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1998 Subaru with 270,000

I bought a 1998 Subaru with 269,000 on it and I’ve put 1000 miles on it. It needs a quart of oil and makes rattling sounds but that is all that is wrong with it. My daughter says it’s a piece of junk and I should sell it now for the $2,000 I paid for it. The car only had one owner who gave it to the kids who blew the head gasket. I bought it from a friend who replaced the head gasket and checked out the care completely.
I live in Hawaii on the “Big Island” 4 months out of the year and want a car that can take me places. Renting a car each time really adds up. The car has already paid for itself in rental since I’ve been here 2 months. Of course there is insurance and registration.
I figure if I get 10,000 miles out of the car I"m ahead.
What type of problems can I anticipate with a car with this high mileage? Should I resell it while it’s working or wait until it has something wrong with it? Is there something I should do to maintain it in working order without paying a fortune?

“What type of problems can I anticipate with a car with this high mileage?”

After 16 years of service and with over 250k miles on the odometer, literally anything can break or malfunction at any time. However, the way that it was maintained by the previous owner(s) has some impact on how long you will be able to go before a breakdown.

For instance, if the timing belt, and water pump, and serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners were replaced w/in the past 5 years or so, then you have a better assurance of not incurring huge repair bills.

If the car has an automatic transmission, and if you can confirm that the trans fluid and filter were changed at least 8 times already, then you have a better chance of the transmission lasting for another few years.

Do you have the maintenance records?
If so, was the car maintained at least as well as the mfr specifies and as I described above?

If the answer to everything is “yes” then continuing to follow that maintenance schedule will help to minimize breakdowns.
If the answer is “no” then you have to be prepared for–literally–anything to go wrong at any time, including repairs that will cost more than the book value of the car.

I’m sorry if there is some negativity to my response, but any old car will be at least somewhat unreliable, and a poorly-maintained old car will be a money pit.

If I read the OP right the vehicle will not be used for 8 months at a time. Why not just use it until you are ready to leave Hawaii and sell it. Why pay insurance for 8 months. When you return just buy another cheap beater to use.

It uses excessive oil and makes rattling sounds? And it’s 16 years old with 269,000 miles and had a blown headgasket?

This is not going to end well. I think you should take your daughter’s advice.

Don’t throw out the surf board just yet. Withv this many miles anything could go bad in a heart beat, but if you only need it 4 months out of the year. why not take @volvoV70 advice.


Have a backup plan and drive it till it drops.

Sell a 98 Subaru w/270K for $2000? I don’t know much about car pricing in Hawaii, but I’m thinking that might prove to be a challenge. I’d just drive it conservatively and hope for the best. It may well work fine for 30K more miles, or even more, if it has been well maintained. But then again, it might not. Wishing you the best in any event.

Without actually hearing it the noise may be impossible to determine over the internet. Based on the mileage and the prior blown head gasket it’s possible the rattling could be a bearing knock caused by coolant diluted engine oil washing the bearings out.
Another possibility could be excessive valve lash; less critical as opposed to the above but still of concern.

It needs a quart of oil now but that brings up the issue of how many miles it took to consume that quart of oil. This leads back again to the head gasket. The word “gasket” is used in the singular and properly done means plural. Both gaskets are always replaced. If not, and based on the quart down and rattling I wouldn’t get very far from home with it to put it politely.

1 qt/1000 miles is not excessive consumption for a car with a quarter million plus miles

The rattling sound could be anything from internal engine damage to a loose heat shield.

I would not sell this car–you won’t get anything for it. I would drive it until it breaks, on a “no heroic measures” status: keep changing the appropriate fluids, brakes, etc…but ditch it at the first $600 repair.