Check Engine Light and Cylinder Misfires

I bought a 1997 Subaru Legacy Outback with 113000 miles on it for my son. We bought it “as is” with a list of recommended repairs - one problem was “P0301 and P0303 Mis Fires on Cyl 1 and 3” and the recommended repair was to replace coil pack. We did that and the CEL came back on after about two weeks. Took car to trusted mechanic who suggested replacing spark plugs/wires and told me that if CEL came back on, should take it to the dealer because valves may need to be cleaned. CEL came back on in a couple of days. My question: 1) does this advice sound reasonable and 2) what is the approximate cost to have the valves checked/cleaned? The other repairs on the car were minor, we got a good price and hope to keep the car for at least 2 or 3 more years. Thanks.

Since the light has come back on has anyone checked the codes again? National chain auto parts stores will pull them for free.

I find it odd that a mechanic would send you to a dealer for a “valve cleaning” - I think it is a way of saying get lost. The mechanic should run a compression test to find out if there are mechanical problems (e.g. valves). The mechanic should also know or find out whether or not this car requires periodic valve adjustment (some do).

So you might need to take it elsewhere, but you don’t need to take it to a dealer - they have no special magic. You might consider finding a local, independent who is a Subaru specialist. They can have some quirks specific to Subaru/model/year.

Thanks. I did take it to see what the codes are now and they are the same ones - our regular mechanic said the problem is likely burnt exhaust valves and he doesn’t do that kind of work. He said the repair would cost in the area of $1200 - I thought I would check a dealer’s price (via phone) and also try to find a local independent mechanic who is a Subaru specialist. I forgot to ask them to run a compression test but am guessing that could be done by a Subaru mechanic (independent or dealer) correct? Thanks again for the input, it was useful.

Yes - any mechanic can run a compression test and if valves are suspected you want a “leak-down” test b/c you can figure out if it is, in fact, a valve problem.