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98 Outback Legacy Limited Rusty Engine


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19 replies to this topic

#1 Pinny

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Posted 15 October 2005 - 11:25 PM

This is my first post and I'm in the market for a reliable vehicle for my 18 year old son. We drove a '98 OB Legacy Limited Wagon this afternoon being sold by a private individual. They are asking $8,100; it has 74,000 miles. I took it to my Dad's and when he lifted the hood, the engine was quite rusty. When we looked underneath the car, there was rust on the clamps and supports, etc. Also a VERY rusty rear windshield wiper and some of the hinges on the back. There is only one small (pencil eraser size) spot of rust on the exterior.

I've been reading the forum this evening and wonder about a couple of things:
- does anyone know what type of engine this car has? Is it the favored 2.2L or the 2.5?
- Is rust on the engine a problem?
- I mentioned to the owners that I might be interested in paying $7,600 and that I wanted to think about it. Am I in the ballpark, or should I continue to look for something without the rust issue?

The couple did say they recently had to replace the rear struts and that it was an expensive repair. Is that a normal repair at 70,000 miles? They tell me they have all their maintenance (other than oil changes) done by the local Subaru dealer. I could tell from the sticker on the windshield that they do keep up with the oil changes since it is due for the next one at 75,000 miles. They are the second owners. They bought it with 17,000 miles on it and have recently purchased a minivan.

Also, I test drove a new Subaru Forester and Outback last weekend. But reading tonight has kinda scared me away ... I currently own a '97 Audi A6 Quattro with 95,000 miles AND a '99 Toyota Siena minivan with 70,000 miles on it. My husband passed away in November and I'm trying to get my son set up before college next year and get something VERY reliable for myself. Any opinions on whether I should keep the Audi (I recently spent over $2K on a power steering repair!) or keep the Toyota, which neither myself of my son likes to drive. We're moving beyond the minivan phase of life. I liked the new Subaru's, but are they as reliable as the Toyota's or Honda's? I don't put many miles on each year ... mostly in town putzing around. Thanks!

#2 later, Peter

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Posted 15 October 2005 - 11:32 PM

This is my first post and I'm in the market for a reliable vehicle for my 18 year old son. We drove a '98 OB Legacy Limited Wagon this afternoon being sold by a private individual. They are asking $8,100; it has 74,000 miles. I took it to my Dad's and when he lifted the hood, the engine was quite rusty. When we looked underneath the car, there was rust on the clamps and supports, etc. Also a VERY rusty rear windshield wiper and some of the hinges on the back. There is only one small (pencil eraser size) spot of rust on the exterior.

I've been reading the forum this evening and wonder about a couple of things:
- does anyone know what type of engine this car has? Is it the favored 2.2L or the 2.5?
- Is rust on the engine a problem?
- I mentioned to the owners that I might be interested in paying $7,600 and that I wanted to think about it. Am I in the ballpark, or should I continue to look for something without the rust issue?

The couple did say they recently had to replace the rear struts and that it was an expensive repair. Is that a normal repair at 70,000 miles? They tell me they have all their maintenance (other than oil changes) done by the local Subaru dealer. I could tell from the sticker on the windshield that they do keep up with the oil changes since it is due for the next one at 75,000 miles. They are the second owners. They bought it with 17,000 miles on it and have recently purchased a minivan.

Also, I test drove a new Subaru Forester and Outback last weekend. But reading tonight has kinda scared me away ... I currently own a '97 Audi A6 Quattro with 95,000 miles AND a '99 Toyota Siena minivan with 70,000 miles on it. My husband passed away in November and I'm trying to get my son set up before college next year and get something VERY reliable for myself. Any opinions on whether I should keep the Audi (I recently spent over $2K on a power steering repair!) or keep the Toyota, which neither myself of my son likes to drive. We're moving beyond the minivan phase of life. I liked the new Subaru's, but are they as reliable as the Toyota's or Honda's? I don't put many miles on each year ... mostly in town putzing around. Thanks!


Sounds spendy. especially with all the rust. Check the other post regarding rust. For that money, you should be able to get a better deal, even in NY with all the salt stuff they lay down.
later,
Peter

#3 Meeky Moose

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 02:05 AM

the 98' your looking at has the 2.5 engine, from the sounds of the rust and price, i would move along and pass that one up...


personally i would say keep the audi for yourself, go trade the minivan in on a new or fairly new compact car for your son, since niether one of you like it..

#4 grossgary

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 02:14 AM

i say look elsewhere as well, those early generation 2.5's can be bad news unless you're really comfortable around subaru's and know how or want to deal with the problem if it occurs. i think 1998 is a bad year for that motor, check into that further if you're still interested. that being said, i don't know what is meant by "rust" on the motor, but the exhaust, bolts and clamps being rusty is quite normal. the engine block/heads can't be rusty as it's aluminum.

#5 The Dude

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 07:54 AM

I would most certainly pass on the rusty 98 Legacy. Which, by the way, has the head gasket failure prone 2.5L DOHC engine. As to reliability, I would refer you to Consumer's Reports, an unbiased source of automotive statistics. I believe that you see that although several models and years are spotty, over all, Subaru makes a very reliable car. Have you owned AWD car before? Do you or your son really need one? Because although they can be extremely useful, AWD cars can come with additional maintenance and operating costs. Is your son the typical teenager, who will drop everything to have the tires rotated every 7,500 miles? Because if he isn't you might be looking at some very expensive and unnecessary center differential repairs. Also, AWD cars use more gas than comparable FWD cars.Reliability ratings aside, you can always get stuck with a lemon. Toyota and Honda make lemons, they just make fewer lemons than other car manufacturers. So, if you can live without AWD, I would suggest that you perhaps research Toyota for a FWD car for the greatest chance of optimal reliability. That having been said, I have 191,000 miles on my 99 Forester. On other than normal maintenance items, I have replaced the ball joints on the car. So, I can not say that I have been displeased with my Subaru ownership experience.

#6 nipper

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 08:25 AM

I like 98 OBW personally, but ths car is way too pricey. The engine itself is aluminum. so it doesnt rust, but what i suspect is something a bit more hideous. This car either had the engine submurged, or sat around for a very long period, and what your seeing is rust stains on from standing water.
Personally for that kind of money, get a better OB with more miles, and bank the 1500 for headgaskets as an insurance fund.

nipper

#7 Pinny

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 08:32 AM

I live east of Buffalo and we get lots of snow ... and slush ... and icy roads. In the past we've owned an Isuzu Trooper (in the 80's) and a Chevy Blazer, so I'm familiar with 4-wheel drive. The Audi is AWD, I believe, and a champ in the snow, just expensive to maintain. The Sienna minivan is awful in the snow.

My son will start college in the fall and we haven't figured out if he'll stay at home or go away. I thought AWD might be a good choice for safety in snowy conditions as well as a little bigger size in case of an accident. And yes, he's a typical almost 18-year-old and the only way maintenance will get done is if I make it happen. But he's very good about taking it to get serviced if I tell him to.

He would be happy with a little Corolla or Civic, I was just concerned because they are so small and I didn't think they'd handle snow that well. But perhaps that's the way to go. I have read Consumer Reports extensively and that's why I was so interested in the Forester and Outback. It seemed a good blend of sportiness & practicality. Used Foresters are easy to come by, however an '02 can cost $16K around here. And then there's the whole "equity issue" ... I can't spend more on the son than we did on the daughter! But we won't go there today! LOL. Thanks for all the kind replies.

#8 outback_97

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 10:09 AM

If AWD vehicles are as in-demand there as they are here in Salt Lake (I'm guessing they are) then that price isn't as far out of line as others have said IMO. Look what this guy's asking for a similar car, just one year newer:
http://saltlakecity..../104381877.html

I have 117K miles and no head gasket problems on my 97, but realize I may have to deal with that in the future. I wouldn't worry about such problems on the newer ones though, they seem to have addressed that and even my 97 has been very reliable.

Sounds like you should keep shopping around, but if your market is like ours October is not the best time to get a deal on a Subaru, they're in high demand and the sellers (including dealers) know that the snow will be flying soon and there will be someone else in line behind you to buy that car.

If you go with a FWD car you could get it fitted with winter tires for much less than the AWD adds to the initial and operating cost of the Subaru. Hey, I survived four years of college in Fargo with a 20 year old RWD Ford Torino with lousy tires.

Steve

#9 nipper

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 10:12 AM

heheh but that was fargo, so it was you 35 luthrens and some deer and a red light :).



actully ND is the one state i havent been to yet. South Dakots was bad enough in winter :)
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#10 outback_97

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 10:18 AM

:lol: Very funny! But spoken like someone who hasn't been there... I never saw any deer in town ;)

Actually you get extra credit for realizing that North and South Dakota are two different states. So many people don't get that.

Steve

#11 ccrinc

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 10:58 AM

As a mother and grandparent (who's very familiar with these engines), I'd personally recommend you look for a pre-1997 Legacy or Impreza. The EJ22 engines in those are extremely reliable, the AWD is great, and they'll be less expensive to run and insure.

Emily
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#12 Ranger83

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 02:50 PM

The Japanese don't do a very good job on coating their components. Most Japanese cars I've seen had more surface corrosion than American or Eurpopean cars.

The Swedes do the best job.

Don't forget that while lots of people wax poetic about the 2.2l, the reason Subar went to the 2.5 was the later cars were heavier, and s-l-o-w with the 2.2.

#13 Gnuman

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 11:09 PM

Don't forget that while lots of people wax poetic about the 2.2l, the reason Subar went to the 2.5 was the later cars were heavier, and s-l-o-w with the 2.2.


Which is a good reason to get an earlier model year.

Pinny, I have to stand with ccrinc on this one. the early models of the Legacy are very reliable, and if yoru son can drive a manual, then get him that. The early Legacy with manual transmission is just about the most reliable car in the snow that I can think of, and a manual transmission is a lot more robust than an automatic in those years. the 90-96 Legacies had a "non interference" 2.2L engine that produced 130 HP, and if the timing belt were to break, for lack of scheduled maintainance (60K mile interval to replace the timing belt for Federal Vehicles, 105K mile interval for cars with CA emissions), then the valves will not hit the pistons as the engine winds to a halt and break a lot of expensive parts. Everything after 97 is "interference" meaning the above is not true of them (you have to watch that belt interval closely). A 90-94 Legacy will be sporty enough to keep him happy as well, so he will likely not be harrased too much by his peers. The older car will also be easier to insure (at least cheaper) as well, making it a win-win all around. I have also used my Legacy (you will notice that it is within the years I mentioned) in slippery conditions (wet grass on hillsides. I was pulling other 4x4's out of ditches), and it perfomed remarkably well. On dry roads, I find that it out performs many cars that are a lot newer than it is. With the lower costs, higher reliability, and well manered drivability you will get a good safe (and drivable) car for less than you spent on your daughter with a bit of room to spare. This will make everyone happy (particularly after your son drives the car ;) ).

#14 Pinny

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 04:41 PM

Thanks, Gnuman! My only problem may be finding one. But I agree that it sounds like it would be a perfect fit. I found an '01 Forester with 60K miles for $11,000 that looks good, but the salesman said checking VIN numbers is the "biggest money maker going" and he didn't offer any of that info. I found it in the paper and his dealership is a good half-hour away so I'm not sure if I should check this one out especially since it would have the 2.5L engine. We're not in any hurry but my son's birthday is in early November and since it's been such a crappy year for everybody with his dad's death, I had hoped to get him into something other than the "soccer-mom" van (as he calls it!) sooner rather than later.

I did drive a '97 Legacy Outback last week which was a 5-speed and had about 62K miles on it, but the clutch was REALLY sticky, the driverside window was loose, and I chickened out since I hadn't really looked at anything else. My brother-in-law's car dealer friend is selling it for $5,800. Do you think I should look at it again? How is a clutch on a Subie of that vintage supposed to feel? The car drove fine, but compared to our A4 Audi, it drove really rough. Thanks again to all of you for your wisdom. As a new widow, the thought of buying a used car (or any car for that matter!) is pretty overwhelming.

#15 later, Peter

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 05:06 PM

Thanks, Gnuman! My only problem may be finding one. But I agree that it sounds like it would be a perfect fit. I found an '01 Forester with 60K miles for $11,000 that looks good, but the salesman said checking VIN numbers is the "biggest money maker going" and he didn't offer any of that info. I found it in the paper and his dealership is a good half-hour away so I'm not sure if I should check this one out especially since it would have the 2.5L engine. We're not in any hurry but my son's birthday is in early November and since it's been such a crappy year for everybody with his dad's death, I had hoped to get him into something other than the "soccer-mom" van (as he calls it!) sooner rather than later.

I did drive a '97 Legacy Outback last week which was a 5-speed and had about 62K miles on it, but the clutch was REALLY sticky, the driverside window was loose, and I chickened out since I hadn't really looked at anything else. My brother-in-law's car dealer friend is selling it for $5,800. Do you think I should look at it again? How is a clutch on a Subie of that vintage supposed to feel? The car drove fine, but compared to our A4 Audi, it drove really rough. Thanks again to all of you for your wisdom. As a new widow, the thought of buying a used car (or any car for that matter!) is pretty overwhelming.

Driver's side windows are ALWAYS "loose"... just a design flaw. should seem fine if all the way up or down. The dealership guy should offer a VIN check if you are serious about the vehicle... documenting it wasn't a refashioned wreck or a submerged Subaru.
& you can request a different mechanic check it over... the clutch MAY be an adjustment or it may be in need of replacement... Ask this board for a recommendation for a mechanic in "your neck of the woods"
GOOD LUCK & SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS.
Later,
Peter

#16 Gnuman

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 11:59 PM

Pinny, My condolences as well on your loss. As for the "feel" of a clutch, that is often a really individual thing. One of the great things about a Subaru is that they have a really wide power band (the range of RPMs that the engine will pull comfortably), and really great low-end power. This will often make the car "jumpy" or "jerky" with a manual transmission, particularly when driving slow with te clutch fully engaged. THis may be what you are feeling (but I cannot say for sure from way over here. . . :) ). If that sounds at all like what you experienced, then give the car annother chance, only this time feather the clutch more and with RPM's a bit higher.

#17 LostWater

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 12:03 PM

Dear Pinny,

My dad's family comes from East Aurora, Gowanda, Hamburg, North Tonawonda, etc.. My Granddad is the VA hospital at Batavia. I know your area well. I have driven my subarus up there; they do a great job on keeping the snow and ice off of the roads, but your are seeing the results of that.

I bought a 97 OBW from Ebay, flew to Ct to get it. I had to replace the rear wheel bearings one one side, and both rear struts, did all work myself. 125k on the clock when I bought it. 1 year later and 20 k more miles and I am still pleased with the $3800 that I paid for it.


Last month, I bought a 96 OBW from New Jersey, on ebay, drove up with the Titan and my trailer to get it. $1500. Needs a catalytic converter, has a few dings on the bumpers, nothing real bad.

Both OBW's had rust underneath on the components but the bodies are in great shape. Silly stuff like the wagon handle and lift gate struts are the things that rust bad. The strut caps will rust also.

My advice, bypass that rusty OBW. Too expensive. Keep your eyes out for another one. Piston slap noise on these are normal, the smell of antifreeze is a bad sign.

Regrads,

Mark

#18 zyewdall

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 12:26 PM

I'd seriously consider going west to get a car. They usually use gravel on the roads out here (till the last few years at least), so windshields go to heck pretty fast, but rust is not that big of a problem. Even now that their using the magnesium chloride goo on the roads, rust isn't as bad as the east, because humidity is so low. I am suprised to hear that there's any rust on a '98, as my '89 is mostly rust free still. Best would be somewhere in California, away from the coast. You'd have to pay for a ticket out here, and a few days to drive it back, but you'd get a much better condition car I think. Have any long lost relatives/college roommates out west somewhere you could drop in on? Start looking on craigslist in whatever area seems promising. Here in CO, newer subaru's are usually listed for about 4 days before being sold. Some much less than that. So, if you are only here for a few days, you'll probably still have decent choices to shop around a little. Another thing I've found, if you want a manual, look in the city -- prices will be cheaper cause no one wants them. Same thing if you want an automatic, look in the mountains where no one wants them. Although this time of year is not a good time to be looking at subaru's in general -- high demand because snowstorms are coming.

On the clutch, an old subaru should still feel nice and smooth. Of course there will always be slight differences between subaru clutches and honda or toyota or whatever else clutches. When I bought mine, the clutch was almost undriveable. A minute later, after adjusting the cable, it was fine. It "could" be that simple, or could be major trouble.

Good luck.

#19 Storydude1

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 01:05 PM

If the dealer will not offer a CARFAX, STAY AWAY. New Orleans Salvage vehicles have ALREADY been showing up at auctions around the WNY area.

That said, AWD, or 4wd vehicles fetch a preimum around here...I just sold a 86 Jeep Cherokee, RUSTY<RUSTY<RUSTY, but 4wd, for 1200 bucks...It was only worth about 100. I've noticed that most people around here do NOT sell the subarus...They hold on to them untill they rust away.

I just picked up a 93 Legacy wagon, AWD, but a few small rust holes for 500 bucks. Runs great, I just had to weld up the exhaust, and do some minor bodywork.

Rust is a way of life around here..the trick is to get a car without alot of rust, and try to keep it in check. A REALLY good way to prevent rust(albiet dirty as sin) is to take used motor oil, and spray the underside of your vehicle with it from a garden sprayer. It drips for a day, smells if it hits exhaust, and makes working on the underside a pain.......But it will NOT rust on you. My grandfather did this for 40 years, and his cars had less rust than others of the same age, and ones that were undercoated.

I'll keep my eyes open for you, and if I see a good deal, I'll let you know.

Are you between Buffalo, and rochester?

#20 ccrinc

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 03:14 PM

If you are up for making a road trip, call Steve at Inca Auto (part of Strictly Subaru Automotive) at (303) 436-1700. He can usually fix you up for a really reasonable price.

Emily
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