Considering 2000 Outback but REALLY worried about HG

lynnejacob2001lynnejacob2001 Member Posts: 9
edited September 2014 in Subaru
My college age son really wants to get an Outback but these HG issues have me very spooked that it will drain his bank account.

I've looked at and inspected between 5 and 10 cars at dealerships and small resellers. All had HG issues. I've a private owner with a 2000 Outback. It has 75K miles, manual tranny, garage kept, one owner who has all of the records. All of the recall work has been done. But after reading all of the HG issues, catalytic converter problems, clutch replacements I'm thinking a Honda CRV might be a safer bet.

Can anyone tell me how wide spread these issues are. This car will be used by a college student who needs reliable transportation to and from school (200 miles away). He can't afford to get into a vehicle that is going to cost him in repairs. However, he doesn't want to consider anything but a Subaru.

I would really appreciate some perspective on this.



  • jfljfl Member Posts: 1,396
    I believe Subaru increased the warranty on headgasket issues to 100k miles. But you should confirm that.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaMember Posts: 15,847
    It is really a tough call, especially when you want an older vehicle but no maintenance issues. It is so hit and miss as to be unbelievable, but you are certainly on the right track considering a purchase of a low-mileage car from a single owner with full records.

    So, now I ask, was the coolant treatment added at any point in the past? If the car is solid now, with no clutch judder, no gasket leaks or other leaks, and no CV boot or brake issues, you are probably going to be in good shape for a while. Not sure how many miles the child will be putting on the car, but in another 30,000, it will be due for a major maintenance including a timing belt change. Plan for it, set aside some funds for maintenance, and the car will be rewarding.

    If you keep up with the coolant additive, it will help reduce the chances of a leak taking hold.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • joelogjoelog Member Posts: 11
    Hi Lynne. I have a 2004 Outback 2.5i with 91,000 miles. Just brought it in because of burning oil smell and leaks. It needs both head gaskets replaced. I always changed the oil at 3750miles, not a hard driver. It's not covered under warranty unless you bought an extended warranty, which I didn't. Subaru said they would pay for parts but not labor, which is the bulk of the cost. I also had my catalytic converter fail at 73,000 miles, that is covered up to 80,000 miles. It's a crap shoot as to when the HG will fail. I thought this would be the car I would keep for a long time but after this probably will not get another Subaru unless they address these issues.
  • lynnejacob2001lynnejacob2001 Member Posts: 9
    Thanks to all of you for your replies. We drove 4 hours to see the car and it was well worth it. It is in beautiful condition. The coolant conditioner was added each time the radiator was drained. We had the mechanic check the health of the catalytic converter and, so far, everything is spot on. We took it the dealer for a complete check over.

    I reviewed the service records, no check engine light issues, no knock sensor or O2 sensor issues. Head gaskets are still good (at least for now). Clutch feels solid, no shudder. Of course, now that my son is learning how to drive a stick we may need to replace the clutch sooner than anticipated.

    We may have head gasket issues at some point, but I think we have plenty of time to save for that. Overall, I couldn't be happier with car.

    Thanks again for your input!

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    You can call 800-SUBARU3 to make sure your VIN is covered under the extended warranty for HGs.

    No car is perfect, the CR-V had engine fire issues when gen II came out, 2004 IIRC?
  • erikmsmitherikmsmith Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2000 legacy wagon with 84,000 miles. It is at the shop right now getting both head gaskets replaced - along with the timing belt and drive belts. The repair total $1600. The open recall was for an additive only - something the dealer puts in the coolant to try and stop the leak. They did it on mine and did not stop the leak, so... The warranty was extended for 8 years or 100,000, but most 00's will have run out of time - mine was nine months passed. I asked what was to keep the new gaskets from leaking and the gal at the dealer just shrugged. The shop doing the replacement now says they have not had any return after the original leaks were fixed, but time will tell.

    In addition to the head gaskets, I have also had a major transmission leak - complete gasket job bill was about $600 - and it shows a small leak again. Repair was done about 25,000 miles ago.
    Would I buy another? No - I had a 92, previously, and only replaced the speedometer cable on it - this one has been a different story.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    You had more than your share of problems. Our 2002 was trouble-free.

    We had the extended warranty and never used it!

    At least that helped sell the car.
  • leezamtleezamt Member Posts: 1
    We bought a 2000 Outback this last summer. It has a little over 100,000 miles on it and we just lost the engine. Could that be from the gasket problem? :cry:
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaMember Posts: 15,847
    Could have, but it is impossible to tell without more information.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • frmulcahyfrmulcahy Member Posts: 3
    I just gave my 2000 Outback Ltd sedan (purchased new) to my 19 year old college daughter. It has been well taken care, garage kept and has 175k miles on it. It has been a reliable and very good car. Not sure that helps but wanted to weigh in....
  • drzinidrzini Member Posts: 2
    I am considering a 40k miles Outback. Things seem okay buy the brakes are not responsive. Is that a trait of the car? Or, might there be something else? Are there other potential concerns that can be check before buying?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Some describe the pedal feel as "mushy", but I wouldn't call it unresponsive.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaMember Posts: 15,847
    I agree. With the age of the car, it is entirely probable that the brake fluid is very old and needs both replacement and bleeding. "Unresponsive" is not a descriptor you want for a braking system!

    I did that once, and it was the longest 1200 miles I ever drove! :surprise:
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • drzinidrzini Member Posts: 2
    So-this is what happens. When the brakes are applied it doesn't feel like the car will stop there and then. There's a car a slower stopping time. Brakes applied and no immediate grab. I have a 2000 Volvo and it has the right feeling. This is kind of like my first car. A '48 Chevy. So, I guess a change of fluid? Take off the wheels and have the shoes etc checked? Otherwise, it's had 4k miles a year, driven regularly in classic stop and go manner.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYMember Posts: 3,786
    edited February 2011
    You didn't mention what year your car was, but I assume it is an early decade model also? Early Outbacks of this body series (2000, 2001 & very early 2002) had undersized brakes given the weight of the vehicle, and didn't stop as well as later cars. I drove a 2003 back to back with my 'first build 2002', and the difference was night & day. After that I upgrades with different rotors & pads and it helped, but you just cannot address this without upsizing calipers & carriers, etc.

    Aside from design issues, you need to have your system checked out. It could be fluid related, glazed pads, a frozen caliper, trashed rotors, etc.
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