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Help buying used Legacy

rlbjr2rlbjr2 Posts: 91
edited February 3 in Subaru
I'm looking to buy a used Subaru Legacy for my college son. Mostly interested in the 2010+ model, non-turbos. How are the higher mileage cars, 120-150k mi+? Are these cars pretty reliable? Any known problems? What should I look for/get checked or ask about before buying? Sorry so many questions. Thanks in advance.

Comments

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Pretty good cars. At those high miles, though, you have to have the car checked for head gasket issues on the 2.5L engine. This may manifest as either internal or external leaks. Also check for worn axle CV boots and make sure all the tires are the same brand and same size and worn at the same rate. Subaru AWD does not like differences in tire diameter (such as old vs. new tires), nor radically different tread patterns.

    The timing belts on these engines need replacement every 105K miles, so it would be good to know when that was last done. If the car is due or overdue, plan on replacing the belt, the water pump, the camshaft seals and inspecting the idler pulleys. This is a common thing to do since you are "already in there".

  • rlbjr2rlbjr2 Posts: 91
    Thanks. I thought that the head gasket issue with the 4 cyl was fixed in the 2010+ models? So basically maintenance wise, every 105k mi (timing belt, water pump and assoc items) and every 60k mi (spark plugs)? I also thought I read that all the 2013+ models use a timing chain which does not need to be replaced? So would a 2010 model with 200k mi not be a good car to get? What if that car had all of the needed maintenance and was in good shape? My son will only be putting 5-8k mi/yr., maybe less.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,156
    edited February 4
    That's correct about the engine switch. The EJ25 was the engine used in MY2010-2012 cars, being replaced by the FB25 engine. HOWEVER, the first two years (e.g., into the spring of calendar year 2014) of FB production resulted in engines that tend to have oil consumption issues (if not already addressed). These issues were widespread, so definitely check the history on any potential FB-powered vehicle during that timeline to ensure that such a repair was done already. IIRC, the repair was manufacturer-paid up to 100,000 miles on the vehicle, so any even remotely-knowledgeable owner would have shown concern over the alarming rate of consumption these engines displayed and had it addressed accordingly.

    As for the EJ25 engines... the EJ block wasn't really "fixed" during this time, though they are a good engine. The head gasket issue is their Achilles heel, but, in this generation of Legacy, it was not nearly the same issue as earlier iterations. By this time, failing gaskets tend to manifest themselves as external oil seepage, which gradually worsens to a drip. Internal failure (e.g., oil in coolant or vice-versa, combustion gas in coolant causing overheats) is extremely rare. As a point of reference, my 2010 Forester's EJ25 began showing signs of weeping by about 35,000 miles, and had progressed enough that I finally was able to convince the dealership to replace the gaskets by about 92,000 miles. Even at that point, it was just an occasional drip (but was clearly leaking due to level of oil moisture on the under side of the heads).

    Issues with them at 200,000 miles? Well, the engine is ready for another timing belt. It needs a water pump if not already replaced, it may also need an oil pump (both preventative), both of which are simple replacements if already in there to replace timing belt. Beyond that, transmission health (e.g., how well was PO maintaining the lubricant?) is critical at this age (though the tranny can last and last with proper care), the stuff that Shifty noted, and the car may be in need of struts if that was not addressed somewhat recently.

    Many are very proud of their old Subaru vehicles, but be careful not to over pay for a car that is nearly used up (statistically speaking), as you may need to put some money into it for continued reliability for your son.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • rlbjr2rlbjr2 Posts: 91
    It seems like the 2013/2014 had a worse and more widespread problem than the 2010-2012? So if I can get a good deal on a 2010 car with higher mi(200k), what would be my worst case scenario maintenance wise? Timing belt, water pump, oil pump...about $800-1000? Gaskets $? Shocks/struts $? What needs to be done for the CVT transmission and cost$? After all of the above it should be good maintenance wise for 60k(spark plugs) and 105k(timing belt,...)? As I stated, the car will not likely be used more than 5-7k mi/yr. I just want something safe, reliable, and not too costly, $5-6k or preferably less.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,156
    I would say those early FB engines had a worse issue, for sure. However, for the EJ head gaskets, replacement is a matter of when, not if. So, history is important. If you don't have it, then definitely have a thorough PPI done, and emphasize the need to inspect these areas so that you know what you're getting. After all, it would not be unusual at all to have a vehicle with 150K+ needing *something*. But, if it does have those needs, then deduct accordingly.

    I am not sure on cost nowadays. For HG replacement, I would say probably $2,500 out of pocket from a shop. But, you'll save on timing belt, water pump, and oil pump, because the added cost there should literally be PARTS ONLY, as there is no additional labor needed. I have done this job myself before, and it is quite involved. Parts are around $500-600, so you can extrapolate the labor element. I am not sure about costs of fluid replacement on CVT or differentials, as any of that I do myself. The job is cheap and simple from a parts/supplies/time perspective, so I wouldn't expect a large out of pocket on this one.

    Struts, proabably $250 for parts. Shop job? I would guess $600-1000.

    I would characterize this vehicle as an excellent "beginner's car." So, as long as you go into it with eyes open and hedge your bets in terms of past maintenance, your son should have a reliable vehicle and can learn a lot of basic maintenance skills from it. In my experience, inspection of three fluids will tell you nearly all you need to know about prior maintenance behavior: Brakes, differentials, and transmission. If those look like they have been there a looooooong time, you may be in for a headache.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • rlbjr2rlbjr2 Posts: 91
    Wow! $2500 to replace the head gasket? I didn't realize it was that expensive. So that HAS to be done about every 100k miles? On all 2010-2012 r cyl models? What is the fix/cost for the 2013/2014 oil consumption problem?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,156
    edited February 4
    rlbjr2 said:

    Wow! $2500 to replace the head gasket? I didn't realize it was that expensive. So that HAS to be done about every 100k miles? On all 2010-2012 r cyl models? What is the fix/cost for the 2013/2014 oil consumption problem?

    No, not *has* to be done. Within the lifecycle, they will proabably need replacement. But, it all depends on when the problem develops to the point that there's a problem. If you find a car with 150K+ miles and has not had it done, it would shock me if there were no external gasket leaks. If gaskets are replaced, then you'll probably never have to worry about it (but you might!).

    The FB engine's "fix" is replacement of the short block. Spendy. I would estimate $4,000+, but I don't know for sure since it is usually covered under the settlement's extended warranty. I had the fix done on my 2013 last September, and it was ~ six years old with about 65,000 miles at the time (I purchased in June of 2017 with ~50,000 miles). IIRC, the coverage cuts off at 100,000 miles and no age limit, but you should check for yourself if you find a vehicle that is a candidate.

    I have owned six Subaru vehicles, and the risk of head gasket failure does not keep me up at night. Awareness is everything.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • rlbjr2rlbjr2 Posts: 91
    Thanks for all the info. My head is spinning. To me it seems like the 2010-2012 is the lesser of the evils, 2500 vs 4000 potential big repair. Those will have slow oil drips. So if the oil is checked regularly it should be unlikely to have engine failure? Whereas the 2013/2014 if the car did not have the recall repair will use a lot of oil and cost about 4000 to fix. So if you were getting a car for a college kid who is not looking to do maintenance himself(I can do oil changes and rotors/pads), Which year would you go with, 2010-2012 or 2013/2014? Budget is in the 4-7k range, preferably at the lower end. 2010-2012 seems like a safer bet, unless the 2013/2014 has a documented repair for its engine problem?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    rlbjr2 said:

    Wow! $2500 to replace the head gasket? I didn't realize it was that expensive. So that HAS to be done about every 100k miles? On all 2010-2012 r cyl models? What is the fix/cost for the 2013/2014 oil consumption problem?

    It's an "engine-out" job to be done right, and "while you're in there" you'd want to replace the clutch, water pump, belts, tensioners, etc.

    What would be ideal is to buy a Subaru with the EJ engine but with documented proof that the head gaskets and timing belt were already taken care of.

    I have a friend who owns a Subaru shop in the SF Bay Area. He takes in older Subarus with head gasket issues (no shortage of them!) and goes through the whole car and then sells them as used cars again----not "cheap" but definitely a lot more bullet-proof!

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,156
    I agree with what Shifty noted.

    For me, I would go with 2010-12, all else being equal.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • rlbjr2rlbjr2 Posts: 91
    I guess I should look for a model with less than 100k mi since the extended warranty is good to that? Is that extended warranty transferable if the car is bought used?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,156
    rlbjr2 said:

    I guess I should look for a model with less than 100k mi since the extended warranty is good to that? Is that extended warranty transferable if the car is bought used?

    Are you referring to the early-build FB engines? Yes, the warranty coverage follows the car, and is specific to the oil consumption issue only. You can look up info online by searching for "Subaru FB engine oil consumption class action" or something similar.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • rlbjr2rlbjr2 Posts: 91
    Yes, early FB engine. 2013/14 right? Ideally I'll find a 2010-2014 that had its issue fixed. Thanks for all the help.
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