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looking 2 buy a legacy under 3k.. i am a mechanic.. hows reliability?

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39 replies to this topic

#1 Hakim Craddock

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 10:16 AM

Hello all!

 

So i am new to Subaru, and not quite yet an owner.. However i have heard that subarus are reliable and easy to fix.. This is exactly what i need (plus awd).. automatic is what i want (yes i know its a sin).

 

So what should i look for, what to avoid. I have heard that the engines can easily be pulled out without a lift and almost every part is easily replaceable without busting your knuckles and cursing at someone. Not looking to do any racing just looking for reliability and awd (son on the way)...

 



#2 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 10:39 AM

unless repaired/upgraded to multilayer steel type headgaskets, mid/late 90s model non-turbo 4 cylinders have known HG failures. Not every single one, but enough to be untrustworthy. Later cars cna have external weeping.leaks of coolant and maybe oil.

 

while soobs have their own quirks, they are MUCH easier to wrench on than FWD, transverse engine cars.

 

as with any used car, present condition and prior care mean more than brand reliability. Definitely learn to watch for 'torque bind' . Can be a s simple as a wrong sized tire, but can also mean destroyed wet clutch pack or bad Duty Solenoid C in transmission.

 

The H6 engines have a great reputation in general.

 

don't expect blinding acceleration or stellar fuel mileage.

 

there are plenty of 200 and 300K miles soobs around.

 

if you have questions about a specific problem or system on the cars, do search for info. Also, there are DIY guides here for many repairs.


Edited by 1 Lucky Texan, 11 February 2013 - 11:45 AM.


#3 86BRATMAN

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:15 AM

Should be noted that the head gasket issue is most prevalant in the ej25 engines.  As he doesn't mention a year or model, the ej22 in the non outback non gt late 90's legacy is really what I would recommend.  Don't get me wrong the ej25 is not a bad engine, just a little more to think about with them.



#4 Hakim Craddock

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:26 AM

i would preffer to go as new as possible and stay around 3k... No particular model in mind so i would be guessing that a 2000-2003 would be within my budget.. Is the transmission issue you mentioned 1 lucky Texan repairable with the trans in the vehicle and are the parts to do that repair costly... I dont mind a leak or two, as long as its not to the point where i need to add fluid weekly or daily and i t just ruins driveways wherever its parked. My main concern is not being left stranded somewhere and having to pay 500 bucks for a tow home.

 

I have heard that the 2.2 motors are VERY reliable and dont have many HG problems. Which models and years did that motor come in?



#5 chaz345

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:43 AM

unless repaired/upgraded to multilayer steel type headgaskets, mid/late 90s model non-turbo 4 cylinders have known HG failures. Not every single one, but enough to be untrustworthy. Later cars cna have external weeping.leaks of coolant and maybe oil.

 

while soobs have their own quirks, they are MUCH easier to wrench on than FWD, transverse engine cars.

 

as with any used car, present condition and prior care mean more than brand reliability. Definitely learn to watch for 'torque bind' . Can be a s simple as a wrong sized tire, but can also mean destroyed wet clutch pack or bad Duty Solenoid C in transmission.

 

The H6 engines have a great reputation in general.

 

don't expect blinding acceleration or stellar fuel mileage.

 

there are plenty of 200 and 300K miles soobs around.

 

if you have questions about a specific problem or system on the cars, do search for info. Also, there are DIT guides here for many repairs.

The 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engines from that time period have head gasket issues, the 2.2 doesn't really.

 

One other possuble cause of torque bind, although one that is less commone would be a bad or intermittant connection between the transmission computer and the duty c solenoid. I had that problem and while not as common as what you mention, electrical quirks should definitely not be ruled out on older cars.



#6 Rooster2

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:44 AM

The 2.2 motors were in Subarus throughout the 90's only. Most were non interference motors, except the ones sold in cars in roughly the 97-99 time frame. The 2.2 was in both the Impreza and Legacy lines. Same motor in both.

 

Like others have said, motor is easy to work on to replace fan belts, starter, and alternator. All components last a good long time, with all parts readily available.  Spark plugs rather easily replaced on 2.2 motor, but difficult on the 2.5 motor, as there is limited space to work with the wheel wells in the way.

 

For a 4 cylinder, all Subaru boxer style motors are exceptionally smooth running at any RPM, compared to in-line 4 style motors. Notice this when you test drive one.



#7 chaz345

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:45 AM

Should be noted that the head gasket issue is most prevalant in the ej25 engines.  As he doesn't mention a year or model, the ej22 in the non outback non gt late 90's legacy is really what I would recommend.  Don't get me wrong the ej25 is not a bad engine, just a little more to think about with them.

Some outbacks came with EJ22's. But I agree completely with the advice, the 25 is not a bad motor but there is definitely more to consider as it ages. It's also more expensive to replace if/when the time comes and the results of a timing failure are usually a lot more catastrophic.



#8 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:51 AM

as for model, if you will really be on not-so-great gravel/dirt roads and need xtra clearance, the Forester and the Outback (I dunno when the last OBS was made?) come with a little extra factory lift. Otherwise, there are plenty of folks that lift the vehicles themselves with aftermarket mods.

 

sorry, I did forget about the 2.2 engine - it enjoys a reputation of being bulletproof.



#9 chaz345

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:55 AM

Hello all!

 

So i am new to Subaru, and not quite yet an owner.. However i have heard that subarus are reliable and easy to fix.. This is exactly what i need (plus awd).. automatic is what i want (yes i know its a sin).

 

So what should i look for, what to avoid. I have heard that the engines can easily be pulled out without a lift and almost every part is easily replaceable without busting your knuckles and cursing at someone. Not looking to do any racing just looking for reliability and awd (son on the way)...

If you are a mechanic then you should have no problems keeping an older subie running and reliable. They are different to be sure, but usually in a good way, especially as relates to working on them. My recommendation would be for something mid to late 90's with the 2.2 liter motor.  In terms of oil leaks, Subies are no more susceptable to major losss type leaks than any other vehicle although  they do have a tendnecy to "mark their territory" a bit.  Two main causes of this: Because of the engine layout, oil pools in the valve covers and the gaskets tend to leak as they age. Replacement is VERY easy, took me less than an hour the first time I did them and can probably be done in half hour or less after experiencing it once.  The other cause in later 90's I forget the year it started is the oil separator plate. That leak will be from between the engine and bell housing and will look a lot like a leaking rear main seal.  Fix requires pulling either the engine or the tranny so it's rarely worth it to do just for that. Do it when you need the clutch replaced on a manual or when doing something else that requires pulling engine or tranny. Neither of those two leaks would require constant adding of lots of oil although as with any engine running low on oil is a huge engine life shortener. The torque bind transmission issue can be solved with the tranny in the car, you just need to take off the rear driveshaft and the rear section of the housing. The solenoid in question and the clutch pack can both be accessed from there. Can be done with the car on jackstands although a lift makes it a LOT easier.

 

EDIT Additional thought: One other source of oil leaks is the cam seals. These are often neglected when someone changes the timing belt and they will start to leak as they age.


Edited by chaz345, 11 February 2013 - 11:59 AM.


#10 Hakim Craddock

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 12:31 PM

Thank you guys so much.. So it looks like i should be shopping for a 97-99 with a 2.2 motor (i prefer obd2 easier to diagnose). I dont care much about ground clearance, so a regular legacy wagon or sedan would suite me just fine..

 

Ohh i forgot to ask how difficult the suspension is to service on the legacy and is there anything that i should look for that typically wears out on the legacy other than the basic shocks/struts?



#11 86BRATMAN

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 12:52 PM

Some outbacks came with EJ22's. But I agree completely with the advice, the 25 is not a bad motor but there is definitely more to consider as it ages. It's also more expensive to replace if/when the time comes and the results of a timing failure are usually a lot more catastrophic.

This is true on the outback, but only for 96 in 5spd form.  All the rest were the ej25.

 

If you are not limited to a legacy platform, the ej22 came in the non RS impreza until 2001.



#12 chaz345

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 01:47 PM

The front swaybar end links can make a very scary sounding clunk as they age, but they are cheap and easy to replace. Not sure this counts as suspension but the drive axels, especailly the front ones tend to need to be replaced periodically.  Not a huge deal to replace although they are held in to the diff by a roll pin that requires a long punch to get out. They are relatively cheap though if you go aftermarket.>

Thank you guys so much.. So it looks like i should be shopping for a 97-99 with a 2.2 motor (i prefer obd2 easier to diagnose). I dont care much about ground clearance, so a regular legacy wagon or sedan would suite me just fine..

 

Ohh i forgot to ask how difficult the suspension is to service on the legacy and is there anything that i should look for that typically wears out on the legacy other than the basic shocks/struts?

 

  One thing you get after 96 is solid valve lifters which require adjusting periodically. Not a big deal but one more thing that needs to be done.


Edited by chaz345, 11 February 2013 - 01:48 PM.


#13 Rooster2

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 06:52 PM

Thank you guys so much.. So it looks like i should be shopping for a 97-99 with a 2.2 motor (i prefer obd2 easier to diagnose). I dont care much about ground clearance, so a regular legacy wagon or sedan would suite me just fine..

 

Ohh i forgot to ask how difficult the suspension is to service on the legacy and is there anything that i should look for that typically wears out on the legacy other than the basic shocks/struts?

I think all Subies went to obd2 starting in 1995.

 

Ball joints and tie rod ends wear out just like on any other car. Originals should last 150K miles. Easy to replace. Since you have good mechanical experience, you won't find anything unusual.

 

The boots on ends of the half shaft wear out eventually. Nothing difficult to swap out a half shaft. Much written in the archives of this forum under "search" on how to do this job any all other jobs.



#14 chaz345

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 11:08 AM

I think all Subies went to obd2 starting in 1995.

Sort of. It was basically ODB2 but it wasn't fully compliant with the standards.



#15 Fairtax4me

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 05:25 PM

It was at the time.

Suspension is pretty straight forward on these. Sedan rear struts are quite a bit more difficult to change than wagon struts, because you have to remove the back seats to get to the upper mount studs.

Engine issues are mostly oil leaks. The 96-99 DOHC 2.5 is very prone to head gasket and rod bearing failure. The SOHC 2.5 has some minor head gasket issues, usually external leakage, but has larger bearing journals so is much less prone to internal failures. Overheating seems to be the primary cause of pre-mature rod bearing wear in these.

Any 2.2 will be solid as a rock. Head gasket failures are not unheard of, but so few and far between its not a big deal. After 96 they are interference though so timing belt maintenance is a must.

Axles are easy on these. The inner end is held to the transmission with a spring pin, knock the pin out and the axle slides off with no loss of fluid from the trans, and no seal damage to worry about.

Auto vs manual trans. The autos are actually better, despite the occasional issue with the AWD transfer clutches locking up (Torque bind). Manuals have a bad habit of eating the double roller bearing on the mainshaft. And some of the 99 to about 01-02 transmissions are having trouble with the center differentials kerploding.
Autos with clean fluid are good for 300k easy. The AWD clutch packs are easy to replace with the trans in the car. Parts cost is around $450 If you need the whole transfer drum, but just the clutches I think are $120 ish.

#16 Hakim Craddock

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 06:55 PM

It was at the time.

Suspension is pretty straight forward on these. Sedan rear struts are quite a bit more difficult to change than wagon struts, because you have to remove the back seats to get to the upper mount studs.

Engine issues are mostly oil leaks. The 96-99 DOHC 2.5 is very prone to head gasket and rod bearing failure. The SOHC 2.5 has some minor head gasket issues, usually external leakage, but has larger bearing journals so is much less prone to internal failures. Overheating seems to be the primary cause of pre-mature rod bearing wear in these.

Any 2.2 will be solid as a rock. Head gasket failures are not unheard of, but so few and far between its not a big deal. After 96 they are interference though so timing belt maintenance is a must.

Axles are easy on these. The inner end is held to the transmission with a spring pin, knock the pin out and the axle slides off with no loss of fluid from the trans, and no seal damage to worry about.

Auto vs manual trans. The autos are actually better, despite the occasional issue with the AWD transfer clutches locking up (Torque bind). Manuals have a bad habit of eating the double roller bearing on the mainshaft. And some of the 99 to about 01-02 transmissions are having trouble with the center differentials kerploding.
Autos with clean fluid are good for 300k easy. The AWD clutch packs are easy to replace with the trans in the car. Parts cost is around $450 If you need the whole transfer drum, but just the clutches I think are $120 ish.

So i would be safe with a SOHC 2.5 and obviosly a 2.2.. i am leaning more towards a 2000-2003 model, seems like they have the least miles trying to get something with less than 150k miles on the clock. Unless i get a really good deal on a clean 2.2 model.

 

Thanks for the help guys. very much appreciated.



#17 Hakim Craddock

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 08:20 PM

found this one on CL... http://newjersey.cra...3607102614.html What do you guys think? should i go for it or avoid it?



#18 grossgary

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 07:04 AM

it'll need a timing belt kit to be a long term reliable daily driver.  but that's easy on these.

 

hard to say.  looks like someone trying to flip cars, poor typing skills, little info, and other cars in picture have no tags.  so it's likely a car with an unknown history.

probably bought at auction...which suggests it was traded in, why?  i'd like to rule out headgaskets and torque bind, the big stuff.

but it's cheap, those are hard to judge or say anything about, but that one looks clean. 

 

that's a SOHC EJ25 with externally leaking headgaskets (coolant and/or oil). that is the only symptom they have so no worries about anything else and that's easily checked for.

 

look for external headgasket leaks, prior headgasket replacement, and test for torque bind.



#19 Hakim Craddock

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:02 PM

torque bind test would be to cut the wheel all the way and turn as sharp as i can?



#20 MilesFox

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:52 PM

Drive around in tight circles on dry pavement; parking maneuvers forwards and backwards.

 

For the price, that one is not too bad if you would want to consider the maintenance cost, but you would really have to know what to expect and have the capacity to deal with anything. Otherwise for the money, make sure any car you are looking at has some sort of repair history. Private sell would probably be best to avoid any mark ups. Demand service records. But also consider rust. A clean body needing maintenance will ultimately hold its value over something well maintained but rusted out.



#21 Hakim Craddock

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 07:40 PM

i just read that piston slap may be an issues on later model 2.5's is this true? starting to have second thoughts about subaru..



#22 MilesFox

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 08:03 PM

Really, if i were you, i would be looking for a 2.2 from 90-96, or 2.2 imprezas thru 99, if you don't mind having a car so old, but yet for half the price. But that is what i myself would be shopping for. I am not sure if i would be interested in a subaru too new for the reasons you have stated.

 

But then again, subarus have their traits, although sometimes annoying, but rarely detrimental. Some issues are just a fact of life with owning subarus, but then owning subarus has its advantages. It is my personal opinion that subarus are best suited for the utilitarian type who is also handy with their own maintenance and repairs. Some people are not cut out for subarus, and subarus are not cut out for some people.

 

As far as shopping used subarus go, maintenance history is most important. There is an art to used cars knowing what is good and knowing what is bad, and knowing what to expect either way.

 

Good luck with your shopping.


Edited by MilesFox, 16 February 2013 - 08:04 PM.


#23 uniberp

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 09:22 AM

No, Subaru engines CANNOT be removed without a hoist/lift, unless you are kinda crazy.

They can, however be dragged around in an old tire, however, if you really need to get it in out of the rain.



#24 MilesFox

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 09:25 AM

No, Subaru engines CANNOT be removed without a hoist/lift, unless you are kinda crazy.

They can, however be dragged around in an old tire, however, if you really need to get it in out of the rain.

I once removed an ea82 with a tow strap and a 2x4. By my self. Your statement almost held true, but i did get it. I was kinda crazy at the time



#25 Fairtax4me

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:14 PM


No, Subaru engines CANNOT be removed without a hoist/lift, unless you are kinda crazy.

Just needs extra hand (helper) and an Ej engine can be lifted out of the car by hand. Don't have to be crazy, just able to lift about 150lbs. A little less if its an automatic.

i just read that piston slap may be an issues on later model 2.5's is this true? starting to have second thoughts about subaru..

 Piston slap is harmless. Makes a little racket when the engine is cold but generally goes away once warm. The 2.5s are prone to it because of the longer stroke, but they still go 300k miles just slappin' away.





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