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Need information on - 2003 Ford Escape XLT

Still looking for the right car for our son’s first car. He is going to boatbuilding school and will need to carry his tool in the future, so he would rather have a wagon than a sedan. We looked at some hatchbacks but they seem small or hard to get in and out of. His first choice is a Subaru Forester and now another person has suggested the Ford Escape. What are the concerns with the Ford vs the Subaru? Mileage that we are looking at is 120K to 150k for the 2001 to 2003.

Appreciate any thoughts on this.

Subarus of the 1999 to 2003 vintage are known to have head gasket issues - or at least more issues than what is considered normal. The headgasket design was bad. If you buy one of that vintage and mileage, make sure the headgasket and timing belt has been replaced. They’ve since fixed the issue and the new gaskets are good.

FWIW, I’m partial towards Subaru. We currently own two and have had at least one since 1984. They tend to be strong runners, if you maintain them well.
And yes, I’ve needed to replace the headgaskets on my daughter’s. It is still on the road. I guess we have three in the family, come to think of it.

As RemcoW said Subaru head gaskets of that era have been an issue, other than that they’re good reliable cars.

The Escapes are also good cars, there is/was an issue with the 6 cylinder Escapes and shorted ignition coils that if left untended would burn out the ignition drivers in the engine computer, but I’ve seen fewer of those in recent years.

I’d think the Subaru would be more economical on fuel if that’s an issue. Also the Escape does not have a timing belt that would need periodic maintenance.

When you’re dealing with any kind of 10 year old, well into the 6 figures on miles vehicle things can always be a crap shoot so the make is pretty much irrelevant.

A thorough pre-purchase inspection can help swing odds into your favor but even that is not a guarantee of a problem free vehicle.

At this age and mileage I would not look for a specific brand, but a well maintained small SUV of any brand. Look for one where the owner has receipts for maintenance and repairs. While some models might be prone to certain characteristic problems, they may have been sorted by the previous owner. A one owner truck is more likely to have the receipts. You can also see characteristic problems at MSN Autos.