Category Archives: Subaru Technical

Posts and Comments that includes technical information about Subarus.

Airbag recall for Takata now includes Subarus

airbag-check-650x400 (1)Well it seemed like Subaru owners may have dodged a bullet with this massive airbag recall by Takata but unfortunately news has just been released to add select model Subarus (and also some Saabarus) to the recall list.  Fortunately most Subarus will not be affected but if yours is, you should be receiving a letter from Subaru instructing you on how to proceed.
If you don’t get a letter you can still check for any outstanding recalls on your vehicle by visiting the recall page and enter your VIN number.
Vehicles that may be included
03-04 Legacy,Baja
04 Impreza and WRX
04 Saab 92-X
From what I have read, it may be a while until replacement units are readily available.


Mike Corbin
Smart Service – Your Independent Subaru Expert

Impreza Broken Clutch Bracket woes.

If you have a 2008 Impreza or WRX and the clutch is starting to creak or pop be aware that it may be starting to have the spot welds break on the bracket that is affixed to the inner firewall.

If you google this symptom you’ll find that there have been more than a handful of complaints about this issue.  What happens is that over time and repeated use, the bracket that the clutch/brake pedal assembly bolts to pulls free from the firewall. It is held in place by spot welds and the spot welds pull away from the firewall literally breaking small holes in the firewall. It is seems more likely to happen when a clutch is allowed to get worn because as the clutch gets worn, the pedal assembly loses some of it’s leverage over the release forks and more effort is needed to release the clutch.  This is also true of some performance clutch applications. This puts more stress on the bracket and may cause it to break loose.

Once the bracket pulls the welds out, the pedal cannot move the release fork as far and it results in difficulty getting the car into gear.

View with dash out

View with dash out

Broken Clutch Spot Welds

View from inside car with dash removed.










Now to see the holes that were created in the windshield cowl area- a total of 6 broken welds

Additional spot broken spot welds

Additional spot broken spot welds

Windsheld Cowl Spot Welds

Windshield Cowl Spot Welds










Here’s the bracket removed from the car before drilling and bolting in place:

Pedal Bracket Drilled

Pedal Bracket Drilled

Backside of pedal bracket

Backside of clutch pedal bracket after drilling










Now we’re ready for re-assembly. 6mm bolts with loctite applied, self locking nuts on back side and large fender washers on front side to spread out the load. Also paintable body seam sealer applied under washers and bolts to make sure all is water tight.


Now that we’re done, the repair is stronger than the original because it distributes the load over a much larger area than the original 6 spot welds (also a small 7th on an ear on the interior too).

Once it was sealed up we cleaned up the area and painted it with a metallic blue to match the rest of the car. Once the cowl trim is back in place it’s not even noticeable from the outside and will now stand up to the rigorous demands it was originally intended for.

I’ve seen posts of other people using sheet metal screws, rivets, welding etc. but in my opinion this is one of the best methods if not the best of insuring it will never happen again. It’s not for the faint of heard as it involves completely removing the dash, steering column, pedal assembly and windshield wiper cowl trim to access all 7 spot weld points.

The bottom line is if your clutch is getting worn and becoming stiff and you own a 2008 Impreza, WRX or STi, don’t let it go too long. It may not keep this issue from occurring but it may take longer to happen if the clutch doesn’t have to work as hard.



Mike Corbin
Smart Service – Your Independent Subaru Expert

Click here to discover the services our experienced and certified technicians can perform on your Subaru


Theftproof your Subaru

SPD Blotter | Seattle Police News and Events

According to the Seattle Police SPD Blotter, if you own a Subaru 2001 or older, you’re in the top 3 of the most stolen cars in Seattle.

I have a tip that could help slow down that would be thief from being able to start your Subaru. Although some of the older Subarus have became a target, with a little know how you may be able to confuse or slow down that would be thief into passing up your Subaru.

Most thieves will insert a screwdriver type device into a doorlock and just twist until it breaks open and unlocks. Once inside, they hammer out the ignition tumbler assembly and just twist the electrical portion of the ignition switch and off they go.

This tip will hopefully slow them down long enough that they’ll pass on your car and move on. It involves a simple method of disabling the ignition system. Since 1990 Subaru has used a coil pack instead of a distributor to fire the spark plugs. These coil packs can be disabled thus keeping the car from starting. It is located on the firewall toward the rear of the engine.

On a 1990-1999 Subaru model we accomplish this by disconnecting the ignitor assembly. The ignitor is responsible for triggering spark from the coil. If we disable this, the car will only crank over but it won’t start without spark.

Subaru Ignitor 1

Disconnecting the ignitor assembly is a simple process. There is a small tab that you need to squeeze down on while at the same time, wiggling the connector and pulling back on it.

Subaru Ignitor Release Tab

Removing Subaru ConnectorDisconnected Subaru Ignitor

Once the ignitor is disconnected, you may want to leave the connector partially plugged in to make it appear it’s connected just to make it less obvious.

If you own a 2000 or newer model Subaru you’ll have to disconnect the ignition coil pack itself.  It’s located on the top/center of the engine. It has the 4 spark plug wires connected to it as well as the connector that has the signal wires that tell it when to fire.

You’ll be disconnecting that connector as seen below:

Subaru Ignition CoilDisconnecting Subaru Ignition Coil









Hopefully you’ll never have your Subaru stolen but at least you have some good ammo to help prevent or at least slow that would be Subaru thief. Remember, criminals are lazy. If you make something more difficult for them, it’s likely they’ll move onto another car instead of risk being caught trying to figure out why the your Subaru won’t start.

Good luck and just remember to plug everything back in before you drive away!

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Mike Corbin
Smart Service – Your Independent Subaru Expert

Tire Time

Tiretread Well now that the summer is winding down and the weather is due to change for the worse any time now, it’s time to check  your tires.  Once you’ve checked all the pressures it’s time to check for tread wear. Your all wheel drive Subaru may climb a snowy hill like a mountain goat on an energy drink but it can only do so if the tires are good.  Take some time and inspect the tread depth at different spots on the tire. There is a simple way to do this and all you need is a penny. Place the penny with Lincoln’s head facing downward. If you can see the top edge of his head the tires are worn to their legal limit and it’s  time to replace them. If they’re getting close you still may consider doing it now instead of when they’re totally worn out. Another important aspect of tire life is the tires age. A tire that still has plenty of tread can be more dangerous than one that is worn out if it has lost it’s structural integrity. Look closely for cracks in the sidewall of the tire and if you’re unsure, have a tire expert evaluate them for you. Think of an old and new rubber band. Side by side they look the same but when you go to stretch them, the old one starts cracking and then breaks. As tires age, and deteriorate due to sun damage, they loose their strength and elasticity also. If you are unsure of how old your tires are, there is a DOT Date code stamped on the tire. Here’s a link that explains the date code in more detail:

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Tire Rack article on tire date codes


Be safe out there!

Mike Corbin

Smart Service

Subaru Fuel Smell when Cold

This is just a follow up to a prior post about a strong fuel smell on the very cold mornings after the car has sat overnignt.

As the cars age and fuel lines age, we’re hearing this complaint more frequently. In most cases it can be traced back to fuel line connections under the hood.

The fuel lines loose their resiliency when they age as well as the very cold weather causes them to shrink thus sometimes causing them to leak where they are connected to the fuel rails. In some cases it’s found with a mirror and a flashlight. You may not actually see the wet fuel but usually you’ll see some staining on the underside of the hose. Replacement of the hose with new is optimum but in many cases just tightening of the clamp will solve the problem.

If you have an early WRX there was a recall may apply to this particular issue and it could be done at the dealer free of charge if your model is within the recall range. You simply have to call the dealer with your VIN number to see if it falls under the recall.

We hope this information helps some of you out there solve this problem.


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Are your Struts done Struttin’

Are they worn out yet?


Has your Subaru ever been diagnosed with bad struts? How many of you have ever been in one of those chain tire stores getting a set of tires only to be told that you need new struts and that your worn out struts will wear out your new tires prematurely?

It’s a question I hear from my customers all the time…”Mike, I just got my new tires you recommended but the tire store says my struts are bad also… how come you guys didn’t notice that?”

Since we started back in 1999 I’ve probably heard that same question over 100 times. Out of those 100 questions, upon checking out the vehicle very few ever really needed strut replacement.

The reality is that Subaru struts just happen to last a really long time under normal use. Sure… after 100,000 miles they may only work 85-90% as good as they once did but rarely are they ever “bad” at that point. Replacing your struts can be more of a decision based on your own preferences of how you want the car to ride vs. a decesion based on a mechanical failure.

If you’re unsure whether or not you need struts here are a couple of guidelines.

  • Perform a bounce test. Go to each corner of the car and get that corner bouncing up and down as high as you can and then let go… the car should stop after about 1 1/2 gyrations. If it bounces more, that strut is wearing out.
  • Inspect for hydraulic fluid leaking out of the strut. A small residual amount is normal as the piston goes up and down in the cylinder it wipes off some oil. If it’s more than just residual and trailing down the side of the strut, that strut may not be long for this world.
  • Listen for clunking or popping over speed bumps. This noise may indicate a strut is coming apart internally.

If you’d like a second opinion you can always drop in and I’ll check them for you. If your struts are getting worn, there’s no better feeling than driving a car with new struts. It will bring back the quickness and firmness in the handling as well as add a degree of safety in case of a quick avoidance maneuver.

As far as which struts to replace them with, if you’ve always liked the feel of the ride in your Subaru, use Genuine Subaru struts. If you want to try something a bit more “crisp” than what Subaru originally installed, I suggest the KYB GR2 line (also referred to as KYB Excel). It offers about a 20% more firm ride. Handling is more responsive but the downside is you do feel more of the bumps and irregularities in the road.

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One other point is that sometimes Subaru’s tend to wear out the rear struts sooner than the front. Although it’s optimum to replace all 4 at the same time, it’s acceptable to do just the rears if the front’s are still performing well.


Mike Corbin

Independent Subaru Expert, Seattle WA

Fuel Smell Alert! on Cold Days-Subaru Models

If you’ve noticed that since the weather has become colder you are getting an obvious raw fuel smell coming through the vents of your Subaru you’re not alone.  SUBARU RECALL NO. WVK-21 for 2002-2003 Subaru WRX Models resolves a fuel leak from the fuel line under the intake manifold during cold weather condition. The fuel leaks out onto the top of the engine block from the fuel line creating a possible fire hazard.  If you have one of these models and have experienced this symptom, call you local dealer with your V.I.N. so they can check if the recall applies. If so, they can repair it free of charge. You should mention that you are experiencing the fuel smell symptom during your inquiry.

Other Subaru models are affected too. We’ve seen similar issues of fuel leaking from fuel lines under the intake manifold during cold conditions on numerous other Subaru models including the Outback and Forester. There is no current recall or service bulletin at this time that I’m aware of. If you experience this symptom. Bring it to your local Subaru specialist to diagnose and repair the issue right away.


Mike Corbin

Independent Subaru Expert

If you ever experience this symptom have it checked as soon as possible. We’ve seen some that just seep a drop or two but we’ve also seen a couple that were actually pooling fuel on top of the engine.

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Subaru Stuck? Don’t Ruin your Tranny!

Subaru is an all wheel drive vehicle but it does have some limitations to beware of. If you’re ever stuck in the snow or elsewhere, your Subaru will try to apply a balance of power to each wheel the best it can. This works best if all wheels have some traction. If one or more wheels has no traction and is just spinning STOP! Spinning one wheel excessively can cause harm to the transmission or differential. It may be best to take the time to get some “push” assistance or a tow truck to free the car or to put something under the tire that’s spinning so it can gain traction.

Subaru Turbo Owners-Important Oil News!

I wanted to pass along some very important information that Subaru has recently broadcast to it’s dealer network regarding recommended oil and required oil types on  Subaru turbocharged models.

Subaru states the following about it’s Genuine Subaru 5w-30 Synthetic Oil:

  • Recommended for (2010 and prior) Turbo-charged Subarus
  • Required on all 2011 turbocharged Subarus (Exception-2011 Forester requires Genuine Subaru 0w-20 synthetic oil)

Smart Service has been recommending synthetic oil on Subaru turbos since they were first produced as a way to combat the added heat and more extreme forces developed by a turbocharged engine and now Subaru appears to be adopting the same philosophy. As more information becomes available I’ll pass it along.  It is a more expensive route in the short term but offers greater engine/turbo longevity which saves $$ in the long run.


Mike Corbin

Smart Service

Your Independent Subaru Expert

Click here to discover the services our experienced and certified technicians can perform on your Subaru