15th Oct 2004, 19:00

Also, check the Coolant Temperature Sensor. If you run the codes it will show up. My '95 Legacy ran like crap until I had this replaced. No problems since!

2nd Mar 2005, 05:12

I have a 1997 Subaru outback/legacy, I bought the car about five months ago. The only problem I have had is that the car failed the emissions testing, they tell me that the catalytic converter has gone bad. The problem is that they don't know which one is bad and it will cost $500 per converter to replace. Does anyone know of a place that sells used Subaru parts because I'd like to fix it myself. Also will they let me replace the converter myself?

13th Dec 2005, 10:23

I bought a broken '97 OBW five months ago. The engine light was on and the engine shook horribly at idle. It also was lacking power. I assumed that the head gasket was shot, as this is a common problem on these cars at 140k miles. I pulled the heads, and found that an exhaust valve was burnt as a result of the previous owner not doing the recommended valve adjustment at 100k. Over time, the exhaust valves seat further into the head, reducing the clearance between the cam and cam followers. Eventually there is zero clearance, at which time the valves remain slightly open. Newton's physics then cause them to burn.

A new valve was $13. A new top end gasket set (including the redesigned head gaskets) was $180. Three new valve shims were $6 each. The entire procedure, from start to finish, is written in Haynes or Chilton repair manuals. The cost to have the car repaired at the dealer or an independent shop was $1500-$2000, which is why I was able to buy the car for $1200. A proper, timely valve adjust would have cost the previous owner about $250. I guess the lesson is that if you know nothing about cars, you should at least stick to the recommended maintenance schedule.

Upon attempting to register the car, the reverse light did not work properly. I removed the reverse switch from the transmission (the procedure, again, is in any repair manual and you don't even have to jack the car up), cleaned it up, pushed the actuator in and out a few times, then reinstalled it. It's been working flawlessly since.

A note to the person needing cats -- check Rock Auto on-line. They list both cats, one for $157 and the other for $234. You could buy universal ones for $125, but you would need a welder to install them, though you might be able to get a muffler shop to do it for not too much. For the best deal on original Subi parts, check out https://www.1stsubaruparts.com, though I wouldn't go that way for cats, as they are 2-3x Rock auto's price. Advance Auto Parts sometimes has better deals on parts, and is also available on-line.

8th Jan 2008, 19:54

My husband and I bought a 1997 Subaru Legacy Outback Wagon on March 9th, 2007. When we got the car, we thought it ran nice and it had the space we needed as we were having a baby due in September. Two months later we had problems with the car showing all of the warning lights and turning off the radio right before it shut off. If you let it sit for a while it would turn back on and you may not have a had a problem for a few days, but it would eventually happen again. We figured out that it was the alternator, or so we thought. We replaced the alternator and the car still shut off on us. It turns out it was a connection to the alternator that was bad and it was replaced and that has been fine ever since.

Another problem we've had recently is the car has been overheating about every 4 days. I drove it to my army reserve drill and had to let it sit in the parking lot over night because it overheated shortly after I left. We thought it might have been the thermostat. A friend then informed us that it is a blown head gasket. There is build up in the radiator that smells like gas and oil. When you turn on the car the smell of antifreeze comes out of the heater.

The car still has a strong motor and endures a lot of driving. We have over 190,000 miles on it and it's going strong except for the head gasket situation. Still trying to rectify that issue.

6th Nov 2008, 20:01

Any suggestion, how to repair a blown head gasket? My car overheats, lower hose cold. Other than that my 1997 Subaru Legacy Outback, 2.5 engine, drives great.

I'm senior citizen and money is an issue.


20th Feb 2009, 16:56

I have a 97 Subaru Outback Legacy wagon. I love the car, but lets see; blown engine, overheating issues, now electrical, and the car is back to not starting again. This is getting to be a sink hole, the knock sensor has just been replaced among some other things.

It turns over, but it just won't fire up! Spark plugs good, starter newish, I know when it's a starter problem, cause had that before, I would just like it to work all the time! It kills dates when you get stuck, ahhhh any ideas?

16th Mar 2009, 17:36

My 97 legacy gt was knocking when it got wet. Mechanic put a new coil in it, and it doesn't knock any more.

28th Apr 2010, 05:57

I see here a whole lot of complaints involving knock sensors! They are piezo-electric crystals that don't get much wrong with them unless they are receiving a lot of knocking, which is normally caused by people putting the wrong fuel in! Subaru engines like high octane fuel! People will often opt for the cheaper lower octane stuff without realising this can be detrimental to your engine! It doesn't only shorten the life of your knock sensors, but also causes the main and big end bearings to wear out faster because they have to bear the extra stresses caused by the forces of detonation (pre-ignition!). Therefore use the right fuel type and your Subi will be so much more reliable and will live longer!

31st Aug 2010, 09:52

To the last person posted. You need a valve adjustment. Also check or replace engine relays. The shimmy is from worn bushings on the front end, probably the control arms. You can get these off ebay, and take to a good shop after an inspection for cracked or worn bushings.

4th Nov 2010, 12:36

Anyone have any idea what I should be charged for replacing a blown head gasket in a 1997 Subaru Outback Legacy? My teenage daughter's vehicle is headed into the garage... just bracing myself.


4th Nov 2010, 18:47

The head gasket job generally runs $1500 - $2000 (mostly labor). You can buy a kit to test the air in your radiator for exhaust gasses for $40 if you want a second opinion before laying out mucho dinero.



21st Nov 2010, 18:41

A head gasket job should only cost about 700 dollars! Don't take your Subaru to a Subaru specialty shop; they like to charge extra because Subarus are different! Take it to a good mechanic that knows how to work on Subarus! They are simpler to work on than most cars actually, and most mechanics if they are any good will love to work on Subarus!