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Old 09-01-2014, 06:27 PM   #1
CodeMonkee OP
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Newbie to Subbies (subarus) - considering one - school me?

Nowt a new Subaru, but an older used one, probably either a Baja or a Forester (1st or 2nd gen - not the SUV sized ones sold now).

The Baja appeals to me - wish they still made something like that or the Brat (Brat being too old for what I want).

About 2 years ago I moved up here on a "mountain" (only about 1300 ft, but it is officially a mountain). Last two miles of road is gravel, sometimes snow in the winter, roads are always wet. I already dinged up my car (10 year old BMW coupe) by not paying attention and sliding off the road in the gravel on a downhill corner. The roads are curvy and slick in the winter.

I want an economical small AWD car that gets decent mileage.

I already have two 4x4 trucks - but I don't drive them much and they are not good on slick roads because they are 4x4, not all-time AWD, and the best either of them does is 20 MPG. When I retire I will use them more.

Right now I drive 30 miles each way commuting to work, so fuel efficiency is a concern. My BImmer gets 26 to 30 MPG depending on season (ethanol in the winter decreases mileage).

I want something more practical. It is only me, myself and I, so a smaller car is better - 99% of the time it is just me going back and forth to work. About every other week I have to pick something up, like groceries or something from Home Depot. I am tired of dealing with the limits of hauling something like a pressure washer or tiller in the BMW - it just isn't going to happen, and I would prefer something that is a little more utilitarian for my daily driver.

So what should I avoid with Subarus?

What are the better engines and transmissions, etc.?

I want a five speed manual, not an automatic.
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Old 09-01-2014, 07:04 PM   #2
hankgs
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Baja's

The Baja'a are becoming somewhat rare and if you can find a clean one, it will be around $7-$8k
My Mom actually has a 2005 basic, non turbo'ed automatic. Last I checked it out, it only had 80K miles on it!
We have had 3 WRX's and now a Crosstrek- No issues with ANY of them what so ever. I have added power chips and cat back exhaust to all the WRx's- I change oil every 3-5K and other fluids as required. They are great in the snow and sand and will not need any big service until 100k.
Good luck and good hunting!
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Old 09-01-2014, 07:51 PM   #3
JustKip
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CodeMonkee View Post
So what should I avoid with Subarus?
2.5L 4 cyl. thru the first decade of this century, at least. Notorious head gasket problems
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Old 09-02-2014, 12:49 AM   #4
Rob Farmer
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I had a 2002 2 litre sport forester. Lots of trouble with the fi system that turned out to be a cracked header (they're double skinned) replaced under warranty after weeks of misdiagnosis.

Mine was a manual and suffered with a warped clutch plate again replaced under warranty (twice).

The load area floor is just a thin piece of ply so doesn't take anything substantial

Once the issues were ironed out it was a pretty decent car. I took a huge hit on it when I sold it though.

I wouldn't buy another though. The Subaru dealers in the uk are pretty weak.
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:59 AM   #5
ddavidv
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Originally Posted by JustKip View Post
2.5L 4 cyl. thru the first decade of this century, at least. Notorious head gasket problems
Mostly pre-Baja. Post-2002 it is a much rarer occurrence.
http://users.sisna.com/ignatius/subaru/headgasket.html
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:33 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustKip View Post
2.5L 4 cyl. thru the first decade of this century, at least. Notorious head gasket problems
Yes, from the late '90's to 2010. It's at least $1500 to fix, or 2 days of your life you'll never, ever, EVER get back.
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:08 AM   #7
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I loved my Baja! Get a manual...The auto trans sucked and didn't get much power out of the engine. The timing belt must be replaced at 60 k and that's really the only major maintenance item. Mine started to burn a little oil at 100k before the (ex) wife sold it.

Uncomfortable back seat but who cares about anyone back there? It was absolutely bullet proof handling Colorado ice and snow (put proper sneakers on it) and the ice and rain in Orygun. If it's about 100 k and no one has done the timing belt be a little more suspicious. My only major mechanical problem was the clutch went out about at about 120 k. It was actually a fairly cheap repair at the dealer in Albany as I recall.
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Lovin' it Strom screwed with this post 09-02-2014 at 07:10 AM Reason: fixing auto correct bullshit
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:57 AM   #8
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^^Timing belt interval is 105k miles, NOT 60k miles.
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Old 09-02-2014, 09:50 AM   #9
The PacRat
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lovin' it Strom View Post
I loved my Baja! Get a manual...The auto trans sucked and didn't get much power out of the engine. The timing belt must be replaced at 60 k and that's really the only major maintenance item. Mine started to burn a little oil at 100k before the (ex) wife sold it.

Uncomfortable back seat but who cares about anyone back there? It was absolutely bullet proof handling Colorado ice and snow (put proper sneakers on it) and the ice and rain in Orygun. If it's about 100 k and no one has done the timing belt be a little more suspicious. My only major mechanical problem was the clutch went out about at about 120 k. It was actually a fairly cheap repair at the dealer in Albany as I recall.
Did you ever tow with your Baja? If so, what and how much did it weigh? Just curious - I think the Baja can tow 2400lb, but not sure if trailer brake is necessary for that kind of load.
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Old 09-02-2014, 11:44 AM   #10
thechickencow
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I don't think the head gasket issues on the older 2.5L's are enough to stay away from them completely, just either make sure they were done or you have ability to do them.

I've had a '02 WRX, an '07 forester, and a '14 Outback. I loved them all.
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Old 09-02-2014, 12:09 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by thechickencow View Post
I don't think the head gasket issues on the older 2.5L's are enough to stay away from them completely, just either make sure they were done or you have ability to do them.
Or you have the ability to pay for the repair. My GF did not, so a friend & I did it over a weekend.

This little FOIBLE, and several other Lucasesque electrical problems have soured me completely on Subarus. You couldn't GIVE me one of the tin shitboxes.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:37 PM   #12
hankgs
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^^^

Maybe your G/F had no clue how to drive with a clutch- Just sayin; Not sure why ADV riders take the time to shit on other peoples choices for motorcycles or vehicles- I guess it makes haters feel better about themselves...

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Old 09-02-2014, 05:18 PM   #13
James Adams
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Any of the older subarus with the 2.0L or 2.2L were decent and not known for head gasket issues like the 2.5L engines.
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hankgs View Post
Maybe your G/F had no clue how to drive with a clutch- Just sayin; Not sure why ADV riders take the time to shit on other peoples choices for motorcycles or vehicles- I guess it makes haters feel better about themselves...
The OP asked for advice and experience and that's what Nailhead gave him no? I don't see that as shitting on his choice.
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:44 PM   #15
hankgs
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The OP asked for advice and experience and that's what Nailhead gave him no? I don't see that as shitting on his choice.
I read it as it wasn't even his car, so he worked on a clutch replacement on a g/f car... I live by a Porsche, Audi and Mercedes dealer- Those must be shitty cars, 'cause their work stations are loaded with cars- I would never own one of those shitboxes!
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