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$15k-$20k to spend - which used Subaru?


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25 replies to this topic

#1 skthom

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 03:36 PM

I looked at the '05 Forester and Outbacks and either car fits my needs nicely. It will be abused by myself and the kids for snow sports, biking, and a generally active outside lifestyle so we really don't need or want the highest trim level. If I can find a nice clean used car, I'd be happy to spend less money. If I have to spend more than about $20K, I'll just buy new.

Which years/models would you say are the best?

Which years/models would you stay away from?

Thanks!

#2 A DOG

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 03:56 PM

Whatever you do don't get an automatic. Unless its like an 05 or 04, because suby automatics aren't the best. I would suggest getting a used Legacy or Outback because they have a lot of cargo space. Sound like you need it. Or you could always go old school and get a 88 GL. Has a good amount of cargo space and 4hi and 4lo. They don't handle quite as nice or as fast, but they'll last just as long. My .02 cents

#3 KStretch55

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 04:02 PM

There's not a lot of difference between a $15K Subaru and a $5K Subaru. Just miles on the odometer and they last forever so that doesn't necessarily mean much. Shop around for a really nice $5K Subbie and pocket the rest

#4 soobmater

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 04:07 PM

Ya i would go with a 5k subaru to.

Don't worry to much about miles they pretty much run forever.

#5 skthom

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 04:20 PM

There's not a lot of difference between a $15K Subaru and a $5K Subaru. Just miles on the odometer and they last forever so that doesn't necessarily mean much. Shop around for a really nice $5K Subbie and pocket the rest


No kidding?

I had never considered a Subaru before so I know virtually nothing about them. I'd be all over getting a $5K car! But I do need a little bit of room in the car for the wife and two kids. Aren't the older models smaller?

BTW - I do plan on pulling my small utility trailer virtually any time we're not up in the snow (racing dirtbikes). So the car needs to be able to handle that.

Besides the automatic tranny, are there any particular years or engines to stay away from?

#6 mtsmiths

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 04:35 PM

If were me shopping I would bump up to the $10K range and get a '00-01 Outback. The later models avoid possible headgasket issues, and the drivability and creature comforts are a lot better.

Oh wait, that's what I *DID* do!

#7 powderhound

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 04:41 PM

I would and do/will avoid anything with a 2.5l engine...phase1 or not. If you want to spend 15K just get yourself 4 or 5 90-94 legacys.

#8 mtsmiths

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 04:59 PM

Well, we're at 160,000+ miles on our '00 Legacy AT wagon and we've had zero mechanical issues.

Wait we did have to redo a front wheel bearing after one of us did a curb kiss.

#9 spanky_pete

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 05:07 PM

Contrary to the posted opinion, you're getting a lot more car for that extra 10k. Yes older subarus are indeed incredibly reliable, but I would definitely recommend buying newer. The 2.5l Outback and Foresters are great cars, with most of the their troubles behind them in their current revisions.

I've driven both and the weight savings going with a Forestor instead of an Outback(Legacy Based) gives you a little extra 'pep' from the 165hp motor. If you're looking for a little extra power, a used WRX wagon can be had in the 15k range too.

#10 spanky_pete

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 05:08 PM

I would and do/will avoid anything with a 2.5l engine...phase1 or not. If you want to spend 15K just get yourself 4 or 5 90-94 legacys.


Psst, all Subarus with a 4cylinder in the US will be 2.5 liters after 2005. ;)

#11 edrach

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 05:08 PM

I vote for the $5K car also. As a matter of fact my daily driver was bought two years ago for $2500 ('91 Legacy Wagon with manual tranny and 98K miles on the odo). I now have 143K on it and plan on keeping until I can't fix it anymore (hasn't needed anything other than routine maintenance since I got it). Our newest car was a '97 Impreza Wagon with 112K on it for just under $4K (bought 2 months ago). Same manual tranny and same 2.2L engine. My personal preference is the 2.2L gen1 engine built from around '90 to early '97. Strong, robust and reliable; and IT'S A NON-INTERFERENCE ENGINE!! Everything after that is fine, but not quite as reliable and if you're unlucky enough to have a timing belt break, it's likely to be a very expensive repair.

No kidding?

I had never considered a Subaru before so I know virtually nothing about them. I'd be all over getting a $5K car! But I do need a little bit of room in the car for the wife and two kids. Aren't the older models smaller?

BTW - I do plan on pulling my small utility trailer virtually any time we're not up in the snow (racing dirtbikes). So the car needs to be able to handle that.

Besides the automatic tranny, are there any particular years or engines to stay away from?



#12 adwolf1

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 09:39 PM

i can't speak to the reliability of the AT on newer cars, but my 96 legacy with AT has 100k and still shifts as it did when new... i guess having a not-so-high-strung engine to work with (the 2.2) helps longevity.

#13 grossgary

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 12:05 AM

if you get an automatic, install an aftermarket transmission cooler on it immediately and make sure all the tires match (tread depth and type of tire).

whatever you get, have a very complete tune up done to the car. new cars are a waste...unless it's a Ford and you know for certain the warranty will be needed multiple times in the immediate future. if you don't mind spending the money, then who cares. if you'd rather keep the $, then get a used subaru and have all maintenance items addressed immediately unless you have records from previous owner that show it's been done.

timing belts replaced
timing belt pulleys/tensioner replaced
cam seals replaced
water pump replaced (mileage depending)
coolant flushed
transmission fluid flushed
plugs, wires, cap and rotor (cap and rotor only on some motors)
check brake pads
replace battery (if old)

older subaru engines and transmissions will generally last a long time. but the older the car, the more likely you'll have a run in with wheel bearings, alternator, fuel pump or some other random failure. not that it's likely to happen or these are common, but after 100,000 miles there's more of a chance one of these will cause issues. but the engine and car in general will last for as long as you'd like. i've driven XT6's for 350,000 + miles and have never had one wheel bearing, starter or brake failure in any subaru i've owned.

#14 soobmater

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 12:17 AM

yes the bigger ones have a lot of room to

#15 P K

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 01:38 AM

I am going to take my Subaru hat off for a moment and blaspheme the post:

For your lifestyle and cargo needs @ $20k, you could get a new or near new AWD Honda Element. Before anyone else or yourself laughs, test drive one - you WILL BE AMAZED - pure function and IVTEC power and reliability. All-weather flooring, flip up rear seats for van-size cargo, laydown seats for bed, snowbooard/ski racks, mountain bikes fit inside, U-haul receiver hitch, etc, etc.

I apologize Lord for recommending other-than-Subaru. (voice of Larry the cable guy)

#16 grossgary

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 02:35 AM

honda's are great. elements are great for tall drivers. no third seat belt in the rear and about as dumb looking as they come (personal taste of course).

get an AT cooler installed no matter what (even if the car is brand new).

#17 bratman2

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 04:10 PM

I would suggest a new Legacy wagon myself, we have a 2003 LSE sedan bought new for under 20k and have really enjoyed it. With no trade and some serious haggling you should still be able to get a 2005 around 20k with the 5 speed. The Legacy is lighter and has the same room as the Outback, the ride is better than a Forrester. We test drove both, the Legacy was better equiped for people comfort for the same price, monnroof, alloy wheels, fog lights, you get the picture.

#18 SevenSisters

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 08:19 PM

20K? Buy a new Legacy sedan.

#19 rweddy

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 08:34 PM

I am going to take my Subaru hat off for a moment and blaspheme the post:

For your lifestyle and cargo needs @ $20k, you could get a new or near new AWD Honda Element. Before anyone else or yourself laughs, test drive one - you WILL BE AMAZED - pure function and IVTEC power and reliability. All-weather flooring, flip up rear seats for van-size cargo, laydown seats for bed, snowbooard/ski racks, mountain bikes fit inside, U-haul receiver hitch, etc, etc.

I apologize Lord for recommending other-than-Subaru. (voice of Larry the cable guy)

Only issue with these is they get horrible gas mileage, AWD version gets 20mpg and their AWD system is terrible. Front wheel drive until slip then rear kicks in after it is too late.
But I do like the all weather flooring and such, but they are damm ugly cars.

#20 seabright_sc

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 09:28 PM

Another vote for the $4-7K Car.



"timing belts replaced
timing belt pulleys/tensioner replaced
cam seals replaced
water pump replaced (mileage depending)
coolant flushed
transmission fluid flushed
plugs, wires, cap and rotor (cap and rotor only on some motors)
check brake pads
replace battery (if old)"

All these items (and maybe even a cluch) should be done by 120K. Once they are done they're good for another 100K. It's best to buy a vehicle at 130 or even 140 if it's had all the above done vs. 100k and it's up the above maintenance. The 130 K will probably be less expensive and all those items may add to another $1000+. Subis will give you little problems up until at least 200+K I wouldn't even be afraid to the headgasket issue. Maybe you'l find one that's been taken care of already, or maybe the subi you own wont have the problem. If the price is right, a HG issue (if it arises) ss still minor compared to the $$$ yopu'll save vs. owning a newer car. I've bought all three subis (1986 GL wagon, 1996 outback, 1997 GT sedan) with around 130K and the cost of ownership has been minimal. All three were single owner and dealer maintained:)

#21 Johngenx

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 09:47 PM

We usually buy used cars, but we bought "newish" models for the creature comforts the newer models offer. Both our 01 Subies offer heated seats, mirrors and wiper-park. They have good CD changer stereo systems and are both in virtually perfect mechanical condition. I'm not freaked out by HG problems on Phase 2 2.5's. If it goes, I'll fix it, or have it fixed. By buying 01's, we already saved close to $50K combined.

#22 photo2001

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 03:06 AM

No matter what you buy, nobody can guarantee that you won't have problems. I will just tell you my experience. I leased 2 Forester's, and bought the second one at the end of the lease, (an expensive way to go, but still cheaper than buying a brand new one). The first was a '98, with no problems, 25 mpg consistently, comfortable and plenty of room to carry my stuff, (no kids here). The second is a 2000, which has gotten poorer mileage, around 20mpg all around driving, no major problems. Minor annoyance-check engine light comes on. I had the 02 sensor replaced under recall, light still comes on. I find that when I fill up the tank, don't top it off, make sure to turn the gas cap 3 or 4 clicks, check engine light rarely comes on now. The back seat doesn't have great leg room for adults, should be ok for kids. I don't know if the Outback is better, but I think it is a longer vehicle. The Forester has a very comfortable driver's seat, and I have serious back problems and I can drive it comfortably for hours. I did a lot of research before I bought it, and I'm happy. No rollover warning like higher vehicles get. Consumer Reports top rating. My 2 cents. Best of luck!
Kevin
:)

#23 envy_petter

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 03:20 PM

In '03, I bought a BRAND NEW '03 Legace Speical Edition sedan (no spoiler) but added a factory security system for $18,350 plus tax and tags. Check it out as my avatar...

You should be able to find a HELL of a lot of stuff for under $20K!

#24 langosta39

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Posted 19 June 2005 - 06:58 PM

I have to agree with the "buy new" guys. A 5-spd Legacy wagon should be easy to get for under 20K. Wait for the end of the month desperate salesmen, or for the end of '05 model year clearances and get the new car of your dreams for 19 even. If you want a forester I bet they go even cheaper. You will be very surprised to find out what you can get a new car for if you try. Its a big game with the salesguys, and they have the advantage of playing the game everyday, but if you come prepared with actual car values, patience, and self-control you will emerge victorious. Get all rebates, dealer hold-backs, etc etc.

andy

#25 Flyfish9

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 03:09 PM

i can't speak to the reliability of the AT on newer cars, but my 96 legacy with AT has 100k and still shifts as it did when new... i guess having a not-so-high-strung engine to work with (the 2.2) helps longevity.


My 98 Forester auomatic has 223,000 miles on it. Zero tranny problems, burns less than a quart of oil between changes, and still gets 26/28 mpg with a Thule cargo box on top. Did have the hg problem at 189,000. Had it fixed by an indy, and a lot of other work at the same time. Oil pump, water pump, timing belt, drive belt, and brakes. Just put on 1,000 miles on a fishing trip and it ran like new.




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