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Should I buy a used Subaru?

I’m new to Subarus, but I’m thinking of buying used one. They seem light weight and perfect for getting through the ice and snow. I’m a single person with no kids and normally buy used subcompact Toyotas to save money. I’m moving to a colder climate with more ice and snow than I’m used to, and I think I should have all-wheel drive.

Do many smaller Subarus have the ability to take down the back seat? I’d like to put cross-country skiis in my car, but if I couldn’t put my skiis in the car, that’s not a deal breaker. Storage capacity is not that big of a deal.

Do Subarus have a little higher suspension than other sedans? I’m concerned about getting through the snow.

My current car would get nothing as a used car if I sold it. But it is a reliable car, so I wonder if I should just plan around the weather and stay in a great deal during the winter. After two or three years, the car will be easy to discard (e.g., it will need $2,000 of repairs).

I could spend $12,000 cash. I’d rather postpone it or pay less than that. I like fuel efficiency and low cost maintenance. I just like reliable cars to get me from point A to point B. Any recommendations?

Check the years of the subaru, many are prone to a $2k bill for head gaskets. Factor that into the price if you want one. Then get an independant analysis, might need brakes, timing belt fluid changes etc.

What is your current car? A set of 4 great winter tires can make most any FWD car handle ice and snow as deep as you’d want to tackle. I drove a FWD GTI for 12 years in Anchorage, never got stuck.


People in cold climates have all kinds of vehicles. Front wheel drive would probably serve you just fine. I am not a fan of buying used all wheel drive vehicles. If you don’t drive over 12000 miles a year you could consider leasing a new Subaru. At the end of lease then decide to keep it and have known history. As for room for skis you will just have to look at one.

Subaru for years has had the best all wheel drive systems available. I might buy a new one and trade it in after 5 years but would not buy a 5 year old one. The repairs just get too costly.

I live in Western NY and have never felt the need for 4 wheel drive and wouldn’t buy it unless I lived in the snow belt on top of a hill that didn’t get plowed.

I should admit that I have always found winter driving kind of fun. Profitable too. If you are an over the road trucker near the bottom of the seniority list you can depend on getting a call to work when it is snowing.

although I’m a prior happy owner for 5 Subarus, I back that advice 100%

unless you really go to snowy places, that should be enough and get you well ahead on money spent per mile

Concur w/ @texases , if your current car is front wheel drive, no worries snow-wise to keep it. I drove a FWD VW Rabbit for 4 years at 6500 feet in Colorado, never had any problem as long as I stuck to the frequently plowed paved roads. Which most roads were. If you are forced to drive on little travelled and/or infrequently plowed gravel/dirt roads in the winter, then it may make sense to spring for a Subie Forester. Otherwise just keep your current car and get four good snow tires, maybe the front ones w/studs if allowed. One trick snow country folk do, they own two complete sets of tires and wheels. Then all you have to do is jack up the car and swap them, one set for the other, as the seasons change.

Go to the Subaru web site and use the build your own feature and you might find that you can afford a new one with warranty as long as you don’t go crazy with the option list.
( Disclaimer-I don’t take my own advice because I check every box on the option list )

unlikely $12K will cut it like this, unless it is Impreza of prior year stock, somewhere 1-2-3 months after new model year arrives

I think the OP will know he can’t get a new Subaru for 12000 but if he looks a good down payment might just make a new one a reasonable choice.

well, both points are mostly to make think in another direction :slight_smile:

I was bringing up the one that prior model year is usually quite discounted to compare to new arrivals

model-wise, Impreza is perfect size for single person used to compact cars and once they decided to go smaller displacement in Impreza, MPG-wise t became more appealing than old one with 2.5 engine

I only recommend Subarus to mechanics and engineers. A used Subaru can be a real crapshoot. Too many things to go wrong if the past maintenance has been less than perfect.

Disclaimer: I don’t own a Subaru and am probably not going to buy one, but…

That’s how many Subaru lovers start out… thinking it would be nice to own one.

A couple of years ago my son thought he’d like one (had friends with them) and he bought a used one, a Subaru Outback (4-cylinder).

He bought a couple year-old one from a Subaru dealer with factory warranty remaining, and additional warranty provided by the dealer.

He carries skis and bikes inside and kayaks on the roof. He loves it and has never regretted his decision and said he will never buy a car without AWD, again. He will likely buy another Subaru.

I’ve ridden in the car several times and it is a very nice machine.

My golf partner’s wife just sold her diesel Passat back to Volkswagen (a victim of mpg/emissions fraud) for $26,000 and sued some of the money to buy a used 2014 Outback with around 15,000. It’s from a dealer with very good total warranty included. He is returning to that dealer today with a suspension noise in the rear. it will be a no charge repair.He and his wife love the car. He has a six cylinder and told me he gets 30mpg.

He claims that he check before they bought it and that an Outback has more ground clearance than a Jeep Wrangler. I can’t verify that, but they do have a lot.

Bottom line for me… if you feel like you’d like one, get one. I would only buy used from a dealer and only with factory warranty or dealer purchased warranty. That said, shop carefully so as not to pay as much or more than a brand new car or just buy a new one.
Resale values are high and used ones sell quickly.

The AWD could help you if you were trying to get out of a ditch or going uphill. If the area you’re moving to does not have much in the way of hills then I agree with texases about a FWD with a good set of snow tires on it.

Subaru isn’t just a car. It’s more like a cult, not to mention a “status symbol” to many owners. At any rate most of the owners have great “pride in ownership”.

Many people buy cars they desire to drive, rather than the most practical or adequate. Otherwise, there would be no sports cars, SUVs, or luxury cars sold.

Again, I say that if you’ve been wishing you were driving a Subaru, then buy a Subaru. That usually plays out better than wishing you were driving a Subaru, but driving a whatever.

We only go around once. :wink:

Why not wait until you’re in your new location and have found out how your present car is handling things? If you are still confident in the car but feel the need for better snow and ice performance, you could decide to buy 4 winter tires already mounted on steel rims. Put 'em on every fall and put on the regular tires every spring.

I loved my new 1999 Honda Civic but after a winter here in Duluth decided it needed help. I’m now on its second set of winter tires. They do make a significant improvement.

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From posts I’ve seen here Subies tend to behave better as newer cars than as older cars. My parent’s had one in the 1980’s for about 10 years, quite liked it, until it developed a difficult to diagnose intermittent problem, hard to start. Cranks but won’t start. They had an inde Subie expert mechanic work on it many times over the course of 6 months, he could never figure out the cause, and since it continued to strand them with no-starts, they replaced it w/a Taurus.

GeorgeSanJose is right. As the owner of 4 Subarus and having researched this very question for CarTalk, I cannot recommend used Subarus. Particularly ones from 2015 back a few years. Here’s CarTalk’s reason why. If you really love a Subaru, and you are spot on about what they are good at, either buy new, or skip the brand. A very old Subaru beater is also not a bad choice, but $12K is real money.

I used to have 5 Subarus before, and it looks like my lottery tickets were all drawn in non-problematic model years

It is sad they migrated to FB engine (good technology, not yet made stable?) from old EJ, which had its own scoop of issues, but was made to be OK from its mid-life.

That is really disappointing about the Subaru FB engine. We’ll have to rethink our purchase plans and look at other options. The Forester is such a great combination of space, size, visibility, and AWD, but maybe a CRV or CX-5 might be better overall.