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"new to me" '88 GL wagon...thoughts? advice?


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11 replies to this topic

#1 ROObiedooby

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 07:22 PM

Today I saw, and am purchasing an '88 GL wagon. It is no beauty queen. Mis-matched back hatch and passenger door, dent in left rear quarterpanel, sticky lifter/TOD/misfire at idle.
The good news is, at least as advertised, 20K on remaned-motor, new accesories(alternator,water pump, oil pump, timing belts,remanned throttle body.)

The engine compartment looks clean and well sorted after the reinstallation of the motor. The 4wd is of the "hi-lo", lever actuated variety, and is fully functional and tight "feeling".

Interior has no cracks in the dash, and no tears in the seats. Overall, seems to be tight and sound with virtually no rust and healthy-ish (somewhat concerned about valve ticking) drivetrain. Price is $600.

I am opening this up to this board for suggestions for really dialing in this car for an economical commuter car for myself. Perhaps some back country camping and trail driving, and certainly lots of snow driving here in Colorado.

So any thoughts on prioritizing the repairs,modifications,and preventitive care are what I would dearly love to hear some advice on how best to squeeze a few years out of this $600 find.

Fire away guys....and thanks in advance.

#2 rxleone

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 08:34 PM

Sounds like a good score to me! I'd probably change all fluids & filters, make sure tyre pressures are good, etc. All the basic stuff. If you don't have any history on when the timing belts were last changed, I'd probably put that on your list.

Good luck!

EDIT: Just actually read your post properly. D'oh. Forget the timing belts :) I'd probably get pretty crazy about rust proofing too. If it has next-to-no rust then you're lucky, but it won't stay like that forever!

#3 scoobiedubie

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 10:12 PM

Get the manual and check the timing. Look at the points on the bottom side of the rotor cap for a build up of corrosion that can be lightly sanded. Check the plug wire ends for corrosion. Since water pumps only last 20,000 miles, was the last one put in when the engine was put back together, or was it just recently installed? They only last 20,000 miles. Consequently, you may be due for a new water pump, timing belts, and plugs.

#4 ROObiedooby

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 10:17 PM

Sounds like a good score to me! I'd probably change all fluids & filters, make sure tyre pressures are good, etc. All the basic stuff. If you don't have any history on when the timing belts were last changed, I'd probably put that on your list.

Good luck!

EDIT: Just actually read your post properly. D'oh. Forget the timing belts :) I'd probably get pretty crazy about rust proofing too. If it has next-to-no rust then you're lucky, but it won't stay like that forever!


Yes, No rust as it is an original Colorado car. Rust proofing is on the list, but only after I get the drivetrain tightened up and trustworthy. A major doucheing of the interior and some upholstery shampooing are also on the shortlist as a consession to the missus.

#5 ROObiedooby

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 10:21 PM

Get the manual and check the timing. Look at the points on the bottom side of the rotor cap for a build up of corrosion that can be lightly sanded. Check the plug wire ends for corrosion. Since water pumps only last 20,000 miles, was the last one put in when the engine was put back together, or was it just recently installed? They only last 20,000 miles. Consequently, you may be due for a new water pump, timing belts, and plugs.


Have multiple manuals for these cars, cap, rotor and wires are all brand new and verified by me at the time of inspection. I am assuming that the water pump went in at the time of the motor's installation, so a new water pump is now on the "very" short list of to-do's.

the timing belsts are also of the same vintage as they were put in when the motor was installed. I suppose if I am in the front end of the motor for the water pump, I should do the belts, and perhaps all of these "o" rings that i am reading about in other posts at the same time as well...nes pas?

#6 robm

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 10:43 AM

A "new" engine with new oil pump with TOD may just need a few days of use to quiet down. Otherwise, it will likely need extreme measures, such as the cam tower O-rings, etc. Lots of stuff here on TOD.

I am not sure why scoobiedubie thinks the pumps only last 20,000 miles. My last Loyale went over 200,000 miles on the original pump. Changing the water pumps annually is not part of Subaru's maintenance requirements. Lots of very experienced users of this forum hate the EA82 because of its timing belts, not because of its water pump.

Timing belts are good for 55,000 miles if the covers are on, and, in my experience, less if they are removed. I haven't managed better than 40,000 miles to failure without covers, but got 55,000 without failure with covers on.

#7 ROObiedooby

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 11:17 AM

A "new" engine with new oil pump with TOD may just need a few days of use to quiet down. Otherwise, it will likely need extreme measures, such as the cam tower O-rings, etc. Lots of stuff here on TOD.

I am not sure why scoobiedubie thinks the pumps only last 20,000 miles. My last Loyale went over 200,000 miles on the original pump. Changing the water pumps annually is not part of Subaru's maintenance requirements. Lots of very experienced users of this forum hate the EA82 because of its timing belts, not because of its water pump.

Timing belts are good for 55,000 miles if the covers are on, and, in my experience, less if they are removed. I haven't managed better than 40,000 miles to failure without covers, but got 55,000 without failure with covers on.


I was planing to re-seal the oil pump as that seems to be the next move after a seafoaming. If I am changing the timing belts, I may as well do the water pump also.

I dunno, I was just trying to think of ways to increase my trust in a 'new-to-me" car that has a motor that reportedly only has 20k miles on it. The motor indeed presents visually as a remanufactured motor. Heads and block a very, very different and cleaner shade of "metal color" than the transmission, tags still on in various areas of the heads and block. Granted, this means next to nothing in terms of verifying that the motor is rebuilt, but it lends a little credibility to the PO's claims. I realize what I am getting into buying a 20 plus year old car. I am just trying to gather as much advice and information as possible before I start tearing into this car.

In that vein, I have been spending an "annoying to the missus" amount of time searching and reading here. The fact that she is annoyed, leads me to think I am spending an appropriate amount of time researching...LOL...

I am also looking into some less mechanical modifications, rest proofing/rinolining, the rear wagon compartment, the wheel wells, etc. A major shampooing of the upholstery and carpet. Major cleaning and a "Mothers" treatment for the dash and plastic.

Lube , and fluids change for everything just as a previous poster mentioned. I am also a big fan of MMO and was going to use it in the tank and crank before I change the oil and filter. (Wix or Purolator filter...thank you very much). I have been reading up on the Seafoam also. Seems this may be an idea for the TOD, as long as all I am doing is cleaning and filling fluids to start with. If it fixes the tick, great...if not, I am right back to doing what I had already planed to do anyway.

I may pull the oil pan off at this oilchange and replace the gasket. I want to see if there is any goo in the bottom, and see if the breakin has been going to plan on the "rebuilt" motor.

By the way, Upon startup on this car, the motor seems to shake back and forth fairly vigorously, in the engine compartment. It shakes "East and West" not "North and South". Is this normal? Or is this another issue I am going to need to manage immediately? The PO did NOT replace the motor mounts with the new motor. So I wonder if they are shot? any help here is appreciated.

#8 scoobiedubie

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 12:03 PM

You can't change high temperature O-rings between the cylinder heads and the camtowers, unless you remove the camtowers, which you have no reason to do. Changing O-ring seals at the front of the camshaft is not usually done until an oil leak shows up, and since an oil leak does not mean a tow. Same deal with the oil pump O rings.

Broken timing belts or blown water pump, means a tow. If you never drive out of town and you check for wobbling of the fan blades every 3 days, or leaking of coolant, then if you feel lucky, see how far that you can push your water pump. But you better have a replacement on hand. Timing belts also stretch. Retightening requires loosening up the pulleys and allowing the pulley springs to retighten the belts. Then retighten the pulleys. The two bolts that hold the engine mounts to the frame, are easily accessed and retightened. Forget about changing the oil pan gasket because you have to take the engine out to do it. Get a magnetic oil plug to look for metal in the pan. Only JDM motors get rapid sludge build up, since they don't change their oil in Japan, apparently. I saw no sludge build up after 150k miles. If you get a lot of shake on idle, perhaps your timing belts have hopped on the cam gears, or the timing is off, or you have a bad plug or you have a loose plug connection.

#9 ROObiedooby

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 12:10 PM

[quote name='scoobiedubie']You can't change high temperature O-rings between the cylinder heads and the camtowers, unless you remove the camtowers, which you have no reason to do. Changing O-ring seals at the front of the camshaft is not usually done until an oil leak shows up, and since an oil leak does not mean a tow. Same deal with the oil pump O rings.

[/QUOTE] If you get a lot of shake on idle, perhaps your timing belts have hopped on the cam gears, or the timing is off, or you have a bad plug or you have a loose plug connection.[/QUOTE]

This is the case. But the motor settles WAY down under load. It looks like the shaking is just a smidge more than what a boxer should be doing anyway. I was also wondering if there is a "miss" in the motor which would indicate plug or plug wire?

I will also need to run the "box" to see if there are any specific codes being thrown. The PO suspected an EGR failure of some sort. I won't know until I get the car home later this week. Any advice on managing this particular issue if it is the cause for the misfire? I am reading up on the EGR as we speak.

#10 scoobiedubie

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 01:45 PM

Sounds like you should pull off the two front most, outer most timing belt covers, in order to inspect for timing belt tension and as to whether the timing belts have jumped on the cam gear. It is pretty easy.

If you check the compression and are getting below 125 psi on both cylinders on a side, it is probably time to tighten up the cylinder head bolts that can be accessed by just removing the cam tower covers.

#11 ROObiedooby

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 03:35 PM

Sounds like you should pull off the two front most, outer most timing belt covers, in order to inspect for timing belt tension and as to whether the timing belts have jumped on the cam gear. It is pretty easy.

If you check the compression and are getting below 125 psi on both cylinders on a side, it is probably time to tighten up the cylinder head bolts that can be accessed by just removing the cam tower covers.


Scoobie,
Thanks, I actually never even thought that far...yes that would definately make sense. LOL...I thanks so much for the advice. It is really helping me to dial in on the approach I am going to take to go through the car. thankfully, I think that I have a good, solid platform to work from in this little gem of a find. Hopefully I am going to be able to find more information and have to ask less questions, but for now it has all been about finding out what it is 'I DON'T know" before I go off half cocked and start tearing into this car once I get it.

I seem to recall someone mentioning some videos on youtube or some place, that delt with tuning up, troubleshooting, and executing various required, and involved operations with these cars (the EA-81-82's) can anyone point me to these videos? It was my impression that these videos were fairly extensive and well regarded....

So, back to part's shopping and research.

#12 TomRhere

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 03:24 AM

Rough idle could be from a vacuum leak. Short sprays of carb cleaner or starting fluid at any/all vacuum lines should tell the tale on that.


The videos you are looking for on youtube are, The art of Subaru Maintenance by MilesFox.




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