16th Apr 2008, 21:22

I am on my third Subaru. My first Legacy wagon was great. I drove it to 177,000 miles with only routine repairs. My second had major engine trouble, but there was some thought that it originated from an infinitesimal crack in the radiator after I hit a deer. My current Subaru, a 2003 Outback with fewer than 70,000 miles, has been in the shop for over two weeks. I brought it in for an oil change. They told me that my head gaskets were shot and my pistons were scored; I would have to have a new short block put in. I voiced my frustration at having had such major engine trouble in two consecutive cars. The salesman who set me up with a loaner told me that every ONE in FIFTEEN Outbacks made before 2008 have a gasket engineering flaws!!! That's right, folks - every 1 in 15. I don't think I'll be buying a Subaru again in future.

23rd Aug 2008, 14:11

I'm on my 4th Subaru, a 03 WRX preceded by an 88 GL Coupe, 92 GL Wagon, and 00 2.5RS coupe. My brother is on his second an 88 GL wagon and currently has a 00 Legacy wagon. My parent's have a 90 Legacy sedan.

We have not experienced any kind failure of the magnitude mentioned above, nor anything outside of normal wear and tear.

My 2.5 RS was within the VIN range affected by head gasket failure issue, but was treated with coolant conditioner and never had any leaks develop. I've also never had an transmission issues.

From experience I can say that those who have had transmission failure clearly didn't understand AWD. You CANNOT dump the clutch (unless you're on a slippery surface, it's not traction you'll break). Also, don't go gunning the throttle when you're in a situation where traction is not even, you'll cause the clutch pack (auto) or viscous coupling (manual) to fry. Realistically you need only apply as much throttle as required to get going.

8th Oct 2008, 06:28

Just yesterday my wife had the following experience on our 07 Outback (25,000 miles) :

- Stalled on the way to work

- Driving home from work, stalled three times, followed by the check engine light coming on, followed 30 seconds later by smoke coming out of the engine

- Towed into the dealership and they tell me that we have no coolant in the car and that "the engine is shot"

- They are checking with head office to "see if this is covered by warranty"

Other details are that I've had the vehicle regularly maintained (by someone other than the dealer), with the last oil change 6 weeks ago.

After searching around, I see a number of comments about head gasket problems on previous models, but I was assured by the dealership that "those were fixed after the 05 models"

Any advice on how to handle this?


19th Oct 2008, 14:48

I have had 4 Subs. -- '86 GL Wagon (which went 273K); a '92 Legacy L+, which went 151K and was totaled in 8/03 when I was rear-ended in a left turn lane at a full stop waiting for traffic to clear. That accident sold me on Subaru's no matter what kind of mechanical problems I experience, because the CHP guy told me the person who hit me (who was driving a ford 150; was uninsured) hit me at 27-30 MPH and the rear hatch was smashed into the back of the rear seat, but we did not get whiplash or anything. Something about the crumple zone?

My third was a Legacy sedan, which I bought used from my local dealer with 85K in 11/03. It had 174K.

Ahh! My last Sub - an '04 Outback to replace our '92 Leg. I just passed the 5 year deadline (only 49.9K miles) when my Sub. repair gal told me I needed a new head gasket. And it wouldn't be covered by the drive train warranty because I missed it by 48 days. So I emailed SOA, and called them and I asked them if it was reasonable that a HG should fail at less than 50K? They said no and they would cover the cost.

My other major problem was replacement of the catalytic converter, but it was covered under the smog warranty.

I have friends and relatives who own '04 Subaru Outbacks; No problems, except my nephew who purchased his used. He too has a head gasket problem. His mechanic (not a Subaru dealer) told him that "his experience is that Subaru Outbacks have head gasket problems". My Sub. dealer's service manager said that the boxer style engine may contribute to head gasket failures.

I have my own theory which I cannot prove is valid: Are problems related to where the vehicles/engine parts are assembled? A neighbor of mine who has owned various Toyota SUV's said when he switched from his land cruiser to the Sequoia, he experienced more problems. Land cruisers were made in Japan; Sequoias in the US. I also have a '96 T-100 4WD-made in Japan -- no problems at 191K. So could it be that if your vehicle is manufactured in Japan as opposed to Indiana, it will be less prone to problems? Anyone out there have an answer?

20th Jan 2009, 13:52

2002 Outback, 122K miles. Having head gaskets replaced now for the 4th time. Independent mechanic tells me that using the Turbo gaskets will solve the problem. Also having pistons replaced because of piston slap problem, which was causing lots of oil consumption (1-2 quarts between oil changes). Dealer and Subaru covered first 3 HG replacements, although each time they assured me that it was now fixed for good. (I no longer trust Subaru dealers to give me an honest answer about a repair...). Piston slap problem on this one was identified at 10,000 miles, the first winter I owned the car, but Subaru refused to do anything about it, claimed it was normal. I'm paying upwards of $2500 for these repairs, but it's cheaper than buying a new car. However, I am not going to buy another Subaru when this one wears out. It's nice, but the inconvenience of having it in the shop (regardless of who pays) makes it not worth the hassle.

3rd Feb 2009, 14:21

I also bought a Subaru because of its reputation for reliability. Mine is a 2005 Outback 2.5XT purchased in June of 2006. At less than a year, about 9000 miles, the clutch failed; it was rebuilt under warranty. Last month at about 30K miles, it failed catastrophically while my wife was on a trip. This time Subaru maintained that it was because of the way it was driven. This might be reasonable explanation in some cases, like a young kid racing in a WRX. However, I have been a driver for over 40 years, most of that time in vehicles with manual transmissions and I have never having gotten a speeding ticket; I don’t think I can be considered someone who tears up a transmission. In fact, my current commuting vehicle is a 1993 Toyota pickup with 290K and it has had only one clutch replaced, somewhere around 225K. I have never had a clutch go out before 100K in a US, Japanese or European vehicle.

While their might not be an epidemic of these problems, there are enough reports to make me wonder if there is some sort of intrinsic problem with the clutch design and/or this specific vehicle.

I tried to talk to SOA about this and they stand by their decision. So I will stand by mine and get rid of this as soon as possible and get a reliable vehicle, another Toyota.

8th Feb 2009, 05:08

Own 2 Subarus, a 2001 Outback wagon with 60,000 or so miles, and a 2004 Outback sedan with 40,000 miles. Both have had to have the head gaskets replaced. The 2001 happened in Feb 2008 and the 2004 in Feb 2009. That's a 100% failure rate. What is happening with these cars? Subaru did take care of this, both cars were bought new and have always been serviced by the dealer. Just hoping that this works.

29th Dec 2009, 02:40

Not sure if anyone here has any mechanical background!! Subaru has multiple problems; some minor from wind baffle due poor door design, wheel bearings, window/sunroof leaks. And some major problems such as the infamous head gasket, premature timing belt failure, manual 5sp tranny failure, and burning through clutches. Additionally here in CO they go at a premium, why? They are way over rated as are Toyota, but still better than any US brand.

22nd Jul 2010, 12:12

After my wife died, I just left her Subaru outside for 14 years. Snow, ice, rain and heat. I sold it two months ago to a boy that loved older Subaru's. He asked if it worked?

I told him I doubt it. I never drained the gas, oil... nothing.

He took from his car a portable battery and a can of 'starting fluid'. He shot the fluid into the air cleaner housing while his friend turned the key.

The car jumped to life! It purred and kept going.

I am now on my third Outback. I have never... never... had a problem.