Saturday, September 8, 2012

Junking the Impreza - a lesson in wreck-o-nomics

So, a couple of weeks ago, I finally finished work on my wife's "new" car - the 1995 Subaru Legacy. This finally freed me up to start working on the 1983 Mercedes 240D. Well... almost. My wife's old car, the 1993 Subaru Impreza, was still taking up valuable real estate in the driveway.

In addition to taking up space, it was still on my insurance policy, costing me money every month. My original plan was to sell the Impreza as soon as the new Legacy was on the road. Fate had other plans. In recent months, the car had started to deteriorate sharply.

Back in April, I had to replace the driver's side front CV axle. In June, my wife drove the car on a 2,000 mile road trip. To make sure she got there OK, I replaced the timing belt and idlers, did an ignition tune-up, replaced the transmission fluid, and replaced the fuel filter. In early August, I had to replace the alternator. (Interestingly enough, when I bought the car in 2009, the seller told me it had a bad alternator - well, that bad alternator performed flawlessly for just over three years... until now) Bottom line, the Impreza was starting to nickel-and-dime me to death.

The last straw came the same day that I got the "new" Legacy on the road. One of the Impreza's brake calipers all but seized up. The car would run and drive, but the pad was worn out and was metal-on-metal with the rotor. My wife had told me she'd been hearing an intermittent scraping sound for the past few weeks. I hadn't bothered to check it out, as I was concentrating on fixing the Legacy. Well, the caliper finally froze. Also, the transmission was starting to bang into second gear intermittently.

So, I put the car up for sale on Craigslist. I wrote a long, almost encyclopedic ad, detailing everything wrong with the car. I could have fixed the brakes, but I wasn't interested in putting more time and money into the car, knowing that would likely not

I set an asking price of $800, knowing I'd come down with the price, but not wanting to give the car away. Aside from the usual scammers, the only interest I had was from a college student who wanted to pay less than scrap value for the car.

Knowing I wasn't going to be able to sell it on the open market, I started calling local junkyards. I got a variety of price quotes, but one, located about a mile away from the house, offered me $400 if I could drive the car in. I grabbed the title, pulled our stuff out of the car, and drove it up there. I hate to junk a running, driving car, but it had 326,000 miles on it and needed more work than it was likely worth, including, possibly, a transmission replacement.

We had the car for three years. We bought it with 240,000 miles on it, and drove it 86,000 miles. I originally paid $175 for the car (I did have to replace some parts over the years, but surprisingly, not too much). I sold it for $400. In my case, it just made the most sense to retire it and let its parts keep other cars alive.

I hope someone can make good use of that month-old alternator. Anyhow, here's some photos and video I took the last day I had the car.