Jump to content


Welcome to Ultimate Subaru Message Board, my lurker friend!

Welcome to Ultimate Subaru Message Board, an unparalleled Subaru community full of the greatest Subaru gurus and modders on the planet! We offer technical information and discussion about all things Subaru, the best and most popular all wheel drive vehicles ever created.

We offer all this information for free to everyone, even lurkers like you! All we ask in return is that you sign up and give back some of what you get out - without our awesome registered users none of this would be possible! Plus, you get way more great stuff as a member! Lurk to lose, participate to WIN*!
  • Say hello and join the conversation
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get automatic updates
  • Get your own profile and make new friends
  • Classifieds with all sorts of Subaru goodies
  • Photo hosting in our gallery
  • Meet other cool people with cool cars
Seriously, what are you waiting for? Make your life more fulfilling and join today! You and your Subaru won't regret it, we guarantee** it.

* The joy of participation and being generally awesome constitutes winning
** Not an actual guarantee, but seriously, you probably won't regret it!

Serving the Subaru Community since May 18th, 1998!

Guest Message by DevFuse
 

Photo
- - - - -

I could use some help deciding...


  • Please log in to reply
23 replies to this topic

#1 Robman

Robman

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • Greeley, CO

Posted 07 December 2003 - 12:11 AM

Hey guys,

I am a college student looking to purchase my first car...a subaru outback. The decision is between a limited 1997 outback and a standard 1999 outback.

The 1999 has the cold weather package, a six disc changer and a warranty that will last another year...the limited's warranty has expired and is otherwise. They both have about 70000 miles, and are both priced around 10500.

I haven't test-driven them yet, but I plan to this week...considering they are in the same condition, which would be the better purchase? I am new to this whole outback thing, and I'd really appreciate some advice on this one. Is it better to buy the newer model? I expect that in the end the 99 may be around $500 more expensive, but that is fine with me..

Thanks a lot guys...I appreciate any advice!

Robert

#2 DerFahrer

DerFahrer

    Formerly subyluvr2212

  • Members
  • 2,417 posts
  • Orlando, FL

Posted 07 December 2003 - 01:46 AM

Reading the harrowing tales I've read on this board, I would look into the engines in both cars. If the 97 is a DOHC EJ25 'Phase I', which I'm pretty sure it is, run away. Those are the infamous head-gasket blowers. If the 99 is a SOHC EJ25 'Phase II', again which I'm pretty sure it is, then you're much better off with this one than the 97.

Other than that, everything should be alright... Trust me, you will find the value of owning a Subaru for college. My personal opinion is that there's no better car for a college student.

#3 alias20035

alias20035

    Subaru Fanatic!

  • Members
  • 357 posts
  • Canada

Posted 07 December 2003 - 02:01 AM

Originally posted by subyluvr2212
Reading the harrowing tales I've read on this board, I would look into the engines in both cars. If the 97 is a DOHC EJ25 'Phase I', which I'm pretty sure it is, run away. Those are the infamous head-gasket blowers. If the 99 is a SOHC EJ25 'Phase II', again which I'm pretty sure it is, then you're much better off with this one than the 97.

Other than that, everything should be alright... Trust me, you will find the value of owning a Subaru for college. My personal opinion is that there's no better car for a college student.



All 1996-99 Outback's have the Phase 1 EJ25 DOHC with its related head gasket problems. The Phase II EJ25 SOHC was available on the Impreza/Forester in 99, but only installed on the 00+ Legacy/Outback.

If the Phase I EJ25's have had their head gaskets changed already hopefully it was with a newer revision of the head gasket which is more reliable than the original.

I do not know if the 99 has a newer revision of the gasket than the 97, but from experience I have seen 99's blow gaskets too.

The 99 has the newer revision of the 4EAT automatic transmission which is more reliable. An easy way to identify the newer more reliable automatic transmission is to look for the spin off automatic transmission fluid filter on the driver's side of the transmission case.

#4 Robman

Robman

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • Greeley, CO

Posted 07 December 2003 - 10:58 AM

Hmm..good info.

Was there any sort of recall for the gaskets? What would be the cost to have them replaced?

Forgetting the gasket issue it's sounding like the '99 may be the better way to go...yes? No?

Thanks so much,

Robert

#5 Commuter

Commuter

    Subaru Master

  • Members
  • 1,857 posts
  • Niagara area, Ont Canada

Posted 07 December 2003 - 11:36 AM

I have a 97 OB (not Limited).

You will give up a few toys (eg variable intermittent wipers I think, leather perhaps?), but the 99 is the better choice, especially at the same price and mileage.

Some things were improved, updated as they went thru this generation. Headgaskets are still an issue. Expect about $1000 US if you have to do them. Start a "car fund"... good advice no matter what the vehicle.

Listen for piston slap. Check for torque bind. Check for front end clunk. Look for leaking front crank / cam seals. See how many climate control bulbs / dash switch bulbs / seat heater bulbs are burned out. Check the tires. They should all be the same with equal wear. Look at the black metal strip that the hatch handle and license plate bulbs attach to. Sure to be rusty, especially on the 97. (I think I posted a while ago on all this stuff when someone else was looking at this generation of OB's.)

Good luck.

Commuter

#6 Robman

Robman

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • Greeley, CO

Posted 09 December 2003 - 04:33 PM

Thanks so much for all of your responses...they've been very helpful..

I found another..a '99 outback limeted for about $11,500 with 72,000 miles on it. How are these cars? Any big problems with the limited models?

Also, what are your thoughts on cloth vs. leather seats?

Thanks guys,

Robert

#7 remarcable

remarcable

    Elite Master of the Subaru

  • Members
  • 6,061 posts
  • South Carolina

Posted 09 December 2003 - 05:06 PM

If you are buying an Outback and cannot afford a 2001 or newer, the 99 would be my choice. It has the most bug fixes of that generation platform. Stay away from the 2000 model unless you plan to invest in a big brake kit as the brakes are *barely* adequate for the car's weight.

Just make sure that like any used car purchase, you check out the vehicle's history on carfax (or other methods) and talk to the owner as much as possible about the car.

Ask what kind of oil they used for oil changes, or did they take it to Jiffy Lube for service? Was it dealer serviced? Are there records to show this?

Has the timing belt been changed? I believe you can go as long as 80k miles on the t-belt but I am changing mine (along with water pump and thermostat) before 60k miles.

Are all four tires the same brand and model? Does the tire wear look even?

Crawl under the vehicle. Look for corrosion, rust, and evidence the vehicle has been used offroad.

You really want to find one that hasn't been in a lot of snow or mud. Ideally snag a former soccer mom or grandma's ride which has only had 1 owner and been garage parked the entire time.

Check the oil and all fluids for proper level and condition.

The subaru owner's manual that came with the car is actually pretty good about explaining how to do all the basic stuff like checking the oil. It doesn't go very in depth beyond saying "If it doesn't meet spec take it to a dealer" but I have found the owner's manual handy. Look for it in the glove box.

I don't really like the subaru synthetic leather seats and have cloth in mine. Go try out a few and see which you like the best, the texture of the seats is a personal choice. You can always buy some used WRX seats ($400) and install them since the bolt pattern should be identical.

#8 alias20035

alias20035

    Subaru Fanatic!

  • Members
  • 357 posts
  • Canada

Posted 09 December 2003 - 05:10 PM

The limited just adds a few items such as:

dual moon roof (not all Limited models though)
leather interior
8 speaker audio with CD player or changer (varies though) Two extra tweeters are on the D pillars at the very back in the cargo area.
power radio antenae
different paint colors
Color keyed mirrors and door handles
Gold trim on alloy wheels

Leather seats are good for durability if cared for, they have the advantage of being mostly stain resistant. Leather shampoo and treatment twice (or more) per year is a good idea.

If you have a power antenae, be sure to clean and lubricate it often, especially in winter. They tend to jam. Some of the 98/99 Legacy's had integrated antenaes in the the rear side glass, there are good!

The front moonroof has been known to shatter on occasion, sometimes Subaru will replace it at no cost because the glass is sometimes incorrectly manufactured. It usually shatters on its own on very hot days. Occasionally it will shatter due to stone chips. Being from Canada I have seen quite a few that have been broken by stones that were dropped on the roads to aid traction in winter.

The Limited models are mechanically identical to the standard model. Because the Limited cost more initially to purchase, there is a better chance that the previous owner spent the money to properly maintain it. In general better maintained used cars started out as more expensive new cars.

At 72,000 miles the engine is likely had its head gasket failure or is due for one. The 99 has the redesigned 4EAT transmission which is far less troublesome in terms of torque bind. Check the driver's side of transmission, there should be a spin off fluid filter, if so this is the newer "good" transmission.

#9 Tiny Clark

Tiny Clark

    Certified Subaru Nut

  • Members
  • 807 posts
  • Germany

Posted 10 December 2003 - 02:04 AM

The biggest question for you, being a student- can you afford to
get the 2.5 fixed if it blows a head gasket??

You can't settle for another subie without the 2.5, huh? I wouldn't buy one with a 2.5 myself, and take the chance on a major repair bill.

#10 Robman

Robman

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • Greeley, CO

Posted 10 December 2003 - 09:19 AM

How much does repairing/replacing the head gasket cost?

thanks,

Robert

#11 outback_97

outback_97

    Eat, Live, Breathe Subaru

  • Members
  • 655 posts
  • SLC, UT

Posted 10 December 2003 - 11:54 AM

Commuter mentioned $1000 in a post above. I have heard up to 2X that at a dealer though. A member named theotherskip has an excellent writeup on the repair.

Alias stated:

At 72,000 miles the engine is likely had its head gasket failure or is due for one.



I have a 97 OB with the 2.5l, this week it will turn over to 100K miles. So far no major problems, an excellent car overall. Of the many thousands of these cars (96-99) that have been sold, do you really feel that ALL of them have blown or will blow a head gasket? The only figure I have seen based on actual research was around 20% from a German magazine, Autobild. On this board and others I have heard of dozens with the problem, but I don't accept it as an inevitability. As an owner of one of these engines, I am obviously interested in this topic.

Back on topic: I would put in a vote for the '99 as well. Also, consider the regular Legacy wagons with the 2.2l engine (early 90's to late 90's). They should be less expensive at a given mileage, and are considered to be more reliable albeit less powerful than those with the 2.5l.

Steve

#12 Atomic Robot

Atomic Robot

    USMB is life!

  • Members
  • 182 posts
  • Solon

Posted 10 December 2003 - 12:16 PM

Personally, I'd go with one of the '99s.

That said, what's the warranty on a '99- I thought it was 60K mi.

#13 tracedog67

tracedog67

    USMB Regular

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 69 posts
  • Cincy, OH

Posted 10 December 2003 - 12:58 PM

I have a '97 OBW limited with 211k miles on her. Bought it in Sept of 2002 with 182k and had to have the head gaskets done at 191k miles. I recently found a '96 OBW for my mom with 140k miles and it is showing signs of the headgasket problem! Luckily I got it at a great price so I already factored in the head gasket fix when she bought it. I had Wyler subaru in Cincinnati, Ohio do my head gaskets, timing belt, water pump, and few small items and total was about $1,250.00. this price was much better than estimates I got from independent garages. So far at 211k miles the temp gauge never moves more than halfway and I've got a good guarantee from the dealer. Most limiteds have leather, weatherband, better rims, heated seats and mirrors.

Tdog

#14 Robman

Robman

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • Greeley, CO

Posted 10 December 2003 - 03:47 PM

Well I've test driven the '97 lim, the '99 lim, and the '99, and I think the '97 wins out. The other two just didn't feel right.

I now the complete history with the '97, and it was a pleasure to drive..plus the owner installed new break pads recently, and has 1/2 year old snow tires that come extra. The price is lower too!

I think I may tint the windows to keep the leather cooler during the summer though...anyone know about a cost on tinting an outback (all windows but the windshield, of course)?

I also plan to buy a bike rack...what kinds of options are there for racks that mount to the top of the subaru?

Thanks again for all of your relplies...they've been a huge help!

Robert

I play some music too...I'm getting an outback to haul my gear..here are a couple of songs if you'd like to listen!

http://www.acidplane...229816&T=138809

#15 alias20035

alias20035

    Subaru Fanatic!

  • Members
  • 357 posts
  • Canada

Posted 11 December 2003 - 10:44 PM

Originally posted by Robman
anyone know about a cost on tinting an outback (all windows but the windshield, of course)?

I also plan to buy a bike rack...what kinds of options are there for racks that mount to the top of the subaru?



$150-350 depending on the shop to tint the windows. Make sure the shop has the large tint roll to do the rear window with a single sheet. Some shops will have an automated tint film cutting machine, these shops will likely do the best job, but they also tend to charge the most.

For roof racks you have options, see my link:

Subaru roof rack options

#16 northguy

northguy

    O.C.A.L. Life Member

  • Members
  • 4,352 posts
  • Chugiak, AK

Posted 11 December 2003 - 11:13 PM

A college student with 10 grand+ to spend on a car? Are you sure you're a clooege student? I remember the days of driving (and living in) an old Ford van, scraping together enough to buy a six-pack of Schaeffer and a couple of packs of Top Ramen. Buy an older ej22 (more reliable) and pocket the rest for tuition next semester, or save it until you graduate and buy a new car.

#17 Robman

Robman

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • Greeley, CO

Posted 12 December 2003 - 01:29 PM

thanks for the word on tinting and the racks...great site about the racks!

As for the college student/money thing...

I'll be making payments. I'm working for this car. I just wanted something nice and something that will last, as well as something big enough to haul my music gear.

Robert

http://www.acidplane...229816&T=138809

#18 Hogsubie

Hogsubie

    Eat, Live, Breath Subaru

  • Members
  • 266 posts
  • Northwest Arkansas

Posted 12 December 2003 - 04:30 PM

Rob,
Are those your songs on the link you posted? Those are really good! I really like accoustic guitar. Do you play and sing?

#19 Robman

Robman

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • Greeley, CO

Posted 12 December 2003 - 04:59 PM

Hogsubie,

Yeah, those are a couple of my songs...wrote, played and sang those. Thanks a lot for listening--I'm glad you liked them!

Robert

http://www.acidplane...s...16&T=138809

#20 subarweinie

subarweinie

    USMB is life!

  • Members
  • 154 posts
  • Minot AFB N.D.

Posted 12 December 2003 - 05:09 PM

:headbang: hey robman i listend to your music at work i like it i could just sit around and jam to it keep up the good work maybe some day youll be famous and get some cds i could buy. Rob W:headbang:

#21 Hogsubie

Hogsubie

    Eat, Live, Breath Subaru

  • Members
  • 266 posts
  • Northwest Arkansas

Posted 12 December 2003 - 05:36 PM

Rob,
Do you have a full album yet or just those songs. I wouldn't mind hearing some more...

#22 Robman

Robman

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • Greeley, CO

Posted 12 December 2003 - 05:41 PM

thanks rob, I appreciate the listen!

Hogsubie: I am actually headed home for chirstmas break, and I plan to record some more demo stuff...once that is done I'm going to decide which songs I like and record those in the studio--I'm really trying to get the album thing on track..

Thanks for the interest, and send me an email if you'd like to join the mailing list (show and album updates etc...)

robertduboismusic@hotmail.com

Robert

http://www.acidplane...s...16&T=138809

#23 BlueTrain

BlueTrain

    Subaru Fanatic!

  • Members
  • 477 posts
  • MisSOULa

Posted 13 December 2003 - 03:28 PM

i kind of agree with northguy that 10 grand is a bit much for a car to use at college. the parking lots alone can be hell on a rig. an early 90's legacy would suit your needs perfectly and think of all the extra $$ you'd have for gear etc.. those ej-22's are nearly bulletproof.. good luck with whatever decision you make.

#24 Robman

Robman

    New User

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • Greeley, CO

Posted 14 December 2003 - 02:11 AM

BlueTrain..

I appreciate the advice, though I sealed the deal for the '97 limited today..I'm happy with the decision! It was a snowy night tonight, and it's always scary driving home in the honda when there is snow/ice...I'm looking forward to the awd!

Robert

http://www.acidplane...s...16&T=138809




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users