If there’s anything telling about the 5 years I owned a Subaru Legacy, it’s this:
That is the only photo I have of that car. It was a good looking car, handled great, couldn’t accelerate out of its own way… Leather interior, premium stereo, absolute tank in the winter. It was the whole wheat toast of cars. Healthy, safe, reliable, but almost completely forgettable once I’d decided to move on from it.
Maybe part of the reason I don’t think much about the car is that I replaced my favorite car – my ’05 GTI – with it because I now had a family and it was time to put away childish things. Originally, I wasn’t even looking at a Subaru. I first went to a local dealership with a crappy reputation that’s persisted since well before I began driving.
My first option was a Ford Fusion. AWD, V6. It had been sitting on the lot for 6 months, they were asking 15, I was offering 12 (mainly because I knew exactly how much they spent on it at auction and how much they spent to refresh it). They didn’t have any desire to haggle, so the owner abruptly asked me to leave. That’s right, I got kicked out of a dealership for attempting to haggle. Same dealership that sold a girl my ’89 Chevy Silverado with blown suspension and leaking exhaust… but I digress.
Subaru always had a great safety reputation, AWD made the winters in the northeast bearable, it was roomy and reliable. The handling was probably its best feature. Whether it was the AWD, the suspension, or the Continental DWS Extreme Contacts… that car could be absolutely hurtled into any corner and come out the other side unscathed. That being said, the 2.5l flat 4 was absolutely gutless. Not even manual shifting could redeem it.
Gas mileage was decent, while the salesman told me 35, reality was that they all lie, and the best I’d ever get (on roadtrips was around 30-32mpg). It was also the last car I ever took to get an oil change at the local car wash. Now I had plenty going on in my life at the time, a busy job, a failing marriage, so I didn’t really pay much attention to the oil stains on the driveway. In fact I think I mostly blamed the PT Cruiser (we’ll get there). All Chryslers leak.
In actuality, the car wash never actually tightened the oil filter. The weather warmed back up so I went to give it an oil change. The oil filter came off in my hand with zero effort. There was approximately 1/2 quart of oil in the oil pan. The only saving grace in this situation was Mobil 1 Synthetic. Any other oil, I’m pretty sure the engine would have been lost. I’m still wondering to this day how the oil light never came on.
I emailed the car wash, no response. Considering I had to destroy the oil filter on the PT Cruiser to remove it, I vowed to never again let that place change my oil. Seriously folks – if you have a driveway and a bucket, it’s not that difficult to do it yourself. I changed the oil, ran the car for a week, changed it again, had the cylinders scoped, engine was perfect. Seriously folks, Mobile 1. Worth every penny.
So since I bought the car before the marriage, I kept it after the marriage. I drove it for another 3 years after the divorce before my work situation changed, I got clear of all the debt I accrued before, during, and after the marriage, and finally had a chance to pay it off and be free of car payments for the first time in nearly 20 years. A week after I paid that Subaru off? Check engine light.
Can’t make it up. It’s like it knew. I will say one thing about Japanese cars though, they hold their resale value, even with a check engine light and 90k on the odometer. Before I can get to the car that replaced it though, I need to give SOME props to the veritable Chrysler PT Cruiser, and my 2012 Kawasaki Vulcan 900… my post divorce, make myself feel better by buying something big, toy.