How long do Subarus last?
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A car may frequently take you grocery shopping but you wouldn’t want to shop for a new car as frequent as you do your vegetable shopping! Your car and you need that ‘lived happily ever after’ relationship, which may lead you to ask, how long do Subarus last?

Most Subaru enthusiasts will wear your ears out singing its praises. Heck, some even have generational ownerships! – Their father’s, themselves, their sons all rode/ride different Subarus models. Because you want a car for the longest haul you may be asking yourself, how long do Subarus last?

Well, some Subaru owners claim in reviews to be already over the 450K mile mark and are still going strong. The highest I have seen is 3,000,000 miles, yet still in the game. Reputable auto dealers have put the matter to rest by their assertion that one can comfortably get up to 300,000 miles out of a Subaru.

The manufacturer adds his seal of approval by giving a standard warranty of 5 years/80,000 or 7 years/100,000 miles (powertrain) for all its models. This translates to a monthly average of 1,300 miles. In essence, the manufacturer is confident that for 5 -7 years, any Subaru is as good as new!

What makes Subarus last long?

Subaru’s features, which we are briefly going to mention, are not some magic abracadabra that bestows longevity to the brand. They enhance safety and performance and when properly taken care of, endure for long. These features include:

  • Upscale safety and infotainment system consisting of computer based driver ‘assist’ when driving, ane enhancing safety
  • Lowly placed horizontal box engine that lowers the center of gravity, making the car more stable
  • Symmetrical all-wheel drive system that enables every car to effortlessly navigate through all terrains and weather conditions

The key to your car’s long life is simply timely, proper management.

What is Proper Maintenance?

Proper and timely maintenance not only ensures smooth running of your Subaru, but also increases its trade-in value and mileage, while saving you time and money for costly repairs later. Every new Subaru comes with an owner’s manual which gives guidelines on formal maintenance schedules that gives the car optimal performance.

Experts recommend keeping a detailed record of your Subaru’s maintenance history. The thing about these manuals is that they soon get neglected and misplaced. Half the time they don’t come with the used car you buy. How do you still know which maintenance schedule to follow?

Manufacturers break down car maintenance into a 30-60-90 schedule to inspect/replace certain things in your car at 30, 60 and 90 miles. Of course cars have minds of their own, and not every item will await the set appointment! This means that ‘consumables’ like hoses, wipers and tires may wear out at irregular intervals. Periodic checking of these, outside the mile plan, is therefore a necessity.

The 30-60-90,000 mile routine maintenance schedule

The 30,000 Mile Maintenance

  • Air Filter

Clogged air filters reduce your car engine’s ‘breathing’ negatively impacting its performance. If you drive in a dusty environment, you should consider changing the air filter close to the 15,000-mile mark. A good rule of thumb is to change air filters at 15,000 to 30,000 miles.

  • Fuel filter

Clogged fuel filters can make your engine run roughly or even stall. 30,000 miles is a good mark to change fuel filters. A mechanic can perform a pressure test to confirm your fuel filter’s health.

The 60,000-Mile Maintenance

Batteries are meant to wear out and are pro-rated and warrantied by age, not mileage. Most batteries last 4 to 5 years, meaning they cover around 50,000 to 60,000 miles. Long periods of non-use, extreme temperatures and age, have a direct impact on battery performance.

Brakes engage through a hydraulic system. Contamination of the fluid in the system by water lowers its boiling point. It easily turns to gas, which being compressible leads to squishy brakes. Periodic replacement by new brake fluid is important. Most manufacturers recommend this being done at 20,000 to 45,000 miles.

Brake shoes and pads are designed to wear out. They make screeching sounds when they need to be replaced. Good sets last for about 50,000 miles.

  • Brake Rotors

Brakes work by squeezing pads against rotors (metallic discs) to slow the car.


Friction from this action subjects the rotors to lots of heat, making them warp over time. Rotor replacement needs to be done at about 60,000 miles. A less expensive alternative to replacing the rotors is grinding their surface to make them smooth again. This can, however, be only done once.

A mix of antifreeze and water flows through the radiator to cool your car’s engine. Loosing too much coolant leads to engine overhear, which can severely damage your car. Replacing the coolant at 60,000 miles is a good practice. Ensure that all the old coolant is flushed out.

  • Transmission Fluid

Low transmission fluid levels result in shifting problems, which can burn the transmission. For manual transmissions, transmission fluids should be changed between 30,000 – 60,000 miles. Cars under heavy strain, e.g. tow trucks should however have their transmission fluid changed more regularly.

Automatic transmission fluids lifespan ranges from 30,000 to over 100,000 miles. It is important to consult your manual before setting loose your automatic with the mechanic.

The 90,000-mile Maintenance

  • Power steering Fluid

When the power steering fluid runs low, steering/turning the wheel becomes hard or noisy. It is good to keep flush and replace the fluid at 75,000 miles or when the problem arises.

Failure of components in the ignition system results in the dreaded ‘check-engine’ light on the dashboard. It takes a mechanic, plugging his laptop into your car system to get the code of what needs to be replaced. Most cars these days use titanium or iridium spark plugs. These can work for even 100,000 miles. However, cheaper plugs, made of copper, need to be replaced at 30,000 miles.

  • Timing Belt/Chain

If your car uses a timing belt, then you need to pre-emptively replace it at 75,000 – 90,0000 miles. Belt failure is catastrophic. A timing chain though lasting longer, can still develop stretched links. It is a good idea to also check with your mechanic to ensure your chain is in good shape.

Consumable’s Needing Regular Maintenance

  • Oil and Filter

A running engine soon collects dirt, carbon and even tiny bits of metal in the oil. Regular oil and oil filter change is therefore important. The non-synthetic oil used in the past required change at around 3,000 miles. The rule of thumb for the synthetic oil currently used by most cars is 5,000 – 10,000 miles.

  • Transmission Fluid

It pays to regularly monitor your transmission fluid, rather than waiting for a miles-marker. Healthy fluid is pink and sweet-smelling, while its unhealthy counterpart is a darker red (or brown) and has a burnt-like smell. Many cars have a dipstick for assessing transmission fluid. It is kept at the end of the engine, towards the windscreen.

Some cars don’t have the transmission fluid dipstick. Instead, contaminated fluid triggers the ‘check-engine’ light on the dashboard.

  • Hoses

Hoses on your car carry power steering fluid, coolant and what have you. With time, the rubber can crack as it ages. This may very well bust the hose, so it is important to keep checking and changing hoses, as need arises.

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Worn-out tires will earn you a ticket in the short term, but cause accidents in the long run. Always make a habit of going round your car, checking the state of the tires, every so often. Tires do not only have to reckon with a whole lot of diverse terrains, they also carry the full weight of the car. They therefore face both external and internal resistance. While most blowouts and flats can be attributed to external forces, internal damage also unevenly occurs over time. This may manifest in a number of complications like steering wheel vibrations, or suspensions requiring constant alignment.

  • Faulty windows

Many times automated window mechanisms start acting up. It is important to have this addressed, before the window stalls mid-way, or stops functioning all together – a situation that would counter use of the AC/Heater, attract thieves or result in water damage.

  • Starter issues

When your car starts taking long to start, take it as a red flag. A delay accompanied by a clicking sound before finally starting is even more alarming. It’s wise to resolve this before the car completely refuses to start leaving you stranded on the highway.

  • Lights

The car has many lights in different places – headlights, brake lights, turn indicators etc. They ensure road safety and should thus be checked periodically. Though most bulbs are durable, poor wiring and corrosion may point to a bigger problem. Having faulty lights will not only have the traffic policeman pulling you over, but could easily cause an accident.

  • Other mechanical issues

It is not possible to list all issues that may start off as a minor inconvenience, but leading to grave problems that reduce the Subaru’s lifespan. The rule of the thumb is, anything uncharacteristic of the car, including any strange noise, needs to be investigated.

Driving Style

Finally, driving style has a huge impact on how long Subarus last. A rough driver wears out things in the Subaru faster. On this note, city driving will be harder on your Subaru than highway driving.

5 Hacks to help your car live long

  • Be very gentle with your car the first 1000 miles (break-in period). Keep your maximum speed at 55 mph and avoid towing or carrying heavy objects.
  • Fuel at reputable gas stations
  • Don’t fill up just after the tanker has deposited fuel to the underground tanks in your gas station as this stirs up sediment that can clog your fuel injector and filter
  • Don’t have many keys on your car key chain as this leads to heavy weight hanging and bouncing down the car key when in ignition. This can wear the ignition tumblers, affecting the ignition switch with time
  • When stuck in mud or snow, simply call the tow truck. Repeated going forward and back and high speed spinning of wheels can damage the clutch, transmission or differentials


So, how long do Subarus last? 300,000 miles is a safe bet, if you work on it. Regular maintenance, safe driving and diligently keeping an eye on consumable parts will not only boost your car’s lifespan and performance but will also save you expensive repairs.