Subaru Outback Forums banner
  • Hey everyone! Enter your ride HERE to be a part of October's Outback of the Month Challenge!
1 - 20 of 43 Posts

·
Registered
'03 L L Bean - LOVE IT!!
Joined
·
110 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I found a potential car, but want some advise before we go any further.

It's a 2003 Outback, H6-3.0 VDC. It has 94K on it, and asking is $8,995. It's at a small dealer about 40 miles from me, and we're considering going to see it.

This would be our first Subaru, and while I really like the LL Bean edition, this seems to have all the same features. What's the VDC and what should we look for?

Thank you so much for any/all advice/hints you can give us. It's truly appreciated!!!

oh--we're in Connecticut and this car is in Massachusetts, if that makes a difference.

Elle
 

·
Registered
2011 Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab Long Box
Joined
·
2,893 Posts
I found a potential car, but want some advise before we go any further.

It's a 2003 Outback, H6-3.0 VDC. It has 94K on it, and asking is $8,995. It's at a small dealer about 40 miles from me, and we're considering going to see it.

This would be our first Subaru, and while I really like the LL Bean edition, this seems to have all the same features. What's the VDC and what should we look for?

Thank you so much for any/all advice/hints you can give us. It's truly appreciated!!!

oh--we're in Connecticut and this car is in Massachusetts, if that makes a difference.

Elle
This is the model above the L.L. Bean. It adds VDC (Vehicle Dynamics Control), and a McIntosh stereo over the Bean.

Vehicle dynamics control is basically Subaru's traction control system. All other models for that year had the plain old AWD system with no traction control. It also has VTD (Variable Torque Distribution) which splits power differently between front and rear wheels (according to Subaru, it's a 45% Front/55% Rear distribution of power).

The H6 engine is extremely solid. There are very few issues with it, and they tend to be cheap/easy to fix. One of the common issues is here: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/110-gen-2-2000-2004/16823-h6-tensioner-bearing.html

Basically, the bearings in the tensioner/idler pulleys for the serpentine belt can go, trashing the belt. Not an expensive thing to deal with, and not really catastrophic if it does happen.

Other than that, I'd look for some sort of maintenance history if possible (but if it doesn't have much and you can bring it to a decent mechanic who okays it, that would be fine too).

Asking price isn't too terrible if it's in great condition on a dealer lot...might be able to get them down a bit. Not 100% sure, since I haven't checked book value on one of those in a while.

Good luck!
 

·
Registered
2005 OBW 2.5L, 1989 Subaru Justy, RIP Blu
Joined
·
7,355 Posts
Well i have been on this road myself. Before you go ask the dealer to send you at least 4 pics, one of each side of the car. Subaru interiors hold up well to wear and abuse, so you can probably skip that one.

Rust is #1 things to watch for if it is a salt belt car.

VDC from cars 101
VDC is Vehicle Dynamics Control, Subaru's electronic stability control system with traction control. VDC is also the name of an Outback Limited model from 2001-2004. The components of the VDC system are:
Direction: uses brakes to slow down wheels to reduce spin and help control vehicle direction.
Skidding: yaw and steering wheel sensors use brakes to slow down spinning wheels and re-direct power to the wheel(s) with the best traction to re-gain control.
Engine power: controls engine output to slow spinning by reducing spark to cylinders to cut back power and help re-gain control.

Then there is the usual torque bind, and look for sunroof leaks.

Torque bind - all tires must match equal wear and same brand. Go out to a parking lot and drive in a tight circle. The cart should be able to do this at idle speed or a hair more without jerking or the steering wheel fighting you.

Otherwise all the usual used car stuff.
 

·
Registered
DIY-Turbo 2.2l OBS 12.89s 1/4mile @ 106.17MPH
Joined
·
399 Posts
+1
To add some specifics to the above:

Get Rear door jamb pics for 2000-2004 Legacys / OBs as the unibody tends to rust at the seem located behind the lower rear corner of the door (the body rusts around the rocker panel / lower wheel-well, the door is usually fine).

This means a perfect looking car with the doors closed will sometimes have a big hole in the body when you open the rear door.
The rear subframe tends to turn to dust on these cars too so check for severe rust back there too...

Bubbles / holes in the rear 1/4 panels seem to be more commmon on these cars lately as well but is easy to spot on a quick walk-around the car.

Cars from places north of NYC (MA, NH, RI, CT) seem to be alot more rusty on average than NJ, Eastern PA cars in my opinion.
 

·
Registered
'03 L L Bean - LOVE IT!!
Joined
·
110 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you everybody for your input! We're just starting out, and not in a great hurry, but kinda! :)

We've looked at a couple, both with rust, and actually thought about going south to look....knowing where we are. I'm going to call the dealer and ask for the pictures you've described.......the car is listed on cars.com, but wasn't sure if I could post those pictures here....

Please, let me know if there's anything else we need to look for.....we'll take all the help we can, and get back to you. Thank you!!!
 

·
Registered
OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
Joined
·
12,385 Posts
Um, that's like one of the best Subaru's you can own, hands down. Get it (one). It is one of my personal favorite Subarus but I highly value reliability, I drive too much/far not too - I've got two, two friends have purchased one recently (based on my recommendation, i went with them, etc), and another is getting one in the spring of this year. Issues are rare, the two major ones are benign or easy to repair. 200,000 miles is a drop in the bucket....so you might have to adjust how long you're used to owning a car if you get it. I just turned 200,000 in one of mine (the other has 170,000) and plan on 300k out of both.

As said, VDC is a step up from LLBean. VDC has been touted as one of the best safety improvements since seat belts. maybe an exaggeration but nonetheless it's more than the "LL Bean" novelty that gives you nothing practically speaking. If you were bent on LL Bean you can install LL Bean labelled stuff in your car and "make it" an LL Bean model, it's all bolt in and really easy simple aesthetic stuff, that's it. Just have to make sure the seats have side impact air bags if you want to retain those.

The serpentine pulley bearings fail *all the time*...good news is the two bearings take 30 minutes and cost a few dollars to replace. Tons of info here about it including a sticky in the appropriate generation specific forum.
*** This should be considered a *must* do item as soon as you get it and consider it regular maintenance...every 60k or so.

The most common issue is the TPS (though I wouldn't as yet call it common) - evidenced by erratic shifting or s check engine light. But again - the sensor takes a few minutes to replace and can be done by an ape it's so easy. Not a big deal, causes no issues or problems.

Be sure to "floor it" and accelerate from a stop or under load, up a grade, on the highway - wind it out and listen for timing chain guide noise. That's not even a big deal and can be driven that way but probably don't want to buy one that has it. That was more prevalent on earlier years, doubt you'll see it in a 2004.

There have been rare reports of headgasket failures - only like 2 or 3 on online forums which are a huge base of owners, but I've never personally seen it. They're identical in symptoms to the 4 cylinder which is a debacle so it's well known - look for bubbles in the overflow reservoir while the car is running, after you've driven it, etc...and look under the car at the head-to-block mating surface adjacent to the exhaust manifold. Any leaking there could be headgaskets - they can leak externally or internally (hence the looking for bubbles thing in the overflow).

If you see any oil under the engine take lots of pics and post them here. Or ask for pics before you go from under the engine.

That's about it. Any used car nearly 10 years old is going to need a few things over the years - a wheel bearing or struts (which are considered maintenance items anyway)....etc, but they can make some inexpensive high miles.

Use forums like this or USMB as a go to source for how to proceed with any issues, questions, or maintenance.
 

·
Registered
06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
Joined
·
5,966 Posts
I have an external headgasket weep on my H6, it's visible from below as green crunge at the head-block interface.

Saw it at 150k or so, ignored it for awhile, saw some wet at 190k or so, added some subaru coolant conditioner, been dry for a while now.

It's fairly rare on the H6s, but happens once in awhile, about as often as on any aluminum block engine.
 

·
Registered
'03 L L Bean - LOVE IT!!
Joined
·
110 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, we talked to the seller/dealer tonite, and he was VERY nice!

This car was $10,995 and has just been marked down to $8,995. He had it in to a Subaru dealer.....had new tires, brakes and all the new gaskets/seals replaced around the front windows to get rid of the wind noise that I've read about...that alone cost him $400. It also had a tune up and oil change.

They are about 2 hours from here, so I think we're going to go take a ride on Saturday.

I asked about rust, and he said there is none visible, but who knows? Any suggestion as to where to look? And the inside looks incredibly clean!

Your reviews here sound very positive on this car....I'm not sure if the timing belt has been done, and wouldn't this be due? He did say he told the dealer to do everything he needed to...but he wasn't sure about that. Isn't that costly??

THANKS AGAIN!!!

Elle
 

Attachments

·
Registered
2005 OBW 2.5L, 1989 Subaru Justy, RIP Blu
Joined
·
7,355 Posts
All the ugly suabru rust I have seen is obvious. Usually behind the rear wheels on the skin, and dead center above the windshield.

Rust at the tailgate handle is an easy fix, so ignore that if it has it, they all do that.
 

·
Registered
00 Outback wagon 03 VDC wagon 18 Touring 3.6 white
Joined
·
417 Posts
I have this exact same car color and everything, just about the same miles too.. Really had no unusual problems with mine other than usual stuff. CV boot had to be replaced, tensioner and idler bearings replaced. One thing on mine is the ABS and VDC lights come on randomly. If I turn it off and then restart it they do not come back on, at least for a while. Might be 5 minutes or might be 5 months??? The 6 has a timing chain not belt which should go a long time.
 

·
Premium Member
01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
Joined
·
16,277 Posts
The H6 runs with timing chains. Yes, multiple chains. There is no service interval for the chains.

Run a CarFax if he doesn't have maintenance records going back before he purchased it.

The VDC is a very reliable and extremely well handling wagon.
 

·
Registered
'03 L L Bean - LOVE IT!!
Joined
·
110 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Oh, no timing belt, just chains...didn't know that!!

We are going to go look at it Saturday. They asked me for a deposit today, but I'd really like to go see it before I go there.

We could also trade in our Jeep, but I know we can get more selling it outright. That'll be the next step.....;)

Anymore input I'll appreciate, and I'll keep you updated!! If there's something SPECIFIC we should look at, please let me know.

Also--do these have problems with the headgaskets or anything? I thought I read somewhere they do.....just Subies in general.

thank you!!
 

·
Registered
2011 Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab Long Box
Joined
·
2,893 Posts
Also--do these have problems with the headgaskets or anything? I thought I read somewhere they do.....just Subies in general.
Not the H6...headgasket issues are extremely rare with that engine.
 

·
Registered
2011 Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab Long Box
Joined
·
2,893 Posts
This car is sounding better and better.....
Provided it's in good shape mechanically and cosmetically, I don't think you'd be disappointed with it.
 

·
Premium Member
01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
Joined
·
16,277 Posts
I recently pulled an H6 out of one VDC with 178k miles that nothing more than regular maintenance, 3 AC seals and valve cover seals. I just installed it in an LL Bean. It will most likely last a really long time as long as the new owner of the engine keeps up the maintenance.
 

·
Registered
2003 LL Bean Outback H6 and 2019 Outback Base
Joined
·
514 Posts
I just purchased an 03 LL Bean H6 with 104,000 one owner ( older couple ), who I was able to speak with. It was garaged and they always put premium fuel in. ! I got really lucky. They brought in to Subaru for EVERY oil change 3000 miles !!

ALL maintenance was done at the dealership. CARFAX proved. The interior was like NEW ......NO RUST........Other than the usual issues listed above I have found no other issues. My wife and I BOTH have Outbacks and love them !!.
If you can find a " clean" one BUY IT !!!! You will not be sorry.
 

·
Registered
2001 LL Bean
Joined
·
49 Posts
If the $8995 price sounds high, go price a new OB. We payed $8650 for our LL Bean '01 with 94,000 miles and haven't looked back. The fuel mileage isn't as good as the 4 cylinder, but I would still own the H6. If you buy, stay on this forum as there are some REALLY smart and helpful owners on here.
 

·
Registered
'03 L L Bean - LOVE IT!!
Joined
·
110 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The reason we want the H6 is because my husband is 6'5" and a BIG guy, we have a large dog and we travel 5 hours to Rochester, NY quite a bit, so we want the extra power. Also, owning 2 SUV's with V8 (his is a ford with a 5.0 and mine a Jeep with a 4.7, which we are selling), ANYTHING will be better in gas mileage!!:D

Our "toy" is our '94 Miata, which hardly uses gas! lol This will be my DD....and having run a Miata forum years and knowing the alliances involved, I'm not going anywhere! Plus, I've always found the best sources of info to be on the forum where the experts are....99% of the time, you can get your answers here.

The price doesn't seem to be too far out of range....the question is going to be what can we sell the Jeep for??:confused:
 

·
Registered
2011 Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab Long Box
Joined
·
2,893 Posts
The reason we want the H6 is because my husband is 6'5" and a BIG guy, we have a large dog and we travel 5 hours to Rochester, NY quite a bit, so we want the extra power. Also, owning 2 SUV's with V8 (his is a ford with a 5.0 and mine a Jeep with a 4.7, which we are selling), ANYTHING will be better in gas mileage!!:D

Our "toy" is our '94 Miata, which hardly uses gas! lol This will be my DD....and having run a Miata forum years and knowing the alliances involved, I'm not going anywhere! Plus, I've always found the best sources of info to be on the forum where the experts are....99% of the time, you can get your answers here.

The price doesn't seem to be too far out of range....the question is going to be what can we sell the Jeep for??:confused:
I don't blame you...you can even feel the H6 slow down a bit when there's a lot of weight in the car. In your situation, it's definitely worth it over the 4. Also, for those years there isn't a huge difference in MPG between the two engines. The Gen2 H6 is a bit of a dog off the line (really not a whole lot different than the 4 there), but on the highway it can move at a very respectable pace when you put your foot into it.
 
1 - 20 of 43 Posts
Top