[OT] What would be a fair price to charge for this Subaru?


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Oakland, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 8, 2013 - 05:33pm PT
We're looking to sell our Ď97 Subaru Legacy wagon. Canít decide on a price to put it up on Craigslist. We want to ensure a transparent and fair sale. Any price suggestions appreciated on this damn ^&$@!!@ car.

Itís a forest green, all wheel drive Ď97 Subaru Legacy GT Wagon, 4-cylinder, 2.5L engine, automatic. Itís got about 75k miles on it. It's in fair to good condition in terms of appearance and interior.

The engine is the sticking point. The son of a gun has begun to overheat sporadically. Mechanic says he's 99% it's a shot thermostat, but my hunch is that it's the head gasket issue that plagues this vintage Subaru engine. We've got his notes on the records saying it's most likely the thermostat.

If it's the thermostat, it'll be about $300 to fix (we didnít go ahead with this fix) and the thing should run another 150k+. If the head gasket (something like this: http://goo.gl/yHq5b); - thatís a $3k+ fix.

Kelley Blue Book gives a Fair condition value of $5,469 ($6,494 Excellent) for this thing, I think mainly b/c of the low mileage and the general reliability of a Subaru. Once it's fixed, it'll have a good long life. We're thinking of putting it up on Craigslist for about $1200, disclosing everything of course.

If you were selling, how would you price this car? Thanks for any input!

If you're still reading (!!??):

Here are a ton of pics: http://goo.gl/RyGzo

Itís also got all of this stuff:

Antilock Brakes
Power steering
Dual air bags
Air conditioning, cruise control
Two-way power moonroof with sunshade
AM/FM/Six CD changer/premium sound package, though one speaker is out
Power windows, doors and locks
Alarm system, but we don't have the keyless control anymore, not sure how easy to replace. Alarm def works fine, there's a way to turn it off manually.
Alloy wheels
Roof rack
Projector fog lamps
Roof spoiler
Hood vent
Leather steering wheel

We're the second owners of this car; original owner was a family member here in Berkeley who had only put 30k miles on it in 7 yrs of ownership. We've had it since then, and have put on about 47k miles in the 8 yrs since. It's never seen more than 6,000 miles in a year.

Weíve got full maintenance records.


The Granite State.
Mar 8, 2013 - 05:38pm PT
Just replace the thermostat yourself. It's fairly simple (I've done it on a '95 Legacy) and the part is maybe thirty bucks.

A couple of hours and minimal investment will tell you if it's the thermostat.

What's your oil look like? Any green?

Diagnose the problem before you think about selling it.

Gym climber
its nice here in the spring
Mar 8, 2013 - 05:42pm PT
I had the same year car, the head gasget went bad but there were no overheating issues prior. I would never buy another everything on that car seemed to be designed to take maximum labor to work on. Good luck!

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Mar 8, 2013 - 06:03pm PT
It aint the damn thermostat, it's leaking head gaskets and (depending on how hot you have gotten the thing) possibly the heads as well. I had the same car, same issue, was told the same thing: thermostat. Got the work done. Still overheated sporadically. Next time was told it was the radiator. Had that done, still overheated sporadically. Had the water pump done too, nope still overheated. Then finally it overheated so bad that it blew the gaskets completely, at which point I had the gaskets done and the heads checked - supposedly the heads were still good. At this point I had put thousands of dollars into the car. Guess what? It still overheated.

It overheated so often that I took to carrying 5 gallons of water with me everywhere I went. When the car would overheat, I would simply open the radiator cap (with a long stick) relieving the gas pressure that would have built up in the radiator. Then I would refill with water and off I would go, no problem!

Well night I went up to the hot springs in Mammoth on a night when it was probably ten degrees. Of course the water froze :) I drove home anyway with a frozen radiator and a glowing hot red engine block and f*#k me if the thing didn't keep putting along all the way into the driveway.

I sold it to a buddy for $100 and a case of beer. He got a new engine from Japan and put that into the car. It has run fine ever since.

I think you would be lucky to get $1000 for that car.

What a nightmare, worst car I have ever owned by far.

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
Mar 8, 2013 - 06:08pm PT
$4000 OBO

See what happens........
patrick compton

Trad climber
Mar 8, 2013 - 06:40pm PT
Look online for people with similar symptoms and their solutions. I would try some oil additives. I have had great luck with using the better quality products to seal master seals and other gaskets.
patrick compton

Trad climber
Mar 8, 2013 - 06:49pm PT
75k is really low miles for a 97... and REALLY low miles to have a head gasket issue.

As for the price, you won't find a similar car and similar miles for the price you are asking.

Do you sue synthetic oil? it is all around better for your engine and is more stable under heat so if you do overheat, you do less potential damage.

In my experiences, when thermostats go out, the engine stays hot. It doesn't go out sporadically.

Try high-quality oil goo.

Boulder, CO
Mar 8, 2013 - 06:54pm PT
I second the thermostat suggestion.

it's usually two bolts and some sealant. Undo bolts, remove old gasket, replace $20 thermostat, apply sealant and $5 gasket, bolt back on.

And if'n it ain't it well... it would probably need it sooner than later anyway.

Oakland, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 8, 2013 - 08:01pm PT
Pyrosis, sounds exactly like our deal. Grrrr.

Thanks for the input from all sides. Think I will try the thermostat and, if not improvement, sell 'as is' and w/ full disclosure ask for a thousand. Even if it is the head gasket and they have to drop $3k into it, somebody will be getting it for well under KBB price.

Truckee, CA
Mar 8, 2013 - 08:40pm PT
Do the thermostat first, its easy. You will need to replace the coolant too as a result. Its 2 bolts, no sealant. Id feel like an ass if i didnt try that first. The dohc 2.5l had head gasket issues for sure, but its not a given. do a compression check. If it is the headgasket, she wont be worth much, worth more to keep and repair.

Trad climber
Can't get here from there
Mar 8, 2013 - 09:27pm PT
Have you checked for a very slow leak (pin hole in a hose)? They are hard to detect but will cause an occasional over heating. Check fluid daily/each use.

Are you adding fluid frequently? If it's a head gasket your likely to have water in your oil.

Trad climber
New England
Mar 9, 2013 - 01:30pm PT
If it is the head gasket, keep it. Each day, you can take a bat to it as part of your workout routine!

Ice climber
canyon country,CA
Mar 9, 2013 - 02:33pm PT
Look on youtube for the thermostat replacement "how to"
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Mar 9, 2013 - 04:21pm PT
You need to get a multimeter.


Social climber
So Cal
Mar 9, 2013 - 04:23pm PT
The fair price is,

what someone's willing to pay for it.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Mar 9, 2013 - 05:15pm PT
Another way to see if it is a head gasket is to fill the radiator, leave the radiator cap off and start the car. Put your hand over the radiator cap hole and plug the overflow hose, if you feel any pulsating at all it is a head gasket. Let the car start to warm up and see if you get bubbling visible in the radiator water, that is blown head gasket too.

Personally I think you would be lucky to get 1000 for it with a blown head gasket. Parts car, or get 200 or so from the salvage guys.

I have seen Bars Leak and other leak sealing products work temporarily, but not usually on head gaskets, too much pressure there.

Mar 9, 2013 - 07:09pm PT
Take the thermostat out but don't replace it.

If it doesn't over heat anymore then replace the thermostat.

Check your oil cap. Is there a milky white substance there?

If so you're toast, blown head gasket.

Turn your heater on.

Does it smell funny like sweet smell? (blown head gasket)

Hold a piece of cardboard near the exhaust with the engine warm.

Is water appearing? (blown head gasket)

Is the exhaust smoking white? (blown head gasket)

Sh!t just do some basic simple tests and take the thermostat out to begin with.

The thermostat will come out easy (2 bolts)

C'mon wanker .... you easily do that?

If not you're a worthless American ...... :-)

The Granite State.
Mar 9, 2013 - 07:43pm PT
Werner, the thermostat on this car is at the bottom of the water jacket. You've got to drain the system to remove the part.

Better to just replace it.


Mar 9, 2013 - 08:22pm PT
Just put a bucket there at the thermostat connection.

All the fluid will fall into the bucket.

Remove thermostat.

Put hose back.

Pour fluid back into radiator.

This way if it's not the thermostat you don't waste money on it or the fluid.

So simple .....
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Mar 10, 2013 - 12:04am PT
Is water appearing? (blown head gasket)

Is the exhaust smoking white? (blown head gasket)

Werner is correct except you have to let the condensed moisture steam out of the exhaust before you declare it a blown head gasket. A perfectly healthy car can literally drip water for several minutes. Condensed moisture is the reason mufflers rot out so quickly.
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