Subaru Engine Identification

by Cassandra Cochrun
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If you need to service your Subaru engine, whether you're calling a mechanic or doing the work yourself, you need to be able to identify the engine. You can get most of the information you'll need from your vehicle identification number (VIN), but there may also be some other identifying numbers on your engine that will help you identify the engine.

On the Engine

Some Subaru engines have a code printed directly on the engine. This code helps you identify the engine's specifications and factory code. The first 11 digits indicate the engine's specifications and the last four digits indicate the code specific to your engine. Since there are thousands of combinations of numbers in these codes, you should call your Subaru dealer or mechanic and report the code so that she can tell you what the code means.

If you are asked your engine's serial number, you can find this number on the machined boss on the left side of the clutch housing.


Perhaps the best way to quickly identify your Subaru engine is to look at the Subaru's VIN. Depending on what model of Subaru you have, you can find the VIN on the left corner of the dashboard, the driver's side door jamb, the body panels, some engine components and on your vehicle's title and registration.

Your VIN is made up of a series of numbers and letters. If you count over to the fourth character in the series, you will be able to tell what product line the engine was made for. While these letters vary from year to year, generally a "B" indicates the Subaru Legacy, "G" indicates the Impreza and "S" indicates the Forester.

The fifth character indicates the body style; for example, a sedan, wagon or sport utility. However, this code changes yearly, so you may need to ask a Subaru dealer or mechanic or consult an owner's manual to find out what this character means.

The sixth character in the VIN specifically identifies the engine. While engine type codes vary slightly, "2" usually means it's a 2.0-liter, turbo four-cylinder, "6" either means 2.2- or 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, "7" means 2.5-liter turbo STi engine and "8" indicates a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine.

The tenth character in the VIN indicates the year the engine was built. When Subaru began, this character was a letter. "J" means 1988, "K" means 1989, "L" means 1990 and so on. Since 2001, this character has been a number. "1" indicates 2001, "2" indicates 2002, "3" indicates 2003 and so on.

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