Subarus are known as some of the most reliable vehicles on the road. Although reliable, Subarus do need the occasional repairs. Before you purchase a Subaru of your own, prepare yourself for the cost of repairs.
In general, Subarus are inexpensive to repair. Because of their design, mechanics spend less time on most repairs. Though Subaru repairs cost less in labor, their parts often cost more than domestic vehicle manufacturers. If the vehicle is routinely maintained, then repair costs can be decreased.
Don’t write Subarus off quite so fast. Remember, there is more to repair costs than just the cost of parts. Here you will learn about the cost of labor and parts, as well as the frequency that Subarus need repairs compared to other vehicle manufacturers.
Common Subaru Repairs and Costs
Most car repair sites write Subarus off as too expensive, based solely on the cost of parts. While it is true that Subaru parts cost more than other car parts such as Ford or Chevrolet, they are easier to repair.
Cole from CM Automotive in Helena, MT, explained that it feels like Subaru kept mechanics in mind when designing their vehicles. For example, a repair that would take 10 hours on a Ford takes half the time on a Subaru.
In general, Subarus do not need to be repaired as often as other car manufacturers. According to Repair Pal, Subarus visit the mechanic’s shop 0.3 times a year while all other vehicle brands visit the shop 0.4 times a year.
Since Subarus often needless repairs, they are considered one of the most reliable vehicles available for purchase. According to USA Today, Consumer Reports ranks the 2022 Subaru line-up as the 7th most reliable vehicle manufacturer.
Unfortunately, Repair Pal reports that when a Subaru goes to the shop, it is more likely to be for a severe problem than other vehicle brands.
One of the most common repairs in Subarus is head gasket failure. Head gasket failure occurs when excessive heat is applied to the cylinder head. This happens when the vehicle runs low on coolant. In Subarus, this occurs around 100,000 to 150,000 miles
At first, oil starts leaking from the head gaskets, eventually leading to total gasket failure. Cole from CM Automotive explains that removing the engine for a head gasket repair takes much less time in Subarus.
According to him, total engine removal and replacement will take six hours in a Subaru; meanwhile, the same task takes about 9 hours in a Ford Explorer (actual time will vary depending on the model of vehicle).
Although 3 extra hours does not seem like that much extra, it adds up in labor costs. For example, if the shop charges $110 per hour for labor (like CM Auto does) you would spend $660 for the Subaru and $990 for the Ford Explorer.
As I mentioned earlier, other automotive advice sites focus primarily on the cost of parts when evaluating Subaru repair expenses. The parts needed to complete the Subarus head gasket repair cost $396; meanwhile, the same parts for the Ford Explorer cost just $346. In total, repairing the Subaru costs just $1,056 and the Ford repair costs $1,336. While you save money on parts with the Ford, labor costs make it much more expensive.
Another costly repair associated with Subarus is tire replacement. If one tire blows out or needs replacing, all the tires must be replaced, even if they are new.
Because Subarus are all-wheel vehicles, all the tires need to have tread depths within 2/32nds of an inch of each other. If you replace just one tire it can damage the interior of the transfer case. According to Repair Pal, the cost to repair the transfer case is between $2,500 and $2,615. So save yourself time, money, and hassle by replacing all the tires at once.
Average Cost of Maintaining a Subaru
Although some repairs are inevitable, others can be avoided with routine maintenance. So long as the vehicle is maintained, you can avoid many of the expensive repair costs associated with Subarus.
So what routine maintenance will your Subaru need? And how much will it cost you to complete it?
According to Repair Pal, on average, Subaru owners spend $617 on routine maintenance and repairs. That’s $35 less than those who own other vehicle brands.
Routine maintenance includes getting the oil changed, tires rotated, and fluid services.
The oil should be changed every 3,000 miles if conventional oil is used, every 5,000 miles if synthetic oil is used, or every 3 months depending on your mileage. Most mechanics shops charge about $50 for an oil change, meaning you will only spend about $200 on oil changes each year. (Remember, mechanic shops charge more than lube shops.)
Rotating your tires will reduce the chance of a tire blowout, extending the duration of their life. You should get your tires rotated about every 6,000 miles. According to the Kelley Blue Book, the average American drives about 14,000 miles a year. This means you only need a tire rotation twice a year. Since most mechanic shops charge about $40 for a tire rotation and balancing, you only need to spend $80 each year.
The final bit of maintenance, servicing the vehicle’s fluids, does not have to be done every year. How often you need to get your fluids serviced depends on your vehicle’s mileage. In general, you should complete this maintenance once every three years. Servicing fluids takes about an hour, costing you an hour of labor and the fluids used. This means you will spend $150 to $200 once every three years.
With these numbers in mind, you will only spend about $350 on maintenance each year. So long as you keep up with this maintenance, and drive responsibly, you can avoid many other costly repairs. In the event that you need repairs done on your Subaru, find a mechanic who can work fast. If you pay extra in parts, you will more than save on labor costs.