I have wanted this particular year of the outback, since it's aesthetics have always appeals to me compared to the newer models. I bought this car from a Subaru mechanic who used it as his personal vehicle, who put nessecary work in before selling. Stock Subaru headgaskets dont have a great rep, so this guy replaced them with a "much better" headgasket (assuming a closed deck block instead of open deck, since that can make a world of a difference in the engines performance). IMO, it's better to buy used that may have more age but better matinence (title in hand), than one with younger age but no major repairs (it's basically inevitable at some point). I took the chance and bought this with 124k with a 30 day warranty (uncle actually drove 2 hours to pick it up, good thing because I probably didn't have the courage to go that low in price LOL asking $2,900 sold for $2,000). Granted, the muffler rusted off but was easily and inexpensively repaired within a day, the basic matenience of this car is good if you keep a watchful eye on your fluid regularly. Everything under the hood looks great, lots of replacements and brand new parts. What I love most about the outback is it's simplicity and outdoor-looking design. The duel moon-roof is great for both front and rear passangers, heated leather seats, wood trim (which is kinda glossy looking, but I still love it), sound system is fantastic in my opinion, & cargo room is a huge bonus. Ground clearance is good. LOVE the two-tone colors, and lower plastic trim. Where salt is an issue, there is only a small bit of visible rust on the back panels. Otherwise, the rust underneath wasn't bad to have me walk away, and certainly the body looks great since plastic doesnt rust. I'm always told it looks better than most newer cars, and I have to agree, I just want to love this car for many years. Next time I'll get a 3.0, since the 2.5 on this model is pretty laggy. It delays by like 2 seconds when accelerating abruptly. Since I'm a mom now, I wasn't looking for that, instead a car of great practicality and space that gives me "just what I was looking for" in a car. I had a 94 legacy wagon that took me all the way over the 300k mark, so with the proper care and routine maintenance, I have no doubt this car will be a car I can love to love for many more years. Reluctant to let go of my love for the earlier generations of Outbacks. They're appealing in their own right and have their own set of followers. Love the early 2000 aesthetics, both interior and exterior. I'll give another review some time later and see if anything else crops up. I MAY have a small leak since something tends to drip on the exsaust when I'm going up a hill, but that's it. No dramatic change in fluid levels though, and no visible leaking, so we'll see.
2002 Subaru Outback VDC AWD 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 4A)
Bought this car used with about 160,000 miles on it. The dealer had replaced a few items like front axles, which didn't surprise me, that's a lot of miles to expect out of original axles.
I got it up to 196,000 miles before the trans began to whine louder and louder. I heard that you shouldn't change the trans fluid in a high mileage car IF you didn't know for sure whether it had been regularly changed. I didn't know, but that whine was really bothering me. I changed the fluid and sure enough, the trans got nice and quiet and 2 days later stopped going into gear. I'm not upset at all though, i definitely got my money's worth out of it. It was fantastic in the snow. I could race full size trucks with 4 wheel drive and easily get to the other side of the intersection before them, on regular all season tires. I was really quite abusive to it, doing lengthy donuts in the snow in empty parking lots. I can't blame the trans for not enduring that year after year after year. The only item I had to change out of the ordinary was the driveshaft. One of the ujoints developed an annoying little squeak. I got one from a junkyard for $40 and paid a guy $50 to swap it out in the middle of winter.
Rear defrost was always weak, but everything else worked great even at that mileage. Window motors, sunroof, heat, ac, locks, heated seats, etc. Its even on the original water pump and radiator. It's the 6 cylinder so it doesn't need timing belt changes. I bet it's even on the original plugs. The motor is still very solid. a little vibraty at idle, but from 700rpm up it's as smooth as an electric motor. No check engine lights, no hesitations.
If I could get a trans for it , i would. But it's the very limited VDT/VDC model and that trans is very hard to find used, and it's certainly not in a price range I want to pay. But Lord, if I could find one for $1000 I'd happily put it in. I love this car, and wish I could keep it. I got 15 mpg in winter, 18-20 in summer, and 26 on the highway. For those of you wondering.
Also I found it decently comfortable on trips. The steering was quick and accurate at highway speeds as well as in the city. Always drove perfectly straight. The seats don’t extend very far under your legs but I am 6’1 220lbs and could take it on 5 hour trips with no soreness when I arrived.
Man I really wish I could fix the car and keep it.
So, what has failed?... The brake pads wear fairly quickly, probably undersized by design. One of the electric door locks has failed, but works manually. The driverside power seat has failed. The rear quarter panels have rusted through where they meet the plastic bumpers. Everything else works, and that is pretty amazing for the age and mileage. This has been a very dependable car that I am loathe to lose. Uses a slight bit of oil.
I purchased this car for my son in 2015. 110k miles, body rust like you wouldn’t believe. I voted no; son voted yes because he’s a millennial and believes everything that he reads on the web. In this case, social media shows that Subaru is a great car, incredibly reliable, etc etc. He showed me a quote/metric saying that 97% of Subaru’s built since 1997 are still on the road ... so they are bullet proof. And so safe (more on safety later)!! What the quote/metric didn’t say was that they leak oil from the head gasket like no other car, have electrical problems galore, exhaust issues, and many others.
I honestly have no idea how these cars got such a reputation for being great cars. Do people who drive these rat traps know what a ‘great car’ is ??
I spent about $7000 on repairs over 18 months. What a PoS.
Thankfully, my son totaled the car, hence I don’t have to suffer any more repair bills. BTW, it didn’t take much to total it. He hit a curb at about 20 mpg, which destroyed the front end. The insurance adjuster said that type of damage is very common with these cars, and that they aren’t nearly as safe as Subaru likes to say.
Their only saving grace is the AWD system. It really is pretty good. Everything around that ... forget it.
IMHO, if you ‘must’ have a Subaru, lease one. They are relatively cheap, and they are warrantied during the lease period. At the end of the lease period ... give it back.
I bought this car and was second owner. Car Drives Great on Gravel Roads and hugs the road.. Has All Wheel Drive and its a Perfect Car for Winter Driving both on/ off Road. Heated Seats, Auto, Great Heat n Air Car at 190,000 miles , drives like New. Like all Midwestern and Northern Cars/ trucks.. problem with corrosion around wheel wells. Dash board Check Engine Light is Very Sensative to Gas Cap n little things that make it come on n off, but doesnt affect fun & Strong driving of this Car. Car will Drive over 400,000 miles before dying...