How to Troubleshoot the Exhaust System in a Subaru Outback

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How to Troubleshoot the Exhaust System in a Subaru Outback
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The Subaru Outback is a reliable all-wheel drive vehicle that will last well over 100,000 miles if you take care of it. You can easily troubleshoot your Outback's exhaust system to pinpoint areas that might need to be fixed--even before these areas take a toll on your car.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Inspect the exhaust manifold for looseness and leaks. If you have a pre-1997 Subaru Outback, your car has an exhaust manifold. Starting in 1997, Subaru made the 1.8L, 2.5L and 3.3 L without an exhaust manifold. The exhaust enters through the front Y pipe instead.

  2. 2

    Examine the tailpipe all the way to the Outback's engine for cracks and holes. It's common to see damage between the exhaust manifold and the cylinder head, so look out for these problems.

  3. 3

    Check for smoke coming out of the tail pipe. If you see blue smoke, most likely the engine's oil is leaking into the cylinder area. Black smoke means that fuel is leaking into the cylinder and isn't burning properly. White smoke is a good indication that antifreeze is entering the cylinder area.

  4. 4

    See if there are any holes or leaks in your muffler. Also, check the entire exhaust system for cracks, holes and possible leaks.

  5. 5

    Listen for intermittent hissing or popping sounds while your engine is running. If you notice any other sounds, such as chugging, your exhaust system could be clogged. If you hear rattling, your car could be misaligned.

Tips and warnings

  • Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas and is dangerous so exhaust leaks need to be fixed right away.

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