Ownership Verified: You'll never believe what it is this time! - 2007 Impreza Wagon


Forum Addict
Nov 17, 2008
Dual life MD/SoCal
Subarus and shit
So I got rid of the sensible car because a $500 payment was not sensible and the resale value was more than the stupid thing cost new.

But I still need a car to schlep back and forth across the country and make my weekly trips to the grocery store or whatever. Which meant buying in the least sensible car market ever to exist.

The grand plan was to take the excess equity cash from the WRX and plow it into picking up a hawkeye impreza wagon and making it roadtrip-worthy. Call it a budget of $7000 for the car, $3000 for repairs and mods. Should be easy, right? They're 15 year old cars that were worth like $3000 two years ago.

So I pulled up Autotempest and emailed/facebook messaged on *every single one* in the country. *DOZENS* of listings. Two got back to me saying they actually had it:
- One in Tulsa, OK.
- One in Virginia, just outside DC.

The Tulsa one had a fresh paint job (incredibly sus) and I was going to have to spend hundreds of dollars to send a mobile mechanic to inspect it. Guy wanted $5000 for it. It would cost me $2000 to get the thing transported here. So I'd probably be in it for $7500.

The one in Virginia, I could just hop in the car and go look at it myself. They wanted $7500. But it had a brand new Virginia state inspection. And just before that, Carfax indicates it had a brand new Pennsylvania state inspection. Both of those mean it should be fiiine! So I roll up and do a due diligence check. No codes set, monitors complete, no visible rust underneath (there's a bit on the rear quarter but meh). Has a timing belt sticker (it's about time for a new one, though). Normal Subaru leaks only (this one has NONE I've been able to detect thus far!?). Cool. Gave 'em $7500, signed the as-is paperwork.




Not bad lookin'... Until you get up close. She's rough outside.




Every panel has dings and scratches and general ugliness. And it's this absolutely terrible color.

So, off to my local Subaru dealer for a Maryland state safety inspection....
Where I am presented with a fascinating list of findings for a car that's just been through two safety inspections, and the single most absurd estimate I have ever seen.

Bulb, License Plate Lamp - Replace left. $28.21
Bulb, corner marker lamp (front) - Replace both $88.25
Bulb, parking lamp (front) - Replace both $33.25
(I did notice one of the brake light bulbs was out and fixed that myself prior to the inspection, and I left the license plate light because it was wet out and I couldn't be arsed, figured they'd just do it because its a 50 cent bulb and requires literally less time than writing it up. Didn't notice the front lights because I didn't realize the markers were supposed to illuminate (it didn't look like they had bulbs) and I just missed the existence of the parking lights altogether because Subaru has a weird separate switch for them)
Alignment - Four wheel $129.99 (okay sure, that's actually reasonable). It allegedly pulls to the right. I can't feel it, but whatevs.
Rear wheel bearing - replace right rear wheel bearing. Makes noise while driving. LABOR ONLY. $923.87
Axle, Right Front. Leaking wheel bearing grease from outer boot. Replace. $638.42.
Exhaust hanger in front of muffler rusted through. Exhaust hanger behind resonator has temporary repair. Must be permamently fixed. $1690.96.

Total: $3532.95

I found this DEEPLY insulting, so I told them to go ahead and order that CV axle and I'd let them replace it and do the alignment, and I'd take care of the rest otherwise. The front CVs on these are notoriously crappy on the aftermarket, so I'd be paying dealer price for a replacement anyway.

I get it home, chuck it on the lift and take a look around.

1x wifi exhaust hanger. Pipe's solid, can just weld a new one on.


1x "temporary repaired" exhaust hanger. You know, I'm not sure that's temporary. Shit looks like it's been there long enough that it's effectively permanent, but whatever. Pipe's intact, so it just needs to be boogered on. I'll call around for an exhaust shop with a welder. Shouldn't be more than a hundred bucks. And even if the pipe is crap, an *ENTIRE* catback exhaust, the thing they quoted me $1900 for, is $300 aftermarket and can be fitted with hand tools in 30 minutes. Dealer parts price for that is *only* $1400, so where they came up with $500 in labor I have no idea. Hell, a full nVidia brospec titanium tip or whatever exhaust is only like $900.

Let's check out that front CV.

I didn't spot it at first. I was seriously convinced they'd outright made it up for a few minutes. I was checking the other CVs to make sure they didn't have it wrong on the RO. All 4 corners were fine. Not cracked. Not torn. In fact, they looked like they'd been re-booted fairly recently.

Then I spotted it.

Yeah. It's seeping grease out the very end because the guy that re-booted that one didn't put the band in the right spot.

So, yeah, I'll take a new OEM one, have them put it on this corner, take this one back, re-boot it *AGAIN*, and put it on the other side myself (because that one ALSO isn't booted properly), re-boot that one and have a good spare on hand because these are aftermarket axles and they get ate up by these cars for some reason.

And then I fixed all the light bulbs. The front ones sucked.

But it was still the easiest bumper cover on/off process I've ever encountered. The headlight assemblies have to come *OUT* to replace the corner marker bulbs, and you literally cannot access one of the bolts without completely removing the bumper cover.

Tried to clean up the headlights. Not too sure I was successful.



Got the sandpaper lookin' scratches out, but they're still kinda foggy.

Whatever. There's some cracking, so I'll just replace them later. Good enough for now.
Some miscelleneous maintenance. Replaced the air filter. This shape is... Uh, worrying.

Pulled the cabin air filter.
On these cars, in the United States, these were a dealer installed option. They usually aren't even there. Nobody knows they're there. You have to take the glove box out, remove the panel the glove box mounts to, unplug the blower motor, and then it's there... Shoved behind a dash support brace with not enough space to get the filter in/out without bending it.


It was this dirty on both sides. I have ordered another one.

Incidentally, my glove box is broken. I have Plans for that.

Sixty bucks to the muffler shop and....



That just leaves the CV axle, which I'm letting them do (though they said they'd call when they got the part, and it's been 4 days, so uh I should check on that) and the allegedly noisy rear wheel bearing.

I don't hear any noise, and it doesn't have any play, but it does drag, so it's definitely near failure. The *other* rear wheel bearing, however, is exactly the same condition. So I've gone ahead and ordered parts for both sides. From the factory, they're a roller bearing unit. I've upgraded to ball bearings because I don't have to cost-engineer.

Going to tackle that job tomorrow.


And this car.

It's an autotragic.
So here's the immediate plan:
- Do the rear wheel bearings.
- Toss a new cabin air filter in
- Reinspect, let them replace that axle.
- Once I've got a valid inspection and license plates underway, service items. Oil change (fumoto valve install), belts, timing kit
- Convert to Subaru's modernized coolant for longer hEaDgAsKeT life (the water pump is part of the timing kit so may as well)
- Speakers. Validate aftermarket radio install. Install digital scanner radio.
- Rear seat delete and doggo fit-out.

After that:
- Replace those bastard front corner marker bulbs with LEDs. Like, seriously.
- Rejoin the three pedal mafia
- Additional radio and interior shenangians
- Do *something* about the cosmetics. Paint, wrap, ????
- Drop and rust-proof the subframes
Yeah. Fortunately this is an easy situation to fix. The only real question is 5spd, 6spd RWD, or which of the approximately 9 billion AWD 6spd's.
I declare it now a law that there must be a Slowbaru on the forums at all times, and this arrived just as I sold mine :D
(The auto makes it a Slowbaru no matter if you have ***one litre!!!!1111*** more displacement than mine did.)

Also, looks like the Blobeye headlights are just a little easier for bulb replacement than Hawkeye ones. I did have to take a headlight slightly out to change the parking light bulb in the corner, but the bumper could stay in place.
RWD conversions are thing with these? Using a BRZ trans or what?
Not aware of any, but I see no reason why they can't be.

BRZ trans and some stub axles bolted through the front hubs to hold the bearings together.
So. Let's say you're an automotive engineer. It's 1980-something and your job is to design the rear wheel bearing assembly for the upcoming 1990 Subaru Legacy and all its platform-mates for decades on from that point.

You have three options:
1) Use a sealed bearing unit like Nissan, Honda, and Toyota
2) Use tapered roller bearings like the Americans
3) Just make some shit up and use a non-sealed bearing unit and add 3 seals to keep the grease in and dirt out.

Because you are an asshole, you choose #3.

However, in the service manuals and parts catalogs, you only list, and illustrate 2 seals - one inner, and one outer.

The aftermarket bearing and seal manufacturers, of course, dutifully put 3 seals in. They also FUBAR the parts number for the third one in their catalogs. This then propagates to all the major parts houses , who list 3 parts.

So. I have the wrong seal. By reading tea-leaves and the mangled remains of the old one, I am able to make a guess at what part I *ACTUALLY* need.
I discover this at 8:55PM on a Sunday, night before a national holiday.

The parts store closes at 9. It's 20 minutes away. Their website says they have one.

A plan forms: I'll call, tell them I'll buy it online or pay over the phone or whatever, and if they can just leave it in the parking lot on their way out, I'd appreciate it. It is, after all, a 50 cent seal (well, they charge $17 for it but whatevs)

The phone says they're closed.

So, uh, I guess I'm stuck hoping they're open tomorrow.

This is not the first stupid parts problem today.
While I was tearing into things, I was forcibly reminded that parking brakes exist and this one's in my fucking way.

I don't feel like wrestling with 15 year old rusted trash so I'd much rather just cut all the old parking brake springs and shit and replace it.

But it's parking brake parts. On a Sunday. Before a national holiday. The odds of getting them are essentially zero - but, lo, the Advance Auto Parts 20 minutes north of me has a set. I run and get them.

Get home, rip off the parking brakes, press apart the wheel bearings.

I discover why the bearing failed

The last asshole to do wheel bearings took a chisel to the sealing surface on the wheel hub in about 7 places.

So I need a hub. Which I thought about ordering, but didn't because, really, what could be wrong with the ones I've got?

Turns out, the Autozone 30 minutes south of me has one on the shelf and is still open. So I run and get that five minutes before they close.

Get home, press in the bearing, seat the first two seals.... And the third seal is just an impossibly wrong size.

Do I even *need* the third seal?
Well, installed the way I installed the second seal, yeah, because otherwise it's backwards. But I can take it out and replace it, since I bought another set to do the other side at a later date.

But then, why do the aftermarket catalogs identify 3 positions?
Is the OEM part some unobtanium double-lip and the aftermarket just substitutes two single-lips? Photos of the OE part don't look like it, but it's tough to tell. If I *don't* install a third seal right now, the bore it goes in is going to corrode and I'll never be able to do it in the future without buying a new knuckle.



And *ZERO* of the parts in anybody's catalog cross-reference to the correct OEM part numbers.

And here's an older diagram that has all 3 seals.

...... In fact, looking at the knuckle in the first OE diagram, it's just *ALL WRONG* circlip on the wrong side, knuckle is way wrong. That's clearly the *FRONT* diagram.
Car is back together. I’m not satisfied with how much the parking brake drags, but it’s adjusted as far as it’ll go. I’m also not terribly satisfied with how tight the bearing seems to be even without the axle installed, and I’m not terribly satisfied with how much friction in general is in the back half of the car. But it should pass inspection and maybe shit will self clearance.
IIRC, you can get some Toyota Prius resisters and convert your flashers over to LED as well and not have disco lights. We did that on my '08.
Yeah. Unfortunately LEDs won't pass inspection, so I have to do that part later :p
Yeah. Unfortunately LEDs won't pass inspection, so I have to do that part later :p

Is this because they're not OEM or because LEDs for said vehicle do not pass DOT requirements and are marked for offroad use only?
Housings need DOT approval markings, bulbs need to be the type specified for the housing. Above and beyond that, the housings must be OEM to the car.

Maryland was one of the early champions against the old sex-spec HID bulbs in a halogen housing madness and cheapass altezza lights. Both are specific things you can be ticketed for even above and beyond failing inspection.

Hell, they once ticketed a guy with a Pontiac G8 (remember those?) for his *factory tail lights* *and it stuck in court* because nobody believed Pontiac General Motors would put those ugly things on.
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