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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all, this is my first post and I hope this is the right place to put it.

I was about to buy a used 2004 Subaru Impreza 2.5 TS wagon, but I had it taken to a mechanic and found that the head gaskets were leaking.

The mechanic quoted me $1600 for the whole job of replacing the head gaskets and resurfacing the cylinder heads. Before I took it to the mechanic, the dealer claimed it had a clean carfax and was in excellent condition.

I brought it back to the dealer, and they offered to replace the head gaskets and the timing belt (if need be) for $400 on top of the original price of $5800.

However, they said it was unnecessary to resurface the cylinder heads.

I know it's difficult to assess this situation with the few details I've given, but I would just like to know if this is a reasonable offer/price for the car and the proposed repairs, given the car has about 125,000 miles on it.

Thanks, and let me know if any more details are needed!
 

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Why would you trust this dealer who tried to sell you a car with leaking head gaskets but telling you it was in excellent condition? Run, don't walk, out of that dealership.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hahaha, that's a good point. To be fair and clarify just a bit on the dealer's behalf, they also told me that they hadn't done any maintenance or really inspected it thoroughly since they acquired it.

Their assessment of excellent condition was based solely on the clean carfax and regular maintenance record. When I asked about the gaskets and timing belt (knowing they are common problems), they said they didn't know but figured they had been taken care of given the clean record.

The mechanic I took it to did a full inspection and said that the car truly is in great shape, head gaskets aside. Based on all this, is $6200 a reasonable asking price if they fix the head gaskets?
 

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That generation of Subie has been known to have an external headgasket leak, that for the most part was fixable with a Subaru Coolant Contioner additive, if it was minor.

I had an 04 OBW LTD with the same issue years ago. The dealership simply pulled the heads, replaced the gaskets, and refilled with coolant including the additive, while I sat in their customer service area for 3 hours or so. No resurfacing of the heads. This was all under warranty. I drove the car for another 3 years with no issues at all. $400 sounds about right.

Your independent mechanic has factored in the head resurfacing and most likely a valve job, that probably isn't required. But on a high mileage vehicle of another make, the work would most likely be necessary.

As for their pricing on the car .... I don't know the market in your area. Good Luck!
 

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Is this an Auto or Manual? Also, a location might help locate folks willing to help that are nearby.

When I asked about the gaskets and timing belt (knowing they are common problems), they said they didn't know but figured they had been taken care of given the clean record.
This is a bit scary. If the timing belt has not been replaced, and if you can't find out for 100% sure - you need to do it (else it's going to cost you a lot more if the belt snaps). Depending on your area, I would wager that for about $1500, (give or take) an independent mechanic could do the HG's, t-belt, water pump, and all associated idlers, seals, etc. Basically you will be good to go for another 100k. (Check out some of the threads on here about what is smart to replace).
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks all for the responses.

It's an automatic, and I'm located in Connecticut (Hartford area).

I've contacted the service departments of one or two Subaru dealerships in the area, and they didn't think resurfacing was needed based on all other info. They did, however, seem skeptical that the dealer I'm buying the car from was offering to replace the gaskets, timing belt, AND water pump (this was something the dealer added the last time we spoke), all for $400.

I honestly can't tell if this is too good to be true or if I'm in for some unpleasant surprises, but I hope it's the former.
 

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If you have the headgasket replaced - install the TURBO Ej25 headgasket, it's a far superior design.

If you don't do that - you'll be installing the same failure prone headgasket that's currently in the car. "This car has a crappy headgasket that fails all the time, let's install the same crappy headgasket in it again." Makes no sense at all when there's a better alternative.
 
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