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How to choose between two similar used cars


I am looking to buy a 2002 Subaru Legacy in snowy VT. Today I looked at two very comparable vehicles (and similarly priced) and would like to get some thoughts on factors that may push towards one vehicle or the other. Here are the two cars:

Legacy GT: 64,000 k, automatic, always garage kept (clean motor), moon roof, fog lights, power seats

Legacy (regular): 58,000 k, standard, part-time garage kept (a little dusty under the hood), no bells/whistles except fancy stereo.

I suppose the big question here is the 6,000 mile difference and the long-term cost/benefits of a stick vs. automatic. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

The mileage difference is not that important. Stick vs. Automatic is a matter of personal preference in a car like this, obviously as is bells n’ whistles vs. no bells n’ whistles. Get it checked out by a mechanic before you buy, whichever one you choose.

I’d personally go for the more basic one, since I like sticks and there’s less to go wrong over the long term.

Because proper maintenance is so vital to the longevity of a car, I would go with the one that comes with complete maintenance records. If you can verify that maintenance has been done, on schedule, in accordance with the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, that should help to ensure that you will have a trouble-free car. If neither one comes with maintenance records, then I would walk away from both of them. In Vermont, Subarus are so common that, if you are persistent, you shouldn’t have a problem finding one whose maintenance is documented.

Another possible factor–Is the GT turbo-charged? If it is, remember that this engine will require more frequent oil changes and, even if the Owner’s Manual doesn’t state it, synthetic motor oil should be used. (Recently, Subaru made synthetic oil mandatory on their turbo models, due to problems that owners encountered when using regular “dino” oil) This combination of factors, along with possible extra repairs as the turbo ages, makes a turbo-equipped car more expensive to maintain in the long run. If the GT is not turbo-charged, then you can ignore these comments.

don’t forget that the turbos also NEED high octane fuel to run it, so factor that in as well

I’m not a fan of used cars with automatics-no way to know how it was treated or maintained. Stick shift has less to go wrong, so that gets my vote. However, when you say fancy stereo do you mean some kid stuck an aftermarket stereo in it? If so, I’d avoid it as kid=car abuse.

I would stay away from a used turbo, don’t know how well it’s been cared for, and it uses much more (premium) gas.

the clutch can go out in a stick shift just as easily as an automatic having problems.

re: texases
I agree on that. If the turbo was abused, it’s gonna be an expensive repair

I generally avoid turbos, so if the GT has a turbo I’d avoid it. I also prefer a stick shift, so that goes against the GT as well. But, those are both my personal bias. The mileage difference is essentially a non-issue, they are practically the same.

Oh yeah, I dislike moon roofs/sun roofs, and my wife hates the hood scoops on the GTs, so for me the GT isn’t even in the running.