Good used car for teen boys

I have two teen boys, I am considering buying a 98 Subaru legacy outback with 131,000 miles for them to drive around. The car has had two owners and has been maintained, the drive train was recently replaced. What do you think? Does this sound like a good use of funds? Is it just too old? I can’t decide

Good general idea, but does it have side airbags? That’s on my ‘must have’ list for teen drivers, along with mid-sized (or larger), four doors, and four cylinders, all of which the Legacy has.

Subaru markets an image of over the top safety and reliability of their cars that might be somewhat exaggerated. Drive train issues, piston slap problems, high cost of repairs such as clutches and timing belts and difficulty finding shops that are familiar with Subarus might knock the luster from the marque. How does that car compare pricewise to comparable cars of other makes in the area?

Surbaru is very popular here. good driving for snow and rain. so they hold their value. this one is $6000. and 14 years old. I could buy a used Jetta, 7 years old for 10,000. but that is a very differnt car.
thanks for everyones comments!

and for $15k you could get a brand new Fiesta sedan. Not saying you should buy new, just putting things into perspective. The Fiesta would probably be safer than those 2 choices as well.

$6k sounds like too much to me, but I probably don’t live in your area. $10k for a 7 year old Jetta is even worse

It sounds way overpriced. Where do you live? In the DC area, this car is worth about $3200 from a dealer. I doubt that it is worth twice that in your area.

I am considering buying a… Hold up there. Why are you buying them a car. I am of the opinion that whoever is paying for the car should make the decision, further

I also believe that if your children are made responsible for buying the car (maybe with a little help) they will appreciate it better, learn something about life, and in the long run come out ahead.

Good Luck

I have a 98 Subaru and love it (someone hit it and needs more work than I want to put into it), with 190k miles. Be sure to ask if head gaskets have been replaced (common problem). It depends on where you live for what it’s worth-I’ve seen them for $3-6,000 where I live. I would have sold mine for about $3000, prior to damage. We’ve owned Subarus that had over 200,000 miles and ran great.

I had a '94 legacy wagon as my first cars as a teenager and I have been sold on Subaru’s since. It is a great car with some promising longevity. The only concern I would have (from experience) is that the AWD they offer can make a teenager feel invincible. I totaled mine because I felt I didn’t need to be as cautious in the rain. I hydroplaned into the back of another vehicle…the saddest part was the car only had 99,000 miles on it…sad times…if you feel they are able to handle that responsibility then I say GO FOR IT!

If you feel you HAVE to buy them a car, go for a new or nearly new econobox. Like a Hyundai Accent, or Ford Focus, or simlar simple car. The Subaru is a complex car, this one with a questionable history, and will be a real money pit in the hands of two teenagers.

Tracey, the Outback is a very safe car without too much power to cause any “lead foot” temptations. Maintenance wise, did this car have the head gaskets replaced? This is either a 2nd generation or 3rd gen Outback which are notorious for the “spike in temp” followed by a “weeping” gasket. Make sure that the head gaskets have either been replaced or are not leaking.

Many of these Outbacks have had problems, but many more have not and even those owners who’ve had problems are still loyal Subaru customers who keep buying these cars. I have an '08 and have not had any problems yet. I am now letting my 18 y.o. son drive it everywhere and feel he is very safe in it.

Our family is a Subaru family with six on the road almost every day. We still have a 1995 and 1996 Legacy in regular use. The comment about side air bags is something to think about. They were not in regular installation in all Subaru vehicles until 2005, but they were in Forresters starting in 2003 and in the LLBean Editions of the Outback prior to 2005. The 1998 model does not have them, but it may well be a great car for a number of years. We had a 1993 Impreza until an SUV hit it last summer. The front air bag went off and our son was not injured. As with any used car, you need to absolutely confirm that the air bags are still in place and ready to operate. That is certainly worth a visit to a qualified mechanic to confirm. After all, you don’t want to take a chance on a survivable accident causing injury or worse to your sons.

If the 1998 Subaru has the EJ22 engine (That’s the legacy with the 2.2 L engine rather than 2.5) I would go with that. It’s slightly less powerful, but does not suffer from the head gasket failure that the 2.5 L does!
My brother owned a zippy late-model Impreza, but thought he was invincible with AWD. He totalled it on a guard rail on a sharp turn. I’m only 18, but I understand my car’s limitations (I drive a 2001 Ford Taurus with 195k miles one it). I’m really grateful that my parents helped my pay for it. Make sure they have a basic understanding of how a car works, so they don’t abuse it! Most of my friends don’t even know what ‘RPM’ means!

I am with Joseph. They should be buying their own car and that car should be bare bones so they can learn repairs. When they have jobs that pay $50k then they can pay a mechanic. But now they need to know how it works and why it quit and how to fix it along side the road. Routine maintenance also. A Subaru you buy will be the Subaru you are always paying to fix while they run it into the ground because they don’t care, they didn’t buy it! They will better boys for it and even better men if they learn instead of burn! How will they learn the value of a plummeting dollar?

If it were my choice, I’d want the boys to have a financial investment in the car for many of the reasons already stated. And for the same reasons, I think it’s useful for teens to have some responsibility for basic maintenance and perhaps real repairs. Good lessons come out of fixing something you own. Therefore my inclination would be a simpler older vehicle, Toyota or Nissan for example, maybe even a small pickup which they could work on themselves, and maybe enjoy their collaboration in that process. Yes, such older cars might be less safe though, airbags etc, so a complex choice for you. I’d be more concerned about driver behavior than airbags. If you could be sure the boys would be responsible about cell phone use, speed, alcohol etc, when driving, then that might offset the absolute need for surrounding air bags. Tough choice.

@TraceyS I think a decent condition 4-banger Ford Ranger would be a good first vehicle for the boys

No fat rims or tires

No fancy exhaust

Not lowered

No tinted windows

No fancy sound system

They’re not that hard to work on, and they’re not constantly breaking down.

And it’s useful to have around for hauling stuff

The Ranger isn’t a bad idea. But for added safety, I’d go bigger, a 1994-1996 F-150 with the straight 6 and manual transmission would be a good choice. it’s not fast, it’s not really economical to drive ( the kid will have to think twice before driving around friviously, and if you get a regular cab, you don’t have to worry about him driving around around with 5 other people in the vehicle. The mid-90’s model will also have a driver’s side airbag.