Hello. I recently traded in my previous car for a 2003 Subaru Outback Wagon 4D. It has a 4 cylinder engine and a manual transmission. So far it has been running just fine. I had the Subaru dealership do a pre-purchaser’s inspection on the vehicle before I purchased it from the dealer across the street. The car is in excellent condition. 76,000 miles on it and only the drive belt and a few other cosmetic things were fixed before I purchased it. The only issue I have with it is the high rpms. Maybe I am not used to AWD vehicles, but the rpms are on average 500 more than my Toyota Corolla’s at any given speed. For example, If I am going 60mph, my rpms are 3,000, and this is in 5th gear. They go all the way up to 3500 when I am going 70mph. Is this normal or way too high? It just doesn’t seem right. Any suggestions? Also, my car is very loud when I am going faster than 55mph. Seems like the windows don’t seal very well when closed.
This sounds about right for a heavy (AWD) 4-cylinder vehicle…
The gearing is different between cars and 500 rpm is not significant.
You can count this as one more vote for this situation not being abnormal.
My '03 4-cyl. manual Outback performs just the same as yours. I’ve had it less than 2 years, but my hunch is that with such a small engine there’s no other choice than to have a transmission geared so low, resulting in high RPMs on the highway. Have you noticed there’s not much power to accelerate unless you’re over 2200 RPM? On the other hand, I can take some city corners in 3rd gear with no problems as long as I don’t try to accelerate out of them quickly - seems that the small 4-cyl. engine still has enough torque and no lugging at low RPMs, but just not enough power to speed up. That’s one reason I love manual transmissions: having the control to use lower RPMs when I can, thereby getting better mileage. There are times I wish it had 6th gear, though!
As for the wind noise, I’ve found that it comes from air passing over the front doors where the side mirrors attach. A short-term fix is to open the front doors, roll down the windows, and carefully squeeze the trailing edges of the mirror bracket together. This makes a better seal with the windows when you’re driving and cuts down the wind noise significantly. To make the fix last longer, don’t shut the doors using the glass windows, only push on the metal part of the door in order to avoid flexing the glass more than necessary.