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Guest Message by DevFuse
 

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Need some advice... Risky trade?

1997 Outback 1995 2.2L WRX/STi swap

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12 replies to this topic

#1 pginter96

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 02:22 PM

NOTE: this is a pretty lengthy question. If you dont want to read the whole thing there is a simple question at the bottom of the post. Though I highly encourage you to read the whole thing.

THE SETUP: I was recently offered a deal by someone I know. He has a 1995 Legacy LSi BK wagon with a stock EJ22. He did a WRX drivetrain swap and swapped in a 5 speed from a JDM STi. Then upgraded the suspension with Bilsteins shocks/struts. Then added WRX wheels and a WRX front brake conversion. Outback limited interior swap, too. Some radio upgrades to top it off as well. The engine is kept stock since he meant to do a WRX engine swap to make a nice sleeper. He offered to sell me the car since he found a jetta 5 speed TDI wagon hes been looking for.
THE DEAL: for $3,000 I get the car, rust free, another EJ22 with 140k on it, two GT hoods, GT side skirts, and a GT spoiler.
THE SCARY PART: said stock EJ22 has 234,000 miles. And I would have to sell my low-miles 97 EJ25D 4EAT OBW to pay for it.
The guy who did all the work is the bishop at my girlfriends church, works in a shop, and has owned 4 second gen legacies. He has done countless rebilds and I trust his work, it is very professional and complete. I have no worries about the swap, or any of the drivetrain, as its complete and too over-built for the 2.2 to do any damage to.
MY PROBLEM:
My concerns are with the milage on the engine...
He said he got the second engine in a package deal with the JDM transmission and was told it ran, but never actually saw it run. Its a complete long block with accessories. 140k apparently. He intended to build it up a little but never has time.
MY BIG PROBLEM is that since im still a young'n and live with my parents, they freak out if i consider anything above 100k miles. They know nothing about cars. My 97 OBW has just ticked over to 80k. Im worried about head gasket failure, and i have a leak behind my timing belt cover so timing belt, re-seal, water pump, somewhat failing thermostat is around $800. A head gasket job is $2400.
My car works ok for now but I cant shake the feeling that its either a ticking time bomb or that something expensive will happen. Im working two jobs and dont have the time to work on it myself.

THE SIMPLE QUESTION: how reliable is a 234,000 mile EJ22? And how can I convince my parents that?

#2 Prwa101

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 02:30 PM

If a Subaru is properly maintained it is very uncommon for them not to hit 200k and up. My 00 forester has 275k and it still runs like a champ. My buddy has a ej22 swapped loyale and it had 240k Not sure on the hole deal though, it's kinda up in the air for me.

Prwa

#3 pginter96

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 02:38 PM

I'm test driving the car on fraday, Ill update then. Im not too hesitant to walk away if im sketched out. Hes not in desperate need to sell, just wondering if I was in the market

Edited by pginter96, 18 August 2014 - 02:39 PM.


#4 Ibreakstuff

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 04:29 PM

Ask him to run a compression test, it will at least give you some indication to the health of the rings. You could also verify that the thrust bearing isn't completely gone by checking for crank walk. If both of those are tight, I wouldn't hesitate to daily drive an 200k+ ej22.

Regarding your OBW, your concerns regarding the ej25d head gasket is valid. But it shouldn't cost $3k to do the HG's and reseal.



#5 john in KY

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 05:54 PM

My 95 LS has 250K miles and still going strong. If I really liked the 95 and wasn't too crazy about the 97, I would do the swap. Would I give up my 95 for a 97, no way. 



#6 pginter96

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 06:32 PM

Im just running into the issue of "sketchy low miles car that needs work" vs. "Modified high miles car that made it this far, so it should be ok, right?"
I have no service history for my car. The 95 at least has some history and has been owned by someone who knows what theyre doing. Am I obsessing over head gaskets? Probably. Theres other issues too (lifter knock, exhaust, oil leak, timing belt, water pump, thermostat, axle shaft) but Im trying to decide what would be best for me. I still have to see this car real close in person, crawl underneath it and make sure its not hacked together to make some frankenstein car, but for now as far as my parents are concerned its some high milage piece of garbage that some guy hacked together in his garage on the weekends, and since it wasnt done by a Subaru dealer he had no idea what he was doing. Hes daily driven (to the church where hes a bishop and the shop where he works) that thing for over a year in its current state, carting his 5 children to and fro. Its probably not dangerous if he does that... Right?
Am I ranting too much? This just tunred into some deep stuff... Haha
Well I really cant say anymore until I take a look at it on friday....

#7 thornleyjacob

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 09:28 PM

To me, it sounds like you fear your own luck vs. what the car is and whom has taken care of it.

  • You trust the owner/mechanic.
  • The owner/mechanic trusted the vehicle enough to cart his family, including kids, around in it.

This owner/mechanic going to vanish on you? Is he/she willing to assist you, after the purchase, if you have followup questions? Does he/she have everything he/she has done to the car on paper? This way if you must take it to another mechanic you will at least have some idea what they will need to know to service the various parts.

 

The mileage is not really a concern as long as the car was taken care of; being that the current owner is a mechanic and one you trust - I wouldn't think it is an issue. As someone else mentioned here; do a compression test and maybe a thorough check for rust on the unibody.


Edited by thornleyjacob, 18 August 2014 - 09:29 PM.


#8 MilesFox

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 12:27 AM

The last handful of soobs i have had have more miles. What you should be afraid of is not an engine with over 100,000 mi, but instead one that has not been serviced for over 100,000 mi. What this means is if the engine is not broken, it is still good. And to keep it good, keep oil and coolant in it. I'm sure4 with that mileage, it has already had some seals and timing belts done on it. 

 

The wrx driveline should have the smae final drive as the ej22, just closer gear ratios.

 

I was at a subaru show and there was a 96 legacy with 334,000 mi. You can count on another 100,000 mi with this car. IF it fails, you have spare engines. Assuming you are mechanically savvy, you can't go wrong with a car that comes with a spare motor. Or take the motor out of your low mile rig.

 

If you are incapable of such swappage, you should nto be considering a project car. But alas, here is the forum, now go get a handful of tools and you will be golden.



#9 MilesFox

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 12:29 AM

That high mileage ej22 will likely continue more miles than the your other ej25d in original condition.



#10 grossgary

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 09:32 AM

EJ22's are awesome engines indeed.  Mileage isn't the issue - previous maintenance is the issue.  Though mileage does affect value...more on that in a minute.

 

Have you searched craigslist, autotrader, and ebay?

These era Legacy's sell for less than $3,000 with fewer miles.

 

Get one for $1,500 - $2,200 and put $500 into a new timing belt kit install.  Maybe the guy selling the car would do it for you - a Subaru person can do that 1995 timing belt in less than an hour, it's really easy.  I routinely do them for free for friends and relatives, I have no idea how many I've done.

 

Another option, if you are otherwise pleased with your OBW:  install an EJ22 in your current OBW:

1.  Buy an EJ22 for $250, they are a direct/plug and play swap for the EJ25 (if you buy he right one) ($250 is what i paid for the last one i bought with low miles) - $400 (www.car-part.com)

2.  Install timing kit for $100

3.  Mechanic install for $300 - $500  (local mechanic installed a friends engine I sourced for them on the website above for like $250 - $300 last year)
4.  Sell your currently good running EJ25 for $500

 

Final cost: $200 - $400 (maybe less) and you keep your known/higher valued/lower mileage car.

 

All I have is words you typed so this may be off but you said you're looking for reliability (headgasket) - but you're paying for a bunch of things that add none of that - trans swap, wheels, and brakes.  There is zero added reliability in those items.

 

Looks like it's roughly priced like this:

$1,500 car

$500 in wheels/brakes

$1,000 in transmission.

$3,000 final cost

 

A car is never valued at "Value" plus cost of all parts that were installed. IMO that's about a $1,500 vehicle.  $2k - $2.5k if it's got new clutch, pressure plate, throw out bearing, pilot bearing, resealed separator plate, and timing belt kit. Actual, practical and reliability driven items.

 

A performance transmission in a non-performance application, it's worth is limited to novelty. For average consumers of cars like this, it adds no value to the vehicle. For the small contingent that likes it, they have to decide what that means it's worth.  A 16 year old starting school and wanting a tricked out ride to talk about may very well pay a premium, but I wouldn't call that average market driven pricing.

 

The wheels and brakes are aesthetically nice but are inexpensive and easy to install, i'll sell you a set of WRX wheels and brakes for $250. They add no reliability, which is what you insinuated you're after and what I would prefer in a car like this too.


Edited by grossgary, 19 August 2014 - 09:34 AM.


#11 pginter96

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 10:01 AM

Another option, if you are otherwise pleased with your OBW:  install an EJ22 in your current OBW:
1.  Buy an EJ22 for $250, they are a direct/plug and play swap for the EJ25 (if you buy he right one) ($250 is what i paid for the last one i bought with low miles) - $400 (www.car-part.com)
2.  Install timing kit for $100
3.  Mechanic install for $300 - $500  (local mechanic installed a friends engine I sourced for them on the website above for like $250 - $300 last year)
4.  Sell your currently good running EJ25 for $500
 
Final cost: $200 - $400 (maybe less) and you keep your known/higher valued/lower mileage car.


Ive considered this. He will sell me the lower milage EJ22 engine seperate for $200. Im considering buying that and either building it or keeping it until head gasket failure, swapping the engines, building my EJ25D (or at least do gaskets and seals) while its out of the car, and swapping it back in once its all set.

#12 pginter96

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 10:08 AM

I suppose its also worth mentioning that Im going to school for a Chrysler training program and I am working at a Dodge dealership. Starting in Nov. Ill be a paid intern in the shop for two years (along with classroom time in the college) as part of the program, and will be hired as a tech when I graduate.
So that means I just had to get over $6,000 worth of Snap-On tools for a basic automotive tool set. (I have a student discount so it was less than that, but still)
So I have most of the tools, experience is my main problem. Being 17, I really only have experience with Chrysler small blocks and my Subaru.

#13 grossgary

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 11:52 AM

Timing belts are cake walk if you're a mechanic.  Subaru timing belts require no special tools and can be done easily in a couple hours.

 

Here's a sub $3,000 Subaru in NY:

http://www.subaruout...k-sedan-h6.html

 

The engine won't be as easy to replace or repair if you have issues.  But getting way more car for your dollar and it's more up to date on maintenance items.  Aside from some headgasket issues, these are excellent engines.  With no timing belts they have almost no maintenance - plugs, valve cover gaskets, and oil cooler gasket are about all they ever need.







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