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Old 02-19-2014, 03:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Thinking about buying an (older) outback

Hey everyone, first post here. Sorry if my questions have been answered already, but I have a bunch of general questions so I didn't really know what to search for.

Right now I have two 2WD pickups and one motorcycle, none of which are good in the snow. Also I have a 4-year-old daughter, and none of my vehicles are good for carting her around or getting groceries. Gas mileage on the trucks is horrible for a daily commute, and obviously I can't ride the motorcycle in the winter. So I'm thinking about selling one or more of the vehicles and getting a Subaru. It should be better on gas, better in the snow, better for transporting kids, and I can still move relatively large objects with a hatchback, especially if I get a decent roof rack.

My budget is about 5-6K so I'm looking at older models.

One requirement that I don't want to waver on is, it HAS to have a manual transmission. I've missed the fun of driving manual since I sold my last car.

Another thing that would be nice, is if I get something that can accept the WRX turbo charger. I've heard that they can be found cheap and supposedly can be bolted right on. Is this true? Is it only for certain engine sizes, or certain generations? What should I look for? Or is it a total waste of time?

In my price range, which generation should I be looking at? Should I be trying to find a low mileage 3rd gen, or a higher mileage 4th gen?

Heck, should I be looking at Foresters too?

Any information you guys have is greatly appreciated!
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Old 02-19-2014, 03:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Thinking about buying an (older) outback

If it has to be a manual trans, then it will be a 4-cyl. That cuts you out of the most reliable ones but it isn't the end of the world.

Turbo is not a direct bolt-on for any of them, but swapping in a complete turbo engine is not terribly difficult, at least for the older ones- same applies to foresters and yes you should consider them too.

The old 96-99 EJ25D is to be avoided in any Subaru. They love to blow head gaskets and when they do it's a show-stopper. You need to stop driving it and plug it into your bank account quick. The newer SOHC engines from 2000-up in the Outback still like to blow head gaskets but they are gentle about it- it's just an external leak and you can keep topping up oil & coolant and keep it on the road quite a while.

For any of these engines it is mandatory that you replace the timing belt at or before whichever you hit first- 105 months or 105,000 miles. Strongly recommended that you also replace everything the belt touches- tensioner, idler pulleys & water pump. If the belt has already been replaced, you must get documentation listing date, odometer & VIN otherwise it isn't proof and you should plan on doing it right away, so factor in that cost.

I think you may be off by a generation in your budget. You'll likely find lower mileage 2nd generation or higher mileage 3rd for those numbers.

When evaluating older, lower budget cars remember- rust first, engine second everything else after.
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Old 02-19-2014, 04:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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If it has to be a manual trans, then it will be a 4-cyl. That cuts you out of the most reliable ones but it isn't the end of the world.

Turbo is not a direct bolt-on for any of them, but swapping in a complete turbo engine is not terribly difficult, at least for the older ones- same applies to foresters and yes you should consider them too.

The old 96-99 EJ25D is to be avoided in any Subaru. They love to blow head gaskets and when they do it's a show-stopper. You need to stop driving it and plug it into your bank account quick. The newer SOHC engines from 2000-up in the Outback still like to blow head gaskets but they are gentle about it- it's just an external leak and you can keep topping up oil & coolant and keep it on the road quite a while.

For any of these engines it is mandatory that you replace the timing belt at or before whichever you hit first- 105 months or 105,000 miles. Strongly recommended that you also replace everything the belt touches- tensioner, idler pulleys & water pump. If the belt has already been replaced, you must get documentation listing date, odometer & VIN otherwise it isn't proof and you should plan on doing it right away, so factor in that cost.
Thanks, that's some good info to have. I didn't realize that you can only get manual in the 4 cylinder.

You say the EJ25D should be avoided, does that mean I shouldn't buy this:

1999 SUBARU OUTBACK WAGON AWD

It seemed too good (cheap) to be true.

I don't think I'm going to be doing an engine swapping, but smaller stuff I'm willing to do.
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Old 02-19-2014, 04:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Forester XT
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Old 02-19-2014, 04:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Forester XT
Any particular reason why? Which gen? Thanks.
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Old 02-19-2014, 04:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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turbo is already in it, less likely to have been reamed-out by a kid like the WRX, almost the same cargo capacity as an Outback.
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Old 02-19-2014, 04:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks, that's some good info to have. I didn't realize that you can only get manual in the 4 cylinder.

You say the EJ25D should be avoided, does that mean I shouldn't buy this:

1999 SUBARU OUTBACK WAGON AWD

It seemed too good (cheap) to be true.

I don't think I'm going to be doing an engine swapping, but smaller stuff I'm willing to do.

The ad has a misprint. It says on the windsheild "2000" which is what it is, the engine is a SOHC EJ251.

It is the first year of the re-designed Generation 2 outback. For 2200 I am good with it.

The ad says:
"Just did cylinder head gaskets, timing belt, water pump, clutch kit and many other gaskets and seals along the way."

Price looks too good to be true, as the above it is like a $2000 quality job for professional work.

Ask for receipts, if it does not have a OEM water pump, and OEM thermostat you can swap those out. Head Gaskets should be OEM, Felpro, or Six Star.

I think it is a buy for you and your kid. You can fix it up a bit, and then trade up to a Forester XT or a Gen3 Outback XT. (Those you really have to hunt for because of all the problems with turbos, you need receipts and a previous owner that loved the car. Period. Too many horror stories here, on bad guy dealers, and unsuspecting buyers getting dead turbos and or engines just after the buy).
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Old 02-19-2014, 04:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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turbo is already in it, less likely to have been reamed-out by a kid like the WRX, almost the same cargo capacity as an Outback.
Agree with Texan, very bad idea to try to add turbos to engines not originally made for them. Lots of money, ...all kinds of parts to work with, transmissions, engine mounts, radiator,...things only race car people deal with.

moderator cardoc here has more than $20,000 in parts in his supercharged H6, and his own labor. (trans needed to be rebuilt many times).
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Old 02-19-2014, 04:53 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Okay it sounds like turbo is out. I thought it would be cool but it's not something I'm dead set on. My main concern is getting something reliable.
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Old 02-19-2014, 05:00 PM   #10 (permalink)
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FYI, 2000 has some quirks as it was the intial year of gen2. Brakes are only 10" discs,

2001 is 11", I have read it is not a big deal in cost to jump to bigger later style equipment, if it had not already been done.

I was surprised to see so little surface rust. Hope it looks good underneath.
...Jersey shore and other salt air cars, look nice until you look at the steel under.
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