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Ski car question either/or...

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I need a winter car for my niece, she will be in Vermont and traveling about 20 miles of back roads to get to Okemo. here are our 2 options, both in the 5-6K range.

1. 98 Subie Outback LTD, 135K Immaculate car, one owner Subie Family. Bought 11 or so Subies from my dealership

2. 99 Chev Malibu FWD, 16K for miles, typical "old persons" car. I will be putting 4 snows on it.

Without breaking the bank, these are the 2 best choices. Whaddya think? BTW, she grew up in Alaska and for teh most part knows how to drive in teh snow. Parents wnt her to get the Malibu, In-laws (with whom she will be staying with) want to get her to get the Subie. Needless to say if something happens like the Subie breaking down or the Malibu getting stuck. It will be MY fault. We have till Wed to make the decision.
post #2 of 19
Have you asked her which one she would prefer?
post #3 of 19
Definitely the Subie, but I am biased having owned nothing but Subies for a while now. Can't really compare AWD to FWD, even with 4 snows on it. I run my Legacy wagon with 4 studded snows because I live on a mountain top and coming down on my icy driveway can be tricky. I am sure that you know about the timing belt which should have been replaced at around 100k, and hopefully all the other belts and water pump. Also some of the early 2.5 l engines had some head gasket problems so check the overflow reservoir to make sure it doesn't have any black residue in it which would indicate a problem.
post #4 of 19
subaru. it will be more reliable and handle the dirt roads and winter conditions better. just make sure the clutch is sound if it's a manual.

get her snows no matter what.

but, what does she want?
post #5 of 19
Originally Posted by Posaune
Have you asked her which one she would prefer?
What do you think?! Unless...your niece doesn't happen to be *lame* does she, Phil?

Seriously, in VT? The Subaru, hands down, that is as long as everything checks out mechnically. If not keep looking.
post #6 of 19
ok...here goes...there will be some debate on this issue...but as someone that has owned both the cars you are referring to and still to this day keeps one all wheel drive (Honda CRV) and one american front wheel drive(Pontiac Bonneville) in my garage...I may have some insight.

I think you have to hit this on probably three different fronts
1. Safety
2. Reliability
3. Longevity

From a safety standpoint and the conditions that will be encountered on where she is driving the all wheel drive may provide the extra traction to get up any snowy inclines. The Mailibu even with snows will potentially wash out a bit on anything too steep....been there done that. Don't get me wrong....its not terrible...but you have to hang in there sometimes.
However...I think the Mailibu being a bit bigger will provide more protection in case of an accident. But overall I think the Subaru will be more stable in snowy conditions.

From a reliability standpoint....how well have both cars been maintained? Does the Suburu have a timing chain or belt? Has it been changed recently if its a belt? Suburu's are very maintenance sensitive. They do run a long time...but they need to have fluids changed to maintain the reliability. Now some may debate this and say they have never changed their transaxle fluid or gear fluid and are doing fine...but they are fooling themselves.
The Mailibu at 16K miles is good, but did they do anything to it during those miles? I have gotten a ton of miles from my american cars...but quite frankly they do have more failures than the japanese cars. I like my bonneville because of the amount of room inside for passengers...and the mailibu has a lot of room too.

Longevity is the last part....how many miles does she drive each year, what is the plan to hold on to the car...how long? At 135K miles the Subaru, if properly maintained should last another 75-100K miles without too much trouble....IF PROPERLY MAINTAINED. I think the Mailibu could easily go another 100K miles. I have put 200K on my cars...just by taking care of them.

So to summarize....if this was my kid (he is 16 and wants a car by next year) I would be looking at how long he planned to keep it and how well it was maintained. If the Malibu was maintained in its short mileage life....I would probably go that route. ( I don't live in Vermont...but downstate NY) From the many subaru's I have worked on...I found that they don't really hold up as well as say the honda's or toyota's ....many will debate this...but I can only go by my own experiance. Have you ck'ed kelly blue book www.kbb.com or NADA www.nada.com to see the values of both cars? Look at the trade in value, not retail.
Hope this long winded response helped
post #7 of 19
If I had a daughter or niece, I'd want them driving in the safest, most reliable car I could get. Assuming she has no say in the matter (how old is she?), I'd probably go with the Malibu. Unless she drives like a maniac, good snow tires should be sufficient.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
She doesn't care which car. She isn't a car person. But in a closer look with the Malibu (shame on me for not looking at it before I posted), the interior looks like it has 116K not 16K. I am going to talk them out of this car.
post #9 of 19
richny -

that was a great summary. the only dice i take with it is that a malibu really isn't any bigger than a full size subaru. and the subaru is a wagon. that's definitely bigger inside than the malibu. personally, as far as a high speed crash is concerned, i wouldn't trust the american car anymore than a subaru.
post #10 of 19
carfax time?

As one poster indicated, if the timing belt goes ..... big $$$ time. Why not have the car vetted out by a good mechanic, well worth the $100. Belts, hoses, brakes and the age of the battey ..... what kind of tires does it have now etc.

The problems the mech finds can also be used as a legit bargaining chip to get the price down .... not to mention that it puts you off the hook to a point.
post #11 of 19
Ordinarily, I would say Sube hands down, but the 2.5 liter dohc engine in the '98 Outbacks (and Legacy GTs) is known to have valve train problems. Do you have access to the car's service records? If so, look for a repair to the valves and/or heads. If it has been fixed, go for the Sube. If not, walk away unless you can get it cheap enough to cover any future engine work or replacement.

FYI - in '99 Sube changed the 2.5 to a SOHC and is a better motor for reliability. The 2.2 liter (all years) is fine also, but not as powerful.

Regarding safety, please do not confuse size with protection. Subarus are always at the top of the crash test ratings due to two important factors - stiff unibodies for occupent safety and standard ABS and airbags. GM, Ford and Chrysler have kept ABS (and airbags in some cases) as extra charge options in order to keep the advertised base MSRP low. I would put Subaru at top of the heap with Mercedes, Volvo, BMW, Saab, Audi and Volkswagen when it comes to safety.

As for the Malibu, I would not even consider it and keep looking for another Sube if the Outback you mentioned does not work out.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
She is 22 and we are looking at this car being only a 6 month car. She will be instruction at Okemo and doesn't know what she will be doing come spring. She might be staying east or even going back to Alaska. So we want something that will be easily disposed of.
post #13 of 19
The subie, becasue it is a good driving car, and also has the AWD. THe malibu, its just so...
post #14 of 19
Neither. Keep looking.

Had that been 135,000 kilometers I would have said Subaru.
I know of several people who have had subarus start to break down at just over that milage, and it was major expense after major expense.

The Malibu should have about 90,000 miles on it. If the milage doesn't match the wear and tear what else doesn't add up? Tires new or worn out? Did they change the oil?

If you can get a mechanic you trust to look at the subie, then maybe I would lean that way. If you buy a six-month warranty, check out the waranty company very carefully and read the small print.

Other unasked for advice:
Get 4 snows what ever car she gets.
Buy a car the mechanic you trust can work on.
If she buys a newer car and sells it in the spring, she's only out the depreciation, not the purchase cost. A better idea if she can swing it.

Isn't it time you had a new car? Sell her your old one.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Ghost
Isn't it time you had a new car? Sell her your old one.
I have a 98 OB LTD, If I could find a replacement for that, I would. I found a 96 OB w/ 93K..I need to see what it needs.
post #16 of 19
if it might be only a 6 month deal, and you want to be able to get rid of it, a subie is the way to go. subies are one of those cars that seems to always sell quick up theah in vahmont, fella.
post #17 of 19

vermont cars

Well live out west now but went to UVM, family lives in vermont and they all have subies, AWD, easy to get served, good resale, good gas.
spent a lot of time at steamboat,co and seems like EVERYONE drives subes. The other car of choice were old saabs, great in snow but not cheap to maintain.
would DEFINITELY go sube if i were to move back (and if I didn't have to tote horses around)
post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Phil Pugliese
I have a 98 OB LTD, If I could find a replacement for that, I would. I found a 96 OB w/ 93K..I need to see what it needs.
The 96 turned out to be a good car, it is a green OB, not a LTD. I got her that one. Snows are mounted and she is in VT. Max, you will probably see it in the Okemo lot, right now it has PA temp tags but it will soon have Alaska tags.
post #19 of 19
Don't be a cheapskate Phil. Buy yourself a new scoobiedoo and give yours to your daughter. Kill two birds with one stone. That way you'll knw what she's getting and you can say Merry Christmas to me.

Malibu? Are you nuts?
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