Help me select a Subaru Outback

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I narrowed down my choices to these, am inclined to go with the first one (2008 Outback) but will take a look at it this weekend. It appears to be an average price based on Ebay finished auctions. Talked to the guy he seems on the up and up. No red flags seen. Good price? What's a good offer to make? Things to watch out for? I need some critical thinking here and a reality check. 2008 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited - $4900 OBO 2008 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited - 174,175 miles - All Wheel Drive - Leather Interior - Heated Seats - Moon Roof - Engine Replaced at 172,XXX with a used engine that had 96,000 miles on it - New parts added since November: Catalytic Converter, Radiator & Thermostat, Timing Belt, All New Head Gaskets, Both Front Axle CV Joints, New Exhaust Pipe From Engine To Converter, New Head Lights, New Rear Breaks, Inspected in February - Clean Title -- $4900 OBO vs: 2005 Subaru Forester XS 5-Speed, $5299 2005 Model, XS Edition, Loaded Manual 5-Speed (Most wanted - Rare to find) 4 Cylinders, drives super nice & smooth, very well maintained; 2 Previous owners, never been in accidents, no smoking, no pets New VA Inspection & Emission, New Oil & Filters, New Rear Shocks Ready to go! 110K Miles Only! In excellent shape & condition (one small surface rust spot above the rear tire) Perfect Commute car, perfect for all seasons (AWD) KBB is over $6000 but I'm asking $5299 only! (For a quick sale)Won't last! Rare to find... vs: 2003 SUBARU OUTBACK IMMACULATE CONDITION -- STICK SHIFT - $2700 2003 Subaru Outback AWD manual with 139k in Immaculate condition. Well maintained. Engine and Transmission are in excellent shape with no issues. Exterior and Interior near flawless. Heat and AC. Brand new tires. Clean title in hand. vs 2003 Subaru Outback in immaculate condition. I bought it new and am the only owner. It comes with a March/2018 Inspection and all of the maintenance records to date. The car is in excellent condition, drives great, has 126,000 highway miles, and is built to last. $3400 FIRM
 
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Those engines were all Head gasket eaters. Some of those had not so good wheel bearings.. they actually used ball bearings instead of roller bearings. Older subies can eat your wallet alive esp. if you dont know their condition or their maintenance. Sometimes they can just have weird problems no one can figure out or fix. Misfire on alternating cylinders comes to mind. oh and that first one with 175000miles $5000= 5000*lol.
 

Nick1994

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If it were me I'd buy #3 but talk the owner down on price and expect to put head gaskets on it. #1 sounds like it's had a lot of problems, who knows how many miles on that replacement engine. I could take the engine out of my Camry and sell it to someone and say it has 106k miles on it while it has 227k, how would they know? #2 sounds too fishy, terms like "quick sale" and "won't last" #4 is overpriced
 
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I just bought a 2010 Subaru Outback from family. Mine calls for a timing belt at 105,000 miles or 10 1/2 years, you mentioned specifically on first vehicle, said up to date service records on subsequent vehicles. If this is a 2.5 L engine it is an interference engine and a timing belt failure not only strands you but can do major damage to valve train, so make sure timing belt is changed, significant expense unless you can do it yourself. Head gaskets have been a problem, not sure when this problem was solved. Reading explains that the horizontally opposed boxer engine, keeps head gasket constantly immersed in both oil and coolant. Read that a better quality head gasket solves the problem. My 2010 in the maintenance section of the manual recommends adding a Subaru conditioner to the coolant every time it is changed. The conditioner turns out to be a stop leak product which somewhat worries me about head gaskets. Mine has the newer CVT transmission which you do not need be concerned with the years you are considering. Also, a nephew who is a certified GM as well as Subaru tech told me to stick with factory recommended copper plugs and a 60,000 mile change. Do not use platinum, double platinum, or iridium, not designed for them. That being said I live and drive in Colorado, Subaru capital of the world. The largest independent Subaru repair facility is in Boulder, CO. Now that I own one have noticed numerous Subaru's, many older but still on the road. Owners seem to be fiercely loyal and enthusiastic. They have an awesome reputation for reliability in the mountains and snow of Colorado. Let us know your decision, look at, drive, make a decision. Regardless, you will not suffer new car depreciation, new car payments, higher sales taxes, taxes and licenses. You can afford a few repairs or maintenance, good luck.
 

pacem

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Originally Posted By: Nick1994
If it were me I'd buy #3 but talk the owner down on price and expect to put head gaskets on it. #1 sounds like it's had a lot of problems, who knows how many miles on that replacement engine. I could take the engine out of my Camry and sell it to someone and say it has 106k miles on it while it has 227k, how would they know? #2 sounds too fishy, terms like "quick sale" and "won't last" #4 is overpriced
This is helpful, thank you.
 

pacem

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Also, I am in Washington DC area Northern Virginia, lots of neat traffic jams here. I like 5 speed but have reservations about it. It does have a number of advantages, I realize.
 
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Scratch #1 Seller can’t spell “brakes” heavily screwed with probably with lowest bidder junk parts. Scratch #2 Guy sounds like a Toyota salesman and it is ugly. #3 has possibilities... #4 Guy can’t be bothered to frame a proper photograph...
 
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Originally Posted By: Rand
Those engines were all Head gasket eaters. Some of those had not so good wheel bearings.. they actually used ball bearings instead of roller bearings. Older subies can eat your wallet alive esp. if you dont know their condition or their maintenance. Sometimes they can just have weird problems no one can figure out or fix. Misfire on alternating cylinders comes to mind. oh and that first one with 175000miles $5000= 5000*lol.
NOTE -- I figured out the misfire on alternating cylinders problem!! Stretched non-oem timing belt!!! Spread the word. -m
 

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#1 reads like a train wreck, steer clear. Of the list presented, #3 sounds the most promising, as I believe another poster already mentioned. If you can find an XT, they apparently didn't have the headgasket issue (because they are turbo). But bring with them their own suite of (turbo related) issues.
 
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Any of those will need head gaskets in their near future. I have owned 3 Subaru's ranging from 99 to 2002 and none made it past 130K miles without needing them. In my experience, Subaru's of that vintage are expensive to maintain. I believe that's why you see so many on the market, the owners get sick of constantly fixing stuff. I'd steer clear on the manual trans in the years you are looking at. They are known for chewing up the throw out bearing shaft that is CAST on the aluminum transmission housing. If it gets chewed up too bad you'll have rough clutch engagement. Only way to fix it is to replace the trans or put in what they call a "snout kit". Google and read up. Honestly, I've sworn off buying any more in the 99-2009 time frame. They just don't seem to age well and or have weird issues that nickel and dime you to death.
 
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I owned a 2006 Subaru Forester and sold it with around 170k. I can tell you from experience that the issues from 150k+ will add up quickly. I had head gasket issues and 4 bad wheel bearing (very common in this vintage Subaru), the AC went out ($1200 fix) and a ton of nickel and dime stuff. If you really want a Subaru, I would strongly recommend saving a little while longer and getting something slightly newer and under 100k miles. They are not bad cars, but these common issues need to be understood. It isn't internet hype... there were some legitimate weaknesses in these generations.
 

pacem

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Points understoood Is the 3.0L 6-cylinder any better regarding head gasket issues?
 
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Ok, I'ma learn you a thing. WALL OF TEXT WARNING Experience: currently own 2 Outbacks 2003 2.5 H4 4EAT and 2002 H6 3.0 4EAT. Previous 1996 2.5 4EAT, family has 2006 2.5 turbo 5EAT. If you have no service records, it was not done. Period. These are interference engines, and you can NOT skimp on the timing belt service (105,000 miles OR 105 months whichever occurs first) Replace the belt, and all tensioners/idlers/pulleys/however you want to call them at a minimum. Waterpump is a cheap add on. Inspect crank and cam seals along with oil pump, replace as needed. More for the autos, but still applies to the manuals: tires must match! Wear and diameter and everything. This is an all time AWD thing that pretty much all makes state. You see one with 2 new tires and 2 bald ones...walk away. 2.5 vs 3.0 engines: 2.5 gets you better MPG and runs fine on whatever grade fuel you put in it, regular recommended. Not extremely difficult to work on. Downsides are timing belt service and known HG issues. Typical HG failure is external and will leak oil and/or coolant. Keep the fluids from getting low and you can run leaking HG for 100,000 miles if you don't overheat it. 3.0 is an auto only option. 4 speed in older and the much better 5 speed in 2005+ cars. Timing chain has no service interval. Recommends premium fuel and runs better on it from a MPG and performance perspective. Few common issues, usually serpentine belt and idler related and complaints about handling (KYB is your friend here). For the most part plugs(NGK), wires(NGK or Subaru), filters, differentials, transmission (DexIII for 4EAT, ATF-HP for 5EAT), coolant (Subaru or Zerex Asian and a bottle of Subaru coolant conditioner), brakes are all fairly easy repairs. Valve covers are tight but not super bad. Avoid aftermarket for thermostats(OEM or Stant's XACT line ok, not regular Stant), radiator caps(OEM), and CV axles (FWE is a Subaru reman axle. EMPI/Raxles are better than anything you can find in a parts store but still not as good as rebooting or a genuine Subaru reman axle.) Tons of info about years/changes on cars101.com/outback.html
 
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...and I timed out. So my experiences: 2003 currently 161,000 miles, purchased in 2008 with 63,000 miles. Standard maintenance: plugs, wires, brakes, fluids, timing belt service, tires, etc. Repairs to date: 3 passenger CV axles, 1 wheel bearing, valve cover gaskets. Repairs needed: Exhaust is rusting out from 12 years spent in Chicago and needs eventual replacement. Driver's side head gasket leaking oil at a rate not currently worth the repair cost. Factory suspension parts nearing end of service life. Few electrical gremlins from aforementioned salt and corrosion. Overall: has had a very low service cost, current repairs are spendy but non critical. Also the car is 14 years old. 2002 currently 111,000 miles, purchased 2016 with 100,000 miles. Maintenance: fluids, filters, tires, battery. Repairs to date: replaced o-ring for power steering pump due to leak, and brake light assemblies due to cracks and filling with water. Repairs needed: Quarter sized rust hole on fender well. Previous owner thrashed (see brake lights above) it so front suspension is shot and needs control arms, ball joints, end links, and struts. Paint is clear coat damaged and scratched, leather interior is a disaster, and the sunroof is inoperable. Only part I care about is the suspension. Overall: For a sub $6000 car, it serves the purpose for a planned 5 year or so daily driver before it will be replaced by something nicer when school debt is less terrible. Don't need a car payment on top of rent and student loans.
 
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