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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, so my very first post in this forum might be kinda long. I apologize, please don't hate or ban me. Thank you.

I've been driving an '02 Jetta wagon VR6 for the past 2 years. When I bought it, it was a toss up between it and a WRX wagon. I went with the Jetta because at the time it was about $2-$3k cheaper than a WRX, plus the interior was beautiful.

I just recently decided I wanted AWD, so went out and purchased a used '03 WRX wagon in New Jersey with just under 60k miles, for what I thought was a good deal. Plan WAS to sell the Jetta and enjoy my new WRX. I had noticed a slight rattling noise when I test drove the WRX, and it only made the noise when shifting at 3k+ RPM. It drove so nice though that I didn't think too much of it. When I got the car back to PA, I took it to a Subaru dealership to have the rattling noise checked out. They told me it sounded like a spun rod bearing and that I'd probably need a new short block for a total repair cost of about $4,000. HOLY CRAP! At that point, the car had 59,959 miles on it, only 350 of which were mine. Somehow, Subaru decided to be EXTREMELY gracious with me and replaced the short block under the 60,000 powertrain warranty. And I wish that was the fairy tale ending to this story and I was now a loyal Subaru owner for life. But lo.....

.....and behold, when I picked up the WRX from the dealership yesterday, I discovered that they didn't just replace the short block. The repair description reads, "Upon engine tear down, found timing belt shredded, crankshaft timing gear damaged, timing belt tensioner damaged, damaged throw out bearing, front O2 sensor damaged, 1 bell housing bolt missing, and turbo heat shield only being held on by 3 bolts." Subaru replaced all of these items under warranty. The obvious reaction has been, "Sweet dude, you got a new engine for free!" But I'm actually freaked out now and wondering if I should sell it right away. I have absolutely no maintenance history on the car, or knowledge of any mods. And after reading through this forum a bit, it appears that it's no big deal for you crazy Subie owners to take a car from modded to stock and back within a matter of hours. So while my engine is stock, it very likely could have been in top mod shape at one time.

So the big question is, keep or sell? I'm seriously considering trying to resell the car for the same price I paid. My main concern is that if all these timing related parts were damaged after only 60k miles, how many other components might be on their way out, including the trans? Did the previous owner just totally drive this thing into the ground? Do people even mod their wagons?

Any help for an on-the-fence Subaru owner? As of this moment, my WRX has been in Subaru's possession for 3 weeks, and in my possession for 1 week. I can say that the car drives and shifts clean, but I can hear a slight whirring noise from the transmission sometimes when I let off the gas. The whole car is louder than my Jetta, so I'm not exactly sure which noises are normal and which ones should scare me.

Any advice or info would be GREATLY appreciated.
 

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wow....

wow man. sounds like that car took a rough abusing! Turbo heat shield being held by 3 measly bolts! ouch... well say big thank you for the warranty rebuild Subaru did for you, if you read a bit on the forums most of the people actually don't like Subaru's customer service. You got lucky. As for sell it or not, well idk... i would sell it and get a 2002 Z28 Camaro, but thats just me becuase i really want a LS1 :baaa::baaa:
 

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Whether you sell it or not is a decision only you can make, but the car sounds like it had been previously modified and then hastily returned to stock for sale. All the items replaced are now under warranty again for some time (check the receipts) but the question remains whether the rest of the car will stay together. Take it to an independent Subaru specialist and have them look it over.
 

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Whether you sell it or not is a decision only you can make, but the car sounds like it had been previously modified and then hastily returned to stock for sale. All the items replaced are now under warranty again for some time (check the receipts) but the question remains whether the rest of the car will stay together. Take it to an independent Subaru specialist and have them look it over.
ooooo.. good idea lol didnt think of taking it to a independent agent. But hey if u have a bit of extra money to see if you should keep the car DO IT! AWD> FWD
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That's just it. I don't have extra money to play the "wait and see" game. I think I'm most likely going to sell it if I can break even. If I would lose a few grand by selling it, then there's more incentive to take a chance on it. Gonna try a few used car dealerships to see what they'll give me for it.
 

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wow it was actually kinda weird readin that post. i used to drive (this may sound familiar) an 02 jetta vr6 glx. i chose it over an 02 wrx for the (this may sound familiar) beautiful interior and just incredibly smooth and sturdy build of the car. they build those things like tanks. eventually went with the wrx for the horsepower and suspension. you gotta understand you went from a comfort suited car to a pretty raw racecar...theres gonna be alot more roadnoise etc...
honestly it sounds like you found a pretty abused lil rexy. lol pretty much the only other parts that could be worn are the clutch and tranny so its kinda a pro that you have a new engine. if your honestly that worried about abuse then sell it and find a different one (royal pain but it would put an end to your worrying) but...you have a new engine dude..
 

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I cant tell you what to do but I can say what I'd do. If my money was tight like that I'd really consider unloading the car if I didnt take a big hit on it.

Then I'd try to find a true stock one with some sort of receipts and have a Subie shop look at it to determine what kind of shape it's in.

You NEED to send letters to both Subaru and the dealership THANKING them for what they did. I read this and was thinking "no way is Subaru going to honor that warranty". I wouldnt go into great details as to what parts were missing/replaced but I'd make a general statement saying you bought the car and it had some issues right before going out of warranty and you are thankful that they fixed it under warranty PERIOD.

I wouldnt make a list saying they fixed this, this, that, and those as it might come back to bite the dealership in the butt.

Good luck.
 

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I would change the trans and rear diff fluid and ride it out for a bit. Let someone who knows, determine which noises are normal. As long as the rest of the hard parts are good, i'd keep it. I'm pretty sure you have at least a 12/12 parts and labor warranty for the repair, which seemed pretty comprehensive. Piece of mind is hard to come by on a used car over 60k.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You NEED to send letters to both Subaru and the dealership THANKING them for what they did. I read this and was thinking "no way is Subaru going to honor that warranty". I wouldnt go into great details as to what parts were missing/replaced but I'd make a general statement saying you bought the car and it had some issues right before going out of warranty and you are thankful that they fixed it under warranty PERIOD.
Yeah, I was planning on doing that. It was actually a Subaru regional warranty rep that made the call, not the local dealership. But I do know that the guy at the dealership who was handling my claim did a lot to help convince the rep. I still can't believe they covered the repairs though. From the beginning, they told me that the only way they could cover it was if they tore down the engine and found no evidence of abuse or neglect......such as a shredded timing belt, a damaged camshaft gear, and a damaged TB tensioner.
 

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if i were in your shoes, i'd unload it. after reading all the issues, only time will tell how long the tranny is going to stand up.

i'd try to find a WRX at your price point with some paperwork.

and if its in your budget a car with less then 40k on it.



if not, there's always a honda:tongue:
 

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if you read a bit on the forums most of the people actually don't like Subaru's customer service.
Yeah, but bear in mind, very few satisfied customers are going to post their story, so take this comment with a grain of salt.

As far as the car goes, sounds like it was pretty well abused. A new engine is great, but, like everyone else posting here, I would be worried about the clutch and tranny.

One question you might ask yourself is, "Will I lose enough money on this if I sell it that it makes sense to keep it and put in a new tranny and associated parts?" If you sell this one, loss or not, you have to buy something else, right? Did you finance the car? If so, and you have a good relationship with your lender, you might be ahead to re-finance, get a new (or rebuilt) tranny and a new clutch, and drive it for a while. On the other hand, you don't want to be severely "upside-down" creditwise unless this is a car you're planning on keeping past payoff.
 

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you gotta understand you went from a comfort suited car to a pretty raw racecar.....
I just have to call you on this one. A WRX is far from a raw race car. No race car I've ever driven has a full interior, air conditioning, cruise control, or power windows.

It's this kind of hyperbole that gives WRX owners a bad reputation.
 

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I just have to call you on this one. A WRX is far from a raw race car. No race car I've ever driven has a full interior, air conditioning, cruise control, or power windows.

It's this kind of hyperbole that gives WRX owners a bad reputation.
I'd agree here as well. In fact, in the case of the more expensive WRXs (the STi models) it is sometimes Subaru dealers that use hyperbole to their financial advantage, as a way of excusing the car's weaknesses and faults... Suddenly, creaks, rattles, and thumps are not faults in assembly, trim fit, and suspension, they are "expected" features for a "race bred" car. Not buying it. Owners deserve better.

I'd also agree with the financial advice given. See what might be wrong, see what it might cost, see where you're at, draw it all out on a diagram if you have to, and go from there.
 

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All very good advice, and I appreciate everyone's input. Helps to have opinions from people not stuck in this situation.

Question about the transmission. Assuming the car was driven hard, would there be any warning signs about the transmission's condition without tearing it out and inspecting the guts? I guess, specifically, I'm wondering about noises and behavior. My Jetta VR6 tranny isn't quiet by any means, and it never has been from the day I bought it. There's specific gear noises that I hear coming from the Jetta, especially when letting off the gas and coming to a rolling stop in gear.

I hear similar noises in the WRX, which seem normal to me. If the transmission was in bad shape right now, does anyone know of symptoms that I could be looking out for? All in all, the car drives and shifts smooth. The clutch is quite a bit different from my Jetta, but no different from other WRXs I test drove. Took me about 5-10 miles to get used to how it shifts. After that, no problems getting into gears, letting out the clutch, or any jerks, grinding, etc.

Monday, I'm taking a vacation day and driving around to a bunch of used car dealers to see what they'll offer on the car. If I end up keeping it, I'll definitely be getting a service manual.
 

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If you have no hard shifting, grinding etc, then I wouldn't worry about it. You got a BRAND NEW engine for $0. Hell you got a steal on that 03 now, even if it had been modded its like you got a brand new car. Even if the tranny decided to go, RA gears are only like $2500 installed. I'd keep it, dump the Jetta and replace all the fluids in the subie. Namely put some "Uncle Scottys Cocktail" in the tranny (see my sig) and drive it. Color yourself lucky man you got a sweet deal after the engine rebuild, there really isnt too much to go wrong drivetrain wise.
 

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Well the last thing I would worry about is the tranny becasue the 02 trannys had a bad reputation for breaking. If I were you I would change out the fluid ASAP and see whether you see any abnormal metal parts in the fulid. When I changed mine I had very little on the magnetic end of the plug. If the fluid is basically clean like mine was then you should be fine as long as you your self 1) don't lunch then car, 2) shift properly meaning that don't try to spin or do burn outs with it, becasue with AWD it will brake the tranny in no time. I have an 02 wagon and its modded but only modestly with just a Cobb stg2 which is full 3' exhaust and engine management. Sounds to me like whoever you bought your car from had at least that, becasue the heat sheald bolts break when taking it of, becasue they rust very badly.
 

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I'd agree here as well. In fact, in the case of the more expensive WRXs (the STi models) it is sometimes Subaru dealers that use hyperbole to their financial advantage, as a way of excusing the car's weaknesses and faults... Suddenly, creaks, rattles, and thumps are not faults in assembly, trim fit, and suspension, they are "expected" features for a "race bred" car. Not buying it. Owners deserve better.

I'd also agree with the financial advice given. See what might be wrong, see what it might cost, see where you're at, draw it all out on a diagram if you have to, and go from there.
well thats why i said pretty raw. lol trust me, compared to a vr6 jetta a wrx is a practically an f1
 

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Discussion Starter #18
A little additional twist to the story. My wife and I were taking the Subaru out for groceries today. Made it 5 miles and the the engine started to overheat. Limped back home a mile at a time, letting the engine cool down in between. Popped the hood and there's coolant steam rising out of the driver's side of the engine bay, near the windshield fluid tank. Looked under the car and could see coolant dripping from the suspension arms.

Did some more looking around and I think one of the coolant hoses might have a cut from the hose clamp being tightened too much. I can't tell for sure because the cut is on the underside of the hose. If there's a cut in the hose, the coolant system won't pressurize, and the coolant will boil easier. That sound reasonable?

The dealership that did the repairs is too far away for me to try and limp there, so I may have to get it towed. The hose that is cut comes out of the firewall (heater core?) and then connects up with a black tube underneath the right side of the intercooler. Any ideas what this hose is and if it can be easily replaced?

Gonna go search the forums.
 

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Did some more looking around and I think one of the coolant hoses might have a cut from the hose clamp being tightened too much. I can't tell for sure because the cut is on the underside of the hose. If there's a cut in the hose, the coolant system won't pressurize, and the coolant will boil easier. That sound reasonable?
Yes.

The dealership that did the repairs is too far away for me to try and limp there, so I may have to get it towed.
NEVER TOW. Always flatbed. No towing.
 

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Right, flatbed. That's what we did the first time it went to the dealership.

Pretty sure the leak is from the lower heater core hose. Going to replace the hose myself since it looks easy enough to do. Hopefully Subaru will hook me up with a new hose and a gallon of coolant. Although I definitely won't argue about $40 after they just saved me 100x that amount. What's up with those stupid ancient looking stock hose clamps?

Still gonna try to sell it once it's in good running order, but I have a really hard time believing that any individual or dealer is gonna give me much for it once I tell them why I'm selling it. I'm guessing that I'm gonna end up keeping the WRX. Oh well, at least I know I won't trash what's left of it.
 
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