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don't have a Subie yet, but planning on it
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Discussion Starter #1
I am very interested in buying a Subaru Outback, but I cannot afford a brand new one. I don't like how the 2000 and newer models look, that and the fact they too are too expensive. I like the 95-99 version, but the ones I have been seeing are rather high in miles, but they fit my price range. I am curious to know how long Outbacks have been known to last before things start breaking down? I have been finding cars around the 80,000 mile range and I am not sure if that is too high or not so bad. I know that if it were a Volvo, the car would just be getting broken in, but I don't know how that translates to a Subaru. I am looking for it to last at least 5 years when I hope to finally be able to get a brand new one, but I need to know if I get one of these higher milage Outbacks I am not wasting my money.
 

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2004 Baja Turbo
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106 Posts
I work on Volvos and at 80,000 there breaking down.I would get an Outback,better quality well built.But thats just me.
 

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Formerly 04 Outback 3.0R VDC, now 2011 Mitsubishi Pajero GLS DiD
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1,617 Posts
I haven't had the experience with high mileage Subaru (or Volvo for that matter) but I can say that the only car I've owned that was still driving almost like new with 80,000+ miles on it was a BMW 540i but even that was headed for some fairly expensive repairs to the suspension. I think apart from the cylinder head issue the Subaru has a great reputation for reliability. My brother in law had one of the 1976 or so 4WD wagons and drove it over rough roads for years & many 1000's of miles with very little problem.
 

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OBS Obsessed, ,
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250 Posts
I have Legacy L Wagon in addition to what is pictured to the left

<-----------------------------

It is the 2.2L Auto Transmission, but the same chassis/platform as the Outback. It is a '99 with 102,000 on it. The only major problem I have had is the AC compressor went bad and was easily replaced with a rebuilt one.
 

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SubaruOutback.org Founder
2018 Outback Limited 2.5L - 105,000+ miles
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5,122 Posts
From what I've seen, Subarus are highly reliable even with 300k+ miles or so. Many, many high mileage 1st Gen Outbacks (95-99) I've seen are still bullet proof. I know and know of many people with multiple hundreds of thousands of miles on their Outbacks and don't have any major mechanical problems. The only things you'll have to worry about is if you have an automatic transmission, not in all cases but just know that Subaru doesn't have the best auto trannies. There not that bad, but if you can drive a manual transmission that is definately the choice you should make.

Check this out: Subaru High Mileage Club
Look around there and see what you can find, I'm sure you won't be dissapointed ;)

Also check around eBay to see if they have any Outbacks that have been on the longer haul.
 

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MY99 3rd Gen Outback GX, 2004 Lexus RX330 Sport Luxury
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242 Posts
There's a 2001 H6 Outback currently advertised over at carsales.com.au with 207,000km on the odo (in 3 years). There are also several people in aussie Subaru sites with over 450,000km + on their original engines.

Subarus are very reliable in maintained properly.
 

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Tokyo's between my toes
2001 Wintergreen Outback 5MT
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6,684 Posts
My 98 has 82Kmi, and apart from a failed head gasekt, the reliability has been fairly good. It's due for new struts, which I think is reasonable for that mileage. No troubles with the clutch or transmission, normal wear on the brakes. No rust troubles yet.
 

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don't have a Subie yet, but planning on it
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Discussion Starter #8
Can someone then tell me what are the maintaince items for a 1997 Outback at between 80,000 miles and 90,000 miles? This way I know what to check on the car I am currently looking at.
 

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don't have a Subie yet, but planning on it
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Discussion Starter #9
BTW, I do have a Volvo right now. 1987 240DL with 215k. It's only just started breaking down.
 

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'04 Colorado, '90 Legacy sedan
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137 Posts
As far as Outbacks go, my '96 Legacy OB w/2.5L dohc is notorious for having bad crankshaft oil seals, besides that, we drove 102k miles before trading to the '02 OB.
 

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OBS Obsessed, ,
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250 Posts
Here is the recommended 90k service for my 99 L wagon if it helps

You'll definitely want to get the timing belt checked. I am pretty sure they recommend replacing those a 110k regardless.

Good luck.


Inspect Clutch and hill-holder system

Replace Spark plugs - 2500cc SOHC

Replace Spark plugs - 2200cc

Inspect Steering and suspension

Perform Inspect brake lines and check operation of parking and service brake system

Inspect Brake linings and drums

Inspect Disc brake pads and discs, front and rear axle boots and axle shaft joint portions

Replace Brake fluid

Inspect Automatic transmission fluid

Inspect Transmission/Differential (Front & Rear) lubricants (Gear oil)

Replace Air cleaner element

Recommended Performance Replace fuel filter and inspect fuel system, hoses and connections

Perform Replace engine coolant and inspect cooling system, hoses and connections

Replace Engine oil filter

Replace Engine oil

Inspect Camshaft drive belt

Inspect Drive belt(s) [Except camshaft]
 

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don't have a Subie yet, but planning on it
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Discussion Starter #12
SubieFinn, when it comes to your crankcase seals, is it because the factory seals are poor quality or do you have a lot of PCV problems?
 

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Super Moderator
2007 Outback H6 LL Bean - Champagne Gold Opal
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6,009 Posts
My 1997 Outback has 142,000+ miles on it. The engine is running beautifully, no major issues. Mechanically my car is as good as I could possibly expect for an 8 year old vehicle!

I bought the car in Jan.03 and before I bought it I did a lot of research into the 1st Gen Outbacks, and my findings were that the 1997's were the most reliable of the bunch. By '97 Subaru had worked out most of the problems from the '95 and '96 versions. '98 and '99 were just expansions on the '97s.

I haven't (nor did the previous owner from what I can tell) had the head gasket issue that people talk about a lot. Regular oil changes, air filter replacements, etc...a '97 should last you forever.

My rear struts are shot, I'm surprised they lasted 140k+, other than those, the everything is great. The body itself is in perfect condition, no rust, not even a little, anywhere important (little things like the rear hatch assembly is rusty, but it's not a visible part of the car).

I'd HIGHLY recommend a 1997 Outback, this car has been nothing but perfect for me. I fully expect it to last me at least another 100k miles!
 

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2006 Outback 2.5i
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119 Posts
I'll second FMGreen on the 97. I have a 102,000 miles 97 Outback and aside from some wear and tear "sounds" it runs wonderfully. I have not had the head gasket problem, and my struts are still sturdy as well.

Buy one and enjoy!

btw...get one with heated seats. You'll love it and will never be able to get a car without!
 

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'04 Colorado, '90 Legacy sedan
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137 Posts
navigator372 said:
SubieFinn, when it comes to your crankcase seals, is it because the factory seals are poor quality or do you have a lot of PCV problems?
When the car was only 9 months old the seal was replaced by the dealer under warranty. Then just after I changed the camshaft drive belt the seal needed to be changed again. Then just after I traded the '96 in on the '02 the new owner (who had moved to Connecticut) called regarding when the cam belt was changed and he inquired about the crank seal, because it was beginning to leak again.

As far as having PCV problems, there were no other problems to mention. Just wanted a new OB, to start (my soon to be a civilian) new career.
 

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don't have a Subie yet, but planning on it
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Discussion Starter #16
It's been my experience with cars going through camshaft gaskets that they typically suffer from puressure buildup in the crankcase. PCV systems seem to get overlooked alot and get clogged and force pressure to build and that pressure causes seals and gaskets to fail. Just replaced my PCV filter on the Volvo I am driving now because I had developed positive pressure. It's only happened a couple times, but only because I went a little too long between inspections.
 

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2004 Baja Turbo
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106 Posts
I take it you know about the flame trap on Volvos that takes the place of the pcv valve?When they get clogged your motor will start blowing oil and poss. seals.Where i work every volvo that comes in usually gets a flame trap service.
 

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don't have a Subie yet, but planning on it
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Discussion Starter #18
I am pretty familiar with the system. It is a somewhat flawed design if you can honestly say that about Volvo engines. That flame trap is very suseptable to clogging and is a pain to get to and replace. My experience with more mainstream designs is that they do tend to clog too but are a bit easier to service. Getting the necessary parts are easy because they can be find at pretty much any Auto Zone, Advance Auto, Checkers, etc. But Volvo flame traps are either found online or at Volvo dealers or specialists (and the occassional mom & pop auto parts store that actually specialized in import parts, like the one where I live). But eventhough my Volvo has done well by me, it is time to consider her retirement, which is why I have begun my search for my Subaru Outback. I think I will start looking seriously at the 97 I've seen. It has high milage, but if I can get it to about 130K with few problems, then the car would have served its purpose. I just can see myself putting much more money in the Volvo. I love that car, but it is time to move on.
 

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2007 Outback H6 LL Bean - Champagne Gold Opal
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navigator372 said:
...I think I will start looking seriously at the 97 I've seen. It has high milage, but if I can get it to about 130K with few problems, then the car would have served its purpose....
As I said earlier, my '97 is running at 142k+ with no issues. I purchased it with 127k in Jan.03...so I've put about 15k on the car myself and I honestly haven't had any engine troubles, nor do I have any worries about running into anything major anytime soon. Obviously different cars have different issues, but if you can't find anything seriously wrong with the car and the Carfax history report is clean, then I don't see any major hurdles for you to hit 130k, and many more, with regular maintenance.
 

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2003 Outback Wagon EJ25
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My 2003 Outback 2.5 has had zero breakdowns and is purring along at 105k. Performed all recommended maintenance on it. I'm the original owner, so that may have something to do with it.

Struts need to be replaced in a few years, and the windshield wiper fluid spray nozzles are plugged, but that is it.

Very impressed with mine, and my wife is ready to become a convert after she's done with nursing school.
 
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