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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wagons Maintenance & Repair

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  • nic519nic519 Posts: 9
    My plan is to sell my beautiful 96 LC and get something cheap - I'm still paying for the cruiser - useful, and reliable. I need a vehicle that I can use for all the fun stuff I like to do - surf, ski, bike, etc - and fit my big dog too. I live in NYC and only really drive my car on the weekends if that.

    I was looking at 90 - 95 4runners/pathfinders, but then I had a thought - Outback.

    I have done some reading on 97 outback's (what I am looking at) and have some concerns. Many of the consumer reviews posted here on Edmunds do not sound good; alternator problems, gaskets, brakes,etc.
     
    Buying a car that I will end up sinking money into is exactly opposite to my needs.

    I love my LC, but the cost of the car and the insurance / vs. my needs is just too much. That said, it is in great condition and I can see my grand children driving it someday - reliable.

    So, are these cars reliable? I and looking at a 97
    outback with around 150k mls. It sounds really good, but I am concerned. I have far less apprehension looking at 90-95 4runners/pf because there is so much good buzz about them. Plus, I have owned 3 toys and they were great.
  • hammerheadhammerhead Posts: 885
    Could tire pressure differences make that much of an impact on steering? I know Subarus are sensitive to TP, but that much?

    Just another avenue to explore.

    Cheers
    Paul
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,916
    I got a used '97 Outback Ltd back in April, 2003. I had considered another '97 5 speed that had 150,000 miles on it, and it seemed to drive great, but the chances of stuff going wrong on a car with that many miles on it is pretty high I think. I decided to pay a bit more and hopefully spend less time fixing stuff.

    I knew someone with a '97 so I dropped some hints and they decided to upgrade to an '04 since they knew they had a buyer for the used one. I got into the OB with 34,000 miles on the clock. If you chat up older folks in the grocery parking lot, you may luck into just such a deal too.

    Steve, Host
  • Hello to all.
    I changed the oil for the first time on my 03 Legacy 2.5 and have a question. The manual says that there is a plastic cover that must be removed before you can gain access to the filter and drain plug. On my car there is no such cover. Is this a misprint in the manual or am I actually missing this piece?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Wild, Sam, but yours is the first and second case of rear diffy failure that I've seen. I think oldjayhawk had some noise, but not an outright failure like yours.

    If it's a limited-slip, I'd be inspecting the tires closely. They allow for a little tolerance (1/4" in circumference of the tire) but beyond that you might have binding of the kind that would cause drivetrain issues.

    If you hit something, well, Subaru does sell a diffy protector.

    You can get part-time 4WD, that would lock the axles together, but when engaged that actually leaves even less tolerance for rotational differences front to rear.

    Even then, your issue was not the center diff, it was the rear diff. So you might prefer a 4WD truck with two open differentials, vs. a locking differential. But you'll sacrifice some amount of grip no matter what you buy.

    So, 20 stars from NHTSA. Or we should say quarduple 5 stars.

    Bob - the Marginal result was from IIHS, not NHTSA. And that was on a Legacy sedan.

    nic519: '97 was the year they bumped HP up to 165 and it runs on regular fuel vs. premium for the '96. So 1997 is a sweet spot.

    Any car with that kind of mileage will depend on luck and the previous care it was given.

    Brake pads are cheap, but ask for a service history. I haven't seen many alternator issues. Gaskets were a common problem but by 150k miles they either would have failed already or have been replaced.

    -juice
  • keith53keith53 Posts: 4
    On my '01, there is a black plastic cover that spans under the entire engine compartment. Within that is a smaller 'door' or 'flap' that hides the filter.

    Keith
  • papagpapag Posts: 4
    Thanks for the line on Firestone. I had wanted to stay away from one of the "chains," but they may have a better handle on alignments and such than the dealers do.

    While I hate the thought of spending $80-90 for alignment and balancing, I'd rather be safe than sorry.
  • ladywclassladywclass Posts: 1,684
    yeah .. sort of the way we got the good deal on the b/f's new 'used' car ... (and I'm sure he'll buy a Subaru NEXT time!)
  • Outbacks have that engine cover but Legacies do not.
    Don't ask me why.
  • RE:
    "yours is the first and second case of rear diffy failure that I've seen. I think oldjayhawk had some noise, but not an outright failure like yours.
    If it's a limited-slip, I'd be inspecting the tires closely. They allow for a little tolerance (1/4" in circumference of the tire) but beyond that you might have binding of the kind that would cause drivetrain issues.[...]
    Even then, your issue was not the center diff, it was the rear diff. So you might prefer a 4WD truck with two open differentials, vs. a locking differential. But you'll sacrifice some amount of grip no matter what you buy."

    On various forum I have heard of people blowing rear diff from time to time.
    I one case, the diff overheated and cought on fire on hwy driving. In that case, the owner used uneven tires which blew and locked the center diff and then put extra stress on rear diff.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Because Outbacks have to look clean after those commercials where Crod Dundee splashes through the mud puddles.

    Of course it's Lance now.

    owner used uneven tires

    That's user error, as we say in the IT industry.

    -juice
  • mrk610mrk610 Posts: 378
    Got hit by something on the road to day from work . I now have 3 marks on my front bumber. I 'm going to get some touchup paint and see what i can do. I guess not to bad for a 3 year old outback with 46k miles on it . I have been to FLA twice and the mountains sking 3 times .
    I'll try to take pics just got a dig camera.I guess I'll go to the photos forum and see how to post them . Wish me luck

    Mike in South jerey.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Did it strip the paint, or add to it?

    You might want to try some bug/tar remover to get the surface completely free of debris.

    -juice
  • dop50dop50 Posts: 162
    My '02 Legacy GT wagon 2.5 H6 had an insulated plastic cover that you had to take out 4 plastic screws and plugs, then slide out the cover (approx. 12" square) to the front. To get to the oil filter. It was a real pain in the A. I would imagine if you took it to a quick oil change shop, it would soon disappear.

    Ken
  • Larry,

    I agree, the dealer and SOA have been great on
    this problem.
    I DO NOT go off roading. I am 65 and retired,
    I was 60 when I bought the car (new),
    it has been an excellent trouble free vehicle for five years. (5speed)
    I was turning around in my driveway when the rear diffy blew. I mentioned a pickup simply as a more reliable vehicle for an old fart. The technology in a pickup is more old school, like I am used to, rear drive, leaf springs, you know, old time simple stuff like that.
    I am not interested in a 4/4.
    SOA is aware of a potential problem in this area.
    They had a recall when the crossmember mounting plate rusted out and caused rear diff failure. My car was not included in said recall.
    Recall says that part from sub contractor had poor paint. Remedy is spray rust resistant oil and rust resistant wax on the mounting plate.
    Sounds mickey mouse to me but I hope they fixed the problem with the new design in 2000.
    I just hope the new mounting plate solves the problem for good, I will be afraid to drive the car for awhile, afraid problem might occur again.
    That's why I am thinking of replacing the car.
    Sam.
  • lfdallfdal Posts: 679
    Sam,

    Don't blame you - I'd be looking to bid the car a fond farewell if the suspension supports start rusting out. At some point SOA will stop repairing them for free. Also, I think they had undercoating issues on some Outbacks after 2000 -maybe 2002's and some 2003's? I'm guessing on the dates, but I remember a service campaign to touch up the underneath on some of those years.

    Larry
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Our 2002 Legacy L was included. Wasn't that related to the springs also?

    I could be wrong.

    -juice
  • mrk610mrk610 Posts: 378
    the paint was stripped off to the black primer.
  • Larry,

    Guess what? The dealer called today, they are also replacing the front diffy, some people call it the center diffy. Now they think that was my problem from day one. Go figure.

    Sam.
  • I understand it is "normal" for subies to have crank/cam seal leaks---now my baffle plate-(apparently plastic), is leaking as well on my 95 legacy wgn...have 103k on the car and it's generally in ex. cond., so I feel the expensive repairs are probably worth it...My question is---what can I reasonably expect mileage-wise from the engine on this vintage subie? 200k no problem? What's the consensus out there?

    thanks,
    dave
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