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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I am new to the world of subarus and am looking for advice from others who know them better than I. I bought a 98 legacy outback from a friend for $200 with 224,000 miles on it. After getting under the hood and doing diagnostics, the timing belt tensioner has failed, and it has leaks from the head gaskets and oil pan gasket. It also needs a new power steering rack and potentially other suspension parts. I have a friend who can help with suspension repairs, but he doesn't feel comfortable with engine work. SO, long story short, is it worth it to pay a shop to do the timing belt and head gaskets( I know it will probably be over $3000), or should I just part this one out and find one that has already had those major repairs done? I really like these early outbacks, and would like one that will last me a while...Thank you for your thoughts and advice.
 

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Premium Member
2020 Onyx
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10,371 Posts
If it has a manual transmission and there's no rust underneath and you want to throw money at it to restore and preserve it as a classic Subaru it could be worth it, but if the purpose of the car is to be an economical daily driver that's a different story.
 
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Premium Member
2020 Onyx
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10,371 Posts
Before you make your final decision, a Gen 3 2005-2009 to me is a car more worth the blood sweat and tears, but there are certainly merits to ancestor worship. I am not as familiar with the 1998 in particular and why it might be a special generation.

It sounds like you know that after the head gasket and whatever else you discover, there could be other internal issues uncovered so this could be a long and difficult journey with unanticipated setbacks. Not trying to discourage you - I think it's great to preserve early Subarus but when I see a thread where someone got in deeper than they can handle after thousands of dollars and give up, it's depressing.
 

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Brucey
'17 3.6
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12,278 Posts
Before you make your final decision, a Gen 3 2005-2009 to me is a car more worth the blood sweat and tears, but there are certainly merits to ancestor worship. I am not as familiar with the 1998 in particular and why it might be a special generation.

It sounds like you know that after the head gasket and whatever else you discover, there could be other internal issues uncovered so this could be a long and difficult journey with unanticipated setbacks. Not trying to discourage you - I think it's great to preserve early Subarus but when I see a thread where someone got in deeper than they can handle after thousands of dollars and give up, it's depressing.
I just saw the 2005 Legacy GT Wagon I sold this morning.

Made me sad I sold it.
 

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Super Moderator
2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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7,578 Posts
I just saw the 2005 Legacy GT Wagon I sold this morning.

Made me sad I sold it.
@Brucey? Nostalgic about Gen 3? I guess absence must indeed make the heart grow fonder .....
 

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Brucey
'17 3.6
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12,278 Posts
@Brucey? Nostalgic about Gen 3? I guess absence must indeed make the heart grow fonder .....
A friend offered to buy it before I ever even listed it.

The leak I was chasing wasn't the turbo inlet (well that was bad too) hose but the entire intake manifold. Even after replacing all vac hoses and IM/TB it still would pop up lean codes. A salvage IM fixed it. No lights since.

Coming up on 200k now.
 

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1995 Legacy 2.2L | 2005 Outback XT 2.5L
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103 Posts
Mine was worth it to me. I have a 95 legacy 190k miles (250k estimated) that I bought for $180 and these are the things that were wrong with it
  • Front ball joints just about out of life
  • All four struts needed replacing
  • Power steering leak from pump
  • Power steering rack leaking bad (quart every 500 miles or so)
  • Brakes & Rotors
  • Starter going out
  • Sway bar links
  • Rear main seal
  • Output seal (quart every weekend so about every 50 miles)
  • Valve cover gaskets
  • Front windows inoperable
  • Radio got NPR but no other chanenls
  • Speedometer broken in transmission
  • Speedometer broken in dash so it works intermittenly after replacing gear in trans
  • CV boots
  • EGR valve clogged
  • Trans cooler lines leaking
  • Interior beat to ****
  • Some dashboard lights completely out
  • Dented tailgate
  • Cracked windshield
  • Bad LF wheel bearing
  • Bad LF hub
  • Broken hood cable
About $1200 in and I have fixed all of it except the following
  • Front windows (havent found the time/lazy)
  • Output seal
  • Rear main seal
  • Power steering rack
  • Valve cover gaskets
  • Power steering pump
  • Cracked windshield
I also got a full new (used) leather interior for it as well as an outback bumper and grille and am really happy with the car. I bought it as my first car and it has done well but now I am sort of passively looking for a 2005-2007 Outback 3.0R to replace it.

Also I realize that this looks like an ad and I am not selling it I just thought maybe OP could get something out of it.
I don't know if I would do head gaskets on your car though, I did not have to do any major engine work on mine as it is the 2.2L engine that doesn't blow headgaskets.
 
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2014 Subaru Outback 2.5 Premium
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552 Posts
If you got some friends to help and you can do the work its totally worth it parts wont add up to much for that stuff and youll have a good car for cheap. If you need a shop then it gets more complicated possibly still worth it because at the end of the day you paid 200 for it and are putting a lot of new parts into it so still will be a cheaper car but future repairs may pop up. If the trans is solid and motor seems well cared for and its mostly rust free then its a good bet id say
 
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