The extraordinary reliability of Subaru cars, is the main reason they are so popular here in the Pacific Northwest, Subaru's have always been known as rugged as well as environmentally friendly cars. Subaru has been a pioneer in All Wheel Drive technology, a very attractive feature here in the Northwest. One of the most unique engineering features of your Subaru is the use a flat-four and flat-six boxer engine configuration, this boxer design was invented by Ferdinand Porsche in the mid 1930's. While the engine has been modified, upgraded and more modern technology applied, it is still Porsche design.
The horizontally opposed piston, or "boxer-engine", configuration has many advantages over the more common in-line piston engines. A boxer design means the pistons are opposed to each other on either side of the crank shaft. On the "down-stroke", the pistons move towards each other like boxer's gloves at the beginning of a match. During the up-stoke they move apart at the same rate. This leads to a very smooth running engine because the forces are in balance. Compare this to an in-line engine where the pistons all move up and down in the same direction- the engine wants to vibrate and bounce all over the place! More importantly the center of gravity is greatly lowered allowing for a lower hood line and better visibility with all wheel drive.
Boxer engines having an inherently lower center of gravity, another great advantage if you are going to place the engine in a car to achieve better stability under driving conditions. So why don't more car makers use horizontally opposed engines? Well, from an engineering stand point, boxer engines can be a pain in the wazoo! They are extremely costly to manufacture far more so than a vertical inline motor.
The trade-off to get the low center of gravity is that you wind up with a relatively wide engine. Porsche is the only other manufacturer using the boxer configuration in cars) and the older VW Beetles got around this by putting the engines in back. Subaru mounts their engines ahead of the front axle, and this allows room for the all-wheel drive transmission without the complication of a transfer case, again keeping the center of gravity lower and a far better sight line over the hood.
An in-line engine is a simple concept to design. Just cast a block of metal and drill holes in it for the pistons, shape the bottom to support the crankshaft, and cover the piston holes with a cylinder head. The horizontally opposed piston engine has a cylinder head and camshafts on each side. It's a far more expensive motor to design and manufacture. On the plus side the low center of gravity, the more compact design and more horsepower per pound, than a conventional inline motor. Why does Subaru deal with all of the problems that the boxer engine creates? Simply because Subaru Engineers get more horsepower per pound, better economy and longer life from a boxer design. An engine, no matter how well designed and built, is a mechanical beast, and there is a potential a some point it will need service or repair. Because of the high standard of quality in manufacturing, it doesn't happen very often, but it does happen. Just a simple regular oil change and filter can add thousands and thousands of additional miles to your Subaru at minimal cost.
Having your Subaru maintained by Suburb Service will help to prevent your engine from breaking or wearing out, relying on our regular scheduled maintenance recommendations but, if it does happen, we have options for you to explore.
In many cases the worn or broken parts of a Subaru engine can be easily replaced. We stock and offer reconditioned cylinder heads, factory supplied engines, new water pumps, turbochargers in stock and all peripheral parts required to keep your Subaru on the road. On occasion an entire engine replacement is recommended. While this is a rare instance and this seems like an expensive step, (and it is), it may be your best option for extending the life of your beloved Subaru, guess what?, we stock those too. We at Suburb Service advocate regular maintenance service intervals, and most importantly 3000 mile oil and filter changes that will extend the life of your Subaru.
If you have any questions about Subaru engines, or anything to do with Subaru's, please give us a call! We work exclusively on Subarus. The only thing we do better than Subarus is customer service, and we would love to get the chance to impress you today!