Piston Slap: A Tale of Two Dusty Legacys

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

TTAC Commentator gntlben writes:

I’m currently in the market for a new car, and noticed a local Subaru dealer has a pair of new ’08 Legacys (a 2.5GT Limited and a 3.0R Limited) gathering dust on the lot. Both are being advertised with a big discount (down to $25-$26K) that puts them in my price range. Both have VA inspection stickers that expire this year (2.5 in August, 3.0 in October), which leads me to believe that, considering they’re ’08’s and VA has a yearly inspection, they’ve been at the dealership since 2007. My question is this: what possible trouble spots/wear should I look for on a new car that’s been sitting for such a long time?

Sajeev replies:

The test vehicle for TTAC’s Mercury Montego review was much like the Subies in question. It sat around for about a year and the rear rotors rusted to the pads. (Damn that parking brake!) I’ll never forget the sound of the discs freeing themselves: from the screeching tires to the rotors popping free, it made quite a racket. Luckily, this being a Lincoln Mercury dealership, nobody heard it.

So, back to your question: fluids are my main concern. Engine oil and gasoline have a limited lifespan and performance potential after a lack of use, so I’d change both. From there, the tires could be flat spotted, but that’s remedied like the frozen brakes on the Montego: drive it. A test drive is mandatory before purchase. If something isn’t right, make sure they fill out a “We Owe” form before you fork over the greenbacks.

Almost as important: cosmetics. The leather seats definitely need conditioning with a high quality restorer. The paint might need restoration with a clay bar and a fresh coat of wax, to remove the contaminants that can’t be washed off when the dealership does periodic cleaning of their inventory. Other than that, I would jump at the offer if you feel you’re getting a good deal.

[Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com]

Sajeev Mehta
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  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Sep 13, 2009

    Jersey: clicky

  • Cdotson Cdotson on Sep 14, 2009

    I'm in Richmond; there's plenty of bad drivers around Virginia. The worst problems I see are a complete inability to merge onto/off of highways at interchanges and complete lack of lane discipline (likely contributing to the former). I grew up in Maryland. Home of the infamous "Maryland turn," where one makes a left-hand turn onto a multi-lane road and clips the right shoulder. AICfan: never heard of that maneuver as "pulling a VA" and to be honest not sure I've seen it in practice around Richmond. The I81 corridor has it in spades though. I've just heard it referred to as "death wish."

  • Dartdude Having the queen of nothing as the head of Dodge is a recipe for disaster. She hasn't done anything with Chrysler for 4 years, May as well fold up Chrysler and Dodge.
  • Pau65792686 I think there is a need for more sedans. Some people would rather drive a car over SUV’s or CUV’s. If Honda and Toyota can do it why not American brands. We need more affordable sedans.
  • Tassos Obsolete relic is NOT a used car.It might have attracted some buyers in ITS DAY, 1985, 40 years ago, but NOT today, unless you are a damned fool.
  • Stan Reither Jr. Part throttle efficiency was mentioned earlier in a postThis type of reciprocating engine opens the door to achieve(slightly) variable stroke which would provide variable mechanical compression ratio adjustments for high vacuum (light load) or boost(power) conditions IMO
  • Joe65688619 Keep in mind some of these suppliers are not just supplying parts, but assembled components (easy example is transmissions). But there are far more, and the more they are electronically connected and integrated with rest of the platform the more complex to design, engineer, and manufacture. Most contract manufacturers don't make a lot of money in the design and engineering space because their customers to that. Commodity components can be sourced anywhere, but there are only a handful of contract manufacturers (usually diversified companies that build all kinds of stuff for other brands) can engineer and build the more complex components, especially with electronics. Every single new car I've purchased in the last few years has had some sort of electronic component issue: Infinti (battery drain caused by software bug and poorly grounded wires), Acura (radio hiss, pops, burps, dash and infotainment screens occasionally throw errors and the ignition must be killed to reboot them, voice nav, whether using the car's system or CarPlay can't seem to make up its mind as to which speakers to use and how loud, even using the same app on the same trip - I almost jumped in my seat once), GMC drivetrain EMF causing a whine in the speakers that even when "off" that phased with engine RPM), Nissan (didn't have issues until 120K miles, but occassionally blew fuses for interior components - likely not a manufacturing defect other than a short developed somewhere, but on a high-mileage car that was mechanically sound was too expensive to fix (a lot of trial and error and tracing connections = labor costs). What I suspect will happen is that only the largest commodity suppliers that can really leverage their supply chain will remain, and for the more complex components (think bumper assemblies or the electronics for them supporting all kinds of sensors) will likley consolidate to a handful of manufacturers who may eventually specialize in what they produce. This is part of the reason why seemingly minor crashes cost so much - an auto brand does nst have the parts on hand to replace an integrated sensor , nor the expertice as they never built them, but bought them). And their suppliers, in attempt to cut costs, build them in way that is cheap to manufacture (not necessarily poorly bulit) but difficult to replace without swapping entire assemblies or units).I've love to see an article on repair costs and how those are impacting insurance rates. You almost need gap insurance now because of how quickly cars depreciate yet remain expensive to fix (orders more to originally build, in some cases). No way I would buy a CyberTruck - don't want one, but if I did, this would stop me. And it's not just EVs.