05 Legacy wagon, grandma owned w/15k

Here’s a different view - one that’s worked for me in these situations.

With only 15K on the odometer, I would be more interested in seeing if the car had at least 3-4 oil changes in its life. At those low miles, I would not be concerned with coolant or transmission fluid changes.

If you purchase the car and you plan to keep it for a long time, you may want to change the coolant and trans fluid, but I wouldn’t let them gate a purchase.

As others have noted, pay a local mechanic ($100) to look it over and give you their assessment.

I disagree with the coolant changes. The coolant has corrosion inhibitors that get used up with time. Low miles means that the time the engine was up to temp where corrosion works a little faster is less so the coolant will last a little longer, I’d still want to see it have at least one coolant exchange in its history, two would be better.

On a Subaru, when you do a coolant exchange, you need to go to the dealer and get the additive they developed and add it. It will help to extend the life of the head gaskets.

Drive it and take note of any transmission issues. Feel for rough shifting and hesitation (especially taking time to shift into reverse), especially when the car is cold. Googling Subaru transmission problems can give you an idea how many folks have transmission issues with pre-CVT Subarus. Like a link to this very forum from 2009:

And all the stuff everyone else recommends too… all good advice. I have a 1999 Legacy Wagon with 160k miles and have found it to be an excellent vehicle - but I did have major transmission work around 60k miles.

This 9-10 year old car should have had the timing belt replaced during its 8th year, no matter how few miles were accumulated.

Not likely.

If you can’t verify that the oil was changed at least 18 times…

Fat chance.

If it has an automatic trans, the trans fluid should have been changed at least twice–preferably 3 times.

Yeah riiiight.

The brake fluid and the coolant should both have been changed 3 times so far.


Unless there is a thick folder of service invoices that you can examine, this car may have had very little maintenance over its lifetime, and that could be a very expensive scenario for you to experience as the second owner.

By the extremely rigorous standards set forth here, almost no used car could hope to be acceptable, and the poor guy can only buy new, and then be sure to change all the fluids every whip-stitch.

While I agree with the content of your reply, you need to show more respect for fellow contributors.

Diverse input is what makes this forum valuable.

While I agree with the content of your reply, you need to show more respect for fellow contributors.

I fully respect fellow contributors, including VDCdriver. All of my messages are intended to inform, interrogate, or create humor. Never should they be taken personally.

Diverse input is what makes this forum valuable.

Agreed, and I understand that my sense of humor can take some getting used to. In real life everyone seems to eventually get me, and it becomes mostly all about laughs, with (almost) no one taking offense.