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1988 RX Questions (LONG, and Detailed...)


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10 replies to this topic

#1 88targarose

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 12:00 AM

About one and a half months ago, I purchased a 1988 Subaru RX (1.8l, turbo, full time 4wd and locking diff.) from a friend who hardly drove it, hence hardly knew if it had any issues. The RX has 170,000 miles on the Odometer and is almost immaculate inside and out.

I purchased it as I needed a daily driver while I work on my Supra. Upon driving it and such, the first thing I noticed was lifter noise. I was directed to Dr.RX (Corky) and promptly asked him some questions, but as more have arisen, I thought I'd ask a larger audience.

First off, on the advice of many, I added MMO (Marvel Mystery Oil) to the oil of the RX in an attempt to quiet down the lifter noise some. It helped some but no huge change.

However, My biggest dilemma is this. Recently the oil pressure seemed to rise on start up. It used to hover ~50psi (on the stock gauge) on a cold morning, then it'd drop as it warmed up.
Now, it comes up to ~75 +/-5psi. I was told by the previous owner that it was time for an oil change, so I did one. Filter + Chevron 10W30 + 1 Bottle of MMO. This had no effect on the oil pressure. Also, it doesn't matter if the car has sat overnight 12+ hours, or whether it's between me arriving at work, and taking lunch after arriving. The pressure still goes high, then eventually settles down.

2 Photos, and a Video clip:
Gauge of a morning...
Gauge as I go to lunch...
Oil Pressure (DivX Video Clip) in the morning

Ok, my next issue is this, smoking. When I pull up to a light sometimes after say exiting the freeway, I'll see smoke in the headlights. I've pulled over and checked it out, and I can't find squat. I can see smoke coming from what seems to be the front of the motor... I'm not smoking out the exhaust pipe, and I'm not leaving any puddles on my driveway. (few drips now and then, but not squat.) But, it sure smokes from the front of the motor. I'm a little confused as to what it could be... or how I would go about repairing it. The Flat-4 design is really new to me. I'm also seeing smoke coming off the downpipe (video clip) (which just could have been my brothers fault (he works at JiffyLube so I don't have to do them on my slanted driveway) but I'm not sure) and I'm seeing oil sprays on the underside of the hood.

4 Photos, and a Video clip:
Underside of the hood...
Underside of the car...
Smoking #1
Smoking #2
Smoke from the downpipe... (DivX Video Clip

Those are the major issues really. Other minor ones are I was wondering if the SOA Service manuals are online anywhere for my vehicle, or if not where I might find them.

Also, the other thing I've noticed is that when I start up the RX my idle is unusually high (2,000 -> 2,150 RPM), however within 8 minutes it drops down to about 1,200 or 1,000 RPM. Is this normal or should I be looking for an intake leak or a faulty Idle Speed Controller (Idle Air Controller?) unit? [If the ea82t actually has one of those].


Anywho, thanks for all the help!
-James W.

#2 Warp3

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 09:40 AM

I was wondering if the SOA Service manuals are online anywhere for my vehicle, or if not where I might find them.


You can find the 89 Subaru service manual here:
http://www.finleyweb...ault.asp?id=142
in Adobe Acrobat PDF format (the ones you want are the EA82 manuals).

Not sure who runs the site, but I'm grateful for their willingness to share. :)

#3 calebz

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 10:00 AM

The smoke from the front is probably just a leaky cam seal, crank seal, oil pump or all of the above.. it happens.. I have seen very few EA82Ts that didn't leak up front..Mine does it too and I just haven't had time to deal with it.

#4 MilesFox

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 10:31 AM

it is normal to have excessively good oil pressure on startup. we switched out rx to synthetic oil, and the oil pressure has improved.

there are pressure reliefs in the motor and oil pump tp bleed off excessive pressure. if you ever service the oil pump, have that in mind..

we had some smoke/leak issues, the cam cover seals(valve cover) wer leaking onto the crosspipe, causing some smoke

hope this helps

#5 88targarose

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 12:14 PM

Thank you all for your input.

Warp3, thanks for the link to those manuals. I use similiar for the Toyota Supra and they beat a chiltons any day of the week.

calebz, the oil leaks you speak of up front. Are they that big of a thing to deal with? Also, do they explain the spray on the underside of the hood? I'm very much used to Inline 6 cylinder motors, and am incredibly new to the flat motor design utilized by Subaru.

MilesFox, I understand oil pressure is good (Hydraulic lifters and all), but isn't there a limit to how high it should go? Or should I be watching out for an oil pressure dummy light?

This weekend I think I'll try to take some of it apart to just see if I can figure out where it all is coming from. I also [In theory] have a stock WRX Top Mount intercooler waiting to be installed as well (Friends WRX got totalled, picked it up cheap.)

The other thing I've noticed (I'll add this to my first/top post too) is that when I start up the RX my idle is unusually high (2,000 -> 2,150 RPM), however within 8 minutes it drops down to about 1,200 or 1,000 RPM. Is this normal or should I be looking for an intake leak or a faulty Idle Speed Controller (Idle Air Controller?) unit? [If the ea82t actually has one of those].

Anywho. Thanks again.
-James W.

#6 calebz

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 12:20 PM

James..

My guess would be that the leak is from around the oil pump.. I also have the stains on the hood from that.. it only takes a little oil.. and it gets sucked up and flung around by the fan.. not too big of a deal to remedy.. if you're handy and have a manual for the car, I am told that the front of the motor can be resealed in a day.. or a weekend if you are a little slower.I think Edrach said his kid did it in 8 hours his first time.

The high idle when its cold is normal.. its supposed to do that.. however it should idle a little lower when warmed up.. could be just a small adjustment needed.. the idle adjustment screw is on the back of the throttle body... don't mistake it for the fast idle adjustment screw thats back there..that only affects idle when the AC is on.

#7 88targarose

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 04:32 PM

I'd found the idle adjust screw, so I'll play with that at some point. In the mornings it can almost be driven like an Automatic with such a (relatively) high idle.

I would suspect that I would be doing the work with one other person and it would be both our first times (Don't know anybody here in New Mexico that knows these cars well) but we've got a chiltons, the service manual PDFs and years of experience on I6 motors. :)

Thanks again.

#8 calebz

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 05:32 PM

If it makes you feel any better, my wagon (same motor as your RX) idles around 2000 RPM in the morning for the first few minutes.. its normal

If you need help, bring it on over here.. its only about an 11 hour drive from your place to mine;)

#9 88targarose

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 05:59 PM

Oh! Only?! Sweet! 'least it's not 14hrs. (San Antonio...) at the same time it would hurt a lot less if I had cruise control. Ok, so I may need to work on the oil pump area, what parts do I need from Subaru to do this work?

#10 Dr. RX

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 09:51 PM

Sorry to take so long to get into this post. I'm sure there is such a thing as too much oil pressure, but what that is I'm not sure. I would hope that Subaru would have made a guage that wouldn't register higher then the max, in which case you would be safe. Have you talked with any dealer or service garages that deal with Subarus about this? I have never heard of this, so I'm lost for an explaination. As for the oil on the inside of the hood, it look more like it is directly over the crank pulley, if that is the case, then I would suspect the main seal. Not that hard to change, but if you have the engine that far torn down, you might as well service the oil pump, change the cam seals and change the timing belts. I suspect the smoke is from the oil dripping onto the crossover pipe which run right under where the main seal would be leaking. I hope this also answers the e-mail you sent me.

#11 88targarose

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 11:46 PM

Dr. RX, Thanks much for the reply. At this point in time, I'm finding it incredibly difficult to discern a certain location that it's coming from. This weekend will be my "learning" weekend. My main goals at this point in time are checking the oil level, adding oil and driving. Smoking is disheartening, but not something that I can't deal with.

I've got the service manuals now, and a chiltons, so I think this weekend (if weather plays along with me) I'm gonna tear into the front of the motor. Any tips, tricks, and such would be much appreciated. I'll take photos and post as well.

I'll have to look for a shop around here that might now, or maybe I can find it in the service manual.

Ya know it's a bad thing when you go to the Subie dealership and you tell them you've got a 1988 RX and they ask you what it is 3 times. Gah.




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