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2 or 300,000mile Club?

Hi there, new to the forums here... I'm currently shopping for a used car and have been looking at many different wagons and small suvs. A lot of people talk about the reliability of the Legacy/Outback and Forester, but you don't hear things like "good 'til 300k" like you do about the Toyotas and Hondas (Toyota Matrix excepted, since I hear about them having oodles of tranny problems around 100k).

I was just wondering, since I am only looking to spend less than $5,000, how reliable these cars are down the road? If I buy an OB with 120-150k miles, can I expect to be driving it relatively problem free for another 100k? I'm moving from Chicago to Phoenix, so I plan on buying *in* Phoenix to avoid the salt and weather damage common to cars aged in Chicago.

Thanks for your input!!


  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 685
    I'm moving from Chicago to Phoenix, so I plan on buying *in* Phoenix to avoid the salt and weather damage common to cars aged in Chicago

    I'm confused: Why would you be looking for an all wheel drive Subaru for Phoenix? For Chicago winters the well used Subaru is ideal; for Phoenix an aged Toyota will probably cost less to run.

    There are certain years of Subaru engines prone to head gasket failure at very advanced miles. Search the forum for threads that discuss the years with the problem.
  • Well the depreciation on Subarus is fairly quick so I can get a newer Subaru with less mileage than I can get a Toyota, Honda, or Nissan. Seems like the issues with the gaskets are from approx '97 - '02. Thanks for the info though I will keep that in mind when I see Subarus from those years, especially right around the 100k mile mark.

    Plus Toyota doesn't make a wagon that I can find, the Rav4 would be what I would be looking at with them... or the Matrix, but the Matrix has had a variety of issues with its tranny so probably will pass on that. Need the space!
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 685
    Plus Toyota doesn't make a wagon that I can find

    Some years ago there was a Corolla wagon made in this country at the plant the production from which was shared with General Motors. A Chevy version of the Corolla wagon was not made. These were very nice small wagons.

    Another Matrix equivalent was Pontiac-branded and might be available at a great price as a discontinued brand. I'm not aware of the difference in auto transmissions betweenn the Corolla and Matrix. The Corolla does not seem to have an auto trans problem AFIK. The Pontiac Vibe only differs in sheet metal styling.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The still make a Corolla Fielder in Brazil that is a true wagon.

    The US doesn't get that body style because Toyota makes a higher profit margin on crossovers, so they seemingly offer 176 of them (RAV4, Highlander, Venza, etc).
  • Thanks Dave and AJ, appreciate the feedback =) Saw a Camry wagon actually on CL but it had already sold, that's the first and only wagon I've seen from Toyota. Gonna keep looking for the Honda and Toyota wagons, they just are few and far between, guess because everyone keeps 'em 'til they die.
  • igozoomzoomigozoomzoom Waleska, GeorgiaPosts: 797
    Here are a few that I'd suggest checking out-

    Suzuki Aerio SX (2002-2006) - they're kinda wonky looking but they're far better cars than you might think! I used to travel heavily for work form 2003-2006 and I drove a rental car almost every week. I rented from the same company 99% of the time and they were great about having one of my preferred cars waiting for me. They had a note on my account that I strongly preferred either a Toyota or Mazda. But one night I landed in Dallas and went to the rental counter and they only had two choices left- a Dodge Neon or Suzuki Aerio. I took the Aerio and feel in love with the dorky little thing....and for the two years or so after that, I always wanted either a Mazda6 or Suzuki Aeiro when I traveled.

    Mazda6 s Wagon - (2004-2006) - the 2004 models sell for $5-6k all the time.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    did they buy the same brand again 6 or 7 years later, or did they try something dif and if so, why?

    Joe, (Mr Shiftright) suggested i move my original post to one of the Sube forums so thought I'd try this one. Here was my original of the other one - c/p:

    #1382 of 1405 random question for Joe or? by gimmestdtranny
    Dec 31, 2010 (9:04 pm)

    To anyone, but Joe specifically.

    I was over on an (unfortunately) Read Only forum for the Subarus.

    here actually:!make=Subaru&model=Impreza&ed_ma- - keindex=.ef0c062

    post 3 and 5 and 8 and a bunch after had me wondering this very thing again. It happens read someone who just bought a new - whatever- and they are singing its praises etc. but this was almost 9 years ago. You click and find they don't have the new 02 Sube anymore and u deduce that the replacement likely happened in 06 with RAV4. So one can assume AWD was probably a priority still, but interesting that they didn't stay with the same brand. I'd love to know from a lot of these old Read Only posts why they changed brands. What sorts of problems did they have? That sorta thing..

    But while I'm here, as i don't know where to ask this, Joe, do you follow Subaru posts fairly regularly i take it, are Sube engines as cost friendly after 100 to 130k miles as an inline Accord or Camry engine? I keep hearing 'things' about Subaru and they seem to have a real weakness around the heads or something. I can't recall if it is head gaskets or how serious the ailments were. I wonder why i have this impression tho, that most Asian inline 4 cyl are less costly to own than the flat four. Any truth to it ya think?

    btw, i was impressed to read u put 235k on your turbo Saab. I take it u didn't spend big money on it to get there?
  • igozoomzoomigozoomzoom Waleska, GeorgiaPosts: 797
    I can't remember exactly what caused the problem, but a significant number of Subaru Flat-4s suffered "catastrophic failure" on the 2001-2004 models! The 2005-present Flat-4 is rock solid reliable...the problem was definitely addressed and doesn't affect any models after 2004! Consumer Reports reliability ratings (based on data collected from owners) fully supports this- the 2001-2004 4-cyl Legacy/Outback are rated "Much Worse Than Average" in the 'Engine- Major' reliability category. The 2005-present models are rated as MUCH BETTER THAN AVERAGE in all categories!

    Prior to that engine flaw, Subaru was generally regarded as one of the most reliable brands you could get! It was right up there with Honda and Toyota.

    But even Honda's reputation has taken some hits in the last decade! No less than three separate instances of widespread transmission failures affected hundreds of thousands of 1999-2004 Honda and Acura models!

    The '99-'01 Odyssey was the and V6 Accord from the same period was the first. A bearing in the 4-speed automatic could break apart and clog the fluid lines, resulting in erratic shifting and total failure soon after.

    Then the '00-'03 Acura TL, '01-'03 Acura CL and '02-'03 Odysseys with a newly designed 5-speed automatic started going thru transmissions like Kleenex! Some vehicles had as many as FOUR transmission replacements before the problem was finally fixed! Acura alone replaced well over 50,000 units just on their cars. I had a friend who bought a 2003 TL Type-S new in early 2003 and within nine months and 12k miles, he was on his THIRD transmission! He used the Georgia Lemon Law to force them to buy the car back.

    And finally the '03-'04 Odyssey and Pilot had yet another problem with their 5-speed automatic. Honda issued a recall this time. They also extended transmission warranty coverage to 7yrs and 100k miles on all these models. There was at least one class-action suit brought by Odyssey owners that extended the warranty ever further.

    Prior to 2000, I would've laughed in your face if you told me that Honda would have so many transmission failures due to their own design flaws. Honda is actually one of the only (if not THE only) manufacturer that designs and manufactures their own automatic transmissions just for use in their own vehicles. Companies like GM build millions of transmissions for their own vehicles and to supply numerous other automakers. Toyota-owned Aisin does the same. But Honda makes their own! I'm surprised they didn't re-think that after all this???

    I'm just glad that Soichiro (Honda) was already dead because this would've killed him! But five years later and nobody holds it against them! You never hear of anyone afraid to buy a new Honda because the transmission might fail...
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    edited January 2011
    I thought that the Civic autos also had some problems during those time periods you mentioned. I had heard about the Odyssey trannys, but surprisingly only recently. I guess because the van has never been in my sights to own. Had it had AWD with a turbo dsl it certainly would have been tho.

    Apparently Hyundai makes their own new 6 sp auto for the Elantra. Don't know if they intend to sell it elsewhere. Use in Kia no doubt, but beyond that i wonder.

    It is incredible isn't it? All those Honda auto failures and all is forgiven now. I have heard of owners having to pay for 2 and 3 of 4 tranny re and re's. I have never liked that even Honda forces a customer to get heavy with them before the do the right thing anf own up to such a known problem. Toyota did exactly the same thing with the 5 sp manuals in the Matrix and Vibe. The did "Good Will" but put the same faulty design back into the car just to fail again at much the same (very low mileage failure...60k mi) IMO that is not honouring a wty or a GoodWill gesture. If they replace it with the new and improved design, now THAT is Good Will..
    To chg owners 2 and 3 times full pop on a known faulty design is reprehensible.

    edit - Very interesting to know about the 2005 and newer being safe and good bets. Thanks. Can u say the same about their autos and manual trannys?

    What is your opinion on this new CVT they are using now, with a 6 position paddle shift. They claim it is a 180k mi tranny. But darn, at 6000 bucks to replace at that time, all of sudden, 180k doesn't sound that wonderful.

    IMO, if a tranny has issues handling higher torque demands, that just strikes me as a less than great design. Does it have to be made that much bigger and heavier (or use prohibitively expensive metallurgy content) that to produce in mass numbers and afford reasonable longevity while keeping higher torque demands under wraps, it doesn't add up? Or throw handling weight bias off that even that becomes a factor? As I'm sure u know, the higher torque flat 6 uses the 5 sp auto (non CVT).
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I can't remember exactly what caused the problem

    Head Gaskets.

    They starting using new design/materials and that fixed the problem. FWIW Subaru covered most of those under a 7/100 extended warranty campaign.

    The new block design that just debuted in the Forester goes one step further - the cooling for the block and head do not share cooling lines - so there are no holes in the gaskets for those.

    So it was fixed, and now they went a step further to ensure a problem like that never happens again.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,686
    Well, I am not sure I would go so far as to say it was "fixed," but the changes (improved durability of gaskets, and required stop-leak additive) did reduce the occurrence of "premature" failures.

    Only a redesign of the block (which they are now implementing as you mentioned) will truly fix the problem. That said, many of us (you and I included) have not been affected by premature failure, even on pre-improvement engines so, while the problem was widespread, it was not a sure-fire death blow.
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,686
    Can u say the same about their autos and manual trannys?

    The 4EAT and the 5/6 speed manual transmissions have been very reliable for a long, long time. There was one or two model years (1999 for sure, at least in the Outback), that seems to be more prone to 4EAT failures (and they did make some changes to the unit that year), but generally they are quite solid. In fact, about the only complaint I hear about the 4EAT is simply that they don't have more gears.

    I know several WRX owners who have fried their 5-speeds because they abused them (badly!), but no complaints otherwise.
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Mostly 2002 models. For MY2003 Subaru added a force-limiting clutch to prevent clutch drops, and complaints plunged.

    I think that issue was more due to modded engines that made more than stock power coupled with clutch abuse.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,686
    Now that you mentioned that, I recall a fair buzz about "clutch judder" on the 5mt for a while, but that was not a transmission issue - it was a problem with the clutch plate material.

    I think that issue was more due to modded engines that made more than stock power coupled with clutch abuse.

    Yes, for the WRX issues I was citing, every single one had boosted the power output prior to frying the transmission. Not that they were kind to the transmissions beforehand.... :(
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    AWD launches are brutal on the stock clutch.

    I say if you modded beyond the stock 227hp, say 250+, you should automatically replace the stock clutch, preemptively.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Ahh, I am glad u mentioned that. I have been having negative feelings about Subes for the two reasons, the leaky motor (altho i don't recall that being an issue if u go back 20 years, back when there were Loyales and around the time Legacy made its first appearance). But I'm not sure, I still never heard of really high miles boxers till reading on this thread.

    And the other pause I had was a jittery clutch. My friend had an Impreza 5 sp about 10 years or so ago..mighta been an 01 or 02? And he loved the car but sold it because of that being such an annoyance. And it caused him to be sworn off Subaru for life i think. In fact, he traded it for a 2WD auto Ranger p/u truck :sick:

    so that oughta tell u how much he hated the Imp.

    So this is such good info to know! I needn't be cautious about their manuals then. He asked them and they refused to do anything about it if i recall (altho i am not certain he told me the whole story) I don't think he abused it and i never smelled a hot clutch when we crawled underneath and had a smell.

    So did Subaru ever honour the changing of the clutch to the new material? Or what year did they finally figure it out? Did they use new flywheels also or was that not required to even turn them?
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    "Prior to that engine flaw, Subaru was generally regarded as one of the most reliable brands you could get! It was right up there with Honda and Toyota. "

    Is that around the time they switched to 4 valve heads? Just trying to figure why the problem surfaced during that time period. Relatively recently in my old books..
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Too bad that new block is so new. I need my car to have depreciated more than a new car. But i don't drive many miles, but my car sits a lot. Would that be a bad combo with a Subaru I wonder? Maybe a bit of harmless enough oil smoke if sitting on an angle maybe? BMW inline 4's bikes did that. The engine was laid right down on its side.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Ahh, yes. that also sounds familiar and was affecting my impression of Subaru's...the stop leak part :(
    This is all good info...thanks.

    Just for everyone's info here, I had an 89 XT6. Bought it used, it was an of the reasons i didn't keep it. That, and i kept banging my head every time i got in and out. But in many ways it was an incredible car. Wonderfully smooth flat six. Of course I had the AWD.

    One of the few cars I've ever owned that I drove for a year and sold it for 2000 bucks more than i pd for it. It was a fluke looking back. I suppose i was not 'up' 2000 tho cuz i also did an oil rust proofing, and due to some driveline vibration I had a few trips invested to the city (under wty) until they replaced the fr to rr driveshaft, and that solved it. To this day i was curious that that fixed it. There was no play in the hanger bearings or anywhere else.
    It was so smooth you could set a beer on the top of the engine at idle and barely create a wave in it.

    Then a few years later along came the ....darn i forget the name, the bigger car with the sidewindow within a window, one. SRX maybe? They went way upscale and it was an expensive beast. Bigger 6 in it too.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    How many miles on both your cars now? Juice and u?
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    "MY2003 Subaru added a force-limiting clutch to prevent clutch drops, and complaints plunged. "

    also good to know
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,686
    Let's see....

    First, the head gasket issue came into existence with the introduction of the EJ25 motor. That was 1996 if I recall correctly. In that year, you could get either the 2.2 or the 2.5 in the Outback. In 1997 the Legacy line switched entirely to the 2.5 (dual overhead cam). In 1999, I think, they went from the DOHC to the SOHC motor. From then through early 2003, they actually issued a TSB that covered early head gasket failure and offered up an extended warranty on gasket failures (or some such, I am pulling this all from [foggy] memory!).

    They also switched the Impreza over to the 2.5L around the turn of the century, but it was later than the Legacy line. The Forester, which started in 1998, received it from the start. I believe the 1998 MY used the DOHC, but that was the only one.

    They still used the same motor from 2003 through 2010 in all models, but they included the "improved" gasket material and came from the factory with the coolant conditioner. While failures are still reported, they are markedly less frequent.

    As for my 1996 Outback, I do not have it any longer (wrecked it on Dec 30, 2006), but I had it at 220,000 miles at the time. I replaced the head gaskets at 192,000 miles myself. I don't consider that premature necessarily, but it certainly wasn't long life for a head gasket. Mine were not causing any major issues (such as overheating), but I was getting signs that they were deteriorating. I did not buy it new, though. It had 83,000 miles on it (Aug of 2000), so it is *possible* that the head gaskets were replaced prior to then, but I doubt it judging by the state of the engine, belts, etc., the first time I cracked into it. Everything looked original in there.

    You will likely have pretty good luck with anything 2005 or newer, but I would personally want to have a service history on the car, if at all possible.

    2002 was the hot-spot for Impreza clutch judder. I think it was material transfer on the clutch plate, which was corrected with revised material. I am almost positive a TSB was issued on that as well, so if it was within warranty, they should have replaced your friend's clutch free of charge. It was a big deal, though, given the problem part. Since everyone drives their clutches differently, dealers were quick to point at the owners as the problem rather than the cars.
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • igozoomzoomigozoomzoom Waleska, GeorgiaPosts: 797
    Then a few years later along came the ....darn i forget the name, the bigger car with the sidewindow within a window, one. SRX maybe? They went way upscale and it was an expensive beast. Bigger 6 in it too.

    SRX was close (that's actually a Cadillac crossover)'re referring to the SVX!

    It was a very impressive car at the time! I test drove one way back when and it was smooth as silk and looked amazing. The stupid window design was the car's biggest and most obvious flaw...the side windows were fixed and only a smaller half-window would roll down???
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Lots of good info here, thanks much [thumb up]
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Ya that's it! The SVX. Sure was weird what Subie did with the window glass. Somewhere I have an old brochure for that car i think. I wish i could put my hands on it so i could read to you their feature prop proclaiming the virtues of that design. It struck me as something Saab would do...i wonder if anyone knows what i mean and could picture that too?
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    edited January 2011
    Been reading a lot of threads on the Sube. Handling is one of the most common likes.

    Looks like A/C can be weak spot even on newer ones. They saying the Forester blew colder than the Legacy. Should be the same u would think unless the evap is smaller in the Leg.

    What are the heaters like and how fast are they? Having two opposing heads out in the airflow and not sharing heat between them, i wonder if the heater is weaker too?
    Best heater in any car I had was my 88 Camry 4x4 5 spd. Didn't buy it new, and it had no A/C but it was a great car. It went up my hill better than the XT6 did. And i never once had to lock the centre dif. It was a viscous coupling which is still one my fav AWD torque splits. My Vista and Matrix were also viscous. They are simple, cheap, no need for electronics to screw up and would last for tons of miles. In fact i have never heard of one failing has anyone else?
    The XT was handled in the auto tranny (just like today i believe) and manuals were a 50/50 thru the transfer case. The XT reacted slowly and reminded me of the first gen of CRV's. The fr wheels would turn about 2.5 full turns before torque was split. The 04 and newer i believe are very 'right now' so they have improved on that a lot.

    Couple random questions..can TControl be turned off in all years and models/trannys of Subes? When it has turned mild and the CRV is chewing thru 4 or 5 " of wet thick heavy snow, (when you need road speed, not crawling) it will NOT go up my hill until i turn TC off. In my opinion, TC is only good for idiots who drive on slippery roads with the stereo loud and cruise set. TC can save u then. Other than that it is a hindrance to forward motion anytime you need all four wheels for traction.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited January 2011
    How many miles on both your cars now? Juice and u?

    I sold my 98 Forester with about 90k miles, but it did not have the gasket issues. Our 02 Legacy went nearly as many miles, and we sold that as well, and got another 2009 Forester. It's been fine.

    Only issues were an electrical issue we had after rodents chewed up some wires under the hood, but they got our Toyota much worse, to the tune of $700 in wiring harness repairs. I think they replaced a couple of wheel bearings under warranty. All minor stuff considering a cumulative 19 years of Subaru ownership.

    My dad still has an 01 Outback, sis has an 03 Forester, bro has an 04 Legacy. My cousin had an older Outback, but sold it when he had his 3rd kid. Not a single bad gasket in the fleet, knock on wood.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    You and Wes and some others here will likely know this, but I have been trying to find out what year (or years among more than one model) did Subaru start to hot galvanize the body sheet metal? Is the floor pan also HG? What about the roof? I am amazed the number of brands that do not HG the roof, yet a stone chip near the edge of a windshield can become a recurring cancerous growth, with so much power it can literally take a perfectly good car off the road? Why? Cuz the rust keeps breaking the windshield, and to have that particular section of a car literally cut out and replaced is next to impossible, especially with any long term results. And of course the cost to do such a repair would be nothing less than huge.

    So the moral here is inspect those tiny marks around the windshield edge. Get grease on them before the salt comes or you plan to fix.
    I do think some mfgrs are HG'ing the roofs now too, but not sure which ones.

    HG is one of the single most significant advances in deterring rust, since they realized they had to have chassis drain holes here and there back in the 60's.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I want to say the '90 Legacy got it first, but I'm not sure which specific panels were treated.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    edited January 2011
    Well that is a shocker as I have seen either Leg or OB wagons up here that have real problems with rust and while I am not sure, i did assume they were a lot newer than a 90 or even a 95..

    But not as bad as what Mazda had in 02+ with their wheel well lips eh? Talk about a pitiful excuse for rust prevention in relatively new cars. I have seen many but it hit close to home with my old GF's daughter's pride and joy. A white 02 Protege5 wagon. It had holes through the wheel opening lips back in 2008 :(
    Just nicely out of wty even tho she complained prior. They did the old switch and bait put-off saying that particular corrosion wasn't covered for reasons of blah blah blah routine.
    She washed her car often too.
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