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2003 Subaru Outback - Body transplant

This may be outside the scope of your helpful services, but here goes anyway: My 2003 Outback developed severe engine problems, so I got a replacement engine from an unknown source, and of course the replacement engine required an extensive rebuild. Not long after I incurred that expense I was looking forward to a happy(albeit expensive) ending to the story, when the car got t-boned, and the body and frame are damaged beyond repair, although the running gear and most other things are fine. I would like to find a compatible replacement in decent condition with a bad or no engine and manual transmission, but I don’t know where to look. Do you have any useful suggestions?

Well , I have no idea where you are located or what your actual skill level is . I say just scrap the wrecked vehicle and find a good running vehicle as new as you can afford . Any thing you buy with a bad motor will likely have many other problems as well.


What you’re proposing makes no kind of financial sense whatsoever

Cut your losses right now

Donate the car to your local npr-affiliated radio station

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I would just buy another used car that runs. Sell the T-boned car with the good engine and transmission as a “parts or repair” car on Craigslist, or simply sell it to a junkyard. Presumably, what you need is a running, drivable car to get you to work, not a project which will drag on for months or even years.

I guess you are all right about giving up on wishful thinking and starting over. Maybe I was spoiled by my experience some years ago, when, after investing in an expensive rebuild of the engine in my first second-hand Outback, I wrecked the car and sold it for salvage. It turned out that somebody who bought the good engine from my wreck looked me up through a mutual friend and sold me the car he needed my engine for – the happiest possible ending for all three parties, in the end making what seems like perfect financial sense. It’s apparently a wild fantasy, but what I was hoping for was the possibility that, having come through process of buying what seemed to be the best running used car I could afford, then having to double or triple the original cost paying for repairs, I could preserve some of my existing investment, instead of buying another ticket on the used-car-buying ride.

The normal advice here is to pay a shop to inspect any used vehicle for problems . That is the best way to improve your odds of getting a decent used vehicle , still not a guarantee that it won’t have problems.

None of my business but I personally would not buy a used all wheel drive vehicle .

Pulling an engine and transmission is a lot of work, and as a DIY project takes a lot of time. Also, if you are renting your home, or if you own in an HOA, you may not even be allowed to do such work at your home. Time to cut your losses and move on to a different used car. Consider something simple and reliable such as a low-mileage Toyota Camry or Toyota Corolla. My favorite models in terms of “bang for the buck” are the 97-01 Camry and 03-08 Corolla.

Actually, getting an independent shop to inspect a prospective purchase was something I knew enough to do. Unfortunately, I didn’t do that right. The seller/dealer was 60-65 miles from where I live, so I had to depend on secondhand recommendations for a shop to do the inspection, and, despite high ratings on the CarTalk site, the one I picked was a dud. They charged me for a full hour of labor, having done a cursory, 5- to10-minute once-over, missing things that were apparently to me by the time I got the car home. So I got screwed by the mechanic shop ANDthe dealer, who had supposedly had the engine completely refurbished.
Fortunately, I’ve had no problems with the AWD in any of the three Subarus I’ve owned. Maybe the next one will be my (un)lucky charm. :wink:

I’m way past thinking of doing any mechanical work on my own – I only use a professional mechanic I’ve been going to for a couple of decades by now, and pay accordingly for the service. I have had occasion to experience the reliability and longevity of Toyotas. I drove my 1983 Corolla wagon about 374k miles before the engine blew up around 2005-06. Loved that car.

Then why not buy yourself something new and get rid of the frustration . There are lots of affordable new vehicles now. You could even lease something a little more expensive and if you like it you keep it in three years and if not just give it back to them.

I agree with the good advice that the OP has already been given about ditching this vehicle, but I think that it is also important for him to understand an error in his understanding of vehicle construction, as evidenced by…

With the exception of trucks and some truck-based SUVs, almost all vehicles nowadays use “unitized” construction, and as a result, they do not have a frame in the classic sense. The provision of a very rigid floorpan–which is welded to other very stout components surrounding the passenger cabin–forms the “frame”. The classic concept of a separate body and frame for passenger vehicles is essentially something from the past.