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Are new Subarus really as bad as I am hearing?

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  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    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.
  • krzysskrzyss Posts: 843
    Shifty forgot to add ;-)
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    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)

  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    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.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    So Irv's '66 P1800 was more primitive than, say, the Jaguars and Lamborghinis of the time, right?
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    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.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    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.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    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.
  • 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.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    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?
  • 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.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    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.
  • 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: 12,669
    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.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    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.
  • 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.
This discussion has been closed.