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Are new Subarus really as bad as I am hearing?

24

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,259
    But what do you do when the thing dies in the desert? Go buy another Halls Effect transmitter for your distriburtor or whatever the heck fires the ignition? Or the seals in your injector rail start leaking? Pull the rail off by the side of the road? How do you diagnose intermittent driveability problems without a computer/scanner? Or replacing that in-the-tank fuel pump?

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  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    I'm very sorry, Mr. Shiftright. I didn't mean to make you hurt and upset. But I was always under the impression that my old Wrangler was easy to maintain and repair. I was never aware of the fact that you had to diagnose vehicle problems with a computer/scanner, even in such a primitive truck like the Wrangler. And although I never changed the fuel pump, I didn't even know that it was in th fuel tank; I thought it was somewhere else.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    not that I ever heard or saw. how'in'ell do you inspect it, anyway, whack the front bumper with a sledge and see how many minutes it takes for all the byproduct dust to settle in the passenger section when the bag goes off? I believe that's why they have the golliwog computerized control module putting a little "howdy" pulse out on every line at startup, so if a sensor or bag assembly doesn't have the right resistance coming back, it sets a code and fires up the airbag light.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,259
    hahaha---no, no, I wasn't upset! Just the pitfalls of the internet, nobody knows the "mood" of your typed words I guess.

    Anyway, when I use terms like "primitive" to describe a car, what I'm really saying is "pre-smog", "pre-electronic ignition" and "pre-computerized engine management". And that sort of means 60s cars for the most part.

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  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    I find Subaru a very interesting vehicle family. I have not shopped them, for various unsubstantiable reasons, such as my NAPA friend telling me he sells too many serious parts for Subarus, like axles.
    Will Subarus run with the "big" dogs, like Toyota?
    Should Subaru be considered as good a vehicle as Honda?
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    I think Subaru is as good, or even better, than Honda. Even in my home state of Vermont, I will occassionally spot a Subie from the late '70s or early '80s on the road. Believe me, they are very rugged cars and can go through snow like you wouldn't believe. Will I see a late '70s or early '80s Honda? None at all, except maybe some 2nd-generation Accords once in a while. And they weren't exactly paragons of durability or longevity, either.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    because I own a Subie, but I do think they are the most unkillable, reliable cars out there. Toyota is a very close second. And I would think that Honda ranks right behind them. A lot of the consumer data numbers seem to back me up, if you believe in such stuff. More than that, just look at how many of the old ones are still out there, all over the place. Around the cities there are a lot of the old Hondas and Toyotas too, but go anywhere mountainous, or up into the Pacific Northwest, and I swear about 3/4 of all the cars you see are Subarus! And a lot of those are even the really old pre-1980 ones that only sold originally in very limited numbers.

    swschrad: Just the other day I discovered a little sticker on the back of my visor that said the air bag had to be inspected at ten years! I was also wondering just what exactly they would inspect! Maybe they remove it and disassemble it or something?

    Mr. S: "Pre-electronic ignition" was a pain in the butt, because the cars had to be tuned up so often, and you had to replace so many things - points etc. But "pre-electronic engine management" I wouldn't mind going back to...I know that generation of cars was less efficient, more polluting, and a hundred other things, but they were also much easier to fix, and to diagnose if you broke down in the middle of nowhere. BTW, I noticed on a different board that you mentioned Askim's as a "genius" for Subarus...I am also in Marin, are they really that good? Now that I am out of warranty, I would rather go someplace a little closer to me than Bianco (dealer), when I don't have time to do maintenance or repairs myself.

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

  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    But when you are asking about reliability then I think my 1991 is entitled to consideration.

    I bought it 4 years ago and have found it to be a very reliable car as a whole. This car is used for snow, dirt roads, long trips and short commutes. In all it is the car that I use for all conditions without fear. The only thing I don't do is serious 4X4 ruts. It's too low.

    On my domestics I usually have 2-3 major repairs a year. I run older cars to 200K before getting another one. So I think my experience is the only real test of reliability. My Subaru has 1 major repair a year, and for 2 of those years it has needed maintenance like CV boots. This year the major repair was engine seals/timing belt and water pump at 125K -- something I always do now around that mileage anyway. Steering is excellent. Shocks have not worn out after 12 years. Engine is smooth and quiet and the transmission is almost as good as new. Still have original air conditioning.

    My son is not meticulous in repairs like I am. He has a 1991 Legacy Sedan with 180,000 on it. Regularly lets oil get too low. This has been as close to bulletproof mechanically as any vehicle I've seen. Runs great.

    Mechanically Subaru's are great. If there's any weakness it's the interior. It's lackluster. But for a fun solid ride I can live with it. I only wish they would get a real 4X4.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,259
    Jim Askim is a really good mechanic I think, and a great guy. Very helpful. I'm not sure if he is working on the very newest Subarus, but he does tend to keep up with things.

    I like the new WRX a lot, and I think it is vastly improved over older models. I always thought old Subarus were among the most unpleasant, ungainly and crude Japanese cars I ever drove. I really don't know how anyone could live with one of the old ones. Maybe if you sat on a pillow and put cotton in your ears and wore very dark sunglasses. Like driving an old Jeep or VW bus. Sheer torture.

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  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    OK, call up the dealer and make an appointment. I strongly suspect they will look in the car, say, "yep, them's airbags alright," and charge $150.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    that is what I am afraid of, and that is why I will probably skip it! :-)

    Mr. S: yeah, old Subarus were really crude, and even the newest ones are not quite up to the levels of refinement of some other comparable brands in my opinion. But their mechanical reliability and longevity is better than those same comparable brands, so I think it all comes out even!

    I bet this is one reason sales were initially slow for the most expensive Subarus (the H-6's) they came out with.

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

  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    You've just gotta like those boxer engines...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,259
    Oh, I don't know as the old Subarus were up to par with Toyotas and the like. The old boxer engines dropped valves pretty regularly, often had very noisy lifters, oil pump failures, etc. And Subaru parts have traditionally always been expensive vis a vis other Japanese cars.

    But they were pretty simple machines and not too hard to fix, and I think this is what made them popular. Like the old VWs. Kind of awful cars, but people could patch them up and keep them going, even if you had to rebuilt the engine every 50K miles.

    I liked most things about the new WRX but I agree, it's not up to the build quality of a Toyota or Acura. I think I could tear the hood off with my bare hands it's so flimsy. It's about 95% perfect. If they could give the driver more room, beef up the sheet metal a bit, get rid of that awful hood scoop (I hated having it in my face), and jazz up the interior with a few splashes, I'd say it was a real winner.

    Oh, I thought the brakes were a bit weak, but maybe it was just the boost level. I had to press pretty hard to get the car to scrub speed.

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  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    In your opinion, what is the simplest and easiest vehicle from the 1990s to service and maintain? In my opinion, it'd have to be the Jeep Wrangler, Ford F-Series or Chevy C/K. Just my $.02 worth.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,259
    I'd quibble with your question and rephrase it to ask "What is the least difficult" because I don't think any 1990s vehicle is "easy" to maintain. You need special tools and scanners to do the job right., as well as electrical and emissions diagrams.

    I actually saw a 1990 Wrangler with a problem that totally whipped, stumped and humiliated the best repair shops in northern California. No man or woman on earth ever figured out how to make that Jeep run right to this day.

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  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    Ok, I'll take it back. What is the least difficult vehicle to service?
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    Did that '90 Wrangler have anything seriously wrong with it?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    Subies with a few thousand miles on them sounded just like VWs too! :-) They were very cheap and easy to work on prior to the 90s.

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

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,259
    Yeah, they did sorta. Of course, they were water cooled so somewhat quieter, but the same basic exhaust pulse and clattery valves, that's true.

    Wrangler--it would lose power gradually as it got warmer and eventually die after a few hours. Everything was changed or fixed except actually removing the engine block itself. I think over $2,000 was spent on diagnostics, repairs and parts and hundreds of wasted man hours. I think Wranglers got somewhat better as the 90s progressed, better engineering.

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  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    I've read in many automotive articles that Volvo cheapened the build quality of its cars after 1997, when the 70 Series first came out. I find this to be true in many cases, since I have been in many 1998 & '99 S70s and they don't seem as nice as my '93 850. Can anybody attest to this?

    On the other hand, Subaru's build quality has been much improved over the past decade. Today's Subies are a far cry from the original, crude Loyales and Legacies.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    the old legacys weren't so bad! The old loyales were!

    And I have noticed this trend in several of my friends' cars: the post-1995 volvos are not the same breed as the older ones. I think Volvo is cheapening up. Good news: more business for Subie! :-)

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

  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    Can you tow with a Forester? Is there a factory towing package?
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    Referring to the name of this topic, the new Subarus are not bad vehicles at all. Everyone I've talked to who owns a '99 or up Subie rates their experience a near 100%, whether it be in the reliability, driving, or service departments. Subies are probably the Japanese cult cars of modern times; although small compared with Toyota or Honda, they have a very devoted fan base, largely in the Northeast and Northwest. I'm from Vermont, so I can attest to this.

    I can also safely say that Saab and Volvo are European cult cars as well; unlike big players like BMW and Mercedes, they sell cars to a very limited clientele. But I do think that Volvo is kind of losing it right now. They want to play big and lose the practical/sturdy image in favor of luxury/sporty styles. I don't like that. Besides, the new Volvos are too complicated for my tastes. I prefer basic, primitive and simple.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,259
    Road and Track has just taken on a WRX for its long term test, so this would be good to follow issue by issue. It's the long term use of a new model that really tells the story.

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  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    they are supposedly as common as mosquitoes in the summer up there on the tundra.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,259
    Probably smaller tha Alaska mosquitos however. If it has a license plate, it's a car, that's one way to tell.

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  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    Do not, under any circumstances, venture east of Tok, Alaska, into the Yukon Territory while driving a Subaru. Roaming hordes of Yukon mosquitoes will blow you off the road with the prop wash from their wings, and then... it's too horrible to describe here...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,259
    Remember if it has numbers on the side, it's a small plane, otherwise, swat it!

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  • schweikbschweikb Posts: 111
    I have friends who have kept Subaru's for 11 or more years and they feel the Sub's have been reliable. Also, a good friend bought a new M-B 300 series sedan in the early 90's (it was subsequently stolen from the streets of NY and 2 years later showed up in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - but that's another story).
    It was his belief that the Mercedes would run forever, since by following the owners manual and the even more extensive dealer's list of "routine" maintenance there would be zero original parts left in the car by 100,000 miles. In his first check-up the cost was over $900 and it got worse. I guess longevity is a possibility, but at what price. No one on this board seems to mention the cost (time, inconvenience, etc.) of repairing a high-mileage car for those who are not skilled at repairing cars or don't have the time. I work in an office in the suburban NYC area - I am supposed to work 8:30 to 4:30, but the reality is (for everyone these days) I am in by 7:00 AM, work through lunch and seldom leave befreo 6:30 or 7:00 PM. If I don't do that they can me and get someone else who will. I am not an executive or a stock broker, just the mail room and admin services manager. This may not seem real to people who work outside major metro aeas, but it is truth. That's why we don't understand the country folk in poor areas who complain the that the city folks got all the money, but they themselves would never push themselves to work the hours and weeknds we do. You get from life what you put into it.
    Back the the car issue - I can't find the time to pick up my dry cleaning or prescriptions sometimes for 2 or 3 weeks, when do we get to lay-up a car to work on it or get it fixed? Just some thoughts.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    that has got to be the most idiotic theft in the universe, sending luxury cars to santo domingo. at least the annual income at $0 is higher than on the other side of the island, haiti.

    good riddance, either get a sniffmobile that gets 40 mpg if the commuting costs are killing you, or get a SUV if the potholes are.
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