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Often overlooked, the Subaru Legacy is a staple of the manufacturer’s lineup. Neatly placed among the rugged crossovers like the Subaru Crosstrek or the sporty WRX sedan, the Legacy provides an easy middle-ground option. For 2023, the Legacy uses the same platform as the Outback wagon and shares many components with the Outback. If the Legacy is your family vehicle, you may wonder what issues you will encounter. Here are the three most common problems reported by real owners.

Subaru Legacy head gasket failure

2012 Subaru Legacy rolling
2012 Subaru Legacy | Subaru

One of the most common issues with Subaru is the head gaskets failing. Cooling system issues end up causing the car to overheat, and the head gaskets are usually the culprit. Once the gaskets start to leak, the vehicle will begin to overheat, which can cause severe damage. Head gasket replacement is recommended every 80,000 to 100,000 miles as preventative maintenance. Owners of 2009 to 2012 Subaru Legacy report head gasket failure around 100,000 miles, according to RepairPal. The repair can be costly, but it will be less than a complete engine replacement.

Subaru front O2 sensor recall

2006 Subaru Legacy gray
2006 Subaru Legacy | Getty Images

Affecting only the 2000, 2001, 2004, and 2006 model years of the Subaru Legacy, an O2 sensor recall was issued by the manufacturer. The oxygen sensor, which controls the air-fuel ratio for the vehicle, may develop a crack. If the sensor cracks, it will cause the check engine light to go off. The O2 sensor is a standard replacement for Subaru models. Although it is not a government-mandated recall, the brand issued it for these specific years due to the frequency of the issue. The failure happens on average at 133,000 miles. While the repair cost can vary, the recall is done at the dealership for free.

Subaru Legacy ABS pump failure causes it to run continuously

Running the anti-lock brake system or ABS pump requires electric power. For example, in the Subaru Legacy, from 1990 to 1998, the ABS relay would fail and cause the pump to run even when the vehicle is off. Not only does this add wear to the pump, but it will also drain the car’s battery over time. With the average repair mileage of around 200,000 miles, it is common to need this repair on cars from those model years. If you catch the repair early enough, replacing the relay can be inexpensive. But, if it has gone on long enough to kill the battery, you may consider replacing the pump, which can cost over $1000.

Are Subaru Legacys reliable cars?

Overall, the Legacy is still a reliable car. Notably, RepairPal gives Legacy a rating of 4.0 out of 5.0, which is still above average for midsize cars. Annual repair costs for the Subaru Legacy are $563, putting it slightly above average for its class which is an average of $526. In most cases, if you are shopping for a Subaru Legacy, the best years to buy would be 2013 and newer.


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