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Subaru is an excellent and well-known automaker, but their vehicles experience engine problems from time to time.
That does not mean they are terrible at making vehicles. It just means you should be aware of the common Subaru engine problems these cars might experience.
In this guide, we’ll give an explanation of the most common issues consumers have reported with some Subaru cars.
After that, we’ll explain how you can fix any of those problems and how you can run a test to track down the error on your own.
5 Signs Your Subaru Engine Needs Some Work
Have you noticed how poorly your vehicle has performed over the past week but can’t find out what’s wrong with it? Well, here, we’ll discuss five known Subaru engine problems.
At the end of each explanation, you will find a small guide on how you can fix your vehicle.
1. Stalling When Shifting
Turning on the engine is a simple task that anybody can do. But it’s not so easy when your vehicle is acting up.
Say, for instance, you start up your engine like you always do, and then when you quickly shift into reverse, the engine stalls only to find out it works right after you turn it off and then turn it on again.
If you’re in a similar situation, there is a high chance that it could be the neutral position switch.
This switch has a simple job, which is to tell the system when you’re in gear.
But when it gets damaged, it makes the idle fluctuate when shifting gears.
Now, if you’re not sure whether the switch went bad or not, here is a test you can run on your own:
- You’re going to check for continuity using a multimeter. If you don’t have one, we suggest getting one for future jobs. You can get one for roughly $35.
- Remove the switch using a 19mm socket and then remove the wire, which you can find in front of the transmission. Next, you want to set the multimeter to the continuity test function.
- Now, attach the test leads to the pins of the wire. Once you do that, you must press the button on the other side of the switch.
- If you hear a beep as soon as you press the button, that means you got continuity, and you’re good to go. However, if you don’t hear a beep and the values shown on the multimeter stay the same, it means the switch no longer works, and you must replace it.
To replace the switch, follow these steps:
- Like before, use the 19mm socket to remove the switch, and then twist it around until you can take it off. Also, remove the wire.
- Take the new switch and put it back in. Make sure to tighten it up. After that, connect the wire.
2. Subaru Engine Oil Consumption Problem
If you’ve had your Subaru vehicle for quite some time now, you’ve probably blown the head gasket, or you might be pretty close to doing so.
The head gasket does not get damaged frequently. In fact, it goes bad after 75,000-100,000 miles.
But when it does go bad, you’ll notice how poorly your vehicle operates.
Usually, the way you can tell the gasket is no longer working is by checking the oil levels.
If you’ve noticed a recent high-oil consumption, the head gasket might be the culprit.
Now, you have two options here. You could either take the engine apart to replace the faulty part or take it to the local dealer.
The average price for this job is about $1,000.
However, if you don’t have the energy or money to replace the damaged head gasket, you can use a steel seal to fix the head gasket. These types of sealers cost about $120.
While it is relatively expensive, it’s way cheaper than spending over a thousand dollars.
If you’re down for this job, here is how you can do it by yourself:
- Make sure your coolant is clean. If it’s not, you want to flush it out and use a new coolant. Next, pop the hood of your car. Here, you want to take off the thermostat. By removing it, the sealer will have an easier time flowing through the engine.
- After that, you want to bolt the thermostat housing. From there, we suggest taking the spark plugs off to find out which one is burning the coolant. The spark plugs should never have any liquid on them.
- Once you’ve removed the spark plugs and have determined which one was covered in liquid, you want to leave it as is. If the number three spark plug was the culprit, you must disconnect the number three injector.
- Take the steel seal and pour it into your radiator, and then start up the engine. The engine should make a lot of noise as there are no spark plugs plugged in.
- After that, you must leave the engine idle for at least half an hour. This way, the sealer will do its job. When that time has passed, turn off the engine. Now, you must leave the engine to get some fresh air for half an hour. From there, you must repeat this process five times.
- When you get that out of the way, let your vehicle dry overnight. During this time, you cannot connect the spark plugs.
- After that, put all the spark plugs back in place and then take your vehicle for a ride for at least 100 miles. It would help if you were gentle when driving. You don’t want to speed up this process.
For more information about the head gasket, we suggest watching this in-depth video:
3. Oil Burning
One of the most common issues Subaru owners have reported over the years is rough idle.
While it is hard to tell exactly what could cause your engine to malfunction, we’ve noticed that it’s mainly related to the PCV valve.
Most people can go years without realizing what a PCV valve is, which leads to severe problems over time.
Generally speaking, nobody checks that until it’s too late. Professionals recommend that you should replace it after nearly 30,000 miles to keep your engine in great shape.
When your PCV fails, all the oil inside the crankcase will get inside the intake, and it’ll burn it. In no time, your vehicle will go from never burning oil to always burning oil.
To replace the PCV Valve, please follow the steps down below:
- First and foremost, you must remove the bolts holding the intercooler of your vehicle. After you’ve removed those bolts, you need to remove the bypass valve bolts, which you can remove using a 12mm socket.
- Next, remove the TB hose. With that out of the way, you want to take out the turbo y-pipe hose.
- After that, remove the two hoses. You should now be able to pull out the intercooler.
- Here, you should see the PCV Valve. But before you attempt to remove it, please remove the two hoses from the connector. Next, go ahead and twist it around until you can pull it out.
- Now, you want to install the new PCV valve. From there, you want to make sure to tighten all the connections and then put everything back on.
4. Engine Rattling Noise
Many people talk about how common it is to hear a rattling noise coming from the engine.
This issue has been persistent throughout the years on the Subaru XV, Impreza, and Forester.
Some dealers claim that this sound is quite familiar and that it should not cause any damage.
While it is somewhat true that it might not cause much damage, if you let this problem sit for a while, it’ll definitely do some nasty stuff to the engine.
So, what is exactly causing the rattling noise when you start up the engine? The culprit could be a broken timing chain tensioner.
If your tensioner went bad, when you start up the engine, it’d leak oil out of the timing chain tensioner.
As the oil keeps coming out, you’re going to get that annoying rattling noise.
Replacing this little part of your engine is super expensive.
The average price for replacing the tensioner goes for about $1,100 as this is a difficult job to pull off.
That said, here is how you can test and replace the tensioner on your own:
- First and foremost, you must remove the air intake as well as the accessory belts. After that, drain the coolant. Next, remove the timing covers and the accessories. The belt should now be exposed.
- Here, you want to press down the tensioner. As you’re squeezing it, oil might come out. If that happens, it means the tensioner went bad. Simply take it out and install the new one.
- With that out of the way, go ahead and put everything back on.
5. Subaru Diesel Engine Crankshaft Problems
The Diesel engine has genuinely been a living nightmare for many Subaru owners.
Consumers in Europe have reported how the Subaru Diesel engine breaks down after nearly 52,000 miles.
While the reason as to why the crankshaft breaks down after that many mines is still unclear, it is said that it was caused by poor management when building the engine.
Finding out whether the crankshaft broke down or not is quite simple. You only need to listen to the sounds your engine makes.
If it sounds as if your vehicle were to go off in a couple of seconds, you probably have a damaged crankshaft.
Another common symptom that indicates the crankshaft just split into two pieces is rough idle.
If you have any of those symptoms, you should not drive at all as the engine will die immediately, and you could find yourself far away from home.
This problem is often found on both the Outback and Legacy models. To fix your vehicle’s poor performance, you’re going to have to replace the faulty crankshaft.
OEM crankshafts can cost about $550-$600, while the aftermarket ones cost well over $300.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you ever have a question, it’s always a great idea to look it up.
Chances are, somebody has asked your question before. Here, we’ve gathered some typical results about Subaru engines.
Do Subarus have engine problems?
Subaru owners have reported engine problems for the following vehicles:
- Subaru XV
- Subaru Impreza
- Subaru Forester
- Subaru Outback
At what mileage do Subaru head gaskets fail?
Many mechanics make jokes about how often the head gaskets fail for most Subaru vehicles.
However, in most cases, you only need to replace it after you’ve reached over 100,000 miles on your car.
Do Subaru H6 engines have head gasket problems?
Subaru claims to have fixed the head gasket issues around 2002.
However, that is not to say the problems are completely gone.
It just means that problem itself was significantly reduced.
For example, one prominent example is the H6 engine, as it does not present head gasket problems as often.
Is the Subaru 2.5 a good engine?
The 2.5 engine has had a hard time ever since its release.
This engine has been notoriously known for being a poorly-made engine and how often consumers have to spend money to fix it.
Some Subaru engine problems can be easily fixed. However, some of them need a lot of work and money to fix them.
Subaru has had its fair share of praise from consumers all over the world.
But it sure has had a hard time standing out from the crowd when it comes to making engines.
One of the engines that have made a bad name for this brand is the 2.5 engine.
Nonetheless, this Japanese company is still one of the best automobile manufacturers in the world.
Their vehicles are reliable and efficient, everything you need from a car.