I have just returned from our favorite neighborhood garage after having the clutch cable replaced. I am told that the clutch cable failure is indicative of a failing clutch. The mechanic said there is no urgency, but I do not want to break down in rush hour traffic. This news is almost unbelievable since I replaced the original clutch by a different mechanic after 65000 miles and face another $800 repair at 140K. I've had a few other problems - notably the oil pump had to be replaced twice. The first time at a Subaru dealer who told me that the pump disintegrated - they never saw any thing like it.
I previously owned two Mazda's with manual transmission and never had to replace the clutch. Could it be that the clutch cable has to be adjusted every year to avoid the clutch failure?
Subaru has such a good rep - my father had one that gave no problems for over 300K miles. This particular car has had mechanical problems and gets only fair gas mileage - 22 mpg. I like Subaru, but as the prior comment noted, I may also have bought a "lemon".
I own a 97 Subaru Outback Sport and this car is solid!
As far as the clutch issues I hear about- in my case it was the clutch cable positioning. Nothing was wrong with the clutch but rather the clutch cable was snaked too tightly around a corner. Mess with the positioning of the cable and the clutch pedal will snap into place.
We own 3 Subaru vehicles and it is for the following reasons. Safe in crashes, ease of maintenance (front mounted engine gives access to belts and everything), crisp and clean acceleration/driving performance, reliable transmissions for both auto and manual, good on gas, practical.
Yes the carpet in the Outback is terrible! I agree with that totally, I don't know what they were thinking, but the car redeems itself in all other ways so I'm good with it. Subaru makes fewer cars than the big auto makers and it seems that they spend extra time engineering things to be reliable.
I own a 1998 Subaru Impreza Outback 2.2L Automatic, and have been amazed at how it has held up. The car currently has just over 220K miles on it and just had to have the struts replaced (and I drive on some roads that are dirt/gravel and hard on the struts, so may not be unexpected). My only complaint is the expense of having the struts replaced. Other than, I have been amazed at the longevity of this car.
The only other problems I have had with this car are:
Knock sensor went bad at 160K. This seems to be rare, but was a cheap do-it-your-self fix.
Rear wheel bearing started to go at 180K or so. Probably could have gotten more mileage out of it, but this is something I won't play games with.
Subaru has always seemed to have lower life CV boots, particularly that one sitting next to the hot exhaust that always seems to go first ;-). This one went out on me at 190K, and for the price of a new axle, was just as expensive to have the whole axle replaced.
I agree the carpet was cheep, but all in all this has been a solid car.
Oh, and any GOOD mechanic should be smart enough to replace the front seal on the engine when performing a typical timing belt replacement -- saves cost of labor if it goes out between belt replacements. I had the water pump replaced for preventive maintenance on my second timing belt replacement.
Front brake rotors lasted 170K, unlike other makes of cars that needed them replaced every brake pad change. Brake pads from Subaru lasted me around 65K between replacements. Again, far better than I have experienced on other makes of cars.
Rear brake shoes needed to be replaced at 200K. Long life on these suckers. Had the drums replaced along with 'em.
Still the original exhaust, but this may be typical these days.
Easy access to do simple things like fan belt changes,oil changes and spark plug changes yourself.
Things to watch out for:
Non-OEM parts for Subaru can be potluck as to quality. You take chances by skimping.
Many mechanics don't take the time to learn things specific to Subaru. Heck, even with our Toyota Camry, a mechanic (not a Toyota mechanic) told us we needed a new maser cylinder at 60K. The Toyota technician looked at it, wiped a smudge off the cylinder and said "nope", but keep an eye on it. 70K later, it still is fine. So DON'T believe everything a mechanic tells you.