So many problems--is it normal?


Asked by Koolaid Sep 11, 2012 at 05:56 PM about the 2000 Subaru Outback Limited Wagon

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

My 2000 Outback has 144,000 miles, and I've had to put SO MUCH money into it!  Here are a few repairs:
Two new front axles (right and left), new CV Boots, new axle boots, catalytic converter, head gasket, wheel
bearings, leaking transmission, control arm bushings, AC vacuum pump, water pump, and that's just what
comes to mind.  Should I sell this thing or hope that it keeps going?  I don't have money to buy another
car, but it seems like anything's better than this!

17 Answers

Nick Eidemiller

cv boots/axel boots are a common issue with subarus in my experience and if you don't fix them when they go bad then yes you have to to axels, water pump and head gaskets along with oil pump and timing belt should be done at roughley 120k-150k miles on a subaru, leaking transmission could have happened to any vehicle, suspension bushings depend on how and where the vehicle is driven same with wheel bearings to an extent, the ac pump could be caused by several things. catalytic converters on newer vehicles do not last as long because they get hotter and are more likely to plug, don't use low grade fuel (90's and newer subarus should be given premium octane fuel) low grade fuel will not burn as cleanly in a subaru as it's designed for higher octane thus ruining your catalytic converter faster by making it work harder and plugging it up faster. Not to offend you but as a mechanic I will just remind you, any time you buy a used vehicle you purchase any potential problems the previous owner may have caused by how they did maintenance and how and where they drove it. There are a lot of variables at play in all of this and some of what you've listed probably was just its time to be done, some of them are not "typical" of a subaru though. Take care of the car and it will take car of you.

9 out of 9 people think this is helpful.

This makes me feel a little better, though I have never heard of another Subaru owner have to do this level of maintenance and repair. It is not a used car; I am the original owner. I have taken care of this thing meticulously; that's why the repairs have been so frustrating at times. My main problem at times seems to be poor mechanics. I will know that something is wrong, such as with the bad front axels, wheel bearings, and brakes, yet when I have taken it to mechanics, they say everything looks perfect! Then one day I'm on the side of the road, and the same mechanic says my axel needs to be replaced and they blame a torn boot that they didn't see the last five times I've taken it in for this very problem. Sigh. I've done all of the preventative maintenance for this thing (timing belt, etc), and I'm aware of that expense with any vehicle. It just seems like all of my family and friends who own the same vehicle with the same mileage have done none of this. I drive like a grandma and store it in a garage, so it has surprised me a bit every time I'm stranded on the side of the road for an alternator, head gasket, or something else.

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.
Nick Eidemiller

well this is my experience with my own subarus, 1993 subaru legacy wagon. my parents bought it new in 93, I got it from them with 145k miles in 06, in winter 06 I slid off the road (stupid 16 yr old driver) tor a chunk out of the frame on a metal post sticking out of the ground and had to have a 3ft section replaed, driving it you'd never know. at 164k miles was a new motor because the orrigional one seized (dad was bad at oil changes and treated it like a truck) new alternator, at 175k miles blew 2nd gear in the 5 speed (trans fluid was never changed before I got ahold of it) also had to replace the exhaust maifold and catalytic converter a couple years back. before it was mine it had new front axels and hubs, boots have been done 4 times, full brake job 2 times 2 clutches. now at 190k miles on the suspension I have to do all busings and new shocks, also need new injectors at 190k miles on the injectors. my father was rather hard on it, as I said oil changes were always long over due, if wee needed 40, 30lb bags of top soil it went in the subaru and in a near 20 year timespan probably has had $12k in repairs done but has been an excelent car. then there's the 99 forester bought in 08 when the motor went bad in the legacy, 6 months after replacing the legacys motor, the foresters transmission went bad, it's got an exhaust leak, and likes to burn out O2 sensors, it also spun a bearing in the motor at 150k miles. (admittedley it's been a lemon). then theres the 02 forester bought in 06, the only issue it's had has been a couple O2 sensors and the secondary catalytic converter has had to be replaced. I would rate my experience with subarus to be excelent overall, by no means perfect, but definately satisfactory, short of a catastrophic failure they have run through everything me and my family have thrown at them and come back beging for more.

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.
Best Answer
Chris Whalen

the head gasket was a common problem with the 01 and 02 outbacks because prior to this the car had a 2.2l engine and when it was upgraded to a 2.5 some issues occurred. while it seems like you've done a lot you would've spent the same or more on any other 12 year old car.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

We have the same issues with the brakes sounding and feeling like they need to be replaced and being told they are in great condition. We have leaking oil and had to replace a cap at $250 and that the same axle problem. I need 2 new axles as they are breaking away from the boots This is the 2nd Subaru I own- this is a 2005- and this is the 2nd axle problem I am paying for - at $1000+. Does anyone know if there was a recall or service allert on the axle issue? I can't seem to find anything on it.


Well, an update--I gave up and sold the 2000 Subaru. I was sick of all the problems, most recently the gaskets in the back door around the lights giving out and rainwater pouring into the car. Now--you'll like this--I have a 2005. I've owned it for 6 months, and now it REEKS of gasoline. After pressure tests and inspections, the mechanics say "nothing's wrong." Well, there is something wrong--it reeks of gas! Regarding the axles: I had axle probs with the 2000, and it looks like my new to me 05 needs them too. There's not a recall that I know of, but this seems to be pretty common for Subarus. Carl, that price seems high, though. You should be able to have the whole axle replaced for less than half that amount. What is wrong with it?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

I had the gasoline smell for months in my 2000 Outback, and they couldn't find it. Finally, after at least 3 times being at the shop for various things, they found a loose clamp on a fuel hose. They found it because there was a burning smell also, which was coming from transmission fluid leaking onto the exhaust. That was SO frustrating! Good luck. I'm now facing needing a new catalytic converter and O2 sensors, which they're telling me will cost $2400. I think I'll be selling mine now, too.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I just spent $2800 on my 2000 Outback SW. It smelled of fumes, and they said the head gasket was cracked. Had them do the timing belt at the same time, and then when I picked up, they had replaced an axle, so it was more $$ than they had at first told me. But it runs fine now.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
Zipp Rider

$2k for a catalytic converter and O2 sensor seems insanely high. I've had BMWs and they are less then that.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

I took mine to another shop and they did the cat converter and O2 sensors for $1400. Seems to be fine now.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

2007 Forester with 115,000 miles...head gasket, two wheel bearings, now rear axles and wheel bearings, power steering pump, brake calipers frozen, shifter cables, brakes, brakes, brakes, never mind recommended maintenance...never again a Subaru

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

I have a 2001 Subaru Outback and I too also had the gas smell come to find out it was the way the fuel lines are hood up they expand and contract when cold weather comes I just tighten up the clamp on the fuel line to the left of the manifold under the bracket as you look down at the engine standing in front of the car, I also put a hose clamp to help it hold tight

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

I have a 2001 Subaru Outback and have never had any of these problems. In fact, other than routine maintenance and replacing the serpentine belt, the only work that needed to be done was replacing an axle boot cover after I grazed a deer on the road. I do now have a problem with starting the car. It makes a clicking sound but when I turn the steering wheel to various positions it will start right up. Sometimes it takes 1 minute, sometimes 10 minutes, but it eventually starts and runs well. Love it in the snow and handles beautifully on Wisconsin winter roads. Looking into the problem with the "not starting" unless I jiggle the key and turn the steering wheel. Any ideas?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

you may have a bad cylinder lock where your key goes into the ignition,or your starter may be going I would also check your battery cables make sure they are snug in in one piece

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

As far as smelling like gas I had the same problem.when cold weather hits you have to tighten all the visible clamps on rubber gas lines.something to do with rubber and metal expansion. I have to do it every winter

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
You think this is helpful.

I would like to Chime in here. We own a 2000 Subaru Legacy Outback bought used. So far we have replaced the usual things after buying from a dealer. However, now the clutch, or possibly the transmission is out. Let me tell you that I have owned about five or six Peugeots, gas and diesel, and have never had any of these problems. And I bought everyone of them at high mileage. All but one were diesels. Frankly, they just put Subaru, Mercedes, and a lot of others to shame. Of course, now due to government regulations Peugeot is no longer imported into the US. Sad.


No matter how much money the repairs seem, you need to refocus your attention on this point. Repairs are a temporary situation, while recurring car payments are not. A newer late model or brand new car will cost you between $300 to $500 per month for 60 months depending upon your financing, money down and purchase price of the car. So, it's always less expensive to fix your car. Remember, the average cost of repairs every year is about $1,000, but, car payments at $4,800 annually continue until the car is paid off. Notice I said repairs, not regular maintenance, which all cars require. So, don't count oil changes, tires, etc. You won't likely have $5,000 in actual repairs every year. Just won't happen.

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