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Are new Subarus really as bad as I am hearing?

burdsburds Posts: 1
edited March 6 in Subaru
I have always thought Subarus lasted 250,000 miles with no problems. I have talked to three Subaru owners in the past three days and everyone of them said they are no longer any good. I am told that they made an engine change and all three of these people have major mechanical problems. What's up?
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Comments

  • bottgersbottgers Posts: 2,028
    I don't know much about their newest models, but Subaru has a good track record of producing reliable vehicles. In one of the other topics, someone stated that in a recent Consumer Reports issue, they ranked Subaru as being tied with Toyota for producing the most reliable vehicles. This shocked me because I thought Honda had a better reliability record than Subarua did (and I still think they do). The point is, I think you need a larger sample than just 3 people before dertermining if car is any good or not. If there isn't any info available on this car yet in the magazines, you may want to wait until there is, if you're considering one. Every car maker has their bad vehicles. Fortunately for us, the Japanese don't build too many bad ones.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,781
    The very concept of "250,000 miles without any problems" is not realistic for ANY car made, much less an inexpensive one. That is simply outside the odds and the probabilities for even a Mercedes or Lexus or Bentley.

    If one has just fantastic expectations, of course one WILL be disappointed in one's new Subaru, much like I'd guess the person expecting the perfect mate or perfect vacation experience.

    Get real, folks. Cars are machines and they will braek after the warranty. Hopefully, with your good care and the services of reputable repair shops, your repairs will not be too frequent or too expensive.

    But 250K with "no problems"? Please, no Subaru even went that far without "problems" and none ever will. Nor any car for that matter. The average car in America on the road today is only some 9 years old or so. Do the math (12K miles per year?)

    Fantasy Land, IMO, if one expects 250K trouble free miles.

    Probably no better Subaru has ever existed than the one in the showroom now.

    MODERATOR

  • bottgersbottgers Posts: 2,028
    It all depends on what you consider to be problems. I've seen plenty of Hondas and Toyotas running fine with more than 250K miles on them, and none of them had any internal engine work done to them. Now I don't consider replacing things like timing belts, water pumps, and CV joints problems, I consider them normal maintenance because none of these parts will last for 250K.

    Though I haven't seen any, I have no doubts that there have been Subarus that have gone 250K. Did these people have to replace parts on their cars? Of course. You can't just put gas in a car and drive it 250K, it has to be maintained.

    Any well built, well maintained car can go 250K. I would expect to get 100K from a car, and anything you get beyond that is a benny. This way you don't get disappointed. Expecting a car to go 250K is shunned.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,781
    Yes, they "can" go 250K with really good care, and without a new engine or transmission, but they don't 99% of the time because it's generally not cost effective. Cars this old start to nickel and dime the owners, and start to look shabby, and then instead of nickels and dimes its quarters. People do the math and sell the car cheap, and that's usually the end of it, in the hands of a new owner who does zero maintenance from that point. Why fix a $750 used car?.

    If you have time, go to a wrecking yard (if they will let you) and examine all the speedometers on ALL the undamaged cars. You won't find one in 100 with 250K on it, if that many. If accident doesn't claim them, neglect does.

    So plan on putting alternators and timing belts and shocks and brakes and mufflers and a wiper motor and new stereo speakers and tires and a fuel pump on your Subaru or whatever after 100K, because that's what is going to happen to you and just about every other car on the road.

    MODERATOR

  • bottgersbottgers Posts: 2,028
    To some, it's worth it to replace all those things instead of buying a new car. And it's still cheaper to do that than to make car payments.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,781
    Oh, I agree completely! By all means squeeze as much useful (and cost effective) life as you can from your car.

    MODERATOR

  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    Among other considerations, old cars become obsolete. Three years ago I gave my '77 Bonneville wagon away(partly because it needed transmission work) and purchased a used Caravan. 1. The Caravan has dual air bags and an excellent safety record and 2. it's V6 uses about half the fuel of the old v8 while providing seating for 7 vs 8 in the Pontiac. Even so the cost of owning- fixing and fueling the Pontiac would have been less than the Caravan because of "money" cost of the extra $8000 value, the added depreciation, and paying collision insurance that had long been dropped on the wagon. But who do you know still driving one of these old wagons because they are less cost per mile?
    I also own a '95 Subaru Outback and follow the Subaru Owners Club and have heard little in the way of new owners being disappointed. There is also a participating company rep who has been very helpful to Edmunds participants when they have not been satisfied with dealer problem solving. That impresses me as a company doing the right thing.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,781
    Yes, safety. I drove a Saab turbo up to 235,000 miles but had it scrapped when we discovered all kinds of stress cracking in the suspension. I wouldn't even risk selling a car like that to someone and of course an '86 Saab with 235K is not worth fixing.

    I think people are much too blase about the safety issues with very high mileage cars.

    MODERATOR

  • black_tulipblack_tulip Posts: 438
    What about cars that are driven long distances almost everyday? I have a '99 Camry which I drive almost about 40K miles a year. Currently it has a little over 100K and I do hope to make it over 200K with just routine maintenance(timing belt,water pump/coolants & fluids/air filter/consumables and of course oil change). Is that too much to ask ? Even with so many miles, it still drives as quiet and smooth as day one.
  • bottgersbottgers Posts: 2,028
    I don't think 200K is unrealistic at all. Camrys are one of the best built cars made. My Tercel has 91K and it runs and drives like it was still brand new. I would be shocked if it doesn't make it to 200K.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    Check the Subaru Crew under owners club. There really are fewer problems than most cars in the discussion groups that I've seen, including Nissan, Toyota and Honda.

    No car is trouble free. There are always necessary maintence costs. Save $100.00 a month for repairs and you should be able to cover most necessary repairs and still have some left over for a down payment.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    Then somebody explain to me why Irv Gordon is still driving that '66 Volvo even if it's past 2 million miles already. To be frank, I'd love to take a look at it, but I wouldn't ride in it, just because I'd be too scared. And Mr. Shiftright is definitely correct in his thoughts. You cannot drive 250k without having a few problems here and there and safety has to be taken into consideration if you are going to be driving your car that far.
  • bottgersbottgers Posts: 2,028
    Heck, as far as that goes, you probably can't buy a new vehicle and not have any problems with it even if you get rid of it at 100K.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    1. I just sold my '83 celica which had just turned over 250K miles - original engine and transmission, and still my daily driver at 20K miles/year when I sold it. Why did I sell it? Well, I just got kind of bored with it - I bought my '97 outback sport to replace it five years ago, and just never anticipated that in those five years it would never need any repairs!

    2. The outback sport, which was bought primarily as a weekend car, as well as a long trip car, has just turned over 115K miles, with no repairs at all so far except for an idler pulley that got squeaky when they replaced the timing belt. This car has exceeded any expectation I would consider reasonable when purchasing a new car, and other people I know who also own Subies of this vintage and newer have had similar pleasant experiences. Will I keep this car until 250K? Most certainly, unless the engine gives up first. At the moment the compression is perfect, and it does not leak or burn a drop of anything.

    I will say that there was a generation of Subies in the late 80's - the loyales - that were not so great. I have heard of people having old age troubles with that one model, particularly with head gaskets and stuff. But I used to have an '84 Subie, which was the last of the really ancient GLs, and that thing was going strong at 150K - I never had to repair it either.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    I don't think the problem is so much that old cars are beyond repair, it is just that they get to an age or mileage where people are either tired of them or are not willing to spend dime one any more to fix them, so the first little thing that goes wrong sends the car to the grave. And by the way, to the person above who suggested going to junkyards to check odometers, it is really much easier than that. All one has to do is go to the local charity auctions and look there. Most of the Hondas, Toyotas, and Subarus that are there have more than 200K on them, and believe me, many are over 250K. Just last week I saw a mid-80's accord that had 335K on it, and it was running like a top, but the seats were worn out and so was the clutch.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • bottgersbottgers Posts: 2,028
    Did your celica have a single overhead cam engine, or double overhead cam? A friend of mine actually told me to stay away from the celicas with the single overhead cam engines. He had 3 of them, and he said all 3 were total junk before 100K, and I know he takes very good care of his vehicles. He did say if I could get ahold of a double overhead cam, to snatch it up, those are a gem of an engine. Just curious.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    My dad had a '78 Celica with a SOHC engine and it was pretty much shot by 74k miles.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,781
    Just because a person "never had to repair" their old car doesn't mean it didn't need thousands of dollars in repairs. Oh, no! Many people simply ignore things that don't actually break. In fact, I'd suggest that most people ignore lots of things.

    I see 150K cars all the time that really do need shocks and springs and mufflers and electrical work and belts and hoses, and they shift a little funny and don't track right and rattle, but the drivers insist that the car is in "great shape" because it does not leave them stranded. Fair enough.

    Moreover, I see a lot of 150K cars that commute everyday that I could break in about 5 minutes the way I drive. Why? Because their systems are marginal. Good enough for putting to work but not good enough to really stress out.

    So a lot of this talk about "reliable" and "trouble-free" has to do with the standards to which you hold the car.

    As for the infamous "million mile Volvo", you can drive a Yugo one million miles too, no problem. You just have to spend the money on it.

    You can keep ANY car you want on the road for a million miles. The car itself is irrelevant, but of course the time and expense is not.

    Irv there has a simple primitive car and he can just keep throwing engines in it until he dies, at maybe $3,000 a rebuild. You cannot do this as easily with a modern automobile.

    Cars are a lot like bank accounts. If you make withdrawals (use them on the road) you have to make deposits (maintenance and repair) or sooner or later you are bankrupt.

    Some people go broke faster than others, depending on what they've invested in the car.

    MODERATOR

  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    Many people think that a well maintained car is simply changing the oil every 3,000 miles and then fixing something when it breaks. Preventative maintenance is unheard of.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    At 125K I had to have my engine seals replaced on my 1991 Subaru. I don't consider that a problem since I replaced the water pump tensioners, idler arm and timing belt at the same time to save duplicate labor later. (This is from experiences with another car where the timing belt was replaced 3 times when those components failed individually.)

    This car has been very sound mechanically, and still looks great. But I am a little OCD when it comes to car care.

    Just had the struts checked out by a performance shop and they said that they were still fine.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,781
    I want my car tip top all the time. I want to be able to get in it and go to the moon if I have to...well, Alaska at least. And I want the brakes to be 100%, because I don't want to stop at 85 feet when a flatbed truck is 84 feet in front of me.

    But please, if your demands are not so strict, don't spend the money. You can get away with a lot of things on a modern car.

    MODERATOR

  • krzysskrzyss Posts: 843
    Shifty forgot to add ;-)
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    my celica with all the miles had the famous 22RE engine, the first fuel-injected celicas they made. I don't know if it was SOHC or DOHC - I forget - but I bet someone out there knows.

    And by the way, I was still getting it serviced at the intervals in the manual right to the end, and my sister borrowed that car last summer to drive to Seattle, which is about 1000 interstate miles each way from here. I don't think it was as marginal as one might want to imply. Ran like a top, hard driving, stop-and-go, whatever you wanted to throw at it.

    I will concede however that Mr S is certainly right: one can keep pretty much any car going as long as one wants if one is willing to throw unlimited amounts of money into it. For me that is not so interesting - it is how far it will go with "normal" repairs, an occasional alternator, water pump, or set of shocks for instance. I draw the line at an engine or a transmission. To me, once one of those goes, that is the end of the car's flawless record, and I get rid of it in favor of something newer. That is why I was so jazzed that that old celica still had the original engine and tranny!

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,781
    A modern car is a double-edged sword and I don't think many people really think about this:

    On the one hand, the modern car, like the Subaru, is much more reliable than its 20 year old counterpart. It's just better engineered, lots of systems have been de-bugged over the years, the maintenance intervals are lower, tires are better, brake pads are better, on and on.

    BUT, and here's the downside....IF.....you do neglect the car and something breaks, all hell breaks loose with it, because there is NO SLACK in modern high tech machinery.

    You overheat the engine badly, it is TOAST and $$$

    You overheat the automatic transmission, (towing, snow, etc) it is GONE, and $$$

    And body damage...let's not even go there.

    Think about this....you break a timing belt on say an ohc V-6 with 4-valves per cylinder...a fabulous, economical, powerful and reliable engine that you could only dream about ten years ago on your 1992 car....and you've bent 24 valves, chinked out two cylinder heads perhaps and maybe hurt some piston tops....ouch!

    So along with reliability in modern cars comes a)complexity b) expensive repairs and c) the need for excellent maintenance.

    MODERATOR

  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    So Irv's '66 P1800 was more primitive than, say, the Jaguars and Lamborghinis of the time, right?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,781
    Way more primitive. P1800 is 1930s tech at best. Pushrod engine, drum brakes, ladder frame. Jaguar was dohc, monocoque construction, inboard disc brakes. Lamborghini was V12 dohc mid engine mostly, 5 speed trans, welded box section framing, 4 X Volvo's horsepower and nearly double the top speed. Night and day, really.

    A new Subaru is like an alien space ship in advancement compared to Irv's Volvo or a 60s Jaguar or Lambo.

    MODERATOR

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    It seems like modern cars are built to last longer, and less rigorous to maintain, but boy! Have one thing go wrong, and it is so expensive that unless the car is pretty new, it is just time to junk the car and move on! I appreciate advancement as much as the next guy, and in particular, with the extensive driving I do, I appreciate that there is less maintenance these days than 20 year ago, but it would be nice if there were any repair under $500 on most of these modern cars. Now, you go to the dealer to find out what is wrong, and once they have diagnosed it, they roll off numbers like $1000 or $1200 so casually for the repair cost, as if it is just routine, just nothing. That is still a lot of money, I don't care how you cut it!!!! And if my car is more than 5 years old, it is only going to take a couple of those $1000 repairs for me to decide that the car's time is up, and move on! We will see, my OBS is the first 90's car I have owned, hopefully it will not need one of those hideous repairs until it reaches 200K (around ten years old).

    Hey by the way, is it true you have to have the air bag inspected at ten years?

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    I'd say that the really last old-fashioned cars you could buy were the full-size GM B-bodies, and that was back in 1996. They still used all cast-iron engines until the end, I think.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,781
    But they were complex and computerized. I wouldn't call them simple, and you can't fix them in the backyard (well, you can fix some things) but a Volvo P1800 you can fix with a rock and some string.

    MODERATOR

  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    The '90s B-bodies were really that complex? I had a '95 Jeep Wrangler two years ago and that vehicle was a piece of cake to service and maintain.
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