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Whether you buy a new or used model, you must incur maintenance expenses to keep your car in good working condition. These expenses include oil changes, brake replacements, and other general repairs and vary with the vehicle model, age, mileage, and other factors.

For used car owners, you’ll likely have to pay these maintenance costs out of pocket after an inconvenient trip to the repair shop. However, you can prevent this by checking the average annual repair and maintenance costs of the cars you’re interested in to judge affordability in the long run. If you’re interested in a Subaru, you’ll be glad to know most models have a low cost of ownership. Only one Subaru model has an average annual repair cost of over $700.

Subaru’s annual average maintenance costs

A closeup of the wheel and brake calipers on a white 2020 Subaru WRX STI
2020 Subaru WRX STI | Subaru of America, Inc.

According to RepairPal, the average maintenance cost of Subaru models is $617 per year compared to $652 across all models. Subaru owners visit a repair shop an average of 0.3 times per year, and 13% of repairs are considered severe, compared to 0.4 and 12%, respectively, across all models. It has a reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5.0.

However, remember that several factors affect a vehicle’s annual repair and maintenance costs, including the model, age, mileage, location, and driving habits, so your Subaru’s yearly costs could be higher or lower.

The three most common Subaru problems are:

  1. The front oxygen sensor cracks and causes the Check Engine Light to illuminate. It affects 15 model years at an average mileage of 13,373 miles.
  2. The catalytic converter fails and causes the Check Engine Light to illuminate. It also affects 15 model years at an average mileage of 116,389 miles.
  3. A noticeable vibration or shudder that feels like going over rumble strips when accelerating. It affects 18 model years at an average mileage of 112,782 miles.

The Subaru model with the highest annual maintenance cost is the Subaru WRX STI, and the model with the lowest annual maintenance cost is the Subaru Loyale.

Typical Subaru WRX STI issues

The Subaru WRX STI is the high-performance version of the Subaru WRX. It features an aggressive exterior design with its aerodynamic lines, iconic hood scoop, flared fenders, and side skirts, giving it a sleek, sporty appearance. It also has a three-box sedan body with a roomy interior and spacious cargo area.

The WRX STI is based on the Subaru Impreza but features a more powerful turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four engine. It has a fuel economy of 16/22 mpg city/highway. However, Subaru no longer offers the WRX STI, meaning it’s only available as a used car option.

The Subaru WRX STI has an average annual maintenance cost of $751, according to RepairPal. It has three reported problems:

  1. The knock sensor fails randomly, causing the Check Engine Light to illuminate. It affects seven model years at an average mileage of 32,000 miles.
  2. The Spark plug wires fail, causing the engine to misfire, and illuminating the Check Engine Light. It affects seven model years at an average mileage of 95,000 miles.
  3. A technical service bulletin for the ABS control module.

Fortunately, the most reported problems are not among the most expensive repairs. RepairPal says the highest maintenance expense is a coolant change ($307-$326), followed by AC Recharge ($183-$215).

The Subaru Loyale has low maintenance costs

If you want to buy a used Subaru that won’t cost an arm and a leg to maintain, consider the Subaru model with the lowest maintenance cost—the Subaru Loyale. According to RepairPal, the average annual maintenance cost of the Subaru Loyale is $389. Its three most common problems are engine oil leaks from the valve cover gasket and camshaft and crankshaft seals, noticeable valve lifter noise, and a premature timing belt. The most expensive maintenance cost is recharging the AC, which costs $427-$459.

Consider factors contributing to maintenance costs

You should factor in repair maintenance costs in your car purchase decision as they affect your ownership experience. However, repair and maintenance expenses vary. So, you should consider factors like model, age, location, mileage, and driving habits to estimate the maintenance costs to expect accurately.

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