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Thread: RFI: Subaru Maintenance

  1. #1
    Site Supporter psalms144.1's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
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    Bloomington, IN

    RFI: Subaru Maintenance

    Hey, y'all. Now that my much better half is back in the workforce, she needs something more suitable for the occasional ice/snow we have than our 16 year old Toyota Sienna FWD.

    I've tried to convince her she "needs" a Telluride, but she's spooked by the marginal gas mileage. Right now she's looking at a new AWD Sienna, or my preference a Sub Forester. In my mind, the Forester is going to be better for running around town, and is going to be light years better in bad road conditions. Not to mention it's $10K cheaper, and my retirement date is fast approaching.

    The problem is our preferred mechanic (who has been great for us and provided superb advice over the years) has a VERY low opinion of Subaru reliability, and keeps telling her horror stories of Subs he's had to fix either post warranty, or in warranty but "not covered." She's specifically freaked out about something to do with the transmission/transfer potentially getting destroyed by tires ever so slightly out of balance, and the need to rotate tires every 6K miles. So, for Sub owners out there, give it to me straight. If I convince her to go the Sub route and it's a problem, I'll never hear the end of it...

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Site Supporter MichaelD's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
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    South Jordan, Utah
    Toyota and winter tires FTW.
    I've heard of too many issues with head gaskets and Subaru CVTs to trust them.

  3. #3
    Site Supporter
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    Apr 2013
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    SoCal
    I only have the equivalent of ď100 flawless rounds!!!Ē to tell you. I have a 2017 V6 outback with 24000 miles on it. So far itís been perfect but thatís not many miles.

  4. #4
    Member JHC's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    Location
    North Georgia
    Across our family we've run a lot of miles across two Foresters and an Outback. Very few problems. Only our 2018 Outback has a CVT however. Consumer Reports FWIW backs that up. I wouldn't be without at least one.

    The exception is the new large SUV the Ascent. It's apparently having issues per the recent CR Auto issue.
    As a man sows, so shall he reap.

  5. #5
    Soul Brother Number 1 Greg's Avatar
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    Jul 2015
    Location
    Utah
    Iíve never owned a Subaru with a CVT, but 2 of them racked up 540,000 miles combined with almost zero problems.

    Torn CV boots being about as serious an issue encountered.

    The second one is still going, but I donít own it so Iím stopping my comments at the 540K figure.
    Donít blame me. I didnít vote for that dumb bastard.

  6. #6
    Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    ABQ
    Bought the wife an 05 Outback with 180k miles on it. We have a local shop that specializes in Subarus. We paid $5 k for the car four years ago and she has put on about 50k miles since then. That said we have almost as much in maintenence costs as we have in the car at this point. Water pump, radiator, timing chain, gaskets, bushings, wheel bearings, tires and brakes. Needs a new rack and pinion next time. All OEM parts, and the shop guys are really nice.

    I am thinking that with between the factory recommended replacement schedule and normal wear and tear I will only have the original engine block, frame and body in a few more years.

    Just my thoughts.

    @JRB.

    pat

    ETA 4cyl manual 5 speed, no turbo.

  7. #7
    Just Sayin'
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    ABQ, NM
    Background: 20+ years of messing with Subarus among a lot of other Japanese cars. Worked professionally in numerous performance shops in years past as well.

    Old 90's Subaru SOHC flat 4's with manual transmissions go basically forever. I had a 1997 2.2L SOHC 5-spd AWD Legacy that had 325k+ on the odo when I gave it to a friend who then drove it until nearly 400k.

    The 2.5L DOHC versions of the same EJ series engine were notorious for HG failures, but otherwise just about as reliable as those 90's models. Lots of early-mid 2000 Subarus with gajillions of miles on them.

    But the 2.0L and 2.5L turbo models were also notorious for a number of problems including rod bearing failures, head gasket failures, cam phaser issues, melted pistons on 100% stock examples (particularly from 2007-2010 or so due to the stock tuning that made things dangerously lean and close to detonation for the sake of emissions) etc etc.

    Even sans turbos, the late model Subarus are not cut of the same cloth in reliability. The CVT's are all garbage and the horror stories of those being problematic are true. Manual trans equipped Subarus do not have nearly as many problems.

    More relevant to your concerns, the real world gas mileage with AWD CVT Subarus is not nearly as good as most people hope it would be for being a low hp 4 cyl.


    Overall I'd be 100% on board with your wife's yearning for the AWD Sienna. AWD Toyotas these days have cheat-code level excellence in their AWD systems for anything you could realistically get into. The hot rodder in me desperately wants to put a modest lift and mud tires on a Sienna just to surprise (and embarrass) some of the local 4x4 types.

    I'd also strongly consider a CPO 2019 or 2020 model if you can find one that suits your tastes. Industry friends that work for two very different major car manufacturers tell me that the worldwide semiconductor shortage and other COVID-19 related sourcing issues for electronic and mechanical components have led them to loosen restrictions on QC/QA across the board in current production to keep up demand. Meaning any pre-COVID production date example of a vehicle should be strongly favored, if possible.

  8. #8
    Site Supporter SD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    NW Florida
    Have had 2X Impreza from Japan was excellent the Outback from Indiana with all bells & Whistles not so great. Living many years in-between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie we have encountered just a little bit of snow there is nothing a good set 4X dedicated winter tires on a front wheel drive vehicle you will regret.

  9. #9
    Site Supporter
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    Sep 2014
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    End of the rainbow
    Quote Originally Posted by JRB View Post
    Background: 20+ years of messing with Subarus among a lot of other Japanese cars. Worked professionally in numerous performance shops in years past as well.

    Old 90's Subaru SOHC flat 4's with manual transmissions go basically forever. I had a 1997 2.2L SOHC 5-spd AWD Legacy that had 325k+ on the odo when I gave it to a friend who then drove it until nearly 400k.

    The 2.5L DOHC versions of the same EJ series engine were notorious for HG failures, but otherwise just about as reliable as those 90's models. Lots of early-mid 2000 Subarus with gajillions of miles on them.

    But the 2.0L and 2.5L turbo models were also notorious for a number of problems including rod bearing failures, head gasket failures, cam phaser issues, melted pistons on 100% stock examples (particularly from 2007-2010 or so due to the stock tuning that made things dangerously lean and close to detonation for the sake of emissions) etc etc.

    Even sans turbos, the late model Subarus are not cut of the same cloth in reliability. The CVT's are all garbage and the horror stories of those being problematic are true. Manual trans equipped Subarus do not have nearly as many problems.

    More relevant to your concerns, the real world gas mileage with AWD CVT Subarus is not nearly as good as most people hope it would be for being a low hp 4 cyl.


    Overall I'd be 100% on board with your wife's yearning for the AWD Sienna. AWD Toyotas these days have cheat-code level excellence in their AWD systems for anything you could realistically get into. The hot rodder in me desperately wants to put a modest lift and mud tires on a Sienna just to surprise (and embarrass) some of the local 4x4 types.

    I'd also strongly consider a CPO 2019 or 2020 model if you can find one that suits your tastes. Industry friends that work for two very different major car manufacturers tell me that the worldwide semiconductor shortage and other COVID-19 related sourcing issues for electronic and mechanical components have led them to loosen restrictions on QC/QA across the board in current production to keep up demand. Meaning any pre-COVID production date example of a vehicle should be strongly favored, if possible.

    Iíll second this.

  10. #10
    I lived in Portland, Subaru capital of the world for 15 years...

    From my own experience with a late 90's Legacy wagon, and vicarious experience from a dozen or so friends, Subarus tend to fall into two categories: absolutely trouble free cars (as long as you do the maintenance) or complete nightmares. Unlike some brands of cars that will run like shit forever, and nickel and dime you with things, Subarus run great until something BIG happens.

    I think there's a certain survivorship bias when it comes to mechanics and Subarus. There are thousands of them on the road they only see for scheduled maintenance, and the ones they see that need repairs tend to have failed in a spectacular and expensive way.

    If I had to choose between Toyota and Subaru, I'd go Toyota.
    I was into 10mm Auto before it sold out and went mainstream, but these days I'm here for the revolver and epidemiology information.

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