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Guest Message by DevFuse
 

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Looking at a used 2003 Impreza RS 2.5 for my 3 kids to share

impreza rs 2.5 used teenagers

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13 replies to this topic

#1 Armchair Bronco

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 10:42 PM

Hi there -- first post on the site!
 
I'm considering purchasing a used 2003 Subaru Impreza RS 2.5 sedan for my 3 teenage kids to share. I'd love to get some feedback, pro or con, from users about this vehicle.
 
Here are the details:
 
- 2003 Subaru Impreza RS 2.5 Sedan
- 97K miles; timing belt and water pump service has *NOT* been done yet (due at around 105K miles)
- Clean CarFax, 4 prior owners, only 5 service records available
- Blue Ridge Pearl finish, spotless
- Black & blue cloth interior, very clean
- Car has new no-name brand All-Season tires; original alloy rims are in good shape with very little curb rash
- Everything works inside & out (AC, cruise, flog lights, power everything, leather steering wheel & shifter, security system, telescoping/tilting steering wheel)
- Dealer is asking $7,995 but I offered $7K + taxes and licensing, provided I get my wife on board (she wants a car with better mileage)
 
I know that the 2001-2003 models have had issues with failed head gaskets. It doesn't appear that this car has had any head gasket work done on it.
 
The Nada, KBB, and Edmunds dealer retail cost for this car all came in around $7,075.
 
Opinions? This is a slightly quirky-looking but sporty car, and I'd feel comfortable having my kids drive this thing. It doesn't have great gas mileage, but it is AWD, and for a younger driver, there is a ton of visibility out the back. The more I drove it, the more I started to like it. And you're not going to see a zillion of them driving down the road either (like a Honda Civic or Toyota Camry).
 


#2 Armchair Bronco

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 11:13 PM

Here's a photo of the engine bay. I didn't look myself tonight because it was pouring rain. I know that a lot of dealers will steam clean an engine to dress it up, but from the photo below it sure looks like this engine has been well maintained.
 


#3 Fairtax4me

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 06:54 PM

Looks like a solid clean car to me.
Not sure I would spend that much on a car for teenagers to drive. I would look for an older Legacy, 95-99 era, (Something not so perfect, and cheaper to maintain and insure, Impreza of that era costs about 1.5x as much to insure, because younger drivers like to "mod" them and drive the snot out of them.) but to each his own.

#4 grossgary

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 08:08 PM

engine bay looks like it's been prepped - cleaned, sprayed shiny/hoses. what do they spray on that anyway - WD40?  LOL  those glassy shiny surfaces are not normal, they spruced it up.

 

these headgaskets leak externally on the bottom and should always been looked at prior to purchase.  obviously this one has already been cleaned so there's no way to tell.

 

the mileage is good and probably indicative of an owner that wanted to dump the car before the 100K timing belt service.  dealers charges $450 - $700 to replace the belt only.   ideally the belt, idler, and tensioner are all replaced. kits on rockauto or amazon are the best bet, dealer prices are extraneous and no one pays for a complete job through them - so you get a lesser end product usually.

 

+1 to what fairtax said. 

but you probably won't like much in the 90's - the nicer vehicles (what you seem to be after) generally have the 2.5 which in 99 and earlier is not a good motor. some late 90's (99) LSi's have the 2.2 liter engine and can look sharp with the rear spoiler, etc.  the 00 and up 2.5's like this has are much better in regards to headgasket issues - they don't leave you stranded and give lots of warning/prep time (you can literally wait years) to repair.


Edited by grossgary, 23 December 2013 - 08:09 PM.


#5 Armchair Bronco

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 12:00 AM

Well, I took my wife to dealer this afternoon, she tried out the car, and didn't like it. So that's that.
 
We each have veto power over the other, so it's all good.
 
Her view is that given the age of this car and the fact that we'd be paying dealer retail + taxes & licensing + a $1,000 timing belt & water pump repair within 3K miles, we needed to be "out-the-door" for around $6,500. 
 
So, she wanted a $6K sales price on this car.
 
But to tell the truth, even at that price I don't think she'd really like the quirkiness of this car. I'll keep my eye open for private sales, but it's hard to see an early 2000's Subaru Impreza RS 2.5 in our future.
 
The Mazda 3 is now back at the top of our list, but I'll also keep my eye open for newer Subaru Impreza's and Impreza Outback's.

Edited by Armchair Bronco, 24 December 2013 - 12:01 AM.


#6 grossgary

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 12:22 AM

subarus are high priced in your area, makes sense the price tag would turn people off or put you in older vehicles that are less appealing.


Actually I'm sorry I missed it the first time but that car is *past due* for a timing belt change.  It's 105,000 miles OR 10 years. That timing belt is more than 10 years old.

If it breaks it'll sustain valve damage.


In case this helps on any future vehicle you look at, negotiate a major upcoming/due service into the deal (timing belt in this case). while Subaru may charge $699 to change the belt - it's only a $59 part and can be done in 45 minutes.  calculate that per-hour profit!  many dealers wouldn't mind "throwing that in" for a sale, though of course it depends on their labor/charging structure how that works out for a given salesmen, department, dealer.



#7 Armchair Bronco

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 12:44 AM

Thanks for the feedback, @grossgary. Yep, it's frustrating shopping for Subaru's in an area where even older models with ridiculous miles are still commanding a premium relative to just about every other used car out there.

 

I really want to keep Subaru's on my radar: my wife and I had a 1995 Subaru Legacy station wagon that we drove for 10 years. LOVED that car and did nothing to it but have regular oil changes every 3K miles.  Both of my other cars (a Mazda CZ-9 and an Audi A4) are AWD vehicles, and it would be great to get the kids behind the wheel of a safer AWD car, too.

 

The hard part is that my wife wants a used car with an almost impossible combination of features: low cost, low miles, great gas mileage, high reliability, and a modern interior.

 

In the printing business they say: "Low cost, quick turnaround, high quality. Choose 2."  My wife wants all 3, but I don't think it's possible.



#8 AdventureSubaru

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 01:23 AM

The northwest and pockets like Denver etc. that have a general public more educated on Subarus will have a higher price tag. Those of us confident in the reliability of the brand are more willing to pay for it. I bought my last two Subaru at 240,000 and 275,000 miles with no worries or hesitation.

 

You can save a great deal by avoiding car dealerships and buying through a private party. If you don't know what to look for yourself, many mechanics and probably a handful of board members are willing to look a car over and give an unbiased opinion of it's condition and reliability.

 

In my experience - teenagers and Imprezas/WRXs don't mix. Kids love to beat the tar out of them. You will obviously know your teenagers better than anyone on the board here, but in general, I'm not a fan of putting a lot of horsepower in the hands of inexperienced/immature drivers.

 

The mazda 3 is a good little car. My sister drives one and has had little issue with it. Imprezas are a reliable platform. Just avoid the ones that have been modified/driven fast as they have likely been beaten half to death. I wouldn't rule out a nice legacy or Legacy Outback - slightly bigger/safer than an impreza with a ton of dependability. Just avoid those 2.5 motors and their headgasket issues.

 

And yes, if you're trying to find a car that is dependable and in good condition be ready to pay for it. Deals happen every day, but if you are shopping at dealerships, they will know what they have and what they can profit from it. Private party sales are where I see the great deals happen. Just takes a little more leg work on the buyers end to hunt for the right deal.



#9 Armchair Bronco

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 02:07 AM

Appreciate the feedback, @AdventureSubaru.

 

I'm originally from Denver and went to school in Boulder. When I started pricing out Subaru's in Seattle and saw the high prices on CraigsList, I switched to the Denver/Boulder listing for some perspective...only to see the same sort of premium prices. You're right: people in the Northwest and in Denver/Boulder *LOVE* their Subies!

 

I totally agree about the WRX and would not look at that model for younger drivers. However, the 2003 RS 2.5 Impreza that I test drove w/ my wife was not a high-performance car at all. It accelerated well, especially when merging on to the interstate, but from a dead stop in the city, it was nothing to write home about. And that's just what I'm looking for. Enough power when it's needed, not enough to be a temptation for younger kids to speed.

 

We also really like the Mazda. My wife drives a 2007 Mazda CX-9 and loves it. On the Mazda 3, the view out the back and sides isn't as great as the 2003 Impreza, but it's a reliable, sporty, small car with better-than-average mileage. I also think the Mazda 3 uses a timing chain, not a belt, so a 100K timing belt change is not required.

 

I'm not sure I have enough faith in cars in general to consider purchasing a used *anything* with more than 200K miles, but if I had to, I'd probably only consider a used Subaru.


Edited by Armchair Bronco, 24 December 2013 - 02:10 AM.


#10 grossgary

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 08:23 AM

you answered a question i had - *only* Subaru's in the Northwest and Colorado-ish area that command the higher prices?

is it all 4WD's?

 

this is accurate:

TIn the printing business they say: "Low cost, quick turnaround, high quality. Choose 2."  My wife wants all 3, but I don't think it's possible.

HA!  that's hysterical - common vehicle saying is "Inexpensive, fast, reliable. Choose 2".

cheap = low cost

quick turnaround = fast

high quality = reliable.....for your wife that might read "Well trimmed"

 

it was nothing to write home about. And that's just what I'm looking for. Enough power when it's needed, not enough to be a temptation for younger kids to speed.

some feel torque-ier than others but Subaru non-turbo vehicles aren't quick off the line. lots of other cars feel much eager to jump the line than Subarus.  just not what they go for.  but that's not why i drive Subaru's so it's a non-issue to me.

 

most highschool kids don't drive many miles or far so i'd be less concerned about longevity/reliability. but if they'll drive this car into college i'd favor reliability/high mileage capability more than the other stuff. i know everything about Subaru's and nothing about anything else so i can't comment on what that means except to say i'd avoid german and american cars unless it's one of their rare gems in those regards.



#11 Armchair Bronco

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 03:45 PM

@grossgary - I can't speak w/ any authority on AWD vehicles in the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains. Whatever I know is purely anecdotal. However, the folks I know who own them in these regions *love* their Subies and swear by them. So, Subaru's are probably in a class by themselves for AWD vehicles.

 

Not surprisingly, both regions lead the nation in terms of active lifestyles: hiking, skiing, camping, off-roading, etc. IIRC Colorado and Washington state are two of the most "fit" states in the nation.  You'll probably find at least a bagful of Granola in an old Subaru in Seattle to say nothing of a half-smoked joint in an Outback from Boulder.  (Not coincidentally, both states just legalized marijuana.)

 

I also agree w/ your assessment of German and American made cars. My favorite cars in the world are sporty German sedans (Audi's and Mercedes-Benz's), but ONLY if they are 100% under warranty. So: leasing something like a MB CLA 250 makes sense, buying one does not as you'll be stuck with HUGE repair and maintenance bills once the warranty expires.

 

I'm going to focus my search on used Japanese cars: Subaru, Mazda, and maybe Toyota and Nissan in the 2004-2007 range.


Edited by Armchair Bronco, 24 December 2013 - 03:47 PM.


#12 86BRATMAN

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 06:58 PM

You should probably cross Mazda off your list, they're more Ford than anything. I'd personally recommend a Honda over a Nissan any day of the week, if it were me in this search I'd be looking at Subaru, Toyota, and Honda.

#13 Armchair Bronco

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 03:31 AM

I think I've found "The Car"...at least "The Car" for the kids.

 

A 2000 Subaru Impreza "L" showed up on CraigsList. I didn't see it because I was zeroed in on the RS 2.5 edition. However, all things considered I think the smaller 2.2L engine will be a better fit for my 2 high-school age boys and my college-age daughter.

 

This car has 119K miles on it. I was a rental car for 15 months in Hawaii, then it was shipped to Washington state where it had a single owner for nearly 12 years. This guy had *all* of his maintenance done at the local Subaru dealership in Seattle, and he changed his oil like clockwork, every 3,000 miles. CarFax has over 28 service records from the same Subaru dealership!

 

In addition, the car had *all* scheduled maintenance done on it, on time no less. There's already a new water pump and a new timing belt. Even the head gaskets have been replaced. It seems to have never missed a scheduled service or an oil change — really amazing.

 

The RS 2.5 would be REALLY cool, but I think this 2.2L specimen will do just fine. It's 148 HP versus 165 HP but it also gets better gas mileage (23 MPG city versus 21 MGP). Highway mileage is also a little better.

 

It an exceptionally well maintained car without a single scratch on it. And while it's missing fog lights and the all-important OEM spoiler, these are simple upgrades I can do with my boys.

 

4sle.jpg


Edited by Armchair Bronco, 27 December 2013 - 03:31 AM.


#14 Armchair Bronco

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 04:05 PM

We got it! Yay.
 
The sales guy handed over the keys & a half-inch thick stack of service records since the dealership we bought it from was also where the car was serviced for almost 13 years.
 
The 2.2L engine will be perfect for the kids. The car handled great — drove through pouring rain and gusting winds across the I-90 bridge, and the little Subie just plowed ahead.
 
So much fun to be back in the Subaru family!
 
First upgrades: the boys and I will add in some OEM correct fog lights (lights, wiring harness, and interior on/off switch, as well as some sound baffling to the trunk area. I'll also spring for some all-weather rubber floor mats and some new Bosch ICON wiper blades (my favorite).





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