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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Damaged '92 Legacy...what are my options?

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12 replies to this topic

#1 reeze


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Posted 03 December 2003 - 11:32 PM

Last week I got into a car accident with my '92 Legacy.

The car had about 133K on it, the engine is great (peppy, doesn't burn oil, loses very little). The rest of the car is in good shape too. After the accident I drove it home about 35 miles on the donut tire and it didn't pull to either side, also I didn't feel any wobbling or shimmy--in short, the damage seems to be entirely cosmetic (I did lose the coolant recovery tank). You can see some pics of the damage at my webspace at http://users.rcn.com...ies/sindex.html

I had no collision on the car. The body shop I like said that the quarter panel & hood would need to be replaced, and that junkyard parts would cost about the same as aftermarket. That's my first question--is this true? He also said the radiator support pillar was pushed in and that, along with needing a new bumper, would probably push the cost of even a jimmy-rig "barely legal" fix to over 1K. Right now the car seems like a candidate for parting out, or maybe selling to a specialized Subaru dealer that fixes up older Subes (I just spoke to one in the Hartford CT area but I was asking about Legacys to replace mine). This seems a remote possibility to me, but I thought I would put it out here and see what the experts have to say. One major bummer is that the car was needing a timing belt and some brake work so that probably seals it for me. So--is the car worth ANYTHING to ANYBODY, or should I consider it junk?

Needless to say I am busy looking for another Legacy...very short of cash now (wasn't planning on getting another car THIS soon!). I just found this board the other day and have read a lot of good stuff here. This was my second Legacy...bought it in '99 for $3400 when it had 65K and a new timing belt & cv joints, so it doesn't owe me a thing. This one replaced my '91 which lasted 179K (a few accidents cut its life short).

Thanks in advance for any advice!!

Rob Aries

#2 nickb21


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Posted 04 December 2003 - 12:31 AM

Sorry to hear, accidents are no fun. I'm not an expert, but I've rigged back together a couple cars..

Was this a fairly low-speed collision? Slower the speed, better chance there is that nothing like gaskets shifted around too far. Was the tire just sliced and went flat or was it smacked into pretty good?

If it was just sliced you have a good chance that you won't need to worry about the suspension being upset/mis-aligned, you'll be able to tell when you get it back up to 60 or 70mph.

I guess the cost depends on how nice you want things to look when you're finished, and how much work you can do, or have some folks give you a ahand with.

From what you've said it doesn't seem like there is any serious mechanical damage, i would imagine that if you're not getting any leaks from the main part of the radiator it'll be ok. From the photos, I'd say the quarter panel is too far gone to be saved.

The bumper doesn't look too bad, but I'm not sure how far the steel wraps around, you might be able to bang it straight enough with a hammer, and let the plastic cover do it's thing.

Looks like the hood still latches ok, and I'd try to pop out the big dent, and see if you can bend that corner into reasonable shape. Then hopefully you'll have things okay for a new marker and headlight from junkyard.

That's what I'd give a try doing, actually had a similiar hit on my last car. As long as you don't mind how it looks, you can get some decent results with duplicolor spray paint that will match pretty close, and maybe throw in some bondo. :D :D

I've always heard that it's cheaper to fix what you have (within reason or course), then to go buy another used car and start over, at least you know this cars history for the past few years. Not sure how much the timing belt change/brake work will add to the end cost though, vs a "new" car..

#3 edrach


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Posted 04 December 2003 - 10:02 AM

If you lived out here I'd say it's a keeper. Not too difficult to find the parts you need out here at the local Pull a Part yards. Don't let the timing belt issue cloud your judgement; finding a replacement car that didn't need timing belt replacement soon isn't that easy. Sorry for your bad luck and best of luck with it. Wait for moosens to respond to your post; he's reasonably close to you (in CT) and could offer a better insight into what's available and costs.

#4 reeze


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Posted 04 December 2003 - 10:47 AM

Thanks Edrach & Nick for the replies. I've never been to a junkyard to find body parts, never heard of a "pull-apart" yard. Also I can't really do any body work myself (in my younger days I pulled the engine from my '74 Subaru and took the valve head off but that's way in the past!). Any kind of work in my area (NYC metro) is real expensive but I'll certainly listen to any advice about possibly fixing this car up.

I do have a lead on a '95 Legacy with low miles so I'll be starting another thread now! Thanks again to you guys and anyone else with any tips on what I should do.

#5 reeze


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Posted 04 December 2003 - 03:13 PM

Nick, to answer more specifically some of your q's:

The tire was sliced on the side, that's why it went flat. I don't think the suspension or axles are affected at all. I'm driving the car a little now and it feels fine, except for a little "roughness" due to the donut being inflated to 60lbs (at least, that's what if feels like).

The radiator is not leaking. The engine runs great. I don't care if the car looks bad when/if it gets fixed. I haven't investigated the yards around me for the quarter panel or hood, but as I said, the local body shop claims that it's not worth the bother to go the junkyard route. Unfortunately I have neither the experience nor the time to do any body work myself.

#6 Meeky Moose

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 04:13 PM

well, personalyl i'd say find a "u-pull-it" yard go out and get a fender, bumper and hood... they all bolt on very easily, nothing really hidden.. if the core support isn't bent too bad you can bolt the new stuff on and it'll hide the bent core support..

if it seems to drive fine, no big shaking or vibrations, i'd say the suspension is fine.. its just sheetmetal that needs replaced...
if you were closer to me i'd fix it up in a jiffy.. doesn't look that bad really.. thats the kind of cars i look to buy.. then fix and drive'em another 100k lol...

at a u-pull-it yard you could prolly get all the parts for under a couple hundred bucks...

#7 mtsmiths


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Posted 04 December 2003 - 04:38 PM

if you take the junk yard parts off, you'l know what you're getting into when you get your car stripped.
Save a grand and do it yourself. Heck, I would and I'm older than dirt ... just ask moosens.

#8 northguy


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Posted 04 December 2003 - 04:48 PM

If moosens wasn't going into retirement, I'd say give him a call, but that's probably not an option anymore. Is it calebz that is looking at taking his spot? Maybe he's the go-to guy?

#9 alias20035


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Posted 04 December 2003 - 10:33 PM

The damage does not look that bad, and as the others have indicated parts should be obtainable from a scrap yard at low cost.

Unfortunately front end parts are hard to come by (I said low cost NOT easy to find), since most accidents involve front end damage and there is always demand for these parts.

The most expensive part could be the headlight.

Replacement parts from any 92-94 model should fit and you might be lucky enough to find ones with the same paint color.

The big concern would be rust on the lower part of the fender (below the side marker light) on the replacement. This is one of the areas where Subaru's tend to rust through first. Be sure to clean the new parts of any rust and paint with a rust preventative primer, I would also apply undercoating to the inside of the replacement fender. You might want to rust proof the other fender too.

If there is damage to the front crossmember/rad support (in your case it looks like there may be a small amount of damage), this can usually be hammered and pulled out, just be sure to repaint it to prevent rust. I am not sure why the body shop would consider it a legal item, it is not a strong load bearing area.

Another concern is your bumper, its hard to tell what damage is present to the bumper attachments, Often fibreglass, "Auto Goo" adhesive and some aluminum strips can be used to attach the bumper back in place.

As noted earlier there are no hidden bolts on the fender, just the underhood bolts, two bolts below the vehicle, 1 or 2? by the front door edge and a few in the bumper/headlight area. The hood is just four bolts.

Also make sure that you reattach the fender liner properly, since these can occasionally come loose and get tangled in the front wheel causing considerable damage to the new fender.

You car would make an ideal fixer upper, so if you feel comfortable selling it by all means do so. But consider that the 92-94 Legacy's are among the most reliable Subaru's out there.

#10 Subarunation 713

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Posted 06 December 2003 - 03:07 PM


If you are thinking of unloading the car I am interested. Is it AWD or front wheel drive? AT or 5 speed? Please email me at:


Let me know what you have in mind.


#11 reeze


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Posted 06 December 2003 - 11:13 PM

As you may have seen, I have another thread going at http://usmb.ultimate...69249#post69249 talking about a '95 Legacy I'm considering to replace this damaged '92. I didn't expect to come back here and see all these replies telling me I should fix my '92...but to tell the truth I just can't do the "DIY" thing anymore. I would have to have a body shop do this (I haven't heard from the one place I asked for an estimate). I'm a full-time stay-at-home dad for a 3-year-old girl, and a musician on nights & weekends, so I'm lucky to have time to read my email much less start trying to do auto-body work (which I've NEVER done) in my driveway!

Now, my FIRST real car was a '74 DL wagon...I remember being a broke college student, blowing the head gasket & seizing the engine (those engines didn't do too well if you let them overheat!). I pulled the engine while it was parked on a NYC street (after hacksawing the exhaust bolts I called up three of my buddies and we lifted it out of the car...I replaced it with a used engine). I also pulled that engine myself in my mom's garage (rented a hoist that time) and did a clutch job.

Anyway I'm rambling...but the '95 Legacy I'm considering has only 60K on it, which is toddler-hood for a Subie. I guess I'll know more about both these situations in a few days but in the meantime I want to say that I really appreciate all the replies, they've given me great info & advice. Thanks again everybody!

#12 viceversa


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Posted 07 December 2003 - 03:30 AM

I would not fix it. It is a 12 year old vehicle with high mileage. (Not really "high" but high enough for the market). The resale value is null. The only value you get out of it is through usage.

You have to replace all these parts -- too much time and money. If this was a late 90's vehicle with half the mileage, then definitely.

You already got your money out of it, a car should cost $1000/year. Anything extra is a gift.

If you could drive it the way it is, and just not worry about the damage - but if you cannot pass the tech. inspection, then I would part it out.

#13 reeze


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Posted 07 December 2003 - 10:52 AM

Yea viceversa I think I agree with you. I paid $3400 for the car 4 years ago and did nothing except tires, brakes & oil changes. The car doesn't owe me a thing, it's just a shame since I think that with a timing belt I might have gotten another 50K+ from it! If I had the resources & time to fix it up myself I might but my plate is a little too full with other things right now...

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