Seeking suggestions from the experts

General talk about the Subaru Baja.

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zwarth
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Seeking suggestions from the experts

Post by zwarth »

Hello Baja friends,

After years and years of admiring from afar, I've finally committed to seeking out a Baja. I've been scouring the internet for essential information and what to expect, and I know that with a Baja comes certain costs and maintenance. All of which I am generally fine with.

I've seen, essentially, two main themes with Bajas for sale - 1. Higher mileage (>160,000), more reasonable price, with evidence of at least some of the essential maintenance having been done (head gasket, timing belt, etc.), and 2. Lower mileage (~100,000), higher price, and less info on whether any of the maintenance has been done.

My question for y'all is this: What is the sweet spot? Am I better to take the risk on higher mileage if I know that maintenance has been done? Or do I pay extra for less mileage even though it might mean that I may have to do some of the big maintenance?

I know there's a lot of factors I'm leaving out, but I'm just looking for some general guidance.

(Also, if anyone is interested in selling (yellow is preferred), please let me know. I'm in New York, but I'm willing to travel far and wide for the right Baja).

Thanks in advance!

-Zwarth

ZUBAJA
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Re: Seeking suggestions from the experts

Post by ZUBAJA »

Here's the thing to consider: If you bought the last Baja to come off the line, you are still buying a 14 year old vehicle. Will you be doing your own repairs? If) so, do you have an adequate place to do those repairs? will you be keeping your Baja inside of a garage? What kind of use do you plan for your Baja?
First: if you plan on taking it to a mechanic for each and every repair (beyond say, an oil change). If you REALLY want one, spend the higher price and get the lowest mileage / best maintained example you can find (seen some go around 10K)
Second: doing your own work / have a place to work on it (garage vs apartment parking lot) The price can range from say 5K to 7K. Less, if you are willing to go higher mileage (there's a silver one in the Tampa bay area C/L for 5K and I think it's around 180K miles. Recently, there was a damaged, but repairable yellow one for about 2500.00 and it was under 100K miles. I bought mine with about 185K miles, second (family) owner, and a good maintenance history. I'm about 207K now and will soon be replacing leaky cam seals (former ASE master certified). Mine lives outside. When purchased 2 years ago, the paint was "decent" with a few clearcoat spots showing wear. It will probably need painting in about a year.
Third: depending on your location, again, a 14 year old vehicle, if parked in the elements, will have the paint and plastic parts go south fast.
Now if you want to mod it for off roading, some of this isn't all that important.
RUST. Ask about rust. Many of these came from the northeast. There have been a few on here who found major rust issues with undercarriage or beneath the plastic cladding.
Points to consider. Dennis

zwarth
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Re: Seeking suggestions from the experts

Post by zwarth »

Thanks for that informative reply, Dennis! In terms of repairs, I feel that I'll attempt to take a crack at whichever seem feasible, but I'm not necessarily opposed to taking it to a trusted mechanic for some of the larger issues. It will be living outside though for the foreseeable future, so I'd certainly like to avoid as much existing rust as possible for sure. I've been looking down south for some of those reasons as well. But, I do plan on having it as a fairly consistent driver, but I'm fully a two-vehicle guy at this point so if any repairs do come up I won't be at a total loss.

I guess my main thing here is that I don't necessarily want to drop more money on one just because it has fewer miles, as it may mean that major maintenace hasn't been done for one reason or another. But, my goal is to have whichever one I end up with for as long as possible, and I'm really not too worried about sinking some money into it - I just want to make sure I'm not throwing more money at it than I need to.

I know this is all a crap shoot though. I guess another way to phrase it is this: Would you buy one at this point if you knew that the head gaskets/timing belt/water pump haven't been done? Because it seems from what I've been reading that it's inevitable that they'll need to be done at some point.

Thanks again - the hunt for the right Baja has given me some much needed purpose during these corona-times, so I'm certainly thankful for that and for forums like this.

-Zwarth

mike-tracy
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Re: Seeking suggestions from the experts

Post by mike-tracy »

I don't think they are worth the money. I like mine a ton, but... My old outback was way more practical, cheaper and sat 1 more person.

I could haul longer things out of the elements with the outback. On road trips we could fit all of our things inside the trunk.
1992 Legacy SS, 5mt and heavily modified
2000 Impreza RSTi Coupe
2003 Baja, 4eat & NA. Bone stock and loving it!

ZUBAJA
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Re: Seeking suggestions from the experts

Post by ZUBAJA »

After a string of "Sport Utilities" (Isuzu Troopers and Rodeos), hauling stuff on the inside just helped ruin the interior. I was ecstatic to get a pickup in 2012 (Isuzu Spacecab 4x4 - extra cab). Unfortunately, it had a fuel fire, and they are VERY difficult to find. Potential replacements were Crew cab Nissan or Toyota, but I was also afraid of poor gas mileage. I decided on a Baja. At 207K miles now, I honestly don't know whether this has had head gaskets or not. If it gets there, I will do them (done them on 2 other Subies so far). I'm happy with the mileage, and I LOVE the fact that I can simply toss stuff in the back. BTW, I've hauled 12 foot 2 x 12s in the back of mine. Hauled full length, 12 foot vinyl siding. Yes, a longer bed would be nice, but I get by. I vote for a Baja
A tip: check the craigslist stuff in the Carolinas - Subies are fairly popular up that way. Florida sun and salt air can play havoc on the paint and bodies, and we all know what road salt does to undercarriages.

zwarth
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Re: Seeking suggestions from the experts

Post by zwarth »

Oh, my heart is fully set on a Baja. More than anything I've always loved the look. I know its going to cost more than it should both up front and in maintenance, and I know there are more practical options out there, but this is me trying to scratch an itch I've had for years.

Appreciate the tip on the Carolinas, I'll be checking there. I'm currently waiting out the end of a lease, so in all reality I don't necessarily need one yet, but I like to look and see what's out there just in case the perfect storm comes along.

mike-tracy
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Re: Seeking suggestions from the experts

Post by mike-tracy »

Sounds like you're realistic about the Baja. That's good. The west coast ones shouldn't have any or much rust. Mine is from Florida but ended up in Oregon where I bought it. Not a spec of rust on it.
1992 Legacy SS, 5mt and heavily modified
2000 Impreza RSTi Coupe
2003 Baja, 4eat & NA. Bone stock and loving it!

harleyjohn45
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Re: Seeking suggestions from the experts

Post by harleyjohn45 »

I enjoy driving my Baja, but they are querkey. I need an ignition key made, I have to drive the car 180 miles to the nearest dealer. They can't make a key, they have to program it. I really don't like having on 1 ignition key for any car. My Baja needs a right side valve cover gasket at 111,000 miles, probably the first car I ever owned that I had to put a valve cover gasket on. My car was a one owner Baja everyone knows I've had a ton of problems with it. Mike and others have been very helpful on this forum, with their help, it's mostly done.

w.rohr
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Re: Seeking suggestions from the experts

Post by w.rohr »

I didn't think any of the Baja had chip keys, am I wrong?

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Guacamole
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Re: Seeking suggestions from the experts

Post by Guacamole »

They don't but he might mean the new fob or a key/fob combo key. They're pretty simple to program though- if an idiot like me can do it anyone can :lol:
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