2002 Subaru Outback Limited 2.5 from North America


Just say no to Subaru!


Timing belt tensioner failed at 34,000 miles and was replaced under warranty.

Incessant detonation (pinging) of the engine with all grades of fuel except premium.

Air conditioning improperly serviced at manufacture and was almost 12 ounces shy of full.

Front brakes worn out at 42,000 miles.

Head gasket blew at 77,000 miles requiring complete engine removal to repair ($2000 dollars). Oil pump and cam seals also discovered to be leaking during this procedure.

General Comments:

I am very unhappy with my first and only Subaru purchase. Numerous trips to the dealer with only some problems resolved was a waste of time and money.

The car, while comfortable on the road and handles well, is seriously underpowered and has abysmal brakes. If it were not for being my wife's car I would have gotten rid of it much sooner.

The factory paint on the hood and roof was also trashed after only a few years with hand washing and waxing. There were multiple cracks and pits in the coating surface which requires repainting-professional buffing only minimized them. I live in the state of Georgia and the car has never seen a salt environment!

I am an aircraft mechanic by trade and take my vehicle maintenance very seriously. In 25 plus years of multiple vehicle ownership I have never witnessed a car so poorly executed. For a MSRP of $29K this wagon should have been far better.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 13th November, 2006

11th Oct 2007, 18:54

If the brakes are so poor that you would not personally own it, then why pass it on to your wife?

17th Oct 2008, 12:54

Actually, that is the BEST reason to pass it on to your wife!!! Maybe an exploding gas tank or bomb under the front seat would be quicker, but then of course you would have to deal with that pesky police investigator! Job well done!

15th Dec 2008, 23:31

If the hand washing was done with a garden hose with cold water on hot summer days, that will damage the paint with thousands of micro-cracks. Commercial car washes use hot water so as not to damage the paint.

21st Nov 2009, 04:16

I bought a 2002 Subaru Outback base model with manual transmission 2.L 4 cyl boxer engine with 56,000 KMS. The car handles great, can never get it to spin it out. I was just starting to love the car with 867 KMS and 15 days later, now in my radiator fluid there is muddy gray gunk, and the motor oil is overflowing and is watery. Does anyone know what could the problem be?

21st Nov 2009, 08:39

Your coolant is mixing with your engine oil. I suspect a blown head gasket, and a real nasty one at that.

19th Dec 2009, 06:35

Just had to replace my brakes for the second time, and I only have 70,000 miles on the car. I love the car, but I'm finding that the maintenance costs are too high. I would not buy another one for this reason.

2002 Subaru Outback from Australia and New Zealand


Cheap, weak and not made to last the long haul


Gear box failed before 50k costing me plenty.

Subaru dealer told me he sells lots of boxes and that I should have bought an auto trans.

Head gaskets are now an issue, and have been told I must do this job soon.

General Comments:

My subbie was fine until the gear box, now seems to be falling apart. Dealer repairs and parts are out of this world, I've never seen such big bills.

My VW is still going strong with NO major repairs with over 200.000 miles! Think I'll go VW again.

Done with trash like this.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 17th July, 2006

2002 Subaru Outback from North America


The reliability and the subsequent dealer handling of our issue, we will never own a Subaru again


Engine threw a timing belt and failed at 55,000 miles. Engine beyond repair.

General Comments:

We purchased the 2002 Outback due to its reliability ratings in consumer reports and word of mouth. We are the third Subaru owners in our group of friends who've had to replace well maintained engines in our various years Outbacks.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 23rd June, 2006

29th Dec 2007, 20:04

Actually I am quite surpised at that. My parents bought a 2001 Subaru Outback and they have yet to experienced any problems except flaky DRL s. The car now has 193,500 miles and we do city driving quite a bit around Baltimore and Washington D.C. I honestly believe it is one of the best cars we have ever owned.

9th Feb 2009, 08:43

I am also surprised at their bad luck. We have a 2001, Outback, we purchased 3 years ago at 44K miles, now it has 97K miles, and have still not put a timing belt in it, but it's on my list to do soon.

Been a great car, it is more sure-footed on ice and snow than our last 4WD Jeep Wrangler was.

Only problem we have had is the cruise control paddle switch is broke, and rocks have put a hole on both glass fog lamp lenses. I've towed a fishing boat with it and a utility trailer, it tows fine, and it only has the 4 cyl. engine in it.

Great Auto. Trans, it knows when to upshift and downshift, just at the right times. You especially notice it when towing. Never has used any oil.

I would definitely own another one. The only other car I have, which I must say rates as well or better is my old Honda Civic, which I believe will outlast me!! HAHA.

23rd Mar 2009, 18:46

Hi. I had the last post also. I just changed the timing belt at 98,000+ miles, and the belt looked like it had about 30,000 miles on it. I'm sure it was the original belt, it had no cracks, no tears, nor any missing teeth. I'm sure it would have gone quite a bit longer, but why push your luck? At least I now have the peace of mind. I have yet to figure out how to change the cruise paddle switch in the steering wheel. Great car otherwise!