2000 Subaru Outback Legacy wagon

10

Asked by May 14, 2015 at 08:52 PM about the 2000 Subaru Outback Limited Wagon

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 2000 Subaru Outback Legacy wagon with 244,000 very hard mile on the clock. I have replaced the transmission (the original leaked fluid and slipped badly), replaced the head gaskets (2nd time), new water pump, new timing belt, new plugs and wires, new fuel pump, new oil pump, new radiator, new boots and axles, new radiator, added an additional cooling fan (there are now 3 of them), replaced every sensor under the hood and a couple on the underside, new original Subaru radiator cap, and new injectors. I believe that is the full list, but I may have omitted an item or 2.
So, after about 3 grand in parts and labor, I have a Subaru that is very hard to start (acts like it is flooded even thought it has just been sitting and no gas pedal was applied before turning the ignition), overheats after driving less than a 5th of a mile, and pours copious amounts of white smoke from the exhaust when it is driven. It seems to have excellent power when driven, so I'm guessing my compression is good. I have no idea of what to look for or if there is anything I have overlooked.  HELP!!!

25 Answers

78,165

Still sounds like blown head gaskets or cracked heads. How fast does the cooling system build pressure? If it builds really fast then the compression gasses are entering the cooling system. But the white smoke is usually dead give away.

10

Thanks. Carbon test shows negative in the cooling system. This has been my best thought also, but 2 mechanics have told me that this is not the problem.

78,165

Start you engine cold and feel the hoses, upper is the best, it should take at least 5 minutes at idle before the hose becomes firm and warm to the feel not hot, if it get firm very quickly then the test is junk it is making pressure way too fast, and that can only indiacate something wrong in the sealing of compression, either head gaskets or cracked heads.

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Best Answer
14,115

Did you just talk with mechanics to get their advice or did they actually work on your car? I don't know what the cosmetic condition of your car is, if it has a nice exterior and interior, but, if you're planning on saving this car, bring it to some guys that know what they're doing. This is not the time to try and save some money by bringing the car to the "Three Stooges". Also, 244,000 miles is a lot of miles on any car, and in your own words, it's hard miles. Is there rust on your car? Is that $3,000 the sum total of all your repairs and how long have you had this car? If that's everything you have into it, consider yourself lucky. It takes money in repairs to drive a vehicle and if you've put a lot of these miles or all of them on the car, you've certainly gotten your money's worth. Sometimes, its time to say goodbye. Really depends on your budget and how long you can stand breaking down on the road. If you're in town, yeah, you can always call the AAA, I hope you have their service? But, right now, you've got a car that you cannot rely on to leave town. I know its a bummer to put a lot of money into a car and feel like you'll never get the return on your investment back. We've all been there. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way and you wind up with a loss. You may actually be at this point now. Sorry.

14,115

Ron, one more thing, that's an average of more than 16,000 miles per year on your car. Maybe you live in Southern California, have no rust and the car's in beautiful condition? If that's the case and you love everything else about the car, by all have it fixed and enjoy! Are you a member of the Subaru high mileage club? And, are there any perks for joining?

10

Hi Mark! No, I don't line in California. I am in North Carolina. Those miles are very hard miles, mostly driven in the Great Smoky Mountains, on many steep roads, lots of forest service roads, and many unpaved roads. This car still looks great, and in my mind is the best vehicle I have ever owned (and I have owned many). I like it even better than a Mercedes I once owned. It has hauled lots of building materials and tools (the roof rack has been overloaded many times!). I am not a member of the Subaru High Mileage Club, but I don't know what perks there are. I really want to get it back on the road.

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10

No, I didn't do any of the work myself, but have had it done by 2 different mechanics, both of whom I have known and used for years. I purchased the car when it was a year old with very low mileage.

14,115

Ron, congratulations on your outstanding service for your car, that's a lot of miles and sounds like you've put on at least 200,000 miles yourself. I usually keep my cars between 150,000 to 200,000 miles. We had an old Volvo with over 230,000 miles but, it had a lot of work and I got that later in its life span. It was a workhorse car and did what I needed it to do at the time. I agree with you that the Subaru Outback is a wonderful car and drives beautifully. Very smooth and for a Four cylinder , it is very responsive. I think that is due to the boxer engine design that's in the car. I have a 2010 Subaru Outback 2.5 Limited with 70,000 miles and I'm looking forward to getting great service like your car. I sold my 1995 Honda Accord EX station wagon last year with 150,000 miles for $3,000 and used that plus other money to acquire the Outback. I needed a new car to pull my teardrop trailer which weighs about 900 pounds. Its a fiberglass composite material so it's light weight. The Honda was too low to the ground and we were having clearance issues going in and out of driveways. Plus, the tow capacity of the Honda Accord was 1,000 pounds, so, it was a struggle at times. The Outback can tow 2,700 pounds, big difference. I love my new car, so, I can certainly understand why you like yours. We live in Southern California and cars here can last forever, there's no rust issues. Generally, it's always less expensive to fix the car than purchase a new or late model one. The best reason to get a newer car is for safety and economy on fuel. I'm lucky to have found an honest mechanic in town who works on our cars. Once you find one, stick with them, they know your car. Sounds like your mechanic is not that smart if they can't figure out what's wrong, it's all about diagnostics these days. I had to fire my old mechanic a few years ago; he was terrible at diagnosis and in a short amount of time I realized that I was a guinea pig for his unnecessary repairs, my car had to go back to the shop for more repairs. Finally, he threw up his hands and said he couldn't figure out how to fix the car and even told me it couldn't be fixed. This was ridiculous, it was an old 85 T-Bird and I found someone to fix the car. My old mechanic was too old school and not up to date on modern technology. You cannot bring your car to just anyone today, modern cars need people with expertise. I imagine that you are using an independent garage, if you can't find someone who is competent, take your car to the dealership, after all, its their car! They will definitely get you back on the road. Are you still on the original engine, it's a Four cylinder 2.5??

14,115

Here's a picture of my 2010 Subaru Outback with the trailer.

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10

Still the original engine Mark. No oil problems like burning or leaking. All in all, even though it is currently quite sick, it is the best automobile I have ever owned (except perhaps the 1954 Sunbeam Alpine Roadster I owned back in the early 60's. Thanks for your kind reply. Ron

14,115

Ron, that's great! Thanks for this. Did you know that Subaru changed their head gaskets design in 2010, and offer a new multi layered head gaskets for the EJ25 series engine which is what we both have. When did you change those head gaskets, I see you have done that twice? What was the mileage intervals for your car? Even so, with two head gaskets jobs, you're at 244,000 miles. You've got to expect stuff like that. I see that you had to replace the transmission? How many miles were on your car when that happened? It may or may not occur at the same time with mine, I have the CVT transmission. You do have an automatic, correct? Wow, you had a Sunbeam Roadster, I'll bet you wish you still had that car?

14,115

Ron, do you think that the Subaru is superior to the Mercedes because of the boxer engine or something else? The car impresses me as well, with its handling and smooth delivery of power at a wide power band, even the 2.5 Four cylinder, which feels more spirited than you might expect. Many domestic 2.5 Four cylinder cars are dogs.

14,115

Ron, I looked up that 1954 Sunbeam Alpine Roadster, apparently less than 1,600 of these cars were made. How did you acquire that car and why did you sell it? Very collectible now?

10

I had the car in 1965-1966. They made 1,600 cars, of which only 900 were sold in the US. I have often wished I still had it, but I was 18 years old and things like that just didn't matter, when I could use the money to buy a 1 year old Chevy Impala convertible with a 327 and 4-barrel carb. Yeah, I know; looking back it was stupid, but who wasn't at that age?

14,115

Ron, we've all been there. My first car was a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. It wasn't as good as your Sunbeam, but, it would be pretty valuable today. The problem is insuring and maintaining these old cars. If you cannot afford to do that, there's no point. A friend of mine who's considerably older told me years ago if he had kept every car he ever owned, he would have been a multi millionaire. Unfortunately, it still takes a lot of capital to do that and he didn't have the capability of that either. Even that 65 Impala Convertible would be worth a lot today in excellent condition. So, why do you think that Subaru cars are better than Mercedes Benz? I found an article from Fortune magazine that also stated this, but, I'd like to hear your take. Boxer engines, better handling, lower center of gravity?

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14,115

Ron, here's the article and by the way Consumers Reports says in this write up that Subaru cars are better than Mercedes Benz. See this, http://fortune.com/2012/11/19/are-subarus-the-best-cars-money-can- buy/

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14,115

So, Ron, I imagine that you're going to give it another stab with your mechanics to get your car back on the road? This is not your primary car? What's your daily driver? You're probably retired like me, you know the smartest money these days is buying a CPO vehicle from a lease return, have you considered that? I did with my 2010 and I'm very pleased with the car. Getting an extended warranty to 100,000 miles is also very desirable and I recommend it. Most cars these days easily go 200,000 miles if you take care of them and do routine maintenance.

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2,810

Oy! This is a tough one.... I've seen QUICK overheating on a tight (no HG leaks) 2.5i only once, and it was because the heater hoses were occluded with dried scale. Back-flushing them completely solved the problem! It's a quick check.... A too-small t-stat nor externally-clogged (debris) radiator wouldn't overheat that quickly, so I'm tempted to suggest a cracked or crooked head. Did you have them tanked and planed before gasketing? Here in New England most 2000-2004 era Leg/OBs have succumbed to rear 1/4 panel corrosion, so are no longer worth servicing. If you have to punt and start over, Ill STRONGLY suggest that you preserve the good handling you've been accustomed to by getting a VERY thoroughly checked out 2006- 2009 Leg/OB instead of the truly compromised handling inherent in the "Toyoburu" 2010+ version many of us abhor. BUT, if you can give up the 5th door, fine handling is maintained withh the much lower CoG of the Legacy Sedans...clearly the best Subies produced today. (Disclaimer: I've been servicing Subies for 30+ years, and still procure and resell golden-era '06-'09 OBs as well newer Legs and Imps.) But first things first: get fresh, trained, wise eyes on your steed to root out the overheating. If it's the head(s) or gaskets start over again with another much newer one. Just don;t get a 2010+ OB and expect to not vomit in the twisties.

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14,115

TheSubaruGuruBoston- I see that you really don't like the 2010 models and above? Unfortunately, I don't have anything to compare that to since I didn't test drive a 2009 or earlier vehicle, but, I do like the new CVT transmission and the increased fuel- efficiency of the 2010. And, in case you were unaware, the 2010 models featured the newer version of the head gaskets, a multi layered head gaskets design. I'm not planning on a slalom race and since I'm in SoCal, don't have to worry about snow and rust problems either. My car seems to handle well enough for me.

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2,810

Hi Mark. Crossover shoppers are now Subaru's primary expanding clientele...NOT previous owners of Subies. The '10-'14 OB was NOT supposed to be so tall, but when Toyota purchased GM's old shares they pushed for a tall SUV-like remodel without increasing cost via stiffer suspension nor better metallurgy. Hence the '10-14 "Toyaburu" has really wonky and sloppy body control because of the much higher CoG than originally designed. The slightly fatter anti-swaybar introduced following complaints in '13 barely helps. Similarly, the too-tall "improved" '15 has a 19mm rear bar that keeps the ass in line, but nothing to control really bad front sway, dive and roll in the twisties. My suspension gurus at Rallitek, TheRack et al state there's no hope for the cheap-steel '10-14, so no one bothers to design better parts. The situation is also made worse by use of taller, spongier tires (reminiscent of the soft '96-'99 OB) starting in '10. In '15 only the pricy Limited gets 18" wheels with decent 60 series rubber, but that does nothing to help the valium-soaked body control. Driving a nice '06-'09 OB on 17" V-rated tires would surprise you by how much better it feels. Same with the lower Leg Sedan, which still gets you the thrifty CVT. It's all an unfortunate Catch 22. I recently saw a 16p glossy in German touting the Legacy GT 2.5i WAGON. Of course Toyoburu won't market it (nor their nifty diesel) in North America...as that's SUV country! I;m surprised that we finally see advertising for the terrific Legacy Sedan, as I suppose they feared Camry cannibalization 'til now. Owners of Subie's last very best-handling wagons, the '06-'07 (avail in '08 Canada) Legacy SE and Ltd Wags are advised to pamper theirs, as there never may be another Audi-Avant clone. Since "fixing" the 2010+ OBs would require replacement of springs, struts, and swaybars (costing $1.5-$2.5k), no one has stepped forward as the numbers don't justify it yet. A fatter front anti-sway and 18" H/V-rated rubber may be just enough for me to forestall retirement in a year or two, but i doubt it! The CVT is a winner with the 2.5i, but the 2.0 struggles loudly with it in the Imps. Its dipstick-less system suggests not servicing it, but I've continued my long-established routine of draining and replacing all ATF on Subies to protect the trannies...including the several Legacy and new Imps CVTs. We're starting to see occasional CVT's getting buzzy or stalling after braking. Papa Subaru has no repair, so they will need to be expensively swapped out. I'd suggest draining and refilling the CVT (5.5 qts) after 4 yrs or 80k, and then biannually thereafter, It's worth the $80-100 cost. Later. Ern TSG

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14,115

TheSubaruGuruBoston- thanks for this, good to hear that the CVT transmission is a winner with the 2.5 Four. It's very smooth; it was first introduced in the 2010 model and now used for all Subaru Outbacks in the USA, no more 5EAT or manual transmission cars offered. Even the 3.6 H6 engine had the 5EAT for 2010. I purchased this car to tow my teardrop trailer and the fact that it's a little higher off the ground actually benefits my situation. I understand your comments about the lower center of gravity and possibly increased handling on the 2009. The 2005-2008 models had head gasket issues and it wasn't until 2010 when they switched to the new multi layered head gaskets design, so, everything is a trade off. I'm also aware that there's a real problem for some of the newer FB series engine introduced on the 2013 Outback, and first on the Forrester models in 2011. Seems like the manual transmissions and the FB series engine have been affected the most. And, from everything I've read, Subaru makes their own in house CVT transmission and it's highly regarded over others especially Nissan. I have just under 73,000 miles and I purchased this as a CPO vehicle. I have 18 more months on an extended warranty. Yes, I will consider your suggestion about changing the CVT fluid. My trailer only weighs 1,000 pounds, so, the car with a tow capacity of 2,700 pounds pulls this easily. Here's a picture,

2,810

If you've a '10 w/ 73k and want to tow a trailer I'd RUSH to change the CVT fluid asap. The fluid's 5-6 years old. That's a long time for an AWD transfer case.... Points of correction: The prior 2.5i autobox was a 4EAT, not a 5. ALL 2000-2004 and 2006-2009 OBs DO (not "possibly") handle far better than any 2010-2016. This isn't an opinion...just simple physics.

2,810

Forgot: Be sure too NOT "power flush" or any such nonsense, as you'll force dirt into the valve body! Just gravity-drain the CVT and pump in 5.5 qts of CVT fluid (not ATF!).

too many social discussion here! I am a guy that do not have a lot of time, so please try and stay away from lengthly social discussions and only stick to the main Q & A relevant issues only here -thanks

78,165

Your a little late in game there Guam, this post was started way back in May last year.

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