This question actually comes up a lot, not just in terms of an older Subaru that you already own but also what older Subaru’s are still okay to buy.
I recent discussion I had with a customer prompted me to try and help explain the difference between a Subaru you should own and drive as a daily commuter and one that is really turned itself into an enthusiasts car. You shouldn’t really try to make an enthusiasts car a daily driver, well not unless you are the one working on it and your boss doesn’t mind you missing work cause your car is down. The reality is that as cars age it can become really difficult to source parts for an older Subaru. When I say parts I mean OE Subaru or the true equivalent.
No I am not telling you that if you are lucky enough to own a 1996 Impreza with a 2.2l and a 5 speed manual you should get rid of it, far from it. What I do want to suggest however that you must be prepared for down time if you own that car and something like a wiper motor stops working, because you can’t get one from Subaru anymore and it might take a couple of aftermarket remans to find one that works properly.
What am I calling an older Subaru?
For the purpose of this article here are the current Subarus as of 02/28/2019 that are difficult to source parts for. The list will probably have grown by the time you have read this I might add but here it is.
Great Engine, very problematic E4AT Automatic Transmissions. The list of stuff we can’t get any longer is now pages long. I am not talking about maintenance parts mind you I am talking things that are not safety related that Subaru stopped making years ago such as window switches, fuel pumps, control modules, you know just the minor stuff that keeps it from being a planter box.
Any year SVX
Yes, I still own one and yes currently still looking for some parts to drive it again. No I don’t know why I still own it. Just a sucker for an over engineered, under powered ugly duckling I guess. In all seriousness, finding parts for an SVX anymore is a huge challenge. The engines do make for a great swap into Vanagons I might add, and if you have one of these cars in good shape they are actually nice to drive.
Early years of the first Gen Subaru Impreza (1993-1996 especially difficult sometimes)
So I am going to state there is a lot of grey area with the Impreza, as they are all over the place from 1993-2001 we had the 1.8l (not to be confused with the 1.8l in the Loyal, XT etc) the 2.2l, the 2.5l RS and there are parts for these cars if you can source JDM stuff, but that’s just not something the average person can or should try and do. Through the years if a customer asks me what I think is the most reliable Subaru I will generally defer to the 1995-1996 Impreza with a 5 speed,like this one I bought for my son.
It’s now in the hands of one of his friends, and this car is a great example of an enthusiasts car. Yes this is the same car pictured above.
Any year Loyal, GL, Dl.
A 1992 model came in for a pre-purchase inspection, the interaction with the customer prompted this post. This is an enthusiasts car only at this point, it’s just not conceivable to pay a shop to make major repairs on a Loyal anymore, they were great cars in their time, but their time was in the 80’s and 90’s.
Any year XT or XT6 (not to be confused with an Outback or Forester XT) Oh the Spaceship on wheels with the one wiper and a cockpit for a dash. I have owned a few of these, they are actually very cool cars, just impossible to find parts for, unless they are sourced out of Japan.
Any year Justy, just no
The Brat, what can I say, any car with rear jump seats deserves to stick around, but in order to do so you probably have to swap in a different drive train like this one below running a EJ2.2l out of a Legacy.
If you own one of these Subaru models, I am not telling you to sell it or give it away, I am stating however patience is needed when owning one. If you are in the market for a used Subaru and one of these has caught your eye you should only buy it if you are going to be the one servicing and repairing it.
Thanks for reading