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Old 04-02-2015, 07:07 AM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default Piston Slap: Saabaru, The “Reliable” Subaru?


Quote:
Hello Sajeev, I have a classic “keep it or sell it” question for you and the greater TTAC audience.
Two years ago I bought my wife a 2005 Saab 9-2X Aero (sadly an automatic, which was a non-negotiable requirement for my wife). You may remember these as being rebadged Subaru WRX wagons, and that was the main reason I bought the car at the time. I assumed that since the underlying platform was basically a “reliable” Subaru, repairs would be infrequent and parts would be plentiful.

The reality is that I’ve never spent so much money trying to keep a car in good running condition. The car is now at 127,000 miles, and in the past two years we’ve done the following work: valve cover gaskets (twice), rebuilt heads and head gaskets, new power steering pump, replaced valve breather assemblies, new radiator, just to name a few things off the top of my head. None of these pending repairs were brought to light through the very thorough pre-purchase inspection, and the car appeared to be well cared for when we bought it.

The head rebuild alone cost us almost $3000 and kept the car in the shop for almost a month, mostly due to parts availability issues, which really surprised me. Even after all these repairs, we are still dealing with a mystery oil leak that periodically drips onto the exhaust somewhere and fills the cabin with a wonderful burning smell.

My question is one of sustainability. Even though the car is comprised of 95% Subaru parts, it seems that the 5% that was supplied by Saab is becoming increasingly more difficult to come by. Things like plastic body panels (rocker panel covers, bumper covers, etc.) are nearly impossible to find now, and even the struts are specific to the Saab model, having been tuned specifically for the 9-2X. Even if I have taken care of most of the major repairs for the foreseeable future, is it really a great idea to hold onto a car that is losing replacement parts support? Even the Subaru parts seem much more scarce than they should be.

I should note that despite all these issues, the reason we haven’t already replaced the car is that we really enjoy driving it. It’s a fun, powerful car that’s good in Minnesota winters and can haul a decent amount of stuff with the seats down. I have no idea what I would replace it with if I did sell it.
I am open to any and all suggestions and advice!
Thanks,
Adam
Sajeev answers:
The answer is clear by the overall tone of your message: put it on Craigslist, wait for the right buyer because it’s still in good running condition.

You really like the car, but not enough to deal with the crap. Saabs are hard to live with because of parts/repair costs, Subarus are the same (to a lesser extent). What’s the benefit of being 95% Subaru when their motor popped the head gasket? Exit now, before you spend thousands more on a 10-year-old car at the bottom of the depreciation curve.

I can see why you might consider the alternative: all my old cars are in some state of serious disrepair. Only a fanboi fool like me does all this for no good reason. If I was a Saabaru fan, I’d love your car too.

Best of luck, and remember there are plenty of AWD hatchback utilities on the market for you and your wife to consider. Test drive them all, you have nothing but time!
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/201...liable-subaru/
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Old 04-02-2015, 07:42 AM   #2
scatsob
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Lemon maybe? I hate buying used cars because you have no idea how badly the people who owned it before you abused it.
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Old 04-02-2015, 08:09 AM   #3
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Sounds like the previous owner never changed the oil.. which means the oil went acidic and tore up the seals. As for the head gaskets.. I think that's a fairly rare issue on the EJ20.
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Old 04-02-2015, 09:23 AM   #4
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dude spent $3k to fix the heads? Why not just buy rebuilt longblock and have someone install it, few hundred more and probably less time in the shop.
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Old 04-02-2015, 10:53 AM   #5
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I'm gonna blame the shop for stealing $$$.
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Old 04-02-2015, 12:04 PM   #6
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Yeah, even my local stealership charged me about $1,200 to replace the headgaskets in my 01 2.5 RS, and that was more reasonable than the independent Import Auto repair shop that was going to charge me $2k.

Sounds like the got taken on a trip by the repair shop. Which is a shame, since some online correspondence probably could've saved them a chunk of change.
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Old 04-02-2015, 12:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chanomatik View Post
Yeah, even my local stealership charged me about $1,200 to replace the headgaskets in my 01 2.5 RS, and that was more reasonable than the independent Import Auto repair shop that was going to charge me $2k.

Sounds like the got taken on a trip by the repair shop. Which is a shame, since some online correspondence probably could've saved them a chunk of change.
Or just asking here.
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Old 04-02-2015, 12:08 PM   #8
Hondaslayer
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Guy is an idiot that bought a double abortion of a car.
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Old 04-02-2015, 12:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KC View Post
Or just asking here.

He would have gotten torn apart on here. Either in GD or in the Newbies section by that Hinshaw idiot. How that ass ever became a mod, I have no idea.

I wouldn't recommend posting on here if you aren't familiar with how Internet tough guys act and how to ignore them.

As for the OP, I don't think this reflects on Subaru's overall record at all. It sounds like the car wasn't well taken care of, and any ill-maintained car will have problems down the road.

It sounds like he did the PPI, etc all by the book so just unfortunate luck.
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Old 04-02-2015, 12:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KC View Post
Or just asking here.
I was referring to NASIOC, actually, but didn't want to be specific since a Saab-dedicated forum might have fared better. It's all inclusive with "Googling", in my book. I've been teaching my friends how to browse forums for things they want to find out on their Mazdas and Toyotas.

When I got quoted $400 to swap my steering rack bushings for stiffer Turn-In Concepts ones, I asked around here (and other sites) and was told that most paid about $100 for the same work. Because of this I've been sitting on the parts for almost 2 years now, but I also haven't forked over $400 because it just became a low-priority mod for me. *shrug*

Anyways, it's hard to be ignorant these days. When with my friends, I have a saying: Why ask what you can Google?
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Old 04-02-2015, 02:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chanomatik View Post
Yeah, even my local stealership charged me about $1,200 to replace the headgaskets in my 01 2.5 RS, and that was more reasonable than the independent Import Auto repair shop that was going to charge me $2k.

Sounds like the got taken on a trip by the repair shop. Which is a shame, since some online correspondence probably could've saved them a chunk of change.
It depends on where you live.
I really don't see how I would avoid paying less than $2K in the Bay Area for a head gasket job unless I do some of the work myself.
One of the most reputable shop in the area starts at $3,500 for head gaskets. Starting price.
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Old 04-02-2015, 02:41 PM   #12
chanomatik
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That's insane! The dealership must just anticipate head gasket replacements, since that's what I hear is the normal replacement after 100k.
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Old 04-02-2015, 02:51 PM   #13
neg_matnik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chanomatik View Post
That's insane! The dealership must just anticipate head gasket replacements, since that's what I hear is the normal replacement after 100k.
Actually, I haven't called any of the dealerships in the area to find out how much they charge.
But, if an independent shop is comfortable charging $3,500, I bet dealerships over here might be charging even more . I'll be sure to let you guys know.
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Old 04-02-2015, 04:12 PM   #14
Stanley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neg_matnik View Post
It depends on where you live.
I really don't see how I would avoid paying less than $2K in the Bay Area for a head gasket job unless I do some of the work myself.
One of the most reputable shop in the area starts at $3,500 for head gaskets. Starting price.
Yep. And I would argue that the EJ20 is hard on head gaskets. Not as bad as some subaru motors but definitely worse than other Japanese engines.
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Old 04-02-2015, 05:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neg_matnik View Post
Actually, I haven't called any of the dealerships in the area to find out how much they charge.
But, if an independent shop is comfortable charging $3,500, I bet dealerships over here might be charging even more . I'll be sure to let you guys know.
Not always true. Call your local 3 dealerships first. I have found some of the independents are more $$$. Especially on the expensive stuff.

I actually recently did my 90k and 105k services up in Oregon on a house hunting trip. 1/2 as much as the cheapest quote from bay area shops. HALF! Half...
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Old 04-02-2015, 06:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4S-TURBO View Post
Not always true. Call your local 3 dealerships first. I have found some of the independents are more $$$. Especially on the expensive stuff.

I actually recently did my 90k and 105k services up in Oregon on a house hunting trip. 1/2 as much as the cheapest quote from bay area shops. HALF! Half...
Will do. Thanks .
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Old 04-03-2015, 07:57 AM   #17
Sid03SVT
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This guy getting ripped off aside, Turbo Subaru's are on the higher end as far as maintenance cost is concerned; and reliability of a Turbo Subaru isn't all that great. Weak links include but are not limited to - Head gaskets, pistons, clutches & transmissions (except the Sti trans), and that's when you don't modify them.
With 93k on my 06 - aside from maintenance items; the steering rack has been replaced, sway bar endlinks have been replaced, a clutch is happening this summer, as well as a compression check since I'm getting a little ticking in the morning and I'm not sure if it's valve-train or piston related. Parts all all expensive too, for the clutch job just to get the bare minimal parts (clutch kit & factory flywheel RMS, TOB) is over $600; my mustang was a couple hundred bucks for the same parts. And if I wasn't doing the job myself, labor would be ridiculous; for a clutch job I was quoted around $800 from independent shops for labor alone. Granted I am comparing an America RWD muscle car with a modified truck drive-train to a hopped up AWD Japanese economy car, but I look at it as how much money is it going to cost me to keep this thing running and the Subaru is by far more expensive, and more difficult to work on.
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Old 04-03-2015, 08:22 AM   #18
ride5000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samagon View Post
dude spent $3k to fix the heads? Why not just buy rebuilt longblock and have someone install it, few hundred more and probably less time in the shop.
**** for 3k i would have thrown a 207 in it!

(and done the swap myself obv.)
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Old 04-03-2015, 08:29 AM   #19
scatsob
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I don't know what you guys are doing to your cars, but I put 48,000 miles on my 08 Forester XTS in 7 years with $100 in maintenance outside of oil changes and the 30,000 mile service. Then again I never raced it or drove it hard, and never lived in a place where I had to drive more than 5 miles to work or school.
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Old 04-03-2015, 11:47 AM   #20
chanomatik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scatsob View Post
I don't know what you guys are doing to your cars, but I put 48,000 miles on my 08 Forester XTS in 7 years with $100 in maintenance outside of oil changes and the 30,000 mile service. Then again I never raced it or drove it hard, and never lived in a place where I had to drive more than 5 miles to work or school.
I miss my 08 FSXT. It was very reliable, except for one weird error that would come up where the clutch wouldn't engage for a minute or two after start-up. It did it twice, but after I went to the dealership and an experienced tech fixed it in a couple of minutes, nothing ever came up again. Best Subaru I ever owned, and got it for a steal. I should have paid it off and then gotten the yellow Scion FR-S that has everything I want in a Twin.
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Old 04-04-2015, 07:15 AM   #21
AVANTI R5
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Originally Posted by Hondaslayer View Post
Guy is an idiot that bought a double abortion of a car.
Why did you put Saab in Subaru News And Rumors.
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Old 04-04-2015, 12:23 PM   #22
Hondaslayer
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I didn't
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Old 04-05-2015, 06:31 AM   #23
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Church lady o never mind.. I don't question big red woods
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