Reader Question: Buy a Direct Injected Subaru?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Jason asks: I came to your site via the Tom Woods show and have found it to be a valuable resource. I typically buy reliable used cars and drive them for years. I am planning on purchasing a car in the coming months and have been considering a new or late model used Subaru Outback 6 cylinder. I wanted to ask your opinion on the overall reliability of the vehicle as I plan to own my next car for a very long time. Specifically I’m concerned about fouling related to the direct fuel injection you have mentioned in the recent Subaru models. I’ve read that Subaru had filed a patent on a device to mitigate the problems with direct injection, but I wanted to see what you thought about it. Any help is greatly appreciated.  Thanks for the great site!

My reply: Direct injection has already become de facto standard equipment in almost all 2018 model year cars; the few that don’t have it yet will have it soon. Several manufacturers – Toyota, for one – have been adding a dedicated port fuel injection circuit to their DI-equipped vehicles, to salve the DI-related problem of carbon buildup on the back of the intake valves.

Subaru hasn’t done this yet – which has its pros and its cons.

On the  pro side, you only have one fuel delivery system (DI) so no worries about problems down the road with the second fuel delivery system (PFI) and of course the DI-only engine is less complex than an engine with both DI and PFI.

On the con side, there is the potential for carbon build-up down the road; and DI systems are much more complicated than PFI systems.

It is hard to know at this point whether it would be wiser to buy a DI-only vehicle or one with DI and PFI. Because these systems are still pretty new (Di plus PFI is very new) and it will take years of real-world driving data by many tens of thousands of cars to establish any meaningful data set.

So, it’s a gamble.

My choice would be to buy something older, with just PFI. Since DI is relatively new, you can still easily find numerous different makes/models with just PFI that are only a few years old in most cases. Go back five years and most cars had PFI, not DI.

If you are set on new, I recommend shopping for a car with a better-than-most powertrain warranty, such as Hyundai/Kia and VW (all DI now).

Not that there is anything wrong with new Subarus. But they are DI and their warranty coverage isn’t as good as it probably ought to be. I do prefer the Soobie six, by the way, and not just because it’s more powerful. It has reserve power, so it does not have to work as hard as most of the fours Subaru uses in its cars.

Harder working often means shorter-lived  . . .and higher maintenance costs over time.

Hope this was helpful – and thanks for the kind words!

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Thanks for the quick response Eric! Based on your feedback I’m leaning towards a used model without DI. You wouldn’t happen to know off the top of your head what year Subaru switched over to the DI engine in the Outback would you?


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