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2001 Subaru Outback Slimited Sedan

I recently saw 2001 Subaru Outback Limited Sedan for sale. It has 211,000 miles on it, and costs $4440. The ad says everything works well. I know Subarus are good cars but is the mileage too high to bother buying? I don’t want to be stuck making constant repairs.

When buying any used car, getting full maintenance records is very important.
When a car has over 200k miles on the odometer, it is even more important.

Personally, I would not go near a car of any make with odometer mileage that high, and I also think that the price is far too high. However, your personal circumstances may dictate a car that doesn’t cost much to purchase. The problem is that cars which don’t cost much to purchase frequently turn out to be cars that cost a whole lot of money to repair and to keep on the road.

My advice is as follows:
If you can verify via documentation that all maintenance is up to date–INCLUDING THE TIMING BELT…
If you can get the price down to no more than $2,500…
If a mechanic of your choice can verify that the car is in decent condition…

…then you might want to consider it.

Subarus are great cars, new. But all cars are at the mercy of their maintenance and use. Because you must be more careful with how you drive any awd/4wd vehicle, you are now at the mercy of the previous driver. Too chancy. If I only had $4400 to spend on a car, I would buy the newest least expensive make and model when new that had a good reliability reputation with the best confirmed maintenance I could find and with the fewest options to go wrong…and then pray. I would never consider ANY 4wd that old I did not “raise” to maturity myself.

Good advice dagosa, honestly. Thanks guys.

While we’re on the subject, what are some reliable brands you’d recommend?

When you are looking for a used car in the under $5k category, the way that it was maintained is far more important than the brand, simply because a car in that price category is going to be old and potentially in need of ongoing repairs.

While I don’t have to buy used cars at this stage of my life, if I was going to buy one, I would not even consider a used car that did not come with full maintenance records that I could peruse and compare to the mfr’s maintenance schedule. A car that has had lax maintenance is not going to have much left life left in it, and it is going to need much more repair on an ongoing basis (at much more expense) than a car that has been meticulously maintained.

All of that being said, it is less likely that a car sitting on a dealer’s lot will have a sheaf of maintenance invoices sitting there with it. So–I suggest that you focus on private party sales, particularly if the car was owned by an older person.

Some cars to look for–especially if the seller is a senior citizen–are Buicks, Ford Crown Victorias, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Lincoln Town Car models. These are the most popular with the silver-haired set, and they are also among the most durable cars on the road today. If you can find one of these models in good condition, with maintenance records, and if it is given an “okay” by a mechanic of your own choosing, you will be far more likely to wind up with a car that has many more years left in it.

In your price category, you should be able to find 2001-2003 Crown Vic, Grand Marquis, and Buick Century models, and 2001 Town Cars.

Most of all, you should avoid cars whose engines have a timing belt. None of the above-mentioned models uses a timing belt.

I strongly suggest that you go to a large news stand, like at a Barnes & Noble book store, and pick up a copy of the Consumer Reports Used Car Buyers Guide, as it contains a wealth of information on reliability ratings of all car models that were sold in the US over the past 10 years or so, and it has a fairly long list entitled, “Used Cars to Avoid”, plus a slightly shorter list with the title “Worst of the Worst”. Those lists are too lengthy to detail here.