Dependabilty/Reliabilty - Suburu

gti
volkswagen

#1

I currently have a 2002 VW GTI 1.8L turbo which from my experience has to be the most unreliable car ever. I have had ongoing problems and repairs from the day I drove it off the lot (honestly). SO…I am looking for a car that gives me reliability first and foremost. I want to be able to keep the car much longer than only 8 years and 95k. (I do have other wants and needs though - like more than 120 HP, hatchback, auto trans) I have seen Suburu listed as #7 on Consumer reports reliabilty list which isn’t that far behind Honda and Toyota. But on the JD Power site it seems to be rated average.



Right now tops on my short list is a Suburu Impreza hatchback. (others on my list include the Mazda3 and Toyota Matrix S)



Anyone have any opinions or thoughts?


#2

Subaru Impreza 2005-present is very reliable. 2004 and prior they had gasket issues with the 2.5L non-turbo engine. I own the hyped up Impreza (04 WRX) and it has been flawless in regards to reliability over 6 years. Not a single issue with my WRX and I believe a recommended used car buy by Consumer Reports.

They key question is do you need AWD? The MPG is a bit less than Matrix/Mazda3.


#3

Yes, you are on the right track. Subarus have had some past problems but those are now resolved. But a Subaru is not for everyone. It needs careful management with respect to required maintenance and the nature of the drive system requires the tires to be close to exactly the same circumference at all times, or the drive train will be damaged.

All this is in the owner’s manual, which you need to study in detail. When the tires are all half worn and you have a flat that can’t be fixed, you will need 4 new tires, unless you buy a new one and shave it down to the same size as the other 3.

My wife has several friends who are outdoors types and bought Subarus. They had some expensive problems with these issues by not reading the manual.

Having said all this, in the hands of concientious owner, the Subaru is one of the best cars you can buy from a reliability and longevity point of view. A number of regulars here will testify to that, since they are owners of high mileage Subarus. With good care, 250,000-300,000 trouble-free miles on a Subaru is quite normal. I would avoid the Impreza WRX Subaru, it’s a rally racer, not a good day-to-day family car.

The Mazda 3 and Matrix are also much more trouble-free cars than your GTI. My son has nearly 100,000 miles on his Mazda 3 and has just done brake work, and routine maintenance. Everything else , except tires, is still original.


#4

I would avoid the Matrix. It’s evil twin…the Pontiac Vibe is fraught with problems. Mainly the front end. They wear tires out like crazy. Several family members including myself have owned them and all of us got rid of them in 6 months to a year. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.


#5

“A number of regulars here will testify to that, since they are owners of high mileage Subarus”

Yup. I’m one of them.

After having owned a Dodge Charger, a Volvo 240, Chevy Citation, a Ford Taurus, and a Honda Accord (all purchased as new cars) and a VW Karmann Ghia (purchased as a used car), I bought a '97 Outback because my new home’s location necessitated AWD. The Outback turned out to be the most reliable car that I ever owned–yes, even better than the Honda.

Yes, it did suffer a head gasket failure (at around 120k miles), but that was the only repair in the 6 years that I owned the car–other than an alternator that was replaced free of charge at ~95k, despite the fact that warranty coverage was long over. Subaru went “halfies” with me on the head gasket job. The result was that my total repair bills over the life of the car were actually lower than on my previous cars–including some that I owned for a shorter period of time than the Outback.

That car was turned over to a relative, and it continued to run reliably for another 50k miles before it was passed to another relative who continues to drive it daily. I replaced the '97 Outback with an '02 Outback, simply because of the superior reliability of the '97 model. Well, the '02 turned out to be even more reliable than the '97 model. In the 8.5 years/100k+ miles that I have owned it, I have only had to replace the bearings in the belt tensioner and the idler pulley. That is it. No other repairs whatsoever.

Yes, I do maintain it according to “the book”. However, I also have to say that the so-called “intensive maintenance” that some people seem to believe these cars require is not as intensive as they apparently think. Yes, there is a second differential, thus necessitating 2 diff oil changes every 30k miles, but that is really the only extra item on the maintenance list, as compared to a FWD or RWD car. Yes, you do have to rotate the tires every 5k or 7.5k, but a responsible car owner normally does that on any car. Yes, I know that repairs are likely not necessitated on FWD or RWD cars for failure to rotate tires, and that failure to rotate tires on an AWD vehicle like this will result in repairs, but I have always rotated my tires, so this is not an unusual expense for me.

And, yes, you do have to be careful about “matching” your 4 tires, and about not driving more than…maybe 50 miles…on a temporary spare tire, but once again, I would never do that on any car, be it FWD, RWD, or AWD.

Just “normal” maintenance will keep a Subaru running very reliably, based on my experience with 2 of them.


#6

Great post, VDC! I did not mean “intensive” maintenance, Just concientious and regular maintenance, and stay away from Jiffy Lubes who may drain the transmission instead of the crankcase. In short, a Subaru is not a car for flaky, forgetful people.


#7

If the number of “Subaru” threads on this board is any indication, they are just slightly better than Yugos when it comes to owner satisfaction and reliability…

Mazda 3 owners are seldom heard from here, which must be a good sign…


#8

I’m another Subaru owner. I’d say the reliability is pretty good, but maintenance costs can be higher than some other brands and the gas mileage suffers because of the AWD. If you buy one you’ll have to find a Subaru specialist to help you take proper care of it. Subarus don’t take kindly to sloppy maintenance.

If you don’t need AWD (probably not) I’d give the others on your list serious consideration. I would add the Hyundai Elantra Touring to the list, too.

If I were car shopping the cars you list, plus the Hyundai, would be high on my list. I’d also be tempted to wait until later in the year when the 2011 Ford Focus arrives. It may be a game changer.

I’m pretty sure my next car won’t be a Subaru, because I don’t really need the excellent AWD capabilities. If you feel you need AWD, however, a Subaru is hard to beat.


#9

I will only add that the 2002-2007 WRX was a rally racer for sure.

For 2008-present redesign it turned into a much more family oriented car that is a hoot to drive still. The car is significantly roomier for 2008-present.

If you pay off your credit card every month Subaru/Chase has an incredible rewards card that kicks back 3% of purchases towards Subaru purchase or maintenance/repair. My wife/I only use dealer for major 30k services and all have been free using the rewards.


#10

I will only add that the 2002-2007 WRX was a rally racer for sure.

For 2008-present redesign it turned into a much more family oriented car that is a hoot to drive still. The car is significantly roomier for 2008-present.

If you pay off your credit card every month Subaru/Chase has an incredible rewards card that kicks back 3% of purchases towards Subaru purchase or maintenance/repair. My wife/I only use dealer for major 30k services and all have been free using the rewards.


#11

“If the number of “Subaru” threads on this board is any indication, they are just slightly better than Yugos when it comes to owner satisfaction and reliability.”

I’m so glad that you have set me straight on this topic.
Apparently I have been hallucinating for the past 14 years.


#12

well after the last winter we had here in the northeast and my job requirements (that is, to be there) I would like AWD. I don’t see it as a necessity, but a nice bonus. I was surprised to see the Matrix S also has AWD. Have to admit I am a little nervous about the whole Toyota thing right now though, plus the Suburu appears to be a better buy for the buck. I will check out the Hyundai.


#13

Not true on owner satisfaction. It is incredibly high and brand loyalty is very high too no matter what happens.

My sis in laws 2000 Forester blew a head gasket for first time at 250k miles. Guess what she is buying next. She had flawless repair record and put minimal maintenance into it except diligent oil changes.


#14

Mcparadise…Just a quick note…The 2011 Ford Fiesta will arive this summer. The 2011 Ford Focus will only arrive in the early part of 2011.


#15

Subarus are no better than anything else and you should never base an opinion on articles from something like Consumer Reports or J.D. Power; or anything else. Those kind of articles are very narrow in scope with little background, and have a certain bias to them.
(Many people have forgotten that back in the 90s J.D. Power was caught taking payola from Subaru to skew the statistics and dish out awards for best this, best that, etc, etc.)

Some people who own Subarus and have good luck with them praise them as bulletproof. Speaking as an ex-Subaru tech my opinion is they break just as often if not more than anything else; and I’m not referring to normal wear and tear, maintenance type items.
(And I’m not a Subaru hater; have owned 3 of them in the past)

And just being curious, what are some of the repairs on the VW that causes you to think the car is unreliable?


#16

OMG, our family has owned SIX Volkswagens - so many problems! Where to begin? My son’s Jetta had CONSTANT electrical problems & burned oil at a rate of one quart every 1000 miles (“normal” according to VW). My brother’s Eurovan was constantly in the shop - every part that could fall off, eventually did! The motor on my VW Beetle blew up (oil line clogged, causing “catastrophic failure”) and the diesel Golf my son owned cracked the head at 150,000 miles… you get the idea. VOLKSWAGEN = MONEY PIT!


#17

I would think the total number of Subarus on the road compared to Mazda 3s is a lot higher, also. You have to account for number of complaints per number of vehicles. That, plus that fact that Subaru is a brand, while Mazda 3 is a specific model. I’m not saying Mazdas are bad, in fact I think they are good cars, but just counting number of threads on this board is hardly an accurate way to judge reliability.


#18

Yeah, VW’s are the pits. One of my buddies and I were just talking about VW’s last night - his comment: “I will NEVER buy a Jetta, or any other VW, EVER AGAIN!”.

As far as your choices: Subaru are great in snow, but AWD complexity = more expenses. Unless you NEED all wheel drive, don’t buy a Subie (and yes, I own a Subaru - but it snows A LOT up here, so I figure the extra maintenance costs are worth it).

I owned a Mazda 3: fairly reliable, but maybe not as reliable as a Toyota Corolla (my son’s Corolla was over 200,000 miles before it died - my Mazda needed a new motor at 90,000 miles). Why not a Honda Civic? My older brother has owned 2 0r 3, and they’ve all gone over 200K miles - he sold them cuz he was bored - not because they were breaking!


#19

I’ll only say that I worked for several multi-line dealers who carried VW and Subaru franchises and they all rolled into the shop in the same proportion of failures, be they low or high mileage.

What I’d like to hear are details behind some of these VW problems. In one instance you state an oil line is clogged causing catastrophic failure. Clogged oil passages point to lack of regular oil changes and that’s not a VW problem.

Diesel Golf with a cracked head at 150k miles? Since the diagnosis of a cracked head is given far more often than it actually exists that diagnosis could be very iffy and debateable.
Buy that car new, or any of those VWs new? Any, and I mean ANY, overheating episodes? See where I’m going with this?


#20

I can wait.