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2001 Outback
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Actually a post I put up yesterday led me to the idea of posting this time. Of those on the board who are generation 2 OB owners, would you post any fairly catastrophic problems you believe resulted from 100,000 plus miles on your car? I.e., I'm trying to run a little quick and dirty survey of ACTUAL EPISODES of failure that individual board members have run into at high mileage. By catastrophic, I mean serious enough to leave one stranded in the middle of nowhere, or for a few days.

I'm finding that I get wildly different answers to this question from several service managers when I quiz them about their customers actual "break-downs" (as per definition just above). So I'm hoping to get a little survey of actual owners on this question. I won't be scientific in a formal sense, but it might yield some ideas about what we Gen 2 owners need to be spending time and money guarding against.

Thanks folks.
 

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1997 Subaru Lagacy Outback, 2006 Kia Sorrento, 2011 Nissan Frontier 4dr 4wd pickup.
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2 Posts
I bought my 97 Outback wagon last year with 189,000 and in the past year the only real thing that wore out was the pully from the harmonic balancer. It is a 2 piece unit and it seperated. I have put about 3000 miles on it since I have owned it. I also changed the Battery, Alternator, Starter [only because it was starting to wear out] I also have to replace some of the lamps in the radio, CD player,and the heater/air conditioning control panel. This car is just a "grocery getter" for us, but it is surprising how much my wife and I enjoy driving this car! We also have a Kia Sorento that I bought new for her as a daily driver in 2006, a Nissan Frontier that I bought new last year, and I have a Ford F-350 company truck that I use exclusively for work. But if parking is going to even be remotely an issue, we take the "Suby" as the family car.
 

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2000 Limited Wagon 5MT
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303 Posts
I had the timing belt tensioner bolt snap at 159k. Lost complete compression on three cylinders and half on the last. It could have been a freak accident, but upon disassembly I found bolt after bolt over torqued from the "mechanic" that did the headgaskets and timing belt previously. I have no way to prove torque was the cause of failure though, could have just been unlucky.
 

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2001 Outback, 2.5L
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51 Posts
when I bought my 2002 with about 150k on it, it had a bad rear wheel bearing. car still ran down the road ok, just made a lot of whining noise at speeds above 35mph. The bearing was kind of a process to replace, but once I tracked one down, and a shop that had the tools to do it, it took a day to get it fixed. Shortly thereafter my clutch started slipping at higher speeds. Since I didn't want to be left stranded I took care of it promptly and it took about a day and a half to replace clutch, flywheel, etc. Aside from these, there has been nothing else major. I am only the 2nd owner, and previous records are clean
 

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2002 outback ej25 manual trans
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52 Posts
I bought my first outback with a broken rod. The previous owners were moving cross country and when this happend left the car at the shop they had it towed to. I was able to drive the car on to a trailer to tow it home. It spewed oil and smoke like a spy car. I am amazed it was able to move at all with 3 cylinders and the forth banging around in the block.
 

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01 Outback H6 VDC, 97 GT wgn w/ ej22, 98 OBW w/ej22
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1,401 Posts
bad rod bearings, rod knock and thrown rod. this occurred in my 00 legacy (same ej25 engine as the outback) at 85k miles. i think the manufacturer of the rod bearings is at fault.

i don't know how prolific this problem is, maybe lower than the ''average for all cars''. but it is higher in the 00 - 04 subarus than most subaru fans /owners are used to. 95 - 99 it only seemed to happen after the 2.5L engine was severely overheated. and you almost never hear of it happening in the ej22 of the 90s. unless they just let it run out of oil.

there are only a few things that will leave you stranded, bad engine or bad trans. most things will give you a warning before they fail. so if you are paying attention you can address it before it leaves you on the side of the road.
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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18,864 Posts
if the cap/o-ring on the fuel pump gives way, you will be stranded.

If the serpentine acc. belt pulley bearings froze or exploded, you could be stranded after the battery goes dead.

seems to be much more common on the 3.0s for some reason.
 

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2013 Subaru Outback Limited 2.5
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198 Posts
we had to replace catalytic converter at about 150K (p420 code); the thermostat go out at about 165K miles. That caused the car to start overheating. At the time we suspected the water pump as it was original, but no - was thermostat. Thankfully we were about 2 miles from a dealership so were able to hobble over stop and go.
The mechanic said there was no damage. However now we have "noisy tensioners" - not sure if resulted form the thermostat ordeal. While replacing thermostat we also replaced water pump and timing belt (hich wasn't strictly necessary as it was done at 105K miles as manual advises). With Gen 2 it's a good idea to replace water pump when replacing timing belt, you only pay for the part as labor is already covered by belt replacement labor. We were on a road trip when radiator sprang a pinhole leak (at about 170K). Also noticed in time and made it to the nearest delarship..Result - new radiator.
My friends have 02 legacy wagon. That had faulty cat at about 70-80K miles and was failing emissions (they are in a different state). There was supposed extended warranty and recall on that but I do not know the details.

Here are the items found in last inspection by Subaru delaership mechanic:
lower control arm bushings leaking - $426
steering rack bushings split - $306
timing belt tensioners make noise - $945

Well, the car has 178K now, so if something happens, RIP. I do not think we'd be spending almost 2K on a car that worth 2K.
 

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2000 Limited Wagon 5MT
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303 Posts
Here are the items found in last inspection by Subaru delaership mechanic:
lower control arm bushings leaking - $426
steering rack bushings split - $306
timing belt tensioners make noise - $945
Those are beyond insane prices.
 

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2004 Subaru Outback - EJ259 (California Emissions / ULEV)
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37 Posts
2004 2.5 Outback (manual):

*** HEAD GASKET *** , I had to replace at much less than 100k miles. This was the thing that turned me off owning any more Subarus after this one shuffles off the mortal coil. $2000+ job, but dealer got Subaru America to agree to the job for @$500.

Left ball joint needed replacing at 133k miles - had it done at the dealer for $160 + an extra $20 because they spent a lot of time getting the frozen pinch bolt loose -- woo hoo ! money well spent, because I avoided that prolbem for the next job:

CV / axle replacement -- Had the left side done by local autoshop last year for @$250, now the same one had a hole in the boot and was leaking, so just replaced it for the second time in a year by myself: $60 or so for re-man axle plus another $5 for the pin and axle nut (+ $50 for an impact wrench, which I don't count because I was looking for an excuse to buy one)

Catalytic converter - Getting P0420 code, had $60 diagnostic by dealer, and they said that I need to replace both cats (I have a Cal spec emission OB), cost would be $3100. F that noise, I am considering other options now. (already replaced 2 of the O2 sensors without solving the problem)


Starting to feel something going on with the clutch (I hear and feel a clunk sometimes when I press the pedal)
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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12,385 Posts
he asked for catastrophic problems and defined that as "leave you stranded", half the stuff listed isn't that. i do a lot of Subaru work on a regular basis and have owned dozens, i have no idea how many Subaru's, here's the "common" stuff:

1. 4 cylinder engines only: i replace all the timing belt pulleys and tensioner. very common information all over the forums and failures are easy to find. too risky for my taste so i replace them with every timing belt as do many others who are familiar with Subaru. Subaru wont typically mention it because they're parts prices make it a scary high quote. Ebay kits are $150 for tensioner and pulleys. Very common for folks that do a lot of Subaru work to replace it all. the previous poster that mentioned his timing belt being replaced and then having tensioner issues down the road...wouldn't have happened if I or any other Subaru specialist type replaced everything. not hard to find threads validating this on various Subaru forums.

2. transmissions. change your fluid. manual transmissions are good at getting noise input shaft bearings or bad synchros and popping out of gear. if you want 200,000+ reliable miles you need to change the fluid regularly. change fluid in automatic transmissions too though i haven't seen any systematic or common mileages for failure, i think there are more dynamics at play in those so mileages for failure vary more wildly. bottom line - change all your trans fluids. again - you can find many transmission issues on subaru forums...or any forum, fluids need changed.

3. Adjust the valves. It's rare but it's always the exhaust valves that get tight and burn a valve. starts happening roughly at 150,000 miles and up. low percentage but if you want high mileage, particularly on the 4 cylinder engines where adjustment is easy, they should be adjusted. burnt exhaust valves you can also find - it's first symptoms is a cylinder misfire.

3. alternators. for high mileage reliability alternators are generally not good at making 250,000 miles so i consider them a replacement item since they leave you stranded and i travel a lot with family/kids. i shoot for Subaru OEM since aftermarket can be questionable quality. i replaced them at 190,000 on two of my daily drivers even though the alternators were working just fine. i plan on another 100,000+ miles out of them and know how to get there, don't expect the alternators to make it to 300,000 though. alternator belt will also leave you stranded if it breaks.

4. headgaskets. huge repair though on 2nd gen they typically don't leave you stranded, just keep the engine full of oil and coolant. but they *can* leave you stranded if you have random overheating not due to low coolant level. GOBS of info on this on the interweb.

5. the fuel pump caps can crack at the tabs which pushes the oring out and results in no fuel to the engine. i'm not sure how common, but it's starting to be seen. and it's impossible to go anywhere if it happens and parts aren't the easiest to come by...they're super expensive from the dealer since you have to buy the entire pump, they don't sell just the cap. it can be temporarily repaired with a hose clamp or two though and it easily accessed. threads about this too - there's even a sticky i believe?

6. this only applies to H6 engines - the two serpentine belt bearings. high failures rates. luckily they are cheapily and easily replaced. they fail so often yet are easy to replace that i just replace them fairly often - 60,000 miles about. there is also a sticky in this forum about this.

It's good to keep up on ignition maintenance too. You *should* get a check engine light before anything leaves you stranded but these engines are much less forgiving than earlier Subaru engines with cylinder misfires.

dealer is not great at service:
we had to replace catalytic converter at about 150K (p420 code);
there's a $5 fix for that which the dealer would never do. a Subaru catalytic converter should have never been replaced, they simply don't fail. most 80's subaru's have original converters on them if they haven't rusted off yet. bear in mind i've worked on countless Subaru's from the 80's until now and i've owned dozens of them, not just talking from anecdotal experience.

timing belt tensioners make noise - $945
if the first timing belt job was properly done you would have never had this expense. replacing the belt only at 105,000 miles is not good long term maintenance. the tensioner and all the pulleys should be replaced at 105,000, expecting them to last to 210,000 miles is not good long term reliability/maintenance in my book. i replace them all unless the car is a rust bucket not worth anything.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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*** HEAD GASKET *** , I had to replace at much less than 100k miles. This was the thing that turned me off owning any more Subarus)
It is generally best, if you value reliability (which I do a lot as i travel a lot) to ignore things like Consumer reports and media driven lists and guide on reliability reports. They're nearly useless since they have almost no mechanical bearing at all. It is best to actually buy a particular engine - not a vehicle or manufacturer. Though there are obviously teirs for those as well that are fairly well known.
headgaskets have been an issue on some particular engine with just about every manufacturer. Manufacturers work well for some people and hose others, they all do that. Honda's have had cars with bad headgasket issues...worse than EJ25's imagine that. Subaru also makes the 3.0 H6 - and absolutely stellar engine. I own two H6's because i wanted to avoid the headgasket plagued 2.5...even though i repair them all the time and know how to do it right, i still didn't want one. But I still have Subaru vehicles (none with an EJ25 though) with 194,000, 186,000, 170,000 and 160,000 miles and i can reliably get them to 300,000 miles...well if the northeast rust doesn't take care of them too quickly!

The Subaru 3.0 and 3.6 engines from 2001-2009 are far superior in reliability than the 4 cylinder EJ25's. Excellent motors...but you'll likely not see that too often except from folks that actually know the differences and work on these things. Although the EJ25, while it has headgasket headaches, isn't that bad of an engine either. If you don't overheat them or run them low on oil they easily make 250,000 miles with some maintenance.

Catalytic converter - Getting P0420 code, had $60 diagnostic by dealer, and they said that I need to replace both cats (I have a Cal spec emission OB),
Subaru catalytic converters actually do not fail catalytically (ha ha that sounds funny). the funny thing is if you could get them to run the emissions test, it would actually pass! but they won't run it with your CEL on.

there's a $5 fix for the 0420 code and if you weren't up to that you should be able to repair this some way without new converters.

if you do replace them - i'll buy your used converters from you - and i'm serious, because i know they are good.
 

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2013 Subaru Outback Limited 2.5
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198 Posts
2004 2.5 Outback (manual):

*** HEAD GASKET *** , I had to replace at much less than 100k miles. This was the thing that turned me off owning any more Subarus after this one shuffles off the mortal coil. $2000+ job, but dealer got Subaru America to agree to the job for @$500.

Left ball joint needed replacing at 133k miles - had it done at the dealer for $160 + an extra $20 because they spent a lot of time getting the frozen pinch bolt loose -- woo hoo ! money well spent, because I avoided that prolbem for the next job:

CV / axle replacement -- Had the left side done by local autoshop last year for @$250, now the same one had a hole in the boot and was leaking, so just replaced it for the second time in a year by myself: $60 or so for re-man axle plus another $5 for the pin and axle nut (+ $50 for an impact wrench, which I don't count because I was looking for an excuse to buy one)

Catalytic converter - Getting P0420 code, had $60 diagnostic by dealer, and they said that I need to replace both cats (I have a Cal spec emission OB), cost would be $3100. F that noise, I am considering other options now. (already replaced 2 of the O2 sensors without solving the problem)


Starting to feel something going on with the clutch (I hear and feel a clunk sometimes when I press the pedal)
had car done at pep Boys for about $470 plus tax. but watch them like a hawk, the one here intalled it without gaskets, so it was rattling.. took 6 mos back and forth and another pep boys shop to rectify.
Went throug numerous Cv axle replacements. I have one OEM and one non-OEM. Those better done by Subaru coz non OEM axle may cause vehicle vibration.
 

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2013 Subaru Outback Limited 2.5
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198 Posts
he asked for catastrophic problems and defined that as "leave you stranded", half the stuff listed isn't that. i do a lot of Subaru work on a regular basis and have owned dozens, i have no idea how many Subaru's, here's the "common" stuff:

1. 4 cylinder engines only: i replace all the timing belt pulleys and tensioner. very common information all over the forums and failures are easy to find. too risky for my taste so i replace them with every timing belt as do many others who are familiar with Subaru. Subaru wont typically mention it because they're parts prices make it a scary high quote. Ebay kits are $150 for tensioner and pulleys. Very common for folks that do a lot of Subaru work to replace it all. the previous poster that mentioned his timing belt being replaced and then having tensioner issues down the road...wouldn't have happened if I or any other Subaru specialist type replaced everything. not hard to find threads validating this on various Subaru forums.

2. transmissions. change your fluid. manual transmissions are good at getting noise input shaft bearings or bad synchros and popping out of gear. if you want 200,000+ reliable miles you need to change the fluid regularly. change fluid in automatic transmissions too though i haven't seen any systematic or common mileages for failure, i think there are more dynamics at play in those so mileages for failure vary more wildly. bottom line - change all your trans fluids. again - you can find many transmission issues on subaru forums...or any forum, fluids need changed.

3. Adjust the valves. It's rare but it's always the exhaust valves that get tight and burn a valve. starts happening roughly at 150,000 miles and up. low percentage but if you want high mileage, particularly on the 4 cylinder engines where adjustment is easy, they should be adjusted. burnt exhaust valves you can also find - it's first symptoms is a cylinder misfire.

3. alternators. for high mileage reliability alternators are generally not good at making 250,000 miles so i consider them a replacement item since they leave you stranded and i travel a lot with family/kids. i shoot for Subaru OEM since aftermarket can be questionable quality. i replaced them at 190,000 on two of my daily drivers even though the alternators were working just fine. i plan on another 100,000+ miles out of them and know how to get there, don't expect the alternators to make it to 300,000 though. alternator belt will also leave you stranded if it breaks.

4. headgaskets. huge repair though on 2nd gen they typically don't leave you stranded, just keep the engine full of oil and coolant. but they *can* leave you stranded if you have random overheating not due to low coolant level. GOBS of info on this on the interweb.

5. the fuel pump caps can crack at the tabs which pushes the oring out and results in no fuel to the engine. i'm not sure how common, but it's starting to be seen. and it's impossible to go anywhere if it happens and parts aren't the easiest to come by...they're super expensive from the dealer since you have to buy the entire pump, they don't sell just the cap. it can be temporarily repaired with a hose clamp or two though and it easily accessed. threads about this too - there's even a sticky i believe?

6. this only applies to H6 engines - the two serpentine belt bearings. high failures rates. luckily they are cheapily and easily replaced. they fail so often yet are easy to replace that i just replace them fairly often - 60,000 miles about. there is also a sticky in this forum about this.

It's good to keep up on ignition maintenance too. You *should* get a check engine light before anything leaves you stranded but these engines are much less forgiving than earlier Subaru engines with cylinder misfires.

dealer is not great at service:
there's a $5 fix for that which the dealer would never do. a Subaru catalytic converter should have never been replaced, they simply don't fail. most 80's subaru's have original converters on them if they haven't rusted off yet. bear in mind i've worked on countless Subaru's from the 80's until now and i've owned dozens of them, not just talking from anecdotal experience.

if the first timing belt job was properly done you would have never had this expense. replacing the belt only at 105,000 miles is not good long term maintenance. the tensioner and all the pulleys should be replaced at 105,000, expecting them to last to 210,000 miles is not good long term reliability/maintenance in my book. i replace them all unless the car is a rust bucket not worth anything.
If $5 fix for cat is Seafoam or BG, tried all that. It eliminated P420 for a while but it kept coming back. The replacement was not done by Subaru, and it was not replaced until we exhausted all other attempts.

Timing belt was replaced per manual the 1st time -whatever it is 105 or 125K - I may not remember correctly. Sorry I am not that confident driving past the recommended replacement and just waiting for it to snap.
2nd time it didnt NEED to be done but we did it anyhow because they have to get it out to get to water pump...

We had replaced alternator ourselves with Bosch one because it seemed that lights were dimming sometimes. More likely at 170K miles. So agree with you there.

Sounds like you are much more car-handy than us, so we have to pay someone to do stuff. Replacing pulleys or doing other adjustemts you have mentioned would probably end up costing more than car is worth.

I know some people can keep a car running forever. It is a matter of skills and how much you want to put in continuous part replacement. But for those who are not "motor heads" there comes a moment when repairs are way more than car is worth. You repair one thing but you never know when the next thing will go wrong :( So for those of us less skilled reaching 180-200K is more than respectable IMO :)

I would consider thermostat failure and radiator failure as those "catastrophic" ones that have potential to leave us stranded. We were only lucky that we were able to crawl to the nearest dealer and not being towed when thermostat failed. When radiator failed we were on a road trip in NC mountains. Fortunately the car was drivable enough to get to the dealer as initial leak was small. But it would likely not make 700mi back home.
 

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2004 Subaru Outback - EJ259 (California Emissions / ULEV)
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Subaru catalytic converters actually do not fail catalytically (ha ha that sounds funny). the funny thing is if you could get them to run the emissions test, it would actually pass! but they won't run it with your CEL on.

there's a $5 fix for the 0420 code and if you weren't up to that you should be able to repair this some way without new converters.
grossgary, I assume you are talking about that washer or collar or whatever, to pull the cat O2 sensor up out of the flow ?
 

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1995 2.2 Auto Legacy Sedan
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142 Posts
grossgary
he asked for catastrophic problems and defined that as "leave you stranded", half the stuff listed isn't that. i do a lot of Subaru work on a regular basis and have owned dozens, i have no idea how many Subaru's, here's the "common" stuff:

1. 4 cylinder engines only: i replace all the timing belt pulleys and tensioner. very common information all over the forums and failures are easy to find. too risky for my taste so i replace them with every timing belt as do many others who are familiar with Subaru. Subaru wont typically mention it because they're parts prices make it a scary high quote. Ebay kits are $150 for tensioner and pulleys. Very common for folks that do a lot of Subaru work to replace it all. the previous poster that mentioned his timing belt being replaced and then having tensioner issues down the road...wouldn't have happened if I or any other Subaru specialist type replaced everything. not hard to find threads validating this on various Subaru forums.

2. transmissions. change your fluid. manual transmissions are good at getting noise input shaft bearings or bad synchros and popping out of gear. if you want 200,000+ reliable miles you need to change the fluid regularly. change fluid in automatic transmissions too though i haven't seen any systematic or common mileages for failure, i think there are more dynamics at play in those so mileages for failure vary more wildly. bottom line - change all your trans fluids. again - you can find many transmission issues on subaru forums...or any forum, fluids need changed.

3. Adjust the valves. It's rare but it's always the exhaust valves that get tight and burn a valve. starts happening roughly at 150,000 miles and up. low percentage but if you want high mileage, particularly on the 4 cylinder engines where adjustment is easy, they should be adjusted. burnt exhaust valves you can also find - it's first symptoms is a cylinder misfire.

3. alternators. for high mileage reliability alternators are generally not good at making 250,000 miles so i consider them a replacement item since they leave you stranded and i travel a lot with family/kids. i shoot for Subaru OEM since aftermarket can be questionable quality. i replaced them at 190,000 on two of my daily drivers even though the alternators were working just fine. i plan on another 100,000+ miles out of them and know how to get there, don't expect the alternators to make it to 300,000 though. alternator belt will also leave you stranded if it breaks.

4. headgaskets. huge repair though on 2nd gen they typically don't leave you stranded, just keep the engine full of oil and coolant. but they *can* leave you stranded if you have random overheating not due to low coolant level. GOBS of info on this on the interweb.

5. the fuel pump caps can crack at the tabs which pushes the oring out and results in no fuel to the engine. i'm not sure how common, but it's starting to be seen. and it's impossible to go anywhere if it happens and parts aren't the easiest to come by...they're super expensive from the dealer since you have to buy the entire pump, they don't sell just the cap. it can be temporarily repaired with a hose clamp or two though and it easily accessed. threads about this too - there's even a sticky i believe?

6. this only applies to H6 engines - the two serpentine belt bearings. high failures rates. luckily they are cheapily and easily replaced. they fail so often yet are easy to replace that i just replace them fairly often - 60,000 miles about. there is also a sticky in this forum about this.

It's good to keep up on ignition maintenance too. You *should* get a check engine light before anything leaves you stranded but these engines are much less forgiving than earlier Subaru engines with cylinder misfires.

dealer is not great at service:
Quote:
Originally Posted by chilanzar
we had to replace catalytic converter at about 150K (p420 code);

there's a $5 fix for that which the dealer would never do. a Subaru catalytic converter should have never been replaced, they simply don't fail. most 80's subaru's have original converters on them if they haven't rusted off yet. bear in mind i've worked on countless Subaru's from the 80's until now and i've owned dozens of them, not just talking from anecdotal experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chilanzar
timing belt tensioners make noise - $945

if the first timing belt job was properly done you would have never had this expense. replacing the belt only at 105,000 miles is not good long term maintenance. the tensioner and all the pulleys should be replaced at 105,000, expecting them to last to 210,000 miles is not good long term reliability/maintenance in my book. i replace them all unless the car is a rust bucket not worth anything.
__________________
H6 VDC OBW, H6 OB Sedan, 99 SUS, XT6's
Great info for a newbie too Subaru like myself:29:
 
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