Repair or buy: what's more cost effective?

corriconcorricon Member Posts: 1
edited September 2014 in Subaru
I have a 2003 Outback LL Bean edition in good condition (72k miles). Just heard back from dealer/service that it needs $2000 worth of repairs. Have had no problems until now. Needs Idler pulley and tensioners ($345); brake pads front and back ($775) , A/C hose/charging with dye ($545); and $15k mile check up ($350) Almost done with auto loan of $350/mos.

Wondering what is most cost effective in the long run. Driving this car into the ground or buying 2009 or 2010 Outback.



  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,572
    This all sounds like general maintenance, so I have to say repair it!

    I'm a little surprised that it would need idler pulleys this early in the car's life, but a timing belt may not be a bad idea given the age. Is it making any chirping noises or sounds that would indicate one of the idlers is becoming worn?

    Brake pads are not $775. The dealer may be stating that they would replace the discs as well, which may push the cost up, but that work is so unbelievably easy, it seems insulting to me that they would quote a price like that. You could replace all the pads yourself, in your driveway, in about 45 minutes. If you had one arm tied behind your back, it might take two hours. ;) Importantly, though, if you have not had the brake fluid changed in the past, that is something you should do: flush the brake fluid! Let's see.... $775, if the dealer replaces the pads, rotors, and flushes the brake lines (all with high-quality components), yeah, I can see $775. I doubt you need rotor replacement though unless you're very hard on the brakes. Are you on your first set of pads?

    I can't really comment on the AC charging; does it seem to be getting weak? And, a 15,000 mile checkup is pretty basic - check your service manual or for reference.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • easypareasypar Member Posts: 191
    I agree with the above post. It's time to "shop" this work.

    Even with replacing the rotors $775 seems a bit high for all four wheel brakes. I had my wife's '04 Lexus RX brakes done about 8 months ago, two rotors, pads all around and flush fluid. IIRC it was about half of what the dealer is quoting you.

    Re the A/C. Did you have a leak? Did a hose break? Otherwise why are you doing something with it. Freon (or whatever they were using by that model year) doesn't "wear out", nor does it need "slight recharging". The Freon is either THERE or NOT, the compressor is either COMPRESSING or NOT.

    By the late '90s, early 2000s most manufacturers had figured out how to cool a car with the newer chemicals. For a few years prior early compressor failure (all aluminum vanes) was common, but by '03 not so much. Need more info from the dealer on what they're proposing.

    Re the idler pulley and tensioner. My experience is that tensioners either work or they don't. I'd probably take the car somewhere else and consider doing the timing belt early (not due for more miles) and if idler is needed then do it too.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

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