Subaru Outback Problems
No car is perfect, but we've gathered everything relating to the Subaru Outback reliability here to help you decide if it's a smart buy.
Should we replace our Holden Commodore with a Subaru Outback?
A car with a little extra ground clearance is great for camping as it often allows you to get a little farther away from the masses in their caravans who tend to huddle around the shower block at bush campsites.
The Subaru Outback is a good, solid choice and if you can find an independent workshop to service it, you’ll avoid the cost of dealership prices. And you’re right, the all-wheel-drive would be great for gravel roads. Another vehicle to look at would be a late-model Ford territory diesel which is big and clever inside and has the option of all-wheel-drive. The diesel engine is a plus on the bush where that fuel is more readily available (in really remote areas) and gives you more range for big holidays in the mulga.
Don’t rule out things like the Mitsubishi Pajero, either, which won’t be as around-town friendly, but is a proven quantity and is absolutely tremendous off-road. The same goes for a Toyota Prado or Nissan Pathfinder prior to the current model (which is a bit less hard-core adventure).
Subaru Outback 2001-2009: Any known issues with the head gasket?
You’re absolutely spot on, Craig, although my info suggests the problems started occurring in the Outback model as early as 2000. For other Subaru models, head gasket failures have been an issue since the mid-90s. Then trade seems to think that the typical fail-point is somewhere between the 120,000km and 200,000km mark, but I’ve heard of cases of cars much younger than this suffering gasket failure.
So what causes it? Fundamentally, it was a bad design in the head gaskets Subaru was using at the time. The gaskets were a composite type, made up of thin metal sheets that were coated with a graphite-based material. Frankly, they were duds and it’s this simple fact that has caused so many Subaru owners so much grief over the years. Subaru eventually changed the design of the gaskets around 2011 and the problem just stopped.
You can spot a Subaru with a head-gasket problem a couple of ways. For a start, the failed gasket will allow coolant to escape and that will lead to the engine overheating. So, a car that runs hot after a distance is a likely suspect.
Early failures tended to allow the coolant to leak internally (where it was consumed by the engine) but later generations of the Subaru motor started to experience external leaks and these, obviously, are much easier to spot. Look for an oil leak from around the sealing surface of the head and crankcase and coolant on the ground under the car each morning.
The really weird part of all this was that Subarus tend to be otherwise very reliable and durable and, serviced correctly, can cover huge distances. But the problem was made worse by the fact that the Subaru flat-four engine actually has two cylinder-head gaskets, instead of the one of most four-cylinder engines. Replacement of the dud gaskets is the only fix and it’s quite a big – and expensive – job.
Subaru Outback 2019: CVT issues
The CVT is a relatively new thing having been developed in the 1970s, so there are still teething problems that can crop up with them. But they are now quite reliable and getting more so all the time. I wouldn't be overly concerned about the reports you read.
Subaru Outback 2010: What oil and coolant should I use?
Use a good quality 5W-30 A3/B4 engine oil. You can buy coolant ready mixed or in concentrated form when you need to mix it. Whichever, choose a good quality coolant from a respected brand like Castrol, Shell etc.
Subaru Outback: Replacement key cost
The cost of a new key fob will depend on the variant and year. You can read more about how to replace your car keys here.
The reality is that cars wear out, and yours is now a relatively old one. I don’t see that Subaru should replace the convertor free of charge; after all you have had the use of the convertor for eight years. The best course of action I believe would be to approach Subaru with a request of a good will payment to cover at least a part of the cost.
Subaru Forester 2019: Would luggage be thrown forward in an accident?
The cargo cover will certainly help to restrain the luggage in the event of a crash, but it probably wouldn’t stop it altogether in a major altercation. A proper cargo barrier behind the rear seat would be more effective.
What car should I buy for $70,000?
You’ve pretty much covered the field there, so it should come down to what you want from your car. Do you want comfort, safety, fuel efficiency, offroad capability, cabin space? If you are mostly driving on the highway, then a diesel SUV is probably the best bet. I would rule out a dual-cab ute because of comfort, unless you need the flexibility a ute gives you. I would rule out a hybrid, they’re not at their most efficient on the highway; they’re better suited to town use. Based on your annual mileage I wouldn’t keep the car any more than 3-4 years, that way you’ll have a decent resale value when you get out of it.
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Subaru Outback: Does it have a good warranty?
If the shorter warranty of the Subaru is a major concern for you then certainly look at others, like the Sportage or Eclipse, but I would buy the Outback with confidence it will give you a good run beyond the warranty.