Are Subaru's reliability exaggerated?

Last winter I bought a 02 Forrester with like 185k miles on it. One owner car, took it to a local subaru specialist (they only work on Subarus) the entire life of the car. Outside of the gasket problem and rust because we use salt during the winter, do they really last pretty much forever? I’m simply debating like should I be saving to replace or not. I really like the car, and if through regular maintenance I can get it to last to 300k, I’d love to do that. I just don’t want to like drop a bunch of money fixing like the struts in a year or two only to need to get a new car shortly after.

I’ve got an 06 outback and its been reliable for me, but I don’t think I’ll get 300k without doing some repairs on something. I also live in the land of road salt and I’m not sure anything can go that many years and miles around here without corrosion doing some damage, and struts are about as exposed to the elements as anything on a vehichle.

From my knowledge it’s a very good quality. Brother in law had one for at least 15 years. Was great in winter on roads.

If you choose to replace, don’t forget to get one of same driving quality.

Just like any car preventative maintenance and general upkeep will make them last a long time. Make sure the oil is changed when it should be, the fluids are flushed when recommended, the car is washed (including underside) regularly, et cetera.

You already know about the Subaru head gaskets and I’m sure you know how to handle the road salt, so you are already off to a good start.

My father was a Subaru mechanic for 15 years or something and 300k+ mile Subarus did make it into the shop from time to time, being in Maine the body almost always rusted out before the cars failed mechanically (or accidents).


The extended family mostly drives Subaru cars. Seals will wear over time but the only real problems were when people were not maintaining them properly.

My uncle seems to be great at breaking them though, something about lifting them and driving them fast off road with cheap parts. My grandpa 1986 wagon got sold back in 2012 to help with hospice care and it still ran great, the odometer got stuck at 297k miles back around 2005 iirc. My brothers 1996 Subaru Impreza has survived him owning it for about 15 years now and he likes to go 50-60 off road with it, difference between him and my uncle is he will actually build the suspension for doing that. He has been through over a dozen other cars since then and after he screws those up he is back in the Subaru.

Got my 1996 outback about 9 years ago and the previous owner had clearly been trying to rally in it, dent in the side where it hit a tree on the drivers side and that door doesn’t match the numbers on the rest of the car, front bumper is dented but that looks more like it hit a metal pole, dents all over from what looks like logs. When I got it a lot of the electrical was bad some components and wires, the clutch was gone, leaked oil, gas filter was so clogged that the gas coming out of it when I went to replace it was black, looked like the differentials had not been serviced. But it drove straight and I spent time fixing it and runs great.

Then there is the guy that does my oil, Has the 1998 Impreza turbo wagon. Blew out his engine at 988k miles. to be fair he was always rebuilding it and it was always tuned to be over 400whp. Don’t even know his name because the second I bring the Subaru in he doesn’t stop talking about it and his car and how he is going to make it too 1kk miles. He ended up boring and sleeving it, but I moved 55 miles so haven’t taken my car back there since it is really out of the way now.

Have known a few people with 02 and 03 Foresters, The stock suspension on them don’t seem to hold up well with heavy off road use. The people I have talked to that don’t go off road constantly never seemed to have that problem. Might also want to see when the timing belt was replaced, one thing you want to absolutely be on top of is making sure that is in good condition.

Got a local shop that is called John Subaru(Not John’s Subaru, different people) that is Subaru/Fuji only. You could go there and build cars for months off of what he and his son have there. Probably go there when I do a swap to an engine with a timing chain.

Should also add that my state does not use salt.
Also the 2010-2013 CVT transmissions have a mechanical flaw to them and if you are ever looking at those you might want to avoid them.

The main reason I have the 2.2L Manual. My biggest concern is the MAF sensor and the timing belt.


the EJ22 which was put in the 90s subarus is what earned the “indestructible” reputation… All of them since then have had their own sets of issues and they are all hyper rust prone.

02 forester has the EJ251 which has the worst of all gasket issues… once you blow one it’ll probably never stop failing unless if you get it properly machined not just a new gasket(s) slapped on.

the 02 forester is also prone to rear shock mount failure due to rust… about half of them are off the road by now because of that it’s really bad. Once it starts the car is essentially totaled drive it till it gives way because that repair can run 3-5 grand per side.

At the end of the day Subarus are supremely average. Yes the reliability is over hyped i would not expect your forester to make it to 300k usually they run out of life by 200-250 if you’re lucky.


Bought my ex-wife an '02 Impreza Outback Sport. On cold days (below freezing up here in MN) the cabin would wreak of fuel. Head gasket issues @ around 140k. I forget which engine, but that generation/engine combo were known to have head gasket issues from what I remember.

I bought a new '17 WRX and had the clutch master cylinder go out @ 44k. Seems kinda early for that sorta thing.

These are my only experiences with Subaru’s. None of my family has ever had them, so my experience is limited.

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interesting because the gasket didn’t have to get replaced until like 175k on this 02 Forrester. Also this specialist’s replacement has never had to be replaced, so it’s not something I’m particularly concerned about.

gasket singular? both sides weren’t done? lol

And if you got one that’s still in good shape at 185k that’s half the battle.

you’ll know if it was done right in the next 10-20k miles.

i would have to double check the invoices, but no, I’m pretty sure not the singular.

Well basically nothing really last forever.
All cars have their strong and weak points and most of all,
they all need maintenance.

Weakest points of the Subaru’s in general that i know.

  • Head gaskets on Boxer engines.
  • Rust.
  • Clutch with a manual, but with that millage, its likely that it’s replaced a couple of times already.

Other then that they are pretty decent i suppose.

Not a huge deal of experience with subarus, but there’s rarely anything to the Drivetrain or so on modern cars that make them fail. A large portion of the Problems are electronic now. Most cars are perfectly capable of going 300k+ if maintained well. You will have to invest in certain parts for sure, but generally, a motor won’t fail unless severely neglected or not maintained at all.

With everything cars (motor, Rust, suspension) watch after your car, fix small issues early and get all wear parts exchanged when needed. There shouldn’t be any major surprises then.
My 2012 Focus just passed 200k and got a flawless inspection 2 days ago.

If the question is, will it hit 300k with no/minimal investment, the answer probably is no. And that goes for any car (except 80s mercedes’ maybe).
And even after that, it’s always a good idea to save for a replacement. Even if it does 400k+ you’ll eventually need a new car. Starting to safe up now will make it much easier of an investment once it’s time.

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I’ve never owned a Subaru but, in your situation, I think you can drive that car for enough time to save up some cash to buy another one if that one fails. But, unless that car has been always inspected by total morons, I think it would drive for a lot longer. If salt is used on the road during winter you could think about buying some truck bed liner, clean the bottom of the frame of any rust and spray it on to protect it.

Anybody with a Toyota…“Yes”

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Yeah, love my 80 series land cruiser diesel, car for the rest of my life.

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I have a 01 outback it has done 300k been great, i use it for work as tradesman workhorse, have had to replace the clutch recently, not surprised as its well over loaded.

Nice to see a Subaru thread.

What about the BRZ/GT86 with the FA20 engine? It’s gonna be 8 years since it was designed. I know about the early 2012/2013 models having ECU issues but other than that I didn’t find any other complaints.

I am asking because as soon as I have money I will buy one used. Probably gonna do UEL catback with OFT. Just classic stuff.

Also there are rumors a new generation is in the works.

Avoid PZEV outbacks/Foresters (2013+)… bad seals/burn oil from the factory and they push that through 3 catalytic converters - which is bad news bears. Had to bore out the cats at 145k on my '13 (or spend 8k+ to fully replace exhaust and remedy oil consumption).

the 05 to 08 foresters are tanks, next best thing to a jeep, 4wd good mpg and last forever. YOU can even get offroad tires on them and dirt trekking. Look up offroad foresters on yt

We got off topic so I moved our posts to a more appropriate thread.

8 posts were merged into an existing topic: L1’s Garage