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Discussion Starter #1
So, I have an 80 vw rabbit that I am selling off and I have been scouring this forum and admiring all the Foresters in consideration for my next vehicle. I am interested in buying a 98-03 model and these are my concerns:

1)I want it to be dead reliable- I have read about the head gasket concerns on these models and I that is my big concern. What else should I be concerned about.

2) Aside from anything mentioned above, what are the plusses and minuses of different model years?

3) Can I get some approximate prices for these model years? I have been looking on ebay etc. and on craigslist, autotrader- and the prices are all over the place. For instance, on ebay there are 03's with 80k going for $5500 and then I see 98's on CL listed for $8500 and 100k?

So, I know these represent opposite ends of the spectrum, but if you were buying one of the aforementioned models what precisely would you look for? How many miles, crucial maintenance, etc....
 

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2007 Mitsubishi Pajero 5spd Automatic
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I think in any case that you should buy an 03 or newer as they are of the SG series and not bothered so much with expensive repairs that I can't remember right now. There was one thing that the SF had a problem with.(HG failure I belive) And the Sg series got a makeover of the interior wich is a good thing.

Other then that, miles, service history. See if the riming belt is changed if the car got enough miles on it. oil changes should have been followed up on.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
ok

Is that beginning in 03 or post 03? Assuming it is 03, what is the lowest you would expect to pay (considering economy, private seller vs. dealer, etc.) for an 03 w/ a little over 100k, timing belt changed, head gaskets adressed and good maintenance records? Again, posted prices are all over the place.

Also, can I assume after a certain amount of mileage that the HG are good, or can this problem occur regardless of mileage? For instance, if I find a forester with 120k and the timing belt and maintenance done, with no HG repair done, but with no symptoms of a problem, is that OK or should I be concerned?
 

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1998 Cayenne GTS 6speed
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03 is not bullet-proof, but better than previous years. HG can be an issue still - make sure it is replaced, high mileage without problems does not mean it's not going to happen later on. Check for piston slap, too (most noticeable with the engine cold).
 

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2004 Forester XT Premium 4EAT
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1)I want it to be dead reliable- I have read about the head gasket concerns on these models and I that is my big concern. What else should I be concerned about.
In this case I'd steer you toward any Subie with the 2.2 engine (if you're looking for something older), or a MY04 and up for the 2.5. The 2.2's are virtually indestructible, but they were limited to the Legacy and Impreza models.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
piston

Ive never had a vehicle with a piston slap issue. Is it something I should hear or will things vibrate unusually, etc?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
yup

I have read about the EJ22 engines being great. Just concerned that examples with reasonable mileage are few and far between. Plus, I do like the forester. If I ended up buying something older I would probably get a 5sp Legacy.

Im a little unclear which models had the EJ22- 93-98 Impreza and legacy all models? Or am I missing something?
 

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1998 Cayenne GTS 6speed
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Ive never had a vehicle with a piston slap issue. Is it something I should hear or will things vibrate unusually, etc?
Knock/rattle/diesel type sound. Loudness will vary depending on severity of the problem, engine load and temperature.

Seems to be a common problem for earlier 2.5 SOHC engines.
 

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98 Fozzie
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Everyone is so scared of the HG issue with the SF its crazy. Just like any other vehicle; if repaired properly it then becomes a dead reliable (just as any other Suby is) vehicle. It is not a design flaw of the mating surfaces, just a flaw with the gasket itself.
You don't hear much of anything related to problems after the HG has been done on an SF.

The cool thing about them is 1) they can be had for $2000-5000 for some great vehicles and 2) lots of them have already had the HG done; check for paperwork and you're good. I just bought my wife our 98' S with paperwork on the t/b, WP and HG, clutch for $2600. It is in fantastic shape and these sorts of deals are not to few and far if you know what I mean. I would rather have a newer SG just for the sake of being new(er) but there isn't much improved from the SF IMO; all in all they are very similar. 06+ is when things really started to change - unless you're looking into XT's.

My point: don't shy away from any 98-02 because of the headgasket issues: I have seen HG issues on everything up to 05.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
hmmm

What does changing the head gaskets entail on these engines? I have removed the head on some of my old Vw's, a bmw, etc. Is it something a shade tree mechanic such as myself can do or not reccomended?
 

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What does changing the head gaskets entail on these engines? I have removed the head on some of my old Vw's, a bmw, etc. Is it something a shade tree mechanic such as myself can do or not reccomended?
Well you have 2 heads that are laying out to the sides of the engine bay. It can be done, but its no much fun lol.

The other problem subarus have regularly is with the wheel bearings. Right rear wheel bearings seem to go the most often (maybe both sides are equally likely, but for some reason it seems like more people post about the right one failing first), front wheel bearings if abused (rally, offroad etc).

SF 98-02 models had some issues with the clock failing (easily repairs though).

The "headgasket issue" is on the 98 dohc motors primarily, these fail with an internal leak. The 99+ sohc can have issues with bad headgaskets, but these are usually external leaks at the headgasket. Either way once repaired it should usually last at least 100,000 unless theres another problem (heads warped, bad mechanic not properly doing the headgasket repair etc).
 

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I am the KING
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you can look at this in 2 ways. you can be scarred to touch the hg leak car or you can snatch it up for a steal of a deal and find someone that does hgs for cheap. I have noticed on craigslist u can find nice cars with minor problems for $500-1500 seriously!

The 98-02 cars are great cars! all subarus are pretty low maitinence compared to others in the same year..

I just bought my forester for $1500 its nasty dented up and needs new window and driver mirror and oh brakes.. but even after i put 2ooo into it. I know I have no car payments, its gonna run great and Its gonna be safe.

go get one and let us knowwhat u get and take pics.. we like pics around here.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
still looking...

So, I have decided to look for a Forester that has already had all the repairs/ maintenance done so I dont have to worry about it. I am leaning towards a 2000 S model w/ a manual trans.

What I want to know is: What is the MAX price you guys would pay for a 2000 S model with 113k?

Heres some more info:

-Timing belt done with subaru belts and pulleys
-HG done by a subaru specific shop at 100k
-New Calipers, pads and rotors at subaru shop last year
-New clutch and throwout bearing done in last month
-Records of all oil changes and routine maintenance since new with castrol synth. (original owner)
-Struts done at 92k
- Heated seats, tinted windows, tow hitch, cd player
-Says it has always been garaged, no rust , dings or dents whatsoever
-Is pictured w/ a tow hitch, although I dont know if he wants to include that.

The seller is asking $6500 and says he is flexible "within a few hundred dollars". He claims he knows of nothing that needs to be done to the car mechanically (I know, its a 10 year old car, but you have to ask, right?). I see ads for same vehicle with some similar options and mileage for less. ($4300-5000 as advertised prices), but with less complete maintenance histories, one has never had HG done, neither had clutch done, and an option or two less in a couple cases. KBB, consumer reports and NADA average out to about $5500 in excellent and I am inclined to offer $5k, and prepared to walk away from it for any more than $5500.

Who is closer to the right figure in your opinions? I cant tell if Im high or low? Car is located in TX, but seller says he works in St. Louis frequently and can deliver there, which would be a lot easier to pick up since Im in Chicago, so maybe a couple hundred $ of travel cost could be a consideration...

This all may be a little obsessive in terms of the total costs of ownership, but I would like to be fair to the seller in the price that I offer (I would also like to get the most for my money).

Opinions and input appreciated. What else would you want to know about the car and how much would you pay for a car that is as well cared for as this sounds?


(I can only hope hes not a member on this site or Ivegiven away all my bargaining tools, hmmm)
 

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1998 Forester
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I think it is very difficult to know the right price because aftermarket prices are all over the place. So anything from 4200 to 6500 might be the 'right' price. But look at it this way:

If you could buy the one for $4300 with no major maint done yet, what would it cost to fix, HGs, clutch, etc. I would figure at a Subaru Dealer you may end up putting another $2500 to $3000 into that car, which would bring the total up to near $6500.

Here is what I would do, assuming I had time and didn't need to buy immediately.

1) Inspect the car with a white glove...meaning check it out and make note of the general condition of carpets, interior, engine compartment, undercarriage...any rust on axles, etc etc. Write it all down in a list. The general condition of the car's systems will tell you if the guy babied it or beat it...just look at the interior...beat or clean as a whistle ?

2) Find out if the water pump was changed out when they did the t-belt. How bout trans service..fluid and diff oil changed regularly ?

3) Make an offer of $5100 and be willing to go to $5500 of he balks. In this economy he is asking to get book value plus all his maintenance costs back...ideal for him but not for you...if he needs to sell...you'll have a deal.
 

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98 Fozzie
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Buy it. If you can afford the car and you like it don't let it get away. It sounds cherry-ish to me. The car is worth what you are willing to pay. In the end $500 here or there ain't no thing.

A nice 5sp S' in the color you want (that what you want?) with an immaculate record in excellent condition with low mileage is worth that kind of $ in my opinion. Just make sure you look at others physically as you do this one and you will know what the right choice is after that. Don't place your judgment on what other have paid or "would" pay.

No rust is gooooood. No rust/frozen up suspension componentry is good too. Any wear items that need replacing should have been replace for that price; otherwise if the car doesn't smell like a dead person and drives good I would go for it. Lets see some pics!
 

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02 Forester L (sold) Manual
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I bought a just-turned 100,000 mile '02 5 speed L a year ago for $6500. It was priced about a grand less than anything else similar. It was a scratch-n-dent model, but shines up pretty well. It did not have the HG's done, and of course they started leaking several months later so I had them replaced along with the clutch.

I think your $5500 price is probably close to reality. Once these drop under 10 grand the depreciation slows pretty rapidly. People just don't sell them, because they like them and tend to keep them until they are used up.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Pics

I got some pictures of the forester I am interested in. Has a slight ding on one rear panel, engine doesnt look that clean (but that might be a good thing, I always worry when someone has taken care to wipe it down).

What do you guys think? He hasnt sold it in over a month, I think he might take 5k for it.


Remember, its gots 112k and rising and he is asking 6400...


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1999 Forester S
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Looks nice, go for it! I'll give you $150 for the front brush guard if you don't want it.
 
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