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Potential noob with reliability question


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21 replies to this topic

#1 Pasta

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 07:28 AM

Hello Ladies and Gents,

 

I've been lurking for 3 days and now turning to you for direct, straightforward opinions.

 

Just moved to Boise, ID with my wife and our 2 "tweens".  Our 07 Honda Odyssey spontaneously developed several problems requiring too much $$$ to keep (was hoping to get at least 5 more years from it).  It's paid-off and I will not go into debt by financing again -- categorizing my budget to a used vehicle.

 

Considering we now live in the great American northwest and plan on frequent day-hikes, snow-shoeing, etc, an AWD or 4WD wagon/SUV seems like a good choice. 

 

In the Subaru family, I am looking at a generation 2 (2003-2008) or generation 3 (2009-2013) Forester or Outback with 70-80k miles to stay within budget of $16,000.  I faithfully comply with recommended maintenance.

 

Please help me out guys and gals.  These Subaru's are hard to find and hold their value for a reason and from what I read on this forum, the Forester & Outback are as strong and reliable as the proverbial "brick outhouse."

 

But can you understand my hesitation placing the wife and kids in a used 9 year old vehicle with almost 80k?  Aside from recommended maintenance, what costly repairs can I expect in the next 50k miles?

 

Thanks for your honesty and looking forward to your responses,

 

Pasta



#2 upnorthguy

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 07:56 AM

If you can find a used Subaru that has been maintained they can run for a long time.  The maintenance item you can count on is a timing belt/water pump/pulleys.  I'm not sure if the interval is different between those different generations/models (it is often around 105k), but whatever you look at, you can check the mileage with what the recommended interval is and see if/when the t-belt has been changed.  All of those vehicles are interference engines (just like your Honda) so if a timing belt goes, bent valves is the usual outcome.

 

It looks like cars101.com has a decent maintenance interval table here.

 

Just to keep things straight, gen 2 Outbacks are the years 2000-04, gen 3 is 2005-09, gen 4: 2010-14.  I think the years you listed are for Foresters (although I haven't owned one of those!).



#3 hush777

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 08:38 AM

I watch craigslist in boise and see some deals, you might keep an eye on that.

Also Oasis Auto on state st, around 43rd has always dealt in mainly subarus.

 

Hush



#4 dubs283

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 09:02 AM

Hey Pasta, welcome to the board and to Idaho!

 

Like upnorth says, your main large maintenance item is the timing belt, pulleys and water pump, recommended at the 105k mile mark. Expect to pay from $500-$800 for the job depending on where you go for service, unless of course you do  it yourself, which a lot of folks here do :)  there's always plenty of free advice and help here!

 

As far as locating a vehicle to purchase my rule is to never buy a used car from a dealer, too many "add on costs" like licensing fees and dealer prep whatever that is, i guess that's how they make money though. Craigslist by owner is the best, not sure how boise's c-list is but spokane definitely has a bunch of subes for sale all the time

 

You may also consider going to Seattle or Portland, more than enough OB's and foresters to go around out there

 

Good luck on your search and don't hesitate to ask questions!



#5 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 09:43 AM

Foresters got a timing chain in 2011.

 

In general, the older a car is, the less important it's 'model reliability' is, and the more important its prior care and current condition becomes.

 

shop carefully and pay a good mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection.



#6 Pasta

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 11:43 PM

If you can find a used Subaru that has been maintained they can run for a long time.  The maintenance item you can count on is a timing belt/water pump/pulleys.  I'm not sure if the interval is different between those different generations/models (it is often around 105k), but whatever you look at, you can check the mileage with what the recommended interval is and see if/when the t-belt has been changed.  All of those vehicles are interference engines (just like your Honda) so if a timing belt goes, bent valves is the usual outcome.

 

It looks like cars101.com has a decent maintenance interval table here.

 

Just to keep things straight, gen 2 Outbacks are the years 2000-04, gen 3 is 2005-09, gen 4: 2010-14.  I think the years you listed are for Foresters (although I haven't owned one of those!).

Thanks for the maintenance table upnorthguy, will bookmark it.  And, yes, I was referring to the Foresters.  Leaning in that direction for now.

 

 

I watch craigslist in boise and see some deals, you might keep an eye on that.

Also Oasis Auto on state st, around 43rd has always dealt in mainly subarus.

 

Hush

Hello Hush.  Just sold my Odyssey on Craigslist and really trying to find a deal in this area, but none to be had.  Apparently, many people give their Subaru to their children for a first car.  dubs283 had a good idea on looking Craigslist Oregon and Seattle, will try there, too.  Thanks for the local recommendation.  will give them a call tomorrow.

 

Hey Pasta, welcome to the board and to Idaho!

 

Like upnorth says, your main large maintenance item is the timing belt, pulleys and water pump, recommended at the 105k mile mark. Expect to pay from $500-$800 for the job depending on where you go for service, unless of course you do  it yourself, which a lot of folks here do :)  there's always plenty of free advice and help here!

 

As far as locating a vehicle to purchase my rule is to never buy a used car from a dealer, too many "add on costs" like licensing fees and dealer prep whatever that is, i guess that's how they make money though. Craigslist by owner is the best, not sure how boise's c-list is but spokane definitely has a bunch of subes for sale all the time

 

You may also consider going to Seattle or Portland, more than enough OB's and foresters to go around out there

 

Good luck on your search and don't hesitate to ask questions!

That's fantastic advice, dubs.  I've been burned by stealerships many times.  Will take your advice and stay away from them on this used purchase...additionally....the wifey and I have been talking throughout the day and are considering taking a small loan and purchasing a new Forester.  Hopefully I can find a thread about what locals are paying.

 

Foresters got a timing chain in 2011.

 

In general, the older a car is, the less important it's 'model reliability' is, and the more important its prior care and current condition becomes.

 

shop carefully and pay a good mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection.

I've never thought model year reliability that way, Texan.  Will take your advice on an inspection before purchase if we go used.  The funny thing is, I've read most vehicles lose about 30-40% of their purchase price within 4-5 years.  Not the Subarus!  It makes more sense to buy a new one vs. a 2 year old w/low milage in these parts.   No matter how hard I try, I just cant get comfortable placing my family's safety in a 8 year old vehicle with 80k.  Just not comfortable rolling the dice on that one.  Probalby best to take a loan, get a new car that I know is safe and well maintained, and get a part time 2nd job for a year and pay it off.



#7 heartless

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 07:00 AM

No matter how hard I try, I just cant get comfortable placing my family's safety in a 8 year old vehicle with 80k.

 

While I can understand your reluctance on this, all of my Subarus have been much older, used cars purchased very cheaply, with a few dollars spent catching up on neglected maintenance. My current car (my 3rd Subaru) is a 1995 Legacy wagon purchased late last year for $250, with over 200,000 miles on it & needing a transmission. As it sits right now - tranny changed, timing job, new struts & tires, I would not hesitate to drive it across the country.

 

My first Subaru I paid $150 for, spent roughly $800 getting things taken care of - new clutch, axles, tires and a few other odds & ends - and I drove that car for more than 8 years before the rust made her unsafe to keep on the road (i live in the salt belt) - she stall ran very strong with a little over 265,000 on the odometer.


Edited by heartless, 12 August 2014 - 07:01 AM.


#8 Rooster2

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 07:41 AM

With your strong belief.."No matter how hard I try, I just cant get comfortable placing my family's safety in a 8 year old vehicle with 80k." I agree with you, that you should buy a new car, or you will never feel comfortable with anything used you may buy. New Subies are engineered to be very safe, and you can be assured your family will be well cared for in one. 

 

 

There are a number of testimonials from forum members here of being in car accidents, and receiving no, or minor injuries. Even older Subarus protect occupants well.



#9 Pasta

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 01:17 AM

You know, guys and gals...one of the things I like most about this forum is the friendliness and honest answers.  Most recently:  Heartless (along with everyone else above) gives a vote of confidence that a used Subaru (soob for short?) is a good choice if well maintained and then Rooster2 adding that if I can't get my head wrapped around this fact, then put my mind at ease and go new.

So here is the latest...this evening we test drove a 2009 Forester X Premium with 55k and ABSOLUTELY TOTALLY 100% LOVED IT!  WOW-WEEEEE!!  No wonder you all are so crazy about these things!  The wifey and I felt very safe in this vehicle and used is the only thing that fits our budget.  This particular Forester did not have a clean carfax and I would be the 3rd owner in such a short time.  Plus heard intermittent squeal with turning. 

The short of it is that I am IN the market and looking forward to joining your ranks.  Doing my Craigslist research and hope to have something this weekend. 

There is an amazing scope and depth of knowledge here.

Pasta-man will be lurking-and-learning.  Thanks to all for the education and encouragement.



#10 heartless

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 06:43 AM

Congratulations - you have officially been bitten by the Subaru bug! LOL
 
Intermittent squealing could be something as simple as a loose accessory belt, but the carfax not being clean & the multiple owners in a short period would turn me off as well.
The right Soob for you and your family is out there, just requires a little patience and looking to find it.
 
I would also suggest you start your search for a competent mechanic with Subaru experience now - someone that you will be comfortable taking your car to when needed.
Even if you are the type to do your own work whenever possible, there are always times when you simply dont have the time to do something, you dont have the knowledge/experience to do something, or something requires tools that you dont have in your arsenal...
 
I have done the greater majority of the work on my cars for many years, but the older I get (50 now), the less inclined I am to go crawling under a car...not to mention the lack of time these days. This board has been a fantastic resource for me since buying my first old Subaru in 2000 - I have learned much from the members here, and continue to learn from them. We are a 2 Subaru family here, my 1995 Legacy wagon, and my hubby's recently purchased 2006 Outback L.L. Bean wagon (have a lot to learn about that one!)

 

Good luck with the search for that just right Subaru!



#11 MilesFox

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 10:31 AM

Good luck with your shopping and welcome to Subaru. If it makes you feel better about what you are looking for, I put my family in almost 20 year old subaru with near 200,000 mi or more, as i am not afraid of what to expect with them (as i have had very many) and i do all the maintenance myself. Recently, I provided my woman with a 800 dollar 96 impreza 185,000 mi, original to Idaho, as i am in Wisconsin, and a rust free car is something to appreciate. All the car required of me was a PCV valve and an oil change. I did have to replace the master cylinder, but i have less than $1000 into this car, and almost that much into a 92 mazda i replaced it with.

 

I also scored a 98 legacy outback with 132,000 mi with a skipped timing belt for 550 dollars. I repaired it with spare parts, and now it is good to go with a new timing belt for another 100000 mi. This is becuase the 2nd owner never did the 100,000 mi service after buying it from the first owner who sold or traded the car before the service was due. The timing belt skipped because one of the idler pulleys failed a bearing at 132,ooo mi. This is a win for me, getting a car for cheap, and a win for the car, since i saved if from junk (this is the limited with premium sound and leather interior!) Ironically, this is one of the nicest and lower mile used cars i have ever had out of almost 100 cars in my lifetime, and probably 50 subarus by now (althought a lot of them were 300 dollar rust piles) By this math, i am better off with 2 or 3 used subarus laying around than one new one, as i can resort to the 2nd or 3rd car as a backup i the first or 2nd one goes down for maintenance (the usual alternator or starter, routine repairs)

 

The moral of the story is here: A lower mile car is approaching the 100,000 mi mark will be due for its major service interval. A car with more than 100,000 mi may already have the work done. This means a car with 80,000 mi is due for service and will get you 20,000 mi out of it. A car with 120,000 mi 
(assuming the 100,000 mi service was done) will get you 80,000 mi before it's due.

 

Take this into consideration when shopping around. And don't be afraid of the miles, as these subarus routinely see towards 300,000 mi and more as long as you don't neglect the routine services or let it run out of fluids.

 

One more thing to consider is who does your maintnenance. With subarus, the design is much different than conventional autos with horizontally opposed engines and AWD layout, the car is basically a mirror imigae of itself if you cut it down the middle. With whomever does your maintnenance, you will find that either the mechanic knows nothing about the platform, or the the specializes exclusively in the platform. Common conventional auto knowledge a lot of times does not apply with subaru. You did right by joining this forum to learn about Subaru.

 

Either way, whichever way yo go for newer or more used, you can do your part simply by checking the oil and the air in the tires to avoid reliability problems. Change the oil from 3-5000 mi, add as necessary (you may need to top off a quart between oil changes). Consider 5w40 wt oil if the car has more than 100,000 mi, especially with turbos, synthetic blend or full synthetic 0w40 oil.

 

Good luck



#12 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 10:43 AM

miles touched on a good point.

 

Ask in a new thread for recommendations of a shop near Boise. You not only could find someone to handle a pre-purchase inspection for you, but sometimes a shop may know of a regular customer with a decent car for sale. I've even seen some shops with bulletin-board posting of cars for sale. At least there'd be a good chance the car saw some care during its life. 'Network' with your fellow churchgoers, PTA parents and teachers, neighbors, even relatives in retirement communities, etc.


Edited by 1 Lucky Texan, 13 August 2014 - 10:46 AM.


#13 Pasta

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 02:00 PM

MilesFox, those are mind-blowing stories!  Will post a shop recommendation now, Texan - I appreciate the advice.  Thanks to all and will let you know what I buy.  Going out tonight to look at one.



#14 Pasta

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 10:14 PM

Well, we did it :banana: 

Purchasing a 2009 Forester 2.5X Limited Edition with 67k miles for $15,000.  I think it's a great deal.  Red with black leather interior.  We are meeting the seller at her bank tomorrow and I am paying off the title and picking up the vehicle.  It is a great feeling to put my wife and kids in a reliable vehicle :)

  My plans are:

oil/filter change

ATF drain/fill x 3

rear differential fluid change

new air filter

new wiper blades.

professional detail cleaning of the interior.

.

Going to lurk the forum for what else I should do and to see what the members think about degreasing the engine (it is filthy).

Well, you all are the first to know, will be telling friends/family tomorrow.  Thanks to all for the advice along the way.

Best,

Pasta



#15 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 10:52 PM

consider a brake fluid flush and the front diff's fluid. maybe even use a turkey baster with a hose to pull out some power steering fluid but, maybe only if it looks like coffee.

 

maybe a bottle of Techron through a tank of gas.

 

take a look at when the car gets spark plugs.

 

read the manual about use of the spare tire and towing the car.

 

that's all I can think of - congrats!



#16 Rooster2

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 06:03 AM

Consider pulling off a front road wheel, so you can take a look at how much brake pad you have left. Most braking is with the front brakes, so the fronts wear out faster.

 

Consider using dish washing liquid to clean off the engine. Just wet down the motor, then squirt on the detergent, wait about 15 minutes, then use a garden hose on full hard spray to wash off the detergent. This does a decent job. You can also buy spray cans of engine clean product, which is mostly kerosene, that works too, but I don't like leaving kerosene on my driveway.

 

Consider changing the anti-freeze. It still may have the original that came with the car.

 

Enjoy your new Soob. You will appreciate the traction of all wheel drive in the snow, and even when driving through heavy rain.



#17 grossgary

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 06:39 AM

front diff fluid is far more important than rear diff. 

 

subaru rear differential failure is extermely rare, you can get by without ever changing the fluid in those things, not saying i recommend that - just that they're robust and it doesn't much matter.

 

hopefully you checked for signs of external headgasket leaks.



#18 heartless

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 06:44 AM

Congratulations!

 

keep in the back of your mind that you will need to do a full timing service at about 100K - better to do early than have it fail on you and potentially trash valves.



#19 MilesFox

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 08:00 AM

For the trans service, a 3x drain and fill is the method for do-it-yourself. But if using a professional service, a machine is far more efficient, such as a machine that acts as a fluid reservoior to exchange the fluid. Where i work at, we use a t-tech machine. It is not a power flush or back flush. It is a 'fluid exchange' that moves 18 qts of ATF thru as the engine runs.

 

BTW the power steering fluid uses dextron type II/III fluid, be sure not tu use the clear stuff meant for GM vehicles.

 

Congratulations, and expect to get bombarded with advice.



#20 Pasta

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Posted 15 August 2014 - 10:37 PM

All advice appreiated everyone.  I plan to get to work on checking brake pads, lubing caliper pins and changing fluids this weekend. 



#21 Belitsky

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Posted 17 October 2014 - 09:30 PM

Im thinking of getting a 2003 Subaru Outback. Does anyone know anything about gasket issues and or transmission issues? 

 

Im posting in this message board because I genuinely liked and appreciated the feedback like Pasta said. I really want to get a Subaru so im just trying to do my research to know that I am looking at the right one.



#22 Pasta

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 10:16 PM

Hi Belitsky,

 

Welcome to the forum.

 

There are plenty of good threads on this site and other forums that discuss the head gasket issue.  Apparently, it was pretty common in previous generations until 2008 or 2009.  From what I gather (someone please correct me if I'm wrong), if the HG was replaced recently, and you use the proper coolant, then the problem is solved.   Also see the #11 post above from Miles Fox. If the Soob you are looking at has 100k miles and had the tune-up, you may be better off than one with 80-90k miles that still needs the service.

 

We are extremely happy with our purchase.  Having never driven an AWD vehicle before, I was surprised at the responsive handling and associated feeling of stability/safety.  2 weeks ago, we went to Yellowstone NP and the Grand Tetons NP.  The vehicle performed beautifully up steep hills with sharp turns.  There are places along the roads to pull over and look at wildlife, some of them gravel areas at rather steep/awkward angles.  I have minimal experience driving off roads, but never once passed up an opportunity to pull over for fear of the terrain.  I certainly cannot say that if we were in my Honda Accord. We did a mini-survey, and the most common vehicle we saw with Wyoming tags was the Subaru. I can see why, ours performed flawlessly and there will probably always be one in our family.  

 

I am originally from SW Pennsylvania and know that you are no stranger to shoveling snow in California, PA.  Best wishes in your search for a new vehicle.  Again, spend a couple hours on the forums, there is an unbelievable amount of information here, and there are plenty of threads that will answer any possible quesiton you could have on the HG issue...probably too much info  : )

 

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress, the members here are very knowledgeable, professional, and patient.

 

Best,

 

Pasta






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