10th Aug 2006, 13:29

I own a 2.5 liter, 1997 Legacy Outback automatic with about 115,000 miles. It's been a pretty good car, but I have had a few problems with the Duty Solenoid and Air Conditioning. Recently, it has decided to spring multiple oil leaks and the engine started to get noisier than before. It always had a little noise, but I thought it was nothing, probably a valve. Subaru didn't seem to think much of it because they never said anything about it. I took it to a garage to get the leaks fixed and to replace the timing belt. The mechanic (a friend of mine) told me he would fix the main oil leak, but fixing the other leaks and replacing the timing belt would be a waste of money because, according to him, the noise was deeper in the engine and it would need a major overhaul soon. He was afraid that I might throw a rod the next time I got out on the interstate. It sounds like a diesel when it's cold. I then called Subaru about that and they told me the timing belt could be the cause of the engine noise, something common to the Outbacks. Now, who should I believe?

25th Aug 2006, 19:54

My 1998 Subaru Outback has a 2.5 liter engine, with 102,000 miles. A couple of years ago I had replaced the 2 cam belts, the water pump, resealed the oil pump and spark plugs. This car has always had an oil leak from a flange on the engine, that required trans removal, the dealer said $1000 for that so I have been living with it.

I have been lucky commuting, but the car always breaks down at the worst times on family vacations. A couple months ago the alternator went out with the whole family out in the West Virginia wilderness. Grrr.

Recently on the way to the beach, I had the windsurfer on the top, 2 kids in the back and the engine started to overheat. When I pulled over there was oil coming out of the coolant overflow! Arghhh… (Blown head gasket). Vacation was over for the car (Large tow bill back home), but somehow we made it to our destination. I have had great luck with my old Subaru Loyal. I suspect that the smaller Subaru engines are more reliable. But I am done with this car.


23rd Dec 2006, 14:05

The Subaru EJ25 (2.5L) tends to have problems with piston slap due to its large bore and long stroke, combined with a lack of piston skirts (due to fitting the package into a narrow block due to space constraints). The Phase I (DOHC) engines often slap loudly, but quiet down when warm. The Phase II (SOHC) engines tend to scuff worse and often continue to slap after warming up. The slap is limited to the two cylinders on the LH side of the engine. While it shouldn't be completely ignored, the slapping can be (and often is) lived with for many miles without causing serious engine damage. Updated pistons are available for the Phase II engines that include a Teflon coating to minimize scuffing. The cylinder walls are hard iron and are rarely damaged by scuffing.

26th Dec 2006, 09:47

We purchased a 1997 Outback brand new in March 1997. At about 95,000 miles (12/04) the head-gasket blew. It was towed to the local Subaru dealer. That repair was going to cost $2100.00. They also found a problem with the clutchpack (?) which needed to be repaired for an addtional $1500.00. I wrote a letter to the regional Subaru company and they agreed to pay $1000.00 towards the repairs; this was because the 7-yr/100,000 mile warranty had expired in 3/04. The dealer insisted this was not typical of Subaru's. Four months later, the plastic transmission plate/cover (?) cracked and had to be replaced for another $500.00.

We had this car serviced at every required interval to prevent these type of problems to no avail.

Since the head-gasket was repaired, the famous Subaru hesitation at idle has become more and more pronounced. We now have 123,000 miles on this bomb.

The next car will not be a Subaru. My wife loves the AWD, but we are dissatisfied with everything else about the car.

Too bad.

27th Feb 2007, 11:43

We own a 1998 Subaru Outback and love it in the snow. My relatives that live in Alaska have Subarus and love them that's why we got one. I have had nothing but trouble with this car. At 86000 miles the engine blew and I replaced it spending about $4000.00 Now at 122,000 we are leaking oil again. I will never own another Subaru again and I am letting everyone know what Subarus are like and to never buy one.

31st May 2007, 06:01

I am an original owner of a Subaru outback 1997. It now has 184000 miles and the engine is broken again. At about 112000 the short block had to be replaced due to coolant going into the exhust. The fault resulting from some crack in the piston walls. This replacement on the short block cost about $3000.00. Now after another 72000 miles it will be time to do some more repairs to continue to drive this great car. I will not buy another Subaru, due to having the engine problem, but have been happy with the performance.

7th Aug 2007, 22:34

I have a 1998 Subaru Outback with 190,000 miles on it. It is the second Subaru I have owned, and it will NOT be my last - I love it! I am now experiencing the head gasket problem that is so common in this year of Subaru, but after 190k, I feel like I've more than gotten my money's worth from this awesome little car. Other than this current issue, I have not had any problems with it at all, and have only had regular and expected maintenance for a car with this many miles. It has been the most reliable, dependable, and awesome car - it handles amazingly well in the snow, gets really decent mileage (25-30 mpg), and is so roomy I was able to bring a twin mattress home in the back of it! It's too bad that they had such bad head gaskets for several years - I see so many people that are completely writing Subaru off after having problems with them. I might do the same if I had the problems as early on as some of the stories I have read, but for me it is worth the risk because of what a great car it has been.

13th Sep 2007, 08:49

Well, my goodness, I read so much bad things about this cars (Subarus with 2.5L engines). I really don't know what to say, I have a 97 Subaru outback with not major problems at all. The car is great for our Canadian winters.

19th Sep 2007, 15:07

I have a 98 Subaru Outback (w/ AT) with approx 143,000 miles on it. It has generally been pretty good, but I have similar experiences to most of the people writing in.

First and foremost at 114,000 miles I had the head gasket go. Luckily it was a chilly night and I managed to get home (NJ to MD) by stopping every so often at the rest stops and topping off. I shopped around and got estimates from $1700 up to $3000. I found a good independent shop and he did the necessary repairs for about $1500. OH and for people owning this car get the additive from the dealer which is added to the coolant. in the radiator it is IMPERATIVE. I got no notification from the dealer as I got the car used and there is nothing in the owners manual about this.

After an additional 7 months or so I experienced something called "torque bind". It feels like you are dragging your back wheel through the turn when you are going at slow speed. The solution in my case and I would recommend it for anyone having this problem is to take it to a reputable transmission shop and get a power flush. Evidently in Subaru automatics the trans fluids is also used for the torque convertor which determines the split of torque between front and rear wheels. They took care of it and also noted to check some other fluids like rear trans-axle which was low (who knew!)

I am currently having a little difficulty with hard starting, but visits to the mechanic have not sorted it out yet.

On a whole the head gasket thing really upset me, but I am over that and on a whole the benefits of the car, space, mobility in winter etc. outweigh the problems. But I am of the opinion that Subaru's are as unbreakable as their reputation had it!