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#4445123 - 06/29/17 03:57 PM Older car repair advice
Hollow Offline


Registered: 02/29/08
Posts: 1311
Loc: the South
Vehicle: 2003 Subaru Outback with 163,000 miles.

Car is my wife's daily driver. It is needing a goodly amount of repairs due to age/miles/issues from being in the rust belt for 12 years before escaping. Car is paid off, my wife likes it, and want to keep it as long as we can.

Issues and needs:
-Exhaust leaks all over the place as the entire system is rusting apart. Eventually needs replaced from engine to exhaust tip. Mostly patched together currently with hose clamps and exhaust tape.
-Drivers side headgasket has let go, leaking oil and coolant externally. Not planning on repairing this, just keeping fluids topped up.
-All suspension parts are factory and could stand to be replaced eventually. No clunking or grinding, but bumps are getting more notable and one strut is starting to leak, along with front ball joints boots split, both control arm bushings leaking.
-Electrical short in passenger door affecting lock and speaker. Haven't been able to figure this one out yet, it's intermittent.
-New front bumper support needed, my fog lights are cracked and the bumper support is too badly rusted to mount new ones. Repair cost: $100ish at a junkyard.

MOST of these are age/miles/rust related. Frame is in acceptable shape, body shop estimates I have maybe 5 years before the subframe lets go which will scrap the car. The suspension is where I'm trying to figure out what I want to do. Replacing EVERYTHING will run close to $2000 in parts and labor, which is not much less that the value of the car. I want my wife's ride as safe and functional as possible and she wants to keep the car until it is no longer fixable, but I also don't want to set money on fire (see ignoring the HG and exhaust until they become critical).

Wait until suspension gets bad and noisy? Just replace some parts but not all, if so which ones?

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#4445129 - 06/29/17 04:02 PM Re: Older car repair advice [Re: Hollow]
OneEyeJack Offline


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 7471
Loc: S California
It appears that you're answering your own questions as you go. Just remember, happy wife...happy life.

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#4445142 - 06/29/17 04:16 PM Re: Older car repair advice [Re: Hollow]
khittner Offline


Registered: 07/13/12
Posts: 305
Loc: Michigan
You've neglected this car for far too long; as a result of your neglect, most important systems are needlessly past critical, and are finished. Take whatever money you'd otherwise spend on it, get on AutoTrader or a similar used-car search site, and find your wife a nice, similar-vintage, low mileage Southern (ie: not Rust-Belt) Subaru or Toyota Camry granny car, and buy it. Then take care of this new-to-you car and, along with it, your wife.

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#4445153 - 06/29/17 04:31 PM Re: Older car repair advice [Re: Hollow]
Blkstanger Offline


Registered: 08/13/11
Posts: 1945
Loc: Lakeside, CA
Sounds to me like the repair costs are more than what the car is worth. Wives are also very expensive to replace. Buy her a better car to drive. The exhaust leaks alone would be reason enough for me to not let her drive it another mile.
_________________________
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#4445159 - 06/29/17 04:36 PM Re: Older car repair advice [Re: Blkstanger]
Hollow Offline


Registered: 02/29/08
Posts: 1311
Loc: the South
Originally Posted By: khittner
You've neglected this car for far too long; as a result of your neglect, most important systems are needlessly past critical, and are finished. Take whatever money you'd otherwise spend on it, get on AutoTrader or a similar used-car search site, and find your wife a nice, similar-vintage, low mileage Southern (ie: not Rust-Belt) Subaru or Toyota Camry granny car, and buy it. Then take care of this new-to-you car and, along with it, your wife.


Are you trolling? Neglect? Parts wear out with age, usage, and rust. Try reading my post and trying again to answer any of the questions perhaps?

Originally Posted By: Blkstanger
Sounds to me like the repair costs are more than what the car is worth. Wives are also very expensive to replace. Buy her a better car to drive. The exhaust leaks alone would be reason enough for me to not let her drive it another mile.


Please read OP and try again. Wife does not want a new car until car is not repairable, the fact the repairs exceed value of a 14 year old car is irrelevant to topic. Car is still repairable and has service life left. Asking for suggestions on priorities of repairs.

Folks here don't make sense...replace car for exhaust leaks? Are you all made of money or can't be bothered to answer questions asked?

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#4445170 - 06/29/17 04:49 PM Re: Older car repair advice [Re: Hollow]
NStuart Offline


Registered: 12/28/16
Posts: 278
Loc: Sav ga
Have you considered sourcing used exhaust online and comparing shipping and parts cost to the part from the dealer. Or take it to an exhaust shop and see what it takes to find a reasonable fix for it. There is a reputable shop near me that did full dual exhaust front to rear on my Jeep for less than four hundred bucks
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#4445171 - 06/29/17 04:50 PM Re: Older car repair advice [Re: Hollow]
Reggaemon Offline


Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 323
Loc: Pennsylvania
The exhaust is the only serious safety issue.
Replace the exhaust and drive it until the next failure that can't be ignored.

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#4445175 - 06/29/17 04:57 PM Re: Older car repair advice [Re: Hollow]
HoosierJeeper Offline


Registered: 11/23/16
Posts: 1276
Loc: WI
Replace the exhaust. Wait till the ball joints have play in them. Otherwise I wouldn't touch the suspension. If it's made it this far, it can go a few more years I bet.
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15 Jeep KL Limited V6: Formula Shell 5W20
07 LR3 SE V8: Maxlife 5W30
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96 Jeep XJ Country: STP HM 5W30 (winter)

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#4445180 - 06/29/17 05:00 PM Re: Older car repair advice [Re: Hollow]
EdwardC Online   content


Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 1862
Loc: Chicago, IL
Just curious, would you be doing your own work for suspension part replacement? After the exhaust, I would probably replace the lower ball joints and control arm bushings once you notice anything loose or clunking, but not worry about the struts. It'll just get bouncier and bouncier, but you'll be replacing the car within 5 years. I'd prioritize those parts over struts, personally (not that struts aren't a safety item, I mean).

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#4445201 - 06/29/17 05:24 PM Re: Older car repair advice [Re: Hollow]
CT8 Offline


Registered: 10/09/14
Posts: 10925
Loc: Idaho
Buy a new car, a reliable new car. It is for the wife. $2000.00 plus the future repairs ???
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"Don't let your preconceived notions get in the way of facts."
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#4445214 - 06/29/17 05:43 PM Re: Older car repair advice [Re: Hollow]
Nick1994 Offline


Registered: 02/19/13
Posts: 10097
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
I'd replace it too. With a somewhat ok down payment and a 4 year loan my Sonata is $179 a month. Less than maintaining a rusty old car that needs a head gasket.
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2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4L 79k PU 5w30 & OEM
2000 Toyota Camry 2.2L 228k M1 AFE 0w30 & Wix
1996 Jeep Cherokee 4.0L 146k M1 HM 10w40 & Fram Ultra

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#4445232 - 06/29/17 06:06 PM Re: Older car repair advice [Re: Hollow]
skyactiv Offline


Registered: 03/02/13
Posts: 4392
Loc: The Midwest
I'd hate to spend money getting the exhaust fixed and a week later one of the head gaskets goes from bad to no longer can drive until fixed.
Drive it till she blows.
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Me: 13' VW GTI 3 door 6 speed manual

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#4445272 - 06/29/17 06:56 PM Re: Older car repair advice [Re: Hollow]
fdcg27 Offline


Registered: 09/25/09
Posts: 15687
Loc: OH
Fix exhaust now. Shop indies for cost. Shouldn't be too horrible.
Fix front bumper with yard parts for the hundred bucks.
HGs aren't horribly expense or difficult and any Subaru indie has done many on the 2.5. Get a price quote and go from there.
Front end repairs won't be all that costly if you do the work, but it sounds like you could defer those for a bit.
We've had three Subies and they do have more little issues than we've had in the bunch of Hondas we've had, but they also do have their virtues.
From what you've written, this Subaru sounds like a fairly typical fourteen year old car and not a terminal beater.
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09 Forester 95K M1HM 10W-30
01 Focus ZX3 118K PP 5W-20
96 Accord LX 104K T5 10W-30
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#4445278 - 06/29/17 07:04 PM Re: Older car repair advice [Re: Hollow]
Trav Offline


Registered: 11/20/06
Posts: 18836
Loc: MA, Mittelfranken.de
Given enough time, money and skill almost anything can be brought back from the dead or even totally restored but is it worth it?
This is worth it..



Sorry to say but a 2003 Subaru is not worth putting much money at all into. IMO sell for parts, fix up car or scrap.
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#4445282 - 06/29/17 07:12 PM Re: Older car repair advice [Re: Hollow]
Dumc87 Offline


Registered: 06/05/10
Posts: 591
Loc: Florida
I had a pretty [censored] condition exhaust on my 300ZX when I got it (sounded great! just rusty) so I opted for one of the generical eBay special cat-back exhausts for $150 or so.

Wasn't anythign special, just a functional rust-free replacement. Maybe look into one of those? May have to cut and weld a different set of mufflers though. Buddy of mine threw on a 3" Thrush welded muffler on his Subaru, and it sounded mean and aggresive. No idea what your wife's taste is, but perhaps if she loves this car, she may like a bit of performance?

Walker makes pretty standard OE style replacements as well.

I'm with these guys, get the exhaust right so she doesn't pass out while sitting in traffic lol
Headgasket, me personally, I'd try to do it myself, but I also test my bad-luck when I work on high mileage cars... ha.

Suspension would actually be my least concern, so long as it's a comfort issue and not a safety issue. If something starts wobbling, then replace that part ASAP. But if it's just more of a comfort thing, maybe not a big deal?
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