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2005 Outback 2.5xt Limited
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I'm so new here I don't even own an outback yet. I've been a longtime member of a forum exactly like this for my Dodge truck and it has been an amazing resource full of great people and advice, so before I even step into the Subaru world, I thought I'd try and find out a few things.

I'm in the greater San Francisco Bay area, so I have a lot of shopping options for outbacks... though not unlimited funds. Right now I've focused on sale by owner only on Craigslist (I just seem to feel more comfortable with person to person sales) and am shopping in the $5000 to $8000 range.

So... in the Dodge Truck world, many of us feel *our* generation of vehicle is the best (I'm a 1st gen guy) for a number of different reasons. Is there a similar sentiment about Outbacks?

That is, as I'm looking in my range, I see a 99, with lower miles at the same price as a 01 with high miles. would any of you say definitely go with one over the other?

what else should I be looking for? I've heard about the HG thing, but that seems to be more of a worry than a typical problem...

I guess the overall question is, if you had $7k to spend, how would you set your priorities on getting an outback?

thanks for your time, and I look forward to being a part of this community soon,
Tys
 

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22,806 Posts
2000-2002's with the 2.5 engines were good cars as long as the prior owners changed the oil and had subaru replace the poor Head Gasket design with the updated HG before they sprung a big external coolant leak and cooked the engine which case any evidence of poor oil change history which is easily seen by a leaky oring in the oil pump which sits just behind the timing belt cover - oil all over the bottom of the timing belt cover would suggest oring leak. Also if the oil change history was not so good the valve cover gaskets will be leaking long before the car hits 150K at which point even the well cared for 2.5's need the valve covers done at that point.

Cooling capacity with the wedge style body shape is not great so even a healthy car driven hard in very hot climates with long climbs or even just high winds can be easily be pushed too hard and over heated. So keep that in mind when your shopping.

The 5spd MT - is a good transmission however! The clutch is short throw and I would say a very high percentage of MT drivers struggle with it and cause excess wear and early replacement. This transmission clutch job is always a full replacement of the flywheel - and the release bearing. Not doing those two things always results in another clutch job not long after or even a damaged output shaft resulting in an expensive transmission replacement. Under proper and heavy use the release bearing and clutch will run 140-150K before either the clutch material is done or the release bearing starts to squeal either way clutch job is needed! Improperly used clutches commonly are seen as low as 30K needing a clutch job.

The old 4spd AT is pretty tough not that great regarding gearing due to the 4 gears - but with proper servicing ie fluid changes and (front gear oil service for the front diff) has proven to be a durable and long lasting AT. The common failure with the AT is the lack of fluid servicing resulting in poor shifting and or delayed shifting etc. Also very very common mistake people make they assume a AT service and a front diff Service is one and the same. They are not!!!!! The Front diff is like the rear diff it needs proper gear oil servicing every 50K or so to keep it healthy and happy - front diff failures are becoming more and more common as the older 4spd AT's lacking front diff servicing get up there in age.

Of course all other old car rules apply! REcords Records!! And RECORDS! is a must!
Do not buy from a dealer!!!!!!!! Buy from a owner with records and if they need to be asked more than twice for the records - move on to another car.

Timing belts do fail the 105,000 mile interval or 105 months is there for a good reason the belts beyond that do break at which point your engine is junk. The only proof of a properly done timing belt service is an official receipt! There is no way to inspect a belt and know if it was done at 105K.

Good luck!
 

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2008 Ford Escape XLS - 2002 Subaru Outback
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With $7,000 you should be able to pick up a 2002-04' with about 50-60k miles. I looked at a 2003 with 49k miles, that looked and ran brand new and had all the records from the Subaru dealer, for $6500. It only ever had is a set of tires, pads and rotors and oil changes. This generation seems to get to 300k easier then the last and next generation, if you do the headgasket. I've also heard people getting 200k miles out of the orignal clutch and headgasket. Don't forget timing belt every 100k. If I was looking for a car that'd last me the longest. I'd get 2nd generation, with about 75k miles and rust free with manual transmission and the base model. And pay about $6,500 and bank the extra for the timing belt service and headgasket serivce down the road.
 

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2005 Outback 2.5xt Limited
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81 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
thanks for all the responses!

seems like the prices you guys are talking about are a bit lower than around here... "the California effect" I guess.

if you want to see what I'm browsing in, check out My CL search

Here's another question:

what about the Impreza and Sport factors? The Impreza is the lighter (cheaper?) body frame, right? that's better for MPG, but not as good for... safety? size? what?

Oh, I should mention, I live off the paved road. The last 3.5 miles of *steep* dirt roads is 4 wheel drive country, takes 20 minutes to do those 3.5 miles.

Thus my desire for the all wheel drive... and the probable outcome of me beating on this car.
 

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thanks for all the responses!

seems like the prices you guys are talking about are a bit lower than around here... "the California effect" I guess.

if you want to see what I'm browsing in, check out My CL search

Here's another question:

what about the Impreza and Sport factors? The Impreza is the lighter (cheaper?) body frame, right? that's better for MPG, but not as good for... safety? size? what?

Oh, I should mention, I live off the paved road. The last 3.5 miles of *steep* dirt roads is 4 wheel drive country, takes 20 minutes to do those 3.5 miles.

Thus my desire for the all wheel drive... and the probable outcome of me beating on this car.
The impreza for a long time has probably been one of the best used car values out there regarding build quality vs price and having AWD of course. Safety it is ranked well but they didn't give it a full set of air bags till pretty late in the game compared to other cars.
The previous generation Impreza is actually pretty nice regarding seating space for the front passengers and is a nice little car. The Outback sport which is the jazzed up Impreza has disc rear brakes might have slightly better ground clearance than the standard one but not 100% sure about that. If your solo and not hauling people around all the time the impreza sport the last generation would be a nice car and a great value cost vs what you get given most people do not view them as exciting or a stand out etc so the prices seem to be held down for the most part. I saw one locally with 42,000 on it 2008 - very clean for $6000 that is a very hard value to pass up.

As for off road ability they are just as capable possibly more so given they weigh less and the impreza body is built incredibly strong compared to the later generation outbacks which have migrated away from Subaru's Rally heritage originally started with the legacy. The Impreza I've read several reviews over the years including a recent one on the XV where the reviewer comments that the impreza like always feels like it was hammered out of one piece of steel being incredibly stiff and strong which is good for off road use keeps the rattles and flexing down and makes for a longer lasting ride with fewer issues.

For sure something you should look into if your solo most of the time. The value is one that is very hard to ignore. As for AWD system its the same engine and system used in the Legacy and Outback for all these years. Ground clearance is only an issue if your road into your place have steep entry and departure points but your standard rough dirt road is a non issue. By the way the same entry and departure steep angle issues will be a factor with the outback also or for that matter all the subaru's.
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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just stepping in to mention the Forester is on an Impreza chassis and might be a consideration.
 

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2005 Outback 2.5xt Limited
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81 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
well, I got one!

Ok, I'm officially a member of the club! :)

2002 OB Impreza Sport - 103,000 miles. Burgundy.


had the CV Boot leak, got that whole axle bit replaced for $150.

Thank you everyone! More to follow!
 

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2004 Outback H4 M/T
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congrats! I have been a Subaru OBW '04 h6-3.0 35th anniversary owner for a year and have been very pleased. I went with a h6 because of the HG issue with this generation and relatively low maintenance, besides oil changes,air filters, and regular fluid changes. Gas mileage was a concern but i live in a rural area and get on average 22-24 mpg on 93-94 octane. let me know how you like the OB Impreza sport, I was looking at one for my wife and her job where she travels frequently. thanks.
 

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03 Outback H6 base
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252 Posts
Info stolen from member jp1203:
Also, 2002-2004 H6 cars have 7.9" of clearance stock and H4s have 7.3".
That extra clearance (& power) is why I chose a '03 H-6....
 
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