Few types of diagnostic trouble codes can be more confusing than those dealing with emission problems. From the beginning of mandatory Subaru OBD2 in 1996, more codes have been added and some have changed. Here’s a look at how Subaru of America, Inc. has added and streamlined P0400-series DTCs.
Emissions-related Subaru OBD2 diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) have evolved over the last dozen years to more precisely pinpoint the problems in automotive systems. The handful of emissions codes used for On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) systems on the late 1980s and early 1990s has grown to nearly a hundred today. Over that time, many DTCS have been modified to more accurately reflect the cause, while others have been added to the list to address issues with advancing technology.
In order to understand how these factors affect Subaru OBD2 vehicles, it’s necessary to first look at the history of emissions control, on-board diagnostics and the DTC coding system.
The amount of force exerted on wheel bearings is astounding. Each bearing is required to smoothly control the rotation of the wheel to the tune of about a thousand revolutions per mile, support the transfer of power to the wheels for rapid starts and sudden stops, and handle the powerful lateral twisting force of the tires changing direction against the pavement — all while supporting a vertical load of hundreds of pounds. And, we expect them to perform flawlessly just about forever? Not realistic.
The “Achilles Heel” of a wheel bearing is the seal. Although wheel bearings can fail due to damage, improper installation or material imperfection, the most common cause of failure is the seal losing its ability to hold the lubricating grease in and/or dirt and water out.
However, the best seal, applied to the best wheel bearing, cannot be expected to last if not correctly installed. This primer can help you properly service Subaru wheel bearings.
One of the most common concerns that any vehicle owner perceives as a problem is brake noise when stopping the vehicle. The question pops up: “What is considered to be an ‘acceptable’ level of brake noise?”
The disc brake systems used on vehicles today are designed and developed to meet many different, but very strict requirements. This must be accomplished while providing an optimum level of performance under a wide range of vehicle and environmental operating conditions.
The brake pads selected must be a balanced choice. There is a fine line between a quiet brake pad and one that will provide optimum performance under extreme braking conditions. Consequently, when a change is made in the brake pad formulation (whether it is meant to provide longer pad life, shorter stopping distances, noise reduction or a change in pedal effort), a trade-off must be made in one area or another.
An example of pad formulation change would be the industry’s switch from asbestos to semi-metallic brake linings.
Engine tuning status; the condition of the rotating components; operational condition of the control sensors and components; the presence of any air leaks in the turbocharger system; the control settings; and even the weather.
■ Boost Leak
When air (boost) is leaking within the turbo system or intake, it is referred to as “boost leak.” This may be caused by loose assembly of the components, a bad seal or a cracked component. Under such a condition, the turbocharger may not create enough boost pressure, or reach adequate levels.
■ Boost Spike
A boost spike is an erratic increase in boost pressure, mainly experienced when the vehicle is accelerating through the lower gears and the controller can’t adjust to the changes in engine speeds as quickly as would be ideal.
Several factors can influence boost pressure and affect turbocharger efficiency.
The key factors are:
Ambient Air Temperature and Pressure
As the air temperature rises, the ability of the turbocharger to compress the warmer air decreases. This phenomenon is directly due to the decrease in air density and the physical limitation of the turbocharger.
Even when the air temperature is low, the air density (barometric pressure or boost pressure) may be low. Under these conditions, lower than expected boost pressure may be experienced. The diameter of the exhaust system will vary the pressure differential across the turbine. A larger exhaust allows the turbocharger to rotate faster, which results in higher boost pressure.
Any increase in boost pressure would require “re-mapping” of the ECM programs to accommodate different air flow rates and resultant ignition change requirements. Over-revving of the turbine – trying to supply enough boost – can lead to turbocharger failure, particularly in conjunction with the increase in the pressure differential across the turbine.
The heart of any vehicle is the engine. It’s what makes it go. Anything that jeopardizes the operation of the engine can have disastrous effects and result in extensive repairs. If the engine is the heart of the vehicle, then surely the cooling system is the “circulatory system” that keeps the engine operating at optimum temperatures. If it doesn’t, bad things are going to happen.
Subaru engines are modern masterpieces of technology and precision. Manufactured of multi-alloy metals and exotic materials, these engines contain more components, weigh less, produce more power and torque and are more durable than the old iron engines of 40 years ago. However, even these high-tech engines can be damaged or destroyed by excessively high internal temperatures.
Though more energy efficient than ever before, the combustion of fuel and air in the cylinders that produces the power that propels the vehicle still creates an enormous amount of waste heat. This is carried away from the cylinders either by venting it out through the exhaust system or via the cooling system. If either of these systems fail to keep the engine at normal operating temperatures, an overheating condition occurs. Of the two, the cooling system is most vulnerable.
The cooling system can easily be contaminated or compromised by anyone putting the wrong products into the radiator or reservoir. Often, Subaru owners or service facilities that are not aware of the specific needs of the vehicle will put incorrect chemicals into the system. In fact, according to figures published by the U. S. Department of Transportation, coolant-related problems are the primary cause of mechanical breakdowns on the highway. Many of these breakdowns could have been avoided by the use of proper coolant and the right additives.
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.