how to evaluate a 2006 Subaru for purchase?
Hello. My friend has a Subaru (2010) and I had the pleasure of driving it while he was away on a Peace Corp mission, so I have become a fan. My neighbors are selling their Subaru with the specifications below. I do not own a car and don't know much about cars either. Based on looking around the internet, I think this is a good deal. Because there are two other neighbors in line to see this car (I was the first caller), I have to offer my decision by tomorrow night. I am going to see it tomorrow at 6pm. I am reaching out to learn how to evaluate this opportunity. What should I check for when I see the car, and what questions should I ask? Do you see room to negotiate a lower price or would that be just ridiculous? I am on a teacher's salary and having been told I'd have to pay about $1700 in taxes and fees to the DMV (is that right???? I live in Northern California) so I feel quite overstretched, but I also realize that is not the seller's problem and a good deal is a good deal. Hope this is clear. Please don't be too harsh in your answers. I really don't know what is reasonable and what is not in this context and am looking to learn from you! Thanks!!
2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited Wagon
all wheel drive
all weather floor mats
4-speed automatic transmission with “Sportshift"
Color - "opal champagne”
New 60,000 mile Michelin Premier tires with 12,000 miles on them.
The price is fair but not a great deal. The taxes and fee number you have is too high, check with the DMV for an accurate number. The seller is also responsible to sell the car with a smog certificate.
Ask if the head gaskets and timing belt have been replaced! Oil consumption if any and any accidents or major repairs.
I always offer less and most sellers leave room for negotiation. Good luck!
With 88,000 miles the head gaskets may need to be replaced sometime soon. Make sure you keep that in mind and budget for it.
Thanks a million, F_O_R and Bob! F_O_R, I'm really grateful that you addressed all my questions. How much less would you offer if you were in my position? I would love to learn how to take advantage of the potential room for negotiation. Thanks again.
Offer them $5,500.... The head gaskets "may fail"...it is not certain or imminent.. I would be more concerned about having them show you the service records and maintenance receipts..... Was the timing belt changed? And, if you need to get new head gaskets done at some point, get the redesigned multi layered head gaskets...do a Google search... They are out there.....low mileage is only one factor.... don't get obsessive about it....and don't let them over emphasize the importance of low miles...a newer model vehicle has much more value than a lower miles specimen... I'd rather have a 2009 with 110,000 miles than the 2006 with 88,000....do you see what I mean?? Good luck....in any used car...it's all about condition....if the exterior and interior...(especially important) are immaculate...it's probably been well cared for... look for how clean the interior carpets are, no dents, etc.
$5,500 is slightly more than trade in... you'll probably settle around $5,750, which in my opinion would be fair.
Use Car Gurus and Cars.com to shop around and compare asking prices. I do not think Marks price is accurate as the car pricing guides I used show a price closer to the asking price but it can't hurt to start low and then counter offer somewhat higher. There is a 2007 LL Bean with slightly less miles for sale in your area for over 10k at a dealer.
It is really not possible to place an accurate paying price for a used car here on this forum. There are too many variables such as condition, service records and the like. Please consider these values being posted as "ballpark" figures only. Buying any used car is somewhat of a crap shoot, but armed with the proper information you can put the odds of buying a good one squarely on your side.
Guys, of course this was just a "ballpark figure", an estimate.....NADA is the National Automobile Dealers Association.... between them and Kelly Blue Book, they establish prices on new and used cars..... it's a couple of sources... IF you really think that Car Gurus is a more accurate source, fine.... I don't know if I would agree?? AND, as I stated before....it's about condition and service records.... Of course a dealership wants more... especially if they're a "new car dealership".... I actually purchased my 2010 Subaru Outback Limited from a new car dealership and paid a premium... BUT, I got a car that was extremely clean, fully refurbished, looked and drove like a "brand new car"... and I've had no issues period.... That was in May 2014..... which is WHY I'm very pleased with my purchase.... At 84,000 miles, my car works perfectly like the day I drove off the lot....I hope you're as lucky with your purchase....
inneedofinfo--- I HOPE you realize that the 2006 will not feel the same as the 2010..... Don't know what transmission was in the 2010... but, the 2006 has a different automatic transmission as well.
In my area used Subaru's typically go for a high price due to demand. If this car is in as good shape as posted it is a pretty good deal. I might buy it. The transmission is the tried and true 4EAT but I thought it would have the 5EAT.
Thank you all! I too (like F_O_R) seem to live in an area where Subarus typically go for a high price. I checked Edmund, kbb.com, Car Gurus, cars.com and nadaguides.com and none of the asking prices for a similar car in a 500 mil radius match the Kelly Blue Book suggested price. A most similar example to the car I'll be looking at was a 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i for $7,995 with 129,802 mi located about 3 hours of driving away from me. Nadaguides.com forwarded me to autotrader.com which had one 2006 Subaru (legacy not outback) for $11,888 with 124,170 miles. Just trying to paint an image for you of how it goes in this neck of the woods so that I can learn more from you, not trying to prove anyone wrong or defend anyone else. On the subject of "head gaskets" and "timing belt”, thank you so much for introducing me to those words!! I went to our local Subaru repair shop this morning (not a dealership, just a mom and pop shop trusted by my friend with the Subaru and MANY others online) and asked about those. I learned that if the head gaskets have not been replaced already on the car that I’m considering, as the buyer I would indeed be in the mileage window where the leak will be an issue soon and a proper quality job of getting the head gaskets replaced at their shop would cost me $3400. I was also told that the timing belt change, if it has not been done already, would need to be done before or around the105K mileage point and the cost for that job would be $1600. The suggestion was that I may choose to get both of these done at the same time to save on labor, in which case I should budget about $4000. From both what I have learned from you and these numbers, it does sound like it's better to buy a similar car with a few more miles that has all this work done already! Obviously this goes back to what Markw1952 and others wrote, which was again much appreciated. ***Last questions*** 1) what should I pay attention to in the test drive other than my comfort and weird noises? 2) If it turns out that neither the head gaskets nor the timing belt has been replaced in this car, given the high price area that I live in, what would your consider a reasonable counter offer? 3) At what point in offer/ counter-offer would you walk away and keep an eye out for the next good opportunity? Many thanks again for any thoughts. I realize nobody can give me exact numbers or any guarantees whatsoever. Just trying to learn how others with more experience think and handle a situation like this. All the best to you!
First of all kudos for doing your research before buying the car. Have the shop you went to check it out before buying. Their head gasket price is probably higher than a dealer so shop around.
The timing belt price is also waay to high. Shop around when the time comes.
Thank you! Hope to hear about the last three questions and all the best!
First of all you have been great so ask away. Use the timing belt and head gaskets as a negotiation tool but don't get too caught up in them. My head gaskets went over 200,000 miles with out a problem and I know other cars that have as well. If you buy it I will give you some pointers on extending their life. Do try out EVERYTHING on the car including the AC even if it is cold out side. Drive it on the highway and up a good grade to see if it overheats. In a parking lot make some tight right and left turns so you can hear if the CV joints are clicking. If the car is as good as you say I would go for it as long as the price works out.
BTW - I had to look for months to find/buy my 2003 Forester when it was about 4 years old. Northern California is a popular place for Subaru's due to snow in the mountains.
Thanks a million! How does one determine overheating after going up a grade? Is there a gauge or would I be smelling something like the breaks or perhaps checking under the hood?
Watch the gauge, normal temperature should be 1/3 to 1/2 way up from the bottom. Look out the rear view mirror for smoke when going up hill and accelerating. By all means look under the hood but I recommend you take it to that Subaru shop for an inspection.
inneedofinfo--- YES, keeping your eye on the temperature gauge, in fact all gauges is a good idea.... but, please remember that today's gauges are really no different than the warning light...once the needle starts moving, you're already starting to overheat....I think a better way is to really get in tune with a sense of lost performance....a car that is about to overheat is going to feel more sluggish.... AND, when you see either a warning light or temperature gauge problem... turn on the heat full blast with the fan on high.....this will buy you a little time...you still have to gradually slow down and pull over as soon as it's safe to do so... Many cars today including my 2010 Subaru Outback..has only warning lights for temperature... Subaru explained that most people see a light BEFORE they noticed the gauge...I like both... Again, most people will acknowledge that the function of the gauge and light is the same....on my car.. supposedly the light will start "flashing" when you are about to overheat....and stay illuminated when you are actually "overheating"... MY advice is get your car serviced at the recommended intervals, change the "super coolant" that Subaru specifies when they tell you, make sure that you don't try and squeeze the very last mile from the water pump, thermostat and use "genuine Subaru parts". ., ALWAYS..... Overheating can ruin any car...it's cheaper to pay the maintenance...you won't break down , get stranded and destroy your engine all in one fell swoop...
Mark once again you are giving nonsense advice. Cars are not overheating once the needle starts to move. The normal range is usually 1/3 to 1/2 way up the scale. Over that you should be concerned.
F_O_R- Really, nonsense?? I said..."once the needle starts moving....it goes extremely fast....on my old Honda Accord...the temperature gauge moved from the normal zone to the red zone... when my radiator failed...in 15 to 30 seconds.... Again, avoid all this stuff and keep your car maintained. My radiator failed suddenly without warning.
To be clear.. that's once the needle moves above the normal zone..... couldn't you figure that out?
Look at this discussion below and read the fifth thread ... about overheating..... http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/104-gen-4-2010-2014/27306-blue- temp-light-start.html
Hello and thank you again for all the support! I looked at the car and drove it around. I would love to know your thoughts on the following points: 1) It looked great and the seller couple seemed like lovely people. The car seems extremely well taken care of. I took a very superficial look around inside and out as it was getting dark. What is the proper way of detailed inspecting the insides of a car? 2) During the drive, the steering felt a bit "stiffer" than other cars. I’m not sure if that is just the way it is or something to be concerned about. My comparison is based on my experience with the 2008 Outback that belongs to my friend (I was wrong to post it as a 2010 earlier) as well as cars through renting (which I do pretty often), including my experience with a rental 2016 Subaru two weeks ago. I realize that 2006 was quite some time ago and the steering technology must have advanced quite a bit over the past decade, but I'm not sure what is considered normal for the car I’m considering to purchase. I am a petite female and my shorter torso and arms adds to the problem :-) I would like to determine if it is a problem or just something to get used to. 3) I asked about any accidents and they said they were rear ended once and had to replace the bumper and there were no other damages. I asked if the title was clean and they said yes. I asked if they had the paper work for the body work and they said they will look for it for me. How would you handle this information? 4) Another perhaps more significant issue is something they brought up themselves. The "check engine" light comes on. It actually didn't happen when I turned on the engine to drive, but I think based on the way they talked about it it may be happening all the time. They said they have had the car thoroughly checked several times to address this issue and the decision was that there is something wrong with the check engine light bulb connection or the fuse, and not the actual engine, and since the location of the light or fuse is very difficult to get to, the cost of fixing was way too much to bother with. Is this alarming to you? Would this cause a problem at the next smog check for me? Would I get stuck if I need to sell the car? 5) Once, while driving downhill, when I applied the break I felt something under my foot (through the break). I'm not sure how to describe it. It was almost like how a bad gear shift feels in a manual car, although I know that shifts and breaks are two different things. I don't know what to make of that experience. It only happened once, or maybe I never managed to create the same combination of grade and speed again for it to happen again. How would you handle this information? 6) I drove the car around their neighborhood (up and down hills) and then on the freeway to my apartment (with both the husband and the wife in the car) and then they drove back in the car. The roads on the hills in their area were good in testing the up and down, but they were narrow and windy and so I had to stop a lot to allow other cars pass by. Then when we got to the freeway there was so much traffic that I didn't really get to experience much of a freeway speeding. Not sure if this is a reason to schedule another drive? I personally feel it may be best to just let the shop person whom I’m paying to inspect the car do the drive around. I imagine he would probably pick up on potential issues a lot better than me. Inspite of all that I had learned from you, I had a hard time staying focused on what I was supposed to keep an eye on and an ear out for (while driving on windy roads up and down and stopping for other cars and having lovely conversation with my passengers). I think I may have failed the buyer-car-test test :-( 7) They said they have all the paperwork for the car service and repairs since day one, as the husband is an accountant and very organized by design, but I didn’t see any of the paperwork. I figured I should just request that they bring everything to the inspection? Or should I at any point go through them myself? 8) He said he had just brought the car back from rotating the wheels that morning. 9) I never asked for the VIN number. Shoud I? Thank you!
inneedofinfo--- Thanks for your report...a lot of people ask questions..then disappear and we never hear anything back..... I read your story.... couple of things...you should ALWAYS look at the car in daylight if possible...it's difficult to see things in the dark.... NOW, the check engine light is a problem...you need to know what is causing this... someone who says it's just a malfunctioning light is masking an electrical issue at the very least or something MUCH more serious... electric issues are hard to solve in cars, and it could be related to an ECU problem.... whatever it is, the original owner didn't want to spend the money to get this solved and that's probably why they are selling the car....stiff steering?? Hmm, also needs someone to find out why, low fluid, power steering pump starting to fail....you described something like a "downshift" while applying the brakes...how fast were you going when this happened....I'm not sure what you felt.. could have been the car going to a lower gear... automatic transmissions sometimes do that... What do you really think about the overall condition? Does it look like it's been cared to, clean interior, no rips in the seats, carpet or dashboard??? These are important factors....You say that they have ALL the service records and they are the original owner....did they replace the timing belt? At the required time or mileage? It's NOT just about mileage you know, it's TIME as well.... Will they allow your personal mechanic to inspect the car? Is the price negotiable?? These are all considerations.... good luck... BUT, I sure would want to know before purchasing the car about the check engine light...
It is the sellers responsibility to have the car smog checked. The CEL issue may cause the car not to pass. If the light only comes on when you first turn the key that is normal. If it comes on when the engine is running there is an issue and it may not pass smog so please have the car checked out and ask to see a recent smog certificate BEFORE buying it.
If just the bumper was replaced then no worries. The CEL issue trumps everything so the owners need to resolve that, not you!
Sorry I forgot to mention that I do not think that either the timing belt or the head gaskets have been replaced. They seem very organized and seem to have been very good at taking the car to its appointments, but they said the last "big" amount of money they spent on the car was at the 60K service... They said they have never had a leak problem (invited me to go back in and see the floor of their garage, which I didn't). They didn't know what head gaskets were, so I imagine they haven't had to pay for it yet.
Thanks a lot Markw1952 and F_O_R! The CEL issue certainly sounds bigger than I thought. Should I follow up with the owners by email (about how long it stays on, etc.) or just wait to find out what is going on at the inspection. When you (F_O_R) said the owners need to resolve that, not me, does that mean have it repaired, pay for the inspection, all of the above?
The inspection will be $144.
inneedofinfo--- Mr. Regrets is absolutely correct.....the CEL is the key issue, I agree. I don't know if this car will pass smog with a malfunctioning CHECK ENGINE LIGHT... but, even if it did...I would want to know WHY it's illuminated....and YES, by the way you described...and the owner's own admission, it's a problem...not just lighting up when the engine starts...all warning lights should come on when the engine starts in ALL cars... It's so TYPICAL that the owners just skate on the time for delaying the timing belt and not doing it for almost 12 years.... cheap weasels... makes me wonder what else they skipped on service.. I'm starting to get concerned for you on this particular car.... I wonder how long the check engine Light has been an issue? And, the sellers freely disclosed to you that the last time they put any significant money in the car was almost 30,000 miles ago at the 60,000 miles service...Psst, the 30,000, 60,000 and 90,000 miles service are the most expensive intervals.... it's possible that they have done "very little " to this car?? Further, they sped past the 8 to 9 years time frame for the timing belt, water pump, thermostat, radiator flush, replacement for the super coolant.. and maybe your looking at head gaskets soon.....and a CEL problem?? And the car is 12 to 13 years old??? WOW, I can't blame them for wanting to get rid of it.... Sounds like a good financial move for them??? Do you really want this car?? I hope you realize that it could be a snake pit.... OF course, it all depends on what your mechanic says....I don't know... you're looking at it in person, we're NOT.... Reading between the lines on this one, I'd probably skip it and look for something newer, especially at the price point you described of $7,500.... IF they had done everything on time and showed you the receipts.... maybe I'd have another answer......I can tell you that I personally service my cars according to the book and schedule regardless of mileage...then again, I normally keep my cars running in top condition for 15 to 20 years...I can't afford to skip services. I also sold my last car, a 20 years old Honda Accord for top condition and had three people waiting in line to purchase it.
inneedofinfo---you pay for the inspection...once you really know what is going on, it will be a negotiable tool to talk about price or walk away and consider yourself VERY lucky that you dodged a bullet....let us know when you find out..I'd sure like to hear the results....
Thanks, Markw1952. I appreciate the concern and the heads up! I will be extra careful thanks to what I am learning from you, although I should also clarify that I do not have enough facts to imply/ evaluate/ agree with any suspicions of deceit yet. I don't know for example how much maintenance work they have or have not done on the car. The car was very clean and well kept with leather seats and what not. It didn't seem that they went for the cheapest option. Also, they didn't say they had no records, just didn't have them in the car when I went there. So we'll have to wait and see. Hopefully they've been responsible but hands off, paying their mechanic to make sure all is taken care of without bothering to learn if it was the timing belt or a filter they just paid for. My question still remains regardless: should I get more information before showing up at the inspection? Is there anything I could know ahead of time that would save me the time and the $144 I'll have to spend on having the car inspected? Is there something that if you knew the answer to, you wouldn't even bother spending the money on the inspection, if you were me? Many thanks again!
Sorry Mark, I didn't see your last comment before posting the above. Thanks! If you think of anything I should ask ahead of time, please do let me know.
Subaru's do not show leaks unless they are severe because of the plastic splash pan below the engine. I would pass on the inspection until the CEL issue is resolved. This is a deal breaker.
Just to be clear you pay for the inspection, They pay for the smog check and any repairs needed for it to pass.
Thanks, F_O_R! Would you consider CEL issue resolved if, say, it is smog checked tomorrow and it passes? Or would you demand actual "repair" done to remove the short (or whatever it may be) to consider the issue resolved and move on to the inspection? I imagine if it is an electrical issue as they described, it would pass the smog check, even if the light is still coming on, and I want to know what my position should be if they propose that we just do a smog check to see. Thank you!!
I would want the problem fixed or proof that it will never hinder passing inspection in the future. You will have to smog the car every year or two. If it does not pass due to some electrical gremlin you will rue the day you bought this car.
Just so you know, no smog tech that values their career will pass a car with the CEL on.
FOR is correct....did some more reading..the check engine light is an automatic failure for emissions in CALIFORNIA.....run the codes...it may be an emissions issue, like a bad catalytic converter... Again, seller's problem... not yours... I don't know about this car.....my instincts tell me that I'd walk away.
Maybe a bad ECU if there are no codes.
Hi all, many thanks again for your incredible generosity with your time and knowledge! I thought about everything you said and decided to bow out of this deal without scheduling an inspection. Thank you, F_O_R, for offering solutions (fix it or provide proof prior to the inspection) that helped me form a clear position in my communications with the owners. I'm sad to be walking away from this (the car looked as perfect as a new car!) but grateful for the incredible amount of education and support I received through this thread. You are good people and I wish you all the best!
Keep looking and good luck! Now you have a little more knowledge to assist you as you look for your next car.
Good call... plenty of used Subarus.
Not plenty at all in NorCal but it is worth waiting for a good one.
F_O_R.-. Are you talking about used Subaru's from private parties or are you saying that the scarcity includes cars from new car dealerships? It's pretty easy to get a nice lease returns that is three or four years old from a new car dealer in Southern California...
I highly recommend purchasing the newest model you can afford from a new car dealership.... these cars are in top condition....new car dealers don't fool around and sell junk cars....they have a sterling reputation to protect..... dealerships who sink their own good name can't sell brand new cars...and they don't want that!