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Hi, my name is Wade. I'm 16 years old and looking for a reliable and safe car that will last me at least part way through college. I am currently driving my grandfather's Lincoln, but it has 165k miles and needs a lot of front suspension work if I want it to last.
I came across a '98 Subaru Outback on craigslist: Garage kept, only 41k miles, all power options, heated seats, new tires, auto(unfortunately),
and owned by an elderly couple. $8450.
I realize that this is way above the normal value for these cars, is it worth it?
I assume that this top of the line model will have the 2.5, along with all of the head gasket issues I have read about. But when do the issues arise? I will only be putting about 15k more miles on the car in the next two years. Would the head gasket issue have already been dealt with, or is it about to become a problem?
Is this a safe car?
I have done some research and everyone has said that the car is extremely reliable, except for the dreaded head gasket issue. Is this true?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Wade

P.S. I know quite a bit about cars and I can do some minor repairs myself, but would never mess with the head gaskets.
I don't have a garage, so there is no great place to work on a car. Would this be a problem?
 

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2009 Subaru Outback 2.5i 5sp Manual
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As far as I can tell, there is no rhyme or reason to the headgasket issues. Some cars get this early and some never, some later. From what I have seen however it usually happens about 150k miles. Mine has 124k on it with no HG issues yet.

That is a little pricey but it is lower miles. That can be good or bad. I would run a carfax on it for sure. Along with check Kelly Blue Book and NADA values.

These cars can be extremely reliable. But they aren't gods gift. SO if you do buy it and have some issues don't feel like its the worst car ever its still a car. Still gonna have problems.

I bought mine in Michigan for 4700 bucks with 112k miles also a 98, and pretty basically optioned. I love it!

A few things to check. Check the bottom of the motor to see if there is oil on it. I would recommend taking it to a shop familiar with Subarus to look at it for you to check headgaskets etc. With the AWD of the Subaru you want to make sure all of the tires have the same ammount of tread or withing a few/32 of tread depth difference. Any other difference can cause problems and they can be expensive to fix. If you purchase the car, make sure to rotate the tires very often.

When test driving the car, drive in extremely tight circles, listening for any abnormal noises.

With that low of miles, you really should be ok. But carfax it to be sure. Thats really low, but if its an elderly couple its probably true.

Headgaskets can be done for about 900 at a shop. I plan on doing mine proactively this summer in the garage for parts. If you do replace them, do some research and try to replace them with HG's from the turbo 2.5.

Other than that sounds like a great car, pricey though. Try to get them down a bit play broke highschooler they might fall to that.


GOod luck!
 

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I also own a 98, and bought it with a blown head gasket. The car has 170k on it, so yes they do blown between 150 and 170k usually. The repair is far from cheep at a dealer. With a rear wheel bearing (which also have a wicked habit of going bad on subaru wagons and are machine pressed so a pain in the arse to do yourself) my total came to about 3 grand. The price is way high in my thoughts, but mind you i paid $1500 cash for mine knowing it was broken, so what the heck do i know. Bluebook on mine at time of purchase with milage of about 160k was at $6000, so i still feel as though i got a deal.

I have owned a 2.2L 1995 legacy L before this outback. I loved the reliability of the 2.2, and that i could do the timing belt with no worries, but frankly i love the power of the 2.5 and would not swap down. The 1998 has some major drawbacks, the cup holders suck, the wheels are a bit to small, i hated the feel of the steering wheel, the windshield wipers have nosettings for speed, and the washer nozzles are stream not fan... all fixed in my car now with some splicing and swiping of parts from newer models. I love my car, and would not trade it for another. You will love yours too of you go for it, but grandma and grandpa are asking a lot for a car that is almost as old as you, and that no bank will finance. I wouldn't buy it at that price, and the dealerships are sure not going to give them that much in trade! Go for a subaru, first gen outbacks are sweet, but find a better deal, or talk them down a few grand on the price.
 

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PS~ YES it is a reliable car, it does not have all the side airbag fanciness of a new car, but i think its safe. I dont have a garage, and do most of my own repairs, and you can too. Oil changes are a cake walk, spark plugs are a bitch, everything is easy to get to in the engine bay. Good luck to you!
 

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'17 3.6R Touring Brillant Brown Pearl
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FWIW If the timing belt has not been changed, it's getting pretty old. It might be worth taking a cam pulley cover off and inspecting for cracking, fraying etc.

Otherwise, these cars are dang dependable. I've got 260K miles on ours with the HG's changed at 200K miles.
 
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