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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Got what seems like a great offer on a '12 Forester from good people through my network with surprisingly low mileage for its age at 61K miles. The Kelly Blue Book value for this vehicle is $11K, which seems fair to me. The interior and most of the exterior look great, considering it's a 9-year-old car.

However, after ~8 winters in upstate New York, it has developed some rust on the undercarriage (photos below), which I've been told is normal and to be expected anywhere with lots of road salt seasonally.

Can anyone tell me how much rust is too much rust? For context, this is my first time buying a car and I am learning as I go about what to look for and avoid. Does this look concerning to you? Any opinion welcome! And any advice on what to look for in-person and/or best practices before purchasing would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance!

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2001 Forester L
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That doesn’t look bad at all. Similar to the 2012 I just bought with 81k on it in MN that lived half its life in NM.

Biggest concern with these is oil consumption. Many have had the small block replaced, mine has not. Look down at the middle of the engine between the air intake pipes and see if it looks newer there.

Found mine to be burning 1qt/1k miles and it’s just outside the 8 year/100k warranty extension.
 

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2011 Subaru Forester
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Just keep up on the oil level. From what I have been able to discern, under certain circumstances pretty much all Subarus will burn some oil. It's not the end of the world unless you let the oil run too low.
As for the undercarriage, that looks pretty normal to me as well. Just make sure to wash off the salt during the winter when there are thaws. You could also have it rust treated if you want to spend a bit more down the road.
 

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Sahuarita, AZ 2018 Forester Limited
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4,176 Posts
I highly recommend getting a PRE-purchase inspection by a mechanic of YOUR choice, not just to assess the rust but the overall mechanical condition of the car.
 

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2011 Subaru Forester
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Exactly correct. You may even use the inspection as a further negotiating tool. From what I have heard most people rate their vehicles as very good or excellent on the Kelley scale for valuation when in fact most are fair or good.
 

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1999 A/T - 235,000 mi. WA state
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Looks good - and nice low mileage. A lot of used cars need $500 - $1000 right off the bat for brakes, maintenance, overdue maintenance - just a budget awareness for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you all for the perspective here! Based on all this, I'm going up for a test drive in about two weeks and bringing it to a local shop for a pre-purchase inspection.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That doesn’t look bad at all. Similar to the 2012 I just bought with 81k on it in MN that lived half its life in NM.
That puts my mind at ease. Some friends of friends told me to steer clear of any undercarriage rust, but I'm starting to get the impression that it is an inevitability for used cars from any area with seasonal road salt.

Any idea what rust like this means for the lifespan of the vehicle if cared for? And what caring for it might entail?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A lot of used cars need $500 - $1000 right off the bat for brakes, maintenance, overdue maintenance - just a budget awareness for you.
Thank you! Great point of reference. Based on my conversation with the owners and their technician, that's supposedly not the case here, but I'm definitely getting it inspected by an independent mechanic before purchasing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
As for the undercarriage, that looks pretty normal to me as well. Just make sure to wash off the salt during the winter when there are thaws. You could also have it rust treated if you want to spend a bit more down the road.
Thank you! I'm glad to hear it's worth considering as-is and even possible to treat down the road.
 
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