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On buying a Subaru Outback

Hello,
I’m thinking of buying a 2000 Subaru Outback Limited with a manual transmission for around $4,000. I’ve had a 97 manual Outback that was great but had to get rid of it due to some bad luck and inexperience. The 2000 Subaru is at 160,000 miles, and is currently having the head gaskets replaced at the dealership. Is there anything else in particular with this model that I should be keen to when I see the carfax report? I have heard that if cared for well, it’s common that a new set of head gaskets could give the car another 150,000 miles of life at this point, but hearing some more opinions on the subject would be good…

Just a few thoughts…I would consider a used awd car like an Outback with that many miles only if I needed awd and do not have the money to pay more. It would not be my primary car. I like Outbacks, but used, I like Ravs and CRVs better and would only buy a truck based 4wd with that many miles. If you are in an area you need awd, rust would be the big issue for me. I would rather and have spent that kind of money on a little newer, less used fwd compact or 2wd pick up. Generally, if I need awd/ 4wd, I had better be willing to go 10 k or higher.

Any vehicle this old and with high mileage can have maintenance issues. And I would think of any problems as maintenance given 160,000 miles. When was the timing belt last changed? Have there been any suspension parts replaced? Has the oil been changed regularly? Is the coolant system sound? What is the condition of the brake system, including the hydraulics? The car is priced about right if it is a dealer and it only needs minor reconditioning, but otherwise it is overpriced.

Glutton for punishment my first thought, buy new and get a warranty instead of liability.

I actually think that you’ll get a decent car out of this. A subaru that has never overheated with new head gaskets should carry you easily for another 100K if it has 160 on the clock.

Thanks for the input!

How well the head gasket job holds up will depend on the competency of the person doing the job and the reason for the head gasket replacement.

If the gaskets were simply weeping then any other associated problems may not be an issue. If the car was overheated then that can open up a can of worms due to possible piston ring and cylinder wall problems, dilution of engine oil with coolant which can then take out crankshaft bearings, cam lobes, and so on.

There’s also the timing belt/tensioners/water pump issue to consider if that has not been verifiably done; with the key word being verified.

Also keep in mind that things such as Carfax should not be completely trusted. CF is an aid in making a decision but is also often incomplete and/or incorrect in regards to any information listed.
At 160k miles any number of things could possibly be needed so a thorough inspection is always a good idea before laying out money out.

Cool, thanks for that^

I can’t say if this is a good deal or not as that depends on the car’s condition. Once the head gaskets are replaced these motors are pretty bulletproof. Since this is a Subaru dealer doing the head gasket job it should be done right and you can expect it to hold up for many more years and miles.

In any used car with 160K miles the condition of the automatic transmission can be a big question and a big expense if it goes bad. You are dodging that bullet with a manual transmission. But, the Subaru does not have an especially robust clutch. A clutch job is going to run about $1000 or a bit less if it should need a clutch someday.

Subaru’s as they get older the owner’s start to go “cheap” on tires. Mismatched tires (different brand, different size, different degree of wear) can cause big expensive repairs on the AWD system. Take a real good look at the tires now on the car. If the dealer has put 4 new tires on the car already then you really don’t know anything about what previous owners have done. I’d buy the car but make sure you keep matching tires on all 4 wheels from now on.

If it is a good price, I’d go for it.

^Sweet thanks turbo…that helps.

I agree with the earlier post that said…and I paraphrase…If you don’t absolutely need AWD don’t buy this car. AWD vehicle have much higher maintenance costs and more potential issues. Subaru owners tend to be very loyal and for good reason. The are well made cars and fit a nisch in the AWD market.

For 4k you can get a number of reliable used vehicles. You have many more options with less risk if you can get away with out the AWD,