1999 Subaru Outback 2.5 DOHC from North America


Japanese tank. A very safe car



General Comments:

Built like a tank. Only owned it for a short time, but while I had it, very reliable.

Was hit by a drunk (he backed into me hard enough to push my car back with locked brakes), who then rammed it when I tried to stop him from running away. He was driving a 1997 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4. I followed him while talking to 911 till he bailed and ran when the police appeared, leaving the truck behind. The truck had more extensive damage than my Subaru did, his front end was half gone and the Outback had a quarter panel caved in 2 inches, a broken back window and taillight. The hatch still worked. This was despite the truck hitting above the bumper and frame structure. The front end of the Subaru sustained no major damage at all; the only evidence of him hitting me was the 2" square mark left from his receiver hitch (my car was white).

So, just putting it out there that Subarus really are among the safest, strongest cars in the world.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th May, 2013

1999 Subaru Outback 2.5L from North America


If you have the skills, and need AWD, this is your car. Otherwise, get a Honda or Toyota


Muffler needed to be replaced (rusted out, about 2 years after purchase).

A/C leak needed to be repaired (when I purchased it).

Engine started burning oil (about one year after I purchased it).

Knock sensor needed to be replaced (about 1 month after I purchased it).

I replaced the engine at 230,000 miles.

New brakes all around.

New tires.

+ Even more new stuff.

I have about 5000 dollars invested in this car. And you know what? It's a good car. I did all the work myself, so I have a lot of new parts for the money. Plus, I replaced everything before it had a chance to break.

General Comments:

I bought this car used, and for a car with a quarter of a million miles, it seems to be very reliable.

I bought it wholesale from the dealer, who tried to tell me that I needed to replace this and that. I wisely ignored him. He said that my transmission and clutch were going to to fail, etc.

I drove it for 2 years, adding about a quart of oil each month, since it burned off. Eventually I needed to repair it to pass emissions, so I replaced the engine with a Japanese one.

I've been driving it ever since. Goes from A-B every time, in all weathers. Clutch is still working, and it shifts great, despite what all the "Professionals" keep saying, I fix it when I feel like it. And, for less money. 400 USD to fix the knock sensor? Ha. I did it for 120 bucks.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st August, 2012

17th Sep 2013, 19:45

Bud, you list replacing tires and brakes as faults??? These are normal wear and tear parts.

18th Sep 2013, 07:57

Sounds like the "skills" needed are nothing more than knowing how to unscrew the cap off a quart of oil every month.

1999 Subaru Outback 2.5 from North America


What to do when the gasket fails


Don't know if you kids will get this far, there seems to be a lot of notes on Subaru Outbacks.

First, yes, both the 2.2 and 2.5 litre engines have head gasket problems, but it is more pronounced in the 2.5 litre. At around 90,000 miles, the stock head gasket on the 9n-0n model years of these cars fails. If you are buying a used Outback and the mileage is up there, you WILL have a problem.

Subaru now has a steel head gasket replacement, but it doesn't solve the problem, because the head tends to get warped. It DOES NOT require noticeable overheating for this to happen, it's just a poorly designed head and it does that. Milling the head and replacing the gasket has limited success, sometimes good, sometimes very bad.

There is a much better repair option, but you have to be careful with it. The Japanese require cars in their country to be scrapped when the reach a certain age. As a result, there are a great many 2.5L Subaru engines (also Toyota and Honda) with less than 40,000 miles on them available.

It costs around $3,200 to do a proper job of milling the head and replacing the gasket. It costs around $4,200 to put in a replacement engine that will come with a 12,000 mile warranty. Probably, done properly a replacement engine will last 60,000 miles.

The problem is finding a mechanic that will do a good job of replacement. If you have a manual transmission, do the clutch plate and bearing at the same time, and you will have a pretty reliable little car for about 4 - 5 years. Then the cycle starts over.

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

Review Date: 30th August, 2010

30th Aug 2010, 18:00

Here's the problem with your idea: If someone drives more than 12,000 miles a year (the yearly mileage required to get 5 years or 60,000 miles out of an engine based on your idea), then this will not work for you and you will be replacing the engine every 2-3 years. By the way, I have heard that Japan does not in fact require engines to be replaced every 40,000 miles. However I've also heard that they do. I've heard more evidence supporting they don't, and even a Google search turns up nothing on that subject really, which leads me to believe it's just another myth.

By the way, if your head gasket fails and it costs $4200 to replace the engine with a JDM engine, why don't you just scrap your Subaru and buy a newer car that's more reliable? $4200 can buy a very nice used car. Why waste fixing a car that will only last another 60,000 miles?

30th May 2011, 07:28

Just bought a 2000 Lancaster with 70,000km on the 2.5-litre engine. Had read all the comments on head gasket problems, but needed a set of wheels quickly. At auction, paid the equivalent of US$2,440, and keep in mind the weak dollar pushes the dollar value higher. Just a thought, but has anyone any input on adding head gasket sealer prior to symptoms manifesting?

In Japan, you don't have to scrap a car at a certain age or distance on the clock. Far less replace the engine. But in the countryside, scrapping is usually FOC. So fairly common to scrap a car at 100,000km when the major service is due. And if mechanical problems kick in too, then it's heading for the great car park in the sky.

The three-litre, six-cylinder Lancaster with timing chain rather than belt sounds a better bet. Any chance of some feedback?