2017 Subaru Outback Pre-Purchase Inspection
Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert here, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, and we're talking cars. How you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So 38 years of servicing vehicles in the Vancouver area, and 19 time winners so far of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by the customers. What are we talking about today, a 2017 Subaru Outback? What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So we had this vehicle in the shop for a pre-purchase inspection, practically brand new vehicle, under 20,000 kilometres and we had a good look over the vehicle, found nothing wrong, which you expect on a car that new, but found a lot of new interesting features on this car. We've been servicing Subaru's for quite a long time, and there's a lot of neat features on this car that I wanted to just share.
Mark: Alright, so what did you find? What are some of these new features?
Bernie: Let's get straight into some pictures. There's our 2017 Subaru Outback, nice stylish looking car. This is a base model so nothing real fancy here. We'll get into some of the ... Let's have a look at some of the under hood features, so there's the engine, 2.5 litre in this car. It is available with a 3.6 cylinder model as well. This is the 2.5 ... It actually goes really nicely with this engine. Well interesting compared to some of the older models of Subaru, this uses a plastic intake, which is typical of a lot of modern cars. It's actually pretty simple and clean under the hood, there's not a lot of extra pipes and hoses and things like that. Everything's been cleaned up quite nicely, oil filter accessible from the top. The other interesting feature on this vehicle, of course, is it's ... Well what Subaru has done for quite a while, they've gone with a timing chain and not a belt, since around 2011 I guess, so this engine is a lot more like the 6 cylinder used to be. So far no head gasket problems with them, but who ... Time will tell how they go in the long run. What do we got here? Same engine view. I know I've got another one here in my pile of pictures somewhere. Yeah, there we go. You can see that in this view here, the oil filter, you can see the timing chain covered down the front. It's got variable valve timing as well, it ... They squeeze about as much power to this engine as they could, short of putting a turbo or super charger on it. Electric power steering as well, so one less accessory driven by a drive belt, so that's the under hood features of the car.
Mark: What type of transmission does this car use?
Bernie: It's got a CVT transmission, which I took a picture of that as well, which is for what it's worth, so there's a CVT transmission. One interesting feature of this transmission is quite short compared to what you would see on the regular automatic. These are available ... I believe they're available with the standard as well, I'm not 100% certain, but CVT is a pretty common feature, but the transmission extends from this arrow to this arrow, so it's actually very short. There's not a lot of gears and pieces in it, but not really-
Mark: So that ... What were looking at there left to right is front to back basically of the transmission.
Bernie: Exactly. This is the front, this is the back. You can actually see the front axle shaft, front left axle shaft here, so there's a differential assembly in the front, and then the extension housing in the back, which actually the transfer case features are function because it's all wheel driver incorporated throughout in a couple of different spots of the transmission, some in the back, and some in the front, which are out of view.
Mark: And the CVT, how ... What's your opinion on the CVT transmission?
Bernie: Well I'm not big fans of them, this car drove fine, and it's not a ... It seemed to work fine, but doing a little research, they have had some ... Subaru has had some problems with them and they've extended their warranty, which is a good thing. I know Nissan has used CVTs for quite a long time, and they had a lot of problems with them for, and again extended their warranty quite substantially. So the manufacturers, they want to use this technology because there's a lot of good things about it, but they ... A lot of them seem to have trouble getting it working properly. But as I say in the case of this car, it feels fine to drive. Hopefully once any warranty repaired items will keep the transmission going for a long time further.
Mark: So let's just maybe drill into this for just a second, CVT means constant variable transmission, so in theory than instead of a 7 speed or 9 speed or 3 speed transmission, you have an infinite amount of shifting basically, the trany will just provide the power the car needs based on the load?
Bernie: Exactly. It can be in any gear and the thing that's great about this and that's why a lot of engines have gone for electronic throttles or some engines that even have the valve trains are completely ... Not completely, but largely electronically controls of the valves can be open at different times then things aren't bound by gear ratios or timing chains, where things have to be precisely timed, they could be varied. So you can get the maximum power, the best fuel economy, the best exhaust emissions all wrapped up and all controlled by a computer, so there's good reasons to have it, did that answer your question?
Bernie: Good, perfect.
Mark: And how else ... What else did you notice about this car? What else ... Was there any of the-
Bernie: Couple other interesting features, if we go ... Well actually back under the hood, I really like this feature. Hood shocks, or hood struts, where Subaru used to have the typical prop rod where you'd lift the hood up and put the ... Hang the rod up. These have the shocks that hold the hood up, so that's a nice ... It's a simple thing, but it's a nice feature that's been missing from Subaru in the past, and especially being a technician working on a car, it's always appreciated to have these things. However, it's nice when they work, sometimes when they fail, people don't wanna spend the money to fix 'em and that can be a little disconcerting, but we can always put the rod in place then. Electric parking brake, this is a ... Maybe this is a good feature, maybe not. It's nice if you just pull a little lever and the brake locks on, and if you forget to take the brake off, no big deal 'cause as soon as you accelerate, the parking brake comes off automatically, so many cars use electric parking brakes these days, the hand lever or foot pedal seems to have pretty near disappeared, so Subaru's gone that route too. Again, it's good, however it leaves one less brake that you could have manually operated if you needed it, and also a lot more expensive to repair as time goes by, but a nice feature. It gives the car a nice modern feel. The other feature I found I really liked on this car is the front control arm bushings. The front ... The control arm is an arm that extends from the frame of the vehicle out to the wheel. The wheel of the car would be over ... Just out of the picture here, you can see the drive axle here, and this is ... The frame of the vehicle is here. Now the rear control arm bushing where I've got the red arrow pointing, in the older generation of Subaru's like back up to the second generation, these ... They had a bushing of a similar design, it was very durable. I owned a car myself for over 10 years. The car almost 300,000 kilometres when I finally packed it in, and the bushings were still in good shape. In the next generation, they went to a bushing that looked more like this tire. It was a vertical bushing with a bolt that went this direction, through the centre and they were really crappy. They did not last, not durable, and surprising that they even put it in a car that a lot of people will actually take on rougher roads, so they've gone back to this design here, very robust, so I was really pleased to see that. That's a really big improvement for Subaru, there's a ... Actually there's the same view. I had another closer up, there's another closer view of the bushing, so the rubber bushings in here, but the bracket is really solid and robust. This design is just much better. One final feature on the inside of the car, there's your electric parking brake lever. It's got a couple of electronic modes, one, the x-mode will lock the all wheel drive system so you have better traction in slippery roads, which is a great thing to have. Also, a hill mode too, so you can climb or go down steep hills and it'll lower the gear ratio. So it gives a ... Sort of features of a ... Maybe a multi-speed transfer case, but all done electronically. I think that's all we have in the way of pictures, so I'll bring myself back to the camera.
Mark: So you drove it, you inspected it, how ... What was ... What kind of score would you give this vehicle?
Bernie: I'd say really good. My only nit picky complaint is I hate the smell of the interior, it's got that horrible plastic smell and I find that I find it hard to breathe in that environment, but it's a nice car, and this is a base model and it had ... Really had the feel of a ... If you go back past a couple of generations, it had the quality and feel of a much nicer model. So really well built car. Again the CVT is hard to know how reliable it'll be. This is a 2017, so it still got lots of warranty left on it, and other than that, fantastic car, really nice to drive, good fuel economy too with the engine.
Mark: So there you go, if you're looking for service for your Subaru's or you need a pre purchase inspection for any brand, make model of car in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604)327-7112 to book your appointment. Check out their website, PawlikAutomotive.com, our Youtube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair, there's hundreds of videos on there, or hopefully you're listening on our new podcast. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark.