How to decide whether to fix your Subaru, or when its time to buy a new car.

Its inevitable; drive enough miles in your Subaru, and eventually it will need some major repairs. We often have the conversation with our customers: do I fix this Subaru, or buy a new one? We’ve found its best to start by asking two questions: do you still enjoy the car and is it meeting all of your needs?  If the answer is yes to both questions then its time to look at the financial side.

whether to buy a new subaru
“Dear, don’t those new Outback’s look nice?”

Subaru’s, as well as other cars, are getting more and more expensive. Re-investing into your current Subaru can actually make sense and save you thousands in the long run. In my cost of ownership analysis I compared a brand new, entry-level 2018 Subaru Impreza to a 2005 Subaru Outback. I also assumed no money down an a 0% interest, 4-year loan.  After researching some numbers it’s pretty clear which scenario is more financially beneficial. For some more customized research, Edmonds has an excellent cost of ownership calculator for new cars.

The Breakdown


 Cost of Ownership over 4 Years
 Own OutrightNew Purchase
 2005 Subaru Outback2018 Subaru Impreza
Purchase price incl tax/lic$0 (no monthly payment)$22,360 ($466 monthly pmt. 0 down 0% interest)
4yrs Lic/Reg/RTA est.$92$0
Insurance(no comp/coll on 05)$575$750
Yearly Maint/Repairs$2,000$400
Estimated worst case$2,000$500
on 2005 model$2,000$800
Fuel Cost$8,000$6,000
Depreciation over 4 yrs$3,000$11,470 
based on  
Total Cost of Ownership$21,645.00$46,500


I think that my guess-timate of expenses for the 2005 Outback is a bit high. It would be out of the norm for you to spend $8,000 in repairs and maintenance over 4 years, even if it needed head gaskets during that time.

But the New Car Smell…

I realize that not all decisions are based on finances. Some of us just love the new car smell. Newer models also have new safety and technology that can be beneficial. Whether you decide to fix your Subaru, or buy a new one, I just want you to be happy with your decision. We’re always here to help answer questions. We’ve also written a post on how to approach buying a used Subaru, if that is a route you want to explore.


Mike Corbin

Smart Service

Last Updated: February 25, 2020


  1. Michael Whiting
    June 5, 2018 Reply

    We have a 2005 Outback and just spent $2200.00 at the dealer for a new front end, (front axle, bushings etc) Major Service. Car has 118,000 miles. This is the second time front end replaced. (done in 2014)
    We also has timing belt and V belts replaced in 2014 and head gaskets replaced when car had 82,000 miles. $3200.00
    Now the dealer is recommending replacing all belts again and head gasket leak (A 1) and both Cam cases are beginning to leak.
    We are at the crossroads and thought about a new Crosstrek but at $31,000 just is too high.
    We like out Outback but read that 2005 was not a good year ? We have always kept up maintenance.
    We would like to switch to your shop. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Mike Corbin
      June 5, 2018 Reply

      Hi Michael,
      I’m sorry to hear of the multiple repairs on what are apparently are the same items. Before approving any work there, I’d advise getting a second opinion.We can do that for free and actually take you out into the shop to explain what we see and the severity of such. If the head gaskets were done at 82000 I’m perplexed why they would be leaking as well as the cam cases. If you can call either of our locations and we’ll take a look for you at no charge to see what’s really going on. Please bring records of any repairs so we can compare what’s been done to what may need to be done. From there we can help you figure what is the best route.

      Mukilteo 425-315-9999
      Shoreline 206-417-0880

      Let them know Mike said it would be a free second opinion.

Leave A Comment

Smart Service is an independent parts and service retailer and is not associated with Subaru, Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru of America, Toyota Motor Sales or American Honda Motor Co.