Subaru Forester Owners Forum banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
2005 Forester 2.5 XS
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi, I have a '98 Forester with 138K miles on it. It's been a good car the past five years I've owned it, but lately it's becoming a money pit. I am currently an unemployed student and my father (the original owner of the vehicle) pays for repairs. The car recently needed a ton of repairs over the past six months: timing belt, oil pump, radiator, thermostat, head gaskets, water pump, O2 sensor, engine knock sensor, bearings. Whether or not it was worth it is beside the point, I suppose. My father is of the opinion that Subarus are indestructible and even at this car's advanced age, worth pouring $3000+ into repairs on. My good friend, also a Subaru owner ('96 Legacy with 210K+), assured me that it was worth fixing and had put $5000 into his car at around the 140K mark.

I am originally from Massachusetts and get work done at a great local shop that specializes in foreign car repair. But since I'm 180 miles away in Vermont when I'm at college, I had to take it to a local shop. This one has a good reputation. They did the headgaskets, engine knock sensor, O2 sensor, bearings, thermostat and radiator. The repairs took about 2 weeks total. I picked it up, checked the fluids, and took it on a test drive ten miles north up the highway. Once the car got up to 55 mph, the check engine light came back on. I took it back to the shop, code P0400. They originally had told my father that they would replace the EGR valve as well. The shop owner was quite nice about this, explained they had forgotten to replace it (with the multitudes of other things wrong with it, not too surprising), apologized, ordered one in, and replaced it on the house.

I took the car out on the same test run, and the check engine light came back on again. Took it in again today, same trouble code P0400. The mechanic now says it's not the valve again but something with the vacuum control solenoid. He quoted me $85 to fix this. Mind you, the recent repair bill came to $2,450.

I really can't afford to put in this money myself, particularly, and do not want my father to put more money into this car as inevitably more problems will arise. I used to work as a cashier at an auto repair shop myself and am accustomed to pissed off customers who expect their old cars to be magically fixed. But at the same time, I am a bit bothered that the shop seems to have backtracked on their original stance, as they had diagnosed it as having issues with the EGR valve, forgot to repair it when it was there the first time, and now want to charge more for more work. Each time I have gone in, it has been a different mechanic working on the car. The guy I saw today said that he was not the one who did the original diagnosis, just the repairs, so he didn't know. Understandable, but I don't know what to think about this. He said that it wasn't absolutely necessary to replace and will not cause any problems with driving, cause it to overheat, etc.

My questions are: do you think I should speak to the owner of the shop about this? e.g. are shops obliged to fix what they said they were originally going to fix? Should I get this fixed right away? (It's not up for inspection until July. I'm frankly surprised it passed last year).

I'm frankly afraid to drive the thing again at this point. I also don't want to be a rude customer, but geez, with the amount of money just spent, I figured they would have caught that?
 

·
Registered
2011 Forester X AT
Joined
·
4,235 Posts
were you throwing a p0400 before you had the $2500 worth of work done?

At this point I would throw down the $85 and be done with it. Old subarus were bulletproof. Newer subarus are less so but are probably better than most domestics. Any subaru is going to be expensive to maintain at that age unless you learn how to DIY.

Sounds like you should be driving a honda.
 

·
Registered
2005 Forester 2.5 XS
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
were you throwing a p0400 before you had the $2500 worth of work done?

At this point I would throw down the $85 and be done with it. Old subarus were bulletproof. Newer subarus are less so but are probably better than most domestics. Any subaru is going to be expensive to maintain at that age unless you learn how to DIY.

Sounds like you should be driving a honda.
I honestly have no idea. I got the original work done (timing belt, oil pump, and a bearing) replaced in December at the shop in Massachusetts at the beginning of my winter break. I only made short local trips until February, when I had to move back to college in Vermont. At which point the check engine light came back on while I was driving and the car proceeded to overheat multiple times. Each time I managed to pull over and kill the engine before it passed the H on the gauge, let it cool off, and refilled the coolant. Total nightmare. I had to keep going until I was in an area with cell phone service and then got towed. Amazingly the engine wasn't destroyed.

I wish I could DIY but I don't know anything about repairs nor have a garage or access to any tools as I live on a college campus.

And regarding Hondas, so I'm told, but that's not a particularly useful suggestion as I can't afford to invest in another car right now, being jobless with a few thousand in student loans to pay back after graduation. I honestly would prefer to not be driving at all, but unless I get a job in a city or abroad, I'm going to have to make do with this one for the time being. I'm really hesitant to drop more money into this though, but given what's invested in it already, maybe I should just cough up an additional $85 and get on with it?
 

·
Premium Member
2015 Highlander AWD XLE 6AT
Joined
·
4,255 Posts
Niandra,

My oldest son had very similar problems and symptoms last Fall with his ’97 Legacy GT w/ >200K miles. Swapping out the EGR valve and/or vacuum solenoid with new/alternate units didn’t help, as the P0400 code kept returning. :icon_frown:

Long story short: The problem tuned out to be a clogged EGR tube between the back side of the engine and the EGR valve. The tube was so clogged with old exhaust particulate that he couldn’t get a pipe cleaner through it, so he ordered a replacement tube from our local Subaru dealer. The tube port in the head was also clogged, so he cleaned that out with successively larger drill bits and then put our shop vac up to the port to clean out any loose matter.

Just for good measure, he also bought a roll of vacuum tubing and replaced most of the tubing in the car. It’s been fine for the past ~six months: same ol’ EGR valve, same ol’ vacuum solenoid, new EGR tube, new vacuum lines, no P0400 code, the car passed our local emissions test, and it’s running great! :cool:

Finally, entering the words "EGR" and "tube", without the quotation marks, into the forum Search box may deliver some useful hits. :icon_wink:

HTH,
Jim / crewzer
 

·
Registered
2005 Forester 2.5 XS
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi Jim,
Thanks so much for the suggestion! Alas, that is the exact problem. I'm going to leave it to the professionals for now though! Taking it in on Tuesday. Fingers crossed hoping there will be no more problems with it!
-Niandra
 

·
Registered
2003 Forester XS
Joined
·
794 Posts
Niandra,

My oldest son had very similar problems and symptoms last Fall with his ’97 Legacy GT w/ >200K miles. Swapping out the EGR valve and/or vacuum solenoid with new/alternate units didn’t help, as the P0400 code kept returning. :icon_frown:

Long story short: The problem tuned out to be a clogged EGR tube between the back side of the engine and the EGR valve. The tube was so clogged with old exhaust particulate that he couldn’t get a pipe cleaner through it, so he ordered a replacement tube from our local Subaru dealer. The tube port in the head was also clogged, so he cleaned that out with successively larger drill bits and then put our shop vac up to the port to clean out any loose matter.

Just for good measure, he also bought a roll of vacuum tubing and replaced most of the tubing in the car. It’s been fine for the past ~six months: same ol’ EGR valve, same ol’ vacuum solenoid, new EGR tube, new vacuum lines, no P0400 code, the car passed our local emissions test, and it’s running great! :cool:

Finally, entering the words "EGR" and "tube", without the quotation marks, into the forum Search box may deliver some useful hits. :icon_wink:

HTH,
Jim / crewzer

How did he remove the tube with the motor still in the car? I wished I did this when I did my headgaskets 2 years ago :( Not enough room to really swing my wrench.
 

·
Premium Member
2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
Joined
·
8,064 Posts
How did he remove the tube with the motor still in the car? I wished I did this when I did my headgaskets 2 years ago :( Not enough room to really swing my wrench.
There is room for a open end wrench or a tubing wrench. It is slow getting it out but not too hard. Once it is broken loose a stubby wrench allows for more movement.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top