1998 Subaru Outback from North America - Comments

5th Jul 2006, 23:43

Purchased a 1998 Outback Wagon from a used dealership... love the car, but not a big fan of the maintenance. Live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and it performs magnificently in the "bad weather", but the "check engine" light has been on ever since 80k miles... it's on right now, in fact. Cost me $700 for the mechanic to ultimately say "this happens with a lot of '98 models." I will never purchase another Subaru again...

9th Jul 2006, 12:28

I have a 1998 Subaru Legacy Outback with 150,000 miles. I have driven it gently, but all of a sudden it has developed this infamous overheating problem. We have replaced the fuel pump, the hoses, the timing belt, the thermostat, and the radiator, even though none of them evidently needed to be replaced because our $3000 worth of repairs has not touched the overheating problem. I am faced now with going for the head gasket (which the mechanic has assured me is just fine) for another $1500, and possibly not solving the problem. I don't have any income to spare, and am in debt for $3000 loaned to me by people who knew how much I needed a car to drive, as I work 70 miles away from home.

I don't think I can even sell this car when I don't know what's wrong with it. I can't buy another car until I pay back my friends.

Should I "trust" this car again even if I do replace the head gasket and it appears to work afterwards? I have been stranded on the road three times now, once with my grandchildren aboard.

Before this happened, my husband bought a new Subaru Forester to replace his ancient Volvo. Is he going to run into this too?

We are trying to put two kids through college, and I haven't made it to work for the last month!

13th Jul 2006, 14:07

Ugh. Reading this is depressing. Right now, my car has been in the shop for a week with the mechanic trying to figure out the problem. It's got the same random overheating issue -- 91K miles. I'm sure it's the head gasket. Does anyone know about how much the car will be worth, if anything, if I trade it in?

2nd Nov 2006, 17:19

2000 Subaru outback, 80,000 miles, blown head gasket, very upset.

3rd Nov 2006, 13:39

The head gaskets on my 1998 Subaru Legacy Outback have blown twice in the last two months. Car has 125K miles. How I am having to spend $5,000 to correct what seems to be a common Subaru problem?

Between my brother and me, we have owned 3 Subie's. All have had blown head gaskets. That is more than a trend.

Any news about a class action suit? Please e-mail me if you have any info.

Davmartin@gmail.com.

5th Nov 2006, 19:48

I have a '96 Subaru Outback (129,000 miles) and my mechanic just told me the head gasket is leaking and it should be replaced immediately. He said he has seen other Subarus with the same problem. I am hoping it won't cost too much since it hasn't "blown." I am horrified to see all the problems suffered by other people--I have loved how the car performs, but it sounds like there are major problems with the recent models.

San Jose, CA.

15th Nov 2006, 16:13

I just got a $1200 quote to replace both head gaskets, one leaking the other showing signs. 78k on 2001 Legacy GT, my 3rd. Very disappointed to find out how badly Subaru is handling this. Was planning on (upgrading?) to to an STI, but will have to think twice about that now.

17th Nov 2006, 18:46

I was driving back to my college from home, and while on the highway I heard something snap / break from under my hood. I saw heavy smoke trailing my car, so I pulled over to the side of the highway. 1997 Subaru legacy... blown head gasket, 1500$.

25th Nov 2006, 15:54

I have a 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback. I bought it second hand at 60,000 and I now have 80,000 miles on it. One day it started to overheat and I noticed the coolant was low so I filled it up. A month later it was low again. I didn't notice any leaks from the radiator or any where else so I filled it up again. Four months later, and lots of coolant refills, I noticed the coolant was getting lower much faster so I tried to find a leak again and noticed it was coming from the middle of the engine. Bad news...it is the water pump. So I took it in yesterday and had the water pump, timing belt, all hoses and thermostat replaced. I pick it up tomorrow and we will see how it goes. I am a single parent and don't have the money to spend on constant repairs. I was surprised to find this thread since Consumer Reports rates the Outback pretty highly. That was the reason I purchased this vehicle.

27th Nov 2006, 10:31

Same story: Coolant was low, refilled, car still overheated with a full radiator. Mechanic said there was a leak in the radiator and had to be replaced, so we'll see how it goes. Down $400 so far.

29th Nov 2006, 10:52

I've gone through two Subaru engines, both with blown head gaskets and over heating with the coolant disappearing soon after re-filling it.

This car had only 130,000 miles on it. It was touted to go for 200-300,000 miles or more.

Although I loved it while it lasted, the handling, the comfort, I'll never buy another Subaru again.

I am looking into the Toyota Highlander right now. It distresses me no end that I have to spend that money after only having the Subaru for 8 or 9 years. But I live in a climate where I need a reliable car.

3rd Dec 2006, 08:12

I was foolish enough to buy two of these cars. I have a 1997 and a 2004, both Outbacks. To begin let me say that anyone who revels in the cult following of these cars is kidding themselves. This first one was bought with the intent of obtaining 200,000 miles before a major malfunction based on their previous reputation. I live in a snowy region and have to say both are outstanding in those conditions.

I bought the first 97 Outback in 1999 with 14,000 miles on it from a dealer. At 21,000 miles, I began to notice a knocking sound from the engine at cold startup, this would be the well documented piston slap condition. I took the car back to the dealer who declared there was nothing wrong so I chose to accept the condition and live with it.

When I bought the 04 brand new, I decided to keep the 97 with 73,000 miles on it as a going to work car rather than trade it in, big mistake. Aside from such normal wear and tear items such as brakes, struts, axle shaft boots, etc. that can be considered normal, some strange things started happening.

At 89,000 miles, a noise appeared to be coming from the back of the car. Rear differential failure I was told by the dealer. OK, big deal, things happen- I had it replaced to the tune of 700 dollars. Then at 93,000, the car seemed to be going down the road like wind was blowing it around, but there was none. Had it checked, the rack and pinion steering was shot- 750 dollars. Wait a minute- I've never had to put a steering system in anything.

These are some of the other things that have happened since then-

Broken front spring, I never hit anything. All the heater bulbs burnt out, the dealer wanted over a 100 dollars to change them. I did the job myself- these things are not much larger than the size of a pin and need a watchmakers skill to change out. The automatic transmission shifter is very rough like it is chewing itself up. It will fail someday.

Rust- the gas tank nozzle was leaking, 132 dollars just for the part, again I replaced it myself. The tailgate hinge is in terrible condition- it never had any kind of plating put on it at the factory, just bare steel. The rear disc brake rotor shields rotted away years ago, 136 dollars apiece just for the part itself, the quotation was for 5 hours labor- forget about that. Oddly enough, the front ones are in perfect condition. I understand that living in New England and these conditions can be tough on a car. This car was oiled every year to offset that, but it did not seem to make a difference.

As a tool and diemaker, I consider all these forementioned conditions unacceptable- this is not good machinery.

It is important to note that every stated service was done by the book and the car has always been treated like a newborn baby- I really like the way the car drives and handles however I can no longer tolerate the exotic sports car repair prices, it has become unacceptable.

So now that brings us to the dreaded sporadic overheating issue at 124,000 miles- who am I going to sell this thing to? There is no way that I will justify pulling an engine out just to change a head gasket if that is even in fact what it is- point is nobody really seems to even know for sure and guarantee what is wrong. While the car runs like a top, I cannot keep coolant in it and have to check the temperature gauge every 20 seconds now for fear of blowing it up. I have never had to put a head gasket on any car- I had a Chevrolet Vega (remember those things)? It had a 11 to 1 compression ratio and it never needed a head gasket!

As a last ditch effort, I changed the radiator, radiator cap, thermostat, and hoses on the car. No change. It is intersting to note that this problem began 2 weeks after I sprung for the major 120,000 mile tune up, just another 1000 dollar bill to the dealer- I have had it. Very important to stay away from any one of these with the 4 cam 2.5 engine, when do the class action suits begin?

To summarize, basically this car started falling to pieces at 90,000 miles- I've driven cars twice that far American ones included that did not owe me a dime, not like this one.

Subaru should be ashamed of themselves in the Japaneese tradition, they have no honor like the folks at Toyota do.

And I will never buy another one of these cars again, when the drivetrain warranty runs out on the 04 in exactly two years, I am going to get rid of that one too.

Let the buyer beware, this is a true story.