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looking at an 88 GL


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7 replies to this topic

#1 Asesapie

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:21 PM

hey guys im new to subarus and am currently looking at an 88 gl wagon with 4x4. its a little over 200k in miles but runs good and everything works between the trans and 4 wheel drive. it has the motor with the single point FI. I am wondering if these motors run a timing belt. if so, i would change it as the owner doesnt know. is it hard to change the timing belts in these? i have done standard inline 4 cylinders before but never a subaru. any help or things to look for with problems that are common with these cars would be appreciated.
thanks in advance.

#2 Crazyeights

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 10:09 PM

An 88 wagon should have an EA82 1.8 liter OHC engine. Yes they do have timing belts (2 of them actually), and in my opinion they are pretty reliable as long as you get the one WITHOUT a turbo like the SPFI you are looking at. In my opinion timing belt replacement on these is about as easy as it gets. Common issues have been gone over on here many times. Everything you want or need to know can be found with just a little searching. Good Luck!

#3 scoobiedubie

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 10:08 AM

Although timing belts may last 60,000 miles, the water pumps can go out much sooner. Especially if they are installed without putting gasket sealer in the top hole that otherwise allows dirt to access the internal water pump bearings. I had one go out at 23,000 miles so I change them every 20,000 miles. Subaru dealers will want to change them every 15,000 miles and not put the gasket sealer in the top hole, so that they go out faster. Since you have to partially remove the driver side timing belt, all front belt covers, the center inertia pulley, the radiator, the fan blades, the alternator, any accessory fans, and drain the coolant, in order to change the water pump, most people also change the timing belts at the same time.

Youtube has some videos on timing belt replacement. For starters, you remove the coil to distributor wire and set the flywheel at a specific location so that holes in the camgears line up at notches in the back side timing belt covers.

#4 Asesapie

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 10:06 PM

Ok so I went and looked at the Subaru a few days ago and it drove well and the motor ran well but it had a pretty bad oil leak. It was leaking around the pan area/ back of the motor. I took it for a test drive and when I got back it was dripping on the exhaust and smoking a bit from the oil leak. So I couldn't tell where the leak was coming from and I'm wondering if that might be a common area to leak or if the pan gasket is an easy fix or?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

thanks in advance!!

#5 scoobiedubie

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 11:50 PM

Ok so I went and looked at the Subaru a few days ago and it drove well and the motor ran well but it had a pretty bad oil leak. It was leaking around the pan area/ back of the motor. I took it for a test drive and when I got back it was dripping on the exhaust and smoking a bit from the oil leak. So I couldn't tell where the leak was coming from and I'm wondering if that might be a common area to leak or if the pan gasket is an easy fix or?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

thanks in advance!!


The oil pan bolts get loose. You can tighten the bolts on the sides and the front, without removing the engine. Save the bolts in back for when you have a good reason to remove the engine. The engine heat softens the metal that these bolts are made of so it is real easy to over torque them.

The camtower cover gaskets get hard and leak from the engine heat. The rubber seals on the bolts, also get hard and leak. When you replace both of these, you may want to also use some orange high temp gasket sealant that you can get in any auto parts shop. I add sealant to the lower half of the tower gaskets because that is where they leak from.

You can buy both in a full gasket set off of EBAY. You will be needing the rest of the gaskets sooner or later, if you keep the car.

#6 Asesapie

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 12:47 AM

Ok so you mentioned that the oil pan bolts get loose but to save the ones in the back for when the motor is pulled? Does that mean you can't change the oil pan gasket with the motor in? And the cam tower gaskets, can you change those with the motor in?

So are those the only few places to look for with the leak on this car? The pan was wet when I looked at it. And the leak where ever it was coming from was hiring the exhaust after driving and smoking a bit. I just don't want to get into far over my head with the car. I'm used to working on my aircooled vw's but the Subaru is a different animal.

#7 scoobiedubie

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 10:25 AM

Ok so you mentioned that the oil pan bolts get loose but to save the ones in the back for when the motor is pulled? Does that mean you can't change the oil pan gasket with the motor in? And the cam tower gaskets, can you change those with the motor in?

So are those the only few places to look for with the leak on this car? The pan was wet when I looked at it. And the leak where ever it was coming from was hiring the exhaust after driving and smoking a bit. I just don't want to get into far over my head with the car. I'm used to working on my aircooled vw's but the Subaru is a different animal.


You noticed the two biggest leaks that can become bothersome. Yes you CANNOT change the oil pan gasket until you remove the motor. Yes you CAN change the cam tower gaskets and bolt seals with the motor in with a small internal ratcheting 10mm wrench. A third location for leaks is two large O-rings at the front of each camshaft. Oil leaks from those will show up as dripping off of the bottom of the timing belt covers.
Here is your cam tower gaskets and bolt seals: http://www.ebay.com/...e&forceRpt=true

#8 86 Wonder Wedge

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 10:47 PM

You can change the oil pan gasket with the motor in the car... granted the motor has to come up a bit (loosen the motor mounts, undo the pitch stopper) and is a bit of a PITA, but can be done.




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