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Modsterdomus
2000 STM RS Sedan 5spd
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7,849 Posts
So you want to buy an used Subaru but dont know what to look for!
By Following the list below i hope to help you not get overcharged or shafted in any way.


1) Check the Head Gasket for leaks...

The head gaskets that subaru was using were crap. No two ways about it they were weak and around 100k miles they would blow out if not sooner. That will be your number one problem since it can cost up to 2k to fix it. To see if the car you are looking at has a bad HG check the following:

a) Look for oil seeping or dripping from the engine. Is it anywhere near where the heads meet the block?

b) Open the radiator fill and look for grossness on the cap that may be a result of oil in the coolant.

c) Check the oil... if the dipstick is charred, oil is blacker than black and lumpy, or there is non oil gunk (sometimes red/orange or white) attached to it then those are bad signs.

d) When you test drive it make sure the temp gauge stays steady. If the compressed gas from the cylinder is being pushed into the coolant you will get random temp fluctiations and lots of bubbling in the overflow tank.

2) Losing/Burning Oil
When you start the car have someone watching the tail pipe. You dont want to see too much dark smoke or really blue smoke come out and if it does it should be only a small ammount before resuming normal exuast color.

Look for oil leaks again after road testing it. Sometimes the dealer will powerwash the car so all the leaks are invisible until after you drive it. Refer back to the dipstick... charred is bad.

3) Clutch
Try to start the car from a stop on flat ground in 3rd gear. if you can get it to move then there is a good chance the clutch is bad.

4) Alignment and brakes
Look for uneven wear on the tires and the brake rotors. Funny grooves in the surface of either is a bad sign.

When test driving give the brakes a good test to make sure they either lock up or ABS kicks in. If you can stand on them and not have either result then they need to be replaced. Also take note of vibrations and whether the car pulls to one side when trying to stop.

Find a long stright strech of road and let go of the wheel. Does the car continue straight? Is the wheel exactly straight? You may need an alignment.

5) Body
Rust = bad. Dont forget to check in the door frames and around the sun roof where the glass mates up. Check everything you can see. If you find ANY rust it will only get worse from there.

Look for discolored body panels, look for paint in areas where the car didn't come with paint. Make sure the body panels are equally distant from one another and compare both sides of the car. The factory will not mess this up becuase it is done by a machine, but body mechanics dont always line the panels up right. If the car was in an accident it is best to know about it before paying.

Always check the back of the rear wheel wells right above where the bumper attaches. This spot is a notorious rust collector and usually one of the first places to go. a definate indicator for rust apearing in the rest of the car.

6) Engine
Listen to the idle, spastic idle is bad. If it is cold out the engine will idle fairly high. Let the car warm up and let the idle drop. If the idle doesn't drop or drops so far the car stalls you may have a problem. If it is warm out the idle should be smooth and level. Make sure the fans go on.

Some people like to take it to a mechanic for compression testing. It couldn't hurt.

If there is a CEL make sure to pull it before handing over the cash. Some are worse than others, find out what it is. If you have your own code puller check to see if the codes have been cleared lately. It takes a couple of cycles for codes to pop after being reset. Dont let them fool you into thinking there is no code.

7) History
Get a car fax report. This will tell you all of the service records since it was bought if they were done by a dealer. Check the mileage on the car to see if it matches up with the mileage on the carfax. Easy to swap a new console in and knock a ton of miles off the car. Look for times in the carfax where it looks like the car wasn't driven. That could be a sign that it spent time ina shop or ina junkyard somewhere.

Look out for a car that has been handed over often. There may be something wrong that makes people not want to hold onto it.

Look out for a car that has been recently bought by the current owner. They may be trying for a quick turn-around in order to makea buck. That means you are prolly overpaying.

8) PRICE!
Go to KBB.com and look up everything you know about the car. Check all of the condition levels and all of the values (Trade in, Private sale, and Dealer) Print them and staple them to the carfax.

As you look at the car take not of any options you may not have known about, any damage or faults with the car and fit it What the KBB price says. KBB will take into account mileage and national trends for pricing. It just leaves condition assesment up to you. If you know what certain needed repairs will cost subtract them from the price on KBB for the condition when the repairs are done.

Also good to know is how long the car has been on the market. Longer on the market means the owner may be more likely to part with it for a lower price.

Anything else you guys can think of? I'll add it in as the ideas post up.

Chris
 
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Toyota Rush 1.5S
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773 Posts
GREAT WRITE UP!

I think you nailed all the important things, well done.
 

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Modsterdomus
2000 STM RS Sedan 5spd
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7,849 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
List of options to look for.
SPT struts and springs. Suspension is one of the first things people upgrade on the RS. If yours comes with the SPT suspension you are a step ahead. I believe they are red. Not red? Not SPT.

SPT/STi shifter. The stock shifter is thick and black. The SPT/STi short shifter has a much crisper feel and shorter throw. You can tell you have it by feeling through the boot. If it is pencil thin then you have the good one. Otherwise you dont.

Gauge pod: good to have but not something to get too excited about.

Strut tower brace. A little added support never hurts.

SPT exhuast, sounds better, looks better. Has a chrome tip with 2.5RS on it.

What else?
 

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Registered
2000 BRP Impreza RS
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746 Posts
Great advice, going to use this tomorrow to inspect the new whip :).
 

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Registered
2000 BRP Impreza 2.5RS Coupe
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521 Posts
I know there are about a million threads on the boards about it already, but maybe a cliff notes version of the differences from year to year of the 98-01 RS? It comes up a lot for people looking to buy one... also noting the older DOHC motors have a higher chance of head gasket failure. But otherwise, very nice, definitely all good things to look for when looking at a car. :)
 

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Registered
2000 BRP Impreza RS
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746 Posts
Plus the DOHC is a PITA cause you have to take the entire engine out =O.
 

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Registered
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9 Posts
nice write up, i wish i had this while i bought my car.

But i am a bit worry now about this one.
1) Check the Head Gasket for leaks...

The head gaskets that subaru was using were crap. No two ways about it they were weak and around 100k miles they would blow out if not sooner. That will be your number one problem since it can cost up to 2k to fix it. To see if the car you are looking at has a bad HG check the following:

a) Look for oil seeping or dripping from the engine. Is it anywhere near where the heads meet the block?
When i recently took my car in for a check up after i got a check engine light, it was caused by oil leaking into the spark plug. I hope it was unrelated to this. I'm a car noob so i wouldn't even know the difference.
 

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Registered
2004 WRX RED
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5,995 Posts
Good stuff, perfect for us right now. The man's looking for a used suby. Cant stand the new ones :(
 

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Premium Member
I had a Unicorn!
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339 Posts
I think you have this backwards.
3) Clutch
Try to start the car from a stop on flat ground in 3rd gear. if you can get it to move then there is a good chance the clutch is bad.
If you can get the car rolling in third than the clutch is good.
If you can't get the moving in third, than the clutch is bad.
 

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Registered
99 RS BRP
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517 Posts
so which one of the clutch is the right answer?

Also, how about timing belt, shox, tranny? can anybody augment how often or when does things need to be done and how much is roughly the parts cost vs going to a mechanic?
 

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Primium Membur
98 RS/WRX
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551 Posts
Damn, wish I read this before I bought my RS. The ass that sold it to me(who is/was a member on this site) neglected to tell me about the leaking head gaskets, torn CV boots, and rack and pinion damage. And I have reason to believe he powerwashed the engine bay to hide the leaking head gaskets.

The best thing to do if you are really interested in a car is to have it checked out by a mechanic you know and trust. Biggest mistake I made was not doing that.
 

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Registered
99 RS BRP
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517 Posts
I would love to have a video of this procedure, a video is worth a million words. Also where is the head gasket, I think I know but I am not sure. A video of the first 5-6 points would be awesome.
 

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Banned
1999, Legacy L Wagon, Maron
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207 Posts
I'm confused about the clutch deal? In many of my cars/truck i've accidently started in 3rd gear(missed first at the stop sign etc.) Can some once explain to me why that means you have a soon to be bad clutch?
 

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14 Posts
before i bought my 2003 impreza rs I looked at this posting and it helped me out when buying my car. I love my car but its automatic and i would like it to be 5 speed but for the price i couldn't say no.
 

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Registered
00 2.5RS BRP
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687 Posts
so which one of the clutch is the right answer?

Also, how about timing belt, shox, tranny? can anybody augment how often or when does things need to be done and how much is roughly the parts cost vs going to a mechanic?

start off in 1st....go to about 5k or 20mph and shift to 4th..then floor it. If your engine boggs down and the car moves then the clutch it good. However if you do this and your rpm's start shooting up and you see smoke...then you have a bad clutch!;)
 
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