2010+ Subaru Reliability
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 22 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So Subarus, we're going to revisit talking about Subaru's and reliability mean maybe some of the later changes in the last decade. So we're going to talk 2010 on. How reliable of Subaru's been?
Bernie: They've got a good reputation. There are some issues which we'll talk about, but generally they're pretty good. There have been some changes for sure. I'd say some for the better, some hard to know, you know, maybe not quite as good, but well, mostly for the better.
Mark: So let's work our way through the list. So starting with the engines, how are the engines?
Bernie: So the engines are good. Now the biggest thing is in the early part of the decade, they were still using timing belts and you'll find those uncertain models up to maybe 2012 -2013. Actually the WRX STI still uses the timing belt. That's the only engine that actually currently uses a timing belt, but they went to a different technology with timing chain. The good news about that is there's no timing belt to be replaced at the specified interval. The chain seemed to be pretty durable that had never had a problem with a chain yet.
The head gaskets have also been reliable because that's a problem with the 2.5 liter timing belt engine. Guarantee you'll have to replace the head gaskets on any of those models. They all go sooner or later. So the head gaskets, we've yet to see a problem with one yet. Not to say that they won't, at some point it will be a very expensive repair at that point because of the timing chain technology, but head gaskets, have been reliable.
Really, the only thing we run into was an oil leak on one of the timing chain covers which was a fair bit of work, but again, you know, there was a bit of an outlier that's something we haven't really seen since. One big engine issue you know, that is somewhat known is oil consumption. A lot of these engines have oil consumption problems that wasn't there in the previous design of engine. So, there's a lot of owners I'm pretty unhappy with the amount of oil they had to add to their engine.
And I think there's been some work done on it. I don't know how that's progressed over the years, whether, if you buy a fairly current model, whether that's going to be a problem or not, but certainly in the earlier part of the decade there, you know, in the mid decade models, there has been some oil consumption issues.
So if you're looking to buy a used one, it would be worth doing a little research to see if what you're buying is actually an oil consumer or not. We won't get into all the details of how to figure that out, but that's something well worth looking into.
But other of that, I mean the engines are generally reliable. That's kind of the biggest thing to look for, I think is the oil consumption.
Mark: So in the older models, then transmissions were generally reliable based on our old podcasts. Is that still the case?
Bernie: They are still pretty good. But, one thing with the transmission is Subaru has gone to a CVT for most of their automatics. I'm not a big fan of CVTs. But I think, you know, there's been a lot of problems with CVTs in a variety of different makes and models of cars. And they're expensive to fix. For some reason, very difficult to get parts for. Nissan had tons of problems and extended their warranties.
But Subaru seems to be pretty good. We've actually never seen a CVT problem in our shop with one, but I do read a lot and there's some issues with valve body problems with them. And if that's the only problem, that's not so bad. But you know, older as you said, like the older automatics really bulletproof. Never had any issues or problems with them.
The older standards, again, never any issues or problems other than, you know, I mean the clutches wear out on standards and you can still buy Subaru's with standards as well. So, you know, again, not a big fan of the CVT, but Subaru seem to be more reliable and a lot of other brands.
Mark: So all wheel drive. Subaru's are pretty famous for their all wheel drive system. How is the newer all wheel drive system?
Bernie: Well I'll just talk in terms of reliability. I mean, Subaru, all wheel drive systems have been, you know, really pretty bulletproof. The one thing I've always liked about Subarus is even though it has all wheel drive, which adds complexity, there's never been any problems with it. They seem to be really reliable and the same goes with this decade, you know, everything's good, reliable. They may not be as fancy as some, you know, European models with electronic controls and things, but generally they're just very reliable. Kind of simpler and reliable, and they do the job. The wheels grip and there's few problems. So really it's something good to have.
Mark: Okay, so let's move on to brakes, steering suspension systems, any issues in those areas?
Bernie: You know, the one thing I was happy to see on an Outback around the middle of the decade, and you know, there's been a couple of redesigns, is they went to, seems a subtle little detail only a the mechanic would notice, but, the suspension front control arm bushings, they changed to a design that they used to use back in the early part of the 2000s decade, which is a much more reliable design of control arm bushing. It's a horizontal bushy instead of a vertical bushing. For some reason they went to that in early 2000 and the vertical bushing and they're not very robust and they wear out. So the newer ones, it's got a much more robust suspension, for at least the control arm bushing.
So suspension has been really reliable. Brakes again, no issues, normal wear and tear, 50 to 80,000 kilometres on brakes type of thing. You'll get more mileage out of standard for sure. It's a good, reliable vehicle in that area.
Mark: So Subaru's now are equipped, like many vehicles with driver assist technology. How about those systems? Are they reliable?
Bernie: Haven't heard any issues with them. You know, driver assist technologies, you know, servicing that kind of thing is a bit of a specialty. As a shop owner, I've taken a couple of courses and looked into what's involved in actually servicing that kind of thing and right now it's something that we're not doing. It's a huge investment, not only for equipment, but also you need a huge amount of space just dedicated to it. Which is kind of a drawback to that, we'll talk in a sec, but as far as Subaru's go the technology seems to be really reliable.
I did actually do a road trip with a friend, pretty new Outback that had all that technology. It was pretty cool. You know, the car will slow down if you approach a car too fast and good safety features. So far it's been really reliable.
The one thing that certainly adds to costs down the road and then these would be more in the area of the collision business. But, you know, whenever there's an accident of some sort, all this stuff needs to be recalibrated. There's a number of extra sensors and it adds an enormous amount to the cost of repairing a car. So while it does prevent accidents and collisions, when something does happen and it does, it can cost you a lot more. Even like a windshield, which used to cost say maybe $500 is now all of a sudden 1500 or $2,000 replacement.
So, you know, as time goes by, it might well be that, you know, once it starts lowering in value, you know, you crack your windshield, it's like oh, car's are right off. So that's something to be watchful for. Nothing don't worry about right now because the cars still have a lot of value, but you know, as they get old.
Mark: So I haven't heard much about, there has been very little news from Subaru about the upcoming wave of EVs or even hybrids. Do they, are they playing in that pool at all?
Bernie: You can buy a 2020 Crosstrek Hybrid. Don't know much about it. And that's about all I know about Subaru hybrids. For a long time, they've had this pzev logo on the back, which is partial zero emission vehicle. So they've been trying to, you know, play that it's a low emission vehicle, but it's just basically got like fancy catalytic converters on it as far as I can see. Because I remember looking at it and I had a customer, we're going to a decade back now before 2010, and I go, Oh, what is with this vehicle. It's still runs. Its it doesn't have any start-stop technology or anything, but I guess under certain conditions it doesn't emit any other pollutants. Of course, there's always CO2 coming out as long as the is running. So, I think a little bit of a hokey play on, I don't wanna say play on words. I'm at a bit of a loss for what I'm trying to say here, but it's a little dishonest.
Anyways, EVs, you know, there's some talk that they're going to be doing something with Toyota in the next five years by 2025, who knows how that'll pan out. It's been interesting because a lot of this seemed to be a lot of momentum going with all sorts of car manufacturing and we're going to go EV, and we're going full out with it. And then now there seems to be a lot of pull back from the Legacy manufacturers on getting into that kind of stuff.
So at some point, and there's no doubt, they'll come out with an EV because I think any car manufacturer going forward, like 10 years is going to need to have a huge lineup of EV vehicles to survive. But, you know, I've often pondered that with Subarus and wonder, you know, it seems like a lot of people who buy Subaru's are outdoorsy people. They buy them because they can, you know, throw some kayaks on the roof or bicycles and head off on some rougher roads and go do some exploring. And those are vehicles that are well suited for at least gasoline technology.
You know, short range EVs are not going to be good for that, but you know, given time of course batteries keep getting better. And, you know, that won't be a concern anymore. But at least you can always carry extra can of gas or something with you now, if you want to go in the road.
So I think for the marketplace of Subaru, maybe, they've kind of left that behind, but you know, as sooner or later the rug might be pulled out from under them. So that's all I got to say about Subaru and EVs, but I'd say probably more hybrids will be coming.
Mark: There you go. If you're looking for a service for your Subaru in Vancouver, BC, Canada. The guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to call and book ahead. They're booked up for weeks in advance. They're always busy. They're really busy right now. They're always been busy. They're busy. I make that a point. Call them, book ahead. Check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com or our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on both places, all makes and models, types of repairs. Thanks for listening on the podcast. We really appreciate it. Leave us a review if you're so inclined and Bernie thanks as always.
Bernie: And thanks, Mark. And thank you for watching. It's always a pleasure.