Subaru Outback 2006 Turbo Issues

I have a Subaru Outback 2006 with the Turbo engine and Manual Transmission that has had a number of issues since I bought it new with the latest issues supposedly dealing around the Turbo engine.

The car only has 30,000 miles on it now and and about 1,500 miles ago I blew my Power Steering/Alternator belt on 394 and had to have it towed in for service. The Subaru mechanic at that time told me that the Turbo engine wears out belts much faster because of the large amount of heat it produces under the hood compared to a normal engine. It cost me over $300 for the tow to the dealer and the belt repair.

At the same time the belt was fixed the mechanic noted a separate issue with clutch pedal. He said that the clutch pedal was harder than normal to press and that this was caused because Turbo dust from the engine falls into some clutch bearing and causes it to bind over time. He said that to repair it required removal of the clutch and a bearing replacement that would cost over $750 (due to labor involved). The mechanic even joked about all the work involved to get at and change a simple clutch bearing. Since I had not even noticed the clutch pedal issue to that point and the car seemed to be drive fine I postponed any clutch work until my 30,000 checkup at least was reached.

I am scheduled to take the car in for its 30,000 checkup next week and I am unclear if that failed belt would have been normally changed at that time (if they do indeed wear out faster) and if so whether I can get something back off the $775 checkup cost.

Now in the last week I have started to notice the clutch slipping when pressing on the gas in third, fourth, and fifth gear. The RPM gauge jumps as the clutch seems to slip and then grab as the RPMs fall back again. I am not sure if this is caused because the clutch is getting dusty or because it is not holding tight anymore. The dealer says that it could anywhere from $750 - $2400 to repair or replace the clutch.

It is frustrating because obviously there was no sticker on the new car when I bought it that said be aware of extra expensive issues caused by it having a Turbo engine. If I would have know about the additional Turbo belt, clutch, and dust issues I would have not bought the Turbo model to begin with.

My prior car was a 1985 Manual Honda Prelude that I had for over 20 years and 75,000 miles without any problems with the belts or the clutch. I have spent way more in the last five years on my Subaru than I did in 20 years on my Prelude on unscheduled repairs.

It would seem to me that if the Subaru clutch is having problems at 30,000 miles because of Turbo generated dust that there is some kind of design issue with the engine. I do not think the car should be experiencing these Turbo related clutch issues at this mileage level and that the dealer should be covering most or all of the clutch repair costs.

Do these issues supposedly related to Turbo engine dust seem normal and do you think Subaru bears any responsibility towards them?

Turbo dust first is pixie dust. No idea what is going on there with explantation.

Subaru has a 5yr/60k powertrain warranty. Your (original) clutch issue would get covered there. I would press with Subaru for coverage or help on this repair. They won’t cover your worn out clutch likely however the labor to get to it since the thow out bearing can be argued powertrain related not a wear item.

I have a Legacy wagon turbo(same car underneath) and had the exact failure of the throw out bearing in clutch. The labor was $450 at an independent to change that part out. We opted to replace clutch (okay but worn) also which resulted in another $400 in parts. The kicker is the flywheel which I did not replace at mechanic’s opinion was additionally $600 for part. Instead they “cleaned” my flywheel up.

The throw out bearing failure is common across the Legacy turbo and Outback turbo cars from 2005-2007.

No idea on belts cost. They literally take 30 mins tops to change out. The mechanic is blowing smoke again, there is very little heat generated where the belts are. The turbo is well away and behind them.

Well, I think the mechanic who is feeding you this carp (sic) is way misguided.
The car was built back in 2005 sometime and while your car has low miles that rubber belt is 6 years old. All rubber degrades over time due to age. Some will degrade faster but it’s not because of turbocharger heat; it’s the day to day extrems of hot summer weather and freezing temps in the winter.

The turbo dust theory is pretty laughable and that’s being polite about it.
If the pedal is firm due to an internal problem in the clutch assembly I’d say it was due to the throwout bearing possibly binding on the nose of the transmission or to a lesser extent, a piston binding in a clutch slave or master cylinder. The rubber seals in those cylinders are also 6 years old and can be affected by lack of fluid changes.

As to any slippage in the clutch that could be looked at in two ways. One is that people often drive a turbocharged car harder than they would a normally aspirated one. Warranty will not pay for a heavy foot.
Two is that if the throwout bearing is binding on the transmission nose to some degree this could cause slippage and premature clutch wear. The only way of really knowing is to tear it apart. The odds of warranty covering this would be very slim but at least there would be a glimmer of hope. There’s a lot of “depends” in this scenario. Hope that helps some anyway.

Thanks for the feedback. I am now over the five year warranty limit as I bought the car in late July 2006. I was under the limit when the belt was replaced earlier in this year but the dealer never mentioned possible warranty coverage on the clutch repair or labor at that time and I never asked.

I am wondering if it would be possibly cheaper to take the car to an indepenent shop for repairs as I do not really trust the dealer anymore. I might get a more honest assessment of the problem and what really needs to be replaced or repaired. If the warranty is not covering anything I am not sure if I have anything to lose.

Can anyone recommend a good independent shop that works on Suburu Outbacks?

I agree the failed belt was five years old even if it only had 28,500 miles on it. If they can fail that early I would have thought the dealer would have included it in regularly scheduled maintenance as I have followed their schedule. Once it breaks the car is not really drivable for long so I would think they would tend to be on the cautious side and replace it based on time, miles or visual inspection.

“The throw out bearing failure is common across the Legacy turbo and Outback turbo cars from 2005-2007”.

This sounds like a design issue to me if it effected this many cars. Not sure if the part was under or poorly designed but sounds like it cannot take the extra Turbo engine effect. They should not be building a Turbo engine model without compensating the drive train as well to handle it.

This car has had a number of issues from the start. I have been to the dealer many times and not been happy with their response on more than one occasion. I guess I just got spoiled by my Honda as it ran fine for 75,000 miles over 20 years and the person I sold it to has well over 100,000 now five years later.

I guess I should have never boughten the Turbo Outback model or maybe a Subaru for that matter…

“Can anyone recommend a good independent shop that works on Suburu Outbacks?”

If you are located in SE Pennsylvania, then–yes, I can.

(Hint: When asking for recommendations like this, it is a good idea to disclose the state in which you are located. Otherwise, you are wasting your own time, as well as the efforts of others.)

The turbocharger has no influence on the throwout bearing. TO bearing wear can be increased based on how the car is used. A vehicle that is in traffic all of the time and in which the driver is constantly shifting gears or riding the clutch is going to be more prone to TO bearing wear than a vehicle that sees mostly open road.

A bad TO bearing usually makes some noise and/or has some roughness to it but should not cause a hard to depress clutch pedal.

As to belts, those should be closely inspected at every maintenance service and replaced if necessary. Sometimes this chore gets overlooked or the person doing the checking may not really know a bad belt when they see it. Some recommendations state that multiple tiny cracks are acceptable but this leads into the gray area of whether those cracks are beyond tiny, are there too many of them, and so on.

If there is a legitimate clutch problem due to something like the TO bearing hanging on the transmission nose you might contact the regional office and ask about a Good Will warranty. This means that Subaru of America may warranty a clutch repair. This is entirely arbitrary but it’s worth a shot.

Just my opinion, but based on those 2 complaints I don’t really look at this car as a problem child. The mechanic who is feeding you this BS about turbo heat and turbo dust is best avoided.

Thanks for all your comments.

Just as an aside this car has had a number of other non drive train related issues as well. It has had periodical electrical shorts since early on (which the dealer cannot locate) which would cause the battery to drain or be dead when not used for a few days. I went through multiple batteries in four years before I found this device (Priority Start) which sets on your battery and cuts off battery flow if something puts a large enough drain on the battery and the car is not running. Turning the key causes power to flow again. I can tell when it has kicked in because the clock is reset and it happens every few months. All the dealer would do is test for a drain on battery and not find anything because it is periodic. I gave up after awhile because they were no help but this device (Priority Start) works well. In fact it caused problems when the belt broke because the alternator was not working anymore and it sensed a drain on the battery and keep shuting the car down. I finally had to disconnect it to drive the car to safer location before I had it towed.

I also find the shifting mechanism way inferior to the one in my old Honda Prelude. I never missed a shift in that old car in 20 years whereas in the Suburu it is easy to backshift from third to second. This has happened a couple of times and is hard on the clutch for sure. Subaru just does not have the nice shift flow the Honda had where you could practically blow on the lever to shift. Suburu should hire some Honda clutch designers.