Author Topic: Car conundrum -- help!!!  (Read 1078 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Car conundrum -- help!!!
« on: January 02, 2020, 12:27:50 PM »
So here is the situation..

My 2008 Subaru Impreza 2.5i (4 cylinder engine standard transmission with 96,000 miles) has had a problem over the past 6 months it is burning oil we replaced a seal because it started leaking terribly on the highway and that apparently only temporarily fixed the issue. I have had it since 2011, and this is the first major issue I have had. I checked the recalls, and there are none for this issue.

My wife was driving this week on the highway and the car completely lost power, and idled hard making a terrible noise. The mechanic thinks the engine is shot, and will need to be replaced. We are getting a second opinion, but I tend to agree with his diagnosis. Due to the fact he was surprised it ran after it ran out of oil the first time.

The salvage value is $300 as is.
We had it towed for $120 so that is already a sunk cost.
A new used engine is $1000-$1500. There are only a few in the north east so it isn't the easiest part to get.
Labor probably 10-15 hours.
The mechanic give me a rough quote of $3,200 to fix including parts and labor.
The vehicle prior to this issue was worth $4000-$4500 according to KBB.

We are planning on selling it before this happened and getting a new car this year due to another baby coming along. My wife has issues physically and needs something a little easier to get the kids in and out of with their car seat. I am not in a rush to get things done since I plan on biking and still have one car as a family to get around. It just makes things difficult on the weekends because my wife works Friday-Sunday.

Here are the 3 options in my mind.. (please feel free to offer and ideas I have not thought of)

Option 1: Take the salve price of $300, save up cash and buy another car
Option 2: Repair the car, but do the labor my self with help from family
Option 3: Have the shop repair it, and then sell it.

Here are my concerns I don't love option 1 from the simple fact I could be giving up a few thousand if I repair and resell it my self. Option 2 would require me to commit a bunch of time to doing something I have no experience doing. I do like to learn new things, but I have a feeling it might be a little bigger project than I want to bite off right now even with the help of other people. Also, if we want to sell it anyways I have a feeling it will be difficult to re-sell a vehicle with a replaced motor unless I give it away at a lower than market price. I am pretty sure option 3 is off the table since the repair, and the lower re-sale price will not be worth it.

Thanks again for the help!

« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 12:36:54 PM by kawaivf1 »


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Car conundrum -- help!!!
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2020, 01:03:28 PM »
An engine swap is NOT something to try as someone without a lot of experience with working on cars.

If the engine ran without oil pressure, it's probably toast. (but could be salvagable if the leak is repaired). You can explore options for a swap or a rebuild and get other quotes. I had an engine swap done (20 years ago) for considerably less than you were told (even accounting for inflation).

Don't junk a 12 year old vehicle, IMO. Such a waste. You can probably sell the vehicle for top blue book (may even a bit more) with a rebuilt engine in it as long as the rest of the mechanicals and body are sound.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Car conundrum -- help!!!
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2020, 02:05:54 PM »
My father has experience working on cars, and we have a friend who is a mechanic that will likely help in a pinch. So it is an option just, but I know how projects like this can go which is slightly deterring me. My wife feels similarly.

 I am hoping other quotes come in at less, but most shops charges at least $100 an hour in CT so I don't feel great about that.


  • Stubble
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Re: Car conundrum -- help!!!
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2020, 02:28:38 PM »
A Subaru is a very difficult car to work on. It's not DIY territory. The mileage is too low for it being an issue to the failure. Something happened, and it can also happen to a car that is much younger and has lower miles on the clock. Sometimes, sh*t just happens. It may have happened for a reason, but we don't know what that reason my have been, and from your account I don't see any attempt to find out either.

1) $300 seems low if the car is otherwise in decent shape.
2) Unless you are into zeppelin and space ship repair, don't even think about it. As a life-long car guy I have amazing connections, but I don't know any mechanic who would do me a favor and touch a Subaru. It's just a fact.
3) Really stupid idea.

I'd try to get more for the car. Put it on Craigslist, point out that it's a relatively low mileage car that needs a $1K job done, and sell it for $999 to a DIYer or flipper. Then buy the car you are looking for.


  • Bristles
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Re: Car conundrum -- help!!!
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2020, 02:58:48 PM »
Yeah, option 2 has passing appeal if you are really committed to the project, but I have a strong interest and a decent amount of experience in auto repair, and I'd be terrified of tackling that one.

I agree with other posters that option 3 sounds like a loser, too. Far before 100k miles and 11 years old, cars with a broken X that costs Y dollars are usually discounted by much less than Y dollars. Maybe expressed more clearly, I doubt the cost of an $3,200 repair by a pro will increase the market value of your Sub by $3,200. You would be giving up value by having the repair performed professionaly.

$3,200 will certainly buy you a perfectly serviceable if well-worn Honda/Toyota beater in most markets. As you mentioned, with one remaining working car you aren't in a rush and can be patient and picky which is the best way to get a good deal on a used car. That seems like a better choice than repairing your Sub.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Car conundrum -- help!!!
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2020, 04:06:21 PM »
Sounds like $3200 likely buys you another 100k miles of service from this vehicle. Sounds well worth it to me. We spent triple that replacing the engine in our 2005 Legacy GT.


Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!