The Winter season brings cold weather to many parts of the country, and with it the traditional driveability problems.
Before you push the panic button on Subaru cold weather and driveability problems, remember:
• No vehicle runs as well when it is cold as it does when it is at normal operating temperature.
• You have been operating the vehicle in more moderate temperatures and has gotten accustomed to the way it has been running. Now it is colder and things are not working the same.
• Some areas of the country may be using gasoline blended for warmer temperatures. These fuels normally do not atomize as well in cooler temperatures.
• Oxygenated and reformulated fuels that are in use in many parts of the country are normally harder to ignite in cold cylinders.
• Many drivers get their gas at one station because it may be close to home or work. Question them about this and if this is true, suggest they try a different brand of gas. It may take a couple tanks before any improvement is noticed. Different manufacturers blend their fuels differently.
• The 4EAT has a temperature sensor in the ATF and the Transmission Control Unit (TCU) will not allow an up-shift into 4th gear until the ATF has reached a specific temperature. This 4EAT design characteristic may be interpreted as a driveability problem by a driver who is not familiar with 4EAT operation.
There are many reasons for Subaru cold weather and driveability issues during cooler weather. Spending a few minutes with your Subaru and look over the points listed above should eliminate misconceptions about the Subaru cold weather performance and driveability characteristics of Subaru vehicles.
Batteries low in voltage (below 11.6 volts) need to be specially charged. A battery at this voltage is heavily sulfated and needs either a very long, slow charge, or a very high initial charge voltage.
The battery should be left on the battery charger for at least two days. Since the acid in the battery will mostly be stratified, it needs sufficient overcharge to mix. Even after a two day charge, the battery still may only come to 60-80 percent of capacity and may need to be cycled to come to full charge. If possible, once the battery is fully charged by this method, it’s advisable to finish with a constant 1 amp for an additional 24 hours.
A battery that is below 11.6 volts can also be hydrated. This means there is lead sulfate in the separator that will form lead shorts once the battery charges. Because of these shorts, the battery may self discharge once the battery has been recharged.
Emission testing of a Full-Time 4WD or all-wheel-drive vehicle must never be performed on a single two-wheel dynamometer, nor should a state I/M program inspector or its contractors install the FWD fuse in the engine compartment. Attempting to do so will result in uncontrolled vehicle movement and may cause an accident or injuries to persons nearby.
Resultant vehicle damage due to improper testing is not covered under the SUBARU Limited Warranty and is the responsibility of the state I/M Program or its contractors or licensees.
The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement programs to reduce air pollution from motor vehicles. Certain states are required to adopt either a “basic” or “enhanced” vehicle Inspection/Maintenance (l/M) Program, depending on the severity of their air pollution problem.
The ‘enhanced’ I/M emission testing simulates actual driving conditions on a dynamometer and permits more accurate measurement of tailpipe emissions than the ‘basic’ I/M test, which measures emissions only during engine operating conditions at idle and 2500 RPM. The ‘enhanced’ l/M test also includes a pressure check to identify evaporative emissions leaks in the fuel system.
A major component of the Subaru OBD-II system is the system’s ability to monitor the evaporative emissions system. Today’s vehicles are producing very low emissions from the tailpipe, so it has become increasingly important to monitor and contain emissions from other vehicle sources.
A potentially large source of emissions is the vehicle’s fuel system. If not properly contained, vapors escaping from the fuel tank could produce a larger quantity of harmful emissions while the vehicle was standing still than what would be emitted via the tailpipe when the engine was running and the vehicle was driving down the road.
The Subaru OBD-II system monitors the evaporative emissions system by drawing the system to a negative pressure. If the system holds vacuum, it passes the test. If the system fails to hold vacuum for the prescribed period, it fails and a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) P04440 is stored in the ECM memory. The malfunction indicator light (MIL) also comes on in the dash to alert the driver to the problem.
The charts that follow were collected through the data link connector using the New Select Monitor (NSM), during the diagnosis of a DTC P0440 on a 1997 Subaru Legacy 2.5 liter. We’ll begin with a description of system operation under normal operating conditions.
This is a simple overview on diagnosing knock sensor issues with your Subaru Impreza/Forester/Legacy/Etc.
The knock sensor is designed to sense knocking signals from each cylinder. The knock sensor is a piezo-electric type element which converts knocking vibrations into electrical signals. The electrical signal is sent to the ECM, which changes the ignition timing to reduce the engine knock or ping. For this system to work correctly, the knock sensor must first hear the engine ping. The driver of the vehicle may also hear a small engine ping. A delay of approximately 1-2 seconds is normal, depending on the fuel quality, engine load, air temp, etc. At this time, the ECM will retard the timing.
This function can be viewed on the Select Monitor RTRD mode. When the knock is eliminated, the timing is gradually advanced to the specified setting. If engine ping is heard again this process is repeated. This will continue until the knock sensor no longer hears the engine knock or ping.
Note: This is a normal operation of the knock sensor. Do not try to repair it.
The next page will discuss asking the right questions on diagnosing knock sensor failures.
This is a step by step guide on how to do a brake fluid flush on most Subaru cars. It’s often a good idea to do a brake fluid flush at least once a year to keep your Subaru’s braking system in good condition. This is even more important if you autocross or do track days with your car. Use a good performance brake fluid and not whatever is cheapest at Autozone. I have a strong preference towards ATE and Motul brake fluid. Good fluid combined with good brake pads like a Hawks or Carbotechs will give your Subaru great stopping power.
1.) Either jack-up the vehicle and place a rigid rack under it, or lift-up the vehicle.
2.) Remove all the wheels.
3.) Drain the brake fluid from master cylinder.
4.) Refill the reservoir tank with recommended brake fluid.
• Avoid mixing different brands of brake fluid to prevent degrading the quality of fluid.
• Be careful not to allow dirt or dust to get into the reservoir tank.
Air bleeding sequence (1) → (2) → (3) → (4)
5.) Install one end of a vinyl tube onto the air bleeder and insert the other end of the tube into a container to collect the brake fluid.
• Cover the bleeder with cloth, when loosening it, to prevent brake fluid from being splashed over surrounding parts.
• During the bleeding operation, keep the brake reservoir tank filled with brake fluid to eliminate entry of air.
• The brake pedal operation must be very slow.
• For convenience and safety, two people should do the work.
• The amount of brake fluid required is approx. 500
m2 (16.9 US fl oz, 17.6 Imp fl oz) for total brake
6.) Have a friend depress the brake pedal slowly two or three times and then hold it depressed.
Beginning with the 1997 model year, the 2.2 and 2.5 engines were made more fuel efficient, more powerful, and were given a flatter, more usable torque curve than in previous years. To achieve these objectives, it was necessary to make improvements and modifications to the Subaru engine lineup. The following are some of those improvements:
• Mechanical valve lash adjusters (reduces friction).
• Lightweight pistons (reduces inertia).
• Short skirt, Molybdenum coated pistons (reduces friction).
• Increased compression ratio (improved power output).
• Improved cylinder head design (improved cooling).
• Improved induction system (improved breathing).
As a result of these enhancements, some Subaru engines may exhibit some engine noise during the warm-up period after a cold startup. This engine noise is a consequence of the engine improvements and is not, in any way, an indication of any engine problem.