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First time Subaru owner, maybe last!


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Hello all, I am joining following multiple recommendations from other forums like Pistonheads etc.

I bought a 2007 3.0 Outback(gold, 52000 miles automatic) last year locally during lockdown. I have been a serial Volvo owner for decades but they havent made anything I want since 2000, and my daily T5 was approaching 21 years old so thought it needed a rest. I have admired the mid 2000s Outbacks for years and thought why not.

I was first tempted by JDM imports but they were really expensive, mostly older 2003 etc, and I worried about inurance and the disparity between their high purchase price vs typical UK book price in the event of an accident. However I now wish I'd taken the plunge*.

So Ive had this  a while now and love and hate it in equal measure. I love the driving position; silence; comfort; grip in snow; equipment level; and general exclusivity.

The bits I don't like are few but significant; it drinks like a fish (21-23mpg driving like a vicar); has a tiny fuel tank (and therefore range so it alerts my missus to the fuel problem every week when I fill up), and rust. And more rust. Did I mention rust? That where I wish I had gone JDM. I often read people complaining that the first thing they had to do on JDMs was spend a couple of hundred quid on rustproofing but cripes isnt it better starting with a blank clean slate?

My long term MOT tester was unfazed when he looked underneath, "all like that" etc. but coming from a 90s Volvo where it doesnt even register in your brain, its was a bit of a shock. I find jobs take twice as long due to parts being welded together, and cost that much more as every job needs a bag of new fixings to replace the eroded ones (I even asked for a plumbers blowlamp for Christmas its been worth it).

Sooo....I do like it but I keep my cars for decades and I dont think this will last like my Volvos did. Very sad really as its truly beautiful and the engineering integrity that has gone into the car is obvious in most places (except the washer bottle....a dipstick instead of a low level light, what? 😄). I'm on the fence, but it will probably be here a bit longer seeing as anything that does the whole winter 4x4 estate thing and is remotely as good (XC70/Allroad) costs nearly twice as much £££ for the same year model.

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Car lived in the North all its life presumably? subject to heavy salting every year.

The problem with Subarus and Japanese 4x4's in general (i own a Landcruiser 120 series (Prado) too), is that they are very very reliable and first owners sadly do not always take care of them as they should, i'm referring in particular to so many owners not giving the slightest thought to washing the salt off the underbelly every now and again during the winter, and especially around April time when every car shold get a decent underbody wash down to remove the encrusted salt.

Last year especially will have taken a heavy toll on subframes and brake hardware in particular due to national house arrest courtesy of the lunatics in Downing St, many cars stood during the early rains when simply being driven would have helped remove the salt for the bone idle who can't manage this simple task for themselves, this especially applies the further North the car lives due to the heavier salting used.

Yes 3.0 litre powerful full time all wheel drive automatics are heavy on fuel, but you'd be pushed to find any petrol engined all wheel drive of a similar size and power of a similar age that would be any better, that fantastic all weather unshakeable grip comes at a cost.

The thing with these cars is to find one that isn't rusted underneath to start with and then to take some action in rust prevention yourself to help prevent it getting any worse, i rust proof all my cars soon as i get them, they get washed underneath regularly and will all get a mega clean in April when the salt has gone and then i'll have them up in the air and fully strip clean and lube the brakes (all Japanese cars suffer from seizing calipers if you don't service them properly) and then top up the rustproofing as required, i make it a policy never to buy a car that's lived in Scotland or the North because you're starting out with a rusty used example to begin with unless you were lucky enough to find one with a rare decent early ownership.

Talking of fuel, our Forester XT is just as heavy on fuel as our previous Outback H6, had them both LPG converted, it's not the answer for everyone but suits us.

 

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Yep, lived in Wooler, deepest darkest Northumberland 😄 probably spend the first 4 years up to the door handles in mud.

Previous owner loved the car and have receipts for thousands (including rustproofing) but he was fighting a losing battle. Some of the bills he had from the main dealers (£900 for rear hubs, rotors and backplates) I imagine were so high because they were just a ball of rust and not possible to replace components just the whole shebang.

A shame he was also stiffed for several hundreds replacing front discs and pads to cure a reported "front end graunching", which I have subsequenlty found to be the sliders and one piston rusted solid. Why dont dealers dig deeper? Without exception every single car I have ever bought with the prized "FULL SERVICE HISTORY" has had seized braking components. Not just stiiff, but seized absoltely solid, and that includes posh stuff like Astons and Jags. I do my own maintenance for this very reason.

To be fair to Subaru...Volvo brake calipers are rusty seize prone !Removed! as well, probably the most obvious component on them that is patently cheap and nasty.

The fuel, I don't expect miracles, most of my long termers have struggled to break 30mpg even on a run, but sailing so close to 20 is a squeeker on a daily. Worst I ever had was a 2005 V70R (the 300hp one) which did 19, all day, every day. Most peopel look at me like I need sectioning, but running older cars and DIYing maintenance evens out.

LPG, if the car was rot free I would think about it; maybe I should get a JDM and do that? But that would send a 2003 up towards 10 grand, can you imagine the battle with insurers  if it was ever wiped out?

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Yes to Volvo brake issues, son had an S60 and when we stripped the brakes found one of the park brake shoes had delaminated the friction material, apparently a regular issue which in extreme circs can lock the rear wheel solid.

Like you most of my maintenance is DIY, and i always overservice my cars because i've found it pays in the long run.

Brake issues are a serious problem on cars, with good reason, because as far as i know (and this might have changed since we sold the Hilux, the only new vehicle i've ever or will ever own) apart from Toyota not one of the maker's servicing requirements involve proper routine brake servicing, where brake pads and any drums are removed, parts cleaned checked and re-assembled with the correct lubrication, most of the car buying public don't have a clue about such things themselves, how many people apart from  the generally more mechanically minded and sensible with money East Europeans that may live near you, do you see ever doing anything to their cars other than washing and polishing the topside, i'm sure half of them have never checked an engine oil level in their lives, our trouble is finding those rare used cars that haven't been neglected all their lives, increasingly difficult.

The bills your previous owner suffered has some competition, we bought a 10 year old Merc W124 E320 estate, one owner jobbie with every receipt inc the original invoice in the file, basic car cost £31k in 1993 and had a grand total of £19k in extras fitted (still wasn't as high specced as your car in standard form), but the service history read like a blackmailer's wet dream, no bill under £500, some around the £3000 mark yet the two MB dealers never failed to top the bill up to max with piddling amounts for windscreen wash and sump washers etc, aircon system failed replaced twice (and still wasn't working), self levelling suspension replacement in the £thousands, everything that could fail did fail and continued in the short time we owned it.

Rust issues are just the same with Landcruisers, again almost all down to where its lived and the care previous owners took, got very lucky with my present one, well heeled previous owners living in the south really looked after it, if i hadn't found this one then a JDM grey was on the cards.

Have JDM prices really gone up so much, when i last looked about 4 years ago Outbacks were pretty sensibly priced, Prados like mine reasonable.

On fuel, we had the previous shape H6, 2002 model, on petrol or LPG it generally ran around the 23mpg mark general running, my commute is not an easy journey, about the same as the Forester XT, i would have expected your Outback to be slightly better being newer.

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We get a lot of early to late 2K Outbacks in and they generally not bad for corrosion unless use and location more severe .
I never seen many low mileage cars that generally that good as parked up does them no good unless in dry garage and short trips and B roads takes bigger toll than 4 times mileage on long runs and motorways .
Same with FSH and 1 owner, 2 or 3 owners tends mean fresh start and bit more money thrown at them and if seen 2 or 3 garages one of them may of been extra diligent and done good work, Dealers are useless on older cars generally as they too use to easy work and cutting corners on newer vehicles and charges so high lot of jobs don't get authorised by owners .
If you particularly like the car an option could be find another free from rust and with lpg, perhaps swap interior and anything better from yours  (about weakest point on these can be seats real scruffy) .
If rust on your current one mainly subframe and suspension arms then it could be resolved fairly easily but cost of lpg install hard justify .
They not that desirable and don't sell as fast as foresters do so plenty decent ones can be found at negotiable prices if willing travel a little and have some time wait out a decent example .

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