How many miles can a Subaru Legacy last? When you’re in the market for a new or second-hand Legacy, that’s, of course, a very reasonable question to ask. After all, you’re probably looking to get the most bang for your buck. In this blog, we’ll look at this question in great detail but first, let’s start with a quick answer:
On average, a Subaru Legacy lasts between 200.000 – 220.000 miles. A Legacy needs to go to the garage for unscheduled repairs about 0.28 times per year, with a 12% chance of severe problems. Furthermore, Legacy owners spend an average of $563 per year on repair costs.
Having said that, we’re certainly not done. Below we’ll first explain in more detail how many miles a Legacy can last. After that, we’ll also show you how much a Legacy costs per year and which production years are most and least expensive. Furthermore, we also discuss the common problems that the car can have. Read on!
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How Many Miles Can A Subaru Legacy Last?
First, we have to look at the Subaru Legacy as a group. For this, we went to autotrader.com where we gathered information on all the Subaru Legacy that are currently for sale. We ended up with a sample size of 2.922 units. Then, we divided these vehicles into groups depending on the number of miles they had driven. The results are displayed in the table below.
|Amount Of Miles
|Percentage Of Cars
|Cars With 150.000+
|Cars With 100.000 – 149.000
|Cars With 45.000 – 99.999
|Cars With 0 – 44.999
What we see in this table is the fact that 5.71% of Legacys´ that are in the second-hand market have a mileage of 150.000 miles or higher. By itself, this number doesn´t say a lot. However, we´ve written 100+ similar articles on different cars in the United States. From this, we know that a percentage of 3-5% is typically considered good. Therefore, the Legacy does seem to be able to drive a great number of miles at first glance.
However, there´s more to look at. It also becomes clear that many Legacy that are for sale haven´t even crossed the 45.000 miles mark yet. This indicates that Subaru has sold quite a number of these vehicles in the past years. This drags down the percentage of vehicles that have crossed the 150.000 miles mark and it´s simply something to keep in mind when reading these statistics.
Furthermore, we also have to compare the Legacy to its competitors. This will give us a much clearer understanding of how well the Legacy actually performs. Once again, please keep in mind that we´ve written similar articles for all the vehicles that are displayed. Therefore, we´re confident about the results.
From this table, it becomes clear that the results are a bit mixed. The Legacy certainly does a decent job in terms of expected mileage as well as the highest recorded mileage. However, this Subaru is unlucky because it´s in the same category as the Camry, Accord, and Malibu. All of these sedans are known for their incredibly good lifespan.
Now, this doesn´t necessarily mean the Legacy is unreliable. In fact, 210.000 expected miles are typically very good. However, the competition is certainly a bit better. Luckily for the Legacy, it does beat the Passat which does seem to have some serious lifespan issues.
Besides comparing the Legacy to its competitors we also have to have a look at Subaru as a brand. The reason for this is that this will give us a better understanding of what we can expect from the brand in terms of reliability. The results are displayed in the table below.
What we can conclude from this is that Subaru does seem to build reliable vehicles that are consistently capable of crossing the 200.000 miles mark. However, we also conclude that none of their vehicles seem to be extremely reliable which we would classify as having an expected mileage of 250.000 or higher.
For this reason, we conclude that Subaru is definitely a reliable brand, but that it doesn´t put up numbers like Toyota and Honda.
Furthermore, there´s more to the reliability of a vehicle than just the number of miles we expect it to drive. For example, you also have to know how much the car will cost in terms of maintenance to make sure you´re not paying extremely high annual maintenance costs. To gather this data, we went to Repairpal and Caredge.com.
Here we found that you´ll spend an average of $563 per year to keep a Subaru Legacy on the road. On average, you would expect to pay $526 per year to keep a compact car like the Legacy going. This indicates that the Impreza does have higher than expected maintenance costs which isn´t a good thing.
Why the Legacy ends up with higher than expected maintenance costs is unclear. However, it does seem that all model years that are over 5 years old have quite high maintenance costs. For this reason, it seems to be a structural issue instead of a couple of model years that are causing the issue.
|Annual Maintenance Cost
Also read: The Complete Cost Of Maintaining A Subaru
Owners’ Reviews Of The Subaru Legacy Reliability
Besides knowing all the data, it’s, of course, also essential to see how owners experience the Legacy. For this, we went to Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, and Cars.com. All three platforms have gathered hundreds of reviews from actual car owners. We summarized our findings in the image below.
What we see from these ratings is the fact that the current Legacy is rated very positively by owners. The 2020 model year had a slightly worse rating than the model years that came after it, but it was still good nevertheless. This does seem to indicate that the Legacy is living up to the expectations of the owners as well as the fact that it´s not causing any serious reliability issues. The quote below sums up the sentiment quite well:
The car is outstanding in luxurious feel and smooth quiet drive, better than most luxury cars. Very spacious with plenty of cargo space in trunk. I find this car severely underrated. Minor issues with the car start-stop feature that you cannot permanently turn off.Source, 2021 owners
Subaru Legacy Common Problems
In this section, we will give you all the common problems that the Legacy has, which you should check when you are looking to buy one of these in the used market.
NOTE: Before buying a used car, I always like to make sure the vehicle isn´t having any problems that you should be aware of. The easiest way to do this is by buying an OBD2 scanner. These scanners can easily be plugged into any car you’re interested in, and they’ll give you a rundown of potential problems.
Head Gasket Failure
Subaru Legacy made before 2013 have significant problems with the failure of the head gaskets due to issues with the cooling system. The issue was so severe that the warranty of the head gaskets was extended to 8 years or 100,000 miles, whatever comes first.
However, this means that this warranty has expired on the pre-2013 Subaru Legacy, and this is something to be aware of when buying a second-hand model. The head gaskets tend to fail around the 110,000 miles mark, and replacing them without a warranty will cost between $1,500 – $2,000.
Defective Fuel Pump
Problems with the fuel pump are a factor to watch out for in the 2019 Subaru Legacy. The impellers inside these fuel pumps (the parts responsible for regulating the gas flow inside the pump) were overexposed to a drying solvent during manufacturing. Therefore, they crack and need to be replaced. The recall affects Legacy’s made between April – July 2018. Make sure to check if the vehicle you’re buying is affected by this recall and if the fuel pump was replaced. Replacing a fuel pump yourself will cost $400 – $800.
Excessive Battery Drain
Excessive battery drain is a problem for Legacy sold between 2015 – 2020. The battery cannot handle the load of the vehicle’s controller area network. This is the part of the car responsible for making sure all sensors and modules communicate together. Replacing a Legacy’s battery will cost $100 – $150.
Legacy made between 2015 – 2019 may have problems with sudden acceleration. However, Subaru hasn’t acknowledged these claims, resulting in class-action lawsuits. Because of the lack of investigation, it’s unclear what causes these surges in acceleration.
In 2015 Subaru switched to acoustic sound glass; this glass helps keep noise out. However, the windshields were more susceptible to breaking due to some manufacturing issues (and arguably, cost-cutting). For the 2015 and early 2016 models, the glass warranty was extended to 5-years/unlimited mileage. However, later versions of the car still seem to have this problem, resulting in class-action lawsuits. Replacing a windshield will cost between $150 – $300.
Faulty STARLINK Infotainment System
Subaru introduced the STARLINK infotainment system in 2016 Legacy models. Reported problems include the GPS not working and the screen spinning or going black. Software updates in the 2016 – 2019 models didn’t fix these problems, and therefore, this is something that persists until this day. However, newer models of the Subaru Legacy (2020 and onwards) don’t seem to have these problems.
Unreliable Lineartronic CVTs
The Lineartronic CVTs used in 2010 – 2014 and 2015 – 2019 have been shown to be quite unreliable over and over again. Complaints include heavy shuddering when coming to a standstill, transmission fluid leaks in the torque converter cases, and ‘bumping’ at idle. Subaru increased the warranty on these CVTs to 10 years/100,000 miles, but the CVT had to be inspected before July 31, 2018, for this warranty to apply.
Burned Out Headlights
Legacy made between 2010 – 2012 burn through headlight bulbs much quicker than other model years. Why precisely this happens remains unknown, but there are two likely causes. The first one is that the auto-mode (which detects when headlights are needed) is too aggressive, and therefore the lights burn a lot more throughout the day.
Another problem could be a surge in the output of the electrical system, which causes the headlights to wear out. Some of these models need to have the headlights replaced twice a year, which means going to the dealership twice a year—replacing the bulbs of the headlights costs around $80 – $100 each time.
Eyesight Not Working
Eyesight is a Subaru system that helps with adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane departure alerts. Legacy made between March 10, 2014, to April 16, 2015, were recalled because the Eyesight system would spontaneously shut off. Even though the Legacy isn’t an autonomous car, it is a helpful feature that should be on.
The recall supposedly fixed the problem; however, make sure that it has been recalled when you’re looking at a Subaru from this period. Later Legacy’s still have the Eyesight system, and these should work a lot better, although they are sometimes a little too sensitive with the lane departure function.
Recalled Takata Airbags
Subaru Legacy sold between 2003 – 2004 and 2009 – 2014 have been part of a significant worldwide recall of Takata airbags. Arguably, this is not Subaru’s fault since the recall affected 100 million vehicles worldwide. However, please ensure that the recall has been carried out if you’re looking at a Legacy from this period. Otherwise, you run the risk of having an airbag spontaneously inflate because of high humidity or temperature fluctuations.
High Oil Consumption
Subaru Legacy, made between 2010 – 2014 with an F-series engine, have much higher oil consumption than other models. This is because they use a very thin oil (0W-30), and some engine parts have been loosened to increase MPGs. Subaru has stated that they think oil consumption is still within a normal range. However, expect to burn 1/3 of a quart per 1,200 miles with these engines.
Rusted Body Panels
Subaru tends to have rust problems sometimes. However, this is also because they are wildly popular in snow-heavy regions. This increases their exposure to road salt. Combine this with a lack of maintenance and sufficiently getting rid of the road salt on the car, and you have a rust problem. There’s no specific model year in which these problems occur more frequently, but it is something to inspect when you’re in the market for a second-hand Subaru.
Finally, we have to answer the question of whether or not the Legacy is a car that´s worth getting. From our research we can conclude that the vehicle is capable of driving 200.000+ miles before getting to its end. However, we also saw that there´re competitors in its category that do much better.
Furthermore, we saw that the average maintenance costs of the Legacy are slightly higher than what we would typically expect to pay for a car that´s this size.
What is a positive point is the fact that the seventh generation of the Legacy is received very positively by owners. So far, it doesn´t seem to have major issues, except for the 2020 model year which had some issues that made owners unhappy from time to time.
Finally, we did see that the generations that came before this (the fifth generation, from 2009 – 2014 and the sixth generation, from 2014 – 2020) did have some serious problems. That´s most likely what also causes the lower-than-expected lifespan compared to its competitors as well as the higher than expected maintenance costs. Since some of these issues are quite serious, we recommend staying away from these model years.
Also read: How Much Can A Subaru Legacy Tow?
Many manufacturers give the figure of 10,000 miles for an oil change which too far-fetched to give a low overall maintenance cost, but you should have the engine oil changed at not more than 7000 miles. Earlier is better. Now coming to the overall maintenance schedule, recommended by the manufacturer. So let’s get into the schedule, shall we?
- Change Engine Oil
- Replace the oil filter.
But it’s actually better to change these before 6,000 miles for best performance and long-lasting protection. Still, we applaud the Subaru for actually giving genuine numbers for the oil change. In contrast, so many other manufacturers give stupid numbers that the maintenance cost will look less, but Legacy has a lot higher maintenance cost.
- Tire rotation
- Airbag system check
- Wiper blades inspection
You must have a thorough inspection of these important components
- Brake system inspection
- Fuel filter replacement
- Dust and pollen filter replacement
- Tire inspection
- Tire filler bottle expiration date check
- Brake fluid check
- Clutch unit check
- Check the water pump and the timing chain at regular intervals or otherwise it will become an expensive fix
This is the most comprehensive inspection that you must have to ensure that all the vehicle functions are working fine.
- Electrical components
- CV joints
- Underbody sealants
- transmission fluid change and filter change
If you can have the receipts for all the regular maintenance appointments, you will know that this car is well maintained. But not all people keep tabs on these things, so they might check how well the car is kept. It’s a rule of thumb if the car is super clean and there are no oil leaks, then you know it’s well maintained.
If the car is not kept clean, it generally means that it hasn’t been properly maintained either.
Also read: The Exact Bolt Pattern Of A Subaru Legacy
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
Read more about our fantastic team on our about page!