By on August 20, 2012


Aaron writes:

Sajeev,

I currently own a 2007 WRX Wagon with a little over 100,000 miles on it. I love this car, even enough to overlook getting merely 21mpg. Anyways.
As is true with many import car owners who love too much, I started modifying the car almost as soon as I got it. It currently has a 3″ exhaust, a tune, and some miscellaneous other engine bits, with suspension components on order. The car is my current project, and I plan on keeping it for some time. There’s a slight problem though.
My problem is easy to spell: BRZ. Probably in a year or 18 months, I will give into temptation, and pull the trigger on a BRZ or FR-S (or some other cool thing that exists by then). So here’s my question (I’m getting to it, bear with me): Is it worth returning the car to stock? By the time I sell it, it will be 6 or 7 years old, and probably have north of 140,000 miles on it. The exhaust may be worth a few hundred bucks, the sway bars might be worth something, but very few other things will net any money at all. The real question is about the resale value of the car. I’d expect to get maybe 8k at best for a 140k+ mile Subaru, and that’s probably optimistic. Will the bolt-ons really push it down further?

Thanks in advance,
Aaron

Sajeev answers:

I hope there’s a good power adder for the BRZ/FR-S at that time, because you are taking a serious hit in performance from your current Subie.  I haven’t had time to rant about the new RWD wonder, but since you opened that door for me…at least I’ll be brief:

  • 2012 Subaru BRZ torque peak = 151 lb-ft @ 6000 rpm
  • 2011 Ford Ranger Duratec I-4 torque peak = 154 lb-ft @3750 rpm
  • BRZ-LSX-FTW:  think about it.

Well then! One way or another, the next owner of your WRX needs those stock parts.  They add value and show that you aren’t a stereotypical WRX hackjob type of person. You know, one of those warranty-voiding, drive line punishing type of owner.  Even if you are! But that’s not the point…

I don’t know which parts are the most valuable on the Subie forums’ classifieds section, but I’ll wager that the swaybars and the exhaust need to go up there.  If you want the next owner to have the opportunity at having them, first offer it for sale with the stock parts in the cargo area.  If that fails, return back to stock and offer the aftermarket parts for another $500-1000…or whatever sounds right to you. If that fails, sell as stock as possible and offer the bits to the forum.

Now if you’re just gonna trade this into a dealership or Carmax, forget everything I said: return it to stock. They always lower the value when they see non-stock stuff.  Perhaps you should just give the aftermarket bits to someone so you can enjoy the better karma…why let the dealership give someone else that pleasure?

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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55 Comments on “Piston Slap: The Re-Stocking Fee?...”


  • avatar
    raph

    Heh – BRZ+LSX. I wonder if the toyobaru could take the punishment that GMs crate LSX dishes out at 600 HP? I’m sure the running gear would fail in spectacular fashion but I wonder if it would suffer the same fate as a pinto a buddy of mine dropped a 289 in to?

    In about six months it became increasingly harder to close the doors as that little 289 twisted the chassis.

    Forget the LSX, drop the current 5.8 mill from the 2013 GT500 and go cruising Ed Roth rat fink style with the engine exploding out of the fenders and hood.

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    > They always lower the value when they see non-stock stuff.

    Yes they do, to the surprise of the owner who thought his aftermarket bling would be appreciated by everyone.
    “But I put five grand in that car!”

    • 0 avatar
      ExPatBrit

      I looked at a 2004 Ranger early this year, it was a very nice truck but the owner had “invested” in a really big expensive bad-ass-loud stereo.The speakers entirely occupied the extended cab area of the truck.

      I offered him KBB which was $2500 less than the asking price if he could remove and keep the $4000 stereo.

      4 months later he is still trying to move that truck.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I’ve never seen a modded car come in on trade where the mods have been done right. It’s always a low budget, half-ass hack job. And it always lowers the value in our eyes.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    I had a friend just sell a big-turbo 500+HP Evo X with 5-8k on the built motor and 65k on the car. he got 25k for it, and it took him 4 months to move the thing. Obviously not the best example, but when you mod your car you’re looking for a very specific buyer in the event you sell it. I sold a modded up RSX-S (bolt-ons, suspension) earlier this year, and it took me almost 6 weeks to move it.

    Do you still have your stock parts? If so, then yes. definitely return to stock. Did you tune with an accessport? That should be worth about $500 or so. The exhaust should bring in $3-500. Sway is worth $100. Obviously some of these parts will sit on forums/craigslist for a few weeks, or 1-2 months, but it doesn’t hurt you unless your hurting for space.

    If not willing, first try your hand selling the car on an enthusiast forum. They usually have people more amenable to mods looking on them, but you obviously know you will not be seeing any money extra for your parts, even if they are popular mods, or $2k rims like Volks.

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    You are aware scissor-doors.com has a kit for the WRX at only $ 699.99 per pair?

  • avatar
    amarks

    Thanks for answering my question, Sajeev. In about the last two weeks something happened which changed the calculus on this question a bit: My warranty-voiding, driveline punishing self blew the turbo on the car, and replaced the stock turbo with a Blouch upgrade unit. As the old turbo is very much dead, the car will likely never “return to stock” at this point, and I’m OK with that. After reading yet more reviews of the BRZ, I’m more comfortable with the idea of just keeping the WRX and trying to get it over 200k. With the new turbo, the power gap would be just too big to ignore.

    • 0 avatar

      I think you’re making the right move. Get the most bang for your WRX buck.

    • 0 avatar
      tbp0701

      As an aside, my first reaction to your original question was that high boost turbos can last for over 100K miles, but I guess not too far over in this case.

      As another aside, it’s been some time since I’ve driven a WRX–although I did drive a modified Legacy GT a bit ago–and haven’t driven an FR-S at all. But in my recent car shopping, I realized I prefer a naturally aspirated engine attached to a good manual transmission and fairly buttoned down chassis over more power and reduced feel. Of course, having it all in a car that rarely breaks and isn’t expensive to fix would be ideal.

    • 0 avatar
      Synchromesh

      This is precisely the reason I gave up on looking for a clean stock ’06-07 WRX last year and just bought a new one instead. People just mod them silly and then things blow up. At least I know nobody messed with my car before I bought it. And aside from a couple of minor things I will keep it as close to stock as possible.

  • avatar
    D in the D

    I sold my used ’05 Saabaru in the past year, and would say duffman13 has it about right. I got a lot of money from the parts removed, and the back-to-stock car sold in 3 days for above my asking price. Now, I am an engineer who has tools and a garage, so removing parts and storing them were non-issues. Especially since I had installed them all myself. YMMV, especially in an apartment or small condo, or less comfort level with doing the work.

    Can you sell it with mods? Sure, but you need to find the right buyer, and that definitely means selling it yourself.

  • avatar
    vagvoba

    As someone, who have actually own(ed) both the WRX and the BRZ, let me make it clear: the BRZ is a billion times sportier than the WRX. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my WRX, but that’s a grandma mobile compared to the BRZ. A sporty wagon with huge turbo lag. In the same time the BRZ is a REAL sports car, tight as nothin else I drove before and has immediate throttle response. It might not be faster in a straight line than the WRX but it feels 10 times quicker and 10 times more fun. Of course it has 1/10 of the utility value as well. They are just completely different animals. This also means that a BRZ is a very bad replacement for a WRX. If you need the trunk space, 4-5 comfortable seats and AWD then the BRZ is not for you.

  • avatar
    jaje

    This post is for TTAC’s recent FRS/BRZ negativity through several articles.

    Yes, the FRS/BRZ is certainly over hyped by the Internet Fanboy fervor. However, several comparisons on TTAC seem equally fervent at the opposite end of the spectrum in order to offset such. Much of it negative hyperbole and often irrelevant.

    For instance, on TTAC it was put up against a $30k Miata which is a 2 seater convertible (I’ve also seen lots of used Cayman S comparisons elsewhere); then against a privately owned / track prepped used Mustang; and in this thread you are now comparing its engine torque output to that of a larger displacement pickup truck engine. What are integral design elements (2+2 layout; FR drive train; light weight); cherry picking statistics (engine torque); or focus solely on price-point performance regardless of the car’s layout then it opens a slippery slope where the FRS is now compared to $30k used z06 Corvettes; or a Craigslist found track prepped / modified Toyota Echo with Celica GTS engine swap and bolt on turbo (yes – these do exist); etc.

    Now one comparison made on TTAC hit the nail on the head…the 2.0T R Spec Genesis Coupe is right in this car’s sights (2+2 seat coupe; ~ $26k; 4 cylinder with manual transmission). Mustang V6 is also similar in price, performance and packaging ($22k base price).

    That’s the truth I see in it. Thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      The BRZ sounds like a great platform with a motor that will always make it a loser against its competition. And I am only looking at this single component.

      Not that I expect people to cross shop a Ranger for a BRZ, I’m just putting naturally aspirated 4-cyl performance in perspective. The torque peak in this car is just plain silly.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh and especially when we are talking about a modified WRX owner thinking about getting a BRZ. This makes the power deficit problem even worse.

      • 0 avatar
        jaje

        If you want to make fair comparisons then compare it to other 2.0 normally aspirated engines but don’t pick one single stat (i.e. take it out of context). This would include the Civic Si and other sporty cars with high revving engines and high rpm peak torque.

        So to add fairness to just comparing the single torque figure – the Ranger also makes only 143 hp at the crank (versus 200 in the BRZ). However, as noted no one would compare these vehicles anyway…so why did you simply cherry pick a single statistic to this unrelated platform?

      • 0 avatar
        jaje

        As for the WRX – another different platform. I owned a WRX and really loved it in the winter. However on the track it was really, really heavy and simply not as much fun to drive as a lightweight rwd car. Then add the fact that light 2wd cars have much lower consumables and better mpg than an awd Subaru. As we keep on going down the road for price point for performance and comparing it to used modified cars…well you know.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Peak torque does not matter as far as a car being fast or fun. The Jetta TDI would be a fast car if peak torque mattered. Despite 240 lb ft of torque, it still takes ~9 seconds to get to 60. Torque and revs matter. Those two things make horsepower. HP is what makes a car fast.

        If gears didn’t exist, torque would matter. Thank goodness Subaru ships the BRZ with a gearbox that keeps the revs up when you’re driving in a spirited manner.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I would argue in favor of a used corvette any day of the week over buying the toybaru+LSX route.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      How about a mid-80s 911?

      • 0 avatar
        jaje

        You will laugh at me as in my sights is also a used 996 (it does have a back seat as well, RWD and manual tranny…also light weight – ~2,900lbs). This will be of course hopefully be an unmodified / non-abused car and I’d immediately shell out the $3k to get the IMS and RMS replaced. I won’t pull the trigger until my BRZ gets here where I can actually drive the car.

      • 0 avatar
        Kendahl

        Before you jump into a 996, be aware that it was the first water cooled 911 and is known to have reliability issues.

        You would be better off with the preceding model, the 993. It is the last of the air cooled cars and is collectible. If you find a good one and take care of it, it will be worth serious money in another 10 or 20 years.

        Taking care of it means:

        (1) Don’t drive it in crap weather. If you live in an area where the roads are salted in the winter, you will need another car so that you can leave the Porsche at home when the roads are messy.

        (2) Keep up with maintenance. If you let stuff go, the car will turn into a beater. Remember that fixing a Porsche is much more expensive than fixing a Subaru.

        (2) Detail the car twice a year. Either do it yourself, if you know how, or pay a good shop to do it for you. Regard detailing as a routine expense like oil changes.

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        I’m only laughing because it’s not air-cooled. I’ve kicked the idea around since I don’t drive regularly and how unreliable can a car be over an occasional 3,000 mile road trip? But then it would also be my only car and there’s always a Christmas trip to Denver, as well as Sno*Drift in northern Michigan in January.

      • 0 avatar
        jaje

        I’ve owned many Porsches (all older and that needed work from time to time often done by me). I also know the right people where I live that can help me do big jobs correctly and in an affordable manner. The 996 may have some reliability issues but the big issues are the IMS and RMS. I’m not too worried about getting one as will do a thorough PPI and build in a budget for the work needed up front.

        It will get driven in the winter but it’s Kansas so not terrible out here…plus Porsche’s are German cars and are pretty capable cars in the snow due to all the weight over the rear wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        amca

        I have a ’99 996. The most wonderful feel at the wheel of any car ever. I recently considered replacing it with a 997 (you shoulda seen this car – GT Silver, with special order red leather – stunning. But I drove it, and it lacked the life of the 996. Felt more like other cars. Couldn’t bring myself to part with my old car.

  • avatar
    C170guy

    Where has all the torque gone?
    The Duratec 4 in the Ranger is built for torque off the regular 4, but it’s not a whole lot to begin with.

    Why so many cars in the last few years with like 100 pound foot at 9000? That BRZ got a weedwhacker motor or what? I noticed the trend a few years ago, but it keeps getting worse! It used to be just Hondas with this crazy problem.

    I need more coffee yet because the world isn’t making sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Off a Cliff

      Two words: Engine Geometry

      It’s one of the reason the 2.4 on the Civic SI suddenly gained 20+ft-lbs of torque this year (2012 model) but lost its ability to reach super sky high rpms.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Longer stroke = more torque/less top end RPMs/Better wear characteristics. Longer stroke also = higher dwell time/worse emissions. After having driven both a small block 400 destroked to a 377 and a small block 350 stroked to a 383, I prefer the 383 and front end jumping low end torque.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I just bought 2012 Golf TDI wagon. It has plenty o’ torque. 236 ft-lbs at 1750 RPM. If people want torque in a passenger car, diesel is a great option. ‘Drive the torque’ is the appropriate saying.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      Burnt up in the remains of cheap oil out of the Saudi fields. There might be cheap oil left in the world, but with new cars being sold to Chinese left and right (that aren’t replacing cars heading for scrap) expect demand to rise as supply falls.

      Torque and efficiency simply don’t work together. You can have horsepower and efficiency by operating far lower than your redline typically by running at standard revs and cranking up after “vtech kicks in” or by idling around in a GM V8. About the only way to have torque and horsepower together is via a supercharger: the turbos that can pop off power quickly at low rpms tend to be low boost, hybrids should pull this trick off only for a few seconds.

      Loving torque basically makes you OPEC’s crack whore. The laws of physics would like to blame the economic/political (read insurance) aspects that keep more cars from being supercharged.

    • 0 avatar
      C170guy

      Thanks for the explanations. I understood the stroke, diesel, and FI parts of it, but the WHY was what I was looking for. Seems mostly driven by emissions and cafe stuff. That’s too bad.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      The horsepower number is more important. The torque number is useful for people who have a disability which inhibits them from shifting. Lots of americans are inflicted with this (mental or physical) disability it seems.

    • 0 avatar
      chrishs2000

      My S2000 has this incredible device hooked up to the engine that actually functions as a “torque multiplier”. I think it’s called a transmission, but I can’t remember.

      The BRZ is only getting so much hate because the S2000 came out 12 years ago with a very similar formula, and it’s still pretty much a better car in every respect. You can market a car as a “pure driver’s car”, but when I test drove one I wasn’t very impressed at the alleged progress. Aside from oil consumption, highway gas mileage, creature comforts and other horribly boring things that don’t matter on a curvy road or the track.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    Pity you aren’t in the Pacific Northwest. Out here a well cared for 140k mile 2007 WRX in stock shape would probably fetch $12k. Especially if you sold it in the winter. Subaru prices are stupid high here – I sold a 214k mile 1998 Outback in 2010 for $4k. The seller didn’t even try to negotiate; I should have priced it higher.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      Really? I use the stock wheels for my snow tires. Assuming I could make the drive over the mountains in the winter I could sell the car and take the Empire Builder back home…

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        No joke. I’m amazed how the prices are seasonal on Subarus.

        Right now an ’05 WRX wagon with 111k miles is selling for $10.2k. Add 2 grand to that in the winter.

        http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/cto/3215739318.html

      • 0 avatar
        Polar Bear

        > I’m amazed how the prices are seasonal on Subarus.

        People don’t realize winter is coming this year too?

        I see a business opportunity. Buy Subarus in the summer and convertibles in the winter. Sell them six months later.

    • 0 avatar
      jdowmiller

      This is good to know. Im moving to the PNW in 2014 so maybe I can make this beast last until then rather than try and sell it here where people have never even heard of a Subaru

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      Every time winter comes in Portland/Seattle (read: 1/4″ to 2″ of snow for 5 days), you can see a crowd at the Subaru dealer around the time the weather forecast is on the air. I remember reading last year that some people actually called the dealer begging them to deliver a Subaru to their house. I’m quite the sure the “helpful” salesguy took the most loaded model and happily took the check for MSRP + $2k dealer markup (not making this up – all Subarus at, say, the Skagit Subaru dealer had a $2500 “locale/market” markup last time I looked).

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        There are youngsters running around who are shocked, simply shocked we could drive RWD vehicles in snow. They are amazed, almost to to the point of politely saying BS; that people commuted in RWD vehicles with snow tires. I think they want to break out in soft chants of No AWD, you can’t be safe.

  • avatar
    jdowmiller

    I have an 05 Outback with 140000 miles and its starting to fall apart. I hope for the best for the op but i wouldnt bet on a subie lasting 200000.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      The 2005 was the first year of a new model, so it’s bound to be buggy and it has well-documented head gasket issues. But in general, 97% of all Subarus sold are still on the road – that’s on par with the Prius in terms of reliability.

      I’ve owned 3 Subarus since the 80s and all of them have gone over 250k. My biggest repair was a broken temp gauge and a broken digital clock on my 2008 Outback fixed under warranty which would count down very quickly like a time bomb.

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      Our Subie has 202,000 miles and still going strong- if cared for properly (regular maintenance & oil changes) an Impreza will go 250-280,000 miles.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      I got my 1998 Outback – as mentioned above – to 214k before I sold it. The biggest thing it needed were the infamous head gaskets at 140k, which were $1500 to fix at a local shop.

  • avatar

    140k mile sis nothing.

    Look. There’s not a day goes by that I don’t regret getting rid of my ’05 Saabaru. EVen though I didn’t have a choice as I was moving overseas and had planned to stay…

    ANYWAY, if I were you I’d just keep the WRX and continue to upgrade it (note I didn’t explicitly say modify it). Other than the fleeting euphoria of having a brand new car and potentially increased fuel economy, there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with a WRX. I’d have one now, if my wife would let me.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    I try to pull everything off the car and try to sell the parts on the enthusiast forums/Craigslist/Ebay.

    You can usually get close to 50 cents on the dollar for many of these aftermarket parts, but if anything, you’ll get less if you sell them with the car.

    There is a stereotype, and it’s not completely unfounded, that cars with a lot of performance upgrades tend to get beat on and abused.

  • avatar

    You’re making me miss my ’06 WRXagon.

    I kept it stock for 100k miles, then sold it to my dad, who promptly dropped like 2.5k into it. Basically the same position as you: modded enough to be modded, but getting old (at like 120k now).

    I will tell you this: I miss it badly.

    The WRX (particularly in wagon form) is kind of a bruiser in Cheap and Fast category. Wide torque curve, lots of utility, not exactly nimble, but not slow by any means.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    The people buying this car are mostly likely going to be people who are planning to modify it anyways. Nobody goes looking for a 7 year old 140k WRX unless they have some performance aspirations in mind. They don’t like to see hack jobs or garishly done wings, etc. But a well executed mod need not be a drawback. For example- the 3″ exhaust and the tuned chip- if he has a before and after dyno sheet for that, I think it could be a plus for most buyers.

    Just like a Jeep with an ARB air locker installed. Quite a few people will indeed pay extra for that.

  • avatar
    chrishs2000

    Keep The WRX until it completely rusts out or suffers a catastrophic failure that is too expensive to justify. Buy a second cheapish car for summer weekends and the track and keep it in immaculate condition – Mustang, Camaro, S2000, Miata, whatever you’re into.

    • 0 avatar
      amarks

      At this point, this is probably what my plan would actually look like. One or two more small modifications to finish the WRX, and then just drive it for as long as it will go. In the meanwhile, provided I can find space to store it, I may be in the market for an NA Miata.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Return the WRX to stock and sell the aftermarket bits, people generally prefer factory cars and you can get some money back by selling the custom stuff.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I get asked this question by people who are not car people all the time…whether a modified car is worth more. I’m inclined to say it depends on the modifications. Obviously dealers and Carmax will look at a car differently, but I’d guess that a Brabus or Renntech Mercedes, Lingenfelther Corvette, or Steeda/Saleen Mustang are probably worth more than an equivalent stock car (I realize Saleen was officially considered its own carmaker).

  • avatar
    RacerX996

    Taking a huge hit in performance is right. Regardless of what Subaru/Toyota/Scion say, just running the E.T. calculators shows that the WRX has a one second advantage in the quarter mile, which equates to about 10 car lengths or so at the end of 1,320 ft. Not my idea of a trade-up.

    That said, I saw the Scion version yesterday in real life, and it is a great looking car.


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