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Thinking of buying '96 Outback


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16 replies to this topic

#1 Autumn

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 11:48 AM

Good Day,

I am thinking of buying a '96 Outback, 2.5, Auto, w/112K miles for $4000. The timing chain let go and the upper engine has been just rebuilt, so all of the fluids have been replaced. The tires and brakes are new, the body is perfect (with minor paint scratches) and the interior is great. However, the headlamps appear milky and the fuel door says I have to use premium fuel. Where would I go to replace the headlamps....or clean them up? Do I really have to use premium? Any other issues that I should look out for?

I see from other posts that the folks that own these cars really like them.

Thanks very much for your help.

Autumn

#2 outback_97

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 12:15 PM

That sounds like a pretty good deal if it's in good shape and the engine problems have been fixed.

You can clean up the headlights, there's been several threads about this before, here's a few:
http://www.ultimates...olish headlight

http://www.ultimates...olish headlight

http://www.ultimates...olish headlight

I found these by searching; the board has an excellent search feature where you just type in a few key words, I used "polish headlight", which sounds like some sort of Eastern European miner's implement ;)

If the mfg. says to use premium fuel, I would. They probably know a lot about the design of the car, after all :)

That 2.5 engine was kind of a transition between the 2.2's used in the Legacies and the 2.5's used in the later Outbacks... it was used just the one year IIRC.

Steve

#3 Autumn

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 04:49 PM

Outback 97,

Thanks for the reply. This is my first time posting on your board. Please excuse my ignorance about the search options. I am very embarrassed.

I was hoping to get some information as to why I should not buy this vehicle. It is for my daughter who is a little down on her luck at the moment and I wanted to provide her with some decent transportation....that would last for a while.

It appears that most people that have these vehicles really like them. That is very encouraging to me, but it would be most helpful if I also knew about the pitfalls...if there are any.

Thanks again for your help.

Autumn

#4 Olnick

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 05:20 PM

Autumn--welcome to the board. You have a beautiful name!

In my opinion, and based on your desire to help your daughter with dependable transportation, I'd shy away from the car. It was the first year of the 2.5L engine and does require higher octane gas (higher compression ratio I believe.) And if and when the timing belt goes, you are in "deep kim chee." It's an "interference" type engine and, as it has already done, will cause very expensive damage to the top end when the pistons and valves collide. 'Course that may never happen again, you never know.

But by-and-large Subarus are beautifully designed and well put together vehicles. I've driven them for over 20 years and love 'em.

Would suggest a better buy for you would be a Legacy model, any year up through 1996. They have what is often called a "bulletproof" 2.2L engine. With normal care they seem to run forever. And if a timing belt breaks, generally no massive damage (they are a "non-interference" engine.)

I'm sure the '96 Outback is a lovely vehicle but--again just my opinion--I'd let it go and look for a decent Legacy. My own daughter picked up a '92 Legacy sedan a year ago and I swear it runs better than my '95 wagon!

Hope this helps. Any other questions, just ask. The people on this board are a fantastic resource.

#5 outback_97

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 05:30 PM

Autumn:

Don't be embarrassed, everyone was new here once. I still am sometimes :lol: I was just trying to help, really the search feature is great if you spend a lot of time here, but for your needs (buying the car for someone else) you're just trying to get a feel for whether this is a good deal and will serve her well.

I have really enjoyed my '97 OB, it's been great. It has similar mileage to the one you're looking at. I think it sounds good, you might also consider a first generation Legacy (up to '94) or regular Legacy (not OB) from '95 to '98 or so. The "Outback" adds to the cost for some features that may or may not matter to your daughter. And if she just needs transportation and doesn't care about the AWD, then that of course gives you many other options of other makes of car.

People here do tend to love Subarus... they have a devoted following that borders(?) on obsession. But if I didn't care about the AWD... then I'd look at other brands as well. My $.02. Sorry for the rambling :)

Steve

#6 cookie

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 05:46 PM

If you can get her a Toyota or a Honda. For inexpensive and reliable service its hard to beat a Corrolla. I love the early Legacy 2.2s but they are old cars now and it takes an enthusiast to run them. (This should get me some hate mail). I think the late Subarus are very reliable, but you probably don't need the 4wd there do you?

#7 Olnick

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 06:00 PM

I love the early Legacy 2.2s but they are old cars now

Sorry, Cookie, but I prefer to think of my '95 as . . . mature.

#8 cookie

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 06:03 PM

That one made me laugh out loud. they probably think I'm even more nuts here now.

#9 JT95

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 08:23 PM

I bought a 95 Legacy wagon this past year. It's the same body design as the Outback, only less "rugged" trim package, a little bit lower ride height, and the 2.2 engine. The 2.2 seems like a fantastic engine. Mine has 146,000+ miles on it and purrs. I have no experience with the 2.5, and I've heard mixed things about them. Some love their 2.5 car and have had no problems. Some complain of head gasket failures.



Is the car a local one? I have no idea what the coorelation is, but several people have mentioned that the head gasket issues seem more prone in the colder states. If the car has had the top end worked on, find out who did the work and how recent it was. Will the seller guarantee the engine for a few months to be free of problems? If so, $4000 sounds like a decent price for that car.

As mentioned, if what you're after is cheap, reliable transportation, then this car may not be the best choice. I like my Subaru 50 times better than my Civic I used to own, but it's not quite as economical. Toyota cars bore me silly, so no experience there. I do think the OB wagon has better safety reports than your typical Toyota or Honda car. If your daughter doesn't do a whole lot of long driving, then the lesser gas mileage of the Subaru shouldn't be that much of an issue--though premium gas might be a real cost issue. My 2.2 takes 87 octane. On the coolness meter, though, the Subaru ranks much higher. :brow:

If your daughter needs a wagon or is an outdoorsy person, the Subaru wagon can't be beat. I would try to get a 2.2 if you are actively looking, as they are truly amazing engines. Although you may not get much snow compared to other colder states, the AWD is a nice feature and makes the car handle much much better than any front wheel drive car. My Legacy wagon is 10 years old, still solid, and has had minimal problems.

#10 Dr. RX

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 10:09 PM

Any Legacy with a 2.2 engine would be more reliable then the first series of the 2.5, and probably the second gen 2.5 also. I own a 95 wagon with a 2.2 and auto tranny, I have no fear of getting into it a driving anywhere in the country with it. It is a plus that the current owner had the head rebuilt, but that is another reason not to get the car. The engine is a non-clearence engine, which means when the timing belt breaks, parts bang together, the 2.2 is a clearence engine, if the belt breaks, nothing hits. But I have also known people with 96 Outbacks who have had absolutely no problems what so ever.

#11 Autumn

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Posted 17 May 2005 - 05:43 AM

Thanks very much for all of your great replies. You all have given me many things to think about. Your help is much appreciated.

Autumn

#12 LosDiosDeVerde86

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Posted 17 May 2005 - 06:17 AM

Good Day,

I am thinking of buying a '96 Outback, 2.5, Auto, w/112K miles for $4000. The timing chain let go and the upper engine has been just rebuilt, so all of the fluids have been replaced. The tires and brakes are new, the body is perfect (with minor paint scratches) and the interior is great. However, the headlamps appear milky and the fuel door says I have to use premium fuel. Where would I go to replace the headlamps....or clean them up? Do I really have to use premium? Any other issues that I should look out for?

I see from other posts that the folks that own these cars really like them.

Thanks very much for your help.

Autumn


good price on that. Blue Book value is around $4,700 in "Good" condition

#13 swc7916

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Posted 17 May 2005 - 09:15 AM

My '96 Outback was great car, until it was rear-ended last summer and the insurance company totalled it out. It had about 125,000 miles on it and was using oil at the rate of about 1 quart every 1000 miles. At 70,000 miles there was an oil seal leak and since they were in there, I had the dealer replace the timing belt so never had any problem with it. I have had 4 newer Subarus with the 2.5 liter engine and automatic transmission but the '96 had the best transmission - it shifted quickly and positively. I didn't like driving it faster than about 75 mph (at least when it was older); it seemed to work too hard going faster than that and got a bit noisy. Yes, I always used premium fuel.

#14 Autumn

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Posted 18 May 2005 - 02:51 PM

Thanks to all for the great and helpful replies.

I have an UPDATE on what caused the original failure. The shop owner that is working on the engine tells me that the bolt that holds the timing belt tensioner is what failed. He further states that the car is a one owner and that the timing belt was changed at 90K. Does this new information change anyone's opinion about the car?

Thanks again for all of your help.

Autumn

#15 cookie

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Posted 18 May 2005 - 02:53 PM

The car is still one of Subaru's more trouble prone efforts.

#16 Olnick

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Posted 18 May 2005 - 06:14 PM

I agree with cookie's take on it. The price is good and the car sounds very attractive. But you would still have to burn premium fuel and there's always that slightly higher risk of expensive problems.

If you are still interested in a Subaru and a car's "maturity" doesn't bother you, I'd still suggest a Legacy model, 1990 through '96. (After 1996 they redesigned the good old bulletproof 2.2L and it became an "interference" engine!)

#17 later, Peter

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Posted 18 May 2005 - 08:23 PM

I owned a 99 OBW for a few months before buying a 96 OBW, as well. (w/ higher mileage & a dent in the door than yours. Yours sounds like a deal.
I think the 96-99 OBW years are the best looking. Mantain the vehicle & it will run for a long long time. Corollas & Civics last forever too.
BUT
After last year's car wreck (I was in a 4runner) I have this need to feel the steel around me... but I also like the traction & the gas mileage.
Later,
Peter
oh yeah, it runs on regular (I add seafoam to the gas tank about 3 times a year)




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