Should I get Subaru Serviced before Selling?

Hi everyone,
In six months, we plan to sell our beloved 2002 Subaru Forester in exchange for an Outback that my parents-in-law will be gifting to us. It has 106K miles (low mileage) and is worth around $7,300 on the private market according to KBB. Here’s the thing: it’s time for the 105K service which would cost $680 because it includes replacing the timing belt. So my question is: Should we do it, or let it lapse and inform the buyer that it needs to be serviced? My guess is that we won’t recover more than $680 in the sale.

You won’t recover the timing belt cost fully. However at the same time a buyer may deduct it from the price as KBB is just a starting point for price. Have you inquired on the price alone of changing timing belt and nothing else if it looks okay inside? We had the tensioner + timing belt only changed on our Subaru for less than $350. Mechanics go over the top sometimes with Subaru changing everything in there thinking I am there so change it. However reality is the labor to change timing belt, access water pump, or oil cam seals etc is 2.5hrs on Subaru.

I would get the oil changed as many folks who know little else pull a dipstick and dirty “appearing” oil even if fine turns off potential buyers.

Get the Forester a new timing belt. When you have the Outback (no mention of year) drive it a bit before you part with the “beloved” Forester.

Perhaps the Outback is the one you should sell. Few cars that replace the “beloved” car live up to the expectations of that old favorite car and disappoint. Many of us wish we had never let the beloved car go.

If you plan to trade a car in, a service like a new timing belt means little to a dealer on a trade and you don’t get your “investment” in the repair back.

In a private sale most buyers will consider the timing belt job a “positive” as they consider cars that compete with your car to buy. In this case you might get some of your money back, but it will make the car easier to sell at a good price. Buyers will see the receipt for the timing belt job as evidence the car was well cared for. The best thing you can do is assemble ALL the receipts for the car from day 1 to show a complete service history. That adds real value to any used car I look at.

I agree with Uncle Turbo–replacing the timing belt (and producing the receipt) suggests to potential buyers that you’ve been maintaining the car well and could tip the balance in your favor if those potential customers are looking at other Subarus.

Look at it this way, if the belt fails between now and the time you sell the car what will it cost you? Not to mention the value you will loose in the car.

If I was a buyer, I’d look at “didn’t get its last scheduled service, including timing belt” and I’d be thinking two things. One is that I would assume maintenance was lax for the entire life of the car and I would probably not want to buy it at all. Or, the second would be, if I was thinking of buying it, I’d have a figure of about $2000 in my mind to take care of all of the maintenance that you hadn’t done.

I’d probably then pull off the $2000 plus an extra $1000 for the uncertainty. Then I’d dock the KBB by about 20% because those values IMO are always inflated.

So you can do the math on that. But not all buyers pay attention. I’ll bet 90% of prospective buyers don’t know what a timing belt is.

Ditto to almost all of the above, a timing belt having been done is a HUGE plus to a buyer… However I would JUST get that and the water pump done. No need to go crazy if you are going to sell.

As a dealer trade it won’t make it any difference but on a private sale it might.

I wouldn’t get too wound up over priced guides such as KBB. In the real world the actual price you get for the car will likely be much less.
For a real world scenario check eBay Motors “Completes Listings” for '02 Foresters and the no-sales and SOLD cars will give you a good baseline.

If you do the full 105,000 mile maintenance, you can use it as an incentive to the buyer. They will have to pat the $700 to get the work done anyway. You limit the market by not getting the work done.

This is all great advice, thanks so much.

I would try to sell it as is and hope the timing belt holds, then offer to throw in the maintenance needed to seal a deal if necessary.

Well, you could produce your existing service records and mention that it’s due for a timing belt replacement and servicing, or you could get it done.

It’s unlikely you’ll recoup the cost of the service, but maybe you’ll sow some good Karma. You do the math and see if you can sell the car for at least what you wanted for it plus the additional cost of the service. If you raise the price it will be less attractive to some potential buyers, but showing it was just serviced may instill some peace of mind and make it easier to sell too. Probably all this is obvious to you. Your choice I guess…