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Reliability


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15 replies to this topic

#1 edvanp

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 07:42 AM

Greetings-Am looking at getting an early 90s Subaru for my 17 year old son to drive. With a limited budget, it more then likely will be a higher mileage one. Any model or engine type I should look for or avoid? Any reliability issues I should be concerned about? Thank you!

#2 Legacy777

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 09:55 AM

the 90-94 legacies are probably some of the best ones out there. You can drive them and they'll go forever.

There are certain maintenance issues you should do when they get up in mileage, but it's not too big a deal.

#3 frag

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 10:51 AM

And manual trans is more reliable than auto trans. What do you think 777 ?

#4 andreww

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 10:51 AM

I don't know when they began offering and then discontinued the continuously variable transmission, I think that was in the 80s. But my mechanic says that was one of the worst ideas Subaru ever had, and they're prohibitively expensive to fix.

#5 frag

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 10:52 AM

Were'nt those ECVT trans offered only on the Justy?

#6 justyfied

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 02:59 PM

yes, i concur with 777, legacy's are tough to beat. also i'm pretty sure that the ecvt models only came in the justy, they were flawed by design. i believe that the brand new justys have an updated version of the ecvt. either way it is not what you want. i too would learn more toward manual transmission. the little lady has a auto and it runs great at 179k. her father is a rural delivery mail carrier and has two right hand drives and i know the one has over 320k.

#7 Legacy777

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 04:26 PM

yeah the manuals will probably have less issues then the autos.....and yes the ecvt only came on the justy's

#8 alias20035

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 11:47 PM

The 1993 or 1994 Subaru Legacy L PW or RW wagon is probably the most reliable Subaru out there, especially with the 5 speed.

Automatic Subaru's are quite reliable too, but the AWD torque transfer system has a design flaw that always seems to cause it to fail at around 100,000 miles or so with a torque bind problem. Subaru has a rebuild kit that more or less fixes the problem permanently, so if the rebuild has been done you will not have a problem, otherwise keep $800 aside just in case.

The PW has power windows and locks and cruise control

The RW adds air conditioning, ABS, cassette player, and rear sway bar

95 and newer Subaru's with the EJ22 (2.2 litre) are quite reliable too, but models earlier than 98 have the very same AWD torque transfer problem as the previous models. The 95 to 99 Legacy L wagon 5 speed is the best buy of the 2nd gen Legacy's. There are some special edition Legacy's in the 95 - 99 time frame that are very well priced and equipped.

10 year old Subaru's can be good deal but avoid one that shows any sign of body rust, since it is like a death sentence because its the rust you can't see that is the problem. Also check the exhaust system for signs of corrosion as Subaru exhausts are some of the most expensive to replace (but they are probably the most durable, usually lasting 10+ yrs or 500,000 miles).

Impreza's are also very good, if not a little better in terms of reliability. With the Impreza try to get the EJ22 engine (2.2 litre) not the EJ18 (1.8litre), while both are reliable the EJ18 is not quite powerful enough to overcome the power loss of AWD and does not seem to get better mileage.

I would avoid any Subaru with the EJ25 Phase 1 DOHC engine (96-99 Legacy, 98 Impreza). These older EJ25's eat head gaskets for lunch!!!

All Subaru's tend to eat rear wheel bearings, the heavier Legacy a little more often than the Impreza. Check for a whine/rumble from the rear wheels, figure on $200 to replace a wheel bearing. If properly replaced the rear wheel bearings last 80-100,000 miles, but I would guess that most are not properly replaced.

With all Subaru AWD's insure that all four tires are the same make, model and size, as having one tire slightly off in size will kill the AWD. I would also check the tire pressure to see if it matches the recommended pressure on the drivers side B piller plate. If it is way off (5 or more PSI), walk away as the owner did not take car of his Subaru and you are likely to have problems.

Tire pressure MUST be checked on a regular basis on all wheel drive cars to avoid excessive drivetrain wear.

Also test drive any Subaru through some sharp low speed and sharp medium speed corners. If the vehicle seems to bind, rumble or feel like the brakes applied (but weren't), then the car likely has the automatic transmission torque bind, or the 5 speeds center viscous coupled diferential has failed.

Also note if there is any clacking from the front driveshafts when accelerating through a low speed sharp turn. If clacking is noted one or both front driveshafts need replacement.

I would also duck under the car to check for oil leaks (most are minor and cheap to replace (ex, valve cover)), and check the condition of the CV joint boots (all eight of them) for signs of tears or CV joint grease leaking.

Note when the car had its timing belt change and if it had its water pump changed. The timing belt has to be changed every 60,000 miles and the water pump lasts anywhere from 90,000 to 120,000 miles. Usually the water pump is changed with the timing belt even if it is good, because it is timing belt driven and a water pump failure is extremely catastrophic (but very rare).

If the engine has oil leaks from the timing case and the timing belt is due for a change it is about $160 to change the belt and only an extra $30 or so for the leaking seals.

Don't even consider a Subaru with the height adjustable air suspension, they are 100% unreliable and expensive to repair. Many of these older Legacy's with air suspension were converted to conventional springs and struts and if this is the case you have nothing to worry about.

#9 ScoobySchmitty

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 09:41 AM

Avoid 1990 Legacy manual transmission cars, the transmission bearings would go around 200k miles! A 91 or better Legacy with a manual would be a good starting car. Not too powerful to get into trouble, and the right running gear (AWD) to get you out of trouble! Also, I would look around for a wagon. I was able to pack all my worldy posessions into my 90 wagon and drive up to school in it (comfortably too!) The only thing was the passenger capacity drops to 0 with that :brow: Anyway, just my $.02

#10 edvanp

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 10:03 AM

Thanks everyone, lots of good information here!:banana:

#11 frag

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 12:53 PM

All Subaru's tend to eat rear wheel bearings, the heavier Legacy a little more often than the Impreza. Check for a whine/rumble from the rear wheels, figure on $200 to replace a wheel bearing. If properly replaced the rear wheel bearings last 80-100,000 miles, but I would guess that most are not properly replaced.


Alias, could you specify what ought not to be done when replacing rear bearings? What in your opinion is mainly responsible for rear bearings not being properly installed?
Thanks in advance.

#12 alias20035

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 01:43 PM

Originally posted by frag
Alias, could you specify what ought not to be done when replacing rear bearings? What in your opinion is mainly responsible for rear bearings not being properly installed?
Thanks in advance.



The Subaru bearings take a lot more stress that those of non AWD cars, but in general you can get a good lifespan out of them (I got 200,000+km on one occassion) . Most repeat failures of bearings are the result of improper installation.

Failure to repack the new bearing with the proper grease is the number one cause of repeat failures.

Always replace the bearing seals.

It is important to use a proper bearing installation tool (Subaru tool, hub tamer, or good press).

A new axle nut must be used and torqued with the wheel OFF the ground and parking brake OFF, otherwise it will be set at the wrong torque.

Properly torque the wheel lug nuts as well.

#13 vwbuge

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 11:48 PM

Definately stay away form the AWD Auto cars. Stick with the manual tranny. With normal maintenance you can be lucky like me. (read below)

#14 WagonsOnly

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 01:06 AM

As a 17-year-old with a Subaru, I can attest that most of these cars are exceptionally reliable. I think the advice here is solid, however you may want to consider a 1990-94 Loyale hatchback, sedan or wagon with a 5-speed and 4WD. Since these are based on the older Subaru designs, most were sold with "real" 4WD as opposed to AWD, and while it requires driver input, they get better gas mileage and parts are easier (and sometimes cheaper) to find and replace. See the "Older Subarus" forum for details, (as this design had been marketed since 1985) but Loyales are solid cars as long as they have the regular coil suspension, no smoking/oil leaking, and maintenance records for the timing belts and water pump. Also check for overheating, clicking in turns, and signs of abuse. Rust anywhere on these cars will prove fatal, as well--and RUN, don't walk, away from automatic transmission models. Good luck on your search,
Andrew

#15 bratman2

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 11:39 PM

Edvanp, I purchased my daughter a 93 Legacy fwd auto with 114k miles. 2 1/2 years later and at 158k we have had no real issues with the car except for the front right caliper get stuck and frying the rotor, thanks to Legacy 777 for helping me out with that problem. I am in the process of replacing the timing belt, front seals, water pump and oil pump O ring for preventive maintaince right now, well tomorrow morning. The 93 thru 95 fwd might be a cheaper and less troublesome choice and the autos in those years are very reliable if serviced regularly. I have the service history for this car from 37k on and very little repairs have had to be preformed, mostily brakes and axle boots. Glenn Taylor.

#16 1ABAJA

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 01:06 PM

Have you purchased your Legacy yet???

Josh!




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