Do subarus have a lousy engine

i have owned two subarus… a '98 outback and a '00 legacy. my sister owns an '02 outback. my sister and i were diligent with routine maintenance. in spite of this, all three have had to have major engine work… head gasket on the '98, new engine on the '00 and head gasket on the '02. is this bad luck or are these common issues?

Head gaskets have been a common problem with Subarus for over 30 years and as to the new engine on the '00 it’s possible the engine could have been ruined by a head gasket problem.

If a head gasket problem is causing the engine oil to become diluted with coolant the engine will not last very long if the head gasket problem is not caught quickly.

As to their engines, they’re ok but there are better vehicles and engines out there.

Head gaskets are an issue until about 2004 for the non-turbo 2.5L engines. Replacing entire engines are not common unless the head gaskets went failed for a while.

The 2002 should be covered by a 8yr/100,000 extended by Subaru warranty for head gaskets.

The turbo engines(early 90’s and 2002-present) have been immune to any serious problems. Also the 2.2L(non turbo) which powered the Subaru’s are quite reliable and did not have head gasket issues.

thanks for the replies… i am getting ready for a used vehicle purchase and for some reason, i am still considering a subaru. i thought i was crazy given my history with them, but maybe i will pursue the 2.2L

There is no question that Subarus did have head gasket issues for a period of several years. I had a '97 Outback that was trouble-free until it needed the head gaskets replaced at ~110,000 miles. Overall, that Subaru was the best car that I had owned up until that time–better even than the '92 Accord that I owned previously. At last report, the new owner (my brother) tells me that it is still going strong at ~160,000 miles.

Every car company has some skeletons in its closet in regard to design issues, and in many cases, these design issues were not remedied as quickly as they should have been. As just one example, consider the intake manifold gasket issues with certain GM engines that persisted for more years than the Subaru head gasket problem.

Presently, I own an '02 Outback with about 90k on the odometer, and it has proven to be rock-solid reliable. Until I bought the '02 Outback, I had never owned the same make of car twice, due to “issues” of some type with each car. I certainly wouldn’t have bought a second Subaru if my first one was problematic.

At this point, I plan to keep my '02 Outback for about 2 more years, at which time I will be looking for a “clean diesel” vehicle. If my present Subaru continues to perform in the same reliable fashion as it has for the past 90,000 miles, that clean diesel will probably be a Subaru also.

Talk about a timely question - I’m thinking about a used Forester - what years should I avoid?

None before 2002.

I believe that andrew meant to avoid everything prior to 2002, if you are looking at Subarus with the 2.5 liter engine. The 2.2 liter engine was not subject to any unusual incidence of head gasket problems.