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Discussion Starter #1
hi everyone, how goes it? well i'm still in search of a used car. I came across a 2004 outback with the H6 engine. When looking at used subies (we also have a 2011 forester), i always looked away at the 200-2004 models, but looking at them now, i have to say they are nice cars, in fact, i find the interiors nicer, with a more "warmy" feeling inside, compared to our forester, which i find bland.
I wanted to know, how do these H6 engines hold up? the car has around 150k miles on the clock. just looking at the foto's it looks clean, no rust, but can be wrong.
it's being sold at a dealership, not private.
are these engines known to have have headgasket issues? are the trannies reliable? anything else to look out for?
thanks
fab
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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6,140 Posts
This is one of the most reliable, long lasting engines that Subaru ever produced.

And not to question your bias toward 2nd generation, but I would offer that whatever it is that you find attractive in this model series, you will also like, perhaps even more so, in Gen 3 (2005-2009). So if you look to models only one year newer, you might also find something quite to your liking. And face it, at 13-14 years age, there won't be much difference in pricing.

It all stopped after 2009, when the newer models lost that "warmy" feeling; if that's what you want to call it.

I do know the 5 speed auto transmission in the 2005-2009 3.0R H6 models is ultra reliable; you'll have to get someone else to chime in for 2000-2004 transmission reliability.

As with any car with this age and mileage, have someone knowledgeable inspect it for you prior to purchase.

Good luck!
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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Agreed, the Subaru 3.0 is a very long-lasting engine. They can have head gasket problems the same way any all-aluminum engine can- but they don't pop gaskets just for fun like their 2.5L cousins.

The old 4-speed auto is extremely dependable.

There is very little reserve cooling in these models and with 15 years of mineral deposits in there I would flush the cooling system as an opening move, maybe even replace the radiator right off. Overheating any aluminum engine is hard on head gaskets, and not that easy on the rest of it either.

The only bad things I can say about that vintage Outback is that it is 2+ generations behind in safety tech- that was back before they started doing the high strength steel inserts, side curtain airbags, seat cushion airbags, eyesight etc. That and the headlights are a bit weak, with no upgrade path.

Look for rust in the crevices of the doors & door jamb areas, particularly just forward of the rear wheels. It hits hardest there.

As always, when looking at older cars there isn't a lot of meaning to the brand, make or model. By the time it has that much wear on it, the individual care and maintenance of that car is a stronger indicator of future performance than any of the names and labels.
 

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On the Super Mod Squad
02 Pair: 3.0 VDC Wag & 2.5 Limited Sedan
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if such cars are for sale, the reason maybe they overheat.

with a EZ30 at buy time, start it up and let it idle from cold to regular operating temp. listen for odd tapping as it warms.

when it is warm look for it overheating. then offer $500 if it does.

the buys are actually the ones listed as overheating, as they are so cheap and easy to fix.
2001-2004 gets a 212hp drop in from a JDM dealer and those cost as little as $600.

so maybe $500-$1000 to buy busted, and $1100 to fix. and that leaves you looking for rust over the rear wheels and in the base of the rear door jam.

and remember VDCs are better then plain limited H6. (I see you are in Canada. ...no LL Bean Limiteds unless they are imported from south of the boarder). and no VDC on cloth seat base H6 either.
 

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I simply cannot abide useless people.
2006 2.5i and 2002 3.0 wagons.
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12,306 Posts
I been driving a Gen 2 platform for a decade now...dated vehicle but I'm not in a rush to get a new car these days either.

That said, a Gen 3 H6 Outback with the 5 speed auto is my personal Best Subaru.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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I like mine. HGs are only a problem with extreme overheating. Just because an Outback is for sale does not mean it was an issue for the previous owner. I'm the second owner and it came with all the receipts since the 1st oil change. It had 170k miles on it when I got it. Its at 202k now. Change the fluids on time, thermostat every 100k with plugs, watch for leaks and fix them (the transmission cooler hoses by the transmission get brittle with the heat from the cats) and all is well.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the great info gang! As I said, going by pics, it looks to be in good shape. I did run a carfax on it, what I found kind of odd was that the second owner only drove it for about 4000 miles in 4 years. Is this odd? Should I be concerned (maybe milage is off)? Mind you, maybe it's true, hence the body being in good shape? The ones I see on our rodes already have holes in them. Thanks
Fab
 

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On the Super Mod Squad
02 Pair: 3.0 VDC Wag & 2.5 Limited Sedan
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26,204 Posts
Thanks for all the great info gang! As I said, going by pics, it looks to be in good shape. I did run a carfax on it, what I found kind of odd was that the second owner only drove it for about 4000 miles in 4 years. Is this odd? Should I be concerned (maybe milage is off)? Mind you, maybe it's true, hence the body being in good shape? The ones I see on our rodes already have holes in them. Thanks
Fab
4000 miles in 4 years: maybe a real city person, or a senior citizen that barely drove at all.

these are also becoming 2nd/ 3rd cars. things that are more efficient are available. so maybe it only came out on the worst days, when the daily driver on dry pavement was a Prius.

I have been limiting the miles I put on my H6 for years. as my other subaru is just plain cheaper to daily drive.
(H6 needs high octane).
 

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1999 30th Anniversary Legacy Outback DOHC 2.5L 4EAT, 2008 Impreza WRX 2.5L 5MT, 2008 Impreza Wagon 2.5L 4EAT
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Because you live where they salt the roads make sure you lift the car and check out the underbody for rust, especially the rear subframe and surrounding attachment body metal.
 
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