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Sell or fix 1998 Subaru Legacy outback

My 1998 Subaru has only 62,000 miles. It has developed two problems so my dilemma is whether to fix or sell. One is a leak in the rack and pinion steering (i’m told it would cost $1500) to fix. The other is a strong shuddering that occurs when I am stopped and then shift into first. My mechanic told me that the clutch was the problem.This concerned me because I had to replace the clutch at 5 years. I’ve never had to replace clutches before so 1) is this a known problem with Subaru’s, 2) can I just keep adding powering steering fluid and get by with the power steering leak and 3)Is this Subaru worth fixing? My mechanic says he feels it’s not worth it so he’s not trying to see me repairs.

Go to another mechanic and get a second opinion and perhaps a better price for repairs. Putting a couple thousand into this car doesn’t seem totally unreasonable to me. The engine should be good for another 200k or so.

First, your vehicle is worth between $4000 and $5000 retail, depending on condition, so putting $2100 or so is not unreasonable. I have never owned a manual Subaru, but it may not be unreasonable to replace the clutch even though it was done five years ago. A lot depends on your personal driving conditions as to how many miles you get out of a clutch.

I would go for a second opinion from another trusted mechanic, and confirm that these are the only two problems this car has. My inclination would be to repair.

I also own a 98 outback. I got it about 7 years ago and have always had the clutch shudder problem in low gears. If you can live with it (as I have) the clutch will probably not require immediate replacement.

Find a good indy shop for a second opinion here:

Why are there so many posts dealing with Subaru? Just wondering

I have to say that it is because of head gasket failures which plague some models. People will always ask about head gaskets because they think that a car with a bad one should always run poorly. Not so. The drive train requires identical tires to prevent problems with AWD. They can’t believe that they have to buy four new tires because one of them popped. Not something that a dedicated cheapskate wants to hear. Why do people buy them? They run so good in snow that everybody who lives where the weather is miserable will consider buying one. I live where there are steep hills in the towns and a Subaru is about the only option other than a SUV or pickup. Hills and snow seem to destroy cars a lot faster than the hills on the West coast with nice weather. Subarus are good cars and the better ones at least, sound like a great car when you close a door. It sounds solid.

Your mechanic could be overpricing this to discourage you and avoid working on the car. Some mechanics are like that. You should be able to get a reman steering rack installed for far less than 1500 dollars.

As to the shudder, does the car try to creep forward or lurch while in gear and at a standstill or are you referring to a shudder while taking off?
If the former that could point to nothing more than a cable adjustment and if the latter, then that could be caused by a glazed disc, oily disc, distorted or burnt pressure plate/flywheel, or worn throw out bearing or pilot bearing.

As to clutch life that can depend on not only driving habits but how the clutch job was done. Pressure plate, throw out bearing, etc. should have all been replaced at the same time.

Subaru does have a quirky little problem about their clutches and this involves the TO bearing guide sleeve and transmission case snout.

Thanks for reminding me to do this. I found a great mechanic.

The shudder is when trying to take off.

Anything you can tell me about the the TO bearing guide sleeve and transmission case snout that I can tell the mechanic would be much appreciated.

I made a comment about the guide sleeve business on the other post. Causes of a shudder when taking off could be:
Glazed disc
Faulty pressure plate
Worn TO or pilot bearing (less likely)
Burnt flywheel
Oil contamination of the disc due to engine or transaxle seal leakage
Also the possibility of a worn halfshaft (also less likely)

The guide sleeve problem will normally (key word?) not cause a shudder when taking off BUT can be responsible for creating a glazed disc, etc. Hope that helps.