What I originally thought was just a check in the box, peace of mind thing has now unravelled into the best $100 I have ever spent. There is a 2006 Saab 92x Aero with 66k miles, no rust, and reported by the seller to have no mechanical issues. Being an extremely clean looking California car, this seemed to be an amazing deal at pretty much ANY price. Easily a $10k car if it were on Bring a Trailer that was a smoking deal at the agreed upon $8600. So I jumped on the idea, told the seller I’M IN! and figured out the finances and the logistics. While planning this I had a spark of intelligence and decided a pre purchase inspection was not just a good idea, it was absolute necessary before I get there.

Haha damn thats so clean!

Now its basically a Subaru WRX and these are often abused and known to face expensive problems. I knew this going into the ordeal. I expected some issues to come up and be able to knock the price down a couple hundred bucks and fix the stuff myself. BUT being a Subaru, it ended up facing the dreaded headgasket issue! Its not DANGER ZONE, CAR IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE, it is in the first stages of head gasket leakage. The shop doing the inspection made it clear though that a leak is a leak and that the sooner you deal with it the better.

I asked for a price quote on everything wrong and this was the end result:

  • Headgasket $3-4k - would also have to add timing belt job “while im in there”, this is an engine out item so I really cant do it myself
  • Clutch parts $850 (labor included in headgasket job - $650 labor add’l otherwise)
  • Brake pads and rotors $6-700 in parts ($300 labor but I would do it myself)
  • Shocks $550 in parts ($500 labor but I would do it myself)

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This would put me at a MINIMUM of $5000 in repairs to do if I left just the hard stuff to a shop. Sure I could shop around and get those prices down but thats still going to EASILY be $4k all things said and done.

So spending $100 has saved me $4000! This car is still special enough and clean enough that I would buy it at the right price. But I now have hard bargaining tools that the saavy shopper could use to make this car quite affordable. I had been budgeting for a head gasket replacement within the next 2-3 years anyways but I hoped to get a solid 30-40k miles out of it first.

Overall this car is most certainly not a $10k car in this condition. Our original $8600 is also crack pipe territory. Without the headgasket/clutch repair needed? Sure its still worth $8k to me. With that as my starting point, I have to find a price point that I am comfortable with.

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At a MINIMUM I need to take that $4k cost, take 50% of it off the $8k figure and there is my price. That puts me at $6k. Is this car worth $6k? Absolutely! But I doubt the seller is that interested in losing that much money. He could fix this stuff himself and then sell it for $10k and easily end up ahead of the game. I am not in it for money though, I just want a fun reliable car to drive. And with the issues listed, its too much of a risk to pay more than that.

The logical pragmatic side of me says RUN THE FUCK AWAY. The adventurous side of me says just do it, its worth it even at $7500 (my guess at his minimum)! But when I make some compromises between the two I say no matter what I will not pay more than $7k. And if I am paying over $6500 I am getting a bad deal. And its not a good deal unless its $6k or less.

Local WRX market (note these are not even wagons) shows lots of WAY more expensive options in worse condition.

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Moral of the story is ALWAYS get a PPI! This story will continue later today when I hear from him. He wanted to talk to the shop to understand how bad the issues are before we talk about a fair price. So stay tuned!

Another solid option I have found. Basically the same car but with that same maintenance completed. Selling for $11k! But more than double the mileage!

Might just want to go with that one instead!