2005 Subaru Outback XT 2.5- Check Engine Light

We were driving yesterday and the car started making a whirring noise as I accelerated. No noise wen not pushing on gas. Then, the noise mostly went away. Then we heard a rattling noise. Sounded like it was near the front passenger tire. After about another 10 minutes, the check engine light went on and the cruise control was disabled. On our way home (after we stopped to ski), the rattling wasn’t so loud, car seemed to be driving fine, but CEL is still on. deas what this might be? Is it safe to drive it about 15 miles to the closest AutoZone to get the code? Or straight to an independent shop?

Also, we are in NY - it’s been cold winter.

As long as the CEL isn’t flashing, it is safe to drive. I’d start with AutoZone, but make sure that you get the alpha numeric code (Pxxxx). They should enter the code from their code reader into the computer and it will make suggestions as to what the problem is. For now, ignore the suggestions and just tell us the code, it will be at the top of the cash register printout.

From your description, I would not be surprised if the code is in the range of P0325 to P0334, but get it read first. Guessing could get expensive.

Thanks. On my way to autozone now

Problem is P0011. Can you all tell me what to do?

I posted my response in the other thread that you just created.
(Hint: Try to keep everything in one thread if you want to keep things less confusing!)

When was the last time you had your timing belt changed? This could be very serious or it could be nothing. It would be serious if you haven’t had your timing belt changed in the last 7 years.

People think that timing belts always break when they fail, but often they just strip off some teeth and that allows the belt to slip timing. Old belts tend to fail in very cold weather.

This is an interference engine, so if the timing gets very far off, it will damage the valves. I’m going to recommend that you go to the site linked below and check with them, there are some very good Subaru owners with mechanical experience on that board.

Here is some more reading material for you.


thanks Keith. This is all very helpful. We bought the car used and it was very well-maintained. But i’m checking the records now to see if Timing Belt was changed.

timing belt was changed at 60K miles in oct 2011. So that shouldn’t be a problem…right? Now we have about 90k miles on the car. we don’t drive it much.

Tow it. The rattle is likely the turbo fallen apart. Straight to indy shop. The rattling may introduce metal fragments to your oil stream.

Check out legacygt.com for other possibilities. (Legacy GT=Outback XT)

Think it needs to be towed? I’m 10 blocks from my shop. I was thinking of doing an oil flush first. Changing the oil. Would that help? Turbo does not feel like it’s working at this point. Dealer or Indy shop at this point?

The rattling is most likely engine knock from over advanced timing as indicated by the code. The ignition timing is based on the cam position, so if the cam position sensor was off, the timing would also be off.

Since the belt can be pretty much ruled out as it isn’t that old, the problem could be oil related. Did AutoZone erase the code for you? Do you still have the rattle? Does this car have a turbocharged 4 cylinder engine, regular 4 cylinder or a 6 cylinder?


Keith–Below is the response that I gave the OP in the other thread that he created.
Just so that you are aware, 2.5 liter=4 cylinder, and “XT”=turbo-charged, hence the reason for my response:

That code indicates a problem with the camshaft position sensor.
That can result from dirty oil, so that leads to a question that I was going to ask even before you posted this second thread with the trouble code:

In view of this engine’s turbo-charger…Have you been changing the oil on the schedule mentioned in the maintenance schedule? Have you been using the correct specification motor oil?

Turbo-charged engines can be very troublesome if you allow the oil to remain in the crankcase for too long, and/or if you don’t use the correct-spec motor oil. What can you tell us about the engine’s maintenance history?

My theory–subject to correction–is that old/over-used/non-spec oil resulted in the bearings in the turbo-charger becoming “coked”, thus wiping out the turbo-charger. As was already suggested, it would be a good idea to NOT start the engine, and to have it towed to a mechanic who is knowledgeable about turbo-related issues.

i think it’s probably oil related. Unfortunately we can’t remember when we had it changed last and it was probably too long ago…6-9 months, which is ridiculous. We really don’t drive the car much – maybe 6k per year. But still, we should have done this sooner. Our fantastic mechanic went out of business. We found anew one close by, but don’t know them well yet. We hear they do good work, but are maybe overpriced. But it is only 10 blocks away, so maybe a good idea to just drive it in there on Monday morning when they re-open. Before we owned the car (Oct.2013), the car was very regularly maintained at the dealership where it was purchased by original owner. Oil changed every 3 month, and I have all the records. Timing belt changed in 2011.

If the turbo-charger is “cooked”, is that fixable? Or are we completely screwed?

Besides probably having to replace the turbo-charger, the entire engine could be choked with sludge.
At the very least, have the mechanic remove a valve cover to see how much gunk is in there.
If it isn’t too bad, then…perhaps…doing a few 1,000 mile oil changes with synthetic oil might clean things out. However, that is not a guarantee of being able to un-do lax maintenance.

Two things to think about for the future:

Timely maintenance is invariably cheaper than the repairs that result from lax maintenance
Turbo-charged engines are not a good idea for people who are lax about maintenance.

Good luck!

What valve cover do I ask them to remove? I think any mechanic I go to will say that they will do their own diagnostic to figure out the problem. Or should I just tell them I want the oil changed (and flushed?)? Or I could take it to an oil change place tomorrow and have them flush it / change it. Then go to mechanic Monday? Thanks for all the tips.

It doesn’t really matter which of the engine’s two valve covers are removed for inspection.
Either one will tell most of the story of just how badly gunked-up this badly-neglected engine actually is.

Why would you go to “an oil change place”?
Do you want the engine to be further abused by people with little or no mechanical expertise?

This isn’t the time to try to save a few bucks.
You did that by ignoring the maintenance of this car for an extended period of time, and I think you can see what that yielded.

Take the car to a REAL mechanic for diagnosis, repair, and maintenance.

You could have the engine oil drained. Once the oil has drained a loop on the end of a piece of stiff wire can be used to rake the bottom of the oil pan. If the loop is removed and covered in gunk it can be reasonbly assumed that gunk is throughout the engine.
A small amount on the loop may be acceptable but if it’s covered in heavy gunk odds are there are problems.

Six thousand miles a year, especially if most of it is short hop driving, means the oil needs to be changed much more frequently based on time. Moisture in the accumulates in the engine oil and never burns off with short hops. This causes the oil to turn acidic and oil additives to break down.

Here’ what happens in 2 years with a new engine that only had a 1000 miles on it in high humidity conditions. This is sludge…

Here’s 90k miles with infrequent oil changes. Motor oil has turned to chunks of coal…