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Old 04-16-2019, 03:52 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Tribeca reliability from long term owners

Hello,
I am new to Subaru with little knowledge about Subaru's vehicles. I've always been a Toyota guy and now that my kids are grown, I am ready to trade in my Sienna for an AWD SUV. I found a great deal on a one owner 2011 Tribeca Touring edition with 85K miles for $11,990. My wife wanted this SUV when the second gen came out in 2008 but it was not practical for our needs. I've read some horror stories and some positive stories about the Tribeca. During the summer my family and I like to travel 600-1000 miles away from home. Our Sienna never failed us and always got us back home without any issues but now it's started to see it's age.


For long term owners that have the 3.6 H6, what is your mileage and have you encounter any major repairs? What should I look for during my test drive? What is the main concerns with the Tribeca?


Thanks in advance. Test driving the Tribeca this weekend.
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Bought our ‘08 Tribeca 2+ years ago with 57k miles. Now have 68k. No problems other than the need to replace AC compressor relay. There is major service recommended at 60k so hopefully there will be records of that being done. Clunking noises underneath at that mileage are a known issue but simple bushing or other suspension part replacement cures them. Any recalls you can check on with a Subaru dealer if no records of having been done. Evidence of head gasket leaks, not super common, are worth a check. Tire mileage seems good. For us, mpg seems to be from 18+ local to 22 on the road. We enjoy the car.
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:59 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Bought our ‘08 Tribeca 2+ years ago with 57k miles. Now have 68k. No problems other than the need to replace AC compressor relay. There is major service recommended at 60k so hopefully there will be records of that being done. Clunking noises underneath at that mileage are a known issue but simple bushing or other suspension part replacement cures them. Any recalls you can check on with a Subaru dealer if no records of having been done. Evidence of head gasket leaks, not super common, are worth a check. Tire mileage seems good. For us, mpg seems to be from 18+ local to 22 on the road. We enjoy the car.


WOW! That's very low miles for an 08.


What is involved in the 60K service?
I ran the Carfax and there are oil changes at every 3750 miles at the dealership along with maintenance inspection. The only thing other than oil changes are fluid checked, replace brake pads, drivability performance checked, and battery replaced. For me, these are not any major replacements.
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:06 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Honestly, I think it's horrible. We have around 115k on our 2008 (purchased new). It has been kept in the garage at night and the daily commute is 4 miles each way. It has been well maintained and driven conservatively. Yet we have dumped well over $10k in this car over the last few years alone. The only reason we're still driving it is to get more miles out of it considering how much we've paid in repairs lately. We will NEVER buy another Subaru again. I've had dozens of cars before, some high-end some low-end and have never had so many problems with a car before. Many of the same problems I've had others on here have had too. These are not just random things but speak to the quality of the vehicle to begin with.
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:20 AM   #5 (permalink)
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We are the second owners of our 2008, we bought it about three years ago. Not much to report other than basic maintenance - tires, brakes, oil changes, wipers, etc..

I did just have to replace the front right wheel bearing hub assembly, but I didn't consider that unusual given the age - 11 years, and the mileage - 126,000.

Common problems - the fuel mileage is poor, at best I get about 21~22mpg on the highway. The fuel tank is too small. This coupled with the poor mileage equals a relatively short highway range. Doesn't bother me as I need to get up and stretch and walk anyway. The A/C condensate line is prone to plugging by insects (spiders?) and then overflowing the condensate on the passenger floor. Just have to remember to clean it out annually. I have a rattle in the driver's side door. From what I have gleaned from this forum and other sources, the door crossmember is not welded at the ends, and rattles when the mastic in there dries out.

Nonetheless, I love driving it. It is a beast in the snow, especially with snow tires mounted.
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Honestly, I think it's horrible. We have around 115k on our 2008 (purchased new). It has been kept in the garage at night and the daily commute is 4 miles each way. It has been well maintained and driven conservatively. Yet we have dumped well over $10k in this car over the last few years alone. The only reason we're still driving it is to get more miles out of it considering how much we've paid in repairs lately. We will NEVER buy another Subaru again. I've had dozens of cars before, some high-end some low-end and have never had so many problems with a car before. Many of the same problems I've had others on here have had too. These are not just random things but speak to the quality of the vehicle to begin with.
I'd like to hear what your issues were Brien. I don't see any specific posts from you on major repairs.

We've had good luck with ours so far. 08 160k miles

Largest repair has been the radiator I replaced (cracked end tank). And ripped boots that I replaced.

Otherwise just general upkeep.

Tom
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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One of my fear is the HG issue. I don't mind doing the maintenance. I do as much work as I can without going to the dealers but the HG, tranny and AC issues are on another level for me.



I understand that from my research, the 3.6 shouldn't have any HG or tranny issue but there are still reports about the issue. Is it just owner's neglect or are there really issues?


The question is, do any of you have confident on the Tribeca to take your family on a 1,000 miles road trip?
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yan2396 View Post
The question is, do any of you have confident on the Tribeca to take your family on a 1,000 miles road trip?
From my experience after 2+ Years I would not hesitate a trip as you describe. We routinely travel to our daughter’s and back. That’s a 200+ mile round trip.

The items that should be considered at 60k are belt and pulleys. The pulleys are known to fail, often at early (60k+) miles. Plugs too if not already replaced. Earlier torque converter and transmission valve body issues should not be a problem on that vintage Tribeca.
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Old 04-16-2019, 02:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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From my experience after 2+ Years I would not hesitate a trip as you describe. We routinely travel to our daughter’s and back. That’s a 200+ mile round trip.

The items that should be considered at 60k are belt and pulleys. The pulleys are known to fail, often at early (60k+) miles. Plugs too if not already replaced. Earlier torque converter and transmission valve body issues should not be a problem on that vintage Tribeca.

Thanks for your inputs. Just need a piece of mind since my wife will not budge on the Tribeca since we can't find a decent Rav4 with 3rd row.
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Old 04-16-2019, 02:54 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I just went to Santa Fe and back from Denver over thanksgiving.

In Oct we went 6 hour out to grand junction pulling the raft trailer over the Rockies.

Heading out on a week long memorial day rafting trip down the Green river pulling the same trailer over the rocks. About 10 hours each way.

I do my own maintenance. I have to do the valve covers very soon, put probably won't get to it before the memorial day trip.

Main causes of leaving you stranded:
1) Serpentine belt idler or tensioner bearing failure
2) Coolant leak
3) Not checking oil often enough

2 and 3 is most common cause of head gasket issues. Most common sypmtom of head gasket issue is slight rise in temperature when idling. Easiest way to diagnose is to look for a small stream of bubbles in reservoir tank after vigorous driving.

Transmissions are fairly robust, although occasional failed solenoids are reported on here. Not super common, but does happen. Car is still drivable.
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Old 04-16-2019, 03:28 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yan2396 View Post
Thanks for your inputs. Just need a piece of mind since my wife will not budge on the Tribeca since we can't find a decent Rav4 with 3rd row.
Just checking... have you seen, tried to use the third row? I have the third row in my Tribeca, and it is usable in a pinch, or for small children. I wouldn't put any teenagers or adults back there unless I really disliked them.
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:20 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Our 2006 Ltd. model has only 99,4xx miles. Bought with 56,xxx in 2012. No trouble mechanically, but for some reason it needed the following electrical parts:
  • window switch (after cleaning once)
  • ignition switch (accessory circuit would occasionally fail)
  • mirror switch (right side intermittent)
  • driver-side belt buckle because the switch wiring was mis-routed at the factory and broke inside
    (the seat belt warning light and chime were disabled but the airbag still worked because it uses a separate sensor;
    some might have liked it)
  • one puddle light shorted out. The recall had been done, so the fuse blew with no damage to the BCM. Replaced both on the right side. Left side still OK.
    Also, PS return hose was leaking very little at the tank connection, replacing the hose fixed it.
Nothing much, but would be quite enough to dump a car of this age for someone who doesn't do their own work. Original set of tires lasted 70K miles, could have gone longer.

Last edited by avk; 04-16-2019 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 04-17-2019, 01:00 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by klindstedt View Post
Just checking... have you seen, tried to use the third row? I have the third row in my Tribeca, and it is usable in a pinch, or for small children. I wouldn't put any teenagers or adults back there unless I really disliked them.

No I have not used or tired the 3rd row. My two older children 15 and 12 year are to the point where they don't really go anywhere with us. Usually my two younger 4 and 6 year old still tag along. My 15 year old will be getting his license next year so I doubt I'll be using the 3rd row. I don't need it but it's nice to have just in case.
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Old 04-17-2019, 01:04 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the advice, I will be test driving the Tribeca this weekend. I'll report back if i bought it or not.
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Old 04-17-2019, 01:26 PM   #15 (permalink)
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5 years, 40,000 added onto our '08 (we're just over 130K) and I've had to do almost nothing besides scheduled maintenance, which I've done all myself.

The 3 things I've run into:

- A/C relay ($5 part)
- Rear diff temp sensor ground (less than $1 to fix) causing the diff temp light to turn on.
- Coolant leaking out of the little coolant hose coming off the oil cooler. Don't remember how much that hose was, but it wasn't expensive.

The engine and trans have been great. There's a bit of quarter panel rust starting which I'll have to attack with some POR15 this summer. It's been a good car and my wife loves having it, even though we're outgrowing it a bit with 2 kids that are 3 and 6.
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Old 04-19-2019, 08:17 AM   #16 (permalink)
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One last post before I head out this weekend since the vehicle is 2hrs away. Just making a check list to cover all bases. Let me know if I missed anything.


1) Check oil dipstick level when engine is cold

2) Check oil cap for signs of coolant mixture
3) Check coolant reservoir with engine running for bubbles
4) Check body panel lines for sign of accident
5) Tap around body for signs of body work
6) Drive on expressway to verify gear changes, vibration and alignment

7) Drive on small roads to verify hesitation
8) Drive on bumpy road to verify bushing noise
9) Verify the temp gauge
10) Repeat steps 1-3 after engine is warmed up from test drive
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Old 04-22-2019, 03:21 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Went and test drove the Tribeca over the weekend. I got there early right when they open so the dealers didn't warm up the car. I never own any Subaru before so please let me know if this is common with Subaru.


Before doing a cold start, I checked the dipstick and oil cap. The oil cap has some sort of condensation like water. It's not oil for sure, kind of clear condensation. I then start it up, I felt vibration on the brake pedal while the vehicle is in parked and idling. The vibration went away after the vehicle warmed up. The motor itself is smooth and quite. During the test drive, I asked to hop on the expressway. The sales person took me onto a road with a top speed of 50 MPH. She told me that it's just as good as an expressway since the expressway is another 5 miles out. I demanded that I want to take it on a expressway since I want to get it up to speed past 50 MPH. Finally she took me on the expressway. I was able to step on the gas and release and step on it again. I felt a slight hesitation like three hops before switching gears from 4th-5th. Not very noticeable but I felt it. Exit off the expressway and back to residential roads. No issues going from 1st to 4th gear. I left without buying since another guy was waiting to test drive the car. Told the lady, let me think about it and call me if the next person didn't buy. Well, she never called and the vehicle is off the website so I'm guessing the last guy bought it.
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Old 04-22-2019, 10:50 AM   #18 (permalink)
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The 5eat is not a terribly responsive transmission so a hesitation on downshifts is fairly normal. Many choose to drive in sport to alleviate some of this hesitation. I wouldn't be afraid to take one in to a subaru specialist to have some basics checked over before purchasing, pay a few hundred to save thousands later. But that is your call. The Tribeca is a fairly trouble free vehicle with a few quirks not unlike most SUVs of its vintage.
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Old 04-23-2019, 10:33 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Nothing out of the ordinary.

But there are plenty of fish in the sea. The Tribeca isn't exactly a high demand car.
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Old 04-23-2019, 11:03 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Hello and welcome. I own a 2006 Tribeca and a 2008 Sienna. I purchased my Tribeca in December from an owner that took great care of it. The engine was ruined from an oil filter failure. I replaced the motor myself and have been driving it for about 3 months. The mileage is high (247k) but the car seems solid. The transmission is original and going strong.
As with anything maintenance is key. But let me just say... from a nuts and bolts perspective the Toyota seems to be made better.
A few months after we purchased the Sienna we found out to our horror that it was used as an UBER taxi in New York City! The owner did NOT take care of it! Shame on me for not looking it over more closely, but even so it has been very reliable thanks to a rigorous maintenance schedule.
Little things like electrical connectors and fasteners seem to be made of better materials on the Toyota. I've had both cars torn down extensively and from a purely mechanical perspective the Toyota is made of better stuff.
When I replaced the motor in the Tribeca all the electrical connectors were brittle and many of them broke. Not so on the Sienna, and that was the car that was not maintained.
Please understand... I love my Tribeca...and I don't have long term experience with it. These are just my observations.
Bottom line.... if your used to Toyota reliability you're not going to find it in an older Subaru. If you like Subaru you may want to consider a newer model.
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