Jump to content

Welcome to Ultimate Subaru Message Board, my lurker friend!

Welcome to Ultimate Subaru Message Board, an unparalleled Subaru community full of the greatest Subaru gurus and modders on the planet! We offer technical information and discussion about all things Subaru, the best and most popular all wheel drive vehicles ever created.

We offer all this information for free to everyone, even lurkers like you! All we ask in return is that you sign up and give back some of what you get out - without our awesome registered users none of this would be possible! Plus, you get way more great stuff as a member! Lurk to lose, participate to WIN*!
  • Say hello and join the conversation
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get automatic updates
  • Get your own profile and make new friends
  • Classifieds with all sorts of Subaru goodies
  • Photo hosting in our gallery
  • Meet other cool people with cool cars
Seriously, what are you waiting for? Make your life more fulfilling and join today! You and your Subaru won't regret it, we guarantee** it.

* The joy of participation and being generally awesome constitutes winning
** Not an actual guarantee, but seriously, you probably won't regret it!

Serving the Subaru Community since May 18th, 1998!

Guest Message by DevFuse

- - - - -

Bad Compression on cylinder- what to do!? 96 Outback Legacy

bad compression

  • Please log in to reply
3 replies to this topic

#1 Outbacker4214



  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Portland Oregon

Posted 16 November 2013 - 01:17 PM

Hi folks,


I am new to this forum, I signed up because for the first time I am having problems with my 96 Outback Legacy. I'm not much of a mechanic or a car wiz so I am not sure where to start.


It's got the 2.2L and is a manual transmission.  It's got over 230,000 miles on in its always ran fine, except it's always seemed to burn a lot of oil.


Then all of the sudden it goes through oil fast, and now the check in light is on and it has a weird vibration when it idles. With the help of my dad I found out that the compression is very low in one of the 4 cylinders.  So, it still runs fine but I know that this is problem.


I've heard that certain subaru engines have problems with the head gasket. I think this might have been something my dad and I replaced when I first bought the car.  Is this likely to be the problem now?  If not how can I find out exactly what the problem is?


Then, I need to figure if it's worth fixing the motor, or replacing it, or sell the car for scrap.  If I replace the motor how do find out what kind of motors are compatible, and what is the cheapest way to do this? What is the most reliable?


I know that's a lot of questions, and I really meant it when I said I'm not a car wiz so I've got a lot to figure out.  Thought I'd ask the experts if anyone has a good suggestion on how I should proceed. I need to have wheels!



#2 porcupine73


    Obligate carnivore

  • Members
  • 5,229 posts
  • Buffalo, NY

Posted 16 November 2013 - 04:38 PM

I would say first off scan the codes and see what comes up (as for the CEL/MIL being on), and go from there.


The 2.2L you have would be the most reliable option. The 2.5L was more prone to head gasket issues. (Though at this age and mileage you can have HG issues on the 2.2L as well).

#3 Fairtax4me



  • Members
  • 13,034 posts
  • Charlottesburg, VA

Posted 16 November 2013 - 07:09 PM

2.2s hardly ever have head gasket issues.
If youre burning oil its possible the rings are damaged in #4.
Pull the all spark plugs and see what they all look like. If the one in 4 comes out black and cruddy wet looking, there's a problem in that cylinder. Either rings or piston damage.

They should all look kinda tan brown, or may have a white powdery appearance. If they all look like this you could have a valve problem on number 4.
To check for a burned exhaust valve you can use a vacuum guage if you have one, or use the paper trick.
Hold a piece of paper or a dollar bill about 1" from the end of the tail pipe while the engine is running. If the paper gets sucked toward the tail pipe there's a good chance you have a burned valve.

#4 idosubaru


    Elite Master of the Subaru

  • Members
  • 24,103 posts
  • East Coast

Posted 17 November 2013 - 12:16 AM

headgasket is only a 2.5 engine issue - not your 2.2.


do a leak down test and verify if the pressure is being lost into the block or through the heads.


if it's just the valve train, this particular year heads are super, duper, easy cake to remove.  they're the easiest Subarus heads ever made to replace in the vehicle. just buy a used head for $50 or less and fix it. 


if the overall condition of the vehicle is decent and worthy of another few years it may be worth fixing, that year/model vehicle platform is not that hard to make 300,000 if it's in good shape.


add up the cost of a used EJ22 (or even an EJ18 can work and can be very inexpensive and runs forever), a timing belt kit ($100 from ebay/amazon with all new pulleys), and a clutch (if needed - i'd do it while it's apart).  if the vehicle and transmission is in decent shape and that cost is worth it for the condition of the vehicle, it may be worth replacing the engine. 


subaru's are expensive in your area so parts may be expensive as well. 




you can use a 1996-1998 EJ22 (97+ EJ22's are interference engines and will have the new style tensioner - but save your old tensioenr and bracket on the 96 and use it instead on the 97 and 98 - just swap them out)  a timing kit is a must on 97+ since they're interference.


95 and earlier EJ22's can also be used if you also get a dual port exhaust manifold with it.


if you get a dual port exhaust manifold you can use EJ18's as well, they are inexpensive as there is little demand, mine was $150 with low miles and a warranty.  just bolt the EJ22 intake manifold right to it and install the knock sensor in the top of the block, walla.  i did it to my 96 Legacy.  mine is an automatic and it's a little weak in the mountains with passengers, but i've put 70,000 miles on it, it's awesome in flatland. yours will fair a better being a manual. 

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users