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Old 04-23-2012, 10:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Very rough idle, shakes and misfires

Hello,

I'm new to the forum but sadly have to introduce myself with a help request. Bought my first subaru - 2011 Forester 2.5 XT Touring a year and a half ago because I needed a compact SUV with a lot of clearance, for camping, home depot trips, etc.

The first year was great, but shortly after I started having problems with *extremely* rough idle - as in the car shaking. And then the CEL went on at 28K miles. I took it to dealer and this is how it went:

1st time: they said the codes were for misfires on all 4 cylinders, and they decided the cause was using "discount gasoline" (i.e. Costco). I've never had anything but premium gas in it, but yes - sometimes from costco. They advised switching to better gas station.

2nd time: the problem continues, CEL is back on even after using "brand name" gas for several weeks. Again 4 cylinders. Subaru says the car needs a top engine clean to get rid of the carbon build up caused by discount gas. Waranty refused to pay for it - claims it was my fault for using "incorrect" gas - although I have been using premium as per manual.

3rd time: subaru agreed to pay for top engine clean as a good will.

4th time: the car continues shaking, just less frequently. Subaru "could not duplicate"

5th time: I think the cold temps are causing this so left it overnight to see if they see it shaking when it's cold. Could not duplicate. As I picked the car up - it's shaking strongly. Bring the mechanic out - he confirms that yes, it's shaking *now*. Goes back inside and tells the manager it has "slight" shakes.

6th time: This time the shakes came up violently after I left the car in the sun for a few hours - so maybe cause by temp variations - very hot or very cold? CEL is back on - this time misfires on cylindres 1-3.

At this point the dealer is refusing to do anything unless I pay for it as they are still convinced it's the carbon build up due to "discount" fuel so it's not covered by warranty. I'm not sure if they are right about the diagnostic - since they haven't really tried going after anything else and they say you can't confirm carbon buildup. They just want me to pay for another top engine clean since the last one seemed to make it better (except now it's gotten worse again even with brand name gas).

My stance is that I was using the gas as per the vehicle manual - and I"m trying to work it out with SOA warranty rep. But not getting far yet - any advice on this? Does this sound like carbon build up to anyone? Should not this be covered by warranty since I have not done anything I'm not supposed to to the car?

I'm also at 32K miles now and concerned that they'll just keep putting this problem off until I'm out of warranty.
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Old 04-23-2012, 11:01 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default One way to completely...

Blow out the carbon(the more it smokes, the more you know it was carbon) is to seafoam the crap out of it.

Numerous threads on here(and the interwebs) on proper use of seafoam.

I don't have a turbo model, but I've done seafoam to other cars(F250 diesel, Miata, old 1948 Farmall).

If you do it right, it will all be gone...and depending how the car behaves during...and after, you'll know if it was carbon.

The dealerships won't do seafoam cause it takes a while(as in 1 mechanic tied up with 1 car for as much as 2 days). No, it doesn't take a "constant two days" to do it, but a car dropped off...yeah...most shops don't like doing it.

Edit:
I say "two days" in your case cause you've got CEL going on and bad idling. You'll probably need to do the "seafoam sip" twice...with a pair of 0-60 "time trials" between the treatments. I can see you needing 3 cans. Do it once on a Saturday, then again on Sunday.

Last edited by schan1269; 04-23-2012 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 04-23-2012, 11:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Thanks for the response!

Thanks for the response and advice - seems like that might be my only recourse.
The dealer is saying instead of Subaru top engine clean, they want to put BG through it this time. Of course, no mention of seafoam.

Any idea why a Forester would have carbon build up to cause this much misfiring and shaking at just 30K? 90% of my miles are highway, with some trips into the mountains (why else would you drive a Subaru in Colorado :) Regular maintenance, I don't drive it hard either.

Is this by design? I would have thought Subaru would be designed to deal with the usual driving conditions and gas without developing a problem this bad. Just trying to figure out why Subaru thinks they don't need to cover it under warranty. A problem this bad within warranty with no wrongdoing of my own?
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I was at a dealer in nm waiting to have my reflash done when i noticed a gummed up piston on the counter. Asked the service manager about it and he said the piston came from an xt whos owner always used costco gas for 100,000 miles. Said they had to replace the whole engine because of cheap gas. Then they gave me a print out and said my own problem would be solved by using top tier gas stations . Interestingly 2 out of 3 times i had issues were on dealer gas.
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Around here...

I have Shell, FlyingJ/Pilot and Mobil as the "top" places to get gas.

We have Speedway, Casey's and Sam's/Walmart as the cheap end.

Our 3 Powerstroke diesel run like utter crap on Speedway diesel. The Flying J/Pilot diesel, they'll swill that stuff like it is Cognac.

Probably 80% of our fill-ups occur at the Flying J(it only takes 2-3 minutes to get there).

The rare case I get gas in town(two Speedway, 1 Mobil and the Casey's) I avoid the Casey's at all cost. I'll get gas at Speedway if the car needs gas and I'm buying for the lawnmowers/tractors(the Farmall, John Deere and Craftsman couldn't care less...as long as it isn't water).

I have a Taurus SHO, Miata(with mild tuning) and an AH Sprite. They run best on Mobil gas. The AH Sprite, you can tell when it is trying to deal with Speedway.

We live in an emissions county. I had filled up the Chevy Astro at the Casey's on the way to Tractor Supply to pick up 20 bags of dog/horse/rabbit food. I intended to go get the emissions test during this trip. I put around 45 miles on the Astro before going for the emissions test. It failed. Went to a shop to find out why..."You bought gas with ethanol in it didn't you?"...(apparently pre-Vortek 4.3s don't do well on 10% ethanol. I filled up with Mobil, did nothing else different, and it passed the emissions test)

By the way, if it sounds like a "bunch of vehicles"...it is. My cousin and her husband(my employer) own almost 100 acres. They lease/rent 85 acres of farmland. I do the maintenance on our 12 combined vehicles and another 20 of the vehicles that are owned by the people who rent. Essentially, if they rent property, and one of their "primary" vehicles has a "simple to fix" issue...they provide the part...I'll fix it no charge.

Last edited by schan1269; 04-23-2012 at 12:45 PM.
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Old 04-23-2012, 11:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
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If your Costco is selling "Clean Power"( 5 times the federal standard for detergents) gasoline, then its considered a "top tier" brand and won't cause any more fouling than any other brand of gas. There is no difference between brands base stock gasoline. Different brands load their trucks at the SAME tanks with fuel containing the same basic detergent levels set by the feds) , the only difference is when filling the trucks for specific brands ( chevron, shell , mobil...ect.) , each brand has its own "special" additive package(detergent) added automatically as the truck is filled.
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Old 04-24-2012, 05:38 PM   #7 (permalink)
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To OP:
Im wondering how long has this occurred? Did you take it in right away each time the shaking and misfiring happened? Or did you kinda deal with it for a while before having it checked out?
I tend to agree with you that you shouldn't have to pay for any of this. You are under new car warranty still and as long as you've put super (93 octane) only into your tank I feel you've done nothing wrong. The owners manual does not state what gasoline brands to use and from what I've heard 'discount' brands (Costco, BJs, etc ) are not cheap brands, just less expensive (if only by a few cents) because they buy in bulk. I have used BJs and gulf pretty much always. My tribeca had no problems from new to 32000 mi when I traded it in. Same with my old intrepid and legacy, and my wifes jetta, forester and impreza. Maybe try and get a 2nd opinion at a different dealer? Good luck!
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Old 04-24-2012, 06:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Seafoam is the answer!! Up here in Newfoundland we have some of the worst gas in North America, we have no discount vendors to blame it fully regulated for everyone including price.

This works very well I've done hundreds and success almost every time
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Old 04-30-2012, 08:51 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Robert - thanks for the tip - I'll have to check on my Costco station to see if they brand it that way. I completely agree with you and j&j10 - really don't see how they can deny their responsibility to resolve this issue based on filling up at Costco.

At this point i'm trying to avoid doing Seafoam or anything like that myself as I'd really like the Subaru to own up to this issue. Does not make sense to me to buy a new car and then have to deal wish such issues myself within the first year and a half.

An update on this is that the situation - the SOA rep took about 2 weeks at this point to "investigate" the issue and they were going to send a factory rep/tech to take a look at the vehicle but at the last moment switched to "lets do a software update".

Supposedly there is a new software update out to address misfires. Sitting at the dealer waiting for them to do it - however, the service manager here explained to me that this update is supposed to fix erroneous misfire codes - i.e. fix the computer throwing misfire CEL when there was no misfire. I'm having the opposite problem - I'm definitely getting misfires (really bad shaking on idle sometimes).

Getting very frustrated with Subaru. Either the service manager here is misinformed about what the update is supposed to do. Or Subaru is hoping to make my CEL go away and wait the issue till it's out of warranty or hope that I was just imagining the idle shaking.

I've read about the "boxer shake" and I can't imagine that what I'm getting is a "boxer shake". The last time it shook was after being in the sun for about 3 hours hours and the whole vehicle was vibrating violently.

Does anyone have any info on this new software update?
If it does affect timing or something else that might correct the misfires rather than eliminating false positive CEL codes, I'd be quite a bit happier.
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:22 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that as long as you alerted them to the issue before going out of warranty and they have not solved it, it should be covered until it is resolved. That is just my understanding, so don't hold me to that. ;P Good luck, though.

As long as you are using premium grade octane gas as required for XTs, I don't get how they can deny warranty coverage based on the "brand" used. Seems like a dealership that doesn't have good enough techs to solve the problem and they just want to blow you off and hope you go somewhere else.

Oh, and I agree with you on the Seafoam. Don't do anything yourself as that will just give them a perfect way to blame it on you.
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:59 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Another update: In case it makes a difference to anyone local - this has been happening at Flatirons Subaru in Boulder, CO.

One service rep said the issues addressed by the ECM update is false positive misfires. My usual service rep (Shane) said - no it addresses missfires and rough idles. He is the one that kept telling me each of 6 times I've brought it in that it could not be anything but carbon built up due to Costco.

Talked to the service manager (Mike) and regional warranty rep (Alison -since she was actually there) and they claimed that the information they were getting is that I was putting "regular" gas in and that's why they weren't covering anything. If they knew it was just "Costco premium" gas - they would have covered it just fine. This is after 6 times of being on that dealer and Shane telling me every time it's Costco gas, Shane calling Alison and Alison denying coverage for the issue. They are just saying it must have been a miscommunication. All 6 times.

They also would not give me any paperwork on what the ECM update is supposed to address (e.g. TSB or something that states the list of problems its targeting) - they insist such paper trail does not exist, they just got the update file and all communication as to the purpose of this update has been verbal over the phone with TechLine.

The only thing they'd say is that in this region, only non-Turbo models were having misfire issues (which is why they did not tell me about such issue existing before) - although the update was released for both non-turbo and turbo models, so they *think* the issue must have been happening with other XTs - just in different regions across US. Would you think that non-turbos having my issue was worth mentioning to me? Or if it's not since turbo is a totally different engine - wouldn't TechLine (that they called each of 6 times I've been in with this problem) - tell the local reps something about the fact that other turbos are having this issue as well - if that were actually true?

Conversation got a bit heated since they were flat out denying any knowledge that Shane was always referring to Costco gasoline, refused to call Shane into the room to have all parties involved present and insisted that they only care about solving the problem so they want to see if the update works.

At this point - the car is still shaking a little - but not sure if it's enough to show it to them - going to wait it for a temperature variation (that seems to trigger the strong shakes) and see. Maybe the update does fix the issue, but smells funny to me at this point.
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Old 04-30-2012, 12:28 PM   #12 (permalink)
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This is an interesting problem. A car this new would typically not have a compression problem. If the carbon build up is creating too much compression and therefore pre ignition and detonation, you could easily check it with a compression gauge. The compression will be higher than specified. Don't forget this is a "low" compression turbo engine so the compression specs are different than a NA engine.

I also believe this engine has coil over plug ignition system. You could easily check if each of the coils are working by using a spark tester.

I would speculate that the problem is something that affects all cylinders. Remember that oxygen is an insulator which prevents ignition and the turbo is boosting the amount of air. Is the turbo over boosting. Also pre ignition is caused by too much heat as well as too much pressure. Make sure the cooling system is working.

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Old 04-30-2012, 02:40 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Really sounds like a crank trigger or coil driver problem if it not fuel quality. Did they test the fuel for water? Gas is VERY bad up here, practically most waste spark wont run on the poor gas, but COP can deal with it with NO power acc or lights. on. I blew a NEW Ford 2.3 mazda DOHC truck engine due to bad fuel combined with high humidity.
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Just for fun, make sure all the turbo plumbing and connexions are well affixed and duckbutt tight fromnm the airbox through the IC and into the manifold. Now this doesnt still utilise the notorious tumble fall apart valves does she? They Maybe non actuating at idle & low rpm.
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The Costco thing is a cop out - All gas must meet Federal minimum detergency standards - but Subaru is NOT responsible for engine damage due to poor fuel - the gasoline franchise is. The New Mobil formulation works well up here if you dont get 60% ethanol and water by accident with all the alcohol phase separating due to slight water absorption. Good luck.
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Old 04-30-2012, 02:48 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josephu999 View Post
... Remember that oxygen is an insulator which prevents ignition and the turbo is boasting the amount of air. Is the turbo over boasting. ...
This must be the new science Ive heard about - it follows the New Math. AFA Boasting - isnt it the turbo owners that are over boasting moreso than the engine proper ?
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Old 04-30-2012, 03:29 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default I thought...

Boasting was a combination of...

Boost and basting.

As in, cooking your engine...
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