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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a question. I am looking to buy a used Outback and have found a few online within a reasonable driving distance of where I live. I have always owned Toyotas in the past (currently own 2 1990 Camry wagons), really need/want a "new" wagon, and think the Outback will be my next car.

Question: How high is too high? I found the "perfect" 2002 unit, but it has 192,000 miles on it. Should I even go look at it? For more than twice the money, I found a 2003 Outback with 76,000 miles on it. Any thoughts, warnings from you experienced owners?

Thanks!
 

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When any car hits a mileage point where major service items need to be done the price of the car should reflect if the major services have been done or not otherwise mileage is not as big of a factor if the car was well cared for and properly documented etc.

76,000 miles is nothing if the car was properly cared for. #1 thing with subarus is good oil care - subarus which are run long on poor dirty oil can suffer early oil leaks and gasket failures which obviously cost money to fix not to mention it is a safe assumption the car was not cared for very well and possibly abused regarding being driven hard on poor oil quality - possibly heat damage to the engine etc etc.

For a 2003 with 76,000 miles on it if there are no oil leaks around the oil pump area front bottom driver side corner behind the timing belt cover then good chance that the car got at least decent oil change intervals. Keep in mind that your nearly due for a timing belt replacement due to the age of the car not so much the mileage. This is a standard job and replacing the tensioner and pulleys is viewed as a good idea given if those fail your timing belt fails and your engine is toast anyway etc. That can run you around $600 or so at the dealer.

Other than the standard check to make sure proper fluids change history is there like any other car crash or flood damage checks etc. HG inspection for leaks 2003 is clear of the external coolant HG leak issue which was a gasket problem from 2000 through mid 2002 which Subaru corrected with a updated gasket my 01 had this and the new gasket was fine for the rest of the 10+ years I had it.

Good luck! Keep in mind that the Automatic Transmission has a front differential which needs gear oil servicing which is not the same as servicing the Automatic transmission fluid.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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i prefer 100,000 - 150,000 miles and expect 300,000 reliable miles out of mine. 200,000 isn't terrible and a number isn't the end-all-be-all telltale sign of anything, but i generally avoid 200,000.

if you're expecting 200,000 miles out of it then buying a 200,000 mile vehicle probably doesn't sound like a grand idea but it's not impossible either. how many miles do you want out of it?

private sale one owner vehicles are the bomb. i'll take those any day over some unknown other persons discarded trash at a dealer lot that has a "115 point certified factory" pscyhobabble behind it that they picked up at auction or trade in for dirt cheap and know nothing about.

lean towards the H6 engines, they won't have the headgasket issues of the 4 cylinder EJ25 and don't have the timing belt maintenance either.

any 4 cylinder Subaru you buy should have a complete timing belt job done to it when you buy it (either due to milage or age or the fact that if it ever was done it probably wasn't done up to snuff for another 100,000 miles) - it'll need timing belt, all pulleys, and water pump. unlikely to find one with all of that done and it's expensive if you're not doing the work yourself. and of course be familiar with the various forms of EJ25 headgasket leaks - the vehicles you're looking at they will be external leaks, check carefully.

otherwise 200,000 isn't that bad but it's going to need some maintenance and have some issues creep up - like struts, wheel bearings, and alternators needing replaced over time. if it's in good shape it shouldn't be a money pit but it will need some stuff, realize it has just about made the distance to the moon.
 

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2000 OBW, AT, 290.5k miles when I sold it
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I have 226k miles on my '00 right now, with the 2.5. Always been reliable, wouldn't be afraid to head out across the country in it tonight. I bought it at 96k, already had the timing belt done, probably not the pulleys and water pump though. But, did it all at 205k or so. Also did the head gaskets around 115k, not that it really needed it, but there was a little coolant and oil leaking out. I'd recommend one to anyone, like the others said, if it's been taken care of. When I was looking last, I found an '02 with 65k on it at a dealer, oil leaks like crazy, and it was so sloppy to drive, felt like it should have had 300k on it. I passed it up for this one that still feels better at 226k, still with all original suspension and steering parts, aside from sway bar links. Good luck!
 

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2008 Ford Escape XLS - 2002 Subaru Outback
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I had an outback with 205k I would have drove it across country and up into Canada and would have been fine. My Outback now has 162k and I wouldn't hesitate it across country. Service history is everything, I have personally seen 600k stock interal 2.5s. For half the money you could do a brand new JDM Ej25 and still have money left over it seems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks, everyone for your advice and info. Sounds like I need to take my mechanic friend along with a good list of questions to ask, drive the cars for feel and sound, and thoroughly check them over. Your help is much appreciated. I'll let you know when I find the "right" car. Your comments about successful high mileage Outbacks has me convinced that it will be my next car. What I love about my Camrys is that they have been reliable, even in their later years and high mileage. But, since Toyota no longer makes a wagon, and mine are now 22 years old and I don't want to risk long trips with either one, Subaru is looking like an excellent choice. Thanks. - Sue in Iowa.
 

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2000 OBW, AT, 290.5k miles when I sold it
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Oh, and one more thing I thought of last night. It's a very minor detail, but it might save you a headache in the future. These cars have a great feature in that the headlights always shut off with the ignition, virtually eliminating dead batteries from leaving the headlights on. Virtually. There is a switch on top of the steering column that will allow the park lights to be turned on at any time. I'd be willing to bet that switch has caused at least one dead battery for most Subie newbies. It sure did for me! :(
 

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2008 Ford Escape XLS - 2002 Subaru Outback
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I learned the parking light switch from test driving another Subaru when I already had one. -
 
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