*Edit: For posterity, my verdict is no, not safe to drive long distance. Car died 5 miles into the return trip. RIP. Wish I'd gotten the engine fixed or replaced before I burned my catalytic converter up.
I've been lurking on this forum for years, getting advice on various little issues with my car, so first off: thanks.
I've got a 1997 Subaru Legacy L, 2.2L, manual transmission. Car has 219k miles, and it has a rebuilt engine with (I think) around 110k on it that was dropped into the car about 40-50k miles ago. My numbers here are fuzzy because I bought the car after the rebuilt engine was put in.
For the most part, it runs like a charm, but a couple of years ago it started throwing intermittent P0302 misfire codes. Every once in awhile (usually climbing a hill, but not always), the CEL will flash, and the engine will lose some power. Usually downshifting and revving the engine high causes the CEL to stop blinking and the power to return, but not always. When this happens, the car will sometimes run real, real rough (shaking like someone's outside pushing on it) and flash the CEL at idle, but then run fine at higher RPMs. It always fixes itself eventually, clears the CEL on its own after I drive it far enough, and then runs without problems for a while.
Based on this thread and the advice of a mechanic, I think it's probably a burned exhaust valve. But fixing one of those is a little outside my expertise (not to mention tool set), and it's a pretty expensive repair for something that might not fix the problem, so I've resolved to just drive it until it either dies or the problem becomes more pronounced. It is getting more frequent---it was probably six months between the first time it threw the CEL and the second, but now it's more like a once a month kind of deal.
I'm not worried about it driving around town, but I've got two cross-country trips planned for the summer, and I don't want to get stranded in the middle of nowhere at the mercy of some mechanic who's got no reason not to rip me off. It's my only car, so I can't just take another. So I'm wondering---is this a problem that's likely to keep getting worse slowly over time, or is it the kind of thing where one of these days it's just going to die on me?
Edited by jeffseymour, 08 June 2014 - 10:23 PM.