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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All-

I am looking into a used 4cyl outback. 1997 or newer actrully my purchase is based on price, not year.

What is the expected life of these 4cyl, let's assume proper maint was done?

Reported fuel economy is 21/29 is this true or does it get better?

Thanks for any input-john
 

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If you actually got 29 mpg you would be one of very few. my 2000 OB says 28 or 29 and the best i ever got was 26.6.

As far as the 97 engine which is DOHC, i got some bad news for ya. They are notorious for bloing head gaskets. Since i dont own one i couldnt tell you if there is a perm fix for the problem. However in 1999 they came out with the second generation 2.5 L, which is a SOHC, and it has not really been known to have the head gasket prob.

As far as dependability they are great minus the engine prob on pre 99 OB's. My advice would just be to get the 99 or newer witht the SOHC engine.
 

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I suffer from the head gasket problem on my 98, but not everyone does. Seems you stand a good chance of making that engine last if you are EXTREMELY VIGILANT about not letting the coolant level go low.

Dang thing is, it runs perfectly until it suddenly overheats, then once that happens you're pretty much screwed. The most well-documented point of failure is the #4 cylinder (left rear) blowing exhaust into the coolant and making the overflow bottle overflow with foam.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the info- is the HG failure more likely to fail after a certain mileage?

It also appears the failure is not preceded by any indication of failure- the car just overheats and that is your indiciation of a failure-correct?

I do see a lot of high mileage Outbacks locally- is there any one indication of the HG being changed?

Thanks-john
 

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Head gasket failure can occur at any time. The Lizard has 80K miles on his if I remember. Mine had 138K when the gasket went. I am sure mine also went with no low coolant situation. But since I purchased the OB with 127K on it, who knows what happened before I got it.

BTW to do my headgasket cost about $800. I did all the work myself (excluding the machining) and did all the maintenance items (waterpump etc) at the same time. The new headgaskets seems to work fine as they were redesigned.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
mericet-

OH so it it is a gasket issue not a casting or other issue?

What did you have machined-the head surface?

After performing the repair did you notice an increase in oil consumption?

John
 

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headgasket repair work

I have a 97 Outback and mine blew at 157,000 miles. I wound up having to replace the heads as well as the gaskets, timing belt, water pump, thermostat, radiator, plugs as well as replacing all the seals and gaskets on the engine. The cost set me back about $3K
It also included replacing the clutch since it was due anyway and ws cheaper to do it now to avoid additional labor cost.

I have put about 3500 miles on it and I have not noticed any oil leaks.

The only thing I have noticed so far is that the exhaust header tap against each other whenever the engine is at idle (800 RPM).

The Outback still gets about 29 MPG on the highway and aboput 23 around town. I mix my driving between highway and city and average anywhere between 24 and 26 MPG. It just depends how agressive I drive.

I hope this helps.
 

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OH so it it is a gasket issue not a casting or other issue?
That's what I have always heard, it's the gasket makeup, not a machining problem. Anyone else care to chime in about it? Brian
 

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ponjohn said:
mericet-

OH so it it is a gasket issue not a casting or other issue?

What did you have machined-the head surface?

After performing the repair did you notice an increase in oil consumption?

John
Yes, this was definitely a gasket issue. The heads were machined as a precaution (and because it is common sense to do when you are replacing a head gasket), the valves were reseated and the stem seals replaced.

I have only driven the car ~2000 miles since doing this so I can not comment on oil use.
 

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I had a '96 OB with the DOHC 2.5L and 26-27mpg highway is pretty much normal. However, on a trip to Baltimore to pickup my sister and her family I actually averaged 28.8mpg, Norfolk to BWI in 4.5 hours, maintaining 100mph for most of the way, my average MPH for the one way was 50mph including a 20 minute delay for road work.

Every since the '80s it seems that Subies prefer to travel in fast company. In an '81 sedan with 4 adults and one preteen Dad drove 85mph from Cal. to Minn. averaging 33mpg. Then on the way home he drove 65mph and averaged around 27mpg. Go figure.

Obey your state's laws and have fun. You could easily enjoy over 200k miles with most any year Subie. There are exceptions ie: '96-'98 DOHC's which could vary by previous reports.

Todd
 

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Discussion Starter #13
oh ok- tis head gasket issue is isolated to three years. I thought by the previous posts that ALL suffered this fate if it was pre-99.

John
 

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ponjohn said:
oh ok- tis head gasket issue is isolated to three years. I thought by the previous posts that ALL suffered this fate if it was pre-99.

John
John, I just wanted to make sure that you knew mine is a 99.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Oh Ok- thanks- I am thinking I might take a chance ona 96-98. My whole family is into cars and my uncle is a mechanic , so if worst came to worse I could pay him to r&r the head if needed.

John
 

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I must apologize, in my previous post I forgot to say that at the time of trade-in (102k miles) my only issue was the front crank seal failed twice. Once at around 6k and at around 75k.

It seems I didn't have the '96 long enough for a head gasket to fail. Believe me, the wife wouldn't have liked my solution for that. Cobb would have gotten some money from me!

My '02 performed flawlessly. -sniff, sniff-
 
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