Subaru is renowned for its reliability, making it not unusual for models like the Crosstrek, Forester, or Outback to surpass 200,000 miles. I’m in the market for a used Crosstrek from 2018 to 2020, but given my budget is under $20,000, I’m finding options around the 80,000-mile range.
The prospect of buying a used car with a history of minor accidents is daunting, so I’ll share how tools like the Carfax report and platforms such as CarEdge can assist in making an informed decision.
2019 Subaru Crosstrek with a moderate damage report
Consider the following scenario with a 2019 Subaru Crosstrek offered at $20,995 for 37,000 miles.
Despite the dealer’s tactics to attract buyers with conditional pricing—$2,000 off only for those financing and trading in a vehicle—it appears to be a decent deal.
Let’s head over to CarEdge.com to see if we can glean additional information about this car.
First, a visit to CarEdge.com reveals the “sale price” as $18,995, without the restrictions advertised by the dealer.
This discrepancy earns the dealer a negative mark from me for not being upfront about the price, essentially luring potential buyers with an unrealistic figure.
Additionally, the car has been on the market for roughly 72 days, a considerable amount of time in a competitive market. However, you need to keep in mind that this duration begins from the dealer’s acquisition of the vehicle, not its arrival on the lot, accounting for preparation and repair time.
Why is 72 days important? Most used car dealers use a “floor plan”(which is like a credit card) to purchase their inventory. I will write a separate post about in detail but for now, know that at 30 day, 60 day or 90 day mark, there are additional fees that a dealer must pay to their bank.
Cars with long days on the market usually indicate that the car is way overpriced or there is something wrong with the car that has not been disclosed by the dealer.
The Carfax report reveals two previous owners, with the first owning it for only five months and adding 4,300 miles, likely indicating use as a demo or loaner vehicle, which is relatively insignificant.
However, a note of “MODERATE” damage raises concerns. The accident, involving rear damage on May 21, 2022, and the vague definition of “moderate” damage by Carfax, necessitates a review of subsequent maintenance records.
A follow-up service on July 13, 2022, for an alignment check suggests potential issues with the vehicle’s driving condition. Listed on November 20, 2023, with 36,866 miles, this history prompts caution.
Why? In my opinion, getting rid of a car so soon after making a major repair indicates that the current owner feels there is still something wrong with their car. Maybe the car shakes at a certain high speed. Perhaps the car does not drive straight without input from the driver. Maybe electrical functions are not operating properly. Many of these issues will not be apparent with a visual inspection or from a quick test drive.
A car without any accidents is preferable but I generally consider vehicles with one or two “minor” accidents, provided there’s a comprehensive maintenance history post-repair.
The goal is to avoid inheriting problems, and to do that, you need to sharp eyes and plenty of patience and thorough research to find a suitable vehicle.
Used car market seems to be poised for a significant decline as of this writing on February 7, 2024 so I am not going to rush and go buy one with a questionable history.
What do you think? Am I over-analyzing this? If you bought a used car (post-COVID), please share your story below.