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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, everyone,
I always wanted a subaru and now I finally got the chance(excuse? I'm graduating from uni this year and need to move a lot of stuff to another city) to get myself one. I can only afford an used one and myself is no mechanic, can anyone provide some advice on what I should be aware of?

I heard a lot about the head gasket and transmission blown up problems and seems H6 models have less of these, is this the right impression?
Also, comparing a manual and auto, is there any advantage of one over another?

there's one I'm considering at the moment:
2000 Lancaster 3.0 litre automatic, has done just over 200,000kms, transmission replaced at around 110,000k. Consider its age, model and mileage, would you consider this car?

Thanks in advance.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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when you are buying a used car - particularly one that is 12-13 years old, whether it's stick or auto, 4 or 6 cylinder, or even Subaru or Fiat; it's past care and present condition are THE most important factors.

This Forum can help you with the known common problems, and guide you with other Subaru specific issues - but no one could tell you a particular 2000 H6 is better than some 2000 H4 you found.

yes, H6s generally have fewer headgasket problems, but properly rebuilt H4s are reliable as well. H6 is only available with automatic (in the US - dunno about elsewhere). It does have a little more power - but the power is mostly at cruising speed -it is not quick from a stop. It will get worse gas mileage and 'prefers' premium fuel. The known issues with the H6 are easily dealt with. Other than external coolant and maybe oil leaks, the other known issues with H4 are also easily dealt with. But, as said, either of those engines could have serious problems if they were neglected.

If you post your city, someone may be able to recommend a shop that could do a pre-purchase check-out of a car for you for $100 plus or minus - well worth it to avoid a serious problem on any used car that will be your primary transportation.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
when you are buying a used car - particularly one that is 12-13 years old, whether it's stick or auto, 4 or 6 cylinder, or even Subaru or Fiat; it's past care and present condition are THE most important factors.

This Forum can help you with the known common problems, and guide you with other Subaru specific issues - but no one could tell you a particular 2000 H6 is better than some 2000 H4 you found.

yes, H6s generally have fewer headgasket problems, but properly rebuilt H4s are reliable as well. H6 is only available with automatic (in the US - dunno about elsewhere). It does have a little more power - but the power is mostly at cruising speed -it is not quick from a stop. It will get worse gas mileage and 'prefers' premium fuel. The known issues with the H6 are easily dealt with. Other than external coolant and maybe oil leaks, the other known issues with H4 are also easily dealt with. But, as said, either of those engines could have serious problems if they were neglected.

If you post your city, someone may be able to recommend a shop that could do a pre-purchase check-out of a car for you for $100 plus or minus - well worth it to avoid a serious problem on any used car that will be your primary transportation.
Thank you, Lucky Texan. I live in Dunedin, New Zealand.

I know mileage is usually not an absolute indicator, but generally how does it ballpark Subarus?
I have no idea on how to know about its past care, especially its imported second hand from japan and several owners in NZ (a common phenomenon in NZ second hand market), the best I can do are just checking the engine oil, penel work and other obvious problems. The car itself seems clean and tidy in and out and drives fine at least during the test drive. I will definitely have the car inspected, should I just bring it to a mechanic and all would be safe
 

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Thank you, Lucky Texan. I live in Dunedin, New Zealand.

I know mileage is usually not an absolute indicator, but generally how does it ballpark Subarus?
I have no idea on how to know about its past care, especially its imported second hand from japan and several owners in NZ (a common phenomenon in NZ second hand market), the best I can do are just checking the engine oil, penel work and other obvious problems. The car itself seems clean and tidy in and out and drives fine at least during the test drive. I will definitely have the car inspected, should I just bring it to a mechanic and all would be safe
Well, perhaps there is a local dealership with cars that have known history, or a private owner that has kept verifiable/trustworthy service record, but, the less you know about the history, the more you need the experience of a good mechanic. He can perform compression and leak-down tetsts, check the AWD function, estimate how much brake life is left, inspect fluids, pressure test coolant systems, etc. And, he will be un-emotional. Even the best of us gearheads could overlook something if we're excited about a new purchase!
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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Well, perhaps there is a local dealership with cars that have known history, or a private owner that has kept verifiable/trustworthy service record, but, the less you know about the history, the more you need the experience of a good mechanic. He can perform compression and leak-down tetsts, check the AWD function, estimate how much brake life is left, inspect fluids, pressure test coolant systems, etc. And, he will be un-emotional. Even the best of us gearheads could overlook something if we're excited about a new purchase!
Funny you should say that.

One of my regular customers had a used car lot drop off a Honda CR-V for me to check out before he bought it for one of his younger kids. 2003 FWD. Looked good, clean interior, new paint, tires, never wrecked. He was asking $5500 for it. I found issues amounting to $3975.00 in parts (at dealer list) and labor (my rate @ $90 and hour), not including diagnostic time to find out what was done and where to keep the MIL light off after the engine was cranked. It worked with the key on, bulb check, then went out after start. Had a permanent code for CAT efficiency, and it was bad. These used car lot "mechanics" tend to clip the ground wire from the PCM so the light goes out and stays out, but functions with the bulb check (different circuit). There were other things other than the CAT, but that amounted to most of the repair cost. Sure, an aftermarket is available a lot cheaper, but if you are dealing with a car dealer, you hit back with OE parts pricing.

I told him to offer $1,000 and show him the list. He's still looking for a car elsewhere. The sad thing is that someone will get duped into buying this car and find out on the back side that it has some major issues.

Looks can be deceiving. You have to know what's on the inside.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
when you are buying a used car - particularly one that is 12-13 years old, whether it's stick or auto, 4 or 6 cylinder, or even Subaru or Fiat; it's past care and present condition are THE most important factors.

This Forum can help you with the known common problems, and guide you with other Subaru specific issues - but no one could tell you a particular 2000 H6 is better than some 2000 H4 you found.

yes, H6s generally have fewer headgasket problems, but properly rebuilt H4s are reliable as well. H6 is only available with automatic (in the US - dunno about elsewhere). It does have a little more power - but the power is mostly at cruising speed -it is not quick from a stop. It will get worse gas mileage and 'prefers' premium fuel. The known issues with the H6 are easily dealt with. Other than external coolant and maybe oil leaks, the other known issues with H4 are also easily dealt with. But, as said, either of those engines could have serious problems if they were neglected.

If you post your city, someone may be able to recommend a shop that could do a pre-purchase check-out of a car for you for $100 plus or minus - well worth it to avoid a serious problem on any used car that will be your primary transportation.
cardoc, thanks for the story. I agree looks can be deceiving.
Actually this is only the second time im purchasing a car and have very limited knowledge about car mechanics, when i open the bonnet im not even sure what im actually looking at (im trying very hard to understand what should I look for though, mainly from the internet and help from you guys), but im at the more budget end of the market and can't really afford a new car or a decent low mileage from dealer at least before I start working. Provide that it passes an pre-purchase inspection, would that mean the car is safe to own without major problems?
 

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I would be very skeptical of a car that had it's tranny replaced at 68k miles (110k KM). Tells me something went wrong big time because that should not be a fluid issue.
 

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Chia
I've been there. I have had one used first generation outback (a 97 bought in 2000) and a brand new one( 2004 LTD). I bought the first, used one, as a certified pre owned after a good deal of looking around at used "by owner " cars.

Here's what I think; if you like research and have the time to educate yourself, you can save some money if you purchase from private seller. Even if you basically understand what you're doing, you still need to have the car you're thinking about buying inspected by a private mechanic of you're choosing. This is more difficult if the car is far from where you live and where your regular mechanic works.

You get peace of mind, even if you "know your stuff " by purchasing from a dealer as Certified Pre Owned... there's a LOT of items that they need to inspect and bring back to spec before it can be sold.

I do not know how well NADA book values translate to the New Zealand market. NADA is what all the pros use in the US. Kelley Blue Book is also a widely used standard but not respected quite so much by car dealers. Anyway, those databases will give you some very good ideas of what cars should be selling for. In my experience the NADA values tend to be a bit higher. In both cases you want to look at Cert Pre Own values. They also list trade in, and "Retail ". Decide on the trim package you want (base, LTD,etc) and the miles you want, and the year. Play with those variables until you find a year,model and miles that fits your budget. Figure how much tax is... and then figure financing
. There are good calculators for this on the web. Kelley BB is online and has a great mobile app. Cars dot com is a great mobile app and has very good car reviews.

Now you start shopping. You can use apps like cars dot com to locate cars... or just find out the Subaru dealers within 150km of you and get their websites or mobile apps.

For example, recently I was looking for a Honda CRV. I narrowed it down to a 2009 base model with less than 50K miles. Nada or KBB was about 19,500. I was planning on getting this car for 17,500 so I was going to have to get a dealer to move about 2000 USD lower than book for cert pre owned. I found, with dealers around me in northern Vermont, they were not going to move lower than 18,500 or about 1000 under book. If I wanted to hold out and push I probably could have made a deal work... but at my price, it was not going to be effortless.

Then I came across a rav 4 at a dealer. The price was about 3000 USD below book. But it was a premium trim pack. I could not quite make the math work. It was book at about 22,000 USD and the lowest they would go was 18,000. A great deal, but I could not do it. A week later I walked back in, offered the same price. The car had not sold yet and they wanted it gone. I got my price.

My points:
Do your homework.
Know the exact model, year, trim pack you are looking for and know the book values
Decide on your bottom line price and stick to it.
Know that for your price, you will finance 3, 4, or 5 years... and what that will cost.
The dealer will expose your bottom line number by getting you into something that's more expensive than you were planning on and seeing where your point of reluctance is.
ALWAYS be ready to walk away from ANY deal!
Don't let the dealer shift the point of discussion from selling price to trade in values and monthly payments you want. The more variable like this that they bring to the game, the more they can manipulate the math and the more obfuscated the selling price becomes.

In the end, it's just a car, but there's real satisfaction if you've done your work and gone face to face with the professionals, got yourself a great car, fully warranteed at a great price.

Also, yes the H4 motors can all lose head gaskets after 130,000 miles. It's roughly 1500 USD to take care of it. Factor that in to your calculation of sales price.
 

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Also, last two days of the month are VERY good times to make a deal. Right after Christmas and New Years are extremely good times. New Years eve you could probably name your price and get it. End of the month, end of the year and everyone else is cosy at home with holidays and has spent all their money. Make a deal time.

Also, you probably know, but the second gen outbacks with the 4 cylinder are very logey off the line. It's infuriating sometimes coming off a redlight and the darned thing will just not move. Also with the AC on, very very very slow acceleration. I've learned to hit the ac off when moving off a redlight... it's that bad. But your mileage may vary. Just a heads up on that.

Now my new RAV 4 V6...is most decidedly NOT slow off the line. 0 to 60 in 6.4. But I digress.

Good luck.
 

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sometimes, perfectly fine cars get traded in near Xmas. My middle daughter's first car had been a teacher's car. Her husband bought her a new car for a Xmas gift.

And bank repos are probably the worst. If a person can't keep up with car payments? when was the last time they paid for an oil change?
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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$3,000 off the lot, incl tax, title, license. 164k miles
$2650 rebuilt the transmission completely including one CV axle and a couple hard parts inside the trans
$27 serpentine belt
$250 window tint
$450 KYB struts
$160 rear lateral arms and bolt kits
$660 complete stereo system overhaul from Crutchfield
$30 thermostat and coolant
$0.00 Alignment (I have an alignment rack)
$100 NGK plugs & v-cover seals
$120 dash trim kit (3M faux wood)
$200 front and rear bumper re paint (after I'm finished with the SC)

Tires had 10k miles on them when I bought the car and all the receipts since 1,000 mile oil change were in the glove box. (talk about maintenance history)

Good deals are out there. You just need to be patient.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you all. After browsing the web, talked to a few mechanics and post from you guys. I've kind of got a rough idea on the matter I'm dealing with.
Just had the car inspected today. No major problems found but the small wear and tears adds up to $1000-1500 nzd. The auction will be tomorrow and I'll update how it goes. Again, thank you very much:D
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Cardoc,
She looks flashy and sexy!


Thanks to advice from novablue and cardoc, I paid a lot of attention on transmissions when test driving and some of those I've driven seem to have problematic transmissions, I wudn't find this if you didn't mention it because I used to drive a manual and always put gear into neutral when stopping. eg. when waiting for traffic light on drive gear, the rev meter seem to be unstable and can feel the engine was jumping.
 
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