Originally Posted by sub_sifu
This is an incredibly helpful post. Thanks a lot for taking the time to write this. I'll check out those areas and see what I'm dealing with. She paid $950, which I thought was a fantastic deal for such a reliable car. Hopefully just a little TLC is all that is needed.
It really is reliable, and being that you're in the Southwest (I didn't notice I was in the SW forum at first), the rust won't get worse as fast as it does in CT where I am. Considering you're not in the rust belt, it may be worth trying to get the rust fixed, but I'm certainly no expert in that area. You'll also want to check out the underside of the car. Mine is not bad and it seems like the factory undercoat did its job, but you're gonna have to give that a look too.
I think $950 is very reasonable. If it can pass emissions (not sure what emissions is like where you are) and you can tolerate the rust, I see no reason why the car won't have a lot more miles left in it. The 2.2 liters are dead reliable and pretty gutsy for a small engine. At 262k miles it burns no appreciable amount of oil and has no leaks. I can hardly say the same for my 2.5L Outback.
Good luck with it!