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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I'm looking into buying a 2002 Subaru Outback sedan with 145k miles on it, for around 6450 (hoping to bargain the dealer down). It is the less muscular Limited edition, and I'm planning on getting it into a shop in the next couple days for a general diagnostic and examination.

Are there any Outback-specific problems I should be on the lookout for? I've done some research and I'm aware that Outbacks have an issue with head gaskets, and occasionally in cold weather the heated air will have a fuel smell to it, indicating another issue, but that's the extent of my knowledge so far.

I'm hoping this car lives up to the Outback's reputation for durability, and during my test drive I cruised around a few city blocks at up to 45mph and felt no problems whatsoever - smooth and powerful acceleration, great braking, good turns, no weird sensations or hesitation in shifting. The engine also looked to be in good condition when we popped the hood and eyeballed it, but neither myself nor my friends are more than amateur car lovers, and I'm new to the Subaru brand (really, really impressed so far :D).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, and thanks!!
 

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You have heard correctly. When I was buying my Subie that was the biggest thing I was looking for. I'm sure there are other brand specific problems that people know of (I'm fairly noobish as well) but blown head gaskets can cost anywhere from 1.5k - 2.5k. Now that by itself should let you know to look out for that.

When I was looking for Outbacks I found a couple that I loved. When I took them to a shop for inspection however, they both were found to have the head gaskets blown. I would definitely get any Outback you are looking to buy inspected at a shop. Make sure you ask them if they perform a head gasket check though, I went to a Subaru service place myself.

If I remember correctly, the head gasket problem tends to occur around the mileage that you listed. That , and I think the problem was only addressed in the 2003 + models. So the 2002 that you are looking at is definitely prone.

I'd say be sure to get the cars checked at a shop and DEFINITELY have them check the head gaskets.

If anyone else knows of more I wouldn't mind knowing either

Awesome that you buying a Subie though man!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I should have mentioned earlier, the Outback is the H6 3.0l 6cylinder model, sorry! Does the head gasket problem extend to this engine type, or is it limited to the 2.5l?
 

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The OB sedan was only offered in a H6 guys. All the threads on the OB regarding things to check - age related repairs or replacements etc apply given the OB sedan or legacy Sedan with the OB suspension and the H6 are all the same car mechanically speaking.
 

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I own 4 Subarus. A 95,97,02 and a 14. The first two are 2.2 and the last two 2.5.
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You need to find out if the head gaskets were already done and when the timing belt was done. The timing belt should have been done at 105 kmiles. It's possible that the timing belt has never been done so that would be an immediate expense. Take a close look at the CV boots [4] and the steering boots [2] since they often rip around this mileage. The joints at the end of the catalytic converter and end of the resonator pipe should be shot by this time. One shop wanted $1400 to fix these on my 02, but I found someone to weld a new flange [catalytic converter] and a sleeve [resonator] for $200.
 

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H6 has no HG issues and has a timing chain. The only thing to be aware of is that the H6 owners have seen a number of bearing failures in the pulleys which have caused a few tense moments thinking they lost far more costly parts.

The older H6's are also starting to see a O-ring gasket failure in the fuel pump causing fuel issues and engine stalling. There was just a recent forum about this owner went through lots of possible causes and ended up at the failed o-ring in the fuel pump as the cause.
 
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