Most Important Maintenance Upon Buying Used Car

maintenance
used
selling

#1


I’m about to pick up a 2000 Subaru Outback after not needing to own a car for several years living and working in a major metropolitan area. What regular maintenance would you perform on the vehicle and when?



Sincerely appreciate your advice - I like to take good care of my gear : ) I kept a 7 year old Volvo 240 I bought in college in great working condition for many years.



This is a list I put together with some posters on Edmunds and the garage that inspected the car for me. Is there anything you would add? How much do you think all the below should cost if done by a good independent garage? One person estimated all the below costing about $1000.



LIST (any used car just bought should get the following, unless you know they were done within the last 3-6 months):



Coolant drain/fill

ATF (Automatic Trans Fluid)/Trans drain/fill

Front +Rear Diffy fluid drain/fill

Replace Spark Plugs (unless it’s under 100k, and had platinums from factory)

Replace Spark Plug Wires (if applicable)

Brake Fluid Flush and Change

Brake Pads (Rotors if needed)

Fuel system flush ? could be done with $4-5 bottle of fuel system cleaner

Power steering fluid drain/fill if fluid is discolored

Replace Tires if necessary


#2

The Owner’s Manuel should have a list off all of the required maintenance and when it should be done. Follow the listed services and you should have a good vehicle that lasts many miles.


#3

Hi jsutter,
I will certainly do that when I get hold of the manual. I’m looking for maintenance that should specifically be done upon purchasing a used car. Is there anything you would add?


#4

Note that if I pick up the 2000 Subaru Outback I’ve inspected, the car will be brought to a garage by beginning of next week. I’m across the country, so trying to find out as much as possible and prepare notes for the garage ahead of time.


#5

If there are good maintenance records, much of that may be up to date. I would say that the three most commonly skipped items are coolant, transmission fluid, and fuel filter. If the vehicle has >90k miles, I would also have the timing belt replaced, if it has not been already.


#6

The timing belt. If there is no documented proof that the timing belt has been changed, consider it original. Average mileage for any FY 2000 car is 100,000 miles; so, the timing belt is due. When the timing belt slips, expensive harm will occur to the engine.


#7

Replacing coolant and make sure you get a hold of Subaru coolant conditioner whoever performs it. Timing belt is due. Tires are very important that they are matched in wear/size/make/model. Plugs are every 30k in Subaru non-turbo engines.

Power steering & fuel system flush both are “wallet” flushes, don’t bother.


#8

I don’t see an oil change on that list. That’s the first thing, unless the previous owner has a receipt from a fairly recent one I would assume it’s been let slide in anticipation of selling. Brake pads can be inspected and only need replaced if they are worn out. Rotors should be fine if there is no problem seen or felt. Differentials probably don’t need anything. Fuel system should be left alone. Power steering fluid should be left alone unless it looks bad, and then you might want to reconsider the whole purchase, or at least the price.


#9

andrew j,

What’s Subaru coolant conditioner? Are you saying to make sure the tech adds this to the coolant mix?

For Power Steering fluid, I’ve been told if it has not been changed in ages and is discolored, it should be replaced. Are you sure? Fuel system flush I can jut perform with a $4 bottle of fuel cleaner on my own.


#10

If the Power steering fluid looks discolored and dirty, other than changing it, why would you reconsider the purchase/price? What can it be an indicator of? Thanks everyone, learning tons very quickly.


#11

OK, here’s how the list and notes are looking now, anything to add?

LIST (any used car just bought should get the following, unless you know they were done within the last 3-6 months):

  • Coolant drain/fill
  • Add Subaru coolant conditioner
  • ATF (Automatic Trans Fluid)/Trans drain/fill
  • Fuel filter
  • Replace timing belt if over 90,000 miles
  • Front +Rear Differential fluid drain/fill (though often don?t need anything)
  • Replace Spark Plugs (every 30K in non-turbo Subaru engines, unless it has platinums and is under 100k)
  • Replace Spark Plug Wires (if applicable)
  • Brake Fluid Flush and Change
  • Brake Pads inspection and replacement if necessary
  • Brake pad rotors if needed (fine if look good and not felt)
  • Fuel system flush ? could be done with $4-5 bottle of fuel system cleaner
  • Power steering fluid drain/fill if fluid is discolored (reconsider price/purchase if power steering fluid looks bad)
  • Replace Tires if necessary ? for Subaru Outback AWD, make sure all tires matched for tread, tread depth and size

Notes:

  • The Owner’s Manuel should have a list off all of the required maintenance and when it should be done. Follow the listed services and you should have a good vehicle that lasts many miles

  • If there are good maintenance records, much of that may be up to date. I would say that the three most commonly skipped items are coolant, transmission fluid, and fuel filter. If the vehicle has >90k miles, I would also have the timing belt replaced, if it has not been already.

  • The timing belt. If there is no documented proof that the timing belt has been changed, consider it original. Average mileage for any FY 2000 car is 100,000 miles; so, the timing belt is due. When the timing belt slips, expensive harm will occur to the engine.

  • Replacing coolant and make sure you get a hold of Subaru coolant conditioner whoever performs it. Timing belt is due. Tires are very important that they are matched in wear/size/make/model. Plugs are every 30k in Subaru non-turbo engines.

  • Power steering & fuel system flush both are “wallet” flushes, don’t bother.

  • Oil change - That’s the first thing, unless the previous owner has a receipt from a fairly recent one I would assume it’s been let slide in anticipation of selling. Brake pads can be inspected and only need replaced if they are worn out. Rotors should be fine if there is no problem seen or felt. Differentials probably don’t need anything. Fuel system should be left alone. Power steering fluid should be left alone unless it looks bad, and then you might want to reconsider the whole purchase, or at least the price.


#12

I say if the power steering fluid is discolored or dirty there may be a serious problem lurking in the pump or rack. I’ve never seen power steering fluid go bad with use unless it gets contaminated. Maybe I’m paranoid, but this to me is the same as saying, “the AC just needs a recharge and it works fine.” If the AC needs a recharge there is a leak and it needs repair. If power steering fluid is in bad shape there is something else wrong. Just my opinion.


#13

I’d have them inspect the differentials before they change the fluid. If the car has mismatched tires front and back, I’d be leery that there could be damage done to the AWD system. Subarus are known to be picky about that stuff.