This week had several unexpected experiences, but high on the list – deciding to, and going through with, purchasing a used 2001 Subaru Outback wagon from my friend.
The car was an incredibly good deal BECAUSE I am willing to have it be a project car with the attendant maintenance and elbow grease required (read on, below), and I am quite powerfully excited. Because it will be great to learn about this, but at the core of this choice are the following:
1) I now have an All Wheel Drive (AWD) and reliable vehicle to become my daily driver in the winter going forward, meaning my Passat will never encounter road salt (and thusly increased corrosion) again
2) I will be able to do the utility and towing projects with the Subaru, reducing all the extra wear-and-tear I was putting on the Passat by towing
3) I can do some (admittedly light-duty) off road camping trips now, without too many worries, using this car.
In other words, my beloved VW will be kept as pristine as it can, prolonging the huge fuel efficiency and reliability of it… while also having a reliable,off road-capable, and fun secondary driver!!!
SO. Earlier today, I bought the car, got it retitled and registered, and did a prolonged test-drive (my friend’s word is far beyond reproach that the car does work but with some problems – but I did a 45 mile test drive across speeds, RPM ranges, inclines, and varying turns to see how it was).
The test drive actually went incredibly well (as the car sat for a full calendar year with a total of 100 miles driven, and yet started on the first try and did not misfire). That said, there are definitely “projects” to be had on this new project car of mine. For instance: the security system is stuck in Valet Mode, which disallows use of the key to lock/unlock without setting off the alarm… and didn’t come with the remote key fob (allows Valet Mode to be disabled). I have a replacement fob on order from here, with the understanding that this will let me turn this mode off now and be able to pick, going forward.
Next, obligatory “off-road” photo, the first of many (actual) off-road photos to eventually come, I should hope:
Car looks really great at distance and mostly up close, obviously with some exceptions. The gaskets on the frame of the car where the windows in the doors match up definitely leave a lot to be desired, the whistling gains a lot of intensity as speed picks up:
The engine bay is a bit dirty, but actually looks pretty good for a 2001 I think:
That said, this is a photo taken at night, underneath the engine, but the oil and coolant accumulated have had 25,000 miles to do so – and are honestly less of a mess than I expected:
The hood does have a few paint chips, but the car is unreasonably rust-free otherwise for a car in Ohio for multiple years:
The front headlights are plastic and will required refurbishing, as they have yellowed over time, and the fog lights will quite certainly be getting the yellow vinyl tinting treatment:
Interior is very clean, aside from the ubiquitous dog hair I will be vacuuming the shit out of (my friend and his wife have two dogs, and though they did no tear up the car… they left their hairy marks):
Definitely true that the replacement and/or add-on parts have begun to roll in – somehow, I don’t feel bad dropping $750 or so on parts when the car was only $250 (of those parts, replacement brakes and rotors for all 4 wheels in the boxes, and one of two matching flood lights I will mount rear-facing off the roof basket, for enhanced backing up visibility and also flood lights for camping set up or tear down at night)…
Known problems I do not have photos of, besides the above:
1) rear wiper arm and/or motor are bad
2) front wipers need lubrication or possibly replacement to properly actuate
3) the head gaskets will be replaced as they are likely bad
3b) I bought ~$500 worth of every sort of replacement seal, gasket, and o-ring… and filter… and more. Because if I am going to tear the engine apart to work on, I would prefer to do so once and be done with it for a LONG time to come
4) passenger side visor light is ripped apart and burned out, might need to replace rather than repair
5) the brakes on all wheels need replacing (the fronts sound AWFUL and are not terribly responsive under heavy braking; the rears are obviously low after testing the emergency brake at speed)
Then, of course, are the non-required projects ahead:
1) mount my old Baja Mule rack, the steel roof basket with shovel+axe mount, onto the roof (and as I had mounted it to my VW using 2001 Subaru Outback crossbars, I am quite set)
2) mount the two rear flood lights shown above, rear-facing onto the back of rack
3) mount the 42″ LED light bar I ordered to the front roof shield
4) run wiring to the backlit LED switches I ordered, in the cab, from the roof, in a way not prone to leaks
5)… and mounting the lights in a way which will deter, if not prevent, theft.
Basically, I have definitely scored a great project for the weeks and months ahead; and, if all goes well, a reliable wintertime and offroad mechanical steed. Automatic transmission, not my preference. Gasoline engine, I barely know how to turn it on. But am I excited? VERY much so 🙂
Stay tuned for more.