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2003 Subaru Outback LL Bean H6-3.0
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, I am new to buying a Subaru, and used cars in general. I am finally able to move on from a gas guzzling dodge ram i was given years ago, and I have decided that i want to get an outback, preferably with an H6 engine.

However, h6 outbacks are rather uncommon around here, and the for sale selection is limited, and even those i would have to drive and 40-60minutes to just check out or test drive.

So i have a few questions about picking the right one

1. Is there anything I can easily look for when checking the car out in regards to wear that might cause problems.

2. What point should i rule out because of mileage? I know subarus are meant to last, but the lowest mileage on ive seen is 130k, and most are 150-180k miles.

3. Would i be better off with a well documented private used with 150-170k(Possibly with a new engine), or risk a dealer car with something like 130-140k

4. One listing has the car at 160k, but has a replaced engine only at 90k. But the engine was replaced because a previous owner never changed the oil. Would that have had any other impact on the car not pertaining to the replaced engine?

Here are a few examples of the outbacks i'm considering:

2002 160k ($6450)

2004 168k ($7500)

2002 130k ($7999)
 

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2008 Ford Escape XLS - 2002 Subaru Outback
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246 Posts
Go with well documented car. I'd be worried about buying a car that the owner neglected to do a simple oil change, who knows whatelse wasn't done. Check for uneven tire wear (suspention) make sure it shifts smooth (transmission) check below the car for any rust and listen to the engine for any slapping or ticking noises. Don't worry to much about the mileage.
 

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2002 Subaru Outback H6 L.L.Bean
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298 Posts
Something I wish I would have paid more attention to was my AWD when I bought mine. I didnt notice it had torque bind, or evn knew what that was when I bought it. But hopefully it can be repaired for little money. Also check for leaks. But on this engine the head gaskets are not a known problem, and the valve covers are easy to change. Check good for rust. Especially the fog light holes. Mine has a little bit of rust there even though the rest if the car is perfect. Just some points I wish I didn't miss.
 

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01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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15,483 Posts
Maintenance records. My experience with Subaru owners is they take care of the car and keep records. If a seller doesn't have records, find a shop that will check it out for you and give you a list. It can assist in haggling the price as well as letting you know what you may be getting in to. And, if the seller cleared the PCM memory to turn that light off before the sell, a good technician will see it in the memory log or readiness monitors.
 

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2003 Subaru Outback LL Bean H6-3.0
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23 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Ok, i found a 2002 outback that didn't seem too bad because it had much lower miles than others in the price range. but there are some questions about it.

It is a canadian outback (I'm in the US). I don't mind the metric measurments on the dash and stuff, but I'm not sure if there are any changes or complications that might arise due to different laws and regulations.

Secondly, it has an H6 Engine, and the VIN says it has VDC. However, there is no vdc on/off button anywhere, and there isn't a VDC light on the dash when you first turn the key. VDC isn't important to me, it just seems strange. Especially since the car doesn't appear to have any LL Bean badges either, and from my research i had thought the only wagon models with an h6 and leather trim were the ll bean and VDC models. I didn't know if Canada had its own trim level or somthing.


Lastly, I saw rust and corrosion when i looked under the car, not a ton, but enough to get my attention. I don't know if i should be worried about that, or if it is just something that happens to cars driven where salt is used on snowy roads.
 

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2008 Ford Escape XLS - 2002 Subaru Outback
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246 Posts
Stay away from rust. Causes more headakes then you can imagine. A perfectly good running car, and great looking can have a rusted underside rendering it worthless.

You can always change the gauge cluster so it reads MPH and such, that is a simple and pretty cheap job.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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12,385 Posts
2001 didn't have VDC OFF switch - i assume it was a bleed over model or Canadian market was slightly different.

I had a 99 Canadian Subaru - it was fine just KMH speedo, no big deal.

Your answer sort of depends how many miles you want out of the car. As you approach 200,000 miles you're going to need things like struts (actually way before then sometimes), cv boots, alternator replaced, a/c resealed (i have a thread on that for the H6's - cheap and easy), wheel bearings, etc. 200,000 - 250,000 or 300,000 is fine for the motor but just plan on some maintenance to get it there.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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18,109 Posts
yeah, an older car is gonna need more 'stuff' done - and rust is gonna make much of that 'stuff' difficult.

Generally, none of the 'known issues' with the H6es specifically are 'show stoppers' - so, all the normal precautions when buying a used car apply. BUT Subarus, generally, are somewhat 'special' due to the AWD system and it will probably serve you well to have any prospective soob checked out by an experienced mechanic. Post your city and someone here may be able to make a recommendation.

dealers will often send the worst trade-ins off to the auction house so, they sometimes have decent used cars on the lot. They are often quite expensive too. But, you perhaps could get a 12 or 6 month powertrain warranty thrown in when negotiating.

Private sales from local folks can also be quite good.

Probably the worst are bank repos. If a guy can't afford his car payment - do think he's been doing oil changes?
 

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2003 Subaru Outback LL Bean H6-3.0
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23 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I'm in Buckley, Washington, and was definitely planning on having whatever subaru i'm interested in get checked out by a mechanic.

The main reason i was considering this one despite the rust was because it only had 105,000 miles on it, and most of the others had 150,000-200,000 in the same price range. I wasn't sure which would be worse, rust on the bottom of the car or an extra 70,000 miles on the car.
 

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03 Outback H6 base
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252 Posts
Just don't be in hurry. It took me a month to find my '03 H-6. It was worth the wait; though stressful. 7th one I viewed with the others being sold the day before I arrived.... One owner, dealer serviced, 147k, clean.

Look it over, drive at hwy speeds, give it a passing gear test, look it over again, check fluids and smell them for a burnt smell. Then ask the seller for their bottom line and go from there. Mine surprised me saying 5,000. I was ready to spend 7 so go figure....

Oh and look at the tires for equal tread depth. I saw two; one with new rears and one with, :gasp:, one new.... :eek:

If you feel confident go with your first impression but always consider having a professional check it out.

Best of luck finding the right one for yourself! :29:

.
 

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2003 Subaru Outback LL Bean H6-3.0
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Discussion Starter #11
Alright, found one that looks fairly nice and I'm going to take in for a mechanics inspection on monday.

2003 LL Bean, high mileage(174k miles), but in the best condition out of all the ones ive looked at. 2 Owner, very local.

The interior and exterior are extremely clean, and all the electronics work. Mechanically it has brand new Toyo Snow and Mud Tires, the engine compartment looks in pristine condition, and the underside a little dirty, but no major rust. It handled, braked and accelerated just as smoothly as the outback with 105k miles on the engine.

On the bad side: The weather stripping for the windows is a little loose, a tiny chip in the windshield, and one fog light lens is broken. The fog lights have a blown fuse. The brakes are at about 30%. The spare tire is smaller than the Toyo tires. But so far we haven't seen anything worrying.

I was able to talk the dealer down to $7600. I was hoping to go lower, but he was pretty stubborn on pricing.

What do you guys think?
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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18,109 Posts
seems clean.

Try to negotiate a 12 month powertrain warranty, settle for 6.
 

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136 Posts
Good job. Sounds like this could be the one.

+1 with 1LT ...... get a warranty, any warranty, with the car. 6 months minimum. Those issues you noted could come with any used cars, and certainly nothing that would strand you on the side of the road.

$7600 sounds reasonable. Does the dealer have any service documentation on the car ?

Alright, found one that looks fairly nice and I'm going to take in for a mechanics inspection on monday.

2003 LL Bean, high mileage(174k miles), but in the best condition out of all the ones ive looked at. 2 Owner, very local.

The interior and exterior are extremely clean, and all the electronics work. Mechanically it has brand new Toyo Snow and Mud Tires, the engine compartment looks in pristine condition, and the underside a little dirty, but no major rust. It handled, braked and accelerated just as smoothly as the outback with 105k miles on the engine.

On the bad side: The weather stripping for the windows is a little loose, a tiny chip in the windshield, and one fog light lens is broken. The fog lights have a blown fuse. The brakes are at about 30%. The spare tire is smaller than the Toyo tires. But so far we haven't seen anything worrying.

I was able to talk the dealer down to $7600. I was hoping to go lower, but he was pretty stubborn on pricing.

What do you guys think?
 

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01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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The mileage is going to be a stickler for warranty coverage. Sure its a Subaru, but car dealers don't look at it that way. Otherwise, its a good price.
 

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2003 Subaru Outback LL Bean H6-3.0
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Discussion Starter #15
Well i finally went and purchased the one i was talking about before. After looking at a few more, it still seemed to be the best one around.

Talked the dealer down to $7000, but wasn't able to get them to give me a warranty on it. Said they didn't do warranties on anything over 150k miles

Mechanics inspection was decent, they reccomended some service, but nothing pressing, and most was somewhat cheap stuff i could do myself. Air filter, Battery, oil change, Serpentine belt, and Front/Rear Differentials Serviced. Should cost around $300 once everything is done.

So far the car is great, drives very well, very comfortable, and the gas mileage difference from my truck is immense.



 

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01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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15,483 Posts
Good color. LL Bean. Can't see it in the pic, does it have the two tone leather?

Wash, Wax (Mequire's is great), buff and it will blind you in the sunlight.
 

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2002 Subaru Outback H6 L.L.Bean
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298 Posts
Oh yea it will. That metallic green looks awesome after that. Looks like you stole my car! Congrats.
 

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2003 Subaru Outback LL Bean H6-3.0
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23 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Yeah it has the leather interior, and it is in pretty good condition, not cracked or excessively worn anywhere.


Anyways, I have a question about the oil changes on this car. I had one guy said that you only should use OEM oil filters for subies, something about different pressures from the after market stuff. However, I know another person with a forester who uses oil filters he gets from auto zone. The car's records show it was changed at a subaru dealer its entire life, so i imagine it currently has an OEM filter

Do i need to use an OEM oil filter, or is something else that i get from Autozone or napa fine?

Planning on putting in Mobil1 Extended Performance 10w-30, btw
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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18,109 Posts
Yeah it has the leather interior, and it is in pretty good condition, not cracked or excessively worn anywhere.


Anyways, I have a question about the oil changes on this car. I had one guy said that you only should use OEM oil filters for subies, something about different pressures from the after market stuff. However, I know another person with a forester who uses oil filters he gets from auto zone. The car's records show it was changed at a subaru dealer its entire life, so i imagine it currently has an OEM filter

Do i need to use an OEM oil filter, or is something else that i get from Autozone or napa fine?

Planning on putting in Mobil1 Extended Performance 10w-30, btw

any quality filter will be fine if you plan on normal use and sticking to a reasonable OCI. He is correct that soobs have a 23psi bypass valve in the filter. I think Wix has a filter set that way now, PureOne has a fairly high pressure BV too.

That said, OEM filters from online dealers are not expensive. Get 'em 3 or 6 at a time with crush washers. I have only used OEM or PureOne (on a coupla occasions) but Wix or other name brands have worked well on soobs for decades.

I've been a fan of Shell Rotella T6 synthetic in 5w-40 since owning my soobs. I do much of my own maintenance (but I'm starting to slow down it feels like - might need to start farming more stuff out ha!) so I spend the savings on better fluids and decent parts when I can do so reasonably.
 

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1995 2.2 Auto Legacy Sedan
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142 Posts
Congratulations, nice looking car :29:
 
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