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Due to a to a job change in 2016 I traded in my 2002 Forester and 2001 Chevy truck for a large SUV to save on insurance and other vehicle expenses. I use a wood stove and thought I could use the SUV as sort of a pickup truck - but it just doesn't cut it. The Honda Pilot rides beautifully, but at this point my priorities are utility and function. I prefer not to drive a truck all the time for personal use so I may go back to what I had. I found a dealer with a truck I want and a '97 Outback with the 2.5L engine, 206k miles for under $2000. Am I nuts for even considering this? At that mileage the head gaskets must have been done. It's a manual which I like - I had a '98 manual Outback years ago. The only thing is the low gearing which means about 3200 rpm at 65mph, but I don't do a lot of highway driving. I probably put on no more than 3k miles a year with my own vehicles since I have a company van. Looks like the Outback has a bit of rust, actually not bad for a 97. I stayed as a member here because I thought one day I could become a Subaru owner again.
 

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updated thread title.

how much do they want for it? (miles, rust, and the worst engine the company ever made.)

edit: although you can use a subaru to haul some firewood, its easy to break the struts in the rear.

I could make a great firewood hauler out of a forester without rust, no roof, and overload suspension though.
but it would not be a daily driver.
 

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$1800 - just a bit of rust around the wheel wells from what I can see. I know about that engine with the internal leaks. Was wishing it was the 2.2L
 

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$1800 - just a bit of rust around the wheel wells from what I can see. I know about that engine with the internal leaks. Was wishing it was the 2.2L
offer them 800 firm and look for something better.

the problem with paying top dollar to a dealer for such a thing: someone could have put some quart jug of stop leak in it and it will take a few weeks of driving to make it overheat.

better: would be finding a completely unrusted 1996-99 outback, listed as having head gasket problems. you buy it for $500 and drop the right 95-98 2.2 with EGR into it. (that you bought for $250).

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even better a 2000-2004, that is great compared to the old ones. (better space, better engine/ trans). and you can find those for the same money that have had their head gaskets done. (these were only external oil leakers,...not internal coolant and oil turds).
 

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I like Subarus but, what about a trailer for the firewood?
 

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The trailer is a good idea, in fact I had a hitch installed on my former '02 Forester. Had a small 4x6 I think it was trailer for that purpose. I sold the trailer when I bought a truck. I never mastered backing up with the trailer that well. It was light enough where a few times (when it was empty) i just picked it up and moved it. There's just something appealing about having an old truck to me. I know that may sound odd to some.

The dealership with the '97 Outback was crazy busy, and the car was behind several rows of cars, didn't want to wait since I wanted to check other dealerships. I saw another at a dealership that had a truck (attempting to do a 1 for 2 deal. trade in the Honda Pilot for an older car and truck) that had a 2003 Outback, but it had leather seats. I don't like leather, that's what I have in my Pilot - got them since I wanted heated seats like I've had in my past Subarus. I wonder if I could find decent seat covers or how hard it would be to get seats (preferably heated) from a junkyard. Heated cloth seats may be exclusive to Subaru. I assume the 2003 was a limited.
 

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The trailer is a good idea, in fact I had a hitch installed on my former '02 Forester. Had a small 4x6 I think it was trailer for that purpose. I sold the trailer when I bought a truck. I never mastered backing up with the trailer that well. It was light enough where a few times (when it was empty) i just picked it up and moved it. There's just something appealing about having an old truck to me. I know that may sound odd to some.

The dealership with the '97 Outback was crazy busy, and the car was behind several rows of cars, didn't want to wait since I wanted to check other dealerships. I saw another at a dealership that had a truck (attempting to do a 1 for 2 deal. trade in the Honda Pilot for an older car and truck) that had a 2003 Outback, but it had leather seats. I don't like leather, that's what I have in my Pilot - got them since I wanted heated seats like I've had in my past Subarus. I wonder if I could find decent seat covers or how hard it would be to get seats (preferably heated) from a junkyard. Heated cloth seats may be exclusive to Subaru. I assume the 2003 was a limited.
easy to swap seats on subarus, getting heated seats in cars that did not have them takes running some wire, but its been done.

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and actually old beater pickups are great for firewood and plowing. one of my old friends use to use a something like a 1980 one ton, that had no functional gas tank in it. (use to just drop the pump into a steel jerry can and keep filling it).

now is a good time to look for those. people that busted something over the winter on their plow truck and don't want to fix it. (like wore the transmission to death, broke a spring shackle).

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subaru bajas: prices are all over the place some people over value them. others don't so you might be able to snag one cheap.
(I would not get a baja turbo,...unless you have free labor from someone that eats, sleeps, and dreams of keeping them repaired,...and has cheap free engines and turbos stacked up).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Good to know seats are easy to swap. The one I saw today has heated leather, so the wiring is there. That may put the 2003 back in the running.

Interesting fuel delivery on the 1 ton truck! In this neck of the woods we encounter rust - on the body is a concern, of course on the frame could be devastating. Would be nice to have a plow - especially first thing in the morning before work. A couple times down/up the driveway would be enough to get the van out.

Looking for a full size pickup. The ideal pair would be a 4 cyl. car/small SUV and a regular cab truck with an 8' bed. Sure it'll cost more, but I think I can swing it as long as I buy something old and reliable. Maybe I'm going through Subaru withdrawal - I've owned 6 Subarus, from a 1980 to a 2002, 8 counting my son's with my name on the titles. Never had anything major fail, traded them in before a head gasket failure. The 2002 Forester had I think 128k with very little signs of head gasket trouble, occasionally I'd add antifreeze.
 

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Drove the'97 today, felt good and familiar. I really do like a manual transmission Subaru. This one felt solid and tight, especially for one 20+ years old and with that many miles. Unfortunately, the engine was seeping oil. Similar to my 2002 Outback after a few years, maybe worse. The dealer claims head gaskets were done. If they were it was many years ago (could have been 100k miles ago since it has almost 206k). Too bad, I may have bought it. But again the 3100 rpm at 65mph was annoying, and somewhat puzzling as the engine seems like it would do fine at a lower rpm. Not a surprise, I had a '98 with a manual and frequently drove someone's 2002.

Bought an older truck for now. At some point I may still consider an early 2000 model Outback if the head gaskets were done. Wouldn't mind high mileage since it wouldn't be driven for work.
 

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I have a 1997 subaru outback in a manual as well.

It is quite high rpm for your usual 100-120kph but honestly doesn't make much of a difference in terms of gas mileage.

It's been an OK car for me, bought mine for $1900 CAD, at around 173k miles on the odo.

Had to put a new engine in it at just over 200k :(
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sorry to hear the engine had to be replaced, if you got it for a good price I'd say it's definitely worth putting it in that car. I like that first gen Outback styling. I've heard others say the high rpms don't seem to be factor for mpg or reliability as they're designed to run that way.

I've been looking on Craigslist for a 1990-94 5MT Legacy sedan or ideally wagon with the 2.2L. Nothing right now. It wouldn't even have to be AWD since the truck I now have is 4WD. I realize anything that old would typically be in rough shape.
 
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