1st Dec 2004, 17:45

The early 2.5 Liter FLAT-4s (DOHC EJ25) (all Subaru engines are boxers, not inline or v engines) did have issues; these were the DOHC motors used in the ~1997-1998 era. Blew numerous head gaskets, but nothing like GM's Quad4 disaster... Anyway, the 3.0 Liter H6 (EZ30) is a completely different beast, and has only been in production since 2002. Also quite different is the SOHC 2.5 liter (SOHC EJ25) used in the 2000 and up Subarus. Sorry to hear that this particular individual is having problems, but as far as I can tell from Consumer's Report (and the 10,000 miles I've put on my 2005 Outback XT), they have a good history. Not sure what to make of the rust; I suppose any car will rust out if not properly washed (previous owner's fault there) ; Subaru did have a problem with rust for quite some time, now they use a lot more galvanized sheet metal than previously, so SHOULD have less rust.

31st Mar 2005, 22:22

I know this isn't real helpful, but buy a Honda next time... unless you really need the 4 wheel drive of course. But Honda now has several off roaders.

14th Jul 2006, 14:03

You can still buy a Subaru from that era, just make sure it has the EJ22 2.2 l engine. My 95 Legacy has 230,000km on it and I've never had any problem with the issue, except for value cover gaskets, but they only cost 80$ to replace.

29th Sep 2006, 14:06

You obviously don't know what you're talking about. The Legacy and Outback were not offered with a flat-6 in 1997. So you have a 2.5L flat-4. Only if you do not care for them properly do you have problems like that. Regular oil change, filters and tuneups.

To comment number 2, do not let anyone dissuade you from buying an 05 Outback or Legacy. They are fine cars. But I would recomend the 2.5XT tubo flat-4. They are cheaper and have more power.

10th Nov 2006, 09:06

As my 1997 Outback, sits in the repair garage, again, I want to make it clear that this car when drivable is a great car, snow, ice, rain, etc. But, this car started having problems at about 40,000 miles with the brakes, replaced the pads, and went through them like butter. Then replaced the rotors and everything, that helped and would recommend doing instead of pads, as the units corrode so bad. Next, the head gaskets went at 80,000, got that fixed with a recommended new timing belt and less than 5000 miles later the BOLT that holds the timing pulley broke! It is still in the shop, as they can't get it to run smooth, suspected bent rod. Repair bills are more than the car is worth!

28th Nov 2006, 10:05

1997 Outback:

I bought this car 8 months ago for $5,500. Started overheating a week ago so I refilled the coolant and it seemed to run normally. A few days later I was in the middle of nowhere and it overheated again. The radiator was still full of coolant and not that hot. The temperature gauge kept fluctuating and eventually the radiator gave out. $250 in towing, $400 radiator later, and the shop is telling me that I have a blown head gasket. Also the ABS kicks in when I don't need it, and the transmission is in its golden years. and I just replaced pads and calipers. At 120,000 miles, this car is done. Hopefully I can get it fixed enough to sell it to a sucker like me. Any takers?

16th Jan 2007, 04:10

Our '97 Outback is now dead in the water at 125k miles. The car we bought because of Subaru's famous "reliability" has been nothing but trouble. The transmission is shot, steering shot, gaskets shot, car budget shot.

We are buying a Honda.

Never again will we buy a Subaru.

19th Feb 2007, 21:07

I have enjoyed several older Subaru's... say pre-1993 or so...

These all had the 2.2 liter engine in them. I have seen problems with the 2.5 earlier engine... I think produced until 1999 or so, but generally I think other than supply parts problems that have been indicated by the Subaru tech, I do note that the earlier designed 2.5's seemed to have a air entrapement problem. This seems to be due to the lack of a high most point bleed off for the air... most likely in the cross over cooling lines. Dealers in replacement of the cooling liquids always elevated the front of the car to the point that this didn't seem to be a problem... but the average Joe might just leave enough air in the system to cause a problem. These engines don't handle heat well when it isn't carried off well by the cooling system...

Just a thought...

11th Mar 2007, 10:53

I am glad I found this site. I was thinking about purchasing a Subaru Outback Sport Utility Wagon 1997, but I changed my mind now.

Thanks for the warnings.

18th Apr 2007, 14:57

I love my '97 Outback (original owner) but I've reached the point that I can no longer afford the repairs! I had the head gasket issue at 90,000. My car is at 106,000 now and in the last 3 months I've had non-stop issues with the check engine light, radiator which is something I expected to replace anyway (so this isn't a big deal), and now an issue with it not starting. It makes absolutely no clicking noise and the dash lights come on- had the ignition switch replaced and lo and behold 2 days after getting it back it won't start again.

These are great cars until something goes wrong... then it becomes a game of hunt and peck diagnosis because no one can ever seem to find out what is causing the problem- My check engine light is still on by the way. I get to pay $50 every time for the diagnosis of 'Misfire in cyl #4'

Anyone want to buy mine? :) I'll give you a good price. HA!

25th Apr 2007, 12:54

I own a 97' Outback and a 05' Legacy 2.5I. The 97' has 110,500 miles and has been trouble free. The 05' has 26,500 and has also been trouble free. Prior to owning Subaru's I only owned GM cars. I could not be happier that I made the switch to Subaru. I will only by Subaru's. I am so pleased with these cars that I am planning to buy the B9 Tribeca in the fall.

5th May 2007, 18:51

I have 2 1996 Outbacks and one 98 Forester currently. I have also had 2 95 legacy wagons. All of the Subaru's have been decent cars.

Both 96 outbacks were bought with bad Head gaskets, but repaired with the new Head gaskets which were an improved design.

The 96's have 165 and 175,000 miles each and are humming away.

My advice would be to get a good mechanic and buy a OBDII scanner to view and reset the check engine light yourself. It is paid for the first time you use it.

26th Sep 2007, 15:29

I have a 1997 Outback with 200,000 miles. I have had no problems. I did a timing belt and plugs 100K ago. I just add oil and gas. I have never had such great luck with a car.

You never see an American car go like this - at least in the last 5 I have owned. I don't know if I would buy a used one. You are probably buying someone's problem because people that have good cars don't get rid of them.