Mechanical Problems To Look For

Some things to check for:

- Turbo bearings. Have a mechanic remove the intake hose from the turbo and wiggle the compressor blades. There should be no side to side or in-out play. If there is, the turbo will need to be replaced, at a minimum cost of $700.

- Lifter noise. The lifters become noisy with age. Noise that won't go away after warming the car up may trigger the knock sensor, leading to a loss of power. The fix is new lifters, which cost around $300 plus a good dose of labor.

- Transfer case recall. There's a factory recall on all AWD transfer cases. Have a mechanic check the fluid level on the transfer case regardless of whether the recall has been performed. If the recall has not been done, plan to take the car immediately to the dealer to perform the recall work.

- Crunchy synchros. The five-speed transmission are notorious for balky shifting. If the gears grind during normal shifting, you're looking at a transmission rebuild to fix it. Figure $1,000 in parts and labor. If it's just a little bit notchy when shifting, it's okay. It doesn't get much better than that.