Subaru Impreza

I’m considering buying a Subaru, Impreza/Outback. It’s a 2000 with 112K miles. Timing belt has recently been changed. What are the potential problems that I might run into with this car?

If it is the 2.5RS with notorious 2.5L engine has head gaskets are a potential issue and I would say avoid.

Otherwise the 2.2L was a very solid engine without significant issues. Subaru’s good reputation for building decent cars came from this 2.2L engine. When you check it out make sure all four tires are matched. Mismatched tires lead to AWD problems especially on automatics.

The only other issue if you live in a rusty area(likely if interested in Subaru) is the front panels get rust. Two sis in laws have this car with 2.2L and are running into the 200k range without serious issues.

I would pay a mechanic for a check over of the entire car pre purchase to get an idea of what is going on.

If it has the 2.5 liter engine (I don’t think that it does), then there is the very real potential of a breached head gasket by the time that you pass 100k miles. However, if this car does have the 2.2 liter engine that I believe it to have, then head gaskets are not an issue.

What can be a definite issue is the maintenance that the car has had over the past 10 years. If you can verify that it has been serviced at least as well as the mfr’s maintenance schedule specifies, that should help to ensure reliability.

However, there is at least one maintenance item that needs to be done more conscientiously than the maintenance schedule might specify, namely transmission maintenance. If this car has an automatic transmission, the fluid should have been changed at least 3 times so far. If not, then transmission failure could well be in the future for this car, and that applies to all makes and models of cars. When trans fluid is not changed on that type of schedule, trans failure can take place any time after 90k miles, and is pretty much of a sure thing by 130k miles.

On the topic of the timing belt, please DO NOT just take someone’s word that this has been replaced. You need to see actual maintenance receipts to verify it, as well as to verify other maintenance items like transmission maintenance.

Also–if the car does not have 4 absolutely identical tires mounted on it, walk away from the deal. The AWD mechanism is very sensitive to relatively minor differences in tire circumference, so if the tires have visibly different amounts of wear on them, or if they are not all of the same size and brand, these differences can be enough to put you at risk of having to replace the center viscous clutch pack, to the tune of…maybe about $700. Of course, it is possible that the car was run on mis-matched tires in the past, but you would have no way of knowing this, so all you can do is to check the tires that are currently on the car.

Subarus that are properly maintained have a life expectancy of well over 250k miles. However, if they have not been maintained properly, they can become very costly for the second (or third, or…) owner who has to suffer the cost of lax maintenance by the previous owner(s).

Make mine another vote to avoid a Subaru with the 2.5 liter engine. Head gasket issues abound with this engine. The 2.2, on the other hand, is pretty reliable.

Make absolutely sure the timing belt has been replaced. I’d want to see receipts to verify it.

As with any used car, the maintenance history is very important. Subarus do not tolerate neglect very well, and if the maintenance schedule has not been followed there could be trouble lurking in the future.

Take a look at Consumer Reports magazine for reliability data on this or any other car you might be considering.