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Subaru Legacy/Outback



  • I've got my heart set on an h6 outback. At this point in the game, I think the cost increase of the vdc is low enough to be worth it.

    Given that the H6 was released in 01 is it a bad idea to buy a used one of this year or has it been a reliable first year design? The price increase to get an 02 is pretty significant. More than I'd like to spend.

    I'm in New England. Any suggestions on how to get this rare model for a low price? I've been scouring local and regional classifieds. I missed a recent deal, not sure how long it'll be till another one comes along. Been thinking about trying to get Bill Kolb Jr. in New York to find me one since they seem to have the best prices within 200 miles of me.

    Lastly, I really like the macintosh system, but I'd like to replace the head unit with something that plays mp3 cd's. Can an aftermarket head unit plug into the amp? What type of inputs does the amp have?

    Thanks everyone!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    From what we observed here on Edmunds, the H6 has always been reliable. There was one troll that whined about his but he went away and we didn't hear any other major complaints.

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775
    If you scroll back thru the Outback boards, you will see some complaints of mystery coolant loss from a number of H6 owners (check the Outback VDC board as well). I believe it remains a mystery, as nobody ever really was able to tell where it went! No head gasket issues like the EJ25 4cyl engines have.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Good point, though noone ever had trouble because of that. It was just an unsolved mystery - the coolant level would settle below the Low reading.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,869
    Wait..... wait, wait wait. The EJ25 has head gasket issues?! Why did nobody mention this before????? :P

    So, I was able to get the timing system back together last night and reinstalled the engine in the car. The spark plug wires came in today as promised, so with a little luck and a few hours, I should be able to get all the accessories and manifolds reinstalled on the engine.... oh darn it. I just remembered that I need to get intake manifold gaskets! Grr..... hmm..... darn it all. I got them once but the inept service people gave me the wrong gasket and now I forgot to get them replaced. Bummer.

    Well, anyhow, that car's going to be running again tonight if I can manage it. Or it will be to the point that it WOULD run if it would just run! :blush: Good timing, too, because it has been raining for 4 days now and the "big freeze" is supposed to happen tonight accompanied by a few inches of snow to greet us in the morning. So, it should be nice and slick tomorrow and I would hate to greet my season's first snowfall in my C20. :D
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • mikenkmikenk Posts: 281
    I was one of the early VDC owners with the mysterious coolant loss. It is now three years later; the coolant still settles in a little low, but realistically it has never been a problem. I actually seldom check it anymore.

    I have had no repairs done on the car - nor any squeeks, leaks, or rattles.

  • dgeddged Posts: 3
    Hi, Dave,

    I saw your posting about the plastic shield on the 2001 Outback. I have a 2004 Outback with a shield like that, and it also has a smaller screw-in section with large Phillips-head plastic screws. The whole thing is pretty beat up. Is it worth taking off and trying to epoxy it back into shape? Or, as you said about the one on the 2001 Outback, is it okay to just remove the whole thing? I figured that it was there for a purpose, but I can;t understand how it got so grungy: I never hit anything that hard.

    Thanks in advance for your advice!


    David :D
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Thanks for the update, Mikenk, and glad to hear it never became a real problem. :)

    I took the cover off my Forester and it's had no negative effects.

  • It has happened. The knowledgeable public-at-large is finally learning in detail about Subaru's increasingly evident QC problems, especially with the expensive engine leaks and the dreaded head gasket failures.

    I just listed our immaculate (1 of 3 in family) Outback wagons -- the 1998 -- for sale in Sf Bay area, at attractive price. 80,000 total miles. All maintenance, and then some (seals, clutch!!!! thermostat, etc.). So far, of 4 "serious buyers", none have taken the car, while admitting it is in "great shape". Why? Because their mechanics, "car inspectors" and friends have warned them off 1997-20xx? models of Subaru BECAUSE OF POOR RELIABILITY and "expected major repairs". If the HG repair has not been recently done on any older model, especially DOHC models, of course -- the deal falls through. Now, admittedly, this is California and most of the buyers want something that will reliably take them to the mountains and so on plus handle a longer commute every day. But the word is most definitely out. As one put it, "heck, just google on the 'net for "head gaskets" and you'll get the bad news". He is right.

    Subaru's stonewalling some sort of rebate to previous owners for these disastrous QC failures is going to pay off first in lack of a market for the clean used vvehicles, and then -- a dent in new car sales as this market reaction moves upward. No question about it.

    We will probably trade this Subaru now -- for less than it's worth -- but not for another model. Cannot trust SOA for support. As our others wear out, we'll move on to other brands. We will not be alone.
  • bat1161bat1161 Posts: 1,784
    As someone who had the HG failure on my 2000 OBW, I can not understand how this casues Subaru to be rated poorly. They had a problem, they corrected it, and covered it under warranty. What more do you want? For those that did not have the HG failure, they added an additive to the coolant. Again, that is taking responsibility.

    One last thing. I beleive the HG issue was for 2000 - early 2002 models. After that, I do not recall any issues.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The opposite is true. Consumer Reports named Subaru the most reliable brand in their most recent survey.

    What more do you want, given they offered 8/100k coverage? If it hasn't failed by then, it probably never will.

  • Juice, we like our two Subarus, but I recall CU saying that Subaru was the most reliable car for the 2004 model year.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That post might get deleted, you mentioned other forums (that compete with Edmunds) by name.

    If you have a failue, call 800-SUBARU3 because they've helped people outside of that range with failures as well, if you can reasonably show that you kept up the maintenance.

  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,717
    It's not so much that other forums are mentioned, it's how they are mentioned that matters.Let me give you some examples of what's acceptable or not with regard to the mention of other forums to help clear things up for future reference:

    Acceptable: "A lot of people over at My Favorite Car Register say their Model A's do the same thing."

    Bad: "Go over to and check out what those owners have to say."

    Also Bad: "If you look over at in the Forums and search for blah you will see this as well"

    The second two are basically driving traffic to the other site, one with a direct link and one telling folks to look over at another site and do a search. That's really what we're trying to avoid as we're not in the business of promoting or creating traffic for other automotive forums.

    Hope that's helpful!

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  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It is, thanks Bob.

  • zman3zman3 Posts: 857
    To refresh everyone's memory, Subaru did NOT do anything to extend the warranty to the pre 2000 owners as best as I can tell. The Phase I engines had an internal leak that the additive did not address. My 98 OB had the head gaskets replaced and I never received any notice for the additive nor an extension of my warranty for the gaskets. The Phase I's are the ones overheating I believe.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,869
    As unfortunate as it is, the '96 - '98 owners are taking the brunt of the HG issue. I dunno though; pre 100K or even 140K failures of the gaskets represent real problems with reliability - after 150K, it's just normal maintenance. The unfortunate part is that these engines are so sensitive to heat, etc., that any failure of the gaskets typically results in a massive repair bill.

    I think the best course of action is preventative maintenance - if someone else is doing it, it becomes very EXPENSIVE maintenance but will result in a car that provides continuing reliability. I'm not sure why anyone who currently owns a car of that vintage would be overly interested in the resale value of it anyway. Shoot, if you have it now, you've long since decided that you were going to keep it through its reasonable useful life (~10 years). Who knows, keep it another 15-20 years and you might get lucky.... it's resale value could go up! :P

    The "general public's" reactions are very twitchy and you cannot prevent people from giving into their fears....
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Well, I've never had the HG problem but at only 53,000 km (33,000 miles) my 2000 OB clutch is slipping. We never had the juddering. The dealer says this is not unusual and they simply don't last as long as the old asbestos clutches. At $500 for labour and $500 for parts this is a royal pain, especially as I'm currently locked out by my employer.

    Every 5 years on a car that only does about 11,000 km a year is normal? :cry:
  • jeffmcjeffmc Posts: 1,742
    I don't suppose a clutch falls under the 5-year, 60k-mile powertrain warranty, does it?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Nope, that's a wear and tear item.

    My '98 has been fine, 77k miles and going strong.

    You can replace head gaskets for about $300 per side, so it's not exactly a devastating loss. As mentioned above the key is to stop the engine before you have severe overheating that might cause warping and give you much bigger problems.

  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    so what am I supposed to look out for on my 98 Legacy 2.5 DOHC with 115K? Its running better now than it did a few years ago and my last oil analysis was looking great, will I see coolant in the oil???
    I had a 86 Integra whose water pump went at 75K (after I declined a recommendation to replace it at 60K by the dealer because"all Honda water pumps go after 60K"). Didn't even overheat much but the engine was toast after that. cafe au lait in the radiator.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,869
    It depends on where the gasket(s) fail.... it could be coolant in oil, or coolant in combustion chamber, or combustion gunk in coolant (easy to notice that one because it builds up in the overflow tank's walls).... I think the coolant into the combustion chamber is the one that causes the severe overheating. Someone correct me if I am wrong! It could also leak to the exterior... either oil or coolant or both!
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,869
    Smooth as Butter!

    When is the last time I gave an update on the head gasket project?! I'm slacking here....

    I put timing together and stuffed the engine back in the car on Monday night.... then reassembled everything on Tuesday night and could have tried to start it except that I forgot to bring the coolant with me!!!! Argh. Oh well.... I made one last trip over on Wednesday night, filled the coolant, and then started it. Initially it flooded - probably due to some oil loss from the hydraulic lifters (? not sure if that is the right term for the OHC hydraulics) and they were not opening the valves appropriately for a few rotations. I cleared the flood with a couple more cranks and it fired up - All told, about 9-12 spins of the engine. After that.... smooth as butter! Wow. Above 1000 RPM it is just glassy smooth all the way to 5500 (too timid to push it further!). After about 100 miles on it, I am loving the smooth power delivery and complete lack of hesitation.... both things that were not present before! Shoot, this is almost as good as when i put new shocks on it last year. :D

    I am just thrilled that it runs at all, let alone so well. I hope it lasts! As promised, I am working on the photos and I have them downloaded to my computer, adjusted for web-viewing and ALMOST ready to post. As soon as I have a page built around them, I will post the link for you avid photo maniacs (juice!).

    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,775

    The problem seems broader than that. My '02 OBW already failed once (at 15k miles), yet is not covered by the '00 - '02 warranty extension. The VIN numbers are not inclusive. Why? I called SoA, but got no answer on this. No recommendation on whether the conditioner will help either (although I suspect it will, given that my external leak matches the pattern of the SOHC gasket failures). So I could be on my own if it goes again...

  • jfljfl Posts: 1,385
    Congrats Wes. Sounds like a job well done. I remember the sense of accomplishment back when I had the energy and desire to work on my cars. Felt great.

  • zman3zman3 Posts: 857

    That sucks. You kind of feel left out when other cars in the same model year are included and yours is not for some reason. At least with my 98, we are all in the same boat. Misery loves company, or something like that.

    My 98 has been OK for about 50K miles now, and I am approaching 100K on the car. I am hoping that my head gasket job was done with the "newest" gaskets that seem to be performing better. Time will tell.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Way to go, Wes! You should be proud buddy!

  • ebony5ebony5 Posts: 142
    Good going Wes. If you are ever in NYC I have a nice '96 OBW which would appreciate your touch
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,869
    hahah..... well, I haven't posted the photos yet - you might change your mind!!!! :blush:
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
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