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1997 Subaru Outback Legacy
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12 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So ...

I've got a '97 Outback with 150,xxx miles on it. Think it gave up the head gaskets on Sunday (massive coolant leak). They've been leaking for a couple of years, so this wasn't a shocker. Expecting the typical $2000 to $3000 to fix.

This year, though, I've already replaced the transmission solenoid (the ATF light was doing the 16X blinking thing) and replaced the front axles and CV joints (for the second time), plus a handful of other basic wear items (spark plug wires, etc).

I'm going to have about $5500 or so in repairs this year after the gaskets are done. Just want to know what other common, often-reported problems I might expect in the near future.

We've owned the car for 7 years, always done synth oil and kept it reasonably well-maintained, btw, and apart from replacing the axles/CV joints a couple of years ago, it's been a reliable, reasonable car with very few issues at all.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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12,391 Posts
No way to predict the future but alternator and wheel bearings. Those are basically wear and maintenance items on older vehicles. I ocassionally replace alternators or have a spare just because I don't want to get stranded. Subaru has like a 96 or 97 era Legacy remanufacturered alternator that's only $60 or so from Subaru that fits your vehicle. i installed one on my 96 legacy just because they're so cheap.

Basic tune up items - plugs, wires, air filter, fuel filter, PCV valve, transmission, differential fluids.

Sensors ocassionally have issues - knock sensors seem most common, they crack at the base. Ebay or other places they're only $20 - $30 new. Crank and cam sensors, coil packs ocassionally fail. Don't fail often enough to warrant new prices though, I'd just have one of each on hand used - they're basically worthless and can be had for a couple dollars. Usually get some warning signs so shouldn't strand you.

Timing components all need replaced by this age and mileage. The timing pulleys and tensioner should be replaced for another 100,000 reliable miles and to protect your interference engine, you'll have bent valves if the belt breaks. Ebay kits are the best bet for new pulleys and tensioner kits. $80 - $180 depending if you have the new or old style.

I generally favor replacing things that leave you stranded - like alternator and timing components.

Things like wheel bearings and sensors usually give lots of warning and don't strand you.

Hopefully a Subaru gasket was used and heads resurfaced during the headgasket repair. Exhaust valves should have been adjusted too. Repeat failures do happen.

If you want reliable or inexpensive, or both - older vehicle useage, accustomed to forums like this. For instance, regarding your CV and engine issues.

If you have future CV axle issues:

1. reboot your axles. aftermarket axles are a joke and should be avoided at all costs, lots of issues. if you can't reboot:
2. buy rebuilts here - you're in colorado so this is easy:
MW Enterprises, quality remanufactured Subaru Axles
they are the only aftermarkets/rebuilts I'll use.
3. buy a used Subaru OEM axle (green cups) and reboot it.
i buy them for $25 - $33 all the time and have them on hand to do this.

follow those directions and you'll never have CV issues again.

If you posted here about the headgasket issue you could have replaced the engine for much cheaper than $2,000 - $3,000 and had a more reliable engine. EJ22 engines have no headgasket issues, have cheaper maintenance and are inexpensive. I just did this for a friend. $300 for a low mileage motor with warranty, $200 in timing kit, new seals, etc - and for under $500 he's got a great engine. I did the engine work for him and he paid his mechanic to install - if he paid $500 to install the engine then the total job cost him about $1,000. If I sell his old EJ25 for $500....then it cost him $500 bucks...for a more reliable engine. Pretty good deal.

Headgasket jobs are fine too....I'm only using this as an example on how forums like this allow you to tap into a wealth of resources and experience that can gain you significant savings in time and money and allow reliable long term ownership of high mileage/age vehicles.

I have a 200,000+ mile Outback and a 1980's XT6 which I plan on owning for a long time and another 100,000 miles reliably. Takes some effort but it's worth avoiding monthly payments for me.
 

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Premium Member
2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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14,317 Posts
If its not on your list, struts. KYB are excellent and you will think your driving a new car.

If you carry a lot of loads, think about a new set of springs for the rear when you do the struts.

Alignment. Of course this should be checked every 30k.

Steering and suspension components, front and rear. Bushings, tie rod ends, ball joints, etc.. Needs to be checked periodically and replaced when loose or worn.
 
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