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WRX Reliability?



  • I think some of the trouble is due to the fact I bought the first manufacturing run of a brand new design. People who bought just a month or two later had a few design revisions in place already.

    The car has high mileage but it's mostly easy highway cruising (280 in SF Bay Area, it's like our last functional highway) 65-85mph.

    I am disappointed by the valve cover leaks, aww well. At least it's not the head gasket which I don't have great faith in because of the high specific power of the ej20 placing strain and also because of a technical service bulletin that was issued re: adding an additive to the coolant to prevent head gasket leaks.

    So I'm dying to see the new WRX hatch design that's getting launched in Detroit but am honestly concerned about the environmental impact of buying another car like the wrx or an evo, etc. What I may buy next is a Prius for my long highway commute and a sportbike, say a Yamaha R6, to satisfy my speed cravings.

    Tough call really, whatever replaces this WRX has got to be able to haul a few surfboards around the coast and haul 800+lbs of gear to burning man once a year. If Subaru would bring out its (bio?) diesel in the next-gen Impreza chassis with a sport suspension and six gears or so I would gladly pay $30k.

    This WRX, bought in late spring 2001, has been the most reliable car I've owned.
  • Hi everybody. I'm new to the Impreza forum but not new to Subaru ownership. I figured I would just share my experience. I have an '02 WRX 5MT. It was purchased new in April 2002.

    Right now I have about 73,400 miles on it and I do believe it's been pretty reliable as well.

    I have had a couple of odd problems which have been fixed. My water pump started leaking around 20,000 miles. The dealer replaced it under warranty. Basically everyone involved was baffled as to why it went bad.

    I also had a problem with the ABS control unit. Basically it was "hyperactive". I would slow down approaching a red light and sometimes the ABS would just kick-in with no warning. No wheel slip of any kind. It took a couple trips to the dealer and eventually they were able to replicate on a test drive. They also found a TSB on the issue and I haven't had that problem since the time of the repair.

    Still on original clutch (does have some chatter sometimes), 2nd set of brake pads and 2nd set of tires. I replaced the RE-92s around 50,000 miles with Falken ZE512s.

    Overall, reliability has been very good. Never had to have car towed or anything like that.

    I'm a happy Subaru customer. :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They revised the tuning on the ABS, it didn't affect any other model year AFAIK.

  • eab73wrxeab73wrx Posts: 8
    Hi Juice,

    Thanks for you reply. I did know about that ABS tuning issue. My problem was different however. It was a "wasn't doing it before" kind of issue. Basically out of the blue, the ABS would kick in when it wasn't needed at all. Literally no issues with the ABS for about 2 years of ownership and then suddenly I would just touch the brakes on a perfectly dry road and ABS would kick in. Based on my recolection it was doing it once in every 4 or 5 stops. I'd have to look up the receipts but the fix did involve some replacement of parts.

    But regardless of those problems, I definitely believe my WRX has been the most reliable I've ever owned.

  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    33K on my 02, know its not much mileage. had the clutch judder, replaced under warranty.
    also I opted to get the revised ABS module put in.
    also had a rear strut/shock and a front ball joint replaced under the ext warranty. must be all those Chicago potholes! no, I do not drive like a total maniac! otherwise its been running fine. will have to teach my 16 year old daughter how to use a stick though on this thing as its the only manual we have, bye bye clutch!
    CD seems to playing up last few weeks, maybe its that subzero weather as its fine when its "warmer"! anyway when it gets bad enough I'll try get them to replace that too, should be covered by the ext warranty.
  • I have a '02 wrx with 75k and a '93 impreza L with over 125k. Very reliable cars as long as you maintain and service them!!!

    I've taken my 93 from california all the way to canada and back down twice with no issues what so ever!! :shades:
  • macksrexmacksrex Posts: 2
    Hi. I have a 2003 WRX Sedan, bought new on 5/31/03.

    112,000 miles, mostly highway.
    Replaced: battery, tires, timing belt (recommended at 105K), regular maintenance - oil, filter...

    Problems: NONE

    I would happily jump in my car right now & drive from Boston to San Diego, & I will definitely look at Subaru for my next car. However, at the rate my WRX is going, it will be a long time before I'm in the market for a new car. :-)

    Drive safe!
  • dsubidsubi Posts: 3
    I have an 02 WRX just bought used with 52000 miles 500 mine. It has an after market turbo full 3 inch exhaust a different ecu and a heavyduty race type clutch a little to aggressive around town the car puts out a said 300hp. My problem is when i first got it it shifted great and now when i shift from second to third gear it grinds when i drive hard or now even sometimes when i drive slow. Thats the only shift it does it not down shifting just the up shift all the other gears have no problem and never ground. Is it this clutch or is it the trans i did get a less aggressive clutch from the previous owner he also said the trans did blow up before but then he had a 2003 gear set put in and has not had a problem. Well now there seems to be. Has this been a problem with anyone elses subie if so let me know i am at a dead end. :(
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    The 02-03s sometimes had issues with that gear. In all honestly with the upgraded clutch, it's probably causing more wear on the trans. With a lot of power and awd, something has to give, usually your clutch is the weak point, and takes up the slack, but with a heavy duty clutch, that then forces the trans to take up the slack. I'd look into an RA gearset or an STi 6MT swap.

  • dsubidsubi Posts: 3
    Hey thanks for the info. But what is the RA gearset? And do you know if the STi swap is possible in the 02 if so were do i get the trans and is there any info on what needs to be done to make it possible like any web sites? I could not turn anything up.

    Thanks Doug
  • merrycynicmerrycynic Posts: 340
    My '02 WRX Sportwagon just logged 6 years and 138,500 miles today. Outside of routine maintance, I've spent less than $300 on three minor repairs, none of which affected actual driving. I think that indicates one heck of a reliable car!
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    The RA gearset is a stronger gearset that goes in the WRX transmission case. For an STi trans swap, you need to get the rear diffy, axles, hubs, etc. and some wiring for the DCCD unit.

  • mdawg25mdawg25 Posts: 23
    I was looking at buying a used Impreza. I have been looking at the 99-2000 range for years, but would be open to any suggestions on a good model year. I want the 2.2L for reliability, andcould go either way on the turbo. Could I just put some bolt on performance parts on a non turbo and even come close to the turbo's performance? My parents aren't so crazy about the turbo (first car, higher insurance, etc.). Also, could go either way on transmissions. It wold be used mostly incity driving, but I wouldn't consider it "stop and go" I know in most cases on used cars manuals are more reliable because they are less sensitive to maintanience. Anyway, since it is my first car, reliability is extremely important, and I know subie's are known for that. How many miles can I expect out of it and how much canI expect to pay for it?
    Thanks for your input and sorry for the long post
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'd go for an Impreza L 97-01 which comes with a 2.2L engine which is nearly bullit proof. You cannot get anywhere near the performance of the turbo motors but the L is a great car to learn to drive with. I suggest an MT trans on it as well. Don't let folks tell you that you need a turbo or even need near-turbo performance. I road raced a 95 Impreza L w/AT as well as auto-xed it and it's a perfect car to really learn to drive w/o the aid of power that usually masks a poor drivers skills due to the power overcoming their lack of skills.

    Learn to drive a slow car fast and then you can drive a fast car, even faster!

  • mdawg25mdawg25 Posts: 23
    That's what I needed to hear. I was under the impression that without the turbo it was underpowered. I thought i'd be fine without it all along, i just needed reassurance. Plus, i need all the insurance breaks i can get. Thanks for your help
  • mdawg25mdawg25 Posts: 23
    Are there more problems with the 2.5 engine than just the head gasket? The only cars i can find within that year range have the 2.5 engine. What about the 2003 model year? there are a lot more of those around here that the older ones and they are still in my price range.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The OE gears are made to handle 227hp and he's pushing 300hp, so the new gearset is solid advice.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Right around 2003 they revised the gasket material and we noticed a dramatic drop in head gasket failures here on Edmunds. Even Consumer Reports reflects this improvement in their detailed reliability scores.

    Just get an 03 or newer (inspect for oil leaks to be safe), or any 2.2l.
  • dsubidsubi Posts: 3
    Does anyone have any idea how much hp an RA gearset can handle with no problem. Would my subi at about 300 put it on the edge.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    The RA gearset can handle a lot of power, probably 500 crank, maybe more.

    It isn't cheap, IIRC it's around $1900 + labor (which can be $2-3k maybe more) so you are looking at roughly about $5-7k for the trans.

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