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After my disastrous (and partially self-inflicted) engine replacement in my 2003 Forester (please don't ask), I just want to get rid of it. Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of unknowingly buying lemons. So, I ask all you: What should I get?

I want:
1. AWD or 4WD (not required)
2. Cargo room (truck bed is a plus, but not required)
3. Seats at least 4
4. A warranty would be a plus, but not required.
5. MPG would be good (I'm a Sunday driver)

I don't want:
1. Huge repair bills ($500 once a year is ok)
2. Handles like crap
3. Ultra sensitive gas and brake pedals (my Forester was an offender)

I'd like to buy used for under $10k. I like the idea of a new vehicle, but the cost is so high. However, I seem to pay $500/mo whether I buy used or not due to repairs.

I like Subaru, but I'm willing to buy something else. I did like my Forester, but I don't know about trusting another 2.5L.

Thanks,
Michael

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Let's forget the pickup fixation.  They all get lousy gas mileage, cost too much, and weigh too much.  I miss the old S10s.

 

I think a 10 year old 2.5L (Baja) is out of the question.  I just had a bad experience with one.

Edited by Odd Car

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2.5L engines have head gasket issues.  I just had one at 112K miles.  I suggest that if you do buy it, you change the coolant and use the Subaru coolant with the Subaru coolant conditioner.  I, unknowingly, went with Prestone instead.  The Subaru stuff seems to help prevent the issue, but lets not discuss that in this thread.

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1990-1996 Subaru Legacy

 

tons of cargo space. (roof racks both stock and aftermarket give you even more)

Seats 5.

Ej22 motor - non interference years (best subaru motor made since the EA81)

Cheap to buy. Cheap/easy to repair.

30 MPG highway for AWD models that are running well.

 

Be willing to pay a little extra for a car that has lower mileage and hasn't been beaten to death. these will commonly get to 300k with normal maintenance and only minor repair.

Edited by AdventureSubaru

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1990-1996 Subaru Legacy

 

Like these?

http://houston.craigslist.org/cto/4270566753.html  (this is actually an outback)

http://houston.craigslist.org/cto/4257706228.html

 

There were some other ones for under $1k.  Maybe I should consider running those until they cost more than $1000 to fix.  Then, I'll just pick up another.

Edited by Odd Car

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That sedan looks nice and clean. Yeah, either of those look pretty solid from the pictures. That's the best of the modern Subaru motors in there.

Edited by AdventureSubaru

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Either of those 2 cars i would snatch up at the drop of a hat. low miles (anything under 200,000) and no rust! Plus, driveline and engine parts are compatible thru 1998 subaru legacy. Rear struts are different in 95-98, but swap the top hats and it fits. This gives you the option of using forester or outback suspensions for lift. 

 

Either of those 2 cars can be worth 1,000-1,500 and 1,500-2,000 in my neck of the woods considering how clean they are.

 

Good luck!

Edited by MilesFox

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Get a good vehicle - private owner sale is my favorite as you actually know something about the car and can get a feel very quickly on if they're honest, straight forward, or shady, hard to communicate, don't answer questions/calls, etc.

 

1996 and earlier legacy and impreza engines are awesome.  don't overheat or run them low on oil and 300k here you come.

 

the 1995-1996 models look a lot nicer IMO. 

1997-1998 impreza and Legacy's with EJ22 are equally robust but are interference engines so if the timing belt breaks you have valve damage.  not a big deal if you just replace all the timing components though.

 

plan on a complete timing belt job when you get one:  new timing belt kit (tensioners, idlers, belt), cam seal, crank seal, reseal the oil pump, water pump with Subaru water pump gasket, Subaru thermostat, valve cover gaskets, NGK plugs, and quality spark plug wires.  change the  transmission fluid and front differential oil.

 

buy a good car and do that and you're not likely to have many issues for 100,000 miles.

 

the best newer candidate is a 2001-2004 Outback H6 3.0 engine.

But they're not stellar on gas...they do okay depending what kind of driving you do and are light on the gas pedal.

No timing belt to maintain.

Replace the two serpentine pulleys ($10 in parts, 30 minutes labor), that's about the only common issue on them.

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