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WRX Reliability?

I'm about to buy my first new car. I've been driving a ford explorer for several years now, and it's time to put her down for rest.

I'm looking into a Subaru WRX, limited edition, but I'm a little worried about reliability. I've done my homework, and it seems JD power's information says the Subaru lineup is nothing more than average. I've heard many people though, love their subie's, and find them to be extremely reliable.

I ask current WRX owners, and any Subaru owners their experience with their car. Are there any quibbles, or issues you've come into? Would you reccommend the car to me, over a honda or a toyota? Am I looking to spend much on repairs over time? Please let me know your honest opinion!


  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    You'll be happily suprised. Being a long time owner of Subarus (1988 XT6, 1989 XT6, 1992 SVX, 1994 Legacy Turbo, 1996 Impreza L, 1997 Legacy L) I can say they haven't been perfect, however they have never left me anywhere. Also having worked on 100s of WRXs, I can say they are definitely reliable. My 96 Impreza L with the original engine and transmission and 150k miles did over 10,000 track miles which are very hard on the vehicle, and that was an automatic! My 94 Legacy Turbo is my track car and it has over 150k original miles on it.

  • I know that every car has it's faults, and I can easily say I've never been stranded in my car either. And I would call my truck reliable, as long as you bring it in for it's yearly $500-1000 problem fixing (It's a 13 year old truck...).

    The ford hasn't been all that bad. I just want something with fewer headaches. Something that has tiny issues, not fuel pumps, brakes, or water pumps. My neighbor's brand new Saab 9-3, for example, has been in the shop countless times and it's under a year old, for malfunctioning sun roof, dead radios (3 times!) and other things. Sure, it's under warranty, but I have better things to do with my time than be stuck at a subaru dealership, looking across the street at the honda dealership wondering why i never bought the civic si.

    So what kind of issues will i be looking at, if any??? Ford has it's brakes, and oxygen sensors, Dodge has its transmissions, GMC has its electronics... Does subaru have any common problems?
  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Posts: 464
    I put 40,000 trouble free miles on my 04 WRX wagon before I sold it last year -- other than two minor recalls, it never needed to return to the dealership. Granted, 40,000 miles isn't all that much, but I've had other cars that couldn't stay away from the dealership in their first couple of years. The WRX was a solid, well built car.

    Before that, I owned a 2001 Outback that I put 60,000 miles on and, while it was probably my favorite car of any that I've owned, it also needed regular trips to the dealer for repairs under warranty...clutch problems, squeaks and rattles, paint issues, and two bad window regulators. I firmly believe that Subaru's Japanese-built cars (Impreza and Forester) are built better than their US-built mates (Legacy/Outback)...but that's just my impression after owning both. In spite of the little problems that I accrued with my Outback, I would buy another one sounds silly, but that car fit me perfectly.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Depends on the model and the year.

    The EJ25 had head gasket issues up until MY2002 or so.

    Forester before 2003 and Imprezas before 2002 ate rear wheel bearings for lunch. Replace them with Legacy wheel bearings and you're fine, plus newer models have been far more robust up until now.

    Nothing really stood out a lot on Legacys, besides head gaskets prior to 2002.

    Tribeca - so far people complain about easy-to-break fog light covers and rear hatch struts that don't hold up the hatch properly in extreme cold, the latter fixed under warranty and supposedly changed now.

    No real major pattern of problems since MY2002, though.

  • I have 106,000 miles on my '02 WRX wagon and have not have any out of pocket expenses other than a vanity mirror cover and routine scheduled maintance. Maybe 4-5 visits for a couple of recalls and minor warranty work, all resolved in a couple of hours, in the last 4.5 years. FWIW, I'm 48 years old and the WRX wagon has been by far the most reliable car I've ever owned. I've never subscribed to manufacturer loyalty before, but at least for now, I wouldn't dream of looking at anything else before at least considering a Subaru. I'm very fortunate to have Dan Dean service my vehicle at Martin Subaru. He's responsive to all my questions and/or concerns and keeps my vehicle running as intended.
  • hi. 2005 WRX sedan with approx. 31000 miles. no problems. i just do the scheduled maintenance. if this would be your first turbo engine, don't forget to let the car sit idling for 2-3 minutes after hard driving - let the fan do its work, then shut her off.
  • In regards to the turbo, would a turbo timer void a factory warranty?

    Please, keep your comments coming. The reason I'm asking is because I'm looking to spend wisely. The two biggest cars I'm looking into are the Subaru Impreza WRX limited, and the Honda Civic SI, a now Canadian built beautiful looking car... But does it have the same Honda quality? I'm willing to spend several thousand more for a car that wont cost me thousands down the road. So, again, please keep your comments coming, Subaru Owners!!
  • Since the early 90s. Toyota, Honda, and Subaru have been rated the top three in regards to reliablility.
    The Impreza model in particular, had the fewest customer complaints percentage-wise in various publications.
    My March 2001 WRX has 36,000 miles on it, oil changes have been the only expense so far.
    Car magazines and the press may deny it, but Japanese-assembled cars have always had better overall quality and longevity than U.S. assembled ones in my experience.
  • I too am considering the Honda Civic Si and the WRX as my next car. I had a 2003 WRX wagon that was totaled in an accident. That WRX had 40,000 trouble-free miles and I really enjoyed it. If Honda didn't offer the Civic Si in 4-door sedan form, I would buy another WRX in a heartbeat. However, I've always been a fan of high-revving Honda engines and the Si sedan package is very tempting. I've testdriven both cars and love each one's uniqueness. Reliability is not an issue with these two cars.

    As for the turbo timer, you don't need one. Today's turbocharged engines do not need the extra cool-down period. Subaru published an article to its mechanics explaining how the turbo flat four's design negates the need for a turbo timer.
  • anseranser Posts: 1
    I have a 2002 automatic WRX with 72000 miles (60 percent highway/40 percent city). Reliability has been outstanding. And it has only gotten better as the model year has advanced. No repairs. A couple of minor recalls in the first two years. Only routine maintenance done per the manual. As peppy as when I drove it out of the showroom the summer of 2001 (02 models came out in spring 2001). No wonder Subaru owners are fiercely loyal to the brand!
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    The 94 Legacy Turbo has been sitting in our garage since August, we've been gutting out the interior and preparing it for next years race season. Finally got it all back together last night, put on the alternator belt and put the battery back in.

    Guess what? She fired right up and ran pretty good for a car that has been sitting for close to 6 months!


  • I have booth a 2002 civic and a 2002 2.5 wagon. both with over 100,000 miles. stay with Subaru the maintenance on the civic will kill you and the Subaru in town is much better with its higher torque.
  • kevin111kevin111 Posts: 991
    I was under the impression that the WRXs became better in terms of reliability the newer the models, with the '02 being the worst??

    With that said, have an '02 WRX with about 100K miles. My clutch just gave way (1st manual car owned) and had an issue with turbo boost that corrected itself, but generally has been very reliable.

    Had a few nits during the warrenty period, that once corrected, never resurfaced.

    Considering that I also had a Camry V6 that went over 100K miles, and had to invest more money and take it to the shop more often with issues than my WRX, I would have to say the Subi has been reliable.

    BTW, I considered the Camry to be reliable as well.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The 02 was the first year model, plus it made performance affordable for a lot of young kids that abused the hardware a bit. A few transmissions bit the dust.

    The next year, MY2003, Subaru added a force-limiting valve on the clutch, basically a mechanism to prevent full-throttle launches where you dump the clutch.

    The fact that we stopped seeing transmission failures basically proves there was nothing wrong with the 02s, i.e. it was drivetrain abuse. Many of the cars were also modified.

    An unmolested 02 should be very reliable. An abused one will not, but what abused car would?

  • lilbluewgn02lilbluewgn02 PAPosts: 1,089
    I also have a 2002 WRX wagon with automatic. I've had absolutley no problems in 51,000 miles. Just changed the brake pads recently, and here in Florida, it is great in the heavy rains we get...don't know how the Civic would handle. The wagon is great in terms of practicality...lots of stuff can be carried. My wife has a 2001 Legacy with 61,000 miles and also has had no problems.
  • I've a 2002 wrx wagon, 5mt, second shipment to North America.

    This car has a factory flaw of a chattering cold clutch and Subaru discovered the problem only after my 36k warranty had expired so no free fix for me. I'm still on the original clutch at 123k miles with no real trouble.

    - Replaced warped front rotors and pads at 30k miles under warranty
    - Fixed cruise control under recall
    - Speaker cut out on drivers-side rear door at 40,000 miles
    - Started leaking fuel at cool temperatures (~40 degF) at 115,000 miles (a pain because the intake manifold has to be removed to access the line--This was fixed in 2003 models with longer rubber section to account for metal fuel line shrinkage in cool weather)
    - Valve cover gaskets leak discovered at the 120,000 service

    I replaced all rotors and pads again at 90,000 miles, and pads only at 120,000 miles as I'm being far gentler to the car in its old age.

    I'm on my fifth set of rubber at 120,000. I consumed two sets of re92, one of yokohama avs-es100 which were awesome but I couldn't take them up to the mountains in winter. I'm now on my second set of sumitomo htr+ which are quiet and have long life.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    HTR+ how do you like em? I'm a BIG fan of them! The ES100s too as a street summer tire are great!

  • Seems like you've had some serious problems. A 4 year old car should be a little less trouble some, no? You do have high mileage though...

    So the question to you is, would you buy one again? Or would you have a different first choice?
  • HTR+ aren't much of a performance tire for me. They have soft sidewalls which makes scrambling up steep broken pavement easy (which is what I've got to do to get to my house in the Pacifica hills.) They're certainly the best I've had on the highway.

    The ES100s improved handling a ton because of the super-stiff sidewalls. I'm still running the stock 16" wheels and those es100s made it feel like I was running a much lower profile tire than the car was wearing. Pretty loud on the highway and they wore through quickly but wow, so much fun! The RE92s were really quick to lose grip and the ES100s intimidated me enough that I rarely wanted to break traction. Great stuff.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Yeah the HTR+ for me were great all-season tires. ES100s are about as performance as you can get for a street tire. Anything beyond it's capabilities you shouldn't be doing on the street :)

  • I think some of the trouble is due to the fact I bought the first manufacturing run of a brand new design. People who bought just a month or two later had a few design revisions in place already.

    The car has high mileage but it's mostly easy highway cruising (280 in SF Bay Area, it's like our last functional highway) 65-85mph.

    I am disappointed by the valve cover leaks, aww well. At least it's not the head gasket which I don't have great faith in because of the high specific power of the ej20 placing strain and also because of a technical service bulletin that was issued re: adding an additive to the coolant to prevent head gasket leaks.

    So I'm dying to see the new WRX hatch design that's getting launched in Detroit but am honestly concerned about the environmental impact of buying another car like the wrx or an evo, etc. What I may buy next is a Prius for my long highway commute and a sportbike, say a Yamaha R6, to satisfy my speed cravings.

    Tough call really, whatever replaces this WRX has got to be able to haul a few surfboards around the coast and haul 800+lbs of gear to burning man once a year. If Subaru would bring out its (bio?) diesel in the next-gen Impreza chassis with a sport suspension and six gears or so I would gladly pay $30k.

    This WRX, bought in late spring 2001, has been the most reliable car I've owned.
  • Hi everybody. I'm new to the Impreza forum but not new to Subaru ownership. I figured I would just share my experience. I have an '02 WRX 5MT. It was purchased new in April 2002.

    Right now I have about 73,400 miles on it and I do believe it's been pretty reliable as well.

    I have had a couple of odd problems which have been fixed. My water pump started leaking around 20,000 miles. The dealer replaced it under warranty. Basically everyone involved was baffled as to why it went bad.

    I also had a problem with the ABS control unit. Basically it was "hyperactive". I would slow down approaching a red light and sometimes the ABS would just kick-in with no warning. No wheel slip of any kind. It took a couple trips to the dealer and eventually they were able to replicate on a test drive. They also found a TSB on the issue and I haven't had that problem since the time of the repair.

    Still on original clutch (does have some chatter sometimes), 2nd set of brake pads and 2nd set of tires. I replaced the RE-92s around 50,000 miles with Falken ZE512s.

    Overall, reliability has been very good. Never had to have car towed or anything like that.

    I'm a happy Subaru customer. :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They revised the tuning on the ABS, it didn't affect any other model year AFAIK.

  • eab73wrxeab73wrx Posts: 8
    Hi Juice,

    Thanks for you reply. I did know about that ABS tuning issue. My problem was different however. It was a "wasn't doing it before" kind of issue. Basically out of the blue, the ABS would kick in when it wasn't needed at all. Literally no issues with the ABS for about 2 years of ownership and then suddenly I would just touch the brakes on a perfectly dry road and ABS would kick in. Based on my recolection it was doing it once in every 4 or 5 stops. I'd have to look up the receipts but the fix did involve some replacement of parts.

    But regardless of those problems, I definitely believe my WRX has been the most reliable I've ever owned.

  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    33K on my 02, know its not much mileage. had the clutch judder, replaced under warranty.
    also I opted to get the revised ABS module put in.
    also had a rear strut/shock and a front ball joint replaced under the ext warranty. must be all those Chicago potholes! no, I do not drive like a total maniac! otherwise its been running fine. will have to teach my 16 year old daughter how to use a stick though on this thing as its the only manual we have, bye bye clutch!
    CD seems to playing up last few weeks, maybe its that subzero weather as its fine when its "warmer"! anyway when it gets bad enough I'll try get them to replace that too, should be covered by the ext warranty.
  • I have a '02 wrx with 75k and a '93 impreza L with over 125k. Very reliable cars as long as you maintain and service them!!!

    I've taken my 93 from california all the way to canada and back down twice with no issues what so ever!! :shades:
  • macksrexmacksrex KCMOPosts: 2
    Hi. I have a 2003 WRX Sedan, bought new on 5/31/03.

    112,000 miles, mostly highway.
    Replaced: battery, tires, timing belt (recommended at 105K), regular maintenance - oil, filter...

    Problems: NONE

    I would happily jump in my car right now & drive from Boston to San Diego, & I will definitely look at Subaru for my next car. However, at the rate my WRX is going, it will be a long time before I'm in the market for a new car. :-)

    Drive safe!
    On my 4th Subie:

    1st - 2003 Subaru WRX sedan
    2nd - 2005 Subaru WRX sedan
    3rd - 2014 Subaru WRX hatchback
    4th - 2015 Forester XT Touring
  • dsubidsubi Posts: 3
    I have an 02 WRX just bought used with 52000 miles 500 mine. It has an after market turbo full 3 inch exhaust a different ecu and a heavyduty race type clutch a little to aggressive around town the car puts out a said 300hp. My problem is when i first got it it shifted great and now when i shift from second to third gear it grinds when i drive hard or now even sometimes when i drive slow. Thats the only shift it does it not down shifting just the up shift all the other gears have no problem and never ground. Is it this clutch or is it the trans i did get a less aggressive clutch from the previous owner he also said the trans did blow up before but then he had a 2003 gear set put in and has not had a problem. Well now there seems to be. Has this been a problem with anyone elses subie if so let me know i am at a dead end. :(
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    The 02-03s sometimes had issues with that gear. In all honestly with the upgraded clutch, it's probably causing more wear on the trans. With a lot of power and awd, something has to give, usually your clutch is the weak point, and takes up the slack, but with a heavy duty clutch, that then forces the trans to take up the slack. I'd look into an RA gearset or an STi 6MT swap.

  • dsubidsubi Posts: 3
    Hey thanks for the info. But what is the RA gearset? And do you know if the STi swap is possible in the 02 if so were do i get the trans and is there any info on what needs to be done to make it possible like any web sites? I could not turn anything up.

    Thanks Doug
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