Subaru Questions

Frdmskr

Adventurer
Thanks for reading this.

A family member is getting her first car. She is going back and forth between a used Outback and Forrester. She probably won't do any serious over landing (maybe a ride in a state park) but I figured folks here know their gear and push limits. So the questions...Beyond the obvious regular stuff all cars have,

1) what is high mileage beyond which you don't buy?

2) any model years to avoid?

3) any maintenance issues to look for in paperwork or to ensure have been done?

4) major consideration is we live in a snowy, hilly, icy place. Any quirks or issues during winter to watch for?


5) any other issues, observations, thought on either as a first car?


Again thanks in advance for your help.


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libarata

Expedition Leader
Crawl under, and look for seeping gaskets. The largest issues are the gaskets drying up and failing. Check all fluids to make sure they are good. I have a 99 Forester S. No issues. If you notice any foresters, check out www.subrauforester.org

You ought to check the tires, to see if they are within 3/16 of an inch of each other, as they are fulltime AWD, and will have bad things happen if the tires are not rotated.

In regards to snow, you will find very few cars that perfomr better.
 

DCGibbs

Observer
First and foremost - pull a carfacts report. open the engine compartment - if it's dirty, sign of, lack of maintainance.

We bought a very clean 2006 Forester, which I've put 50K on over two years. Driven hard: on Idaho roads, by-ways, and dirt roads. TIRES, Rugged all-season Radials. It now needs Struts and another oil change. The # 1 piece of advice, no if and or butts... Change oil and filter every 3/4000 miles like a religion. The boxer engine will burn oil if the valves aren't adjusted regularly... I've had a few odd things it get use too, the windsheild wipes screech in high winds and I carry a complete set of from headlight blubs, on one trip; I had to replace them all, to get home without a ticket. :26_7_2:
GOOD LUCK! DcG
 
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Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
Regarding one model vs the other: they're mechanically almost identical.

The forester is a tall Impreza (literally, same hard points), and the outback is based on the Legacy, which is a longer version of the same chassis design.

Almost all parts except bodywork will bolt from one to the other. There are variations of suspension and engine/transmission packages, but in terms of basics, they're very much the same.

Think of them as long or short wheelbase and tall or short roofline variations.

All of this is mainly to make the following point: condition of a specific car will be much more important than almost anything else.

I like the behavior of the viscous diff in the manual transmission cars (I've had two), but there's a hack to lock the electronic center diff in the auto cars, so take your pick.

To whit: my daily driver is a manual transmission 2002 WRX wagon fitted with Outback sport suspension for a mild lift, and diff armor from the same. I've got the 4 piston big brakes from a 2006 WRX TR, and many interior parts (including seats) from an STi. With a healthy collection of Yakima gear on the roof, this was my "expedition" or "trailhead approach vehicle" for many years. Since adding my 4x4 van to the stable, the Scooby is back to street-only, so I may return the suspension to stock or something a bit lower/firmer...

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Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
Also, regarding valve concerns: I've had my 2002 since new, have never adjusted any valves or done anything in the top end other than a recent plug change, and it doesn't use a drop of oil.

My engine is the early 2.0l turbo, though, so it's rooted in the old STi engines. I have no experience with the newer single-cam or 2.5t motors

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Hodaka

Adventurer
Dual cam 2.5 is a bit of a buyer-beware engine (generally speaking, it's found in the 96-99 Outback, Legacy GT, and 98-2000 ish Forester). Other than that, and already mentioned seeping in some single cam 2.5, great cars overall. I wouldn't look at one with over 500,000 KM's / 310,000 miles, but that's just me. I know of others running around with 500,000 miles + so YMMV (literally) ;).
 

fike

Adventurer
Ditto on checking the head gasket.

I love my forester.

A few things to consider:
Unless you get one of the turbo variants, they can be a bit underpowered
They aren't great towing vehicles
They can run on fire roads all day, but light off-roading and rough fire roads is going to beat them up pretty fast
Break over and departure angles of the forester are better than the outback.
It is difficult to find good all terrain tires for Subies. To do so you will probably need to invest in some15 inch steel wheels, but those won't fit onto all the later models with bigger brakes.
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
Regarding 15" wheels for big-brake cars, check what the rally guys are using. They aren't the cheapest, but there are a very small number of forged 15" rally wheels that will fit the 4 pot brakes. Many 16" wheels, too, but tire becomes the problem then...

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MarcFJ60

Adventurer
I had been shopping used Subaru's a bit before ending up with my GX470. My conclusion was to basically find an H6 and enjoy the added power (and lower mileage). I wouldn't touch a used turbo. CV boots are an issue some years due to the proximity to the exhaust.

If I was buying the 4cyl, I would want one that already had the head gaskets done. I think they have improved the HG design more recently, but I'm not sure when the design changed.
 

Rosco862003

Adventurer
One thing that hasn't been mentioned in regards to the Outback is the "ghost walking" issue that reared it's ugly head in the 2005-2009 platform. It seems to be a fixable issue, but one you should be well aware of if you are shopping for an Outback and plan on driving in slippery conditions.
http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/66-problems-maintenance/30747-2005-2009-ghostwalking-abnormal-winter-handling-fixes.html

The comment about the tires needing to be matched is very good information as I had a friend with an STI who had transmission problems due to the PO using 4 different types of tires on the car. If one tire goes down, plan on a new set of 4 tires. One thing I plan on doing whenever I do get a new set of tires is buying a full size spare and including that in the rotation pattern. All of the other important items, at least that I can recall, have been mentioned. These cars are very reliable and will take a lickin' and keep on tickin' when taken care of properly. Either way your friend goes I think she'll be happy!
 

Frdmskr

Adventurer
Thanks for all the feedback. Appreciate it very much. I've passed this all along to my sister to consider.


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libarata

Expedition Leader
Should you end up with a forester(unknown about other models), if you blow a tire, there is a fuse you can pull to make it FWD only so you can limp to the repair shop. There is no REAL need for 4 new tires if one goes down. You can order another, and have the tire shop shave it down to match. Not ideal, but it is a work around.
 

Hodaka

Adventurer
Should you end up with a forester(unknown about other models), if you blow a tire, there is a fuse you can pull to make it FWD only so you can limp to the repair shop. There is no REAL need for 4 new tires if one goes down. You can order another, and have the tire shop shave it down to match. Not ideal, but it is a work around.
This ONLY applies to models with auto trans - and I don't think all model years.
 

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Hondaslayer

Adventurer
We have 310,000 miles on our 98 Forester (did the headgaskets at 190k)

We have 224,000 Miles on our 95 Legacy

We have 102,000 miles on our 03 Saturn


Guess which one we won't take out of town because the reliability is questionable.
 

tacksman

Observer
I own both, so i'll try and help
2006 forester 2011 outback

1) what is high mileage beyond which you don't buy?
bought my forester with 66000 miles on it, outback had 6 miles on it. many of my subie friends have bought theirs with more miles on them Like any vehicle there are years to avoid. (google)

2) any model years to avoid?
Google

3) any maintenance issues to look for in paperwork or to ensure have been done?
None to date. I blew a tire on a recent road trip and stopped in to a local dealership. (car was way out of warranty) they offered to give me a tire of a wrecked(totaled) outback and rebalance and rotate my tires for free.
seems odd but when i asked they just said "if they can" they will go the extra mile.


4) major consideration is we live in a snowy, hilly, icy place. Any quirks or issues during winter to watch for?
These cars are amazing off road (within limits) I did upgrade both cars with full primitive skid plates underneath as we "use" these cars alot.

5) any other issues, observations, thought on either as a first car?
Great first car. the forester is an 2006 and will be passed on to my daughter for her first car. i'll then get the outback and probably start looking at the new 2015 when they are released.


All in all, you wont be disappointed if you do a little research. consumer reports is what we used and both there outback and the forester have forums you can utilize for further info.
Hope this help, I've been a fan for a while and will continue to be unless something drastic changes like that "Baja" crap they came out with…..lol

bonus:
Nothing turns a head faster than a nice deer hanging of the back during local dear season. Yes i hunt, and yes its out of a Subaru.
 
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