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Subaru Reliability vs Honda and Toyota


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42 replies to this topic

#26 Philbiker

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Posted 26 January 2005 - 01:59 PM

If you want the most reliable car made, go buy an Echo or a Corolla. They're simple, well made, and unfortunately, BORING AS HELL.

I really like the Echo personally. Wasn't it the first car to feature a sophisticated new high-tech Toyota variable valve timing scheme? I think they look great, too. :)

#27 Gnuman

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Posted 26 January 2005 - 02:49 PM

I think that last was sarcasm. . .

No real experience with the newer Soobies, but my '92 handles like it is bolted to the road, and as far as I have been able to determine (after 145Kmiles) all but indestructable. Nicely quick on acceleration, and power to spare on hills. Oh, and everything still works on the car (except the A/C. . .the compressor just blew recently. I plan on upgrading to a system that I can get refrigerant for. . .) Of the three, which would I buy new? A Subaru, hands down. I do most of my own work and the Subaru is the easiest engine I have ever worked on.

#28 Martinjmpr

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 12:59 AM

Regarding those CR "rankings",


What the hell is "expected" reliability? :confused: Reliability is something that either is or isn't there, and can really only be deduced by actual use, not by "expectations." Every business owner "expects" his business to be a success. Every general "expects" his battle plan to succeed. Obviously, they aren't always right.

I'd judge reliability by looking at the numbers of older models still on the road and their mileage. Are there 10-year old Chevy Cavaliers out there with 250k on them and no major malfunctions? I just don't know, but from my limited experience with Chevrolet products, I doubt it.

OTOH, I see lots of older Subies still on the road and still (apparently) running strong. Now, maybe this is because Subies tend to get more "fanatical" owners, who take better care of them and who are more meticulous about routine maintenance. Or, maybe it's because the US automakers have low QC standards on their cheap cars. Again, I don't know, but the bottom line is that an 'expectation' of reliability based on anything other than actual experience is still a WAG (Wild Assed Guess) as far as I'm concerned.

#29 grossgary

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 08:58 AM

"expected reliability", i thought that was amusing as well.

talk to anyone that works on cars for other people, they don't see many honda's, toyota's or subaru's. i work on them all, GM, Dodge and Ford's suck because they create more work for me when my friends cars break down. toyota's and honda's are great and i have seen some uncanny mileages on these things with no maintenance. subaru's also great, obviously i've owned like 10 of them, but i don't have much experience with newer ones.

#30 JT95

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 04:00 PM

Are there 10-year old Chevy Cavaliers out there with 250k on them and no major malfunctions?


Are there many Cavalier owners out there going crazy over broken engines with blown head gaskets at 70,000 miles?

Now, I'd never pick a Cavalier over a Subaru, but I'm just trying to make a point. The problem with looking at the track record of previous models of the same car is that car makers totally change things up periodically, and a new design is pretty much like what you said, nothing but a blank guess as far as true reliability. Now, if a car is using the same drivetrain it had 8 years ago, then there's a pretty systematic/scientific method of predicting reliability of the new model.

My car before my Sube was a 93 Chevy Caprice with almost 200,000 miles on it. It was 11 yrs old and had been a cop car its first few years, so it sat still and ran a lot, putting more wear on the engine than the odometer could reveal. If I'd had a garage I would have dropped a 350 in that baby and gone another 200,000. Of course, Chevrolet doesn't make "real" cars like that anymore, so I in no way want to defend the blue bowtie.

Here's a funny tidbit--I was driving a temporary-car awhile back. A 94 Cavalier I paid $600 for. I drove it for two months, did a few cheap cosmetic fixes to the interior, and gave it and $100 cash for my 95 Legacy LSi. (Granted the Sube was missing the front bumper and a damaged hood/fender.)

#31 85Sub4WD

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 04:39 PM

The biggest problem with most american manufacturers is the reliability of the transversly mouted automatic transmission. And yes, there are a number of instances where american cars have blown their trannies at or before 70,000 - the Dodge Caravan is an excellent example (particularly on or after the 1996 model year). Blown headgaskets at similar mileages are not uncommon either. And yes many american cars do have head gasket issues. Particularly ones made in the late 80's and early '90s. I personally avoid Chevy anyway because of issues members of my extended family have had with them. I know someone who blew a head gasket at 30,000 with regular driving. The point is, that no manufacturer is perfect, but Subaru is far better than most.
As an example, how many early '90s american cars do you see on the road?
How many japanese/european cars do you see?
Also, compare the overall condition of the two cars.
Cop cars have super-robust everything. They are built to take all of the abuse of a city bus and still go as fast as possible. In other words, I would expect to get 500,000 miles out of a cop car without any massive failures. (Idling does not hurt an engine, so the reading on the odometer is really what you should be concerned about.)

#32 Johngenx

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 04:49 PM

Chrysler made tons of mini-vans and cars with bad paint, crappy auto-boxes, poor AC systems and numerous other faults. The killer is that they knew about them for years and never took one step to fix a thing. Ford has a long list of junk, including Windstars with junky trannies and failing headgaskets.

Subaru has some minor faults and is not to be compared to the contant-lemon-making "Big Three." My hope is that GM does not allow it's culture of grbage to infiltrate Subaru. Since merging with Chrysler, Mercedes products have taken a huge nosedive in quality, now sitting at the bottom of the barrel. No surprise.

The makes to watch are the Koreans. They have been toiling hard on improving their build quality.

#33 85Sub4WD

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 08:39 PM

Johngenx - it's obvious that you or someone close to you has owned a Chrysler my family (unfortunately) owns a '96 Caravan which we will be selling soon because it eats ALL fluids

What you said about Mercades is also true, I have friends who own and service Mercades and would not buy a new one for anything.

I am holding SOME hope out for Hyundai, but their trannies use the same AT oils as Chrysler so ...

#34 Gnuman

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 09:43 PM

The only other six cylinder ever made by Subaru was the ER27, which is very rare.


You seem to be forgetting the EJ33 (I think that is what went into the SVX). While this was also a rare beast, they have made H-6 engines before. I have been working on SVX's for the last couple of days, and they weere built like tanks. The weak point in that car was the tranny, not the engine. It saddens me that there were not more of them made. They were an excelent answer to the Corvette. . . :brow:

Anyone that needs SVX parts send me a PM, by the way. I may be able to hook you up. . .

#35 powderhound

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 10:06 PM

IMO GM's "garbage culture" has already infiltrated FHI and Subaru. This weekend my parents traded their 01 OBW w/ 75K for an 05 CR-V. Hopefully this Honda won't go through three fuel injectors, experience severe clutch judder (God Honda makes a SMOOTH linkage), have a recall for the rear subframe rusting out, leak fuel, oil, or coolant. Sorry SOA you just don't cut it anymore and have lost another long time faithful customer. It is indeed a sad day.

BTW they did test drive the 05 OBW and were not impressed at all.

#36 85Sub4WD

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Posted 30 January 2005 - 11:07 PM

I realized I forgot the SVX's after I posted it and I forgot to correct it. Neat car, have only seen one, and I liked it before I knew who made it. They are pretty rare here. The only problem I have with them is that they are all automatics.

The '05 OBW's have had issues with handeling, and I would probably go for a Forester if I wanted a new Soob. That is also because the OBW this year is completely new in design.

I think you just had a lousy mechanic. I have never seen a "bad" fuel injector (and I have been working on cars since I was in 5th grade). I have seen clogged fuel injectors that need to be cleaned, and I have seen some that were gummed up and stuck open that needed to be cleaned. Also, 90% of issues with clutch judder is because the mechanic didn't turn the flywheel before he installed the new clutch. (which he is supposed to do for ALL cars) Or because he allowed grease to get on the clutch also, OEM clutches are MUCH better than any aftermarket crap you will find, so it was not SOA's problem if you did not use their parts.

I have had the same Soob for 20 years and if you wash the bottom after driving on road salt, you won't have rust issues. (and road salt is used very freely here b/c we don't have many snow plows) And my car was also recalled for rust issues, though it has expierenced none.

My expierence has been that Subaru makes great cars on the whole, but has lousy dealerships and service departments in particular. If you can find a decent foreign auto mechanic that knows cars other than the big three japanese, then you are set.

#37 Johngenx

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Posted 31 January 2005 - 12:48 AM

Johngenx - it's obvious that you or someone close to you has owned a Chrysler my family (unfortunately) owns a '96 Caravan which we will be selling soon because it eats ALL fluids

What you said about Mercades is also true, I have friends who own and service Mercades and would not buy a new one for anything.

I am holding SOME hope out for Hyundai, but their trannies use the same AT oils as Chrysler so ...


Quite a few of my neighbours have had Caravans/Intrepids, etc. Everyone of them was junk. My wife had a 97 BMW 528i that she didn't like much (bought a 98 E300td, there's a story...) and we ended up selling it to one of our Intrepid driving neighbours. Over the last few years, they've been shocked at how little it costs to run the BMW vs. their now-gone Intrepid! One thing we didn't like about the BMW was it's high running costs compared to the MB's we've owned. I guess it depends on your experiences and perspective.

My 98 Mercedes is pretty much one of the last of the "simple" MB's made. All 2001- models are filled with technology that the driver never really sees and does nothing more than add parts to break. Example? My ACC system uses four computer controlled "doors" to direct airflow. Pretty much the same system MB used for over a decade, only with updated digital controls. In 2001, they started using systems that had up to 30 electronic doors. The old ACC system worked really well. Change for change's sake.

Even the newest Subarus seem like pretty simple and straightforward vehicles to me. I might be hesitant about the five speed automatic, but hopefully Subaru got theirs right from the get-go. Acura, Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, almost everyone had problems with their first five speed designs.

One thing I like about Subaru is the infrequent changes to things that work. They didn't revamp the AWD system on a yearly basis. The SOHC 2.5L engine wasn't a two year run. Also, sharing the 2.5L driveline among all models was pretty smart. Cut production costs, but also focus on one driveline, and get the thing right. Mercedes used to do this, and to a point still do.

When David E Davis Jr. left Car and Driver to start his own mag, there was some hard fellings back at C&D. They wrote a piece that D.E.D Jr's new mag would only contain articles about Mercedes-Benzes and Subarus, since they were the only two brands D.E.D liked personally. I would have liked that publication...

#38 powderhound

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Posted 31 January 2005 - 11:10 AM

85Sub4WD

Fuel injectors were replaced by the dealer...one of them twice on seperate occassions.

AS for clutch judder the car has 75K on it...do you think its had a clutch replaced...NO! Clearly you have not owned a newer subaru. Judder is a "FEATURE" direct from the factory. Maybe you stopped learning to read in fifth grade.

The fact that they used sub par materials and would require a recall is reason enough to doubt any future endeavors. Also you live in NC...what do they use salt maybe twice a year there...get real. Also I like how you've owned the same soob for longer than you've been alive...neat trick.

#39 Dr.Outback

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Posted 31 January 2005 - 05:01 PM

If you look at Consumer Reports repair histories for the Legacy and compare them to the Camry, Accord and Maxima, it definetly falls short in a few areas. The '96-'98 2.5L engines do have a problem with HG's and oil leaks. Subaru used a plastic rear separator plate that warped and started leaking from the between the trans and engine. Now what did Subaru do? Replace the plastic rear separator plate with another plastic plate. No, they upgraded the part because there was a problem. Now the plates are made out of aluminum. Almost all '95-'98 Subaru engines leak oil from the cam and crank seals also. So Subaru upgraded the replacement oil seals. They aren't expensive to do when you have to do a timing belt changed. My dealer only charges for the part. Basically what I'm saying is that if Subaru finds a service issue, they fix it.

The headgasket issue mainly affects the Phase 1 2.5L. Subaru has changed the part number several times for the headgaskets. Now I'm not sure if that's because they started making them somewhere else, or that the revised them in some way.

The areas that Subaru falls short in the Consumer Reports history ratings for the '96 Legacy are, electrical and engine. the electrical is because they recalled the the '96 & '97 for an alternator problem. I'm not aware of an major electrical problems other then that. And of course the combination between the oil leaks and headgasket leaks for the poor engine rating. Certainly I would be careful of the '96-'98 2.5 Phase 1.

The '85-'90 GL and DL's were also a splotch on the compaines record. I saw an old CR from '93 that gave the 1.8L engine a poor rating . Those engines leaked oil and had a tendency to snap the timing belt, leaving you sit. And they rusted to nothing in a time when Toyota and Honda weren't rusting quite as fast. Toyota's and Honda's still rusted out, they just took longer.

I do have to say that I barely see many Camry's older then the '88 generation, and for a car that sold well, that's not very good. I do see a lot of '87-'90 Accords though. And quite a few older Corrola's, but not Civics. And all the older Acura's are rust buckets. Toyota had a lot of problems with the V6's in the 4Runner's also.

So basically I tell my friends that Toyota/Lexus are the best, followed closely by Honda/Acura then Subaru. The reliability differences are only a few percentage points. And every manufacturer makes booboo's. Have fun shopping!

#40 Sconnyite

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 01:23 AM

[quote name='85Sub4WD'] Also, 90% of issues with clutch judder is because the mechanic didn't turn the flywheel before he installed the new clutch. (which he is supposed to do for ALL cars) Or because he allowed grease to get on the clutch also, OEM clutches are MUCH better than any aftermarket crap you will find, so it was not SOA's problem if you did not use their parts.

Ha. I owned a 97 OBW with the factory clutch, and it chattered from 62,000 miles until it died(Head gasket of course) at 104K. My new OBW has clutch chatter in first gear every morning the temp dips below 20 degrees F.

As for all the guys saying their subarus don't burn oil and they have a zillion miles on them, I'm betting you're in the minority. My new 04 OBW with 18K miles on it burns about a quart every 4,000 miles. Bogus, but I'm getting out of this car before the warranty is toast, so what do I care?

#41 The Dude

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 07:32 AM

So far, I'm fairly pleased with my 99 Forester. But for sake of argument, let me bring up the Subaru 1.8L engine. If I remember correctly, this engine had an oil pump with defective "O" rings. Air leaked into the oil pump and an oily foam was delivered to the valve train. If the driver was lucky enough to detect the problem in time, the fix was no big deal. But a number of owners had their car's valve trains destroyed. I'm pretty sure that the leaky "O" ring problem went on for a number of model years.

Which reminds me of a couple of on going Subaru problems:
Bad fuel level sensors. Ok, nobody is going to die from this. But come on, these things have been a problem for years on Subarus. A reliable fuel level sensor should be an easy fix for a company like Subaru.

Screws backing out of the oil pump. Kinda reminds of the old 1.8L problem. Ok, it's not a problem on most Subarus. But does it have to happen at all?
Can anyone at Subaru say "Loctite"?

Bad wheels bearings in Foresters. This went on for a number of model years. Clutches on early model year Foresters. Gee, the more powerful 2.5L engine needed a more powerful clutch asembly. Who wouldda thought it? Subaru finally nailed this problem. But there were several model years of pretty unhappy MT owners.

So, overall Subaru is a pretty good car. And every car manufacturer makes mistakes. Personally, I think Subaru could apply fixes a little more rapidly.

#42 JT95

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 10:02 AM

Cop cars have super-robust everything. They are built to take all of the abuse of a city bus and still go as fast as possible.


This wasn't a police package car. It was just a regular production Caprice that a small town police department put a cage in and lights behind the grill.

I have had no Chrysler experience whatsoever because I never been fond of the brand. I would not buy a Chrysler, although I must say that they are pretty much trend setters for a lot of the styling going on now in the auto world--domestic and foreign. My parents always buy Fords, so I have exposure to that brand--probably the WORST handeling FWD vehicles on the planet. My wife had a Tempo for a few months while we were car shuffling a couple years ago and I refused to drive that thing on wet roads. I always have liked big, rear wheel drive cars, so my exposure to anything new Chevrolet is limited too. I bought a newer Olds Alero for my commuter car this past summer--that was a total piece of assembly line crap. Looked good and zoomed, but the most screwed up I've ever owned. I love my Subaru, would buy a brand new Subaru if I was getting a new car--probably the ONLY brand new vehicle I would consider getting.

American makers screwed up when they stopped making American cars and started trying to build Japanese and European cars. How many 80s RWD GM cars do you see still on the road? Maybe it's just a regional thing, but I see a bunch of old RWD Monte Carlos and Regals and Cutlass cars from the 80s still going. Ever been in a Grand National? 12 seconds through the quarter mile and 30mpg...that was a car...

#43 drquasievil

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 10:08 AM

"That's right. Beat by an Impala.

WRX come in behind Accura and Toyota.
Forester comes in behinf Honda and Toyota.

Do I like these results? NO
Does Subaru need to do a better job? YES
Maybe quality will improve now that GM owns a piece."


I place absolutly no trust or creedence in those reviews and shootouts. For example, I read a review of the Porsche Boxster and the WRX written by the same author, Road and Track I think it was. The reviews are so formulated to favor the popular opinion that there is no objectivity. The comments on the tranny for example: He described the Subaru tranny as being clunky and that you had to "row through the gears". In the Boxster review he described it as tight and precise as a Porsche should be. Holy *&%#, what a out and out lie. On the occasion that I take my wifes Boxster it is very much like rowing through the gears with it's long and awkward throw. Getting back into my car I feel like I was just drivign an old ford truck. Further the handeling comments are biased as well. The Porsche slips and slides and won't stay planted and lacks an absolute feel of available traction in aggresive cornering, you just flat don't know when it will slip out from under you. The STI is far more planted and predictable in all conditions. Yet who does the press give the nod to as the superior driver's car? The automotive press is a shill for the advertisment department. I would not be surprised if their list of ad based revenues is a spot on copy of their rankings for quality and performance.


Everyone lies because the Subaru doesn't make the cut and you and everyone in this board is objective. Right?

We all love our cars. No matter what we own because it's an extension to our ego. But the fact remains, Subarus are lousy in gas and reliability is questionable. At 30K miles, my 95 Legacy had more leaks than I would have like to. But, got them fixed and still love it.




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