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    Thread: Maintenance, Misfires, and a Spec-B swap - An Outback XT ownership and punishment blog

    1. Member l88m22vette's Avatar
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      03-13-2016 11:33 AM #1
      So over the last several months I've been doing a pretty thorough job of trolling classifieds, eBay, and Craigslist for a replacement for my Forester. Its at 131k and although it runs like a champ there were a bunch of little things that need to be done and its not exactly comfortable or luxurious. I've had it almost exactly 5 years and wanted something that I could easily and reliably roadtrip in, and I also was focusing on more performance-oriented cars for the replacement. I'd been kicking around for a 9-3 Aero Sportcombi, V50, Forester or Outback XT, Mazdaspeed3, and a few wildcards like an FX35 or an Xterra. My targets were about $8k and under 100k, and those are the reasons why I've been looking for months, its pretty dry out there. I also really tried to find a manual where I could, but it was tough with what I wanted and the misses wouldn't want the long-hauler to need special skills (although she can drive stick )

      Saabs offer a lot of car for the money but you have to be patient with finding a specific one, I only saw 5 really solid cars which were around my goals, but 3 were automatics and the other 2 disappeared with a few days of listing. I tried to want a 9-5 but really wanted the smaller car, but if you're not picky there are a bunch of 9-5 SportCombis out there. Saabs seem to have the lowest mileages are far as mile per dollar, and most look to be kept up as well. It was hard to find a V50 and they're a bit bland on the interior, and every Mazdaspeed had really high miles or were 800 miles away. I liked the idea of getting an FX or Xterra but in reality I would hate the crap mileage, though I suppose the FX35 MPGs are close to the XT. I found the XT Friday night, it had been listed that day and only traded on Thursday. Jesus fish on the back, wind deflector on the front, new all-weather mats, 1-owner with full service records, 77k for $9500, and I jumped on this thing like my pants were on fire. I called first thing in the morning and had the keys by 2, sure it was a bit more than expected but every other Subaru out there was at 120k+ so I figured I'd pay a bit more for 50k less. Its clean on the exterior and underside aside from a rusted hitch I plan to recondition, and is almost perfect on the inside, everything works and I got nifty shift buttons on the steering wheel (not fun to learn on highway when trying to change the radio station). My only complaint is a small scar on the dashboard; its as if something got scraped off, and what's worse is that its directly in my line of sight, so my car ADD might be flaring up soon

      I have a good idea about Subarus but wanted to ask a few recommendations, its a 2005 and I know those are some of the most problematic EJ25Ts, the plan is reliability and a bit more fun. Since I already have a moneypit I want to do 3-4 things to the car to and then ignore it aside from maintenance. So far my list includes a catch can setup, tune, downpipe/turboback, and maybe a new turbo intake pipe and diverter valve, but I have to look into the best ones; I know the big tuning recommendation is open-source but have no clue about it otherwise. Basically I want a safe tune for 93oct to not stress the engine, I might build a new shortblock eventually but want that to be out of want, not necessity (translation: I don't want to grenade the stocker). I'm happy with the suspension but want more steering feel and would love to figure out how to get the wind deflector off, and I also need to refinish the headlights. Today just involves checking the oil, trying to dental floss the Jesus fish off, and taking some more pics since its rainy. Any tips or suggestions are welcome!

      Last edited by l88m22vette; 03-30-2016 at 05:05 PM.
      Audi TT FAQ --- Maintenance, Misfires, and a XT Spec-B swap --- Great Lakes TCL Registry

      Quote Originally Posted by LG6R View Post
      The Lincoln was like floating down a river made of flowing chocolate; the Buick was like riding a drunk horse up a cobblestone hill.

    2. Member MAGICGTI's Avatar
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      03-13-2016 12:09 PM #2
      Nice find! Good move on not waffling around, when you see what you're looking for, pounce on it.

      Look into some of the dashboard plastic welding/repair kits. I would be just as annoyed as you are with that scrape.
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      03-13-2016 01:31 PM #3
      Looks clean. That is a good price for this area.

      We're the XT auto only?

    4. Senior Member
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      03-13-2016 01:47 PM #4
      Great deal! Legacy GT with a lift kit and some nice looking flares. They definitely look great with aftermarket suspension and those flares...

      They did make the XT with a manual, but they are EXTREMELY rare.

    5. Member CodeMan's Avatar
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      03-13-2016 02:10 PM #5
      Nice grab, OP.

      A family member and a friend have had manual XTs. Definitely a fun drive. Both have had engine problems as well though.

    6. Member PizzaCat!'s Avatar
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      03-13-2016 02:13 PM #6
      I hate you.















      ....nice find
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    7. Senior Member nm+'s Avatar
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      03-13-2016 02:14 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by Numbersix View Post
      Great deal! Legacy GT with a lift kit and some nice looking flares. They definitely look great with aftermarket suspension and those flares...

      They did make the XT with a manual, but they are EXTREMELY rare.
      They're less rare than manual wagons.
      Watch out for your ringlands op.

      That said, don't rebuild the block unless you grenade it. The piston failure 9 times out of 10 (or more) doesn't hurt the block or anything else.
      Also, above 100k or so, you may wish to recase the engine if you're going to rebuild anyhow as the blocks have some lifespan issues around 150kish.
      Get a real tune, get rid of the up-pipe cat, and just drive.
      Also, budget to replace the turbo at 100-150k if the po maintained it right and nowish if they didn't.

      Also, the timing belt change is due at 105k or 10 years, so chop chop. Make sure to replace everything down there.
      Last edited by nm+; 03-13-2016 at 02:20 PM.
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      03-13-2016 02:23 PM #8
      Wow, very nice condition and low one owner miles.
      Can't argue with that deal.
      It's not exactly sporty except compared to more traditional cross-overs and USVs- but at least it has scoot power.
      Always liked the Legacy Wagon GT of this gen.
      removed because realized just as annoying as the people that refuse to turn off their phone app's auto-spam with every post.

    9. 03-13-2016 03:30 PM #9
      Nice pickup

      My girlfriend has a 2005 xt in the champagne color, 246k miles and going strong. I really like that thing.

    10. Member CaleDeRoo's Avatar
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      03-13-2016 03:37 PM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by PoorHouse View Post
      Looks clean. That is a good price for this area.

      We're the XT auto only?

      Manuals for the entire 05-09 model run
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    11. Member l88m22vette's Avatar
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      03-13-2016 05:48 PM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by Rabbit5GTI View Post
      I hate you.

      ....nice find
      Haha thanks everyone it definitely was a find, Subaru resale is stupid-high around here and I rightly should have paid a good $13k for the mileage. The ringland concerns are my biggest item to account for, that's why I want the preventative stuff like a catch can, better tune, etc., though I hadn't heard of just the uppipe, will that throw a CEL or should I wait for the tune? From what I've read the pistons are ok aside from being very sensitive to detonation, I just threw Lucas fuel treatment and fresh 93oct in when I took it for a spin this morning but plan to baby it until I get the parts/tune sorted. I think I'll do the few right-away things then start trolling for cheap shortblock parts, one nice thing about Subarus is that there are parts everywhere if you look hard enough.

      As stated the manuals are rare, and they are the weak 5spds anyway, I'd only want an STi 6spd and that's too involved for what I bought the car for (though obviously tempting, maybe once its paid off). I will do the oil, trans and diff fluids, and probably bleed the brakes on the first nice day, its warming up but almost constantly drizzly/rainy/wet. I'm also going to get some SS brake lines and HPS pads, the brakes are pretty mushy. I just got a 3M headlight restore kit from AutoZone, it was on sale for like $20. Two bummers are that the stock remote is broken and a bolster on the driver's seat is kind of worn, maybe I'll spring for a security system and keep and eye out for a seat...

      Ah crap I've already got a parts list going Few more pics...


      Last edited by l88m22vette; 03-13-2016 at 06:21 PM.
      Audi TT FAQ --- Maintenance, Misfires, and a XT Spec-B swap --- Great Lakes TCL Registry

      Quote Originally Posted by LG6R View Post
      The Lincoln was like floating down a river made of flowing chocolate; the Buick was like riding a drunk horse up a cobblestone hill.

    12. Member Pickleheadguy's Avatar
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      03-13-2016 05:50 PM #12
      Man, that's a clean Subie. Glad you were willing to stretch the budget for a better car, it should go a long time.

    13. Member Dandbest's Avatar
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      03-13-2016 08:42 PM #13
      Congrats, I always liked the way these look. I would start with the basics- do a set of spark plugs and a compression test, just so that you're sure the engine is healthy and cyl 4 isn't already fooked. Also, as was already mentioned, an up pipe is a must. My old 2002 WRX had a sensor in it that I removed, but used a 2ohm resistor, from what I remember to not have a CEL. The 2.5 doesn't have that, from what I remember, but again, if it did its easily bypassed.

    14. Member Pnuu's Avatar
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      03-13-2016 08:54 PM #14
      Nice find, an XT was the only contender when we got our Tiguan but we couldn't find a newer one in our price range. I'm all about the fun engine in a practical, roomy chassis.

    15. Member l88m22vette's Avatar
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      03-13-2016 09:09 PM #15
      I've seen the comments about the sensor so I'm not worried. Ok so it seems like the consensus is: catch can, tune, uppipe, oil line filter, compression test and plugs. Anything else to overbuild the engine and help reliability? I wish it was going to be nice this week, not having a garage suuuucks
      Audi TT FAQ --- Maintenance, Misfires, and a XT Spec-B swap --- Great Lakes TCL Registry

      Quote Originally Posted by LG6R View Post
      The Lincoln was like floating down a river made of flowing chocolate; the Buick was like riding a drunk horse up a cobblestone hill.

    16. Member Dandbest's Avatar
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      03-13-2016 10:04 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by l88m22vette View Post
      I've seen the comments about the sensor so I'm not worried. Ok so it seems like the consensus is: catch can, tune, uppipe, oil line filter, compression test and plugs. Anything else to overbuild the engine and help reliability? I wish it was going to be nice this week, not having a garage suuuucks
      Once you do all this, I say just drive the car. If the ej25 grenades, it grenades. Plenty of options if you end up liking the car enough.

    17. Senior Member nm+'s Avatar
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      03-13-2016 10:21 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by l88m22vette View Post
      I've seen the comments about the sensor so I'm not worried. Ok so it seems like the consensus is: catch can, tune, uppipe, oil line filter, compression test and plugs. Anything else to overbuild the engine and help reliability? I wish it was going to be nice this week, not having a garage suuuucks
      Seriously, DON'T BUILD A MOTOR UNTIL YOU BLOW YOURS UP. (offer void if putting a bigger turbo on)
      With a decent dyno tune (not an off the shelf tune), you may never need a new motor. 98% of the issue is the tune. Australia got exactly the same motor from the same factory with a different tune and piston failures on stop motors is fairly uncommon. Also, while the pistons on the 2005 do fail (yo), they seem somewhat more durable that what 2007+ got (Pistons are different). Also if you do do this, remember, you have an EJ257, not an EJ255, which has different pistons.
      Also, do a leakdown test, not a compression test. The ringland failure often presents in a manner that will pass a compression test.
      Check your oil at every fillup. These cars use oil weird. You can go 3000 mi without dropping a mm on the dipstick and the next fillup, you're at the low line.

      Fake edit: Forgot. One issue that does exist on these motors is that the oil pickup tube will fail, slowly. Go get a killer B or something. Drop in a better baffle when you're there.

      Real edit: Re up-pipe. A 2005 has a catted uppipe. The catless uppipe from the same year STI (and all other of that body style) will drop right in. They're cheap. Do the resistor mod, though a tuner can turn that light off too.
      Last edited by nm+; 03-13-2016 at 10:23 PM.
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      03-13-2016 10:39 PM #18
      I recommend you do some research on legacygt.com.

      Make sure to search for turbo issues. Cross-reference with the Legacy GT cars, since your XT is basically a lifted Legacy GT wagon.

      One thing to search for is "banjo bolt filter." Make sure to clean yours and set up a personal inspection routine.

      The engine is known to be fragile. The turbo blows on a regular basis, often but not only because of oil starvation. The blown turbo can take out the short block and even the heads. Replacing the turbo will not necessarily forestall the next turbo from blowing, if oil starvation because of blocked oil passages isn't remedied at the same time. Be forewarned.

      You want to double the original number of factory-recommended oil changes; think in terms of every 3K miles.

      Check the oil every time you stop for gas. Keep a log. You're past warranty or even extended warranty, so the information can't be used to help prove that you were not negligent. (Subaru denied many people warranty repairs of their engines because Subaru claimed that people were negligent by running their engines with low oil levels, whether or not it was in fact the case.) However, it is good information for you, to catch any problem early.

      I recommend against tuning it if the plan is reliability. It is surprisingly powerful as is, and you don't want to exacerbate already-existing issues.

      Search for transmission issues. I honestly don't know what they are for the automatic transmission. The manual had several known problem areas, including clutches that rarely lasted past 60K even with little old ladies driving them to church every Sunday, and throwout bearings that would fail and trash the entire transmission. I do not know if there are similar issues over on the automatic side of things.

      Best wishes!

    19. Senior Member nm+'s Avatar
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      03-13-2016 11:05 PM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by biturbowagon View Post

      I recommend against tuning it if the plan is reliability. It is surprisingly powerful as is, and you don't want to exacerbate already-existing issues.
      This is not correct. The EJ257's issues are basically all caused by the OEM tune (though made worse with the soft pistons). A good dyno tune with the express purpose of reliability, not power will prevent the motor from detonating which will prevent motor issues.
      The USDM tune is unsafe garbage.
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    20. Member l88m22vette's Avatar
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      03-13-2016 11:41 PM #20
      Thanks for all the tips, are there line upgrades, does rotating the turbo help? I'm fine spending some money if it helps in the long run (and won't turn down good reasons for mods lol)
      Audi TT FAQ --- Maintenance, Misfires, and a XT Spec-B swap --- Great Lakes TCL Registry

      Quote Originally Posted by LG6R View Post
      The Lincoln was like floating down a river made of flowing chocolate; the Buick was like riding a drunk horse up a cobblestone hill.

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      03-13-2016 11:51 PM #21
      I'm talking about tuning for increased horsepower, not tuning for addressing the lean running condition.

      Another quirk about the car: expect the headlight bulbs to burn out every 10K or so, unless you deactivate the DRLs. Instructions to do so are available on legacygt.com, or they're easy enough to replace and cost a nominal amount ($15?).

    22. Member SSj4G60's Avatar
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      03-14-2016 12:57 AM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by nm+ View Post
      .
      Check your oil at every fillup. These cars use oil weird. You can go 3000 mi without dropping a mm on the dipstick and the next fillup, you're at the low line.
      .
      X2

      The way my car goes through oil is really weird too. Whether driving it easy or hard the oil consumption is never consistent.

      That reminds me ...

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      03-14-2016 08:34 AM #23
      Congratulations fellow Outback owner, they look great in white. I stole this mint 2005 1 owner Outback with 108,000 miles for $1,000 last month. The clutch needed to be replaced but other then that the car is absolutely perfect.


      Quote Originally Posted by Captain 'Murica! View Post
      I'd rather have AIDS than a diesel station wagon.

    24. Member l88m22vette's Avatar
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      03-30-2016 11:08 AM #24
      2-week/1000 mile bump, I really love this car. I have wanted some kind of turbo Subaru since Gran Turismo and reading WRC news in Autosport at Borders, and this car really ticks a lot of car geek boxes. It basically flies under the radar aside from the small scoop and edgier wheels, it feels solid and drives smoothly, and the community and aftermarket support is ridiculous. It is a very pleasant car to drive and comfy over most of the Chicago roads, and it is far more refined than my 2001 Forester. The car is always ready to jump from being a sedate mid-size sedan to a hound with its hackles raised, and I can tell a few bolt-ons and a tune will really bring the car into its own. I've noticed that I am getting down my driving patterns in the car, I tend to leave the trans in sport mode, aside from warm-up, because it holds 1st and 2nd instead of rushing to 4th at 35mph. D is strictly for Mrs. Daisy, I can definitely get better mileage with sport mode or using manual around town. Summary/thoughts so far:

      Positives
      - potent EJ257*, and emits a very legit growl when I stomp the gas
      - the 5EAT is the best auto trans I've driven
      - car geek-approved aluminum hood, fenders, hatch, and wiper defrosters (be still my beating heart)
      - electric variable center and LSD rear diffs
      - really neutral handling and light on its feet
      - I love how it hits the sweet spot of being a boosted rally car, a normalish-driving wagon, and a useable off-road/utility vehicle

      Negatives
      - brakes are crappy, they are based off the mid-aughts WRX and you can tell they aren't for a bigger car
      - needs more rear swaybar and an alignment
      - has a crinkle on the hood that was hidden under the deflector
      - driver's side headlight has some broken tabs, that will be replaced when I find a cheap one

      Plans
      - install rear cargo net, program new remote, ditch banjo bolt filter
      - Tactrix OBDII reader, solid, safe tune for the EJ (XRT comes with a trans remap as well but open-source is cheaper)
      - full brake upgrade, easiest is 4-wheel swap from the Legacy but there are other options
      - a few bolt-ons
      - get hood chip and any little detailing fixed during the summer, Scotchgard interior
      - maybe 1" spacers with new wheels/tires

      * thanks nm+!

      Newest pic, I'll keep updating...
      Last edited by l88m22vette; 03-30-2016 at 05:13 PM.
      Audi TT FAQ --- Maintenance, Misfires, and a XT Spec-B swap --- Great Lakes TCL Registry

      Quote Originally Posted by LG6R View Post
      The Lincoln was like floating down a river made of flowing chocolate; the Buick was like riding a drunk horse up a cobblestone hill.

    25. Member WinterWagon's Avatar
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      03-30-2016 11:33 AM #25
      Nice Car!

      Can confirm, XT+Manual Outbacks are fun, rare, and fragile. I *helped* a friend burn his parents clutch in a 2005 when it was only a year old or so..

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