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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So you have decided to go out and purchase that sweet sweet WRX you've seen sitting on the car lot down the road. The price seems right, but it has a lot of miles on it. Well if that's the case then please sit back and read this before you go out and buy someone else's problems...

As with any used car common sense and a bit of knowledge go a long way and in the end can save you money, who doesn't want that. There are a few important things to look for when buying a used WRX. This is a small list of things to check for:

1) Does the car have service records and a carfax?

2) Check the oil on the dipstick to see if it's even at the right level. If the dipstick has a milky oil this is bad as the head gasket is blown, just walk away at that moment.

3) Walk around the car looking for misaligned panels and changes in paint brightness, usually this indicates damage and repair.

4) Check the trans fluid dipstick for discoloration and level.

5) Check the tires for wear. Also make sure they are all the same size and and have even tread wear, if not this indicates an alignment is needed.

6) Take a spark plug wrench with you and take out one of the plugs, you can do this somewhere away from the lot if needed.

7) Rent, borrow, buy a code reader to check for any codes that may be stored.

8) Take the car for a test drive to see if the car shifts okay, if not this could be expensive and this is more so on the older models.

9) Check the air filter.

10) Look for signs of upgrades, usually in the forum of exhaust, intake, etc.

11) Take someone with you that knows these cars well.

12) Ask a bunch of questions, if the dealer doesn't know the answer then talk him down in price, because you'll need the money later and you should get the best deal anyway.

13) Check the brakes while on your test drive, they should be firm but not jerky. If the pedal bounces up and down the rotors are warped easy fix, but pay less money.

14) Check the brake fluid level.

15) Check the clutch fluid level.

16) Check the power steering fluid level.

17) If possible check the timing belt, it's a few small bolts and you can see it. This is also expensive if it breaks.

18) Check to make sure the car has no leaks, this can be done after the test drive.

More than likely the car has had a rough life, so be prepared, especially if it's had more than 1 owner and has modifications. It may be shiny, but that shine will dull if the car is a lemon.

p.s. One more thing I wanna add. This may sound harsh of me, but it has to be said. These cars can get costly just in normal maintenance alone, so you have to ask yourself, can you afford to fix something if it breaks? Can you be without the car if you can't? If you modify the car save money in a slush fund for that, "OH S**T!!!" moment and trust me it will happen.

p.s.s. Also have some pictures of what the stock engine bay looks like and stock exhaust. Most importantly EDUCATE YOURSELF BEFORE BUYING!!!! That alone will save you money.

Added by Man Show:

Normal maintenance (aside from oil changes, roughly every 30k is a semi-major maintenance milestone where almost every fluid/filter/other miscellaneous parts should be drained/flushed/replaced): Subaru maintenance schedules and new car break-in period- 2000 through 2009, links for 2010, 2011...Subaru maintenance schedules and new car break-in period- 2000 through 2009, links for 2010, 2011...

Generally, I like to buy the best materials I can "reasonably" find/afford. I rationalize the additional cost of the good stuff by thinking about how much money I save in labor doing everything myself. Fortunately for me, I have accumulated a pretty decent set of basic hand tools w/ some extra gadgets and a nice floor jack/stands along with a set of 56" Race Ramps which makes certain jobs much easier. The internet is full of great write ups with pictures and videos to help you gain the knowledge and confidence to tackle just about any job.

30k maintenance: http://www.wrxtuners.com/forums/f51/30k-maintenance-how-much-did-co-t-you-25604/30K Maintenance = How much did it co$t you?

60k maintenance:http://www.wrxtuners.com/forums/f75/60-000-mile-maintenance-28437/ 60,000 Mile Maintenance

90k maintenance: http://www.wrxtuners.com/forums/f75/90-000-mile-maintenance-timing-belt-30429/90,000 Mile Maintenance & Timing Belt

Not everybody agrees with my oil change philosophy, but since mile 0, I have been changing my oil with synthetic (Redline or Royal Purple 5w30) every 3,000 miles and OEM oil filters. Every time I do that, it costs me about $50, but I also have a FuMoto oil drain valve which makes that job much easier

Roughly 5 months ago, my transmission failed because I was driving like an idiot and the shockloading sheared most of the teeth off of several of my gears. My car is in the shop right now waiting for a set of stock ratio Albins helical 1-5 gears which will set me back roughly $4,500 in parts alone (+ labor). That's one of the rare "oh crap" moments that we advise new WRX owners to save up for.

blew-my-07-trans-tonight

Pics of the carnage:IAG Performance / 2007 WRX Transmission J. Kimmel

I would consider myself somewhat of a Subaru enthusiast, so to me, this stuff isn't really anything out of the ordinary. I also apologize that I had too much coffee and I was bored this morning, but hopefully I have answered your question.

Also would like to add this post from turmic in here:

used-sti-buyers-guide
 

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I was wondering when someone was gonna do a writeup on this. Seems every other day its the same post asking the same question. Nice job Keith! !Thumbs Up

+1 on sticky
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks you gentlemen. I try and help out when possible...That list isn't in order either, so I may fix that as well. It seems like a lot, but I see it that if your going to spend money you might as well get your moneys worth.
 

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Great write up. I've got a few suggestions below.

How about turning the key to the "on" position to make sure that all the dashboard lights are functioning. I have a friend that bought a Mustang where the previous owner had removed the bulb from "Check Engine" light. Sneaky Sneaky.

Also, a compression and leak down test seems to be critical for these engines b/c they will run just fine with a cracked ringland. They will use a ton of oil, but it doesn't always manifest itself as smoke out the tail pipe b/c of the catalytic converters.

A good indicator that the car has been modified is if the turbo heat shield is still in place. Usually all the bolts break off and they won't fit over aftermarket downpipes so usually people just throw them away.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Great write up. I've got a few suggestions below.

How about turning the key to the "on" position to make sure that all the dashboard lights are functioning. I have a friend that bought a Mustang where the previous owner had removed the bulb from "Check Engine" light. Sneaky Sneaky.
That's what the code reader and test drive are for.;)

blk05WRX said:
Also, a compression and leak down test seems to be critical for these engines b/c they will run just fine with a cracked ringland. They will use a ton of oil, but it doesn't always manifest itself as smoke out the tail pipe b/c of the catalytic converters.
True, but I have always said that pulling the plug will tell you alot about how a car' engine is doing....;)

blk05WRX said:
A good indicator that the car has been modified is if the turbo heat shield is still in place. Usually all the bolts break off and they won't fit over aftermarket downpipes so usually people just throw them away.
That's why you take pictures of what the engine bay should look like. if the engine in the picture doesn't look like the one your buying it means something has been changed and/or modified.!Thumbs Up
 

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Here's another question that seems to come up. " I found a good deal on a modded WRX that has blah,blah,blah should I buy it?"

Maybe you could use that writeup for your saved space. !Laugh!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Here's another question that seems to come up. " I found a good deal on a modded WRX that has blah,blah,blah should I buy it?"

Maybe you could use that writeup for your saved space. !Laugh!
Well that's kind of why I put what I did at the bottom of the first post....but I have an idea for after you buy it though..
 

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Hello, I have been learning about WRX's here for awhile, but this is my first post.

Could you please elaborate on "These cars can get costly just in normal maintenance alone, so you have to ask yourself, can you afford to fix something if it breaks?"

What are you calling "normal maintenance" - oil changes and tuneups?

I expect to get a 2012 WRX after the holidays, what should I be prepared for as far as normal maintenance bills?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
With a newer model the maintenance isn't to bad because it's new and most things are covered under warranty. This was really for the older models, like say my '03, that have developed some miles and age on them. The you have suspension parts, transmission parts and all sorts of various things that will start to go bad. These add up quickly. I guess I should change the title to buying a used WRX/STi..
 

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Could you please elaborate on "These cars can get costly just in normal maintenance alone, so you have to ask yourself, can you afford to fix something if it breaks?"

What are you calling "normal maintenance" - oil changes and tuneups?

I expect to get a 2012 WRX after the holidays, what should I be prepared for as far as normal maintenance bills?
Normal maintenance (aside from oil changes, roughly every 30k is a semi-major maintenance milestone where almost every fluid/filter/other miscellaneous parts should be drained/flushed/replaced): Subaru maintenance schedules and new car break-in period- 2000 through 2009, links for 2010, 2011...

Generally, I like to buy the best materials I can "reasonably" find/afford. I rationalize the additional cost of the good stuff by thinking about how much money I save in labor doing everything myself. Fortunately for me, I have accumulated a pretty decent set of basic hand tools w/ some extra gadgets and a nice floor jack/stands along with a set of 56" Race Ramps which makes certain jobs much easier. The internet is full of great writeups with pictures and videos to help you gain the knowledge and confidence to tackle just about any job.

30k maintenance: http://www.wrxtuners.com/forums/f51/30k-maintenance-how-much-did-co-t-you-25604/

60k maintenance: http://www.wrxtuners.com/forums/f75/60-000-mile-maintenance-28437/

90k maintenance: http://www.wrxtuners.com/forums/f75/90-000-mile-maintenance-timing-belt-30429/

Not everybody agrees with my oil change philosophy, but since mile 0, I have been changing my oil with synthetic (Redline or Royal Purple 5w30) every 3,000 miles and OEM oil filters. Every time I do that, it costs me about $50, but I also have a FuMoto oil drain valve which makes that job much easier ;)

Roughly 5 months ago, my transmission failed because I was driving like an idiot and the shockloading sheared most of the teeth off of several of my gears. My car is in the shop right now waiting for a set of stock ratio Albins helical 1-5 gears which will set me back roughly $4,500 in parts alone (+ labor). That's one of the rare "oh crap" moments that we advise new WRX owners to save up for.

http://www.wrxtuners.com/forums/f69/blew-my-07-trans-tonight-30828/

Pics of the carnage: IAG Performance / 2007 WRX Transmission J. Kimmel

I would consider myself somewhat of a Subaru enthusiast, so to me, this stuff isn't really anything out of the ordinary. I also apologize that I had too much coffee and I was bored this morning, but hopefully I have answered your question !Thumbs Up
 

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Hey, I'll sticky this but I'd like to see it cleaned up a bit. Take out the smileys and put in some better spacing. Basically make it look prettier. Also, I think it would be good to include the info man show just posted and the link to the iwsti forums. There's a lot of good info on that link too.

Also, you don't need to reserve a post for space. The spacing limit on this forum is very high. I deleted that post. If you need it back at some point I can restore it but I don't think you will.
 

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You might also want to expand upon the tires part - the tread on all four tires needs to be within 1/32" to 2/32" of each other and they all need to be the exact same size, brand, and style so you don't risk damaging the differentials. If you have a flat tire and it's damaged beyond repair, you'll have to buy four brand new tires which will set you back several hundred dollars. That chunk of money should also be included in your "oh crap" or possibly "routine maintenance" fund.
 
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