Time for a new car

I currently own a 2006 Chevy Impala V6. I hate it. Sure, it’s a smooth and comfortable ride and it’s got good pick-up on the freeway, but… it sucks in the rain and the snow. You can drive, but pray you never have to stop! I bought it used in 2007 when it had around 10k miles on it. Since then, I’ve put an additional 70k+ on it. From the beginning, the thing was cursed. The window screeched every time it was rolled down - a problem the shop could never seem to fix. My power steering hose busted twice before I took it to a neighborhood shop where they informed me that the original hose was not rated to withstand the fluid pressure at the cold Ohio winter temperatures we were having. Then, I had a solenoid go. Now, my car constantly tells me I need an oil change (no matter how many times I reset the warning) even though I just changed it and check it every week - just to be safe. Also, the battery has mysteriously drained twice, the axillary power outlets only work intermittently, and all of my dash lights and radio went out for two days and then suddenly started working again. I’m honestly surprised that the thing doesn’t honk and spray washer fluid on passers by everytime I make a left turn.

I used to own a Subaru and swore I’d never buy anything else. I nearly shed a tear when it was time to retire her. I bought the Impala because of the price and because everyone kept telling me that American cars have really improved. Well, not that one I guess. Anyway, now I’m looking at purchasing another Subaru. I’d like an Impreza hatchback or Sport. I was wondering if anyone out there has any insight into the 2008-2010 models. Are there any major differences between them? Also, what’s the deal with the Electronic Overdrive?

I can’t answer your question, but good luck with your hunt!


In view of that, I would not recommend anything that had 4WD or AWD to start with. The ideal car for you is a least expensive Toyota Corolla or Camry, with Michelin X-ICE winter tires and regular tires in the summer. This arrangement gives you great winter performance, almost equal to AWD without the expense and complications.

You seem to be the victim of a Monday morning car as well as perhaps not cut out to always second guess how a car will behave.

Your past good fortune with Subaru is commendable, but as Subarus age they develop a whole series of expensive problems. But intially they are very reliable and trouble-free. All cars now have electronic overdrive; it’s overdrive actuated electronically, not by mechanical means.

Buying a reliable car is not difficult; just resist all those upscale gadgets and stick to the most reliable makes.

Good luck!

Beginning with the 2008 model year, the Impreza now is built on the chassis of the old Legacy sedan, thus making it a more substantial vehicle than previously. All Imprezas sold in the US are manufactured at the plant in Gunma, Japan, and they have great reliability.

That being said, only buy a used car (of any make) if you can see the maintenance records in order to verify that it has been maintained at least as well as the mfr’s maintenance schedule dictates. Otherwise, you risk the poor reliability and the breakdowns that will befall a poorly-maintained car. And, even with maintenance records, you should still have the car inspected by a mechanic of your choice prior to purchase.

As to the “Electronic Overdrive”, this feature is no different from what you would find on any other modern vehicle with an electronically controlled automatic transmission. Just put the shift lever in the “Drive” position and the transmission will shift through its range of gears as it should. When you reach a cruising speed of ~35 mph, it will shift into 4th gear, which is the overdrive gear.

Incidentally, if you are having problems with stopping your Impala on wet surfaces, the probability is that you just need better tires.

I also wonder about your traction trouble-seems like a good set of all season (spring summer fall) and another set of winter tires would solve that problem. It that worked, would you still want to get rid of it?

Yes, I still think I would want to be rid of it. better tires aren’t going to solve the current electrical issues (no pun intended) that it’s having and it’s got over 80k+ miles on it. Once it hits 100k, which won’t be long, it won’t be worth anything as a trade in.

“as Subarus age they develop a whole series of expensive problems”

Doc, I have to tell you that this has absolutely not been my experience.
My '97 Outback was the most reliable car that I ever owned–until I bought my '02 Outback, which has been even more reliable.

Both cars have actually proved to be more reliable than my '92 Accord, which I owned prior to the '97 Outback. My brother bought the '97 Outback from me when I bought the '02 model, and it proved to be more reliable than his Camry of the same vintage–and that even factors in the head gasket replacement that he had to do on the Outback!

I will grant you that Subarus do need a more careful approach to some maintenance items, and that the owner does need to be careful about running the car with closely-matched tires, but as long as someone is responsible about maintenance, these cars are as reliable and as durable as almost any other make of car on the road.

Most of the problems that we hear about on this site are the result of negligent owners. When a car owner is negligent, we all know that repair costs will increase, and in the case of Subarus they will probably increase a bit more, given the sensitivity of the AWD mechanism.

So, rather than saying that these cars are more prone to expensive problems as they age, I really think that it would be more accurate to say that these cars are not a good choice for those who ignore maintenance and do not take care to keep their tires closely matched. For the owner who is conscientious about his car and its maintenance, these cars are very reliable and durable.
In other words, they are less forgiving of negligence than many other makes.

I always keep my cars well maintained. My first Outback lasted me nearly 200k before I traded it in (also because of a head gasket). I should have just replaced it and kept that car. That and a recalled O2 sensor were the ONLY repairs that car ever needed. Yes, some of the maintenance (brakes, tires, etc.) was more expensive. But when I think of the money I’ve dumped into repairs for my current vehicle, I could have more than twice than paid for any maintenance my old Subaru would have needed given the same time frame.

Incidentally, I did replace the tires with some all-weather radials and it only made a marginal difference in the rain. And yes, the brakes were fine.