with new spark plugs and fuel filter plus other ignition components as needed. Then there was the timing belt. Often we would also find that the CV joint boots were about to break open and needed to be replaced. As you can imagine this was a big service: lots of work and expensive.

Nowadays there is much less. Our featured 2010 Subaru Forester’s service was major but much less involved. All the fluids need to be flushed or replaced except the engine coolant. The tune up now only consists of spark plug replacement. Fuel filters are no longer replacement items. The timing belt is still there but is much tougher and will last until the 168,000 kilometer service. CV boots are also tougher and rarely need replacement. This brings the cost of the service down substantially however there are a couple of additions. This car needed the cabin air filter replaced and some of the fluids are synthetic which ups the costs of these services. Spark plugs are platinum and this raises the price over the plugs of yesteryear. Overall, for the car owner it is much more reasonable. It’s a reflection of just how much more reliable and well built today’s cars are.

For more about the Subaru Forester click on this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subaru_Forester

For more about the value of maintenance click on this link http://goo.gl/Wq2HSv

Subaru Forester

Engine Compartment of 2010 Subaru Forester. The large metal piece in the center is the intake manifold. The fact that this is metal and not plastic will likely save the Subaru owner money. We see numerous problems with plastic parts.

How are Subaru Cars for Reliability?

Suburu Outback

Talking Subarus with the owner of award winning Pawlik Automotive, Bernie Pawlik.

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with award winning mechanic in Vancouver, Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. How’re you doing tonight Bernie?

Bernie: Awesome.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about Subarus. How are Subarus for reliability? So tell me, what’s your experience with Subarus? I understand that you service a lot of them at Pawlik Automotive.

Bernie: Yes, we do. I don’t know but for some reason seem to service a lot of them at our shop and I’ve owned three of them actually over the years, three different generations of Subarus; they’ve all been really good cars.
Mark: So what can you tell us about Subarus? Why have you driven them for so many years?
Bernie: Well, for me the appeal of the Subaru, it’s the all-wheel drive system and in many models you get a higher ground clearance than an average car, so it gives a person a lot of options, what I like is you can drive on paved roads, logging roads, you can go a long ways in the snow, you can usually get to work on any given day no matter how much snow there’s on the ground. There’s a lot of great attributes to be found in a Subaru that you would also find in a 4×4 pickup. The great thing about a Subaru is that it’s a smaller car; I think it’s kind of a perfect marriage between a car and a 4×4 pickup.

Mark: So are Subarus reliable?

Bernie: Yes they are. As far as repairs like most modern cars they require very little repairs, maintenance is minimal. The major components such as engine transmission, four wheel drive system, differentials, you know the really expensive parts, they’re super reliable, the electronics are reliable, I kind of think of the Subaru as a 300,000 plus kilometer vehicle. It’s a category of vehicle that we see if you maintain it well you’re going to get 300,000 kilometers easily out of it without a lot of major expense.

Mark: So I’ve heard that head gaskets can be an issue with Subarus; is that true?

Bernie: It is and it’s probably their one major flaw. It’s only true on the 2.5 litres, 4 cylinders which is the most common engine. The gaskets develop external coolant and oil leaks, usually between 100 to 200 hundred kilometers. It’s a major expense but once it’s done it’s not something that you’re likely going to have to deal with again and other cars have that head gasket failures too, it’s just on a Subaru it’s almost a guarantee.
Mark: Any other maintenance issues?

Bernie: So the 2.5 litre, 4 cylinder have timing belts that need to be replaced about every 160 thousand kilometers. Of course again this is not unique to Subaru a lot of other engines have timing belts and they require replacement around that interval. I believe over the past couple of years Subaru the 4 cylinders now only actually have gone to a chain so you no longer have to replace the timing belt.

Mark: So what about the six cylinder engines? How are they?

Bernie: They’re great. I actually have a 2001 H6 Outback; I’ve owned it for many years, it’s been totally reliable. The H6 uses a timing chain so there’s no belt replacement required and the head gaskets don’t suffer from the same fate as the 4 cylinders. That being said, the 6 cylinder is a very complex engine and should anything go wrong it’s really expensive to fix so I keep my fingers crossed for my own car and those that own them but so far it’s got well over 200,000 kilometers and nothings gone wrong with it. So it’s good.

Mark: So in your experience who buys Subarus?

Bernie: Well, I think there are a couple groups of people that buy them. I think first it’s the people who buy them it’s a life style car for getting them to their outdoor activities and people who want to go off the beaten path but don’t want to own a truck. The second people are families; they’re looking for a compact but useful and roomy vehicle. The Subaru Forrester is a great example, it’s a boxy vehicle, it’s got lots of room, not huge mind you but it’s a good sized vehicle to haul a couple kids and your stuff around and the third group are the young guys looking for an awesome performance car.
I haven’t touched on the Impreza STI yet, I mean this is an awesome super-fast, great handling car. It’s equipped with the fabulous Subaru all-wheel drive system so while these cars are fairly expensive they’re nowhere near the price of a European sports car and you get incredible performance out of it so for a young guy, it’s a reachable kind of car.
Mark: Sure so that’s the base model that Subaru won the World Rally Championship for many years.
Bernie: Exactly, it’s based on that platform and they’re super-fast and a lot of fun to drive.
Mark: Awesome, anything else?

Bernie: As I’ve said before Subarus are great cars and when my Outback wears out I’ll probably buy another one because I love the car. If you’re looking for a versatile car that will take you places that many cars won’t I’d consider buying a Subaru. If you’re looking for an exciting, fast rally kind of car again the Impreza STI is an awesome car and if you’re in the Vancouver area and you own a Subaru bring it to us for service. We know the cars really well and we can keep yours running reliably for years and years.

Mark: So, we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, recent winners again of the best auto repair shop in Vancouver as voted by the readers of the Georgia Straight, that’s their twelfth win between a couple different publications. You can find them at PawlikAutomotive.com or give them a call at 604-327-7112 if you’re looking for an honest mechanic, this is the guy. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark, we’ll talk again soon.

1999 Subaru Outback – Fuel Filler Neck Replacement

Subaru Outback

Our latest featured repair is Fuel Filler Neck Replacement on a 1999 Subaru Outback, brought to us by a client from Oakridge, Vancouver.

Subaru Outback

1999 Subaru Outback: the first generation of Outback.

The fuel filler neck is the piece where you insert the fuel nozzle at the gas station. It runs downward to your fuel tank. Being made of steel, it is prone to rusting. Given enough time and salty road conditions fuel filler necks will eventually deteriorate to the point of leaking.

That’s exactly what happened with our featured 1999 Subaru Outback.

You will know when your fuel filler neck rusts out in one of several ways: first is that gas will leak out under your car when you fill your tank; second is that you may find a strong smell of gas coming from the rear of your vehicle; third, and the reason this Subaru required a new fuel filler neck, is that your check engine light stays on.

Subaru Outback

Rusted out fuel filler neck assembly from 1999 Outback. While the whole unit is very rusty the actual leak, causing the check engine lamp to illuminate, is indicated by the red arrow.

This Subaru Outback came to us with its check engine lamp on. We diagnosed and tested the system and found a pinhole leak from a rusted fuel filler neck. After replacement we retested the system for leaks: there were none.

Your check engine light will illuminate for many reasons. EVAP system faults are frequently the culprit. EVAP stands for Evaporative Emission system and includes the fuel tank, fuel filler neck and hoses, fuel lines, vents, electric valves and pumps as well as the gas cap. It’s purpose is to prevent gasoline fumes from escaping into the atmosphere. While it seems innocent enough, gas vapors are a huge source of hydrocarbon (HC) pollution. Evaporating gasoline is also a huge waste of your money, so keeping vapors contained is in your best financial interest.

For more on the Subaru Outback click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subaru_Outback

For more in depth information on the EVAP system click here http://auto.howstuffworks.com/evaporative-emission-control-system1.htm

Subaru Outback

New fuel filler neck assembly installed in vehicle. There is a plastic fender liner that hides the unit and shelters it from the elements

 

 

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