CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

New 2010 subaru outback stalling

I agree except for one thing. Tight valve lash on one car does not mean that every vehicle suffers the same valve lash problem and my opinion is based on the compression test and valve lash adj. that was performed according to the OP.

The OP states they do not know if the compression was tested before or after the lash check. (should be both)
Knowing the minutae behind this problem could help in knowing for sure.

One overly tight valve can cause stalling though as it throws the manifold vacuum off which in turn affects the entire engine management system.
It could also be that this entire thing is a botched diagnosis and the lash problem is one that may or may not have existed or meant that much. A valve being held open by .001 of an inch is a serious problem. A valve that has .001 lash clearance when hot is dangerously out of spec but should not cause this stalling problem. As per the usual, the devil is in the details.

This boggles my mind… I have a 2010 legacy 6 speed… same EXACT problem… I called the dealer to let them know about it… and they are saying they have NEVER heard of this before…I have an appt to have it looked at this week… also did anyone get the recall on the steering wheel… mine is acting up also…

Well, well, well - so I’m not the only one. My 2010 Legacy stalled several times but I was always blaming the driver (me) until it happened at slow speed, in a narrow street with a 90 degree corner. Just before entering the corner I stepped on the clutch, touched the brakes and started to turn. Since there is power steering and the engine died… well, steering was a problem. The nose of the car was in the other lane before I could stop. Luckily everyone was going really slow. The car has been at the dealer since last Friday.

Hi, I appreciate the recomendation, but how can you say that there is no commonality of the issue. The exact same set of events occur with the AC on, almost stalling when coming to a stop and then stalling when coming to a stop when sometimes negotiating a turn and you say that there is no chance they could be related? They are both 2.5 liter engines. With 44000 miles I am outside of warranty accept for the Powertrain. Honestly, I do not expect to have a stalling vehicle driving a 2008. Maybe a 1998 but not a 2008.

Well, tell your dealer that you want them to check the valve clearances.
Tell them to write down the valve clearances for each valve, on each cylinder, and give it to you. And also have them give you the actual range that it is supposed to be in.

Then you can supply that info to us.

My mom bought a Subaru Legacy sedan a couple months back, but its a CVT, so I hope it doesn’t have this same issue. She lives up in Canada though, so who knows if it will ever see the same temps and issues that everyone else has reported.

I think the next time I visit, I will have to bring my tools, and give the car a check.

BC.

The engines that are showing up with the tight valve clearance might be from a single batch of engines, that were all assembled by one person, who goofed up the clearances on either the intake or exhaust valves, or both.

I know for a fact that valves that are set too tight lowers the vacuum from the cylinder.

I had been trying to diagnose a stalling issue on a motorcycle for a friend of mine, where the dealership, when asked to adjust the valve clearances, set them too tight, instead of out to the looser end of specs. When i hooked up a set of mercury sticks to check the balance between the carbs, I noticed that one cylinder, at idle, had only 2 inches of vacuum, while the other had 4.

When I reset the valve clearances to where they should have been, then the vacuum read 20 inches in both cylinders, right where it should have been.

Tight valve clearances are no joke for engine performance, and longevity.

BC.

Well then, allow me to complicate matters by saying that I’ve got a 2010 Outback with the CVT and it’s stalling, too. It’s happened 3-4 times in the last couple of months, always after coming to a stop after starting a cold engine. The car always starts up again just fine and runs perfectly after that.

Just received word today from my dealer (who also HAD claimed NO ONE had these problems but me)) that a reflash for the computer was issued by Subaru. For all you out there you should be able to get your computers reflashed and the problem remedied. Also found out that the reflash was for 2010s - causing me to STILL wait to see what they will do about my 2011.

10Reyn03 comment is right on track. Dealer replicated the stalling with my 2010 Outback (6 speed MT) twice, contacted Subaru and received the ECM reflash - evidently it adjusts the idle speed. I tested the car this afternoon and all seems fine and will post again after I have had a chance to test it for a few weeks. Good luck to everyone who is dealing with this problem. It was certainly scary to have the car stall when coming off the exit ramp on a highway and when entering a roundabout.

Good afternoon!
I had the same problem and my dealership did an ECM reflash and my car runs like new again. No more stalling!

I have a 2010 Subaru Outback 2.5L Automatic CVT transmission and have had the same stalling problems as listed below. We purchased the car in December of 2009 and noticed that it sometimes seemed to labor and alomst want to stall out. We as the weather started to get warmer it finally did stall out and has 7 times in the past 4 months. I have taken it back to the dealer 3 times only to have them tell me they can’t recreate it and Subaru is not aware of any problems. I have filed a complaint with NHTSA and am looking into the Lemon Law for AL. Car now has 14011 miles on it.

A reflash for the ECM just became available a few weeks ago, and this will take care of the problem. Take it back to the dealership for the reflash.

If the dealership claims to be unaware of the reflash, contact Subaru of America, via the contact phone number in your Owner’s Manual.

Same problem same car. I have filed a complaint with the NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236. which we all need to do in order to either get a recall or to have some sort of backing for when we take our cars in.

Hi, my car is doing the same (stalling) 6 speed. I contacted my dealer and Subaru Canada and neither had heard of the ECM update. Could someone who had it done post a part number or issue number that Subaru USA is using for this work so that I can contact Subaru Canada and reference the information.

Thanks

To ktinning:
I am in Toronto and have the exact same problem. I have a 2010 Outback PZEV (6-sp man) and the car stalls when depressing the clutch to coast to a stop. This has happened 4 times in the past 5 months, more so with the A/C on. So it is not frequent, but can be deadly.

I found the fix posted on other forums. There is a Technical Service Bulletin (11-96-10) “ECM Reprogramming Files for RPM Drop below Idle Speed”. You can find it at http://techinfo.subaru.com/index.html
Click on the Online Reference tab and enter your vehicle info and it will be at the bottom of the list.

I’m taking this info to the dealer and hope that they can do something about it. I have called Subaru Canada in advance and they have not heard of this stalling problem either.

According to information that I have gleaned from the Outback.org website, Subaru of Canada is considerably behind the curve regarding this situation. Subaru of America has had a simple and quick ECM reflash available for at least a couple of months for 4-cylinder Outbacks and Legacys with a manual transmission. More recently, they added a reflash for the ECM on the CVT models.

When the reflash is done, the idle speed will not fall low enough to cause stalling. And, according to the folks who have had it done, after the ECM has gone throught the re-learning process regarding their driving patterns, the excellent gas mileage remains the same as before. In other words, there are no downsides to this free fix–as long as you can get the folks at Subaru of Canada to pull their heads out of the sand.

I suggest that you call Subaru of Canada, get their fax number and the name of a contact person there, and then fax them a copy of the TSB that they seem to be unaware of. They may be slow up there, but they are educable.
;-))

While we’re on the subject of fixes for problems that are recognized by Subaru of America, but not even heard of by Subaru of Canada…

  1. Does anyone with an 2010 or 2011 Outback find that they have a hard time closing the rear hatch (completely) on the first try? You still have to push the rubber button under the logo to release the hatch again, but the hatch is not completely closed and jiggles. Sometimes you get it on the first try, many times it take 5-6 tries to close completely…so that the dashboard light goes out.

  2. Anybody in Canada complain about steering wheel vibration on the highway?? Since I’m getting winter tires soon, this isn’t such a big deal for me as the wheels will get rebalanced anyway.

There are TSB’s to solve these problems on the techinfo.subaru.com website listed above. But when I called Subaru of Canada, they’re acting like I’m the first owner to ever report such problems.

  1. Does anyone with an 2010 or 2011 Outback find that they have a hard time closing the rear hatch (completely) …

This is a warranty issue not a TSB likely. Take it in.

  1. Anybody in Canada complain about steering wheel vibration on the highway?? Since I’m getting winter tires soon, this isn’t such a big deal for me as the wheels will get rebalanced anyway.

This is likely a tire balance issue, not a TSB, take it in.

  1. Some people who reported problems shutting the rear hatch eventually realized that the mat covering the cargo area was actually too far back and that the mat was impeding proper closure. Check the position of your cargo area mat.

  2. The Continental tires that these cars were supplied with are–as is typical with most OEM tires–not the best quality.

In many cases, Road Force Balancing is necessary in order to correct steering vibration problems with these tires. Subaru of America will pay for Road Force Balancing under warranty, even though the car must be sent to a tire shop for this procedure in many cases. As to Subaru of Canada…?

I would suggest that you report this apparent balance issue before you mount your winter tires, just so that you are on record as requesting Road Force Balancing fairly early in the warranty term. The earlier you request it, the more likely they are to do it gratis.