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New to me, 98 outback - any advice?


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9 replies to this topic

#1 PatNJ

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Posted 19 May 2004 - 08:45 PM

Hi Everyone,
I am purchasing a 98 legacy outback ltd w/ dual sunroofs (or is it rooves?) ,lthr seats on Friday. Seems decent enough, although I did not hiway drive it yet. The rear windows lower weirdly with that triangle sticking up...
To me, the brake pedal had a bit of travel but that was my only complaint besides the fact that what they call a sunroof is really a popup. My kid gets a real sunroof.
I am paying $6900. That seems fair w/ 100k miles. She hasn't done timing belt yet so I will probably do that soon.
I was looking at another site and reviewers there were claiming a lot of head gasket probs and a lot of wind noise, is that so?
Any comments soon about the car will be appreciated...
Thanks :)

#2 karnofsky

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Posted 19 May 2004 - 09:12 PM

Hi, I'm new on this board too, but I've owned Subarus for 25 years, and my wife just junked a 97 Outback at 138,000 that she bought 3 years ago with 70,000 miles (for $13,500). The head gasket went in November ($1,400), then the valves started sticking shortly thereafter which would have cost $2-3,000 to have fixed properly. Read the head gasket threads on this site, and there is a link on one of them to a guestbook of victims. The problem is very real, and they should have been recalled. If you're buying from a dealer, it might be worth asking for assurances that they will take care of it if the hg goes. Subarus are in general wonderful cars but it seems that the 97,98,99 2.5l engines are very much a gamble, and the fix is not cheap. The price of the car does seem reasonable, but you should go into the deal with your eyes open, if you can find one with a 2.2l engine you will probably be better off. The rear windows on ours were fussy, at the end we had to manually assist the power mechanism, and the rear door latch on the SW is a chronic problem.

#3 cookie

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 12:26 AM

Leave it to a Yankee to be logical.

#4 Geoff4130

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 01:38 AM

I bought mine about 3 weeks ago and love it! It has the 2.5L and I have not heard any odd noises coming from under the hood or wind noise, even cruising at 75-80 mph. Very smooth and quiet car. Even going through big fun mud puddles, ditches, ruts and other fun stuff it has no problems. The only 2 things I don't like are the suggish automatic and under heavy acceleration it burns a bit of oil, but not so much I am worried.

#5 karnofsky

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 06:49 AM

Here's the link I mentioned.
http://mysite.verizon.net/vze730qe/

#6 Tiny Clark

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 08:51 AM

The windows only lower that far due to the tire well cutout.

#7 PatNJ

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 11:01 AM

Those rear windows lowered still lokk strange, TC.....thanks Karnofsky, I will call today and get some pricing for that repair and the timing belt. What arsymptoms of head gasket failure (other than overheating and warpage)?m Anything I can look for today maybe before I buy???

Thanks, Pat

#8 karnofsky

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 01:27 PM

Pat, as far as I know ours gave not warning until my wife noticed the temperature guage heading up. I'm not a mechinic, though, so hopefully some mechanics on board my have some hints, I think someone may have mentioned bubbles in the coolant, but I'm not sure if that will show up before it overheats.

#9 Commuter

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 07:19 PM

Those rear windows lowered still lokk strange, TC.....thanks Karnofsky, I will call today and get some pricing for that repair and the timing belt. What arsymptoms of head gasket failure (other than overheating and warpage)?m Anything I can look for today maybe before I buy???

Thanks, Pat

If I did a little more searching, I could probably find the thread. That is, unless it was before the move onto this board and it disappeared off ezboard.

Anyway... I have a 97 OB. I like it. It's been pretty good except for the engine. Here are the weak points of the late 90's Outbacks.

Engine - Piston slap when cold. Not too much of an issue as long as it goes away when the engine warms up.
Engine - Head gasket failures. Look for bubbles and sludge in the coolant overflow tank.
Engine - leaks from the crank and cam seals. If you do timing belt, change them all.
Center clutch pack (if auto). Seems to fail somewhere on the plus side of 100k miles. Mine is going now (but I'm way over 200k).
Front end "clunk" when turning into a parking lot (for example). One front wheel going over an irregularity. Nothing much to be done and doesn't seem to have any detrimental effect.
Climate control lights that burn out, along with dash switch lights (easy fix)
Gas gauges get a bit fussy over the years. Not difficult to fix (one way takes time, the other $)
Rear wheel bearings sometimes go. Not too common, but happens.
Rusting of plate that hatch handle attaches to. (easy fix)

Probably a few more things if I thought more about it.

As for the brakes... put on stainless steel braided brake lines. It helps a lot.

Commuter

#10 Chip Hedrick

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 08:36 PM

Pat: I am the original owner of a '98 OBW (Outback Wagon), and I love it. I've put 105,000 mi on it, and I'm ready to put 105,000+mi more.

The only significant problem I've had with the car is that in January at 101,000 it developed a substantial oil leak. I took it to an independent Subaru specialist. It needed new cam and crank seals. I had the timing belt and timing belt tensioner replaced at the same time. Total cost was $540.00. The car has run great since.

Check the car's maintenance history. Run away if it has any history of overheating or head gasket failure. Some 2.5 engines are prone to those problems, while others seem to avoid them entirely.

One theory I have heard about head gasket failure is that it may be caused/aggravaed if air is left in the engine block when the coolant is changed. Apparently these cars require careful burping. Otherwise, air trapped in the cooling system can cause the coolant to boil and/or impede coolant flow, leading to overheating and head gasket failure.

Finally, regarding the brakes, it's amazing how much improvement can be had by simply changing the old fluid and bleeding the brake system.

Best of luck.




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