Old 13th January 2021, 04:24   #1
deeder7001
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Feeling overwhelmed...

Back in June I bought a 2003 Subaru Outback. $1500 knowing that it'll need a bit and work. Basic tune up to start with. It needs a LOT of rear suspension work. And most of the bolts are rusted. Front end needs a lot but at least no real suspension issues other than old ass struts. Engine most likely needs new head gaskets. Oil is dripping from somewhere near the oil filter. Axles need to be replaced in front. Tie rods need for be done. Ball joints. Control arm bushings. Differentials need flushing. Timing belt is about due.

I can do most of it but it's a lot of work. Sometimes I just want to give up and sell it.

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Old 20th January 2021, 23:22   #2
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If you were to sell it by weight to my local metal recycling scrap yard, you'd get $328.13 out of it. If you were to strip it and separate different grades of metal and take it to the same scrap yard, you might bring it up to $550-$600. If you were able to chop-shop it and eBay the parts, over the next year, you might get the same $600, but that's a ton of stripping, listing, and shipping. If you sold it in your home state of AZ with a recent inspection sticker and emissions check on it, you could get anywhere from $800 through well over the $1500 you paid for it depending on mileage, aesthetics and mechanical condition. If the body is good and you sell it in a snowy state where rust is common on that age of car, you could add at least $250 or more to whatever you would get in AZ, especially if you know it would pass that state's inspections and/or e-checks.


The big question is, if you add that sale price plus whatever money, if applicable, you would be willing to add to it, would it buy you something that would give you more reliable transportation with fewer headaches? And another big question is, what could you buy for the sale price of the car plus the cost of repairs, and would the resulting car be good enough to not need significant repairs?


A current problem is that it's a seller's market for used cars right now, and not a buyer's market. Social distancing has people avoiding public transportation and mass transit, and they are buying up used cars, driving up demand and therefore used car prices. Some found out they can no longer afford their payment, forcing them downgrade to an older car, again driving up demand on the used cars and therefore driving up the prices of them. On the other hand, new cars are selling at pretty low prices because sales of new cars are down, especially on non-flagship models. New cars are stupid expensive though, even when discounted.


So now, with all that in mind, what do you do? Suspension jobs are big and can cause you to need to borrow someone else's wheels while the job is underway. Head gasket and timing belt jobs are at least a half day each, if you're in a well-set-up shop. A lot of the other suspension and drive train jobs take a long time too, especially if you add the amount of learning time on youtube, asking experts, shopping for parts, etc. Plus, you have to buy beer for whatever dude stops by to help. That said, if you have the time and know-how, it might not be a bad way to spend a few weekends if each job can be done before the next work week. Just own the fact that it'll be a money pit for a while.


Are the total miles low enough and car condition good enough to prevent an entire list of new problems once these jobs are done? And do you like the car enough to make it worth it to put that kind of time/effort into it? If so, fix it. If not, replace it.


If you're giving the car a human name and giving it other forms of personification just to justify liking it, it's probably time to replace. If you feel like it's a reasonably good and salvageable machine, keep and fix it.

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Old 21st January 2021, 00:17   #3
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The main thing I don't think I'd be able to do myself is the head gaskets. Other than that it's not terribly bad. It's just a lot.

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Old 21st January 2021, 03:06   #4
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At one time, a head gasket job was pretty easy because there was little to nothing above the head. You would just simply take off a few bolts, clean and/or plane the block and underside of the head, put on some sealant and the gaskets themselves and put everything back together. Now your injection system is all up there and needs to be moved out of the way first. When valves were on the side instead of overhead, it was even easier because you didn't have to worry about the timing belt or chain and the overhead camshafts. Now you have to make sure that you have the belt or chain in the right spot when you put it back together. It's sad to say this, but this is probably the best time to replace the water pump as well. The reason is, that job is almost all labor cost with the water pump itself not being very expensive.

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Old 21st January 2021, 03:28   #5
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From what I've read on the Subaru forum is the water pump almost never fails on these. The H6 has a timing chain. I have the H4 which is a belt.... Grrr I need more tools. Lol Damn boxer engines.

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Old 21st January 2021, 03:55   #6
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To be honest, I don't know the specifics of Subaru mechanics, because everyone I have ever known with one has never mentioned having to repair it. They just sorta buy it, drive it for a ridiculous amount of time and distance and then pass it on to someone else in the family to do the same. They're usually pretty reliable from what I've heard from the few people I know that drive them.

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Old 21st January 2021, 11:45   #7
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Other than Subarus having boxer engines I didn't know much about them until I got this one. I actually think I like the boxer engine more than a standard and I don't really know why.

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