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2003 Outback 2.5L MT
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking at upgrading to a 2005 Outback XT Limited. Not being familiar with this generation outback, can you give me some of the known problems or things to specifically check out?

It has 160k, which isn't super high, but it's also an AT. How well built are these ATs?

Thanks!
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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14,366 Posts
The AT is a derivative of the JATCO 507, which is a TANK. Nissan uses them in their big armada SUV, truck and it was formerly used in the infiniti G series. Point being, it handles a lot of power, tow ratings and takes a lot of abuse. If you really slam it you can break the center diff carrier bearing, which was specific to the Subaru version.

Weak areas on the 05 XT:

Rear suspension- struts are under spec'd and wear out too fast. Can be a squirrely, floaty ride unless you correct it, which is cheap. We have long threads about it on this board.

Wheel bearings- lots of premature failures, which usually just result in extra cabin noise. There was a warranty extension to cover these.

Oil lines- there's a tiny oil filter screen embedded in the oil feeder lines for the turbo and the active valve control system. If they become clogged, they will starve the turbo or cam phaser resulting in expensive damage fast. Some of us have deleted the screens altogether, some are of the mind to change them out occasionally, and a few folks have replaced them with aftermarket lines including easily replaceable filters. This has contributed to serial turbo replacements & wrecked engines, so it's a big one to check. Search for 'banjo bolt' to learn more.

Bad solder joints in electronics- the overhead console, stereo and climate control systems show a higher than average failure rate due to poor solder joints. RoHS was in vogue at the time and they were still figuring out the right way to do lead-free solder. If you can solder, you can DIY the fixes for cheap. The stereo and climate control systems are integrated into one assembly, so it is difficult and expensive to install a modern aftermarket system. This is only for Limiteds- the base trim is much easier to deal with as it has a manual climate control.

That's the big stuff.

Some folks are dissatisfied with the brakes- they are safe and reasonable, but the stop just isn't as sporty as the go, if you know what I mean. Upgrades are available.

Cabin air filters can be very difficult to swap in this model, but there is a retrofit kit which makes it like the '06, which is easier.

Also I've read about a few cases where the security system freaked out and locked down the whole car, requiring some unorthodox fixes. The common thread seems to be a completely dead battery. I've only heard of this happening 3 times, but just don't let it sit with a dead battery for long.
 

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Car: 2008 Tribeca, 2010 LGT, Sold: 2005 XT Limited
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^ This, and to reiterate - blown turbos are 'common' and 'often' accompanied by a blown motor shortly after the new motor is put in. At 160k, you are looking at needing a new turbo if still original.

Don't ask me or anyone else to define 'common' or 'often'. Just that is happens.

Torn CV boots up front, both sides, usually inner. Common to all subarus.

Torn LCA rear bushing. Unclear if it needs to be replaced.

Leaking valve cover gaskets/spark plug gaskets.

Leaking oil supply line to turbo.

Leaking oil cooler o-ring

These are fairly minor issues though. The big one is the turbo supply filter. You want proof the oil was changed every 3750, bonus for synthetic.
 

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2005 Outback XT 5EAT Tuned by Ed @ XRT
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^ This, and to reiterate - blown turbos are 'common' and 'often' accompanied by a blown motor shortly after the new motor is put in. At 160k, you are looking at needing a new turbo if still original.

Don't ask me or anyone else to define 'common' or 'often'. Just that is happens.

Torn CV boots up front, both sides, usually inner. Common to all subarus.

Torn LCA rear bushing. Unclear if it needs to be replaced.

Leaking valve cover gaskets/spark plug gaskets.

Leaking oil supply line to turbo.

Leaking oil cooler o-ring

These are fairly minor issues though. The big one is the turbo supply filter. You want proof the oil was changed every 3750, bonus for synthetic.
So you're saying that at 160k kms you should swap out the turbo? Seems a bit excessive.
 

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So you're saying that at 160k kms you should swap out the turbo? Seems a bit excessive.
The reason its common to see engine failure is due to it ingesting turbo parts. The 2005 turbos were fun and last if really really maintained well with a close eye on things. They don't tolerate lax oil change history or ignoring of fluids very well at all.

Turbo replacement doesn't mean the engine isn't full of metal bits if you catch my drift
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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Some of these have seen the high side of 200k miles (322k kms) on the original turbo. Some barely made 30k. The strongest indicator of turbo health is checking side play in the bearing. You need to drop the downpipe to check that. Not terribly difficult but not trivial either.

A complete stack of oil change receipts for the life of the car is generally taken as a sign that you don't need to do the above test. No docs? think about paying an inspection mechanic for the hour or two required for the test.

I'm coming up on 129k miles in mine, I'm not the original owner but no indication of prior turbo trouble from the receipts. Last time I had it measured I was just a hair under factory boost levels, so I'll keep going for a while.
 

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Car: 2008 Tribeca, 2010 LGT, Sold: 2005 XT Limited
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So you're saying that at 160k kms you should swap out the turbo? Seems a bit excessive.
Not kms, 160k miles. There is a lot of talk over on legacygt.com about this. Feel free to check over there. Instances of people who are on their maintenance, checked shaft play 20k miles before, yet still blow the turbo.

I'm not saying it's a must, I'm giving advice on things to check and be aware of. I have 106k on mine, and I'm toying with the idea of replacing it with an upgraded unit and get an etune. That gives piece of mind that the turbo is good, and more power for more fun. But money wise, I'm not sure it makes sense on a car that is 8 years old.
 

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Gallery Ninja, ,
2004 Outback "Bluebaru" & 2005 Outback XT
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Rear wires at the back hatch will split the insulation resulting in the taillights, AM radio and rear window defogger failing. It's an easy, but annoying fix.
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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This is starting to look like a compendium of everything that has ever gone wrong with more than 2 XTs.

On the other hand... that's not too bad. :)
 

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Gallery Ninja, ,
2004 Outback "Bluebaru" & 2005 Outback XT
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This is starting to look like a compendium of everything that has ever gone wrong with more than 2 XTs.

On the other hand... that's not too bad. :)
Oh, and my 05 OBXT got really, really dirty today. This is a problem because it is really needing a good wax job! For the love of Pete! ;) :29:
 

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Car: 2008 Tribeca, 2010 LGT, Sold: 2005 XT Limited
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HA! Yes, and the bottom seat heater stops working! You have to pull it back out a bit and resolder a wire :)

Tom
 

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05 OBXT 5eat stg1.2
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Intercooler end tanks separate with age and leak oil and eventually cause a vacuum leak if not replaced.

Headlights like to burn out frequently, in my case every 4 months or so.

AC ducting will develop a lovely ripe smell over time.

Factory alignment specs allow for slight positive camber, causing excessive outer tire wear and crap handling.

Dash rattles!

Dual climate control was designed by a mentally disabled chimp.

I'm sure I can think of more trivial issues if I try. ;)
 

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97 OBW 5MT, 01 LLBean OBW, 03 RubiconTJ 5MT, 05 330cic ZHP 6MT, 07 530XiT AT, 07 Odyssey Touring
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I absolutely loved mine. I spent hours and tons of $$ sorting through all the necessary fluids, plugs, banjo bolt, etc. after buying it with only 57Kmi on it. Being a second owner and not knowing how much the PO did for maintenance, I preferred to start with a clean slate. As much as I loved it's raw power though, daily driving it was a total mind-f*k. I would feel a rough idle or hear a strange noise (or whatever) and I was constantly thinking it was about to blow. Reading through all the forums didn't help ease the mind either.

Having had a 01 LLBean with the 3.0 H-6 since new and now at over 235Kmi, with never more than a leaky valve cover gasket and a leaky tranny o-ring, the XT was killing me! Bottom line is: They are not for everyone...I know the new owner will drive the heck out of it and probably never have a problem even after tuning and getting more out of the stock engine, but it was not for me. So, my 12 year old LLBean still gets plenty of use between me and my 16 year old son, and my (new to me) 09 3.0R Limited is like driving my 01 just newer/tighter/stronger...etc. I think once all the kids are gone and I have the ability to buy a spare car to romp around on without having to worry about it's reliability, I'll get another one and make it into a really fun grocery getter...but that is a few years down the road.
 

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Dash rattles!

Dual climate control was designed by a mentally disabled chimp.

I'm sure I can think of more trivial issues if I try. ;)
Turn signal clicker is pretty silent, so you feel like a dunce after driving X miles with it going. How is that for trivial? :)
 
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