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2003 X - A/T
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Discussion Starter #1
I have a bead a very nice looking 2003 X with only 67k miles on it. I have owned a '93 Legacy for over 10 years and it has over 225k on it and still ticking away. Bought it with 126k and have driven it all over. Some work done to it, but it has never left me anywhere and I'm very fond of it. But it is getting old and tired for sure...

Subarus fit my needs perfectly and based on the reliability of mine I naturally started looking at more Subarus when it came time to buy. I can't afford new, but wanted one in good shape with around 60k miles and this one fits the bill nicely.

I drove the 03 Forester X in question yesterday and it's sweet. Nearly pristine in all ways. It is a trade in from a Nissan dealer. Of course they say it's in perfect shape, passed their rigorous inspection, and many cars don't pass it etc.

I verbally agreed to go ahead with negotiations and today they're calling me to close the deal. Still have to negotiate a good price...KBB had the value way up at $12,480 (retail), but NADA and Edmunds were both around $9,600. Preliminary asking numbers from the dealer were $11,500ish.

The problems came this morning when I started reading about all the HG issues! Now I'm very hesitant to buy it.

I feel like I should at the very least take it to an independent mechanic for inspection. But from what I understand there's really no way to tell if a HG is going bad. You just find out once it shows symptoms of leaking(coolant/oil contamination, leaking, etc.)

Maybe I should hold out for a newer one?? Grrrr...
 

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2003 2.5x
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645 Posts
Glad to hear my 03 is still holding value fairly well:icon_wink:


There are quite a few folks here that are having HG problems on newer-ish Forester's so the problem is not eliminated it seems, just less prevalent on later models.

Personally, I wouldnt pay dealer prices like that for such an older vehicle unless he came down to a more reasonable number of around $8500-$9500. I dont care what they use to justify a higher price. Fact is, its still a base model Forester. I would only pay a higher price if a 3 year/36 month warranty was included. that would at least set your mind at ease regarding HG repair costs for the immediate future.

I would definitely take it to an independent shop for a look over if you are going to go ahead with the purchase.
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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39,440 Posts
No problems so far with our highly MODded '03 X. :wink:

If you're not comfortable with the '03 purchase, pass on it. If you're willing to chance it, use the head gasket issue as a bargaining tool & get the '03 for a better price. :cool:

Bobby...

['07 FSXT MODding Journal] ['03 X MODding Journal]
 

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2010 Forester X Premium
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931 Posts
I would not take it till I would negotiate the price down enough to cover HG job ;)
 

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2003 X - A/T
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105 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Good points on negotiating a lower price. Thanks for the quick responses!

What would be a good ballpark average price for doing both head gaskets?
 

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2010 Forester X Premium
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931 Posts
Depends dealer vs moms/pops shop. I would say minimum 1200.00
 

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2003 X - A/T
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105 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Well I voiced my concerns with the dealer and they came back with this:
$10,288
+$999 - 3/36 power train warranty
+$833 tax
+$691 license
=$12,811 otd.

Granted that's with a warranty, but it still seems high to me.
 

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04 Forester X, MT
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1,039 Posts
I would pass on that price. Maybe that for one decked out with 30,000?

In April '09 I paid about $10,500 for a 2004X base 5spd MT with about 74 or 75,000 mi with a warranty to 10 years or 100,000 mi whichever comes first. I wouldn't have paid quite this much, but it was the exact colors I wanted. Dealer just paid for headgasket portion due to external oil leak of a lot of work which amounted to about $1600 including resurfacing and valve job on heads. I paid for timing belt, water pump, and timing components. I tried to negotiate out of the warranty but I'm sure glad they wouldn't take it away now.

If a 3rd party warranty company some people have fits getting them to cover repairs or cheaping out on minimum requirements, etc.

One thing I have seen mentioned is that later ones 2003-2005 (I think?!) are much more likely to have external head gasket leaks that can be seen from underneath (or from above with large telescoping mirror and flashlight). The earlier ones were more likely to leak internally which may not be apparent at first depending on exactly where the leak is primarily what is happening (exhaust in coolant, coolant in oil, etc.). Overheating can happen with internal leak or if coolant is in oil too much and/or too long a trashed motor.

Good luck!

edits:
$10,500 was before tax and tag. this dealer charged no extra fees.
They have you paying $1000 for the warranty?! Ridiculous.
Subaru very recently (last year or so???) changed their headgasket design to a Multi-Layer shim design instead of a flat coated gasket. Newer models than 2003 will have an older design gasket that could still be subject to not lasting as long as the average person would expect (150,000?!)
 

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2003 X - A/T
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105 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Yeah, that last offer feels high. Especially with darn tax & license adding $1500...grumble-grumble.

But it is a nice vehicle. Plus I have not so good credit, so my options are somewhat limited in terms of financing. This may be my best chance to get my ideal vehicle (Outback or Forester) with my ideal mileage, in my budget, etc.

I think if I can talk them down to 9000 or 9500 base price I'll pull the trigger. Wish me luck! I'm sure I'll be back in here with a vengeance if I end up with it...hopefully with good stories.
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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Well I voiced my concerns with the dealer and they came back with this:
$10,288
+$999 - 3/36 power train warranty
+$833 tax
+$691 license
=$12,811 otd.

Granted that's with a warranty, but it still seems high to me.
Why are you getting the 3/36 power train warranty? You'd be in the $10K range without the additional charge. I have have 3 vehicles & none of them have required that warranty... that includes my 15 year old '95 Neon Sport & it still runs perfectly! :wink:

Bobby...

['07 FSXT MODding Journal] ['03 X MODding Journal]
 

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2003 X - A/T
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105 Posts
Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Why are you getting the 3/36 power train warranty? You'd be in the $10K range without the additional charge. I have have 3 vehicles & none of them have required that warranty... that includes my '95 Neon Sport & it still runs perfectly! :wink:
Concerned about the HG issue...figured if I could talk them down a ways and have that included I could have a little peace of mind on that.
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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2010 Forester X Premium
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Well I voiced my concerns with the dealer and they came back with this:
$10,288
+$999 - 3/36 power train warranty
+$833 tax
+$691 license
=$12,811 otd.

Granted that's with a warranty, but it still seems high to me.
I would not pay for this, 3rd party warranty sucks. Take the price down, and put the money asside for HG issues. You might get lucky and put another 100k without any issues. And if this is your perfect car than it's no brainer get it. And have the money on reserves incase HG blows. It's like a 50/50 chance.
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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39,440 Posts
^^ I agree!

Why spend money for something that may never happen or may happen after the warranty expires! I'd do as snajper69 said, put the $1000 in savings. :wink:

Bobby...

['07 FSXT MODding Journal] ['03 X MODding Journal]
 

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2010 Forester X Premium
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931 Posts
If they would be giveing Subaru warranty for next 100k than it would be no brainer ;) but third party warranty are always cheap and hard to get money from, and even if you get some back it will be never even close to what you will need to cover it.
 

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2003 X - A/T
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105 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Good points, especially considering the warranty cost is financed at interest like the rest...

so get them down to 9,500 area, ditch the warranty...that's sounding like the real plan. thanks for all the input guys. I'm at work trying to think it all through, but not to get too distracted. Nice to have some input.
 

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2003 X - A/T
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105 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Well...I talked them a ways down from the original $11,288, they wouldn't go below $9,900. Said that was their cost, etc. I don't necessarily believe that, but there you have it.

So I said OK! Trigger pulled! :bananapartyhat:

Bottom line is I can only afford to be so picky in my situation and this car is so close the my ideal vehicle (within my current budget of course:icon_wink:).

So bye-bye tired old Legacy! :icon_cry: You have served me well. Hello spiffy new (to me) Forester! :rock: Don't blow a head gasket now, dammit. :icon_confused::icon_biggrin:

Said no to the warranty, too. I'll put that money aside and take my chances. it is super clean & nice.

Thanks again for the input.

See y'all around...
 
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