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Should I buy this used car?

My friend is selling 95 Subaru Legacy wagon, 126,000 miles, for $1500. This car is very well maintained and good condition (tire replaced last year, timing belt was replaced at 82,000 miles, new rear brakes, regular oil changed). However, when I get this car inspected, the mechanic told me struts need to be replaced soon, which cost around $1000 total.



So I started to have second thoughts about buying. Should I still buy this?

Any car with 126,000 could need struts. Sounds like a good car overall. Does it handle OK? Does it pass the bounce test at each corner? And have you checked around for a price for struts? Has your friend shown you the repair records? You need to see them.

I have a '96 Legacy L wagon, which should be nearly the same. My car (2.2 L engine, automatic transmission, AWD) has 125K miles and continues to run well. It gets 27-30 mpg on the highway, and mid-20s locally.

Even if you spend $1,000 on it, you’re still only up to $2,500, and that’s not much for a decent car. Did the mechanic tell you why he thought the struts needed to be replaced? I’m still driving on the original struts and they are fine.

I’m wondering about the “tire replaced last year.” Was that one tire or all four tires? If it was only one there may be a problem.

If the car is AWD it needs to have four matching tires on it at all times. You can’t replace just one, or even two. Mismatched tires can damage the AWD system, and repairing it isn’t cheap.

If your friend has records to back up the maintenance claims this may be a very good deal.

Yeah, I have a record of repair. Previous owner did “install front coil spring protectors” at 82,000 miles, which I think related to struts. The mechanic told me all struts are original. He did bounce test, and front seems ok, but rear bounces 2-3 times. Is it possible just to replace only rear struts?

Yeah, all 4 tires were replaced. He said because it hasn’t been changed at all and rear bounces back 2-3 times with bounce test.

Maybe only the rear struts need to be replaced. They should be replaced in pair, front or rear, but you don’t necessarily have to replace all four at the same time.

If that timing belt was replaced more than 8 years ago, you should be aware that it is now due for another timing belt replacement on the basis of elapsed time–regardless of odometer mileage. The water pump, serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners should be replaced at the same time.

These jobs could easily cost you $600-700. When this is added to the cost of the rear struts, and possibly the front struts, you will easily double the purchase price of the car.

It sounds like a good deal, but what happens if the engine blows up in six weeks? Will it affect your friendship? Sometimes you are safer not doing business with close friends.

Check to see what the resale value of this car is on cars.com, kbb.com, edmunds.com, etc. and if it is already discounted $1,000 or more, I would go for it.

On kbb.com, private resale value is $2400, but on edmond, it’s $1600. So if I take a middle point, it’s $2000. So they are discounting $500.