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  #1  
Old 03-23-2013, 10:01 AM
elchivito's Avatar
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Subaru transmission replacement

Son is on spring break this week. Last Sunday he gets up and says "I think I'll go to Santa Fe and visit Angelo." I tell him to be sure and check all his fluids and pressures. He has a 2000 Outback with 230K miles on it. Solid motor that neither burns nor leaks oil, he takes pretty good care of it but is no mechanic. Off he goes.
He calls from out past Flagstaff and says he's hearing an odd whine, not very loud. He's stopped and says he's not getting any dash lights or other strangeness so I told him well you've got to decide whether to continue or go back to Flag and get it diagnosed, might just be some loose heat shield or something. He decides to continue. Makes it to Santa Fe without issue but with the noise.
Calls from Santa Fe and says he has discovered that his front differential is dry. No oil on the dipstick. Goes to a Jiffy Lube or somewhere and has it drained and refilled, calls on his way home and says the noise is still there, but not as loud.
Makes it back home. I took it out and drove it and it sounded to me like the diff was damaged. Sure enough, our indy confirmed it.
So then comes the process of helping him decide what to do. I tell him, you could probably get 2K dollars for the car as is pretty easily. Old Subie buyers are not scared off by high miles. You only paid 3K for it and you've had it 2 years, you're even in it right now. On the other hand, you got an extremely good buy on it at 3K, remember you were looking at similar cars for over 4k when that one came along. If you like it well enough to keep it for another 50K miles it might be worth fixing.
We have neither the availability nor the expertise to go find an Outback in a yard and pull the diff or tranny and diff. The best prices we've found for used parts is 850 for a complete auto trans/diff combination. It will come with a 2 year warranty. Indy says the time book quotes 8 hours labor and he'll do it for 7 to save the kid a little money and take cash to save the tax costs. All in all nearly 1400 to fix a 2K dollar car.
It wouldn't necessarily be my choice, but I'm going to let him do it. It may end up being an expensive lesson, or the damned car may go another 100K. I've seen Subarus do similar things.

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84 Euro 240D 4spd. 220.5k sold
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  #2  
Old 03-23-2013, 02:25 PM
elchivito's Avatar
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You ought to think about, you know, shooting from the hip once in a while. Just type in the first thought that flits from one ear to the other, never mind that it'll appear to others as flippant, rude and poorly thought out. Say what you mean for once in your life.
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__________________________________
84 Euro 240D 4spd. 220.5k sold
04 Honda Element AWD
1985 F150 XLT 4x4, 351W with 270k miles, hay hauler
1997 Suzuki Sidekick 4x4
1993 Toyota 4wd Pickup 226K and counting
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  #3  
Old 03-23-2013, 03:12 PM
Skid Row Joe's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elchivito View Post
Son is on spring break this week. Last Sunday he gets up and says "I think I'll go to Santa Fe and visit Angelo." I tell him to be sure and check all his fluids and pressures. He has a 2000 Outback with 230K miles on it. Solid motor that neither burns nor leaks oil, he takes pretty good care of it but is no mechanic. Off he goes.
He calls from out past Flagstaff and says he's hearing an odd whine, not very loud. He's stopped and says he's not getting any dash lights or other strangeness so I told him well you've got to decide whether to continue or go back to Flag and get it diagnosed, might just be some loose heat shield or something. He decides to continue. Makes it to Santa Fe without issue but with the noise.
Calls from Santa Fe and says he has discovered that his front differential is dry. No oil on the dipstick. Goes to a Jiffy Lube or somewhere and has it drained and refilled, calls on his way home and says the noise is still there, but not as loud.
Makes it back home. I took it out and drove it and it sounded to me like the diff was damaged. Sure enough, our indy confirmed it.
So then comes the process of helping him decide what to do. I tell him, you could probably get 2K dollars for the car as is pretty easily. Old Subie buyers are not scared off by high miles. You only paid 3K for it and you've had it 2 years, you're even in it right now. On the other hand, you got an extremely good buy on it at 3K, remember you were looking at similar cars for over 4k when that one came along. If you like it well enough to keep it for another 50K miles it might be worth fixing.
We have neither the availability nor the expertise to go find an Outback in a yard and pull the diff or tranny and diff. The best prices we've found for used parts is 850 for a complete auto trans/diff combination. It will come with a 2 year warranty. Indy says the time book quotes 8 hours labor and he'll do it for 7 to save the kid a little money and take cash to save the tax costs. All in all nearly 1400 to fix a 2K dollar car.
It wouldn't necessarily be my choice, but I'm going to let him do it. It may end up being an expensive lesson, or the damned car may go another 100K. I've seen Subarus do similar things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by elchivito View Post
You ought to think about, you know, shooting from the hip once in a while. Just type in the first thought that flits from one ear to the other, never mind that it'll appear to others as flippant, rude and poorly thought out. Say what you mean for once in your life.
What's the feedback from Subaru fixit forums telling you to do?
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  #4  
Old 03-23-2013, 04:20 PM
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I've always been one to drive cheap cars till they're dead or looking at a large repair bill.
When either happens, I sell the broke car as is, or part it out if it is a popular model. It eliminates all the guess work about the broken car you have.
Time to move on to the next cheap car.
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  #5  
Old 03-23-2013, 06:52 PM
Skid Row Joe's Avatar
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I have heard, (perhaps inaccurately).......... many of the Japanese major mechanical components, are not overhaulable - meaning, you have to replace the whole enchilada on some of the major things like auto trans. for example. Sometimes this is good - sometimes not, in that things get costly very fast to replace for parts cost. They are terrific cars from what I understand, but not without some potential/possible issues, as perhaps all cars have.
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  #6  
Old 03-23-2013, 07:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skid Row Joe View Post
I have heard, (perhaps inaccurately).......... many of the Japanese major mechanical components, are not overhaulable - meaning, you have to replace the whole enchilada on some of the major things like auto trans. for example. Sometimes this is good - sometimes not, in that things get costly very fast to replace for parts cost. They are terrific cars from what I understand, but not without some potential/possible issues, as perhaps all cars have.
I believe you are correct !!
The Japs are great on throw away components.
Remember back to the days when a water pump would have its bearing & seal replaced, maybe the impeller as well.
Auto trans would be a good candidate for throw out & replace. As would a diff, starter, alt, aircon comp.
Probably the ultimate would be throw away cars ~ get a flat~ just get a new car !!
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  #7  
Old 03-23-2013, 07:06 PM
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The one Japanese car that I've owned (Miata aka Eunos Roadster) was designed for very good repairability and rebuild parts were very available from Mazda. Probably not down to the level of rebuilding water pumps, but engine, tranny, and drivetrain parts for sure.
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  #8  
Old 03-23-2013, 07:15 PM
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I tend to keep trucks longer than cars. I get bored with cars.

If the car will sell for for $2K as-is but you couldn't sell it for enough after the repair to recoop the repair bill then I would let it go. If it is a wagon I might reconsider. If it has any rusty threads showing underneath, gone.
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  #9  
Old 03-23-2013, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elchivito View Post
You ought to think about, you know, shooting from the hip once in a while. Just type in the first thought that flits from one ear to the other, never mind that it'll appear to others as flippant, rude and poorly thought out. Say what you mean for once in your life.
If it's rust-free and otherwise in good working order, fix the b!tch and run it to 300K!
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  #10  
Old 03-23-2013, 09:12 PM
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Too me it's a no-brainer. I'd fix it.

It's mechanicals are a known quantity. If you buy something else used there are a lot of unknowns.

Subaru's also have a reputation for lasting a long, long time.

The cost to fix it is less than its value.

It has a good utility value being AWD and also being a wagon.
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  #11  
Old 03-23-2013, 09:44 PM
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Thanks. My first inclination was to tell him to sell it and cut his losses, but he's decided to fix it. It's a wagon and is of course green. They sell for silly prices around here in N. AZ, especially Flagstaff where he's in school. The rest of the car is good despite high miles. Water pump and timing belt just before he bought it, about 15K miles ago. No rust, it's an AZ car bought from the original owner. One head gasket seeps a tiny amount of coolant, but they are known for that and leak outwards, not inward. He added Subaru coolant conditioner and the leak has disappeared. Good compression, it doesn't use a drop of oil and when he changes it the oil looks as good as it did when it went in, new front axles and boots. Bells and whistles all work very well. If he sold it for 2K he'd have to spend at least 5 to replace it, and would be into another high mileage, unknown Subie. While the price to repair gauls the crap out of me I see the rationale of a devil you know vs. one you don't. It's his money anyhow.
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84 Euro 240D 4spd. 220.5k sold
04 Honda Element AWD
1985 F150 XLT 4x4, 351W with 270k miles, hay hauler
1997 Suzuki Sidekick 4x4
1993 Toyota 4wd Pickup 226K and counting
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  #12  
Old 03-23-2013, 09:52 PM
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You can find a good Subie tech who can swap that trans/diff in half the time if they know what they're doing.


We pulled an engine/trans on an Impreza I bought in 45 mins, and replaced it in ~2.5 hours.
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  #13  
Old 03-23-2013, 09:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iwrock View Post
You can find a good Subie tech who can swap that trans/diff in half the time if they know what they're doing.


We pulled an engine/trans on an Impreza I bought in 45 mins, and replaced it in ~2.5 hours.
Thanks for the tip. I am going to see what I can squeeze out of the indy on the 8 hour labor charge. Seems pretty high to me.
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84 Euro 240D 4spd. 220.5k sold
04 Honda Element AWD
1985 F150 XLT 4x4, 351W with 270k miles, hay hauler
1997 Suzuki Sidekick 4x4
1993 Toyota 4wd Pickup 226K and counting
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  #14  
Old 03-23-2013, 10:08 PM
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Knowing what you know about the car, would you pay $3400 for it in repaired condition? If not, shop around and ask yourself again.
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  #15  
Old 03-24-2013, 02:50 AM
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Lightbulb Some addit'l thoughts/experiences on High-Miled vehicles...

ALL Subaru Outbacks are wagons......

Fixed, it's still not a $3,400 car. If he spends $2K on it, it's still a $2K car. That doesn't change on a lot of high-miled old stuff. The only difference is that is he doesn't spend $2K on it, no one will want it for even $1K as it's toast w/o fixing. In other words, it's not a saleable item as is.

I keep BOTH a LONG TIME. 8 to 16 years for cars I've bought new/used, trucks - 10+++ years - all my stuff needs to be dependable enough to drive EVERY DAY. Unless you have driveways full of cars in varying degree of repair, then sumpthin' oughta start. I know what it means to throw good money after bad, and bad money after disasters. It never ends, BTW.

When you sell it for scrap or highly discounted b/c of it's malfunction, then what? Buy another very used Subaru in an unknown state of disrepair - as what he has now? That makes no sense - but ppl seem intent on buying used to replace very used - kind of a vicious circle. But that's what transportation becomes at the lowel-levels of high-miles examples - how long they'll run? Is anyone's guess......

Cars out west don't rust in the dryer climates of NM CO AZ NV UT, and throw-in TX......


It's not a no-brainer to me, when you have no idea what is the next disaster. Today, AWD drivetrain(s) - tomorrow? Engine? Next week? ball joints/AC, you name it, the disasters never stop on real old, HIGH MILEAGE stuff. Will the car make it to 500K+ miles? sure, if you spend enough $$$ on it....... BTDT - way, way, too many times.

Buying another used specimen might make sense since he's got a large invoice for labor and parts, and he's got large miles on it already.

However, you hit the nail on the head - the next very used car is just like what you already have - a very used car. Read: costly!

If on some sort of shoe string budget as the kid prolly is - I would advise cutting my losses, get what I could for it, and go W123 diesel. That's the only real solution to bare bones cost per mile going very used. An MB 240D.

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