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Hello all. I may be a new Subaru owner in the next few days. I currently drive a Toyota Tundra full time including a 70 mile round trip commute for work. I get 13 miles per gallon, not good. I am looking for something that can get around 30mpg highway, is reliable and in at least semi decent condition.

One of the vehicles I have found near my location for sale is a 2008 Legacy Limited 2.5l with 152,000 miles on it.

I am strongly considering this over several other possibilities in the area from Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen. The Subaru seems to be the best value in terms of price to features to condition.

Is there anything I should look out for or need to be concerned about with this vehicle? If this isn't an appropriate place for this question please advise where I should post it.

 

Thanks,

Steve

 

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1 hour ago, smkauffman said:

The Subaru seems to be the best value in terms of price 

 

If it's cheap - then it probably has a head gasket leak.  

Summary - Check headgaskets, rust, and torque bind - drive in tight circles in a dry paved lot (steeering wheel turned to full lock right or left) and see if the car is "slowing down", or binding.  And it'll need all new timing components. 

Details:
Unless it's a really obvious situation like they just won a new car on The Price is Right, you should be skeptical of headgaskets on any legacy/outback, particularly if it's cheap and definitely if it's cheap and from a dealer.  

Rust is also a huge deterrent in your area - check the underneath like the rear suspension, brakes, and exhaust which could look like scrap metal. 

At 10+ years old and 150k it needs a new timing belt kit.  It doesn't matter if the timing belt was replaced, the pulleys and tensioner can fail as well and should be replaced with an AISIN kit for approx. $250 plus labor.

I have two 2008 and 2009 legacy's I'm getting rid of but if "value in terms of price" is your goal these won't be your ticket. 

Edited by idosubaru
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Thanks for the information. I will pay particular attention to these 3 areas when I go have a look at it.

I have accepted that pretty much anything I buy in the price range that I am looking will need timing components replaced unless I get really lucky and there is documentation that the work was recently done. I have a sticker and the work order from the Toyota website showing that the timing belt on my truck was replaced just before I bought it, got lucky on that one.

I do all my own maintenance on everything I own so the labor is not a big deal and with 2 vehicles I won't be pressed to get any work done by some deadline so I have wheels.

Is the timing replacement on these much different than any other vehicle?

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due to in-line engine timing, belt system service is probably easier than any transverse engine. spark plugs and valve cover gaskets can be tricky.

 

make sure you get OEM or Aisin/Mitsuboshi parts though - japanese bearings and belt/parts. you want all the rolers and the tensinoner and, at that mileage, probably the water pump.

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Thanks for the reply.

I've done timing belts/chains on V6, V8 and I4 engines from both domestic and import manufacturers so if there's nothing really strange about these it shouldn't be a problem.

I generally research a few discussion boards before diving into repairs on anything to get the general consensus on best techniques, shortcuts, and best parts to use.

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you'll do fine

generally speaking, there's a lower toothed idler that is often the weak spot - they seize or puke their bearings. 105k miles OR 105 months is the factory schedule. at 8.5 years but under 70K or so miles, my WRX's toothed idler was slightly wobbly, another idler was quite loose.

Belts and most other (if OEM) parts are robust.

the crank alignment mark for the install is a dash/groove on a timing lug at the rear of the sprocket - NOT the arrow/triangle at the front. That way, the pistons are at half-travel and no valve contact is possible.

 

Edited by 1 Lucky Texan
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Thanks for the information.

I think I'm going to have a look at the car this evening. It appears to be nearly spotless in the pictures.

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2 hours ago, smkauffman said:

I do all my own maintenance on everything I own so the labor is not a big deal and with 2 vehicles I won't be pressed to get any work done by some deadline so I have wheels.

Is the timing replacement on these much different than any other vehicle?

Ah great!  Those EJ25's are almost as easy as they come.   No special tools or tricks, super easy, i've done just the belt in under an hour so that's how easy access/labor is.  Doing the job right requires more time than that though...

Ideally you get Subaru or Aising timing kit - which includes the belt, 3 pulleys, tensioner, and water pump. The kit is only $200, it's an interference engine that usually bends lots of valves when one of those components fails.  The lower sprocket and tensioner do fail and are not good high mileage/age items. 

If you're inclined to save a dollar - install a Subaru timing belt and the lower cogged idler, it is the part I've seen fail the most.  And check the tensioner - if the seal is wet it should be replaced. 

Even if there's record of the "timing belt being done" - that doesn't mean much since it could be aftermarket and they usually don't replace the other components prone to failure.

The original factory installed head gasket leaks on that year (symptoms vary by year) are always an external oil leak at the head/engine mating surface underneath the vehicle.  it starts out really slow....just getting the metal wet, not even dripping, unnoticed unless you're staring at the bottom of your engine a lot, lol. This over time progresses to a drip and then more drips.  It's rather benign.  Keep checking the oil and you can drive them a long time with leaking headgaskets.  They dont' blow in anyway that would strand you. 

But - of course a used car getting ditched for cheap can often have been run for awhile and already leaking.  If it's leaking badly then you have the concern that someone ran it low on oil (as my friends daughter just did last week).  Then the block is questionable....

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as Subarus see more owners and 3rd party shops, the odds of someone draining and filling the wrong fluids increases so, you might plan on new fluids.

 

otherwise, what Ido said above, he has a lot of experience with used soobs - I just maintain my 2.

Edited by 1 Lucky Texan

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'Rust is also a huge deterrent in your area - check the underneath like the rear suspension, brakes, and exhaust which could look like scrap metal ". 

 

Replacing rusted undercarriage parts is not fun.

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Thanks for the replies. I'm actually going to go look at the car this evening after work. It will be 1 of 2 or 3 I have narrowed my search down to that I'll go look at for now.

Which fluids would be the biggest concern that might be the wrong fluids?

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the autos have a front diff - sometimes drained mistakenly as engine oil and maybe not refilled - or confused as auto trans drain and filled with atf, ....etc.

The manuals share fluid with front diff and are a 'compromise' design so, they can be a little balky at times.,  need GL-5, NON-synth is best to avoid clashing..

 

read of these issues a few times thru the years. Just something to watch for.

 

as mentioned already, ideally, all 4 tires will be IDENTICAL brand/model in addition to size. Running a different tire mixed in can be very hard on the AWD system - it can't distinguish smaller 'rolling radius'  from poor traction slippage and that can lead to binding on dry pavement - and the weakest link in the system can suffer.

 

Edited by 1 Lucky Texan
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Lots of great information here! I really wanted to try to get a little more insight into these cars before looking at one since they are a bit different than most of the other stuff out there. I think I can go look this thing over and evaluate it much more confidently than I could have 2 days ago. It also seems there is a lot of information and support going forward if I do buy this one.

I think the fluids are something I can plan on if I do buy the car, shouldn't be too much work or expense to make sure it has the right stuff everywhere before I start piling on the miles.

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of the 3-4 forums I've monitored since 03, this one and subaruoutback.org are the friendliest and most helpful overall - maybe the legacy and forester forums are good, I just never hang-out there.  NASIOC has a higher 'signal/noise' ratio and there's often some cranks/curmudgeons that are intolerant of noobs. But there's a lot of info there.....

 

SM - if you can find a subaru-friendly independent mechanic near Sandusky, they could have a customer that's thinking of selling a car - wouldn't hurt to ask. At least you'd have some confidence it was seen by a competent mechanic occasionally.

Edited by 1 Lucky Texan

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I have found forums in general to be a mixed bag. I regularly check in on a few HD, Tundra, RV and John Deere forums. I check min most regularly on the ones I have found to be the most informational and friendly.

The other couple cars I am considering in the area are a 2000 Beetle with 64,000, a 2005 Mazda 6 with 160,000 and any number of Civics or Accords with between 160,000 and 200,000 on them.

Edited by smkauffman
Typo

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3 minutes ago, smkauffman said:

 

The other couple cars I am considering in the area are a 2000 Beetle with 64,000, a 2005 Mazda 6 with 160,000 and any number of Civics or Accords with between 160,000 and 200,000 on them.

*Yawn* Boring!!

:P

Seriously though, you need to go with a vehicle that will meet your needs and that you’re confident with in purchasing. 

Don’t buy a car in the evening as the sun sets, paintwork unless really really bad will look ace... until the sun comes up the next morning.  My dad did this and while the car was good the paint had many imperfections including swirl marks from a sander used before its last respray :unsure:

All the best in your purchase

Bennie

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Any of these will meet my needs. The one requirement is that I can get double the 13mpg that I get out of my Tundra. The confidence in purchasing is gonna be a little shaky with anything in this price range but I'll do what I can to get that as high as possible.

The paintwork isn't terribly important. It is almost a bonus if the car happens to look good in addition to running well. ;)

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didn't some Mazdas have a serious issue with transmissions?

 

not sure models/year ranges but, you might research that. maybe they've all been fixed now.

 

Subarus carry more weight and have more frictional loss due to the AWD gear - not known for stellar fuel mileage. many 6 cylinders need high octane too.

Edited by 1 Lucky Texan
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I'm not sure on the Mazda transmission issue, haven't researched that one yet. The Subaru and Bug are the primary targets. I did have a line on a 2008 Pontiac Vibe for a great price with 130,000 miles...very interesting since all the important bits on the Vibe are Toyota bits from the Matrix/Corolla but that fell through.

Most of the information I've been able to find puts the Legacy mileage up around 26-30 highway which falls in the "double the Tundra" range I'm looking for. Is that correct?

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Legacy might be better than Outbacks due to lower stance.

Very hard to get better than 24-25 from our '03 H6 Outback. Gets 19-20 in the city. 4 cylinder might be a couple more mpg and of course works fine with regular fuel. Newer models also should be more fuel efficient so, depends a lot on what you end-up with. www.cars101.com should have published efficiency numbers for various models but, as I'm sure you know, real-world numbers aren't usually as good.

Those Vibes/Matrices seem to really last. See them around sometimes - they also had a 4wd version I think?

 

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you might take a look at a used Forester. 2010 could be the sweet spot for you. They are tall-ish so, you'd have a more 'commanding' view like with your pick-up. They are on the lighter Impreza chassis.  better fuel economy.  Still have some cargo space (though, kinda tall vs low like an Outback or legacy wgn) pretty good in the snow or mud or offroad too. Probably need a stiffer rear sway bar but, easy to install.

Edited by 1 Lucky Texan
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the good thing about the cheap subaru is if you can find out why it's cheap - headgaskets for example - they are not hard to replace and done right you've got an easy 100k vehicle for inexpensive.  

most truck owners i see dabble with a car for a year or less and are back in a truck.  will you beat the odds?!  haha.

14 minutes ago, 1 Lucky Texan said:

you might take a look at a used Forester. 2010 could be the sweet spot for you. 

I'd guess price is the driving factor here and finding one of those, or being platform specific, will be unlikely. 

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Even 24-25 highway is right around that "double the Tundra" mileage I'm looking for in a car, I'll take it.

I looked specifically for Subarus for sale in the area and didn't find much, especially below $5k. A lot of the ones I did find had more like 200,000 miles on them.

I have to admit at first the head gasket issue seemed pretty big but after a bit more research it doesn't really seem like that major or expensive of a project to take on yourself. Read all the DIY info, take your time, be careful.  I have all the tools, air compressor, a 48'x72' building to work in and other vehicles to use while I work on one.

I figure anything I get in this range will need some work to get through a few years. If I do it all myself and get a pretty decent price to begin with I am better off than spending twice as much or more to get something that will probably still need some work but is a few years newer or a little prettier.

Haha, we'll see how I do with a car but the truck isn't going anywhere. I need the truck to tow the toy hauler, haul recycling, get through nasty snow drifts around the area sometimes and other truck stuff. It won't make much of a difference over summer months either since I'm on my bike about 80+% of the time anyway

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You're more than set up for a headgasket, no special tools, pretty straight forward and lots of quality online support.  Resurface, OEM gaskets, AISIN kit, valve covers, Subaru PCV valve, plugs/wires, air filter, fluids and you're set for about as easy of a 100k as you can get.

Ohio can be low on subaru offerings. I'm in Canton every two months or so and 15 years ago I could literally go there an entire weekend and not see a Subaru, now they're everywhere in that town. 

 

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I can tell you that what I have heard here is definitely helping sway things in the Subaru direction.

If the biggest, most common problem they have is the head gaskets I can deal with that. I have done engine R&R and rebuilds in the past. The big fear is getting something and then having some issue that requires special tools and equipment to fix forcing it into a shop or dealer for thousands of $$$.

Other than that are there not really too many problems with anything else? HVAC, transmission, etc.? I know nobody can guarantee anything but typically is all the rest usually pretty good?

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