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mdshaw Reader
12/10/20 2:32 a.m.

What keeps turbo Subaru fans keep replacing/rebuilding, blowing up, repeating their motors? For years I've seen this from a distance. We rented a house with a shop to 2 brothers that had 7 Subarus between them & were die-hard Subaru fans. I would tease them that they had to have so many Subarus so they could have 1 that ran so they could get to work.  I had my MR2 Turbo with a 4th gen Caldina swap that the biggest problem I ever had was that the electro power steering relay contacts would stick & cycling the key 4-5 times would free the contacts. They were always rebuilding their turbo motors. Even an STI they had, it blew up again after @ 3 months. Even my wife's Audi allroad was more reliable with 200,000 miles on it. Even my eg civic that I rebuilt the gsr motor myself & had a street tune was vastly more reliable than any of their Subarus. Granted it wasn't turbo charged. Years ago we had a '01 Forester na. Even it had a recall on the head gaskets. I bought it with 99,500 miles on it, drove it to a Subaru dealer & they replaced the head gaskets. The recall was good up to 100,000 miles. Asked them to do the timing belt at the same time.  It was a good car until a deer killed it. 

Anyway to the point. Our daughter bought a '06 Baja Turbo auto.  I was really busy rebuilding a hurricane destroyed house & didn't object to her getting this car.  It drove good for about 2 months. We  did the timing belt on it since it has 150,000 & the belt showed signs of needing to be done.  We also attempted to fix a chronic oil leak coming from the top of the motor somewhere- with new pvc valve & almost every hose. While having the intake off, noticed writing on the motor that was obviously indicating that the motor had been replaced. Also did the spark plugs which are almost impossible to get the coils off of since the frame rails are so close.  I hadn't driven it & she just drives easy to work & home. Anyway she decided to sell it since it had a new timing belt, water pump & tensioners & we thought the oil leak was fixed.

2 people came to drive it & both said it didn't accelerate correctly because both of their friends had Baja turbos & theirs were much faster. Our daughter never drove it hard & didn't know about the sluggish acceleration.  There aren't any cels so wasn't something obvious. I hooked up my Fire tablet & Torque pro & made some display gauges.  We did some 0-60 tests & afr's, boost, load, temp etc are fine. Although it's 0-60 is about 13 seconds. It's just really sluggish. It builds boost to @9 psi though. Also when trying to accelerate quickly the auto doesn't want to shift out of 1st. Kicking the shifter over to manual & slapping it up to 2nd, it shifts fine. I've read where possibly the up-pipe to the turbo might be clogged but reading about replacing that doesn't sound fun.

So now we have slow acceleration, oil leaks still, auto trans that won't shift out of 1st when really pushing it, now last week the coolant was low so now possibly head gasket issues,  also did the rear brakes & there is underbody rust so it must have been from somewhere where the roads are salted. Not sure how it wound up in Florida. 

I'm at the point of selling it for whatever we can get for it & paying our daughter the difference since I feel so bad that I didn't check it out before she got it. 

Any Subaru experts want a challenge?


ChrisLS8 (Forum Supporter)
ChrisLS8 (Forum Supporter) Reader
12/10/20 2:51 a.m.

Glass trannies.

Weak ringlands, head gasket issues out the ass, fairly unresponsive to tuning or they require alot more investment to make good power. 

Boxer motors are a pain to work on.

AWD system is great however it's hindered by the glass transmissions.

I do not like how they sound. They improve with equal length headers.

The crowd that follows them isn't that great as well. 

Evo>STI change my mind






thedoc HalfDork
12/10/20 4:59 a.m.

I am really new to the subaru world, and I am just experiencing it through my son and some of my friends.  I'm getting the feel that they are as Jeremy Clarkson described Alfa's, that when everything is running and right, the car is so great that you forgive all else.  My son picked up a 2002 wrx, I knew jack about them, other than my friends loved theirs, headgaskets, timing belts, headgaskets, timing belts, head gaskets...you get the point.  They are also one of the more popular cars in maine, you can guess why.  The car is roomy, comfortable and really quick.  Really fun.  I can see why people love them.

I was surprised to see something on subaru's website that said the drawbacks were worth the fun of the boxer engine.  I do know people who have had great luck with their cars, I know people who will never touch a  Ford, Honda, Kia or Chevy all because they had a lemon.  I have had several honda's and my last one was such a piece of junk I can see why people would think they all are. Bought that sucker brand new too.

I get your point, you also point out that you didn't do a ppi on this subaru.  We were going to buy a subaru for my daughter, the car was beautiful, fast, sunroofs and turbo'd.  For whatever reason, I had a ppi done and my mechanic came back with a list of things wrong with the car.  One of which was the turbo and that model was known for issues.  Funny, the issues required you to keep an eye on the car so when it went wrong, it was your fault.   I'm starting to think that subaru's are like a relationship with a woman...if you get my drift.

Now I'm thinking

kevinatfms Reader
12/10/20 6:46 a.m.

I rented a Crosstrek when i went to a wedding in upstate NY. It was the single most abysmal rental car ive ever had the displeasure of renting. Slow, unresponsive and that stupid transmission just made every minute in the car a headache. It had near zero power. The chassis jostled all over the place. The doors felt like floppy noodles. The dash rattled. The exhaust droned from anywhere over 15mph and was just straight infuriating on the highway.

Just a flat garbage vehicle in every single aspect and every time i see one on the highway i wonder how the idiot who actually bought one came to the conclusion it was worth it. I rented one for 3 days and wanted to drive it into a tree after the first hour stint on the highway.

pontiacstogo Reader
12/10/20 8:10 a.m.

I bought a new WRX as my daily driver last year.  I don't beat the hell out of it, but I don't baby it either.  It's been flawlessly reliable needing only scheduled oil changes and tire rotations.  There are faster cars out there for sure, and it definitely has some quirks (clutch take up is awkward at best). 

Bottom line -  it's reliable and puts a grin on my face every time I drive it.

Daily Driver - WRX or Charger R/T?| Off-Topic Discussion forum | (grassrootsmotorsports.com)

bruceman Reader
12/10/20 8:16 a.m.

As a Mazda rotary fan boy I understand this.

There is no 12 step program to fix this

1988RedT2 MegaDork
12/10/20 8:25 a.m.

As the thoroughly disappointed owner of a normally aspirated Subaru, I always figured that the only way anyone would put up with such a sad excuse for a vehicle was if it was turbocharged and actually made some power.  But logically, if their n/a engines fall apart so easily, adding boost will not improve the situation.

Not buying another Subaru anytime soon. 

RX8driver Reader
12/10/20 8:28 a.m.

Their popularity is because there's really nothing else that directly competes with it for AWD, manual, not slow without going to something quite a bit more expensive (Golf R, Focus RS, Evo).


That's why I've got a 2015 WRX as my daily driver. We get up to a foot of snow overnight sometimes and I need something that'll get me to work. That said, the 2015 have different engines and transmissions than the old ones and I don't have any plans for more power, so I think I'll be ok for reliability. I've got over 100,000 kms and there have been no issues with it at all.

sobe_death Dork
12/10/20 8:41 a.m.

Not to mention the incurable turbo lag, no matter the engine/turbo combo, even with the tiny VF11 turbos.  The only one I've ever driven that didn't lag had a nitrous setup purely to use down low.  It also ate transmissions like they were Australian licorice...

Rodan Dork
12/10/20 8:42 a.m.

Our 2005 Legacy GT was a very nice car.  Priced lower, at the time, than anything else with AWD, equivalent power and leather interior.  I did a cat-back exhaust and tune, nothing crazy, basic suspension stuff and brake pads.  It was an enjoyable car and did everything I asked of it.  Only real issue was a rear wheel bearing that was replaced under warranty.  One minor issue was the HVAC auto temp control had trouble keeping a steady temp.  Maybe we just didn't keep it long enough, as we sold it off ~100k miles?

Had the 2009 Legacy update continued to improve it as a sports sedan that was a bit upscale from the WRX/STI, we may have bough another.  Instead, the Legacy went all Camrycord and got ugly and boring.  STI performance hasn't really progressed in 15 years, so I just kind of lost interest in Subaru, and it appears that was fortuitous.

Brake_L8 (Forum Supporter)
Brake_L8 (Forum Supporter) Reader
12/10/20 9:06 a.m.

I get the appeal of the WRX/STI to a point. But their interiors have been and still are pretty lackluster so my interest has been minimal.

My folks have a 2011 Outback 3.6R (naturally aspirated boxer six-cylinder) which has a real 5AT, not a CVT. The front-end design is hideous and I hate how it drives. It's burning a bit of oil now with all of 70k on the odometer. The only redeeming quality to me is the back seat is comfortable for six-footers.

Streetwiseguy MegaDork
12/10/20 9:11 a.m.

It all depends on your point of view.  As a service shop, you always want to specialize in a terribly unreliable car line that people love.  Hence, Subaru, Volkswagen and BMW owners always have a wide range of shops available.

rslifkin UberDork
12/10/20 9:22 a.m.

On top of the mechanical issues, Subaru paint is also garbage, or at least it was on everything up to a few years ago (not sure if it's gotten better on the newest stuff).  It scratches like butter.  And if you wait a day to clean off some bird poop, good luck.  I've seen significant etching in the clear after 24 hours.  Never seen any other car suffer paint damage that easily. 

Appleseed MegaDork
12/10/20 9:32 a.m.

Turbo Subarus get a bad rap from bros adding a lil more boost, lil more boost with zero tuning. Then the internet takes hold and blows it up. No pun intended.

Yes there are lemons. I liken Subaru to a Japanese Chrysler. Fun cars, with somewhat suspect build quality. 

buzzboy Dork
12/10/20 9:50 a.m.

Subaru has an incredible marketing department. Does the average Subaru buyer need "Symmetric All Wheel Drive" (do they still call it that?)? And they've stuck to their guns on boxer engines only. Again, does the average SUV/Crossover driver benefit from the low COG of a boxer? I understand AWD for the Subaru drivers who see snow/ice.  I understand boxers for performance driving. But the advertisers/marketers have sold the idea that everybody needs this added complexity in a Subaru.

rslifkin UberDork
12/10/20 9:52 a.m.

In reply to buzzboy :

Thanks for reminding me of why I hate Subaru's advertising...  I'll never forgive those shiny happy people for the ad they put out probably 8 or 9 years ago talking about how Subarus are AWD so you don't need snow tires anymore and can just go without all that extra fussing while the car magically takes care of it. 

jharry3 HalfDork
12/10/20 9:52 a.m.

I had a 2009 WRX for a while.  Other than the shifter sucked even with upgraded bushings I had no problems with it.  I never modified it, drove quickly but not abusingly.   It wasn't crazy fast but it definitely was capable.  I put Michelin Pilots on it and grip was more than sufficient for sporty driving on the street.

 I did sell it before the big dollar maintenance items were going to come up.  Like timing belt, plugs, stuff like that.  

tb (minimally supportive)
tb (minimally supportive) Dork
12/10/20 10:03 a.m.

I disagree, and I am not alone. You are entitled to your opinion, but do not mistake it for a fact.

thedoc HalfDork
12/10/20 10:10 a.m.

In reply to rslifkin :

What about the "love" ads?  How did that ever get out of the boardroom?  Maybe something was lost in translation?

Matt B (fs)
Matt B (fs) UltraDork
12/10/20 10:19 a.m.

We've had a 2011 WRX for 5 years now. Aside from a couple of leaks (hose & power steering) it's been reliable with daily duties in ATL traffic, a bunch of road trips, autocrossing, hooning, etc.  That said, it's been our only Subaru ownership experience and we bought it fairly new, stock, and well maintained.

Every time one of these threads come up I think about similar Volkswagen discussions and there's always a couple of people who chime in to say, "dunno, mine's been fine".  Apparently I'm one of those now. 

z31maniac MegaDork
12/10/20 10:25 a.m.
RX8driver said:

Their popularity is because there's really nothing else that directly competes with it for AWD, manual, not slow without going to something quite a bit more expensive (Golf R, Focus RS, Evo).

The STi is between $38-43k depending on Trim and options............in other words, the same as what these cost.......and the last two when they were still available. 

As for all the blowing up stuff, I'm with Appleseed on this one. Guys running canned tunes, or trying to do it themselves, and then add on top just beating on the cars mercilessly. "Glass transmissions" again from what I gather, basically no transmission is going to stand up to repeated clutch drops with 400+ lb-ft of torque (assuming the car is tuned).

buzzboy Dork
12/10/20 10:39 a.m.

"I love my subaru so I parked a perfectly fine car out in a field a bought a new one"


My mom has owned 7 or 8 Subarus(she was a new car every 3 years kinda person) and I ended up driving her final one for a few years and ~50k miles. 2004 Forester, 2.5 SOHC, 5speed. It was fine. Comfy seats, decent controls, decent handling, killer HVAC, buzzy on the insterstate, average 28mpg highway. Great appliance but from what I've heard I was lucky that I never had any mechanical or electrical issues.

Toyman01 (Moderately Supportive Dude)
Toyman01 (Moderately Supportive Dude) MegaDork
12/10/20 10:41 a.m.

I've driven two Subaru in m life. The STI was quick but had some bizarre handling that was probably caused by the center diff. 

The other was my mother's something, Ascent maybe. Whatever their top of the line crossover is. The nannies on that car are atrocious as is the cruise control. It would slam on the brakes going down hill and if anything was within 5-6 car lengths in front of you. And God forbid if you got with in a foot of any line on the pavement. Lights would flash on the HUD, and it was start dinging. Man I hated driving that twitchy POS.  The only thing worse was riding in it with my father driving. I've never been motion sick in my life but that almost did it. I spent 8 hours in that crap car last Friday, between the cruise control, the twitchy steering and the constant alarms, I was ready to get out and call a cab. 

Put me in the do not buy column. 


Tom1200 Dork
12/10/20 11:07 a.m.

I've had my 2.5 Outback for 7 years now; 2011 6 speed manual, got it with 30K currently has 102K.  Thus far replaced the clutch, the throwout bearing went at 65K (there were signs the previous owner abused it) and I had the timing belt done. Parts and labor for both jobs set cost me around $1500. I could have done both jobs but I'm at the age I can afford to have someone else deal with it.

It is is gutless, the steering was rather dead just off center but has gotten better over time (Subaru factory over adjusted the rack to get rid of dreaded column shake), the clutch take up is odd due to damper thingy and the shift action is average.

So why do I like it? The short answer is it's handy as hell.

The handling is decent enough that I can have fun on a twisty road, it was one of the few (if not only) AWD cars with a manual (hello Mazda I might have bought a CX-5 AWD if it had a manual), it rides nice, is quiet inside, allows me to haul my race car parts and has enough ground clearance so that we can go exploring various historic sites scattered around the Mojave Desert.

We've also had an 01 Imprezza 2.5 RS (truck rear ended it and bent the frame/unibody so the insurance company totaled it) and an 01 Outback Wagon (son's first car).  We gave the Outback to my brother in law and he drove it till the auto-trans went  at 265K.

I test drove a Crosstrek but the wife commented it felt tinny so that was that.

I briefly also looked for used WRXs...................finding a non thrashed one seemed impossible.

Most of the Subaru horror stories I have first hand knowledge of are from ones that were neglected or abused. They don't seem to tolerate Crown Vic levels of abuse.


Fitzauto Dork
12/10/20 11:14 a.m.

My 02 WRX wagon has been the most reliable car Ive owned. Bought with 155k and knocking on 200k with all original drivetrain. 

treat them right and they are fine from my experience. And yes mine is tuned for the catless exhaust and yes my neighbors hate me.

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