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Discussion Starter #1
Going to check out 2 Subarus. Both 2002 models (Outback with 136k and Legacy with 121k).

Would be buying from a dealer.

Spoke to my local mechanic that has worked on a few Subarus before... never had to deal with the HG issues, just exhaust/brakes and other minor things.

I plan to have them both inspected by a mechanic in the area (driving about 60 miles to look at these 2).

Should I be worried?

Appreciate any input.


Thanks!
 

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2004 Outback Wagon, 2.5, 4EAT, All weather package.
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I wouldn't be too worried, just thoroughly check for leaks. Also... service records! If they don't have service history for the car I would shy away.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Should add that I've never owned a Subaru before.

Push is coming from my wife (it would be hers to drive) because she loves that they are AWD and we live in an area that gets hammered with lake-effect snow.
 

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I wouldn't be too worried, just thoroughly check for leaks. Also... service records! If they don't have service history for the car I would shy away.
Yeah plan on getting the CarFax report on both.

Thank you!
 

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2004 Outback Wagon, 2.5, 4EAT, All weather package.
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Well, not just that. If you ever DO have problems with the headgaskets, if you can prove that the coolant was changed according to the service schedule, Subaru of America will be more likely to help you out on repair costs.
 

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2003 LL Bean Outback H6 and 2019 Outback Base
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Tats right SOA helped me with HG issues on a 2000 OB I used to own. They are KNOWN to fail.

I , again, would ask for all service records.........SO important. But if you are having a mechanic check it out.should be ok..................just dont go crazy if within 6 months or so you need to do HG... Car is AWESOME !!!
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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just like to say - great plan on having an experienced mechanic inspect the car!
 

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2004 Outback Wagon, 2.5, 4EAT, All weather package.
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I would also like to say, don't let the head gasket thing scare you. These are GREAT cars. Comfortable, reliable, a monster in the snow, and compared to my two GMs, much much MUCH better built.
 

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Tats right SOA helped me with HG issues on a 2000 OB I used to own. They are KNOWN to fail.

I , again, would ask for all service records.........SO important. But if you are having a mechanic check it out.should be ok..................just dont go crazy if within 6 months or so you need to do HG... Car is AWESOME !!!
Subaru won't help out with a car owned by multiple people and over 100K and as old as the 2002 is at this point.

I've had Subaru step up and address issues out of warranty however the car was under 100K and owned by the original owner. Big difference

I would never buy a car that old from a dealer to start with. Dealer hasn't a clue what the cars history is and at that age and price the dealer has no interest in hardly paying their cleaning crew to detail the car let alone do any sort of proper inspection or service work on the car before rolling it out to the used car lot. Actually pretty shocked the dealer didn't send it to the Auction which would raise even more red flags. Dealers so desperate for used cars they are selling 2002's would concern me about what type of dealer your dealing with.

The same car sold by the first or second owner with lots of known use and history and you can talk to the owner to see if their story checks out with what the car is telling you is the only way I would buy a car at this age point and mileage.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Subaru won't help out with a car owned by multiple people and over 100K and as old as the 2002 is at this point.

I've had Subaru step up and address issues out of warranty however the car was under 100K and owned by the original owner. Big difference

I would never buy a car that old from a dealer to start with. Dealer hasn't a clue what the cars history is and at that age and price the dealer has no interest in hardly paying their cleaning crew to detail the car let alone do any sort of proper inspection or service work on the car before rolling it out to the used car lot. Actually pretty shocked the dealer didn't send it to the Auction which would raise even more red flags. Dealers so desperate for used cars they are selling 2002's would concern me about what type of dealer your dealing with.

The same car sold by the first or second owner with lots of known use and history and you can talk to the owner to see if their story checks out with what the car is telling you is the only way I would buy a car at this age point and mileage.
Wouldn't the service report show number of owners? I feel like the inspection from a mechanic would help as well.. I'm really not planning on listening much to what the dealer says. Going by the service report/mechanic's opinion.
 

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Wouldn't the service report show number of owners? I feel like the inspection from a mechanic would help as well.. I'm really not planning on listening much to what the dealer says. Going by the service report/mechanic's opinion.
Yes and no. Car this age more often than not especially subaru will have large gaps in its service history unless you get very lucky and happen to find a Subaru owned by people who actually had their cars serviced. ;-)

High end cars have lots of service records - lower end cars especially old one's tend to have much fewer service records. Just the nature of the business. If I were on a very small budget and needed the most reliable car possible today? I would be looking at older used Lexus #1 reason is that it will probably have a full service history from day one.

My land cruiser was like that had every single service documented. When buying a really old car which case anything 10+yrs is getting up there - it really is very important to see a long history of good maint documentation. Or you have no idea what your getting and could find your self spending the cars value or more in repairs just to make it reliable.
 

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The 2.5 L engines of this era are pretty likely to have head gasket issues at some point. If there is no service history to prove that they have been changed you should use that as a bargaining chip. I agree with Subiesalior that buying an older car like this from a dealer is generally not a good idea unless maybe you get a decent warrantee (unlikely). Subaru sold a lot of these so it shouldn't be too hard to locate a private owner car for sale and even after 1 or 2 previous owners you are far more likely to get some service records. In my experience car dealers (especially used) are only a rung or two up the evolutionary ladder from single cell organisms...
 

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I recently purchased a car from a "dealer". It was a small place that picked up auction cars and flipped them. I was set against it and was actually looking for a private sale. I was surprised at how much I talked them down and feel I got a good deal. I guess I'm trying to say that a dealer purchase is not always a bad deal, If these are trade-ins, you know they didn't give them much for them. I agree with the others, have a third party mechanic check the car out, it is worth the cost. Make sure to get a carfax and don't be afraid to haggle. Even if you get a car and it needs a head gasket, if you get it cheap enough, it is still worth the repair. You could also get an H6, they are not as prone to HG failure and also don't need to have the timing belt done at 100k. (they have a chain) I would find out if that has already been done on the cars you are looking at.
 

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Look carefully for HG leaks, look for proof of the timing belt having been changed at 105k miles (4 cyl only) and plan to put good tires on it for your lake effect snow.

Welcome and good luck!
 

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Good luck if you decide to go ahead with the purchase, but be aware that the 02 2.5L motors have been known to have some HG issues (see my thread, '02 Outback w/ HG issues), along with any responses it generates.
 
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