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Looking for buying advice

1241 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  oldmopars
I am going to be buying a new car in the near future and I think I want an Outback. With the money I have $5Kish I think that puts me into a first gen or early second gen Outback. I have been looking around this site and I knew before even getting here that the cars have head gasket issues.
Is there a year range less prone to this issue? Should I look for anything other than a leak, that would guide me to a good car? Should I look for one that has just had them done and look for many happy miles? Or buy one that is leaking and do them myself?
I am a mechanic (Assoc Degree in Auto/Diesel from UTI with 20+ years experience) and I do still work on my cars, mostly old Air Cooled VWs.
I would however like to drive something I don't have to work on and save my tinkering time for my hobby car.
Also, what other things should I look for? Is the Auto or the manual a better option, or about the same? Any other failure prone items to be on the look out for?
There seems to be no shortage of 1st or 2nd gen cars in my area (Olympia/Seattle Wa) and rust is not an issue in this new of car. I want to be armed with good knowledge before I drop that much cash.
Oh, and I seem to read on other sites that 20-25 MPG is about the average mileage, is this about right?
Thanks in advance.
Scott
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You should be aware that there are actually 2 head gasket problems. The early 2.5 (DOHC) commonly gets an internal leak, combustion-to-cooling. The later 2.5 (SOHC) has issues with external leaks- coolant escape, oil escape.

The external leak is a lot easier to deal with, because you can keep adding coolant and oil as it slowly leaks out until you get sick of it. The internal leak has you overheating & broken down on the side of the road. They are almost identical in terms of what is involved in fixing them though. I think the changeover was in 2000 but you'll want to confirm this.

The H6 engine from 2001-onwards is not known for any type of head gasket trouble. I'm sure there are exceptions but they have a bulletproof reputation overall. Slightly less MPG & only offered with auto trans are the trade-offs of the H6.

Good luck!
 
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