I bought my 2000 Outback Ltd. used in 2004 and drove it 4200 miles to its new home in Alaska. It currently has 138K miles. When I took the car in about a year ago for a winter check, I was informed that the head gaskets were starting to leak. The check engine light came for awhile shortly after, then went off. It came on again and has stayed on for several months. My brother (a tech at the local Subaru dealer) ran the diagnostics and it indicated a problem with the catalytic converter. He reset the code and it stayed off JUST long enough to pass emissions! *whew*
A couple weeks ago, I noticed a delay when shifting into drive. This seemed to get worse, as I would sometimes sit for 10 seconds before the engine would kick in. Yesterday, I could not get the engine to engage after shifting into any of the forward gears. After trying for 5 minutes, it finally engaged and moved forward after I'd held the gas pedal down for a few seconds. I noticed some others have mentioned tranny problems. I checked the trans. fluid, and it is slightly low, but I can't imagine that would cause such a problem. I need to have a timing belt replaced soon also.
After being very reliable for 50K miles, I'm considering trading the thing in to the Subaru dealer to let them deal with it and getting a new vehicle under warranty. I love my Outback and it performs fabulously in winter conditions and on long drives, but because of all these common problems, I'm hesitant to even consider another one. Subaru's are by far the most popular car to drive in Interior Alaska, but if these are common problems, I can't imagine why.
There are a few things I'm hoping to find out:
1) Has anyone had these things fixed and enjoyed lots of relatively trouble-free miles afterward?
2) Is it worth putting a few thousand dollars into it? Or do these problems repeat themselves?
3) Are leaky head gaskets also an issue on models prior to 2000?
Kari in Fairbanks, AK.