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1998 Legacy GT sedan, Ltd. Common mechanical problems?


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15 replies to this topic

#1 D Love

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Posted 15 December 2007 - 08:11 PM

I'm going to purchase a 1998 Legacy GT sedan this week (117,000k), excellent condition. asking price is $5,200
I was hoping for some advice.
What are some common problems to watch out for with this model?
It performed very well in the test drive.
The owner has recently had the timing belt, tires and CV boots replaced. She's never had any major problems with the car mechanically.
I will be taking it in Tuesday for an inspection at the dealership before purchase.
Any words of wisdom are welcome. Thanks--D--

#2 grossgary

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Posted 15 December 2007 - 08:37 PM

Type in "Subaru head gasket" into Yahoo, Google, or just type "head gasket" in here on the search function. The GT is a great car, but the EJ25 is prone to head gasket issues. It's about a $1,500 repair. I wouldn't pay top dollar for one and I wouldn't let my wife drive one, unless I could verify it has already had them replaced. Two of the ones I bought this year already had them replaced. That being said, they are awesome vehicles.

Drive the car for a very long time, let it idle the entire time you're looking at it and keep an eye on the temperature gauge. If it go up above 1/2 way, be very concerned. You would not be the first person to buy a car only to find out a week or month later that the head gaskets are bad...I recall one recently on here. I am not trying to scare you, but thoroughly test drive it and check it out.

Drive it very, very slowly in very tight circles (steering wheel turned to full lock). That check is for torque bind. That is rare in manual transmissions but a very bad thing. Check that all the tires match in size, tread and wear. These AWD transmissions are best to keep matched tires and rotated frequently. Subaru specifically calls for all the tires being within 1/4" circumference of each other.

Knock sensors are a common issue, but very, very minor. The rubber housing gets old and cracks. The CEL comes on and you replace it. They're $80 and require removing one 12mm bolt to replace so even if you pay to have it done it's cheap.

#3 SuBrat84

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Posted 15 December 2007 - 08:38 PM

I bought my '98 with 45,000 miles from a dealership. It drove perfect. I put 12 miles on it and blew a rod out the head.. i hear it's not too common of a problem. however, I do hear a lot of people complain about blowing headgaskets if the coolant is not filled/flowing properly. You didn't mention if it is a 5 speed so you may want to consider the auto tranny issues (torque bind when tranny not maintained and/or overheated transmission.)

#4 Reveeen

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Posted 15 December 2007 - 08:43 PM

@ 117,000 I would expect the "magic" head gasket ordeal in your future.
I would expect the car to be exceptionally clean $5200 is bonus money for a 10 year old car.
Reference:
http://www.motortren...an/822/pricing/

(wholesale the claim is $3900)

#5 subaru360

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Posted 15 December 2007 - 08:44 PM

x2 on everything above. Drive on the highway hard for at least 20 miles before you buy it and be sure it doesn't get hot. LOTS of these end up on used lots after traded in because they have bad head gaskets.

The price is kind of high also. I'd offer less or shop around, there are much better deals out there. I've sold several nice 97 legacy's this year for $3000.

#6 EVOthis

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Posted 15 December 2007 - 10:32 PM

dont forget to Look Closely for any oil leaks! :)

#7 grossgary

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Posted 15 December 2007 - 10:48 PM

I've sold several nice 97 legacy's this year for $3000.

that wasn't a GT sedan in excellent condition was it? there's a huge difference between wagons and GT sedans. the GT is harder to find and easier to sell. look them up on autotrader, etc....finding a great condition GT sedan with maintenance records and relatively low miles for under $5,000 isn't nearly as easy as a wagon. I sold an older one, a 1997 Legacy GT sedan for $5,500 just a few months ago.

now, i wouldn't pay it, but if i'm selling them for $5,500 then the market price is close to what he's talking. i wouldn't consider it a good deal (unless the headgaskets have been replaced), but $5,200 is not a terrible price in and of itself. remember there's a big difference between people like us that are sniffing the market every day looking for deals. he probably likes the look of a GT sedan. if it's in excellent condition, leather seats, everything works, with service records, one owner...a healthy combination of those items make GT sedans very easy to sell (been there, done that). i say it's a decent price, but i wouldn't recommend paying it due to the head gasket issue...again, that's just me, make your decisions accordingly.

#8 subaru360

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 03:23 PM

that wasn't a GT sedan in excellent condition was it? there's a huge difference between wagons and GT sedans. the GT is harder to find and easier to sell. look them up on autotrader, etc....finding a great condition GT sedan with maintenance records and relatively low miles for under $5,000 isn't nearly as easy as a wagon. I sold an older one, a 1997 Legacy GT sedan for $5,500 just a few months ago.

now, i wouldn't pay it, but if i'm selling them for $5,500 then the market price is close to what he's talking. i wouldn't consider it a good deal (unless the headgaskets have been replaced), but $5,200 is not a terrible price in and of itself. remember there's a big difference between people like us that are sniffing the market every day looking for deals. he probably likes the look of a GT sedan. if it's in excellent condition, leather seats, everything works, with service records, one owner...a healthy combination of those items make GT sedans very easy to sell (been there, done that). i say it's a decent price, but i wouldn't recommend paying it due to the head gasket issue...again, that's just me, make your decisions accordingly.


They were Outbacks and really nice ones. Here in PA Outbacks are what everyone seems to want.

Even on a lot 5200 is a lot to pay for a 98 LGT. Most of the lots around here advertise them for around 4500 or so. You can usually get a nice one off the 'bay in the 4,000 range. I'd be willing to bet the car in question could be talked down at least 500-1000, especially this time of year. Sales are always slow around the holidays and lots will be desperate for a sale.

#9 grossgary

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 05:32 PM

They were Outbacks and really nice ones. Here in PA Outbacks are what everyone seems to want.

Even on a lot 5200 is a lot to pay for a 98 LGT.

nah, sedans are worth more. i sell to the PA market, i just sold that 97 GT to a guy in pittsburgh PA, $5,500, first guy that test drove it. i will get that for the next one too. much harder to get that for a 97 wagon, which is exactly what you're telling me. if you have any excellent condition, low mileage, $3k-$4k GT sedans for sale, I will buy them immediately.

#10 subaru360

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 06:21 PM

nah, sedans are worth more. i sell to the PA market, i just sold that 97 GT to a guy in pittsburgh PA, $5,500, first guy that test drove it. i will get that for the next one too. much harder to get that for a 97 wagon, which is exactly what you're telling me. if you have any excellent condition, low mileage, $3k-$4k GT sedans for sale, I will buy them immediately.


What's low mileage for you? If I can find some LGT's that need work like head gaskets, engine, trans etc, I think I could sell you one in that price range no problem. I have 4 U-pull yards in the area and get parts dirt cheap. I'll keep you in mind since I have no luck selling sedans or leg wagons around here, everyone seems to want an Outback so that's what I've been doing.

We've totally jacked the OP's thread now... :lol:

#11 grossgary

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 09:25 PM

80k - 100k GT sedans in great shape sell like hotcakes, OP's was 117,000 miles. large cities are always good, large markets, that may be the difference more so than the vehicles. and i'm used to that coming from the DC metro area. yeah the outbacks are definitely much better than base model wagons for sure. whoops, i guess he gets a reasonable idea of prices and variations, so not totally worthless or off topic!

#12 screwbaru2

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Posted 17 December 2007 - 05:30 AM

The 2.5L that vintage is a anchor.

#13 D Love

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Posted 18 December 2007 - 10:32 AM

Is that a positive comment or a negative one?

Thanks to all of you who responded to my questions. I appreciate the heads up on the head gasket issue. Is that something that the mechanic can diagnose upon inspection, or is it undetectable and inevitable?




The 2.5L that vintage is a anchor.



#14 OB99W

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Posted 18 December 2007 - 11:13 AM

Is that a positive comment or a negative one?[...]

I suspect that's as in "a heavy weight, good only to be thrown overboard".:)

With the latest head gaskets, replaced by someone who knows what they're doing, the 2.5 is more reliable. However, that doesn't address the issue of piston slap; although it tends to be more of an annoyance than a reliability problem, some people are bothered by it enough to not consider the purchase.

#15 grossgary

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Posted 18 December 2007 - 11:28 AM

Unfortunately the mechanic can not diagnose the head gasket when it's inspected unless it's bad enough for him to detect. He could tell you it's perfect and the head gasket could let loose tomorrow. People do buy them and have this happen not long afterwards, just be prepared and don't max your credit out to buy it.

There's always the option of trying to find out if they have already been replaced.

#16 johnceggleston

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Posted 18 December 2007 - 06:04 PM

There's always the option of trying to find out if they have already been replaced.


or purposely buying one with bad gaskets and then making the repairs or replacement so you have a known good engine.




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