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Fix or buy new (used) Subaru outback

I have a 2001 Subaru Outback Limited that I LOVE, but have just been told that it needs $5000 in repairs (head gasket, muffler w/ cat convert, rf axle). Based on consumer reports it looks like fixing these doesn’t ensure that more troubles won’t follow. Don’t like the new outback redesign so considering a 2007 that has all the same features I like. But will I be facing more repair bills in a year or two? They want $18k and since they repair my car, they know its problems so not likely to get much for it. Blue book says $4900-6100, black book auction value at $2500-4500 - but obviously not with any of these listed problems. Should I fix, buy the 2007 or shop for a more reliable make/ model?

How many miles on your '01? What condition is it in, overall? Why does it need a catalytic converter?

If the repair estimate you’re quoting is from a Subaru dealer you may be able to do better at an independent mechanic. Just make sure the independent has Subaru experience.

$5,000 is a lot, but you can’t replace the car for that. Unless we know the mileage and condition of your current Outback it’s hard to make a recommendation.

I’d want a second opinion on the cat regardless of your ultimate course of action.

2005+ have not had any significant head gasket issues. The balance of issues like axle, muffler,cat converter are due to age more than lack of reliability on yours.

Subaru is not an unreliable make but as you see not cheap to own either. I don’t think shopping for a “more reliable make/model” will get you much.

Check an independent repair shop. There are some good folks listed on the car talk main page by recomendations. Otherwise talk about various folks locally. The work listed in your post might be as high as 2000. But it depends on the details.

I appreciate your comments. The 2001 has 113,000 miles. The reason for needing to replace catalytic converter is because it’s apparently all one piece? I would question this except that my hubby 's Rav4 just had the same issue and had to have both muffler and cat conv replaced. I am planning to take it to my husband mechanic to see if he can fix for cheaper but am not too hopeful…this guy’s dislike for Subarus is no secret. I’m just worried that it’s $5000 now and then another big repair hits and I’m still sitting here with a 10+ yr old car.

This is what I’m hoping. Figure that they did the redesign in 2005 which based on the consumer reports appeared to have stopped some of the big problems. No more black circles! But is this because not enough time has passed fro things to go wrong or is the redesign truly better?

Thank you for the advice…we are going to take it to our local guy (the Lusty Wrench!) and see what he says. but he’s disliked this car from the start -says he’s seen too many problems just like mine. I quit going to him because of his “negative vibe”! Can hardly wait to hear him say I told you so.

Post note: well, our mechanic has made the car talk list a couple of times! So we’ll see what he says…

You should shop for a more reliable car. Consumer Reports has it right. I think I’d enjoy an Outback bought new for a year or too, but they are notoriously unreliable and expensive to repair.
The Black book value is realistic. You will not get $6,100 car if you repair it and try to sell it, whatever the mileage (you don’t mention mileage). It’s not worth it to put $5,000 into repairing this car. Put the money toward a Toyota or new Honda and stay away from Subaru.

I happen to own a 2005 Legacy GT and now with 110k miles.

The only out of ordinary repair was failed wheel bearing at 95k miles. Subaru covered it under some extended program. Otherwise some 30k maintenances which are on par with my previous Honda. The timing belt at 105k was far less expensive.

Consumer Reports does have it right. They recommend a 2005+ Subaru Legacy/Outback as a reliable used car.

I am very torn on this. I agree with you AND kizwiki…can I ask you…on the CR reports, what is included in the “drive system”? The 2007 Outbacks look good except for what looks like problems looming in the drive system…2005 has a solid black dot. Big or small problem I wonder?