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Buying a 2011 Subaru outback fully loaded 139,000 miles or Honda crv 2010 56,000 miles - Help Choosing

Hello! I have been listening to you guys for a long time. I need some car buying advice please! Help!

I found a Subaru outback, fully loaded and fairly priced according to kelly’s blue book but it has almost 140,000 miles on it. I’ve heard that subaru’s last a long time with good upkeep. It has about 5 recalls to be taken care of. It seems to drive nicely - test drove it at the dealer. It has some dings and chips in the pain that the dealer said they would try to buff out and they said they might be able to get some of them out. I’m going back to look at it once they do the work. This is the actual listing:

I test drove a 2010 traverse with a body in amazing condition, there were two chips on the window that the dealer will replace and a few dents (really a few) but I didn’t like the way it drove. I drove like a minivan and the engine didn’t sound as nice as the subaru.

I found a honda crv 2010 with 56,000 miles on it. basic. cloth seats, manual seat adjustment. I’ve heard some say that once you hit 100,000 these need a lot of repairs. This is this listing:

Please help me. I don’t think the traverse is good as chevy is rated very poorly on consumer reports. Honda is rated ok but subaru is rated the best of the 3. Which would you buy? According to kelly’s blue book they are all priced fairly. Please help.

i would not finance a car with 140k. 1 big repair from disaster. if you have cash to buy and more cash for repairs, than go for it.

First of all this is an open forum and you are not addressing Click and Clack ( the radio show has been reruns for sometime ).

With all the used vehicles on the market why even consider one that needs work of any kind before you buy it. I myself would not purchase any used all wheel drive with that many miles. Past ratings mean nothing because the problems of the past could have been solved so current condition determined by a mechanics inspection is all that matters.

Right there, this tells you that the previous owner(s) were not concerned with keeping the vehicle safe and in good working order. You may wish to differ, but anyone who receives notices in the mail of free repairs–but who chooses to ignore them–is not somebody whose car I would be interested in buying.

Ask yourself this question:
If the previous owner(s) opted to skip free repairs, do you really think that they spent much effort or money on maintaining the car?

Are the maintenance records for this car available?
If so, you need to see if the tires were rotated on schedule, which is every 7,500 miles. Failure to rotate the tires on a consistent basis (every 5k or every 7.5k) means that the center viscous coupler has been damaged and is a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode in your wallet.
If the car has a 4-cylinder engine, can you verify that the timing belt was replaced already?
It was due at 105k miles, and if it wasn’t replaced, then that is another ticking time bomb that will wind up destroying the engine when it snaps.


Yes, Subarus last a long time if they are properly maintained, and since I am currently driving my third Outback (a 2011 model, coincidentally), I can verify the accuracy of that statement. However, all cars need to be properly maintained and if–as I strongly suspect–this non-repaired Outback falls into the category of not having been properly maintained, then I would suggest that you avoid buying it unless you can verify the maintenance points that I mentioned above.


Thank you all soooooo much! The things you stated did not occur to me. I’m re-checking the maintenance history on the car fax based on your recommendations. With further review, I realized that the car fax report shows “remedy available” but I assume that it means it was not repaired or will it show as repaired on a car fax report if it was taken care of? It doesn’t show any maintenance done. this is the report. Car fax doesn’t explain that detail. What do you think? Thank you again for your help! It’s wonderful to get unbiased information. I’m also wondering what you would recommend about the 2010 Honda CRV. It has 56,000 miles on it and I’m waiting to get a copy of the carfax report to review it. (the car was just traded in to the dealership). I read that they’re rated ok and I believe they keep their value but someone stated that at 100,000 miles, the repairs really get pricy. That was just one review online. What do you recommend?

I disagree!
Hondas, overall, are very good vehicles, even if they are not quite as reliable as Toyotas. However, a badly-maintained Honda (just like any other car model) may indeed need pricey repairs after 100k miles, due to owner negligence.

And, speaking of owner negligence, that CRV has averaged only ~8k miles per year, which is not a lot–and that could be a bad thing if the previous owner(s) chose to change the oil on the basis of odometer mileage, rather than on the basis of elapsed time.

What am I talking about?
I am referring to the proviso in maintenance schedules where the mfr specifies changing the oil every xxxxx miles, or x months, whichever comes first. For some reason, many people ignore the second part of that proviso, and that can lead to an accumulation of damaging sludge in the engine’s oil galleries. I would not want that CRV unless I could verify that the oil was changed more often than once a year–preferably every 6 months.

All vehicle repairs are costly and reviews on a 6 year old vehicle mean nothing. Just pay to have what ever you like inspected and go from there. All used vehicles are a toss of the dice.


As far as I know unbiased opinion’s are as rare as Unicorns.


When I say unbiased, I mean that you won’t benefit from the information you’re giving me. It’s not to get me to buy the vehicle. As far as unicorns, I completely understand what you’re saying. :slight_smile:

Agree with VDCdriver. The degree of maintenance performed/not performed on the vehicle is just as important, but much more difficult to assess. On face value, I think you’ve reduced the risk by looking at quality vehicles. If you’re buying from a dealer and there’s a warranty (even a short-term one), you’ve reduced the risk even further. Looks like your primary issue is the bells and whistles - lots of them on the higher mileage one vs little on the lower mileage one. I tend to be a lower bells and whistles kind of person, so I’d lean toward the lower mileage vehicle.
Whatever decision you make, consider getting any regular maintenance items that have been due completed over the next 3-6 months unless you are reasonably sure that they have been done.

I checked back with subaru to find out about the car fax report and those recalls are confirmed to not have been taken care of. there is no maintenance information on the car fax report so it looks like the subaru is not a good choice period. The dealer just got the car as a trade in so they probably only know what they’ve done and they just put on new brakes. When I saw the car first, they hadn’t cleaned it yet. It was just listed on the internet and they cleaned it out so we could take it for a test drive but if the cleanliness of the car is a representation of the upkeep of the maintenance (based on what I’m hearing you say) it was probably very poorly maintenance. The issue is limited financing so I need something good and there was not much money left over for extra warranties. I don’t think an older car is better although I’ll pay less money. I was thinking only brand new but I’m looking to walk out the door at no more than $15,000 and the only new cars like this are compact which are terrible on the back! (I tried a honda fit).

I’d go with the CRV. The Subaru looks like a bad choice, as others have mentioned.

I’d never buy a car with all the “bells and whistles” if I could avoid it. Remember that electronics problems are a major cause of car repairs, and they can get quite expensive. Specially for older cars, as spare parts for the electronics can become very difficult to obtain.

Ditto for cars with a turbo. If you do get one, increase the oil change interval to 6k/6mo, and use the exact oil recommended by the manufacturer.

Whatever, spend $100 to have any candidates checked by YOUR mechanic.


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Before you give up on the Subaru, get the VIN and visit your nearest Subaru dealer and see if they have a maintenance history for that vehicle. If any maintenance was done at a Subaru dealer, the maintenance will be in the computer at any dealership. You may find that the recalls have been done.

However, Subaru’s are known to have issues with their head gaskets starting at about 100k miles. If a check at the dealership shows that the head gaskets have been replaced, then this could be a good vehicle. It appears that once the original head gaskets are replaced, the replacements last a lot longer than the originals.

Honda’s are very good vehicles too. About the only thing that I know of that will keep them from hitting 200k miles is a major accident, of failure to replace the timing belt. If it is a 4 cylinder, it may have a timing chain instead of a belt. The Honda dealer should be able to list any maintenance done on the Honda at any Honda dealership.

Are you ever going about this the wrong way. You want to spend most of what you can finance and not have anything left for extended warranty ( mostly worthless on used cars ) so that means you don’t have a reserve for repairs. If you think you can buy a used vehicle and drive trouble free then you are wrong.

There are plenty of new vehicles in the less than 20000.00 range and with new car finance rates over used you need to look around and have a new vehicle warranty.

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As for Hondas, I don’t believe anybody has yet mentioned adjusting the valves

Tight valve lash could cause some expensive problems

Fortunately, valve lash is often easily adjusted on a Honda engine

If the correct VIN is in the ad you can check for incomplete recalls at the manufactures web site. This Subaru has had open recalls for the last 5 plus years, if the previous owner never visited a Subaru dealer for recalls, they probably won’t have any maintenance records for this vehicle.

A high mileage Subaru which needs repairs is really bad news. The Honda would be a better choice if it checks out OK. Hondas are at least as durable and less expensive to repair.

Now that I see the fact that this Outback has the superior 3.6 liter six-cylinder engine, I have to amend an earlier response of mine. That engine utilizes a timing chain, not a timing belt, so the OP can ignore what I stated regarding the need to change the timing belt at 105k miles. I still think that a vehicle which has never been taken in for multiple recalls is likely evidence of a poorly-maintained vehicle, but at least the timing belt is not an issue with that engine.

And, it should be noted that Subaru’s six cylinder engines are not subject to head gasket problems.

I opted for that same engine when I bought my 2011 Outback Limited, because I didn’t want to have to deal with a timing belt, and because I didn’t want a potential head gasket issue, but I have to admit that giving BMW 5-series drivers a real run for the money is an added bonus of having this engine.

Thank you so much this information has been unbelievably helpful. As much as I liked the larger, heated, leather seats, navi system etc (making my travel more comfortable) I’ve decided against the outback as it still sounds like more of a gamble - even with the better engine. Either the previous owner either did not have it serviced much or just had it serviced somewhere that was not tracked on the car fax report. I called the Subaru dealer in my area and gave them the vin # to confirm whether the recalled items had been repaired and they had not been. Looking at the Honda seems like a better option. According to the car fax report, it was maintenance about every 6-8 thousand miles. If I’m understanding correctly, that is fine. I’m also taking the recommendation to take it to my mechanic. I’ll take it to him tomorrow (during our test drive) so he can look it over. I would love to buy a new car but with $15,000 to finance, it’s been tough to find something that wasn’t so small that it would cause me to walk like a hunchback! haha! I definitely thought about that in the beginning because although I know used cars are not going to be maintenance free, i want something that I will need to provide normal upkeep with not, crazy expenses that I didn’t know about due to poor maintenance from the previous owner. As for a warranty, in a perfect world, that sounds great but I haven’t found much out there in my price range. I thought I might find more brand new where I walked out the door with everything less than $15,000 (tax, tags, warranty, etc) but I haven’t found it yet. I’m trying to save money with a car rental as well. My car was totalled in an accident caused by a police officer pulling out in front of us. It wasn’t our fault (no ticket) but the insurance company paid for my rental car until Friday of last week so I’m on day 4 today and I want to keep that cost low. I’m a single mom, with a 22 year old college student and I’ve gotta keep within a budget. With all factors involved I appreciate all the help everyone has given me! It has been incredibly helpful. I am hopeful. I have faith that I will find something good but you all have given me an education! Thank you!

Bye the way. Thanks for the screen print of that jpeg. That’s not the car fax report - at least it doesn’t look like what I’ve seen. Where did you find that? It will help me in my search for more cars. All the dealers have the vin #'s readily available.