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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Starting the search for Older Subaru Wagon - Any Advice?

loyale gl wagon wtb swap

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8 replies to this topic

#1 surfernova



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Posted 28 August 2013 - 01:16 AM

Been surfing this site for a while but couldn't find a thread on researching older subaru's for a noob.


Many years ago, I used to own an 88 GL Sedan with D/R 4x4 - nothing could stop it.  Later I had a 90 or 92? Loyale wagon with the push button 4wd - good car just not as much grip low end power as the D/R, but a bit better on the HWY.


Looking into getting another Loyale or GL wagon with d/r 4wd but don't know all the drawbacks to each model etc.  I am not at all a mechanic, but I want to start doing some stuff on my own.  Start simple and build on it, but most stuff I would need a mechanic if fixing was needed.  I am not looking for a crawler, more like a capable daily driver/cruiser I could take to the beach, mountain, and camping(but able to handle some serious shiggy if needed).  Would like to work at making it reliable for longer 1000mi+ car trips too(later).  I see a lot of 87 GL wagons with the D/R 4wd for sale at a lot of different prices and newer Loyale wagons with the push button.  I am pretty sure I want dual range 4wd but the loyales seem to usually be in better shape.  A lot of broken down 87's out there which makes me consider getting the better running Loyale and later swapping in the d/r 4wd- if that is suggested?


Questions -  looking at spending around 1500 initially...


  • Based on needs should I look at getting an 1987 with D/R or get a 90 or newer Loyale and convert to d/r later on - any idea on cost for shop to do? 
  • Is it better to buy something running well at higher price or get something that needs work at a low price?
  • What should I consider when perusing craigslist?  Questions to ask?

Any advice or links to different threads is appreciated, maybe even links to CL with some pointers on why good buy or not.  Just can't believe how much information there is and sifting through it a bit challenging for a noob.




#2 MilesFox


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Posted 28 August 2013 - 01:32 AM

Something with SPFI fuel injection is most ideal. any 88 and later are all the same mechanically. Any dual range transmission will just bolt up to any pushbutton 4wd provided that it is a non turbo trans going into a non turbo car (3.900 gear, 23 spline axle.


The labor to swap a trans is no more than to remove the trans to replace a clutch.


Any of these cars with any mileage or age will require the same preventive maintenance. Timing belts are due every 60,000 mi but can last 100,000 mi. The variables in timing bet life is if any oil seals have been serviced or not, or if the idlers pulleys are going bad or not.


If you have any maechanical aptitude and basic tools, servicing the car yourself is fairly easy.


The biggest concern when shopping is knowing the cooling system maintenance. The one thing tha tkills these cars is failed head gaskets caused by failed cooling ststem. Knowing the coolant was flushed or the water pump was replaced is a bonus.


If the timing belt is broken, it is a non interference engine so no damage is done. Perhaps if you find one with a broken timing belt for cheap, it will be a guaranteed runner once repaired.


Mainly what to look for is having the timing belts serviced along with cam, crank, and oil pump seals.


Some of these cars have lifter tick which is more of an annoyance than a mechanical issue, and can usually be cured by replacing the oil pump selas if it has not been neglected.


Aside form that, axle boots and wheel bearings are something to consider as routine maintenance.


these cars see 300,000 miles and more with regular preventive maintenance.


Don't bother with rebuilding engine blocks as any pull-off engine that runs will have a strong bottom end if it hasn't been trashed from lack of oil.


Any of these cars are salvageable or repairable effectively if they are not crashed up or succumb to rust. And in the PNW some surface rust is nothing compared to midwest cars that rusted in half 10 years ago.

#3 turbosubarubrat


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Posted 28 August 2013 - 01:47 AM

i've seen factory fuel injected motors with the 5 speed d/r transmission you just have to look for them because they were before the loyale. like this one http://seattle.craig...4019323843.html

#4 surfernova



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Posted 28 August 2013 - 03:44 AM

Thanks for the advice MilesFox and Turbo for the link - I actually have been scouring CL and saw that one.  The soob I used to have was 88 with d/r.  Makes me wonder though.., if you buy something like that for say $500 - how much $$ to fix the radiator, possibly head gasket, and maybe timing if going to a shop?  I figure your in at least another $1000?  Is it better to maybe find a Loyale in better condition and swap the d/r later? i.e. - http://portland.crai...4020020854.html



#5 BoxerRebellion


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Posted 28 August 2013 - 12:20 PM

I'm sure... for the price of that Loyale Wagon you posted "http://portland.crai...4020020854.html" -You'd be happy.

Take that grand-five you save and replace suspension components. So it rides smoooooth. Handles smooooooth.

Doesn't creak and pop with every turn.


However, DO keep in mind... that any of these high-mileage Scoobs you're looking at, will be sooner than later requiring CV axles replacements. 100% guarantee it.

Not the worst job, and there's many here who'd be willing to help with the work needed, including myself.

#6 MilesFox


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Posted 28 August 2013 - 12:31 PM

Please watch these videos as it will give you an idea of the labor and tools involved with taking a subaru apart and putting it back together. Hopefully it will give you confidence to undertake some of the work yourself and save some $$$



Edited by MilesFox, 28 August 2013 - 12:32 PM.

#7 surfernova



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Posted 29 August 2013 - 01:27 AM

nice vids - subscribed!  Definitely looking forward to having a car to work on, but outside...in  the winter..in WI?? gotta be cold!  a lot of good advice here, on the shocks, I didn't think of that either.  Would make a big difference driving to the beach around corners too.  


Hoping to look at a few this weekend.  When test driving, is there a way to be sure the 4wd engages on the pushbutton 4wd?

#8 rrgrr


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Posted 05 September 2013 - 08:33 AM

Ironic -The car I just bought spent a Lot of time in Beaverton!

#9 surfernova



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Posted 06 September 2013 - 12:52 AM

ha - I believe it!  Soobs get around!  What did you buy?  I am still looking.  There are some promising prospects in the NW, if I was more mechanically inclined I probably would've already purchased something.

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