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cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
7/21/21 6:03 p.m.

Well, I've finally done it. I've been mulling the idea of picking up a car to flip over for a while, and when this opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it. I think it will be hard to actually lose money on this one, but time will tell.

So what is it? Well, it's a 2008 Subaru Forester, owned since 2012 by some friends of mine, with ~160k on it. Importantly, it has no rust, fairly new (late 2019) tires, and a new clutch (yes it's a stick). It also has a noisy A/C compressor, a dodgy hood latch, and the pièce de résistance, an oil leak that's dripping onto the header. They got some very minor diagnosis done, realized that it could be another several thousand dollar job, and decided it was time for a new car.

Here it is, in all it's glory.

For this, I paid $2000. Yeah. I'm planning on yanking out the motor to do the head gaskets and timing belt, and hoping that the compressor is minor. I currently have 5 cars, none of which share any parts, a one car driveway, and a 0 car garage, so this is going to (hopefully) go fairly quickly.

New costs:

  • Car $2000
  • Cashier's check fee $20

Total: $2020

More to come!

Zachary
Zachary New Reader
7/21/21 6:57 p.m.

Awesome! I hope you come out on top on this one! The last couple of years I've been buying my cars with an eye on resale and have managed to drive cars around for 3 months to a year and make money on the last 6 I've sold. Finding them at a good buy in price is everything and it looks like you have that covered! 

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia SuperDork
7/21/21 7:26 p.m.

Looks like a great deal :)

you might want to run a Carfax and see if there were any problems  in the first 4 years , 

plus any recalls.....

 

matthewmcl (Forum Supporter)
matthewmcl (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
7/21/21 7:35 p.m.

All you need is some good slicks and you can flip it in no time.

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
7/21/21 11:25 p.m.
matthewmcl (Forum Supporter) said:

All you need is some good slicks and you can flip it in no time.

I was waiting for this laugh

In reply to californiamilleghia :

I actually have the Carfax from when they bought it, plus service records from their entire ownership. When it's time to sell I'll probably run another, but as far as I can tell it's all good. Recalls are a good idea to check into.

In reply to Zachary :

Thanks! Don't know if I'll even drive it, to be honest. I really don't need this car. Maybe I'll try to get up to a rallycross before it moves down the road...

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/4/21 12:39 a.m.
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) said:

this is going to (hopefully) go fairly quickly

cheekyWell, that didn't happen. It's been parked in the street while life happened. 

Tonight I finally got it in the driveway and up in the air so I can take a closer look. These are kinda crappy pictures because, well, it's dark out there, but here's the driver's side, with a slight leak:

And here's the passenger side, with a slightly larger leak:

In general, it's pretty clean underneath, with the exception of a fine mist of engine oil everywhere.

Coolant looks good and there's no milkshake in the oil, so it looks to me like a textbook external head gasket leak. Right now, I'm trying to decide if I can clean it up well enough to get it smogged before I tear it apart, since that way I can wait for the title while it's in pieces and be ready to sell it when it's done. That's the plan for tomorrow.

This also needs to be dealt with, but otherwise I think it's just the gaskets and some detailing and it will be ready to go.

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/5/21 12:57 a.m.

Well, my wife took the kids for a few hours today, so I started taking things apart, because that's a lot more fun than dealing with smog.

So now we're here

Tomorrow morning I'm picking up a hoist from a coworker. I have the bell housing bolts, engine mounts, wiring harness, and fuel lines to disconnect and then we're ready to go.

I also picked this up from Facebook. $45 isn't bad.

 

 

mdshaw
mdshaw Reader
9/5/21 1:23 a.m.

May the Subaru force be with you. I don't think oil leaks on a Subaru is the HG's though. Usually the coolant leaks from the HG's.  But that was on the older ones, maybe Subaru made them better & now make the oil leak also so you can see it besides just smelling the antifreeze. 
We had a '01 Forester. Got it with 99,500 miles. Subaru extended HG's to 100k because of leaking coolant. Of course this one leaked so the dealer did them for free after they confirmed they were leaking coolant. Those years the motor didn't have to be removed either. I spoke to the tech doing it & he had done so many, he could do them in 2 hours.  They started at @3pm & picked it up the next morning when they opened.  Was a great car for years until a deer totaled it. 
 

mikeatrpi
mikeatrpi HalfDork
9/5/21 8:01 a.m.

My 01 legacy had those same oil leaks.  It was a SOHC car.  As you said the oil leaks externally dripping on the exhaust.  I did the job with the engine still in the car, but ours was automatic and it's supposed to be easier to pull a standard.  Throw on a gates water pump, timing belt and pulley kit and you'll be set.

adam525i
adam525i Dork
9/5/21 8:37 a.m.

There's an oil pressure switch on top of each head that like to give up and leak on these as well but they are easy to replace/diagnose so are probably still fine.

It will probably take some time to burn any oil out of the exhaust as well once this thing is back together, the heat shields like to hold it all in.

I'd be all over a flip like this and feel good passing a car like that on to the next owner having done the work, I think the only thing to worry about jumping on something like this is really making sure there is no rod knock. They're so easy to pop the motors out of, everything except motor mounts, exhaust (which is easy as you've found) and draining the fluids can be done from above. The Fel-Pro kits have done me well with their multi layer head gaskets.

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/5/21 10:58 a.m.

Oil pressure switch is a good call, I'll take a look at those too.

I was surprised at how easy everything is to get to, it's super intuitive and everything just comes right apart.

It's due for a timing belt too so pulling it is just easier to do everything. I've already ordered a bunch of parts so I'll do a budget update post later today.

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/6/21 12:13 a.m.

Success!

 

Got it on the stand too

 

Next time I'll rig the chains a little shorter, I was very close to needing my wife to come out and stand on the bumper to clear the oil pan.

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/6/21 7:32 a.m.

In reply to cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) :

If you weren't married, you could let some air out of the front tires. 

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/7/21 1:00 a.m.
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) :

If you weren't married, you could let some air out of the front tires. 

If I were single and also perhaps a bit smarter, I might have thought of that. Filing that little tidbit away for the second time I pull an engine.

I spent some more time on it tonight after the kiddos were in bed. Intake manifold is off, timing covers are off, and one minor crisis was averted when I forgot to open the vent on my oil drain pan and it came very, very close to overflowing all over the garage before I got a glove off and the vent open in the nick of time.

No surprises so far. More to come.

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/7/21 11:30 a.m.
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) said:
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) :

If you weren't married, you could let some air out of the front tires. 

If I were single and also perhaps a bit smarter, I might have thought of that. Filing that little tidbit away for the second time I pull an engine.

i LOL'd

one minor crisis was averted when I forgot to open the vent on my oil drain pan and it came very, very close to overflowing all over the garage before I got a glove off and the vent open in the nick of time.

I've been that guy. Except it was in the driveway. And I didn't get the vent open in time. Good thing I had a bag of cat litter on hand for just such an event.

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/7/21 1:14 p.m.

Let's talk about budget. I have picked up some new tools for this, but they've been generally inexpensive and will be useful later, so I'm not including them in my total. For the sake of transparency though, those are a straight edge (~$38 from Amazon), a set of carbide scrapers (~$33 from Rockauto) and an engine stand (~$45 from Facebook).


So far, we're at:
 

Purchase price: $2000

Check fee: $20

Total: $2020

 

New parts:

Head gasket kit (Enginetech, on closeout): $69.89

Timing belt kit, with water pump (Gates): $175.79

Head bolts (Victor Reinz): $26.79

A/C belt (Gates): $18.43

Timing Cover Gasket (Mahle): $32.79 - this might go back, it's actually in decent shape

Total: 323.69

Total after shipping, tax, and 5% discount: 379.69

 

New total: 2399.69

I broke the tensioner for the A/C compressor when I was taking it apart (plastic, really?) and I'll probably put new spark plugs in it while it's out. Registration and Smog will be another couple hundred, but the plan is to be in it for well short of $3k when all is said and done.

adam525i
adam525i Dork
9/7/21 1:30 p.m.

So if you are looking to pinch every penny this is how I've resurfaced my Subaru heads in the past to clean them up. In my case I've used my Grandma's old plate glass coffee table and now use a piece of glass that I bought from a glass shop sized for this (if the glass is wavy at all it is not going to work but you can confirm it is perfectly flat with your straight edge). Basically you use spray adhesive to attach 600 grit sandpaper to the glass and then wd-40 as a lubricant and to clean the paper (so lots), just set the head on it and I run it in a figure 8 over the surface letting the weight of the head do the work. I go until all the old witness marks from the previous gasket are gone, you'll likely need to replace the paper a few times as it comes up at the seems and looses its effectiveness. It's really easy with these little heads, not so much with a BMW inline 6 which I have also done lol.

This video gives you a pretty good idea of what is involved - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOuogikKyd8

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/7/21 1:41 p.m.

In reply to adam525i :

Thanks for that. I'm not necessarily trying to cheap out on it, current plan is to see what the heads look like once they're off and resurface if needed. I haven't gone to the trouble of finding a local shop for quotes yet but we'll see, maybe as soon as tonight!

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
9/7/21 2:53 p.m.

Nice.  It seems like even if you have to pay a shop to do the A/C you'll still end up way ahead.

Opti
Opti Dork
9/7/21 4:17 p.m.

Im in TX which is definitely not land of the subaru but Ive seen more than a couple of these that had noisy compressors because they leaked refrigerant in a place that allowed a bunch of oil to also escape. After charging and adding oil many times the compressor went back a normal sound.

flat4_5spd
flat4_5spd New Reader
9/7/21 6:21 p.m.

If your pool of potential buyers includes people who know about Subarus,  and you're going to advertise the car as having new HG, people are going to ask you what kind of head gaskets you used, and "Enginetech" is not going to score points. (Unless you know something specific about where they source their gaskets from that I don't.) Either OEM (some folks advise using the turbo type OEM gaskets) or "six star" are the preferred brands.  If you're going to all this work, might as well use the good stuff.  Just my .02.  The right person might pay a premium for a "gone over" car, especially given how prone these are to needing head gaskets.  Good luck, it looks like a pretty straight car from what I've seen. 

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/7/21 6:53 p.m.
flat4_5spd said:

If your pool of potential buyers includes people who know about Subarus,  and you're going to advertise the car as having new HG, people are going to ask you what kind of head gaskets you used, and "Enginetech" is not going to score points. (Unless you know something specific about where they source their gaskets from that I don't.) Either OEM (some folks advise using the turbo type OEM gaskets) or "six star" are the preferred brands.  If you're going to all this work, might as well use the good stuff.  Just my .02.  The right person might pay a premium for a "gone over" car, especially given how prone these are to needing head gaskets.  Good luck, it looks like a pretty straight car from what I've seen. 

That's a good point, and one that I hadn't really considered, other than making sure I was getting the "updated" gaskets. Based on your user name I'm guessing you have some experience with these - do you prefer the OEM or Six Star gaskets? Price is pretty comparable - these

flat4_5spd
flat4_5spd New Reader
9/7/21 7:45 p.m.

 I've had a ton of Subarus and have done work up to and including engine swaps, but somehow have never done HG on them!  (Bought cars with HG already done or or bought basket case cars that I installed complete engines in.) My suggestion was based on what I've read on Subaru forums; the respected dealership techs swear by the turbo style gaskets. The "770" type you linked to is what they suggest.  

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/7/21 7:49 p.m.

Cool. Ordered the OEM gaskets, they were a bit cheaper ($91 all in) and I'm still money ahead using the other gaskets out of the Enginetech kit. Thanks for the input!

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
9/9/21 12:40 a.m.

Got the heads off!

To be honest, I have no idea what I'm looking at here. If anyone knows of a good machine shop in the East Bay, let me know.

I'm guessing the partially open intake valve is just because of VVT?

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