Author Topic: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?  (Read 3540 times)

BuffaloStache

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2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« on: June 18, 2017, 01:19:12 PM »
I have a 2006 Outback with ~125k miles on it (not the most mustachian car I know, but my wife and I really prefer to have at least one AWD and/or snow-tire car here in Colorado, and we don't currently have the room in our small condo for snow tires) that it starting to show signs of some major issues. Notably, the struts have begun leaking (a ~$1300 job to replace them all), and the headgasket is starting to show signs of leakage (a ~$2300 job to fix). Neither job needs to be done immediately to keep the car driveable, but I'm not sure if it's worth keeping it around for the next 6 months to a year to try to make the repairs (potentially a $3600 cost), when the KBB value of the car is $2500-$4600. I'm still fairly early on my journey to FI, and while I do try to bike to work 1-2 days per week (I'm just getting started) I still need a reliable car now to get to and from work.

Would you:
A) Fix the car and continue to DIY what we can until it completely dies.
B) Trade the car in for whatever we can get and buy an older, low-mileage AWD vehicle (probably another subaru since they are the highest MPG AWD cars I know of in a mustachian price range)
C) Something else?

BuffaloStache

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2017, 10:27:42 PM »
Update: lately it looks like my clutch is going (I have taught ~3 people how to drive manual/stick-shift with this car, so I can't say I didn't expect it), which will likely add another $1,500. ugh

Greystache

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2017, 07:39:16 AM »
If the car had no maintenance issues, would you be happy with it? Or, are you looking to rationalize getting a new car? I have a 2005 Malibu that is extremely reliable but it is no longer what I need. I have told myself that I will keep it as long as it continues to be reliable, but it is gone as soon as it experiences a major issue.  If it was still a good fit for our needs, I would probably be more inclined to spend a little money on it to avoid the expense of  new car. Most of what you are talking about (struts and clutch) are normal wear and tear and expected to be replaced over the life of a vehicle.  The head gasket is more of an issue. It is difficult to spend more than half the car's worth on a single repair, more so if you are no longer in love with it.

DaKini

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2017, 07:49:02 AM »
What is the rational argument here?
I always wonder what the current-value/repair-cost ratio has to do with the repair-cost/expected-utiliy ratio?
For example, given my car has 0 value in it and i need a 1000 $ repair, and the car is expected to drive two more years, this is 500 $ per year. Shouldn't we have compared to depreciation of a newer (but still old) car?

What do i overlook here?

BuffaloStache

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2017, 06:29:43 PM »
Greystache- if the car had no issues at all, I would still love it and keep it. Not trying to rationalize a new (or new-to-me used car) purchase, just wondering if the cost of the repairs is worth it.

DaKini- current value if the car is ~$4500, total repairs (clutch, struts, and head gaskets combined) is ~$5000. However, since the car is relatively low mileage (125k mi), my guess is that I could easily get about 6-8 additional years out of it if I put that $ into it. I'm still a little confused on your suggested formula?

eostache

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2017, 08:43:59 PM »
Have you gotten a second opinion on the prices of those repairs?

I have a 2001 Subaru Outback. I got it 10 years ago for $4600. It was cheap (then) because it has a bad paint job (looks fine from the driver's seat) and they thought it needed a new catalytic converter. I thought I'd wait and see if the cc is bad. Still waiting....   It does have the CEL on all the time, but my last Subaru had the CEL light on for the whole 8 years that I owned it. Most likely an O2 sensor.

My Outback also has a gimpy (5 speed) transmission, it makes a noise in reverse. It hasn't gotten any worse in 7 years so I live with it. I don't let other people drive it anyways.

I put new tires on this car last December. I'm pretty sure the struts are original and they seem ok so I haven't really thought about replacing them.

My car is also prone to head gasket failures and I think it had a coolant treatment done to it by the past owner to seal the pinprick leak that could develop. What sort of headgasket failure does the 2006 have?

My car has about 157k on it. I only drive about 3000 miles per year, I walk and bike most days. It's only worth maybe 1000 bucks with the issues it has. If I sell it someone else is just going to drive it. So I may as well just drive it myself.

lbmustache

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2017, 09:20:18 PM »
I was under the impression that the head gasket failure is "permanent" in a sense... that if your vehicle is afflicted with it, it will continue to pop up every few years requiring expensive repairs (maybe I'm totally wrong - I do not own an older Subaru).

The struts and clutch issue are in and of themselves not worth switching to a new car since that kind of maintenance will crop up on every car.

I don't know the details of your finances. If the above is true, I personally would cut my losses and move to something else. If you are OK financially and no debt, I don't see the issue with trading it in for a used Subaru - tbh the Crosstrek is probably the same size as your Outback.

czr

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2017, 08:12:02 AM »
If you didn't own it, would you buy it again as it sits for $4.5k? If I could get $4.5k out of it without doing the $5k in repairs, I'd bail and add some cash and upgrade. Time and peace of mind play a role in the decision.

ChpBstrd

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2017, 11:19:33 AM »
Rather than a decision, I'll offer you a decision process. It's work, but it will help you make a better decision. I reccommend something like this as a sticky, because this question appears often.

1) Cruise craigslist to identify a couple likely replacement cars by year/model. Beware cars selling for much cheaper than their value on kbb.com - probably due to issues not mentioned in the ad.

2) Gather all your receipts for repairs, insurance, maintenance, and stuff. Factor in gasoline and estimate depreciation (not including the latest mechanical issues). Estimate an average cost per year to have your car.

3) Go to www.edmunds.com/tco.html and submit a query for your alternative car. Note that 2011 is as far back as it goes.

3)(a). If you would replace your car with a pre-2011 model, you can rough-estimate the costliness based on the cost curve from 2011-2013.

For example, the total cost to own a 2011 Outback for the next 5 years is $29,196 (https://www.edmunds.com/subaru/outback/2011/st-101323979/cost-to-own/). A 2013 model costs $33,578. From the $4,382 difference across 2 years, we can guestimate you'll save $2,000 for each year older you buy. So a 2010 Outback will cost 27k/5y, a 2009 will cost 25k/5y, and the curve probably starts to flatten from there as repairs become a bigger expense than depreciation and the cost of insurance and property tax hit their respective floors.

So what's cheaper? Trading up, or fixing up your existing car? Now you have all the tools you need to decide.

BlueMR2

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2017, 09:56:10 AM »
If it was almost anything other than a Subaru, I'd say "A", no doubt.  With the repairs needed, it's not really worth more than scrap.  If you buy something else used, not only are you spending that money, but you're potentially buying a failure about to happen anyways.  As mentioned by others, figure out what those repair costs will be per year that you think you can keep it going.

HOWEVER, since it's a Subaru, I would at least contemplate "B".  Subarus do tend to have awful expensive recurring engine and trans issues.  If you can DIY that heavy stuff yourself, fine...  Otherwise, *maybe* there's something easier/cheaper to maintain that meets your needs that you can get into?

Civex

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2017, 05:43:38 PM »
I would definitely get a second opinion on the prices-I've had head gaskets done on my 2001 Forester and a few other preventative maintenance things done at the same time since the motor was out, and it was ~$1800 at the dealership. A different poster mentioned thinking that head gaskets were a permanent type issue, and in my experience they were not. Mine went out at 104k miles and I have put another 90k on without an issue.

Depending on how mechanical you are, maybe consider researching replacing your own struts-I haven't replaced them on an AWD vehicle before, but have on other vehicles and it wasn't too bad. I have zero input on the clutch- I would recommend checking if it can be adjusted (maybe it isn't actually going out?)

If these are the best prices you have found for the work, then I would lean slightly towards trading it in at some point in the next 6 months-maybe wait until a 0% on a new Subaru deal or a good deal on a pre owned (I know this isn't MMM advice). IMO, your Subaru is on the lower mileage end of the spectrum for replacement, but if you are having that many problems it might be time. 

nawhite

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2017, 10:32:00 AM »
I had all 4 struts replaced on my 1999 outback a few years ago for about $700 at Subie Auto in Denver: http://www.subieauto.com/

I also had the head gasket problem around 125k on that 1999 and we 1)bought a "new" engine with 50k miles on it, 2) had them replace the head gasket with an aftermarket one that wouldn't leak eventually while it was out of the car still and thus easy/cheap to do the work and 3) had them replace the clutch while the engine was out. Total cost was $2800k at a little shop in the middle of no where Pennsylvania.

Long story short, get other opinions b/c those quotes you got sound really expensive to me.

That said, when mine finally died (blew a rod and thus destroyed the engine) at about 200k miles, I sold it to a recycler for $450 and never looked back. Bought a 7 year old Pontiac Vibe instead which was almost half the price of an Outback in Denver for the same year/miles, has more storage space, and gets better gas mileage. And I'm at 150k miles on that now and it hasn't needed anything too major yet (knock on wood).

BuffaloStache

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2017, 05:32:02 PM »
I had all 4 struts replaced on my 1999 outback a few years ago for about $700 at Subie Auto in Denver: http://www.subieauto.com/

This place is a little far from me, but worth it if I can get a price similar to that!

Also, what do you mean better mileage? The AWD version of the Pontiac Vibe is equal to or worse than my Subaru.

JLee

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2017, 05:51:56 PM »
Were the prices you quoted to do each job individually? $2500 for a head gasket and then another $1500 for a clutch sounds a bit much, when they could just drop the engine/transmission assembly and do it all at once outside of the car.

nawhite

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2017, 11:37:08 AM »
I had all 4 struts replaced on my 1999 outback a few years ago for about $700 at Subie Auto in Denver: http://www.subieauto.com/

This place is a little far from me, but worth it if I can get a price similar to that!

Also, what do you mean better mileage? The AWD version of the Pontiac Vibe is equal to or worse than my Subaru.

Subarus have certainly gotten better mileage overtime but the difference is I don't need AWD and neither do you. My 2wd vibe gets 33mpg and my subaru got about 24 on it's best summer days. In 5 years of owning my vibe I have only once said "you know, if only I had all wheel drive things would be better." I've said "if only I had snow tires" plenty of times but AWD? Not really. Especially when AWD takes 3-8mpg off the car ALL YEAR ROUND!

BuffaloStache

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Re: 2006 Subaru Outback: Time to trade out my car?
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2017, 08:47:14 AM »
In 5 years of owning my vibe I have only once said "you know, if only I had all wheel drive things would be better." I've said "if only I had snow tires" plenty of times but AWD? Not really. Especially when AWD takes 3-8mpg off the car ALL YEAR ROUND!

I totally agree with this, but my wife isn't on board yet. And as it is we have maximized our living space efficiency  (e.g: live in a small condo), so we honestly do not have the storage space for snow tires/rims that aren't on the car. A future goal for us is to move into a small house (with a garage!) and drOp down to one car w/ snow tires. Unfortunately now is not that time.