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Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
12/10/20 11:58 a.m.

I've talked about both of mine on here at length: I had a 2002 WRX wagon and a 2009 WRX hatch. Both had their fair share of issues.

The 2002:
-Rear end whine at approximately 62mph (considered "normal")
-That time when it got real cold out and the fuel lines decided to leak all over the hot engine and self-immolate (was part of a recall, but SOA determined that Massachusetts was not a "cold weather environment" so it wasn't covered)
-Paint issues, and the D/S seat cloth wore out by 80k miles
-Radiator failed around 70k mi
-Finicky with what fluids you used for everything

The 2009:
-Transmission issues
-Pedal assembly cracked and creaked when using the clutch pedal (not covered under warranty)
-A/C compressor quit at 50k mi
-Interior was falling apart by 35k mi in multiple ways
-Oil consumption
-General quality issues

I really can't fault the 2002 WRX too much, as I did modify the car a bit. But stuff like the quality issues and the fuel line deciding to dump raw fuel everywhere because Subaru didn't use rubber that could handle sub-15 degree weather has nothing to do with the suspension mods, a stereo, and a tune. I did have a lot of fun with that car, and I wouldn't kick a clean example out of the driveway as a 2nd "fun" car.

The 2009, however, was stock, save for a short throw shifter and bushings and an aftermarket radio. And I consider myself lucky, because that car was built just one week after they discovered that the early build cars were leaving the factory with unfinished crank journals, which caused people to pop engines within the first 1000mi of ownership! SOA was not a big help when it came to honoring the warranty I paid extra for, which still leaves a sour taste and has sworn me off ever buying one new ever again.

All that said, they are fun cars if it snows where you are. My 2002 was so much fun in the winter, well, after I fixed those leaky fuel lines that tried to kill me in a ball of gasoline-fueled fire. I can't recommend a regular, non-turbo example to anyone, unless it's an older, 90's example with the 1.8 or 2.2. Most of those have rotted to oblivion around here, so there's not many left.


outasite HalfDork
12/10/20 12:26 p.m.

My first experience with a Subaru was an early 80s wagon with 5 spd and manual 4x4. We had a K 5 Blazer and Honda at the same time. Minnesota winters are known for snow and after a storm every one wanted to drive the Subaru. With inexpensive all season tires in 4x4, it went thru snow with no concerns. Towed my 19 foot sail boat with it.  Son used it for college in Fargo. We drove that for at least 10 years. Only issue was a fuel pump and relay because son's girl friend ran it out of gas. I also bought and sold several needing clutches and axles.

Next was an 03 WRX wagon with less than 15,000 miles. I really liked the car. ECU failed shortly after purchase (replaced under warranty)  It was great on dry roads and awesome in wet conditions. However, the OEM tires were terrible in the snow. The transmission's second gear was a little noisy with excess shifter movement on acceleration/deceleration. I attributed that to using it often under turbo assisted acceleration. Sold it with 25,000 miles and bought an NA Miata.

pontiacstogo Reader
12/10/20 1:07 p.m.
outasite said:

However, the OEM tires were terrible in the snow.

That's a problem with the current WRX too - sold only with summer performance tires.  For a car that a lot of people buy for it's winter capabilities, they should at least offer all season tires as an option.

mdshaw Reader
12/10/20 1:10 p.m.

If only Honda would put their AWD in the Civics & Toyota would bring their Caldina AWD to the US. 
Does Canada have the Caldina? That's where the 3GSTE 4th gen for the MR2 turbos came from. Great reliable turbo motor with a head that Yamaha helped design.  Subaru's grasp on the AWD sedan/hatch market would be reduced. But as usual it comes at a cost & they must feel that with all of the AWD SUV's it's not worth it.


Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) UberDork
12/10/20 1:11 p.m.

Wow, this degree of brand trashing is something I usually expect in Youtube comments.

I'm no fanboi, but my experience is that they're a decent, if a bit under-refined vehicle. A friend just sold his bugeye WRX with 250K miles and very little trouble. It did take a bit of tweaking to get the understeer under control though.   

mdshaw Reader
12/10/20 1:17 p.m.

It's just upsetting that such a new car has so many issues & our daughter can't even drive it. Also I don't have my shop & lift anymore to be able to fix it.

Placemotorsports Reader
12/10/20 1:18 p.m.

One of the only cars that I can tell what they are by hearing them before seeing them anymore

grpb Reader
12/10/20 1:21 p.m.
mdshaw said:

What keeps turbo Subaru fans keep replacing/rebuilding, blowing up, repeating their motors?

Because super fun in any weather, good daily, practical usage.  My 98 Forester with STI drivetrain and hybrid 2.5 made around 400whp, 300 lb-ft by 3400 rpm, lived outside year round in the midwest, driven daily, sideways daily.  It lasted a bit more than 3 years which is pretty good for the usage, and what eventually killed it was a failed connecting rod in the OEM STI shortblock.  I think running it 100% on pavement with narrow tires is what started to hurt it, as the stick/slip/scrabbling for grip of the tires during acceleration is really hard on rotating components.  The electronic center diff also locked up toward the end, but it was a used ebay trans with already high miles and again on pavement with lots of handbrake and sideways action it's really asking alot of any center diff.  From when it was built the only time it was in the garage for actual repair was due to a big impact misjudging a corner in the snow and hitting a curb hard.  Even then, just replaced the wheel bearing and wheel, realigned, and off it went for another year outside.

The 'problem' with Subaru's is the same as anything else, each subsytem really needs to be treated as an actual system, not just a conglomeration of parts.  And ANY deviation from OEM requires an almost complete update/upgrade of everything that it might affect downstream.  I'm not a real Subaru guy, but from my experience it's cost prohibitive to build one properly because that downstream list of things that need done becomes VERY long for even the smallest upgrade.

Specifically with regard to your '06 Baja, it's 14 years old and someone has been through it before in a major way.  Perhaps it's that particular car and not all Subaru's in general?

Brett_Murphy (Ex-Patrón)
Brett_Murphy (Ex-Patrón) MegaDork
12/10/20 2:31 p.m.
mdshaw said:

Any Subaru experts want a challenge?

I'm not an expert, but that sounds a bit like a clogged cat or other restriction in the exhaust. 

I'll also agree that some of the "Common Subaru Issues" are a result of people modifying their cars improperly. Some of them weren't. Show me a car company that doesn't have problems, recalls and glitches with their product. 

I've not had a problem with my turbo Subaru, but the engine is pretty much stock and I do the required maintenance on it.

Mazdax605 PowerDork
12/10/20 2:41 p.m.
bruceman said:

As a Mazda rotary fan boy I understand this.

There is no 12 step program to fix this

I'm a long term Mazda rotary fan boi, and have had zero problems with mine over the years. I've owned everything from RX-3, RX-4, several RX-7's, RX-8, REPU. My REPU has been with us for 17 years, my 78 RX-7 for 15 years. Zero engine problems in all this time. I've only owned one turbo rotary though, and a tree fell on it, so no problems with that engine either. I don't even pre-mix.

red_stapler SuperDork
12/10/20 2:45 p.m.
mdshaw said:

such a new car

A 2006?  That would be elligible for Classic plates in some states next year.  

Tadope New Reader
12/10/20 3:13 p.m.

In reply to mdshaw :

Lots of unreliable cars out there.  It doesnt make them "bad"

are you going to make an "fd rx7 suck" thread next?

z31maniac MegaDork
12/10/20 3:31 p.m.
red_stapler said:
mdshaw said:

such a new car

A 2006?  That would be elligible for Classic plates in some states next year.  

Yeah, a 14-15 year old car hardly qualifies as new. 

Tom1200 Dork
12/10/20 3:40 p.m.

I think we all have our car prejudices and or blind love.

I dislike GM products, I really became car conscious in the 70s and well the 70s wasn't GMs finest hour.

I dislike Hondas as well (both bikes and cars), I recommend them to people but I hate working on them, there just always seems to be an extra step. Note I raced a Honda motorcycle for 3 years and I absolutely loved that bike.

While I like the way German cars drive, I won't own one for all the usually reasons.

I do find Subarus to be the most un-Japanese of Japanese cars.


Boost_Crazy HalfDork
12/10/20 4:12 p.m.

I completely understand both sides of this issue. I love my Subaru, but don’t recommend them and wouldn’t buy a new one again. Mine is an ‘05 Legacy GT wagon. Bought it new. It was one of the only cars like it, at the time and especially now- AWD turbo manual trans wagon. It was a toss up between the Legacy and an EVO. I already had multiple DSM’s (owned at the time and still own a Galant VR4.) This wasn’t going to be a track car, it was a daily driver, and the Legacy was a much better daily driver than the EVO. Plus wagon. I kept it stock, and drove it for 145,000 trouble free miles, other than the throw out bearing going bad at 100k. A bit before 145k I started to have an issue. It went from needing no oil between changes to needing a QT at 1000mi.. Then 500mi. Two cracked ring lands. On a stock, understressed (300hp STi motor detuned to 250HP in the Legacy) that saw no track use and was babied it’s whole life. I thought it was ironic that I beat the crap out of modified high mileage DSM’s for years without a single internal engine failure, and my bought new commute car failed. 

The failure itself is not why I won’t recommend or buy another Subaru. It was that when I researched the failure, and found that it was an easily avoidable problem, yet they didn’t address it for YEARS. Many people say that the engine has weak pistons, but I don’t think that is entirely the problem. The factory spec on the ring gaps is way too tight for a turbo engine. Combine that with factory tuning that is real lean at part throttle under boost, goodbye ringlands. It would have been an easy fix for Subaru. Instead, they made the tune worse in later years. For that, I don’t trust them. But I’ll be keeping my Subaru. There just isn’t anything like it. Perfect size, wagon, great visibility, and I’d argue that it has one of the best Subaru interiors. The engine is being built the way Subaru should have built it in the first place. Not going crazy with the power, think what an STi Legacy Wagon would have been. If it pops again, I may change my mind. 

As for the OP’s Baja, I’d guess a turbo issue if it’s not a plugged cat. A problem with the wastegate flapper would limit boost and make it come on real slow. 9psi sounds a bit low, I think stock is around 13psi. It should hit it pretty quickly too. Or whoever swapped the engine plumbed the boost control solenoid wrong. 

mdshaw Reader
12/10/20 4:23 p.m.

It's the newest car in our family.  I tend to appreciate & keep unique & useful cars/trucks. We have a '64 C10 with a 454 that I built & transplanted with a th400, a '76 CVCC with a D16Z6, a '94 eg with a rebuilt B18C1, a '97 Powestroke van/pickup tow beast, a 2000 Suzuki Grand Vitara bought totaled & is now lifted for beach use & towed behind our  2002 diesel motorhome. Just sold my wife's 2002 allroad & '91 MR2 turbo. So yes,  to me a '06 is fairly "new". 
I have no experience with RX7's so can't post about them. I did adapt FD RX7 BBS wheels to the MR2 though. They were great.

Jesse Ransom (FFS)
Jesse Ransom (FFS) UltimaDork
12/10/20 4:23 p.m.

I really liked my '12 WRX. It got crap MPG (duh) and as the One New Unmolested Household Vehicle it got swapped out for a Leaf. I never even actually took it to an autocross. The '16 Mini that followed the Leaf is 70% of the fun to drive of the WRX with 200% of the city MPG.

Apart from enough lag to make it much more fun on an onramp than squirting around town in traffic, I really liked the way it drove. I still wonder how much of that was actual lag and how much was stock e-throttle tuning, but I digress.

I had no significant issues, though I only owned it for a couple of years from new. I did think the front turn signal bulb access was insane, as you had to remove a remarkable amount of stuff to get down there. I think there may have been a workaround involving the inner fender liner...

The Mini's getting on for five years and 60k miles, and for another car the Internet thinks is a smoking crater waiting to happen, we've had one buzzy speaker and one cracked spark plug insulator. We'll find out before long whether the BMW cooling system 60k mile expiration is a universal thing.

Scott_H Reader
12/10/20 5:36 p.m.
mdshaw said:

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?


Really, the only thing you know is there is low poer and it doesn't shift right right now.  Both can easily be the same thing.  Not knowing when it started means everything is on the table.  I would start with your timing belt.  That could easily cause both.  If it's making boost not likely a plugged pipe or cat or bad turbo.

Turboeric Reader
12/10/20 5:52 p.m.
pontiacstogo said:
outasite said:

However, the OEM tires were terrible in the snow.

That's a problem with the current WRX too - sold only with summer performance tires.  For a car that a lot of people buy for it's winter capabilities, they should at least offer all season tires as an option.

If you buy it for its winter capabilities, why would you run all seasons? My 15 WRX was unstoppable with full winters, but all seasons are hopeless on the ice we get around here.

mdshaw Reader
12/10/20 7:54 p.m.

Timing belt marks are good. We double checked them. Boost is @ 9psi.  It's most likely a clogged up or down pipe. We'll check those next.

pontiacstogo Reader
12/10/20 8:29 p.m.
Turboeric said:
pontiacstogo said:

That's a problem with the current WRX too - sold only with summer performance tires.  For a car that a lot of people buy for it's winter capabilities, they should at least offer all season tires as an option.

If you buy it for its winter capabilities, why would you run all seasons? My 15 WRX was unstoppable with full winters, but all seasons are hopeless on the ice we get around here.

I can get through a winter here on all seasons no problem at all - that's not the case with summer only tires.  I've had a couple of AWD Infinitis and they had all seasons fitted on the standard wheel/tire packages.  I just think Subaru should offer the same as an option on the WRX.

old_ HalfDork
12/10/20 8:29 p.m.

My sister had a '99 forester, head gasket went around 100k. Air bag system constantly had problems. sold it.

Father in law had '06ish outback. Headgasket went, overheated and borked one of the heads. Traded it in on an Acura

Sister in law had an '06ish legacy, head gaskets went, traded for a Prius

My father had an '11 outback 3.6r. Around 60k started burning oil like crazy. Traded it in on a '19 outback. No problems with the new outback yet but it has less than 10k on it.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) UberDork
12/10/20 8:48 p.m.

I bought my 04 WRX wagon earlier this year, but haven't been able to put it to the test as a daily.

That's had nothing to do with Subaru build quality. We're down one income with the onset of the pandemic, and we're a five car, two driver family, so the normal issues one would have in an older used car have been taking longer than usual to resolve.

My wife had an 85 legacy 4x4 wagon when we met in 93, which we kept until 2000. Very slow, but amazingly capable off road.

mdshaw Reader
12/11/20 4:05 a.m.

The '80s & anything with the 2.2 were ultra reliable from what I remember. 

Turboeric Reader
12/11/20 9:52 a.m.

We had a 96Outback with the 2.2, and when we sold it with 380,000 km on it, the only things we had done to the motor were plugs, wires and a timing belt. Never missed a beat.

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