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I've been searching high and low for an affordable vdc sedan in my area and I have recently come across this gem.

2002 Subaru Outback Limited Four Wheel Drive!

Sound fishy?

It is.

I looked closely at all the pictures and noticed a faded character on the LCD display of the odometer conveniently infront of the #5 (1x,xxx placement). I decided to go look at the car and test drive it, because this really is a prime example of what I've been looking for. The car is very clean and is a very convincing example of a 53,000 mile car. The leather drivers seat would usually show some wear on higher mileage examples.

When looking at the car i searched around the head and intake manifold for any oil or coolant leaks, checked the coolant for oil and vise-versa. Checked for previous body repairs and any unibody damage. Everything looked okay and was still convincing me of 53k.

When I asked the owner to see the title he didn't hesitate and I matched the vins but one thing that threw me off was that the ODO reading on the title said EXEMPT (PA title). I later did some research and found that cars 10 years or older in PA are exempt from the mileage reading on the title (not a very reliable source).

So the final step before pulling the trigger was to look up the carfax. Luckily i could get one quickly and cheaply through work. And this is where things began to really get weird. Last reported odometer reading was 252,847!

Unfortunately my bank wont finance a used car loan with that many miles, but i cant believe how clean the car looked for that many miles. So i guess I'm asking if anyone has had a similar problem with the odometer display and if its something to check for in the future. Also I may consider making this seller a counter offer based on what i dug up from the carfax. Any input is appreciated.
 

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Wow. Clocking a car by 200,000 miles is quite amazing.
My '96 OBW has nearly that many miles on it though (225k) and is in practically the same condition - the nearside of the driver's seat base has the same amount of 'sag'.
This OBS looks to have led the commuter life - practically unused passenger seats.
Shame, looks quite nice.
 

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The cluster was probably not replaced, because the mileage with the 1st digit removed is in line with what the last reported mileage was (252, almost 253,000 miles). Since the cluster shows 53k, the first digit was either disabled or the seller got lucky and it somehow failed.

I flagged the ad as "Prohibited" on craigslist, as the guy is knowingly selling a car with grossly incorrect mileage!

Still can't believe how nice that car looks though, wow. Would love to have a fully optioned out sedan like that.
 

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My 99 Outback was that clean at 300k miles.

Assuming the CarFax is correct and the last report isn't a typo, it's still a Subaru. Could it be that the 252000 is kilometers????? Look at the brake pedal. Even in the photo you can see that the pedal pad is not worn like a car that was abused for 252k miles.

Looking at the photos I can see it needs a set of tires, alignment, if its the original struts on the car it will need a new set. Retail, probably $2k. Does that McIntosh work? There isn't any rust on the wheel wells, that's a plus. The bumpers are in tact and look decent. And its a VDC. AWD all the time.

Have it checked out by a tech that knows Subarus. Haggle down the price based on Edmunds reporting and what the tech finds. The H6 is a tough engine and was built to last without tearing it open for anything. The engine I pulled out of my VDC still has the original water pump at 178k miles.

If it was here in Austin, I'd give $3000 for it As Is.
 

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Haha! nice catch.

Amazing what you can do with a 7-hour detail job and a brake pedal pad.
I doubt the dealer is that smart. Cleaning yes. Brake pedal pad, no.

Besides, the carper doesn't show signs of staining, which some don't come out without fading, and the passenger and rear seats are in perfect form indicating a single driver w/o passengers. The door panels are in one piece and there's no elbow wear on the driver door. The dash isn't cracked up. The instrument cluster is highly visible. All signs the car was taken care of.
 

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My VDC wagon is nearly that nice with 226,000 miles on it. It has one spot of rust... inside the driver's side rear door on the body. Typical. Not a single spot anywhere else, not even the underbody.

I paid $3,300 for mine.

Sadly, the Outback sedan commands a very high premium over their wagon brethren, at least around here. His price really isn't that far out there.

That VDC needs tires, for sure. I got a new set of 4 and an alignment for $420 total.

I'm going to guess the odometer has a failing digit in the LCD.
 

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I'm on the fence about the true mileage, but it's entirely possible that the same display problem went the other way. Maybe the true mileage is 53k or 153k, but the last person to report it to carfax read it incorrectly as 252k. Have often wondered if odo could be accessed by OBD and if not.. why?
 

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Good point, that would certainly suck if someone entered the mileage wrong. It would be worth looking at previous records to see if there is a 200,000 mile jump in the mileage after an inspection, or something like that.
 

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Wouldn't a Subaru dealer's report show service and mileage? A call with the vin number should answer some questions.

Is the price is low for that mileage?.... Dash pic in question below:

 

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My dealer said they couldn't bring up anything more than warranty and recall work done.

I'm thinking CarFax might be the only way to find out, provided work was done at a Subaru dealer.

I'm still debating on spending the money and just run one on mine to see if anything shows up for service history.

My dealer told me mine had 2 recalls done (rear subframe rust prevention and cruise control cable clip) and a headlight bulb replaced (warranty). That's all they have on record.

Another note: did the '02 still show Trip A & Trip B? My '01 has that on the top left of the display.
 

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My '02 has Trip A and B. I paid $10k for my VDC Sedan in worse condition with 90k miles. If that was here I would be very tempted to buy that one at $4-5K.


-Tim
 

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Hi there!

I don't know how to prove the mileage on it. I don't remember seeing mileage on any OBD-II scan tool I've used but I wasn't looking for it, either.

My 2007 is about that clean (okay, a touch less), and it has 404,000 miles on it. So, it's possible, especially if it was used for lots of highway driving.
 

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I'm on the fence about the true mileage, but it's entirely possible that the same display problem went the other way. Maybe the true mileage is 53k or 153k, but the last person to report it to carfax read it incorrectly as 252k. Have often wondered if odo could be accessed by OBD and if not.. why?
You can't change the odometer in the PCM on a Subaru. Its permanent. Subaru may have the ability to change in a reflash, but I haven't seen anything on it and doubt it. Its part of the mandate to prevent odometer fraud that was initiated in the 90s I believe.

Other vehicles, same thing. By 2000, once a mileage is programmed, it increases with the VSS input and can't be altered. On Chevy, if the mileage in the PCM doesn't match the Instrument Cluster you get error codes.

CarFax reporting is done by any shop that opts in. The company I work for reports to CarFax all Oil Change, PM and repair work.

In the picture it appears with the orientation of the LCD dashes that there is an issue with the cluster, but it doesn't resemble a 2. If anything it looks like most of an 6 or 8. And if it has that kind of mileage in that good of shape, you know it was taken care of.
 

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Car does look in great shape. Garage kept? But honesty is important to me. If a guy tries to sell me something and lies about a pretty important piece of information then I don't trust anything he says. 53k vs 253k is no small thing. That doesn't mean the car is not good, may be great but you can't believe anything the seller is telling you.
 

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On Chevy, if the mileage in the PCM doesn't match the Instrument Cluster you get error codes.
Depending on the GM vehicle and year, it's stored strictly in the PCM. That's how my Saturn Vue is ('04). There are some people doing gauge cluster swaps in their Vues - Torrent, Equinox or different year of Vue - and the most you may get is an odd idiot light. It depends how the donor vehicle was equipped - ABS, traction control etc. Either way, the mileage is reported to the cluster from the PCM.

One thing that is different with the GM clusters: if it's Canadian (or any country that displays kilometers instead of miles), it will display the Vue's mileage in kilometers - exact conversion of the actual miles.

Changed Out My Cluster....Again - SaturnFans Forums

As FOX mentioned, his '02 displays Trip A & B, which this is obviously missing. That's leading me to believe that whole side portion of the LCD has failed.

A cluster swap is most likely needed. Wether Subaru would have to do anything to make it work perfectly, I have no clue.

For what it's worth, this VDC isn't really that far from me (about 4-1/2 hours). If I would've seen this before I bought mine, I would've been all over this regardless of the odometer foul.
 

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Okay, on second look it doesn't look like a 2, but it looks suspect nevertheless. The OP said the last reported mileage from Carfax was 252k and now its showing (?)53,091 AND the seller is representing it AS 53,091. My alarm bell is going off. There is a huge difference in potential problems between a 53k car and a 253k one. The problems are usually not the strait forward one, they're the goofy ones caused by faulty electronics or high resistance shorts in wiring from years of vibrations.

In my state, odometer reading is disclosed on the title, so I would want to see it. Also, look at the tires. The car should be mid point into its second set depending on driver style. Look at the windshield for tiny rock chips: more=miles. If it was replaced, suspect. Look under the side of the body, rough or smooth?

Maybe I'm too much a skeptic, but for me, it's in the "too good to be true" category...
 

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The odometer question alone is more that I would personally want to deal with. Also, looking at the ad, they have pictures of the tires posted and it looks like the car also has an alignment issue. That's one more headache you have to account for.
 
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