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Subaru Outback/Legacy Buying Advice



  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Yup, I ran Hypov's OB with R-compounds and did quite well, automatic and all :)

  • So my parents have a 2000 Subaru Legacy Outback Station Wagon.
    They liked it quite a bit, but had big problems starting around 2002. Lots of oil leaks, blown head gaskets. There was a recall involving some coolant additive to keep the coolant from degrading engine seals I think. Looks like this recall was administered too late to save our car’s engine, or our vehicle was a lemon. We're actually going through the California BBB to get a better offer than the 3K worth of “shut-up” money they’ve offered so far, and hopefully get Subaru to buy this thing back since they've tried to fix it 6+ times at the dealer and failed to keep it from springing another leak.

    My parents mostly drive their 2003 Prius (which they love), and liked the Subaru as their larger utility vehicle for camping trips and larger excursions where they'd like a bit more room and comfort.

    Looking for a replacement station wagon, they want something roomy and comfortable, fairly quiet on the road, and fuel efficient / low emissions. They're not the type of folks to go for a luxury vehicle (Lexus, Mercedes, Cadillac) sort of car. Generally speaking my mom is put off by the price and doesn’t really care for the "image" that she feels such a vehicle projects.

    Unfortunately, it seems to me, those luxury vehicles are the only ones that I’d call quiet on the road. I remember infinity had lots of commercials back in the day about how quiet their cars were on the road. Are there any non "luxury" wagons that are quiet like that? The Subaru Outback, Ford Focus, Pasat Station Wagon, and the Volvo station wagons are the wagons that are most in my folks sights. I told them the Honda Fit had some really cool flexibility in the way the back seats could be moved around, but in terms of size and comfort for hauling around 4 or 5 adults, they’d prefer something a bit roomier.

    As for the outback.. my parents are somewhat put off by their experience with their current one, but are likely to accept a replacement and an apology from Subaru. The Outback continues to have a pretty stellar consumer reports standing still. They were also put off by a 2004 maneuver where Subaru raised the car a bit to push it into a "light trucks" classification and side step some fuel economy rules.
    [url= 59f6d66cf&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND]here's an article on that sad story[/url]

    Just thought I’d post a quick note and check for some Internet wisdom in addition to my own web searching and research. Looks like the combo of not a “luxury vehicle,” but on the quieter side, is a hard combo request to fill. Seems like the quieter vehicles are generally luxury models with lower mileage. I guess to make cars quieter, manufacturers are really stuck using heavier thicker components that add weight? This is certainly different than house insulation where lightweight things with air gaps get you effective noise reduction and temperature control. I suppose there isn’t room for that type of “Bulk” on an auto though.

    Thanks in advance for any fabulous suggestions, feedback, and personal experience you might have to share.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    As for the outback.. my parents are somewhat put off by their experience with their current one, but are likely to accept a replacement and an apology from Subaru. The Outback continues to have a pretty stellar consumer reports standing still. They were also put off by a 2004 maneuver where Subaru raised the car a bit to push it into a "light trucks" classification and side step some fuel economy rules.

    This is the same as the PT Cruiser and the HHR being classified as light trucks as well, have to work the rules or else you will be at a disadvantage in the market.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The gasket issue was well known, but they did offer 7/100 coverage if you did the treatment. Plus that issue was resolved around 2002 or so, they now use a revised gasket material.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It will happen. Subaru is trying to figure out how to do VDC cheaply. Not all stability control/AWD systems are created the same, and they don't want to just slap a cheap brake-based system that doesn't integrate the AWD.

    Having said that, let's get with the program, Subaru, you just might be the last one to make it standard on all your models.

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    Absolutely. Subaru has no option but to offer stability control given it's recent spotlight in vehicle safety. While they were ahead in offering AWD in their cars, Subaru has missed the recent wave of VDC/ESC/ESP equipped cars. I was at the SF Auto Show yesterday and it was disheartening to see that even the most inexpensive of car makes offered it.

    I wonder if the tuning with AWD is what is causing the hold up. I'm even wondering if the fact that the manual transmission Continous AWD is what is complicating matters since it's the one system that really can't be controlled by a TCU.

    I'd love to be a fly on the wall in Subaru's engineering team meetings!

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Is offered across the board on the Armada standard. I guess they just build it into the price which isn't cheap even on the "base" model. I have to say the VDC is great in it's implementation on the Armada, not too intrusive unless I'm in 2wd and really slam on the gas with my crappy tires.

    Last winter during the 48hrs of Tri-state, Frank a friend of mine was driving the Armada with a whole host of about 20+ subies behind us through icy mountain roads. The only folks who were able to keep up were 2 of the STis and I was watching the slip light of the VDC flickering as he carved through the icy turns, you wouldn't have known the VDC was active other than the flicker of the light.

  • 97obw97obw Posts: 3
    an outback covered in mud is SEXY!!! just look at my photo album
  • carteachcarteach Posts: 179
    Well, driving a 6 cylinder Outback made up my mind for me. I found the transmission unpredictable and far less smooth than my faithful old '95 Legacy. So, I am now the proud owner of an Acura TL. If and when my '95 passes on, I will look for an old Subie that is not one of the later models.

    Thanks for all your advice!

  • If I understand your numbers correctly, I think the Fitzmall price on that car would be around $22,000. Fitzmall is always a good standard, IMHO.
  • The relevance of Fitzgerald's numbers depends on what's happening in *your* market.

    Here in New York, there are tons of competing Subaru dealers, but there are also tons of people buying Subarus (and I suspect the same is true in Denver). The dealers are much firmer on price -- they can afford to send you on down the road and wait for the next customer.

    Dealers here simply won't sell you a car for the prices the MD dealers allegedly do. If Fitzgerald is actually selling brand-new cars for invoice minus holdback and then some and incentives, I applaud them, but it ain't happening in my neck of the woods.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Your "allegedly" comment cracked me up. :D

    We bought our '02 Legacy there, the prices are for real. They do have a $99 processing fee they disclose up front. The process was quite painless, so I will very likely go there again. My family has bought 4 cars from that dealership.

  • I didn't mean allegedly in a pejorative sense. It just seems to me that not as many Edmunds posters actually buy from Fitzgerald as quote their prices.

    Any thoughts as to why the Maryland market is so competitive to the consumer's benefit? The weather, maybe? Most of the year you're fine w/o AWD, but then you get those 4-5 ice/snow storms? Are domestics more of a presence there than in the NYC area? I can literally go weeks between sightings of late-model American makes here(excluding SUVs).

    I mean, it's not just Fitzgerald -- there are several other MD Subaru dealers who have similar pricing.

    I actually did shop Fitz for a 2006 Sienna/2007 Legacy, but I figured that between the time spent and gas and probably a hotel room and everything else, it was too much trouble to save (net) two or three hundred bucks.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    We bought 4 Subies from Fitzgeralds. 2 from their Rockville store and 2 from their Gaithersburg store.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,920
    I am inclined to think that, in terms of an unwillingness to negotiate prices, my "tail" of the woods is likely the least consumer-friendly place on the continent. That is fine by me though, because if I cannot find a decent price on a car here, I jump at the opportunity to pay $500 for a flight to the lower 48, pay $3000-4000 less for the same car there, then have an immensly enjoyable time spending another $5-600 driving it back up the highway.

    I will let other folks line the local dealers' pockets on new car sales. I am sure that I will give them more than my share when it comes to maintenance. :sick:
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    It is wise to drive a little, to save a lot.

    Two houses, both costing $250,000. One, in the city, has 1500 sq ft. The other, eight miles out, has 2100 sq. ft. and a bigger lot. Which one is the bargain? Well, it depends on if you have kids or not, hate the city congestion or not. Value shopping and night life or not.

    In California, the Tri-State area of NJ/NY/CN, or similar metroplex areas, it always pays to search dealers in at least a 100 mile radius. Is there anyone who feels two hours of driving isn't worth saving $500+ on a car?

    I usually save, at the minimum, a whole year's insurance premium doing that. :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Not sure why the prices in this region are so competitive. I know there are something like 7 dealerships near my zip code, and that can't hurt.

    Also, we have dealers in MD, but I'm just a couple of exist from VA, so those compete for my business, too.

    Fitz is not necessarily the cheapest, either, but they are straight up and honest, and the process is painless. I'd rather give them my repeat business vs. going somewhere else and not knowing what to expect, and maybe saving a few bucks.

    Plus, they know me now so my salesman will toss me keys to anything I test drive without any questions.

  • nickelnickel Posts: 147
    5 months ago I bought a 2006 OB 2.5i. Things have been good for me lately, so I'm thinking of an upgrade to an XT, 'cause mainly I feel the need for power. Other than the normal whatever percent I loss because the depreciation hit, do you know if I have to pay again taxes on the new vehicle (at least 2K in my case)? Nothing I can recoup?
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Well, since you didn't fill out your profile here, no one can know what State you live in. :P

    Some States, live Nevada, charge you only the difference in price between what you paid for the car you are selling, and the new one you are buying. Others, like California, charge you the full amount, even on the replacement vehicle......
  • nickelnickel Posts: 147
    Sorry, I live in Minnesota, home of snow, but waiting for it this year.
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Click HERE for Minnesota Vehicle Sales Tax information. ;)

    The following are not included in the taxable sales price if the charges are separately stated:

    • Trade-in allowance for a vehicle taken in trade by the seller may be deducted from the sales price of a vehicle be-fore the tax is calculated. However, if the vehicle is sold to a third party, no trade-in allowance is permitted, because two separate transactions have occurred.

    Special rules apply to the following vehicles. A more com-plete description of these vehicles is found in Minnesota Stat-utes, section 297B.025, Older Passenger Automobiles.

    • Older passenger vehicles. Instead of the 6.5 percent tax, there is a $10 tax if the vehicle is in the tenth or older year of vehicle life, has a sale price of less than $3,000, and is not an above-market automobile as designated by the regis-trar of motor vehicles.
  • Hello:

    Bought a new 2007 2.5i wagon with 5 speed manual. Hope you can help me with a few questions. Mileage has been, understandably, less than great with only a week and 300 miles on the car. How many miles before the engine breaks in and mileage improves? Also, I live in upstate NY and will be encountering a lot of snow soon. How does the AWD perform with the standard tires? Are snow tires necessary or will the factory tires suffice? Finally, while I love the car so far, I'm underwhelmed by the stereo system. Any suggestions for modifications? Is the Subaru subwoofer worth pursuing?

  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    About 1500 miles or so, you will see a change.

    Living where you do, I would certainly protect my own, and my families safety by investing in new rims and snow tires. The standard tires with the AWD will perform well, but in snow country nothing beats chains or snowtires.

    I had them install the sub-woofer package, whichy includes higher end speakers, and also purchased the tweeters, which most def improves the sound quality 100%. Make sure on install, the turn up the bass and treble gain almost to full. :)
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    You'll see it fully broken in and milage improve over 10k miles. Also for upstate NY where I travel fairly often get a set of snow tires, I suggest the Pirelli Sotto-zeros as great tires for cold climate as well as snow. A good 3 season tire.

  • Thanks for the advice! I'll check out the Pirelli's.

  • toboggantoboggan Posts: 283
    Bridgestone Blizzaks also work nicely in the snow. Put them on the OBW in November and take them off in March/April. Pulled the OBW through 22" snow fall last year with no problems. Also put a set on the Wife's Jeep Cherokee for the same time frame.

    They may be slightly noisy but for me they have more than paid for themselves over the years.

    Of course, this year we seem to be in a moisture drought. May have the 4th brown Christmas in 100 years.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Depending on where you live, I found for anywhere that only gets occassional snowfall, the Pirelli Sottozeros are a great 3-season tire at around $100 a pop. Outstanding wet/slush traction and none of the typical sidewall flex or poor grip in the dry that snow tires usually have. When I drove my legacy year round I used the Sottozeros in the winter and Azenis in the summer.

  • fandcfandc MinnesotaPosts: 51
    The rain to your south has turned to heavy snow in the Twin Cities, Steve. The wet, slushy stuff unfortunately. Looks as if it is all heading your way. I think we'll have a white Christmas after all.

    Please? The snow tyres aren't getting their exercise this year. I've been using Dunlop Wintersports for a few years now.
  • I’m hot on the trail to purchase a used Subaru Outback in very good condition, which has had a solid maintenance record. I’ve been gathering information on Edmunds, CarTalk forums and USMB (Subaru enthusiast forum). I’ve got a little extra work to do as I’m searching for a car in Silicon Valley a few weeks before relocating for the summer from New York – I’d like to have any necessary maintenance done before arriving in a few weeks. This means I have to evaluate the car by having it inspected by 1-2 reliable garages, and maybe even hiring a local Subaru enthusiast with good experience to take a quick look after inspection.

    I'm just looking for the best value in a highly reliable vehicle. I don't mind doing some repairs and will do all recommended maintenance upon purchase, but would like to avoid any problems that can be avoided from the beginning.

    1) Which model years from 2000-2005 would you look for/avoid, based on known issues with certain model years?

    2) I read in another forum that pre-2005 Subaru Outbacks were prone to head gasket leaking.

    a. Is this problem confined to pre-2005 Subaru Outbacks? Is the cutoff a different model year?

    b. How prevalent was this problem? Should I avoid purchasing a pre-2005 vehicle? I’m looking for quality + value combination, and of course newer means more expensive.

    c. If you purchase a pre-2005 Subaru Outback, should you replace the head gasket even if there’s no visible problem yet?

    d. How much does replacing the head gasket cost at most good garages on average?

    e. Will replacing the head gasket solve the problem, or is the origin of the problem in engine design and it will simply happen again?

    3) What are the advantages of the VDC Subaru Outback? I'm noticing that VDC (Vehicle Dynamics Control) Outbacks seems to be commanding serious premiums on Craigslist and KBB.
    a. What advantages does this model offer?

    b. How much of a premium is it worth?

    c. Which model years was it available?

    Thanks again to all for the great advice I’ve been getting here.
  • I believe I just saw a Subaru Outback model listed with 4WD. Thought they were only AWD. For mostly highway driving and some weekend mountain road driving all season (including weekend ski areas), would AWD or 4WD be preferable? Would hardly ever be using the car off road - only at the very start of hiking/biking trails I imagine.
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