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Guest Message by DevFuse

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advice - in a really tough spot, not sure what to do


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1 reply to this topic

#1 delbaru



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  • San diego

Posted 21 August 2014 - 08:32 PM

the situation - 2003 Forester, great physical condition, love the good aspects of the car, but am stuck in a bad situation. bought it July 2nd, in las Vegas, quickly because we had just placed my father in hospice (I had power of Atty). the car was $4200, made belt noise, the air conditioner didnt work great when not moving, but otherwise it seemed ok. fiance, 3 year old daughter, and myself had to travel to San Diego to move out of our apt, then get back asap to attend to my father. asked the dealer, ”is it dependable, able to drive back and forth from Vegas to San Diego, no head gasket problems, etc”. he said all good. I asked ”if it breaks down in a month, what then.” he said they'd take care of it.

on way back to las Vegas, the car overheated, so I'm stuck in desert, 1pm, 110 degrees with my 3 year old. the oil I checked before leaving San Diego is gone. we were towed to a mechanic 100 miles outside Vegas, where it currently sits, at $50 day storage fees even though I was waiting for a never provided estimate to show to dealer.

contacted the dealer after much difficulty and was told (i recorded everuthing) they'd offer the following - they'd give us a mechanic who would only charge us wholesale prices for repair parts, which we'd pay for in addition to labor, I.e they will pay nothing. the mechanic where the cars now sits says the engine is done - the day of the overheat, after putting oil in it and starting it, there is a rattling rod like noise and it will only idle 30 seconds before shutting off. the mechanic says it needs a new engine.

after doing more research on these cars, I do believe the worst about the engine.the dealer now wants me to bring the car in as they don't believe the severity of the damage (though I think its more that they realize its going to take another $1000 to get the car to them, hoping we can't or won't.)

getting the car to the dealer, not knowing what if anything he will contribute (they did not provide required reports, info, etc when we bought the car), means I'm $5500+ into the car. a replacement engine at a shop in Vegas would run around $2200. $800 labor, and I've seen replacement engines on eBay for around $1400.

my questions - if I have to pay out of pocket another $3500, is it a better option than another $3500 car (that is, the dealer offers nothing & I pay for a replacement engine)? is it worth driving back to vegas from san diego, getting a truck & trailer ($$$), and dropping the car off at a very suspect used car dealer who have little understanding of subaru engines, and are only offering the slightest bit of assistance under threat that theyll be reported? or should i forget the car and just report them? forget it and put $ into another vehicle? anyone have advice on interacting with the dealer?

its been a horrific 2 months, comically so. for example, bringing my deceased fathers stuff to San Diego, the uhaul overheated at 2am, then overheated on each large hill the entire drive to San Diego (any uhaul help was 3 hours away, so they requested we put water in it and try to keep going). I'm completely exhausted, need a vehicle, and am near paralyzed regarding the best course of action. I've never asked or been as desperate for any assistance as I am now, but again, its been a worse 2 months than I can explain.

thanks in advance for any help, I'm greatful. regards, Del.

#2 upnorthguy


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  • Minneapolis, MN

Posted 21 August 2014 - 09:05 PM

Wow, sorry to hear about your troubles.  Unfortunately, it sounds like that dealer was not honest or ignorant or both.


Did the car come with any kind of warranty (1 month, 10,000 miles, etc.)?  It doesn't sound it did.  i don't know what the laws are in CA or NV, but it sounds like you would have some claim against this dealer.  However, dealing with this and you being in San Diego and the dealer being in Vegas will not make things easier.  You could likely take to small claims court (not sure of the monetary parameters in those two states, but it is often $5000 or less) but that will cost you time and effort and may not bring any satisfaction, or if it does, collecting on any judgment may be another difficult task.


Definitely do something with the car.  The $50 storage fees will (are) add up quick.  It sounds like you should look into getting a trailer and towing it to San Diego (if it at a dealer 100 miles outside of Vegas, at least it is part way home).  When you have it you need to decide if is worth selling it as-is and recouping what you can, or investing the money into it with a new used engine.  I guess if you are just going to sell it you may just want to sell it near where it is and not have to incur the cost/time of towing it back to SD.


Any mechanical inclination?  With help from some repair manuals, youtube videos and lots of new friends here at USMB, if you have some sockets, time and can get your hands on an engine hoist, you could replace the engine with a used one.  It sounds like the Forester is in great shape, aside from the engine.  It can run a good long time (many people here are driving cars in the 200-250k range and they are still going) with proper maintenance.


I don't know the cost of an engine for an 03 Forester, but you can get an idea of used engines near you by looking at www.car-part.com and seeing what different salvage yards near you have.  Generally, the more you pay the better the warranty you might get (in addition to having fewer miles, etc.).


Good luck.  I'm sure others here will chime in with some ideas as well.  We're here to help (especially if you dive into the repair!).

Edited by upnorthguy, 21 August 2014 - 09:05 PM.

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