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BillG 03-27-2013 04:27 PM

What to look for when shopping for used Subaru?

My (family) Subaru was recently totalled while parked! We are now shopping for two used Subarus - one more recent for my wife/family (ha - recent = 2003,04,05) - and I want something older (1990's).

Anyway, I am desperate to find out if/how I can protect myself from the head-gasket problems some years are said to have.

From what I have read, there are two series of this problem - "2.5l engine found predominantly in the 1996 to 1999 Outback, Legacy G.T.," and "2.2l and 2.5l engines found in the Forrester from mid year 1998, Impreza from mid year 1998, the Outback and Legacy from 2000."

Is this problem pretty much bound to happen to most of these cars (that is how it sounds)? Is there a way to predict that it will happen (is happening), has happened... or a way to tell if it had been addressed (if records aren't forthcoming)?

I'm a terrible car guy... computers? great - cars... nope. (It is funny how people think working on computers is difficult! I was just explaining to a relative that, with computers you just pull out one part, put in the new - no grease, no stuck bolts or busted knuckles.)

Any help in what to look for - particularly in Subarus would be very helpful!

For what it is worth, we are looking at wagons.


jbayless71 03-30-2013 06:56 PM

I would say to take a Subaru you are considering buying to a Subaru shop and pay for a pre-purchase inspection. It might cost you about $89 or so, so I would only do it if you're seriously considering that purchase. I've owned a 2007 Outback and a 2009 Legacy and both were bulletproof cars, but I am no car guy either.

Get a subscription to Carfax and check the maintenance records of any car you want to buy. There's a free beta out right now for a limited carfax service called -- it will show you oil changes and repairs for free, but not things like whether the car was totaled or salvaged in the past. You just need the VIN or license place number of the car.

silver03 03-30-2013 07:38 PM

Your odds of head gasket failure decrease dramatically with the 2.2L motor. Regular old school maintenance on these cars will make them go 300k all day long. Look for a car with records that show tune ups, diff fluid changes, timing belt/ water pump et al. Than , bring a car guy with you to look for the usual stuff.

al. 03-31-2013 11:27 AM

What is the recommended timing belt intervals? 60k miles, 90k, ... ?

careercadaver 03-31-2013 01:21 PM


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