New car

So Im thinking about getting a '03 ish Subaru Outback. I know they are really popular for kayaks. My questions is to anyone that has one or experience with one. When putting big boats on the car such as my Necky Looksha 17 do you have to do more than the normal rack tie downs such as adding a bow and stern line.

over hang
With the overhang out front on Suburu I would recommend

(strongly) crossed front tiedowns. At interstate speeds the back draft from trucks is brutal. On my Saturn wagon which was the same size I would use them religiously. Stern tie downs I felt I did not need with that spread.

(In my current car I use both bow and rear tie downs)

Third party racks or not?
We carry up to four sea kayaks boats on our 07 Subie Outback on a setup of Yakima rails and stackers. No problem that way, but are you talking about a third party system or using the factory cross bars? In the latter case you’d hit some lower weight limits.

But no problem. You’ll have to put loops thru the bumper guard or whatever for a bow line - there’s nothing up front under the grill that I’d trust. But that keeps lines out of the wheel wells anyway so it’s probably safe. We’ve been all over the northeast with this setup and have never needed more than the usual bow line, but stackers tend to be very secure.

We don’t use stern lines, so I can’t tell you if there’s a connection you’d like down there.

New car
Thanks for the advice.

used subaru
I don’t want to pour cold water on your planned purchase, because I enjoyed a number of Subaru Outbacks in the past. However, for the good of your wallet, check to see if this car has had a head gasket repair. They frequently (usually) fail between 50,000 and 100,000 miles and cost $1500 to repair. At that milage they are usually out of warrantee. I experienced such a failure at the top of the Rockies and we had to have the car trucked to Denver for repair (a subaru shouldn’t be towed due to the all wheel drive system).

I stopped buying Subaru vehicles after owning 5 because the company wouldn’t extend the warrantee after doing a mickey mouse “solution” to the potential head gasket problem on another outback we owned. When the head gasket repair is done properly (heads have to be milled) it seems to hold up.

In defense of the Outback, the all wheel drive is the best such system I’ve driven (only other possible contender would be Audi, which I have not driven), it handles securely, ride is better than most similar models and it’s fairly quiet inside. They are very reassuring to drive in New England weather: I still miss driving them.

I now drive a “reliable” 2007 Toyota V6 Rav4, which has needed three significant problems fixed (not gas pedal), all done under warranty. At this time I don’t know what to buy for trouble free driving, maybe a Honda if you avoid the V6 models because of transmission problems (however, Honda does stand behind their quality, not like Subaru didn’t in my situation). The previous generation CRV is utterably reliable, but is much nosier than the Outback, rides harsher and the 4 WD on demand isn’t as good as the Subaru all wheel drive.


Disappointing, isn’t it?
I owned two Toyota trucks, both of which had significant problems. Definitely did not live up to its golden reputation, though they were still good trucks overall.

My husband’s '05 Outback is doing well, but there’s this little voice in the back of my head that whispers, “How will the head gasket hold up?”

One of my Toyotas was in the infamous head gasket “campaign.” It WAS running great…until the dealer “fixed” the head gasket. After that, it began running roughly and it burned oil, which it had never done before. A friend told me the same story after he had had HIS truck “fixed” at the same dealership. Don’t know if it was a coincidence, but in addition to paying hundreds of dollars for part of the so-called repair on the head gasket, there was another $2000 to replace a bad exhaust valve return spring at a different dealership. Their master mechanic kept the truck for a week. The dealership that diagnosed the problem (it took me 3 yrs to get it traced) said the first dealership or the independent repair shop I took it to after that (several tries) should have found it.

I keep no allegiance to brands; pretty much all of them have put out bad stuff.

ripped off
2 grand to replace a valve spring??? Man you got ripped, HUGE.

Bill H.

I think that’s what it was
Whatever it was was in the engine. Maybe I got ripped off, maybe not. I don’t know if you can judge what’s reasonable for it unless you’re an expert on this truck and engine.

The biggest rip-offs were the first dealership and the independent garage. It became clear that there was some sort of bad blood between those two places (ex-employee started the independent), and nobody was willing to stand behind their work but wanted to blame the other. That’s why I went to the other dealership…at least they actually fixed the problem.

Definitely ask
If the head gaskets have been replaced. Mine went at 80k luckily Subaru fixed them for free.

sorry, no pun intended and your advice is sound. But my outback went 210k with the original HG and to my knowledge is still running strong.

FWIW my mechanic said the gasket was the point of failure, not the head. So if you catch it in time there is no milling necessary; you just have to put on a better gasket.

Ditto the head gasket
6 friends with similar year Outbacks, 5 who’ve had blown head gaskets.

Now on the other hand, I have 6 friends with Outbacks, so one can deduce that they are great cars.

It really pains me that people believe bow and stern lines are optional. You need them. I see 4-5 roof racks every year that have been torn off cars from the lift boats generate. The boats are still tied on to the rack, but the sheet metal of the roof or some mounting point fails and the whole thing comes off. Bow and Stern lines would never allow this to happen. There would never be the stress that causes rack failure. I have also seen car accidents where boats have ended up in other people’s vehicles. Bow and stern lines would remove the chance of a deadly projectile in the off chance of an accident.

I’ve got a 2008 Legacy
Does it have the same head gasket “potential” problems?

2008 subaru-head gasket issues?
Only time will tell. Don’t believe what the dealers tell you (any brand). I just drooped off my “reliable” 2007 Rav4 for a “service bulletin” repair for transmission whining. Twice before I was told the sound was “normal,” implying that it was just owner whining.

Before I stopped buying any Subaru, they would tell me every year that had just solved the problem by changes made. In 2000 I was told that, again in 2002 and again 2003. Consumer Reports shows problems after 2003.

This problem usually occurred after 50,000 miles so it will take a few more years to see if it’s still occurring in 2005-2010 models.