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I'm shopping for a new-to-me red Outback right now. My first Subaru is a 2004 Forester that had 148k miles on it in 2016 and now has 188k miles. A Subie-only shop did the headgaskets, timing belt, and a bunch of other maintenance updates before I took possession...$4800 in Atlanta dollars at the time. For visibility and controls-design, it's been my favorite ever car.

However, it's the noisiest highway car I've ever been in and now everything seems to be failing. In the last 12 weeks, we've spent 1500 dollars to repair the a/c because a plastic fly wheel (or something) snapped off, redo the timing belt (again), replace the rear calipers, rotors and pads, and repair the rt rear speed sensor that feeds the ABS system...which also snapped due to rust.

The radio has failed, the doors stopped responding to the key fob (not batteries), the driver's door handle lost a bolt, I can't keep an interior dome light working...and now I crunched the left rear bumper in a 5mph idiot move where I backed into a concrete pillar. I replaced the tail light cover myself...but the bumper cover is done for.

It seems the newer models have fixed the road noise issue? Question is...my car has ridiculously low trade in value and I can only afford a 200 per month payment. To get into an Outback, what years can I depend on?

Is rust an issue in all Subies of a certain age? We live in the NC mountains and are shopping in a 250 mile radius.

I've researched until I'm cross-eyed...and am even considering a cosmetically-damaged-and-restored Outback to get into as new a model as possible. Is this crazy thinking?

I'm tired of fixing this car. I can't afford the down payment on a lease...and a regular dealership will probably scalp me.

Pardon the long backstory...but what's my best move? Sell the 2004 as is...trade at a dealer...buy an insurance repaired outback at 40 percent discount...or?

Help...I'm paralyzed and I need to act soon.
 
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