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Old 11-17-2012, 07:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Ideal year? Expected repairs at 90-120k ?

I am buying another Outback Legacy in the 2000-2003 range.
Is there any one year that is better or worse, or are they all basically comparable?

What repairs can I expect if I buy a 2000-2003 with about 90-120k miles? I expect to find something in the $4000-$6000 range.
A new car would be $25k+. So, I don't mind spending some extra money to make sure I have a very reliable car.
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Year by year doesn't change much, at least not in that range.

On the other hand it is worth learning about the two engines available. There are many other threads on this board with details, and they are searchable.

The cliff's notes version: There's a 4-cylinder 2.5L engine and a 3.0L 6-cylinder engine. the 3.0L aka H6 engine is more reliable in general and requires less expensive periodic maintenance in the long run. On the downside, the MPG isn't as good, and for some usage types you'll want to use premium gasoline. Additionally, the H6 was never offered with a manual transmission, if that is a factor to you.

Cars101.com has all of this information and more in excruciating, year-by-year detail for your benefit.
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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If you do choose to go with a 4cyl 2.5L you should be expecting to do headgaskets and the timing belt, idlers, tensioner, cam & crank seals if they haven't been done. Plus in that mileage range you may have several suspension components worn out and if you live in an area where the roads are salted during the winter, then the exhaust may need need new flanges & gaskets.

I bought my '03 with around ~120k miles and i've already done all the engine work I already listed plus spark plugs, ignition wires, valve cover gaskets, transmission fluid, differential fluid. Plus on the suspension I have had to do the rear endlinks & both ball joints, mine still needs the rear struts & maybe front struts, front endlinks, sway bar bushings & rear trailing arm bushings.
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rasterman View Post
Year by year doesn't change much, at least not in that range.

On the other hand it is worth learning about the two engines available. There are many other threads on this board with details, and they are searchable.

The cliff's notes version: There's a 4-cylinder 2.5L engine and a 3.0L 6-cylinder engine. the 3.0L aka H6 engine is more reliable in general and requires less expensive periodic maintenance in the long run. On the downside, the MPG isn't as good, and for some usage types you'll want to use premium gasoline. Additionally, the H6 was never offered with a manual transmission, if that is a factor to you.

Cars101.com has all of this information and more in excruciating, year-by-year detail for your benefit.
I was really shocked when a 300 mile road trip today in my H6 VDC returned 27.4 MPG running 89 octane. I'm very pleased with the mileage so far from mine. Considering the mountains in Pennsylvania, I'm glad I got the H6.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:05 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the info.

The whole reason I am buying another Outback is that my current 2001 Outback with 200k has a slight leak in the head gasket. Pooling coolant. So, I really was not expecting to do a head gasket at only 90-120k. Otherwise, I'd just spend the $1500 to fix my current Outback, which otherwise runs perfectly, and is already exactly the car I want.

I have always bought cars with about 150k and drive them to 200k. I've never really had to do much work to them. Maybe a ball joint. Brakes, tires. Maybe all those things listed above were all addressed by 150k miles? This is a consideration for buying a lower mileage 90k car. Maybe nothing's been replaced yet. Maybe it's smarter to buy a car with 125k and has already had some of the suggested work done? Otherwise, the list below could easily be $4000+ worth of work.
  • Headgaskets
  • Timing belt, idlers, tensioner,
  • Cam & crank seals
  • Exhaust.
  • Suspension (rear endlinks & both ball joints, mine still needs the rear struts & maybe front struts, front endlinks, sway bar bushings & rear trailing arm bushings.)

Lastly, so the 4-cyl has the head gasket issue? Are you saying the H6 does not have the head gasket issue? The MPG difference is trivial (18/25 vs. 19/25), so I will try to get 3.0L if at all possible. I see zero downside, only upside. I did want a 5-speed, but $1500 head gasket is a bigger issue.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:33 AM   #6 (permalink)
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More recent Subarus I've owned:

The 99 Outback 2.5 auto went 300k miles without internal issues. Not even head gaskets. Timing belts, water pumps, thermostat, 1 altenator, a battery or two, one CAT, hoses, brakes, tires, struts and occasional bushings or steering/suspension parts replacement that wears. I kept a strict schedule of maintenance and was particular in the fluid types I used.

The 2001 VDC Outback Wagon just flipped 180k. I specifically looked for the H6 for several reasons. The fuel economy difference is minuscule and really depends on how you use the car. The timing chain and components never need replacement. Water pumps are long life also due to the design. The extra HP and torque. Overall, Subaru designed the engine for long life, in the 100s of thousands range. All the reviewers of the H6 models griped about the retail price of the car, but when you account for extremely low maintenance cost over the life of the car, you actually save money over the other models. Regular oil changes and fluid flushes, keep up with the suspension/steering issues and you won't have to tear into the engine every 60k miles. I only had a major repair on the transmission when it needed to be rebuilt due to a seal failure and broken bearing. But I new about that when I bought it in January.

The OE engine is actually mounted to an engine stand now, as I have installed a JDM with the supercharger build, but it only needs minor repair of a lifter that started making noise. It was running excellent when I pulled it, stronger than the newer H6, and I will repair it in the event I decide to use it in something or someone needs one.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:31 AM   #7 (permalink)
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What's the JDM engine? An upgrade? I saw an ad for a car with a replaced JDM engine, and I dismissed it as some blown engine, etc. Didn't want to go there. Aftermarket, etc.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:36 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Certainly not a big deal at all but... I wish mine had it. The 2 cup center console which I think is on the 2002 - 2004. Not that hard to change but if you are traveling it is awful handy and works better than the one in the dash.

Our 2000 2.5 has been good to us. We have taken many trips fully loaded over the years and it has not let us down. We took a trip from central Kentucky to Grayton Beach state park in Florida on a weeping head gasket. Watched temps and coolant level, never got out of normal operating range and we had a great vacation.

We did replace belts and head gasket at 80,000 miles, that is when our head gasket went. Replaced some front axles (with OEM), bearings and struts. 102,000 on it now and still is a solid and great driving car.

Good luck.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:51 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
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What's the JDM engine? An upgrade? I saw an ad for a car with a replaced JDM engine, and I dismissed it as some blown engine, etc. Didn't want to go there. Aftermarket, etc.
Japanese Domestic Market - typically spec'd different than US counterpart engines due to emissions etc. This can usually mean more power output, which is huge in the tuner world.

As for the typical Honda with a JDM swap, you have to be really careful. There are way too many tuner kids who end up hacking things up, turning the poor car into a royal POS that needs more work than it's worth to make it right.
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Old 11-18-2012, 12:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
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What's the JDM engine? An upgrade? I saw an ad for a car with a replaced JDM engine, and I dismissed it as some blown engine, etc. Didn't want to go there. Aftermarket, etc.
In Japan, car taxes go up the longer you own the car. This benefits their car making industry and also encourages everyone to drive something with the latest emissions standards.

A side effect is that they wind up with piles of 4-6 year old cars that nobody wants to pay the taxes on. Many get dumped in other parts of Asia, but some are stripped for parts. This has created a decent supply of good used engines which are brought into the USA. They are good engines, but they certainly aren't all perfect. Just more likely to have fewer miles than average. Not a red flag, just a thing.
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