1998 Subaru Outback 2.5L H4 from North America


This is a solid, practical car that is worth checking out


Head gasket blew at 149,000 miles (seems to be a typical problem for the late 90s 2.5L).

Cam seals failed at 140,000 miles (also seems to be a common issue for these motors).

The point in the exhaust where the cat connects to the cat back exhaust, rusted out at 146,000 miles.

General Comments:

This car is the paramount of practicality with folding seats, AWD, windshield wiper deicer, heated mirrors, water resistant interior, high ground clearance, and very efficient front and rear defrosting.

The 1998 Outback has relatively slow acceleration that is far from exciting.

The stiffer suspension of this vehicle, coupled with the AWD, gives you the ability to turn tightly, even at relatively high speeds, despite the high and narrow shape of the early Outbacks.

Snow is no problem. My driving experience is nearly unchanged up until about 3 or 4 inches of snow. Even with 6 inches on the ground, the car performs beautifully.

The engine is pretty quite, but noise dampening in the cabin is a bit less than I have experienced in larger cars, such as a 2002 Intrepid or a 2000 Ford Taurus. I have cupped tires, which adds to the noise.

Although the boxer engine has many advantages (smooth running, low center of gravity, reduced torque steering, etc), the configuration puts the headers up against the sides of the engine compartment, making ordinarily simple fixes, such as replacing spark plugs, much more difficult. Replacing the plugs has been quoted at $300 (They ended up being replaced during my head gasket fix instead).

Also, the AWD kills the mileage. When I calculate the mpg on a tank full of gas, I can end up with anything between 18 and 25 mpg. I'm guessing this translates into roughly what Subaru advertises: 20 city/ 27 highway.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th June, 2010

1998 Subaru Outback 2.5 from North America


Wasted my income tax check on this one


Probably head gasket... I bought it this way.

General Comments:

Nice clean car, all equipment works. Just can't get around the block without it blowing all the water out the overflow bottle. Subaru should step up to the plate on this one, like Toyota did years back with the V-6 engines/ trucks... heads and head gaskets.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 30th March, 2010

1998 Subaru Outback 2.5 from North America


Best car for the money. Period


Routine maintenance. I replaced the head gaskets at 231000 miles.

General Comments:

I know all about the head gasket issues with Outbacks.

The head gaskets in my 98 Outback blew at 231000 miles.

I can't really fault the car for that, since most engines don't even last that long!

I've got 261000 miles on Auto the Outback, and he's still going strong.

I spent a grand to have the head gaskets replaced. Other than routine maintenance and the usual parts replacements - power steering pump, alternator, axle shafts etc.

Auto has performed admirably in all kinds of weather. Great car. I don't imagine I'd ever not own a Subaru. I mean, 266000 miles and it still runs flawlessly? C'mon.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd March, 2010

1998 Subaru Outback from North America


Doesn't live up to the reputation for reliability


Blown head gasket at 130,000 miles. Cost $3000 to replace.

Clutch went at about 100,000.

Driver's seat heater died at 120,000.

Now at 144,774 miles the speedometer sensor crapped out.

My old Celica never had a major mechanical issue for 180,000 miles.

General Comments:

Love the AWD, but it should not need $3000 in head gasket repairs at 130,000 miles. Very disappointing.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 24th December, 2009

23rd Oct 2011, 10:57

I am looking to buy a 98 Subaru next week, and I'm well aware of the head gasket; I think it's worth a shot. As far as your repairs of 3,000.00, that is a ridiculous repair bill, and you need to find a new mechanic... That place obviously knows of the problems, and saw you coming. The gaskets alone are only like 50.00; YouTube the repair and do it yourself. I'm definitely not letting this issue scare me away.

23rd Dec 2012, 17:36

You missed the biggest advantage of Subaru.... DIY is the rule. Then you will never spend 3K on head gaskets. Sorry to hear it.

8th Feb 2013, 01:05

If you bought a 3k head gasket, then the mechanic almost deserves the payment. Always get a 2nd opinion.