Good old car

We have a 2000 Subaru Outback SE2. A real nice car that my wife loves and it has only 10,800 miles on it. (no joke) We are in Vt. and are thinking about moving to Az. The only thing we have had done is have the breaks replaced as the dealership said they were pitted. We have had all the usual check-ups. My wife is concerned that due to the age, we might start having break-downs. I don’t think so. It would cost about $1,400.00 to ship it out there, I think it would be worth it. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Thanks Ed

While I have never heard of that particular Subaru model (SE2), I assume that it has the standard 4-cylinder engine, rather than the 6-cylinder engine. If I am mistaken, please feel free to correct me.

You tell us that, “The only thing we have had done is have the breaks (sic) replaced”, and that concerns me. Among my concerns is the engine’s timing belt, which is supposed to be replaced by 105,000 miles or 7 years, whichever comes first. On the basis of elapsed time, you are seriously overdue for a timing belt change, and when that belt snaps (with no warnings of any kind), your engine will suffer major internal damage when pistons and valves collide. The cost of the resulting repairs will likely be somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000-$3,000, over and above the cost of the timing belt itself.

I urge you to have the timing belt replacement scheduled right away, and to have the belt tensioners and the water pump replaced at the same time. The cost will likely run about $800, but since this is required maintenance and will prevent other more expensive problems, it needs to be done.

I am also wondering about other maintenance procedures that may have been skipped in the mistaken notion that low odometer mileage means that maintenance is not necessary. Other vital maintenance procedures that need to be done no matter how few miles you have on the odometer include flushing the radiator/cooling system in order to forestall corrosion and leaks, and flushing the brake system in order to prevent hydraulic leaks and brake failure.

Additionally, if this car has an automatic transmission, the trans needs to have its fluid and filter changed every 30k miles or 3 years, whichever comes first.

Another point to consider has to do with the engine’s head gaskets. Since this model year is one of the ones that is very prone to head gasket failure, be sure to ask about prophylactic use of Subaru’s special cooling system conditioner/sealant that was designed as an afterthought to prevent head gasket failure. It would be very prudent to have this addded after the cooling system is flushed.

So, your wife is very much on target to worry about breakdowns, particularly if the maintenance that I mentioned has been skipped–as I suspect. Timely maintenance that you can schedule is invariably cheaper–and more convenient–than breakdowns and repairs that happen without warning.

Cars can have problems as soon as you drive it off the lot. As they get older and more miles things do start wearing out. However that does not mean it will fall apart anytime soon.

There is nothing to suggest your car is about to start having problems. $1,400 seems like a lot of money to me and will not really add anything to the value of the car. Check out what the car might sell for where you are and how much replacing it in AZ. Remember a car from AZ is likely to have less rust and corrosion.

If it were mine, I would just drive it out.  Enjoy the ride.  You  might be able to find a college kid to drive it out for you.  

In the end, I don't think there is any criteria to make a decision on this question.  

How is the Air conditioning on your car?  That might answer your question.

Thanks for your reply. The SE2 was a “special edition” put out for the New England dealers only, it has a few extras that was only used on that model. I was not aware of the time limit on the timing belt, I thought it was only on milage. I have depended on the dealership to keep the car up tp snuff. I’m surprised that they didn’t suggest it. It is a 4 cyl. I’ve always told them to do what is needed. I guess I’ll have to talk with them. If I have done what you suggest, do you feel that it will be prone to problems due to the age? Ed

A well-maintained car can last for an incredibly long time. But, you really need to understand that good maintenance involves observing the elapsed time values for maintenance, in addition to the odometer mileage values for maintenance.

My first Subaru is still purring along nicely (with its third owner), with about 190,000 miles on the odometer. The only repairs in its 12 year history have been the head gaskets and a suspension component. My current Subaru–which will celebrate its 8th birthday in December–is likewise in excellent condition at 95,000 miles. In both cases, they have been flawlessly maintained. Trust me–it makes a major difference.

While you may still experience head gasket problems no matter what preventive maintenance you do, all of the car’s other systems will likely run for many more years with no problem IF you play catch-up with all of the skipped maintenance.

Rather than continuing to rely on your dealership to inform you of what needs to be done, open the booklet titled Subaru Warranty and Maintenance Supplement, and examine the maintenance schedule carefully. Note the use of months, in addition to odometer mileage, for all of the maintenance procedures.

My recommendation is to have everything that is listed for the 90 month/90,000 mile service performed, in addition to the timing belt change and water pump replacement. The bill will likely be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,200, but if you want to keep the car running properly, this is all necessary.

take it to the shop, have them look it over for aged belts and anything else that may have worn out.
the car is only 9 years old, and has 10,800 miles on it. have it checked out, and then ship it to AZ, where it can live a long rust free life.

I’m in agreement with VDCdriver on the need to bring the maintenance on this car up to date based on the TIME intervals in the maintenance schedule, rather than the mileage intervals. Your dealer should know better.

The timing belt should definitely be replaced. Belts are affected by age as well as mileage. I’d also recommend replacing ALL fluids. These services will cost some money, but not anywhere near what a new car would cost, and once they are done your Subaru will be good to go for many more years.

I don’t consider a 2000 model automobile to be “old.” Both of my cars (one of which is a Subaru) are older than that and continue to provide reliable transportation on a daily basis.

I wouldn’t hesitate to hop in either one today and set off on a long road trip. In fact that’s what I recommend you do with your Subaru; drive it to Arizona.

Think about it. What an adventure, and the scenery along the way will be fantastic.

That 90 month/90k mile service will include changing all fluids and all filters, plus–IIRC–the spark plugs. The inspections that are part of that service will also reveal if–as I suspect–the serpentine belt and possibly the axle boots need to be replaced.

If all of this is done in addition to the timing belt and water pump I also would not hesitate to take this car on a cross-country trip.

We have a 1979 Chevy short step-side pickup that my wife loves (named Princess on the front plate) and it has only 68,791 miles on it. (no joke)

  • And TIME is in fact it’s worst enemy. -

Just sitting there parked, the seals dry out . I have to add a pint of transmission fluid every three months when I drive her, like today.
Rubber hoses, plastic parts, upholstery, exterior paint etc. suffer the ravages of time. So be cautious of time related potential issues and you’ll be just fine keeping that car a lot longer.

( my 92 Explorer, 140,000 m, is also the victim of father time. )