"New" 2004 Subaru Outback 4cyl?

Messages
99
Location
North of Boston
Hey guys and gals! It's been awhile since last I was here, I went awhile without a car (subways, city living, etc) and now I'm coming into possession of a 2004 Outback wagon 4-cyl/5-speed with 120K. It's a one-owner car from the ski-regions of Vermont. I've spoken to the dealer, gave him the VIN and they said the owner was religious about everything that ever came up. They did a head gasket ($1400.00, was that one or both?)`, an AC compressor and belt, timing belt at 56K (why so soon?), other than that, they were religious about scheduled oil changes, maintenance and tune up intervals, all performed exactly according to the factory plan. He sees no clutch replacement and while I can make a clutch last a long time, when do clutches go in these and what would that cost? Any trouble areas I should anticipate? I have a sister that swears by these things, but from the look of some of the forums, they can have their troubles, too. The dealer went through the service history over the phone and said if I can get this car it's a definite "BUY" based on the service record and diligence of the owner. I figure the gas mileage is 20-27, not great, but with AWD, what can you do, right? Meanwhile, I've always been a Hyundai Elantra/Accent guy, since 1986 anyway, so this is a new adventure. I guess I'm just wondering what surprises are in store for me. Thanks one and all!
 
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Messages
748
Location
Northern Michigan
Head gaskets are that engine's Achilles heel...I would consider buying it if it had been done...which the dealer said it has. I'm not sure if the "revised" gaskets being used solve the problem permanently or if there's a chance the problem can reoccur. You have to wonder if Subaru finally fixed the problem since later models that were supposed to be OK are still reportedly having issues. I've considered a used Subaru in the past but shied away because of the head gasket failure issues.
 
Messages
26,156
Location
MA, Mittelfranken.de
They probably did the timing belt when the heads were off as it has to be removed. With new HG it should be good to go but they are not difficult on this engine. Check this car for rust especially on the rear quarters behind the wheel arch, this a common area. The clutch isn't difficult, it has no inherent problems but clutch life is dependent mostly on the driver. This is low mileage for this engine and it has a very durable drive train. These are great cars and if you need AWD they are unbeatable by anything in snow unless you have a Quattro which is about equal or a track vehicle. Subaru puts money where you don't see it, not on flashy little doodads and trinkets. Slash shields for the gas tank and filler neck so they don't get the salt spray and corrode, high quality brake lines fully encased on critical parts of the under body, some serious structural reenforcement where no one will ever see them just to name a few. You wont find a smoother running engine or another Japanese car built as well in its price class or even one that cost a lot more. Repair one after a crash and you will see exactly what i am talking about. From a mechanics standpoint there isn't much at all i don't like about a Subaru, they are at the top of my list for Japanese cars.
 
Messages
1,019
Location
Va
It's good that it was dealer serviced. Most likely they have been adding the coolant additive and keeping up with coolant changes.. If so you should be fine on hg's since its been done. I'd say $600-800 on a clutch. Any 5w-30 should be fine. Being in new england, 0w-30 in winter is a decent idea. Id throw a can of LM Motor Oil Saver in to keep the cam/main seals happy. Search on Subaru oil filter bypass specs and decide which filter you think is best for you. There's a great company called KartBoy, that makes Subaru stuff. Specifically, they make a shifter kit and bushings that will make your 5spd shifter not feel like a stick in a bucket of sand. Tires are tricky on awd. Circumference must be the same, so can't just replace a tire or two at a time. Oem used 16" wheels are cheaply found on legacygt.com or nasioc, so running dedicated winters is an option if you see really nasty weather. Join up over at legacygt.com to find out all the dirty little secrets...
 
Messages
1,019
Location
Va
Originally Posted By: Trav
They probably did the timing belt when the heads were off as it has to be removed. With new HG it should be good to go but they are not difficult on this engine. Check this car for rust especially on the rear quarters behind the wheel arch, this a common area. The clutch isn't difficult, it has no inherent problems but clutch life is dependent mostly on the driver. This is low mileage for this engine and it has a very durable drive train. These are great cars and if you need AWD they are unbeatable by anything in snow unless you have a Quattro which is about equal or a track vehicle. Subaru puts money where you don't see it, not on flashy little doodads and trinkets. Slash shields for the gas tank and filler neck so they don't get the salt spray and corrode, high quality brake lines fully encased on critical parts of the under body, some serious structural reenforcement where no one will ever see them just to name a few. You wont find a smoother running engine or another Japanese car built as well in its price class or even one that cost a lot more. Repair one after a crash and you will see exactly what i am talking about. From a mechanics standpoint there isn't much at all i don't like about a Subaru, they are at the top of my list for Japanese cars.
Well said. So many times mechanics and people new to working on subarus get turned off, because they are "quirky". If you spend just a little time looking at how they are put together, it's easy to see why they are built the way they are. Every time I look at a Toyota, all I see is how the bean counters have shaved 2¢ of every part they could. Subaru's awd is world class. Your right only Audi is in the same league.
 
Messages
7,256
Location
USA
On clutches my wife's 2005 Legacy GT(turbo version) wagon clutch is OEM still at 171k but wife is a great clutch driver. We did however have the clutch throw out bearing fail(unqiue to turbo 5mt) and it was $400 labor + $35 for part but clutch/flywheel was in great shape it was left alone at 100k. Recently we had a valve burn(unique to turbo) at 169k the clutch/flywheel were cleaned up only as in decent shape and throw out bearing changed for PM since motor was fully removed. $400 clutch labor was at $65/hr, so my guess on parts in another $400-$500 for mechanic retail. Things to likely expect: starter alternator valve cover gaskets wheel bearings Nothing too difficult to fix just nags. Otherwise rust potentially especially VT car. Enjoy!
 

Concours14

Thread starter
Messages
99
Location
North of Boston
Thanks one and all! VERY informative takes, better even than on an Outback forum I peeked at this morning. BITOG is the best. Yeah, HG's seem to be an issue, but would they replace both of them for the 1400 or just one side? Ye Gawds, if one side is $1400 a person would have to consider junking a 2004 if it needed both.. Anyone ever change an oil filter? Is it reachable, or better to take it in for that? Heck, I've always run oil filters (Wix or better) for three changes of 5000 miles each, so just a dump and fill is no biggie no matter where the filter is, I guess. What's the take on Amsoil or other synthetic in these? Am I just as well to run conventional, change every 5K and call it a day? I'd love to run a pure syn and change at 7500 but I don't know how hard these engines are on oil. I'm going to assume 5W30, I guess, there isn't anything to be gained (to speak of) by running 5W20. Again, just guessing. Thanks much one and all. QUITE appreciated.
 
Messages
7,256
Location
USA
My guess is $1400 covered both gaskets. My Subie mechanic does a pair in a long day as I know since it ties him up.
 
Messages
1,019
Location
Va
5k on dquality Dino, or 7.5k on syn. 5w-30. Oil filter is easy enough, getting an end wrench for the filter is even easier. Check, clean or replace your pcv valve for good measure.
 
Messages
26,156
Location
MA, Mittelfranken.de
Originally Posted By: 05LGTLtd
For $1400, it had better been both hg's.
For sure. Its not much more work to do the other one once the intake is off, timing belt off and the pipe dropped down.
 
Messages
8,657
Location
Champlain/Hudson Valley
HISTORY: Subaru sold their 1.7L engine for years. As things grew they went to a 2.2L engine. This was the engine in my 1995 Legacy LS wagon. It ran like a watch-no complaints mechanically. I hoped the gutlessness of the engine would have delivered better mileage, but it didn't. Even with the "FWD fuse" in place most of the time I realized only 25.24 mpg over 135K of ownership. It was the first and only new car I'll ever own. The story I heard was that Subaru went to the 2.2 castings and tooling and eked it out to 2.5L and the problems with leaking began. Crumby mileage, finicky "matched tire" AWD and psychotically high cult pricing are negatives. In your case cracker jack maintenance, selling price and timing are positives. Get a 5th wheel and locate a tire that matches so you can do 5 tire rotations. Then, if you loose a tire or wheel, you still have a set of 4. That's what my friend did. Kira
 
Messages
3,870
Location
NEUS
That looks like a reasonable car to pick up, provided it's not rusty. You may need a clutch sometime, but that's no reason not to buy this. Oil/filter changes are easy. I'd probably feed it a diet of Maxlife 5w-30 and a Wix filter every 5,000 miles. That'll cost you less than $25. I wouldn't worry about anything more expensive here. Change the fluid in the transmission and rear diff too. It's no more difficult than an oil change. Use the Subaru-branded 75w-90 that's made by Idemitsu. Here is where I got mine. You'll probably need five quarts to fill both. Coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluid should be examined too. I don't know how often the timing belt needs replacement, but you may be due if it's 100k.
 

JTK

Messages
13,521
Location
Buffalo, NY
I wouldn't make an offer until I got a look at the rear sub-frame that people often neglect to consider on rust-belt Subies. They're typically Swiss cheese on an ~11yr/old Subaru that's lived it's whole life in a rust belt climate. They're replaceable if you can find one.
 

Concours14

Thread starter
Messages
99
Location
North of Boston
Sub frame? No thanks. A car is pretty far down the road if it needs all that. I see them talking about an AWD Fuse. Does that (or lack of it) turn the car into a two wheel drive? Thanks for the replies, all. I'm taking notes!
 

JTK

Messages
13,521
Location
Buffalo, NY
Originally Posted By: Concours14
Sub frame? No thanks. A car is pretty far down the road if it needs all that. I see them talking about an AWD Fuse. Does that (or lack of it) turn the car into a two wheel drive? Thanks for the replies, all. I'm taking notes!
You'd be surprised. We've had 2 in the family, a 1998 and a 2001, where the body looked perfect, but the rear subframe was completely rotted out and needed to be replaced. Both of them were purchased used (by my brother) and he did all the work. He's pretty good at doing Subaru head-gaskets as well. He's done them 3-4 times now on different Soobs.
 
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Concours14

Thread starter
Messages
99
Location
North of Boston
Man, you'd think they'd find some way to protect them. Wonder if there's anything to be done in the meantime, other than to rinse them good in the springtime.. Thanks!
 
Messages
26,156
Location
MA, Mittelfranken.de
Originally Posted By: Concours14
Sub frame? No thanks. A car is pretty far down the road if it needs all that. I see them talking about an AWD Fuse. Does that (or lack of it) turn the car into a two wheel drive? Thanks for the replies, all. I'm taking notes!
Its not the actual sub frame which would need to be cut out but a bolt on rear cradle. If the car has been dealer maintained like he says then it should be okay (one would hope they would see that). If its okay just wire brush it and use a good rustproofing on it if it doesn't have any.
 
Messages
3,017
Location
texas
rust and head gaskets are all true from what everyone has said. I owned a 2000 outback for around 5 months and noticed more and more rust spreading every single day in the rear wheel wells.
 
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