How to Buy a Used Subaru Outback With High Miles

by Patrick Hutchison

Subarus are valued for their reliability, performance and safety. Many Subarus drive their cars well over 200,000 miles, a testament to the durability of this Japanese car maker. In 1996, Subaru unveiled a new model, the Outback. The Outback was based on the Subaru Legacy and offered more ground clearance and bigger wheels, allowing it more off-road capability. The Outback has been offered in both sedan and station wagon form. The Subaru Outback has become one of the most popular Subaru vehicles. If you are considering buying a Subaru Outback with high miles, look for these common Subaru problems.

1

Check the timing belts. Subaru Outback engines require timing belts and if they go, your engine goes. The timing belts are located on the side of the engine and are easy to spot. Look over the belts with your flashlight to see if they are cracked or show signs of heavy wear.

2

Look for any oil or coolant leaks around the engine, particularly around the head gaskets, located along the length of both sides of the engine. Oil residue on these areas may indicate a head gasket problem, common in higher mileage Subarus and expensive to repair. If you don't see anything, ask the seller about any problems overheating, an early sign of head gasket trouble.

3

Start the car and see if the Check Engine Light comes on. Many Subarus have problems with their catalytic converters and emissions systems. If you live in a county where emissions tests are required for registration you may have to pay to have repairs done to the emissions before you can license the car.

4

Look for damage underneath the car with your flashlight. Subarus have excellent off-road capability, but some owners abuse this ability and drive recklessly. Look for long gouges in the frame, drive train and fuel tank.

5

Check the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS). Get in the drivers seat with the car turned off. Begin pumping the brake pedal with your foot, the pedal should become harder to depress if the ABS is working properly.

6

Test the car for torque bind problems, a common drive train issue involving the viscous coupler. Take the car for a drive on both highway and surface roads to get the car nice and warm, then go to a parking lot and perform several tight figure-eights. Feel for any shuddering or pulsing in the wheel. If the car is an automatic, check the fuse box located under the hood to see if there is a fuse in the FWD slot. Torque bind is often bypassed by switching the car to front wheel drive, bypassing the viscous coupler. If there is a fuse in the FWD slot, question the owner about it.

Tip

  • check Consider running a vehicle history report using the Subaru Outback's vehicle identification number (VIN). Vehicle history reports provide detailed information on any accidents or title changes that the car has experienced.

Warning

  • close Avoid purchasing any Subaru Outback with a missing title. Cars without titles may be stolen and are often indicative of a bad history.

Items you will need

About the Author

Patrick Hutchison has been doing freelance work since 2008. He has worked as a physical therapy aide and as a writer for various websites including Destination Guides and several travel-related companies. Hutchison has a Bachelor of Arts in history and anthropology from the University of Washington.

Photo Credits