What to watch for when buying a used XT - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 10:24 AM Thread Starter
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What to watch for when buying a used XT

Hi all,

I'm pretty new to Subarus and considering the Outback XT. I've been a long time SUV driver, but really never used it for any towing or off-roading, etc, so now that it's time to look for a replacement, I've been reviewing a few models and the Outback XT seems a bit too fun not to consider. My question is, I know almost zero about Subarus in general and never owned a Turbo.

So, please excuse the total rookie question, but what are some of the things to watch out for on the XT models? I'll be looking for primarily AZ vehicles, so heat is a factor around here as well. Also, what maintenance and such could one expect from one with approximately 80K miles?

Auto vs Manual concerns?

Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 12:28 PM
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Hi and welcome. Good luck finding an XT. In my opinion they are the italian supermodels of Subarus: They look great and the performance is amazing, but they can be fussy, high maintenance and expensive, at least relative to a regular wagon.

I suggest you read this thread:2005 Outback XT Limited with 102k.You can learn a lot.

Overwhelmingly, the most important thing to look for is a complete set of maintenance documentation from the previous owner(s). These cars can last a long time if cared for properly, but the sting is that they will get into expensive problems FAST if someone skimped on the upkeep. Regular outbacks are more forgiving in this regard.

New turbos on old engines can be a red flag, or a blessing. It has happened before where a turbo died and the owner just threw a new turbo into the car without addressing the source of the problem, and this can lead to serial replacements or even a chain reaction that takes out the whole engine. On the other hand, sometimes it gets done the right way and you'll get extra value from having low miles on the turbo.

That link will tell you about the importance and expense of the 105,000 mile maintenance job.

Both transmissions just work- no special concerns come to mind. The manual needs clutches like any other, the auto needs fluid changes like any other. Get the one you'll enjoy driving the most.

So find one, test drive it, make sure the paperwork is complete. If there are gaps (or no paperwork) this is your play to negotiate a major discount or gain a strong warranty.

I'd strongly advise you to hire an inspection mechanic once you've got a candidate.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 01:38 PM
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I would like to echo the same sentiments as the response above mine.

I am the first and current owner of a 2005 Legacy GT sedan (5EAT), and although it is a great car with the proper maintenance and upkeep. 95.5k on the clock with a heavy mixture of highway and small town miles. The car is still good-to-go.

However, I keep very detailed maintenance records and have not skipped a single service. Almost all services were performed by me with the exception of a few. Since the vehicle has a turbo, and I live in a desert environment, the severe maintenance schedule was followed.

Please do keep in mind that it is difficult to find an XT or GT that has not been modified in one way or another. With opensource and aftermarket engine management tuning so readily available, a lot of owners capitilize on those resources for added power. I know I have, which is another factor in vigilant maintenance.

As was mentioned earlier, the transmissions are gernerally fine and work as intended at the factory power levels. You just need to investigate a bit further if the vehicle was modified for more power. The 5EATs are hit or miss at higher power levels without supporting modifications. Most common are the addition of an aftermarket ATF cooler, and upgraded OE valve body.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 02:11 PM
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Uh oh...pikachu's here...


Also look for a rough idle, which could be from low compression in one or more cylinders. Oil seeping from the intercooler seam directly above the turbo is a likely sign that the car has been modified to stage 1 or 2 if that concerns you.

If you do end up picking up one, check the oil at every fill up until you know how much oil it uses. These engines like to leak oil from valve cover gaskets and the oil cooler gasket.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks

Thanks for the input. A wealth of information on the link as well. Glad I asked.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 09:45 AM Thread Starter
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I've decided not to take a chance on either XTs I was considering, but have found a pretty clean 6 Cyl model. Are they as reliable as the 4, or is the 4 the platform to stay with for solid transportation?

Thanks again.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 10:36 AM
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Used XT

As a former owner of Forester XT (2010) I had a constant issue with strange noise from the timing belt area when I started the car first thing in the morning. After about 30 seconds that noise faded away. I took my car to the dealer numerous times and they kept replacing vacum sensors/vac. valves and various other components under warranty but to no avail. After several visits, they have claimed that they could not duplicate the "strange" noise - I think it was just because someone at the dealership moved the car first thing in the morning and therefore the engine wasn't cold anymore and there was no noise. They set up an appointment with factory field tech rep but before I could meet him, I sold it and bought 2013 OB.
I've heard about an issue (and a recall) with timing belt tensioner (on later models with metal timing chain). But, the dealer claimed that 2010 XT does not have a timing belt tensioner. That I cannot confirm as I honestly do not know and I sincerely doubt it. I thought all cars have some kind of timing chain or belt tensioners.
So, before you buy an XT, make sure you start it yourself, first thing in the morning, when the engine is cold, to hear any "strange" noise or get some kind of a 30/60/90 day warranty, if you are buying it from a dealer. If not, (buing it from a private party) have the car checked by authorized Subaru dealer
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 11:00 AM
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The general consensus on these forums is that the 6 cyl is more reliable than the 4.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 11:37 AM
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h6 is definitely more reliable. Similar power to a stock xt without the high maintenance. Same tough auto transmission as the xt as well. I could be wrong, but it seems that the h6 doesn't have the head gasket issues that the NA h4 has.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 11:51 AM
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The 6-cyl is definitely the most reliable subaru engine for that vintage. On paper it is as powerful as the XT but in truth it makes you wait a lot longer to get at that power. Awesome for towing or mountain cruising but not as exciting.

No manual trans option for 6-cyl.
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