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My car was totaled - looking at different model

My 1997 Subaru Legacy L Wagon was totaled when another driver rear-ended me on the freeway. It wasn’t worth much but was paid for and in near perfect working order. I am assuming approximately 4500.00 in insurance. Found a 1999 Forester L for 3500.00 w/ 135k miles and looks to be in perfect condition? Reasonable? Any concerns with this model year to consider?

If you get a $4,500 insurance settlement for a '97 Legacy L Wagon, I hope someone totals my '96 tomorrow.

If you don’t know the maintenance history of the Forester you’re taking a huge gamble. There’s no such thing as “perfect condition” at 135k miles.

I’d want absolute proof that the timing belt has been replaced. Late 90s and early 00s Subarus with the 2.5 liter engine are notorious for head gasket problems.

If the tires haven’t always been evenly matched there could be issues with the AWD system. These can become expensive very quickly.

Good luck.

I have a feeling you’re assuming too much. A 1997 Legacy Wagon with average miles and in good condtion has a value of $1500-$2000. I believe there have been head gasket issues with normally aspirated Subarus of the the vintage you are looking at.

If you are going to pursue the Forester, confirm if timing belt has been replaced.

To: mcparadise & FoDaddy,

I’ve already been quoted about $4200 from my insurance for the replacement of my car but am waiting on the other person’s insurance to give me some numbers - I’ll be looking for additional market values in my area as well - my car was in impeccable condition - so if your '96 is in good condition you might be better off than you think - I’m seeing similar cars with a market value no less than 3500.00

Thank you both for the valuable info - all taken into consideration - I have a local Subaru specialty shop that I am planning to have do a look-over when I can get to it and I’ll do some research on the VIN #. Good thought on the tires too - wouldn’t have thought of that.

By the way - I’ve learned that the head gasket issues have been relegated to only the 2.5 liter engines - the 2.2 liters (my car) are in good shape - I understand the Forester is 2.5 so will definitely keep head gasket issues at the forefront of my research.

Again, thanks to all for the input! Hugely appreciated and other considerations are welcome!

I think you are likely to get $2500 or so. That’s the dealer price for a 1997 Legacy L wagon with auto transmission and alloy wheels at You can check for yourself at edmunds, kbb or nadaguides. It seems to me that you should be entitled to replacement from a dealer’s lot since this is an insurance payout.

hey, who is your insurance company, and are they going to go to the mat for you with the other guys club?

I use Pemco (WA. company)and they are awesome but it was Safeco Insurance insuring the person who hit me and is writing the check - 4600.00! Pemco didn’t really need to do much but they were on top of things from the start - will say I’m impressed with Safeco in all this too - was skeptical in the beginning

see above - got 4600.00 using the point you bring up here - wasn’t finding anything on a dealer’s lot under 4500.00 that was truly comparable (mileage, transmission, etc) - pretty content with the insurance outcome thus far. Thanks for the input!

It Sounds Like You’ve Been Driving That 97 Wagon For A While. Why Not Use The Resulting Settlement And Throw In A Little More Cash And Upgrade To Something Newer With Fewer Miles ?

That’s what I’d do. Get yourself something newer and safer. How long were you planning to drive a 97, anyhow ?


Yes, thought about that and actually going to look at something tonight - unfortunately I am not financially prepared for a car payment and was just beginning to enjoy not having one - the car was only paid off in the last 1.5 years! Thanks for the feedback though!

One more thing to look for with any used Subaru is the tires. If all 4 don’t appear to be of the same tread depth, or are mismatched(3 of a brand and 1 of another, 2 different brands, etc)), pass it up, you’ll be looking at an expensive repair bill in the near future you might not be able to afford(replacing the center differential)

Your real offers trump estimates on-line any day. It looks like the insurers are offering way over trade-in value. We often have visitors that quote low ball offers. Keep that insurer - they are looking out for you.