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I lost my job 18 months ago and since have had my car repossessed, been homeless for a little while, and of course without work or transportation to get to many of the interview locations.

Finally I've managed to scrape up $3500 to buy a used Subaru to get me to work so I can get back on my feet. It turned out I also had to pay $1300 for back taxes somehow but anyway I have $3500 cash for a used car and would like to purchase one in the morning. I've been looking on Craigslist for weeks and finally narrowed my choice down to these 3 different Subaru cars. All 3 were posted earlier today, although that doesn't mean someone won't beat me to the purchase in the morning.

2001 Outback H6 VDC with 145k miles for $2900 (says some rust on rear quarter panels and the picture isnt the best quality so it's hard to tell but almost looks like a half dollar size hole in the quarter panel but otherwise looks nice with leather heated seats, sunroofs, and VDC which I read is better than not having VDC?)

2001 Forester with 156k miles for $3500 (spoke with the woman and I may go look at it in the morning. Ad says TBelt and Waterpump replaced recently with receipts. Nice blue color, exterior looks nice.)

2002 Outback 5spd with 100k miles for $3800 (was going to see if he would take $3500. Ad says new clutch. Guy sells lots of high mileage subaru. He was originally rude to me on the phone when I asked if he still had the car the day before having my money in my hands. He told me it was stupid to discuss cars if I didn't have the money. Perhaps true, but I felt it was rude for him to not tell me if it was still available. I contacted him today when I had my money in my hands and he instantly tried selling me a car with 235k miles for $3500 when I had just seen him post that particular car on Craigslist for only $2799. )

All 3 cars seem nice. The H-6 has a larger engine, leather heated seats, dual sunroofs, but has a little bit of rust in the back and the pictures make it look almost like a hole and not just some surface rust. However not only does it have those great features, and that VDC feature, but also considerably less expensive than the others.

The Forester looks nice on the outside, and the miles aren't too bad, and a couple of parts have been replaced recently. The price is in my budget, and is still available. Overall seems like a nice vehicle.

The 5spd has the lowest miles of all three and there's a good chance the guy may take my offer of $3500 when he is asking $3800...if not, perhaps I can pay him his asking price, since the body looks fantastic and the mileage is low.

In 12 hours I'll most likely have made a decision, but what would you do? Based on what I wrote above, do you think I should stay away from any or would anyone recommend one over the other? I don't know much about VDC but it sounds much better than vehicles that don't have it. The video I saw showed if one wheel gripped it would move the vehicle forward whereas other vehicles would need at least the front two or back two to grip if I understood it correctly. I'm in CT and we get a little bit of snow here and there so although not critical to have AWD, it won't hurt.

Having a stick shift is always fun too, but sometimes gets annoying when commuting in stopped traffic. As you can see, I have no idea which way to go. Should I save money while getting some neat features like heated seats and a sunroof and VDC or pay a little more for fewer miles or maybe even the Forester....Any suggestions? Advice?
 

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2018 3.6 Outback Limited, 2013 2.5 Legacy Premium
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The bigger motor will cost more in gas and maint. but if that won't matter once you get another job, you'll be fine I suppose. But anywhere you can save some money to stockpile some savings again would be a good thing. 5MT usually gets better mileage, depending on how you drive. And that '02 is newer, less miles, and the timing belt and all that is probably all still good anyways, but ask just in case. Head gaskets have either been changed or never had issues by that mileage so you might be safe there too.

Either way, good luck! Hope the transaction goes smoothly, and we'd love to see pics of your new ride!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks :) I checked the edmunds website to see the value of each 3, and was shocked to see the Forester wasn't worth half of what they're asking for (according to the edmunds website of course).

I compared the H-6 with the other Outback and one small difference that I noticed is according to the edmunds website, the H-6 requires Premium gas, whereas the other Outback simply requires unleaded fuel. My previous car had a turbo and recommended using Premium gas. Over time the difference in price between Regular unleaded and Premium really added up, but I'm still undecided. I keep going back and forth over and over so I'm going to go to sleep and call each in the morning. Perhaps one will be gone, or perhaps one will be more difficult to schedule a time, etc. thus making my decision easier :)

Thanks for the feedback
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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everything else being equal the H6 is the clear winner by a long shot. that's normally like a $5,000 car. timing chain = no maintenance, those engines easily make 200,000 miles without a hitch. you're main concern is prior maintenance and hidden/undisclosed issues.

the H6 is a smoking deal - i'd be worried something is wrong with it to be selling it so cheap.

VDC is nice but i wouldn't worry about it at this point, not that big of a deal.

the other two 4 cylinder engines have headgasket issues - google it and you'll see mad amounts of information about that.

the forester isn't worth the $300 difference in price tag, get the legacy. foresters have worse resale for sure. i sell a few subaru's a year and I've all but given up on foresters, much less demand, they're smaller, no compelling reasons to have one over a legacy and harder to resell.
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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That H6 engine will cost you a bit more in fuel as you have noted, but the average 14 year old H6 engine has MUCH LOWER repair costs than the average 14 year old 2.5.

Also, premium fuel is only a recommendation on the H6. If you aren't towing or hauling around in the mountains you can probably run it on 87 without incident. Unlike your previous turbo car, the subaru H6 has the ability to adjust to lower octane fuel on the fly. Just be ready with a tankful of 93 when you do need to drag anvils up the mountain road.

Of these choices I'd say get the rusty H6, enjoy the leather and drive it until the state inspection pulls it off the road.
 

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I don't know which H6's require premium - but I've never run premium on my 02 and 03 and have never needed to. I think it's just recommended, i don't think it's required.
 

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2010 OB 3.6R limited
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I don't know which H6's require premium - but I've never run premium on my 02 and 03 and have never needed to. I think it's just recommended, i don't think it's required.
Do you live in the mountains (in WV)? (High elevation)...that would help (not needing premium gas). I know it was premium gas is recommended only...Driving in lower elevation vs higher elevation make a different in the Octane requirement ....taht is why you never see any 85 octane gas for sale in lower elevation...
 

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I'd be curious why the H6 is rusting; was it caused by a previous accident that was not repaired correctly/completely, or just natural result of age/environment.

Try comparing tire/wheelwell clearances on both sides of the car to get an idea if the unibody has been crumpled. You can just use your fingers to measure the gap between tire and fender on both sides of the tire, then compare with the other side of the car. If the tire is closer to the fender on one side of the care than the other, you may have a uni-body that has been crumpled on one side. Worked for me once, YMMV.
 

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Do you live in the mountains (in WV)?
it's mountains but only 980 feet, not much more than Chicago, it's not the rockies. i'm from maryland and drive there all the time at sea level. i also tow some insane loads with it as well, also with no issue.

i don't look for it but i've never noticed lower octane gas in any of the mountains on the east coast, i've driven nearly the entire appalachia region from Maine to Georgia.
 

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Not sure abt the applachia... but in rockies states, 85 or lower octane gas are everywhere!

980 feet wow...it's 5 times taller than chicgao!!!! haha!The tallest spot in entire state of IL is less than 2000 feet!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I bought the car yesterday and drove it home today. Some things I hadn't noticed when I bought it are the back right side brake light, and right side reverse light, don't work. I stopped at Pep Boys for bulbs and changed out the brake bulbs. The right one is still out. I read on here the wiring in the hinge area of the hatch is common to have issues so I'm going to go look now and see if it's an easy fix applying some new wire. Fingers crossed.
 

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Yeah looks like some broken wires up in there. They're stretched tight enough where one of the broken wires has about an inch gap inbetween pieces. I'll do a wire patch job tomorrow and hopefully that'll work. Also one of the broken wires doesn't seem to have it's partner visible...perhaps I can better roll up the sleeve in the daylight and find where this broken wire goes to.

The radio also has lots of loud static as soon as you turn it on, even if the volume is all the way down. You can raise the volume enough where you barely hear the loud static, but it's still there and I don't always have my music blasted. Perhaps it's a blown speaker or bad wiring somewhere.

As for the rust spots someone asked about, I don't know for sure if it was in an accident but I know that both wheel well areas have bubbling surface rust under the paint. However the major rust that I see is on the rear right side that I mentioned earlier, only in person it looked worse than in the picture. I can stick at leastt 3 or 4 fingers through the rust hole. I don't really plan on fixing the rust though. Eventually I'll get a car in a little better shape, but for now this will work to get me to and from work. The engine feels like it runs pretty solid.

I was disappointed to see that the forward sunroof doesn't slide open, only tilts, whereas the rear one slides open. After looking at it I realized there would be no room for the front one to slide open because the rear one is so close. Still a neat concept!

Also the keychain he gave me has 3 keys on it, one with a plastic black head with 'Subaru' on it, the other two are just silver Subaru keys without a plastic grip head but they all look different from eachother. Perhaps one is a valet key or something.

I was surprised not to see a keyless entry remote on the keychain, and I forgot to ask about it. Perhaps he lost the remote and I can order a cheap universal one online? Not quite sure how that stuff works.

Tomorrows plan, register the car (now that I just drove it an hour home), fix the wiring, and see if I can figure anything out with this radio. I enjoy music just like everyone else, so I can't drive a car and just have silence the whole time :)
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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which one did you get?

cars101.com has all the keyless entry information - what style to get for your given vehicle and how to program it.

980 feet wow...it's 5 times taller than chicgao!!!!
chicago average elevation is 579 feet. as far as octane, everywhere east of the rockies is the same.

i'm acquainted with 85 octane, not needed in the east, the mountain ranges are vastly different.
 

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Radio antenna is embedded in the rear glass on those, and there's a good chance that it's yet another broken wire in the hatch joint. Keep doing what you're doing there, you are on the right track.
 
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