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97 Outback with 170K

Hi all. New to the forum. Found a 97 Outback LTD with 170K. High mileage I know, but the dealer (small suby dealer) has replaced the timing belt, water pump, front axle etc. and is offering a 1 month/1000 mile warranty. The car is in great shape. No dents, the interior is in great condition. The CD changer has been removed and the cup holder tray doesn't slide out. Other than that, I can't see a thing wrong with it. Also, the carfax comes back clean. What do ya think? They were asking $5750, but I offered $5K and they'll sell it for $5150. Opinions?


  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    With 170k, I would probably not offer more than 2k and that would be if it were in mint condition in and out. There are lots of things that can start to break down with 170k on the ticker.

    Just my opinion.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Yeah, I am wondering where you are located, because that can have quite a bit of influence on price. My most immediate reservations would be head gaskets and transmission. If both those check out, it may work out to be a great purchase. Also, check the differential fluid... is it translucent or grey? I put 220K on my '96 Outback and it would still be on the road were it not destroyed last winter. 170K does not scare me off, but I would not want to pay $5,000 for a car that has needs. As long as it does not have needs, it sounds like a good bet to me.

    My perspective is coming from Fairbanks, Alaska. ;)
  • I'm in Boise, ID and the car is local. The high mileage is really the only deal-breaker. I have a 96 Jetta with only 115K for comparison. At 170K that equates to 15.5K driven per year which isn't that bad...see where my indecision comes in?

    The head gaskets have been replaced in their "front end Subaru maintenance", so yes, it could be a good deal...but "could" worries me. Thanks fellas.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Used cars are always gambles. Sounds like this one had quite a bit of work put into it to take it from a $2,000 car to a $5,000 car. I purchased a Dodge Caravan, yes, a Caravan, with 170,000 miles on it last May for $4,000. I decided that if it gave me one year trouble-free, it would pay for itself. Two months to go.... ;)

    Had I the choice of the car you are considering, I would be happy to plunk down an extra $1000 for the chance to give another old Outback a go. They are great cars and I love them. But, they do have some weak points that must be considered. Fortunately, head gaskets are a cheap (though time-intensive) job for a do-it-yourself'er.
  • mwhelanmwhelan Posts: 1
    I have a 1997 Outback with a 2.5 liter. I,m having a drivability issue with it in the rain. It loses all power and barely runs. I had a mechanic tell me he thought i had a compression issue but could not get a compression gauge on the car. The engine light is on, a misfire code. Any ideas?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'd start with plugs and wires.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Yes, and if there are still problems after that, look at the Mass Airflow Sensor. If it is dirty, it can become sensitive to moisture. Water/moisture will suck quite a bit of energy out of bad spark plug wires.
  • dliboirondliboiron Posts: 10
    Have a similar issue, same model car '97 legacy outback with 198,000km. Whenever it gets humid and hot or heavy rain, the vehicle is sluggish. I have done spark plugs, its had engine tests before I bought the vehicle and they were good.
    I have a engine light on (yellow) on all the time, it used to go on and off intermittently, but its on all the time, mechanic tells me its just a sensor and not to worry about it.

    Any other ideas for me? (where would the mass airflow be? also).
  • jspkjspk Posts: 4
    97 outback/ auto.212k mls noise from rearend when giving gas, let up or put in nuet. noise goes away. a mech said it was bad front differential, noise telescoping to rear thru d/shaft. i might drive 20 miles a wk. met/fileings in oil on dip/stk. do i need a new differential or could it be a bearing?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Sorry that I never responded to this..... I was out of action for a couple of months here! The mass airflow sensor is located after the air filter box in the intake hose. It should be on the passenger side of the vehicle, and you will see a large connector w/ wires hooked up to a black box. Just disconnect the connector, loosen the clamps that hold he box in there, and pull it out! The sensor element runs through the middle of the opening in the box.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    It is really difficult to determine what you tried to say in your post. However, to what dipstick are you referring? The front differential? Change the oil and see how much metal is in there... you might need to replace it, but take it one step at a time. After all, at this point, it might be correctable (or at least delay-able).
  • jspkjspk Posts: 4
    the oil was changed in the differential and the metal filings were on the diff. dipstick, after new oil was put in. now the noise has increased. i thought about disconnecting drive shaft to see if noise changes or goes away that way. then i would know for sure if its in the front or back.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Disconnecting the driveshaft is a good way to isolate it, but if you are getting that much metal in the front differential, that is most likely the source. And, if it is shaving that rapidly, it probably will not last much longer.
  • my 97 legacy outback lost its turn signals& emergency flashers.fuses are both good.Any suggestions?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Do the signal lights come on when you engage either switch? If so, the flasher has likely quit. If not, I am not sure....
  • jspkjspk Posts: 4
    thanks for the info. any idea on what a new front diff. would cost, or do you know what model and year would interchange with my 97 leg.outback wagon awl drive autom.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Well, there's the problem. If I recall correctly, the front differential and the transmission/center differential share the same housing. Therefore, the unit must be replaced together or the front differential rebuilt. (The unit is referred to as a "transaxle.")

    You could probably replace the unit with something from 95, 96, 97, or 98 without any problems. The '99 was changed slightly from previous units, but that year has (based on empirical evidence) some issues with transmission reliability, so you should probably stick to the earlier years.

    New, I think these units are about $5,000, but used you could probably find one for between 500-1000, and rebuilt are probably somewhere in the middle, about $2500.
  • jspkjspk Posts: 4
    thank you for the search begins!
  • hank48hank48 Posts: 4
    I have a 1998 Subaru Legacy with a 2.5 liter 5 speed manual trans. When in reverse and backing up and turning the car binds up and rolls to an abrupt stop. The clutch is new and just replaced the viscous coupler but that did not solve problem. Any ideas?
  • Hank;

    I'm having the same trouble. What did you find?


    - Scott
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