December 15

How are Subaru Cars for Reliability?

Auto Repair, Subaru


Talking Subarus with the owner of award winning Pawlik Automotive, Bernie Pawlik.

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with award winning mechanic in Vancouver, Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive. How’re you doing tonight Bernie?

Bernie: Awesome.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about Subarus. How are Subarus for reliability? So tell me, what’s your experience with Subarus? I understand that you service a lot of them at Pawlik Automotive.

Bernie: Yes, we do. I don’t know but for some reason seem to service a lot of them at our shop and I’ve owned three of them actually over the years, three different generations of Subarus; they’ve all been really good cars.
Mark: So what can you tell us about Subarus? Why have you driven them for so many years?
Bernie: Well, for me the appeal of the Subaru, it’s the all-wheel drive system and in many models you get a higher ground clearance than an average car, so it gives a person a lot of options, what I like is you can drive on paved roads, logging roads, you can go a long ways in the snow, you can usually get to work on any given day no matter how much snow there’s on the ground. There’s a lot of great attributes to be found in a Subaru that you would also find in a 4×4 pickup. The great thing about a Subaru is that it’s a smaller car; I think it’s kind of a perfect marriage between a car and a 4×4 pickup.

Mark: So are Subarus reliable?

Bernie: Yes they are. As far as repairs like most modern cars they require very little repairs, maintenance is minimal. The major components such as engine transmission, four wheel drive system, differentials, you know the really expensive parts, they’re super reliable, the electronics are reliable, I kind of think of the Subaru as a 300,000 plus kilometer vehicle. It’s a category of vehicle that we see if you maintain it well you’re going to get 300,000 kilometers easily out of it without a lot of major expense.

Mark: So I’ve heard that head gaskets can be an issue with Subarus; is that true?

Bernie: It is and it’s probably their one major flaw. It’s only true on the 2.5 litres, 4 cylinders which is the most common engine. The gaskets develop external coolant and oil leaks, usually between 100 to 200 hundred kilometers. It’s a major expense but once it’s done it’s not something that you’re likely going to have to deal with again and other cars have that head gasket failures too, it’s just on a Subaru it’s almost a guarantee.
Mark: Any other maintenance issues?

Bernie: So the 2.5 litre, 4 cylinder have timing belts that need to be replaced about every 160 thousand kilometers. Of course again this is not unique to Subaru a lot of other engines have timing belts and they require replacement around that interval. I believe over the past couple of years Subaru the 4 cylinders now only actually have gone to a chain so you no longer have to replace the timing belt.

Mark: So what about the six cylinder engines? How are they?

Bernie: They’re great. I actually have a 2001 H6 Outback; I’ve owned it for many years, it’s been totally reliable. The H6 uses a timing chain so there’s no belt replacement required and the head gaskets don’t suffer from the same fate as the 4 cylinders. That being said, the 6 cylinder is a very complex engine and should anything go wrong it’s really expensive to fix so I keep my fingers crossed for my own car and those that own them but so far it’s got well over 200,000 kilometers and nothings gone wrong with it. So it’s good.

Mark: So in your experience who buys Subarus?

Bernie: Well, I think there are a couple groups of people that buy them. I think first it’s the people who buy them it’s a life style car for getting them to their outdoor activities and people who want to go off the beaten path but don’t want to own a truck. The second people are families; they’re looking for a compact but useful and roomy vehicle. The Subaru Forrester is a great example, it’s a boxy vehicle, it’s got lots of room, not huge mind you but it’s a good sized vehicle to haul a couple kids and your stuff around and the third group are the young guys looking for an awesome performance car.
I haven’t touched on the Impreza STI yet, I mean this is an awesome super-fast, great handling car. It’s equipped with the fabulous Subaru all-wheel drive system so while these cars are fairly expensive they’re nowhere near the price of a European sports car and you get incredible performance out of it so for a young guy, it’s a reachable kind of car.
Mark: Sure so that’s the base model that Subaru won the World Rally Championship for many years.
Bernie: Exactly, it’s based on that platform and they’re super-fast and a lot of fun to drive.
Mark: Awesome, anything else?

Bernie: As I’ve said before Subarus are great cars and when my Outback wears out I’ll probably buy another one because I love the car. If you’re looking for a versatile car that will take you places that many cars won’t I’d consider buying a Subaru. If you’re looking for an exciting, fast rally kind of car again the Impreza STI is an awesome car and if you’re in the Vancouver area and you own a Subaru bring it to us for service. We know the cars really well and we can keep yours running reliably for years and years.

Mark: So, we’ve been talking with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, recent winners again of the best auto repair shop in Vancouver as voted by the readers of the Georgia Straight, that’s their twelfth win between a couple different publications. You can find them at or give them a call at 604-327-7112 if you’re looking for an honest mechanic, this is the guy. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark, we’ll talk again soon.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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