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© 2001-2003 Brian F. Schreurs
Even we have a disclaimer.

Thoughts are free. And you get what you pay for.
We've embarked on a new and interesting journey at Paradise Garage: our very own long-term test car! So cool! Tell us what you think about the car, our adventures, or the feature in general.

Go to Thumper's Chronicles, read about it, and share your thoughts.

If you'd like to make a Cave Drawing of your own, please report to the Main Cave.

From David Borasky on 16 September 2003:

I've got a '93 Subaru Impreza (1.8l, 4 speed auto - FWD) - an original
Thumper! - with about 103k miles.
This car requires one to apply the brakes to shift out of [P].  Nothing
unusual about that.  However, this has been giving me problems -
particularly in hot weather - and I can't seem to figure out how to disarm
this function or repair it.  The owner's manual says see the dealer, and my
Haynes manual doesn't really cover this.
Any thoughts?
It's an integral function of the transmission, unfortunately. Probably the only way you could disable it is to trick it into thinking the brake is on all the time. You'll have to find the wires going to the solenoid, determine what signal it sends when it's okay to shift out of park, and then rewire it so that it's always getting that signal.

From J.D. Herman on 14 November 2002:

I'm a big fan of the Thumper story, it assisted me in decision to 
purchase a 'Ru' last month.

I for one want to hear more of the cars life story.

Thanks for the support, Jeff, but we'll just have to wait and see how many other people like it as much as you do.

From Doug DeWerth on 23 October 2002:

I just read over your logs on the Outback - it's great.

I have the same model, color - except we have an automatic. After about 100
miles our passenger side mirror started swinging loose just like yours. Our
dealer replaced it but did not know how it happened either.

I do have one question - last Friday @ about 5000 miles we had the oil
changed at the dealership. Before the oil change, engine noise was minimal
at idle ( like when stopped at a light). Now it seems that the engine is
running "louder" for sake of a better word. Went to the dealership today and
they ran diagnostics on everything and said that there's nothing wrong, but
if we can pin point the times they'll look at it again.

After your first oil change did you notice anything different in quietness
of the engine? I see you used Mobil1 maybe that's what I should do.

Any input would be appreciated.
In all likelihood there's one of two things going on:

1. The correct fill for this engine is 4.2 quarts (exactly 4 liters -- it's Japanese, therefore metric). It's easy to see how a beginning mechanic might decide that an even 4 is enough. So go ahead and check the dipstick, make sure it's properly filled.

2. The factory may have filled the car with a thicker oil than what your dealer used. Thinner oils will tend to transmit slightly more noise. In fact, synthetic oil would make this problem WORSE -- thin oil is a GOOD thing, so synthetics are thinner than dinosaur juice while still providing superior performance (that's why they're four bucks a bottle).

The problem would appear at idle because that is when your car is generating the least amount of oil pressure. At higher engine RPM, the oil pump can make up for a slightly low crankcase or somewhat thinner oil.

I haven't noticed much difference in noise, but then my other car is a Z28, so compared to that the Subaru ALWAYS sounds quiet.

Recommendation? Make sure the oil level is adequate. If so, don't worry about it.

From Adam Saynuk on 22 October 2002:


I caught your site in a completely unrelated search, but was glad to have found 
the page. Quite interesting and enjoyable.

My wife and I are considering the Outback Sport wagon for our car purchase, to
happen possibly within the next year. It looks like a good car, and everything
I've read has been overall positive. I appreciate the details about the odd
reverse-gear phenomenon to be on the lookout for.

Since it appears that you haven't updated the Thumper page in several months, I
just wanted to make sure you still hold your car in high esteem. Are there any
other goofy things of note to be aware of? Ever get the roof rack/wind noise
debacle solved?

I like this car a lot and think it will be a fine addition to our currently
car-less family when we pop out a kid by the end of 2003, (and need a spritely
hauler for myself, wife, baby, and dog) which will efficiently segregate the
various strata of my growing family while offering me an appreciable amount of
fun to convince me that it is all worth it. Driving in New York will make anyone
crazy, but I plan on getting more highway miles than anything; visiting family
as well as our yearly winter trip to snowy Deep Creek in Western Maryland (I am
originally from Baltimore).

Anyway, any advice you can offer would be muchly appreciated and thank you for
the informative site.
Yep, the Outback Sport continues to perform flawlessly. The cargo cover quit working, but that's because we dropped a floor sander on it; some time with a hammer and punch, and it was working just fine again.

As far as things that might actually be Subaru's fault, there's been next to nothing... it hasn't been back to the dealer since the side-mirror incident. My wife claims to not hear the wind noise so I may well just be mildly insane. Nevertheless the dealer recommended removing the roof rack crossbars -- a painless task, four easily-accessible bolts does the trick -- but I haven't bothered.

If my dogs were fullsize models -- say, a retriever -- rather than the subcompact Scotties that they are, I'd say going for a standard Outback would be the way to go. The Outback Sport can carry a LOT of stuff, especially if you're a clever packer, but there's no denying the larger Outback can carry a lot MORE stuff.

Still, the Outback Sport serves as our "big car" -- the other car here is a convertible Z28, not at all cargo friendly. The Subie carries 400 lbs of mulch without a hassle, and has enough power to keep up on the interstates without worry.

The reverse-gear thing is simply a function of the non-synchromesh reverse; there's nothing wrong with it, and there's nothing you can do about it, it's just annoying sometimes. No car is perfect.

Speaking of not perfect, the center console cupholder won't hold a 20-oz soda bottle. Grr.

But if you can stick to 12-oz cans and don't mind letting the car creep just a little one time out of ten grabs for reverse, then this is a great car, especially for the price. I spent MONTHS shopping for a car -- wasn't in a hurry -- and couldn't find anything for the price that could come close. If you limit your list to cars with AWD as I did, then you'll find you have a very short list indeed. Thank heavens the Outback Sport is on it.

From Jason Houle on 13 May 2002:

I have a 98 outback. I am going to put a hitch on. Would you be willing to take
a pic of the hitch you have and where it is bolted at so I can see what it looks
like. I have never put one on before. thanks jason
Jason, your Outback is based on the Legacy. Mine is based on the Impreza, a smaller car. The setup on my car is not likely to be of much use to you on your car.

From Steve "Safety Bill" Fox on 11 February 2002:

You have a web page dedicated to every possible detail of your Subaru

How about a web page on your toothpaste preferences? It would be every
bit as interesting, for sure.

Safety Bill
Hey, it's hard to compete with dancing hamsters.

From Frederick Bodd on 8 January 2002:

It's great to see a long term write-up of the "average" car.  No
manufacturer's biases like most of the fancy automotive web sites and
magazines.  Just basic observations and information!

I really like the info regarding fuel octane, pointing out that you don't
need to use higher octane gas than the owners manual recommends.  So many
people don't know that, and waste their money on high octane gas!  Plus
your explaination about synthetic oil's benefits should open some eyes.
Too many people think the benefits are just hype, when if you are
informed, you can see they are clearly more than that.

Keep it going!  I look forward to seeing the new adventures of Thumper!

Fred B.
Hi Fred! We're so glad you wrote. It's good to hear that this feature will interest some of our readers. We're going to set the record straight on a bunch of automotive myths as we go along so that people can make informed decisions. With regard to synthetic oil, there are a lot of benefits: fewer additives means less gunk and more stable oil, a better molecular structure leads to superior lubrication, and the inherent viscosity holds up longer. It allows oil change intervals of 5,000 miles, and maybe even 7,500 if you have the guts to try it (we don't). That said, with most people replacing their cars at 100,000 miles, those people will never know the difference if they use dinosaur juice. It comes down to how long the car is expected to last, how much the owner hates oil changes, and the great Personal Preference. At least now readers can make an INFORMED choice.