Buying A Subaru ?


So you want an older Subaru ?


External places to check

  • When checking for rust you should look at the entire vehicle, however some of the more common places that you will find rust will include: - Under wheel arches. - Bottom of door sills, and under the rubber inserts/lining, in this include the tail gate and/or boot, including around the roof water runoff (gutters) and light fittings. - Around windscreen/A pillar, tail gate/boot, rear windscreen and foot-wells. - The storage compartments in the boot (and in the earlier model Subaru’s and around spare tyre compartment in the engine bay). - Chaise Rails.
  • Also check the paint. Not just the condition of the paint in general but also for stone chips, scratches, dents and/or bulls eyes and surface rust. In addition also look for rippling or ripple effects in the panels, and for different paint and/or subtle changes in the paint work, as this may indicate that the vehicle has been in an accident (as paint/panels that are not square or do not line up/match).
  • Hint it can be a good idea to carry a small magnet so that you can place it on some of these areas. If the magnet does not stick to the car there is a good chance that there is car body filler/bog in this area.

Internal places to check

  • All the seats. Not only do you have to check the upholstery itself you also need to check the securing points (if they have car seat covers then remove them and have a look), remember to look under floor mats and the condition of the material on the floor and the ceiling. In addition to this also check the condition of the seat belts, not only the condition of the belts (are they fraying/dirty) but do they all work, including buckles, and emergency latches.
  • The condition of the dash board, steering wheel, gear selector, revision mirrors and visors, and pedals (accelerator/brake/clutch/footrest).
  • While doing this also check vents, fans air con and heating functions, and that all other switch’s and dials are in working order (eg ash tray, folding seats mechanisms, boot, bonnet, fuel levers all work)
  • Electrics – Check the working conditions of horns, for some this is important, check the stereo and the speakers, with the lights remember to check the following: - All dash lights and other interior lighting (eg map lights boot lights) as well as lights functions that are also triggered by the doors. - External lighting. Indicators front/rear/side, driving lights including; park, flood, low and high beam/spot light if connected, break lights, reverse lights, etc. - Power Windows – that all of the switches work and that the master panel on the drives door is in working order.

Mechanical to check

  • Check all fluid levels – engine oil, gear box oil, diff oil, power steering oil, radiator fluid, battery fluid, water-air intercooler fluid, windscreen washer fluid. This can give you an indication of the care history of a vehicle, Eg. If the engine oil is black and dirty how regularly has the vehicle been serviced and/or is it due for one now. Alternatively, if the oil is new and golden in colour why has it just been changed? What is the owner trying to hide?
  • Without going into to much detail newer oils have a higher viscosity and thus have a better lubrication properties, therefore if all the oils are new and clean they can potentially ‘mask’ other issues that will appear with dirty oil.
  • Also ask what oils/lubricants are being used. The reason for this is that there is a huge difference in oil quality, viscosity and temperatures ranges.
  • My personal preference is to always do a complete major service once you have purchased any new vehicle as some lubricants react (in an adverse way) with other lubricants.
  • The other reason is that I know what chemicals/lubricants I am using – I hate to say it however some people (not all just some people) selling a vehicle will be untruthful, or not know what chemicals/lubricants are being used.

Points to consider

  • CV joints themselves must not be clicking also check the quality of the (rubber) cv boots.
  • Electrical – indicators, horn, cb radio, radio/head unit, dash lights, etc.
  • Clutch – Try in 1st 2nd, and 3rd.
  • Make sure that the engine itself is cold. You will need to here the engine start from a cold start and the warm up process that the engine will go through – if the engine is not cold ask the person selling the vehicle why it is not cold and that you would like to return at a time when you can see it cold start and its warm up process. Look for excessive smoke, not only throughout the warm up cycle but the entire time the engine is in operation.
  • Test the brakes (including the emergency/hand break), clutch, steering.
  • The condition of the tyres. There needs to be good tread on all 4 tyres (compare the tyre tread against the wear bar) across the entire tyre. Uneven tyre wear can indicate a number of issues. As an example of poor tyre wear may indicate: - Under/over inflated tyre pressures. - Poor wheel alignment/balance (note that this is different for Subaru’s – well at least early model Subaru’s). - Bushes (rubber stops) could be flogged out and may need attention/replacing.
  • Ask for a complete service history - are they a mechanic, or a "mechanic"?
  • Check the struts (shock absorbers) and springs.
  • While checking the battery fluid levels also check the condition of the battery for cracks/splits/leakage/corrosion .
  • Compression test.
  • Cooling system pressure tests.
  • Take the vehicle for a test drive. The owner of the vehicle may wish to come along (and I personally would discourage that) however you need to drive the vehicle yourself and see what it feel like to drive. Although it is uncommon to be denied a test drive do not be surprised if the owner of the vehicle declines (I believe that this is becoming more common – either that or I am looking more and more suspect) as any accidents and/or damage sustained during the test drive is the responsibility of the vehicle owner to replace/fix.
  • Note - Just be aware that with turbo charged engines (or highly modified engines) that they many have had a hard life (eg not been warmed up/cooled down sufficiently, driven hard/ flogged, etc.) most people do not own high performance vehicles and not use them to their full potential.
  • While test driving there are a number of things that you can test, there is no doubt that this will come with experience: - The bump and rebound of the struts and springs.

Additional checks

  • Ring Revs. find out anything owing on the vehicle
  • Take a third party with you. You will not be able to notice everything about the vehicle and they will potentially see things that you will not. As well as this you can talk about what they though about the vehicle and you can get a second opinion.
  • Also taking someone with you can be a great strategy – get the third person to talk to the owner of the vehicle about the vehicle, reason for selling, etc.- while you go over the vehicle without someone monitoring what touching and watching your every move, and asking you why are you doing that?
  • Ask why the vehicle is being soled. There may be legitimate reasons however the storey needs to be believable.
  • Some times it is advisable to contact RACQ, RAC, RAV, etc and have the do an in depth examination of the vehicle (approx $150).
  • Stamp Duty.
  • Change of registration.
  • A receipt stating that both you and the seller of the vehicle have entering into an agreement (be specific with this detail – price, colour, vehicle identification number (VIN), rego number, dates, etc.) and you both sign it. Link title


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