How to Buy a Subaru Outback With High Miles

Written by patrick hutchison
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How to Buy a Subaru Outback With High Miles
Checking the tires is just one step in buying a Subaru Outback with high miles. (detail of a car tire image by Albert Lozano from

Subarus are prized for their reliability, performance and safety. The Subaru Outback was introduced in 1995 as an off-road capable alternative to sport utility vehicles. Because of their reliability, many Subaru Outbacks with high miles are still on the market. As with any used car, Subaru Outbacks are not immune to mechanical problems. If you are in the market for a Subaru Outback with high miles, look for a few common Subaru problems.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Flashlight

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  1. 1

    Check the tire pressure of each tire with your tire pressure gauge. Compare the pressure readings with the pressure recommendation sticker on the inside of the drivers door frame. Tire pressure is very important to all-wheel drive cars like Subaru Outbacks. Uneven tire pressures can harm the all-wheel drive transmission.

  2. 2

    Turn the car on and see if the Check Engine Light comes on. Subaru Outbacks with high miles often have problems with their emissions systems, including the oxygen sensors and catalytic converters. The Check Engine Light will light up if there are problems with these systems.

  3. 3

    Drive the car until it reaches normal operating temperature. Then, find a large open car park and perform tight circle turns in both directions. Feel for any shuddering in the steering wheel when making the turns. Many Subaru Outbacks with high miles have a problem called torque bind. Torque bind is a symptom of a failing viscous coupler, a part of the transmission that regulates the all-wheel drive system. Replacing the viscous coupler costs upwards of £650.

  4. 4

    Open the bonnet and find the fuse box located near the battery compartment. Check to see if there is a fuse in the FWD slot of the fuse box. If the car has an automatic transmission, a fuse in the FWD slot will deactivate the all-wheel drive. Putting the car in FWD overrides the viscous coupler and is often a sign that problems, including torque bind, are being covered up.

  5. 5

    Look for oil leaks and coolant leaks around the engine, particularly along the head gaskets that run the length of the engine on both sides. Oil leaks around the head gasket may be a symptom of a cracked head gasket, another common problem in Subaru Outbacks with high miles.

Tips and warnings

  • Consider a certified pre-owned Subaru Outback. Subaru's certified pre-owned program includes a 152-point inspection and often includes a limited warranty.
  • Avoid buying a Subaru Outback with high miles online, without seeing it first. Many of the most common, and most expensive, problems on Subaru Outbacks are not obvious in pictures. Owners may not even be aware that the Subaru Outback they are selling has problems.

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