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Subaru ownership


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I'm considering joining the Subaru clan, potentially looking at a petrol Outback as a way of getting away from diesel DPF issues while wanting the space/ability of an SUV. And we're probably talking 2009 - 2016 Outback, I know that covers 2 versions but I'm not up with what "gens" they are.

I'm a little unsure of Subaru though. On the one hand I read reviews commenting on the reliability, rugged construction and such like, on the other hand I see youtube videos of major engine issues or rusted out subframes or forum threads of people having to do complete engine swaps and the like.

So I'm hoping for some honest feedback on the reality of ownership compared to other major manufacturers. Now I realise that an owners club is perhaps likely to contain members more favourably disposed to the brand than those against. But please don't take that the wrong way, as an ex Lotus owner (some years ago now) I realise that certain brands encourage a loyalty that is based upon the notable plus sides even despite the fact that might mean greater "input" from the owner than would be expected from other mainstream manufacturers.

I guess I'd just like to know up front if it's likely to be a Lotus type experience of great highs accompanied by great lows or not so I know what I'm getting in to.

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It is as you say there are polar opposites on experience, whilst I have not owned many Subarus, in comparison to some, I have had x2 different experiences. First owned a standard STI  - no issues what so ever, was maintained slightly ahead of the manual with more regular oil changes and it never missed a beat, used in all weathers but cleaned regularly and had no rust when sold. Next was an RX so NA engine had for some time used as a daily in all weathers, maintained with more regular oil changes and cleaned regularly - no issues and now with the inlaws still going strong.

Reading about engine failures etc For my next STI I went for a specialist 'built' motor to avoid the potential issues with ringland failure - within 1000 miles of my ownership I caught a gasket failure before it had chance to do any further damage - going through the car I found a lot more issues due to rubbish / shoddy workmanship.

Another STI on the drive, higher mileage engine had rebuilt using uprated gasket and bolts but standard internals, so far so good - some issues with rust on this one but it is being managed.


The outback owners would not necessarily be thrashing the living daylights out of their cars but an owner may not be as diligent on the maintenance schedule. Look for an example with a history and if see if you can get it on a ramp to check the underside (Beware of underseal it can be there to hide as well as protect)

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Avoid cars that have lived in Scotland, excess road salt but that goes for many cars not just Subarus.

I'll second finding the best maintained you can and continue with that regime.

I have no experience of the new models, we've had a H6 Outback which was bomb proof and the current Forester XT which has needed the not needed auxilliary air pumps removing and deleting from the ecu, other than that its been regular good maintenance with no breakdowns or failures to proceed.

We would have a newer Outback but will not have an electric park brake out of principle (also the reason  why a Toyota Avensis estate isn't sitting on the drive) because it was something no one asked for and adds unecessary complication and cost for no benefits whatsoever other than to cater for people who can't control their vehicles competently.

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Thanks Judd. Never heard of auxiliary air pumps, are they just on the Forester? What do they do? And yes, I'm a bit puzzled about the need for an electric handbrake, I have experienced on another car without issue though so I suppose it's not enough to put me off.

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Those air pumps were fitted to the 2.5 turbocharged engines, not sure what others they might be found on, far as i know they only run for 30 seconds or so after a cold start to help keep initial emissions down, they all seem to fail eventually. Very expensive to replace, best taken off and programmed out.

In my humble the number one reason for buying a Subaru is the transmission and how it makes the car totally safe and secure in almost all road conditions, allows you to take advantage of the superior grip if in a hurry without looking a right plank with the typcal tyre squealing antics other cars suffer from.   The downside to the transmission is in fuel usage, its a lot of transmission to drag around when not needed compared to other AWD systems, but given some decent servicing the transmission seldom gives any issues unlike others which cancels out the cost.

I wouldn't buy a Subaru Diesel of any age unless so cheap i could scrap it if and when it failed.

The downside to Subarus is that there isn't a high number of good indy mechanics you could trust one to, aftermarket parts supplies except for normal service/friction parts isn't great and dealer parts are very expensive, on the good side if you look after them with good regular servicing (paying extra attention to the brakes** as you should with all Japanese cars) the chances of needing big repairs is low in my experience.

** that's just one of the reasons i'm so against electric park brakes, makes normal brake maintenance more involved and more difficult than it need be to exercise the pistons in their bores during routine servicing, a practice that together with good regular cleaning/lubing will see you with superb brakes that stop and wear better with calipers that can literally last forever.

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