I searched all over the place for another engine for my diesel VW, but I found nothing that I could use. I will eventually rebuild this one, but in the short term, I need something to drive besides the big truck. So back to car shopping for me. I decided that I wanted a wagon, and after the snowy cold winter we had here, and all the trips I made to Astoria over snow covered K-M Mountain, I decided to get an all wheel drive wagon. I considered Toyota All-Tracs, but they aren’t easy to find, and neither are parts for them. Subaru, on the other hand, has been making 4WD and AWD cars for a long time and Subaru wagons are pretty easy to come by. Plus, out of the seventy-odd cars I’ve owned in my life (truly! I counted them!), I’ve never yet owned a Subaru, so it was time.

My meager budget, though, narrowed the field considerably. I found a few beater Subarus on Seattle Craigslist for $1000 or under, but only one person would return my emails, so I caught a ride up north with my brother and bought this beauty for $860.

my new car

It has 255 thousand miles on it, which is a lot, but not necessarily fatal for a Toyota or a Subaru. This one had commuted from Roslyn to Seattle 4 days a week for years, so the mileage was mostly highway. The interior and body are pretty straight, the engine runs great, but the transmission has a strange noise in second gear. Which is how I managed to buy it for only $860.

This car drives great and it fits me perfectly; everything is in just the right place, unlike some other cars I’ve owned. But that second gear problem needed some attention, so I changed out the fluid to see what was up in there. On the drainplug magnet was a bunch of metal filings along with a few larger pieces. So this thing has a bad bearing and bad bearings don’t usually fix themselves. Fortunately, this transmission was way easier to find than a replacement for the Jetta was. The U-Pull-It yard on SE Foster in Portland had a half dozen manual transmission Legacies, and they only want $90 exchange for a transmission. So on Thursday, I made a pilgrimage to the wrecking yard.

u-pull it yard

I should say a few things here about my relationship with wrecking yards. When I was in high school, I used to drive out to the wrecking yards on weekends on the pretext of needing a part for my ’61 Ford pickup, and then spend the day just wandering around looking at cool old cars. I learned a lot about engines and transmissions this way. Later on, I started working in wrecking yards when I was 20 years old, and by the time I was 25 it had become my main career. I worked both as a “dismantler” and a parts counter guy. I also liked to take pictures in wrecking yards, and I once came across a very old yard in the Portland area that was just stuffed full of old European cars. I took a lot of cool pictures in that one.

But today, I had to stay more focused on the task at hand, so I didn’t get a lot of cool pictures. I found a Legacy wagon like mine with a transmission that appeared to have been rebuilt at some point, and the fluid inside was sparkling clean, so I set to it and a couple of hours later had this transmission on the ground.

new transmission

I also rounded up a bunch of spare power window switches and whatnot, a couple of new door handles and latches to replace sticky ones, a pair of door panels to replace the tattered ones in the back seat, a new speedometer head and a few parts for my brother’s Camry wagon. While removing a rear hatch handle, I found the remains of this automatic transmission in the back seat. A side note to Subaru owners: all the manual transmission Legacies in the yard were wrecked, but the automatic Subarus were not. Hmmm….

transmission parts