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Guest Message by DevFuse

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What should I do to a "highway warrior" DL Wagon?

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3 replies to this topic

#1 Syonyk


    Subaru Nut

  • Members
  • 645 posts
  • Ames, IA

Posted 07 February 2005 - 01:39 AM

Purchased an '88 DL Wagon as an "around town beater" and, more importantly, "shop car."

Due to my previous highway car (1988 RX-7) having some issues, the Subaru has been sort of pushed into highway commuter duty. I'm doing 300 miles round trip a week, plus local in-town stuff.

So, since I haven't been looking at this car in terms of reliable highway miles, I had a few questions.

1. Where would I get a "soft seal" kit for the engine? I'm planning to pull it out soon and replace all the rubber, the timing belts, oil pump, water pump, distributor, plugs, and pretty much all the other "unknown age" items.

2. If I have the engine all the way out of the car and half stripped down, is it worth pulling it apart and doing a full rebuild on it (new bearings, piston rings, etc)? The engine has 180k miles on it, and runs decently. However, it had a good oil leak before I got it, and may have run with little to no oil in it for a period of time. Is there anything else (porting, valves, cams) I should consider doing while I'm in there?

2a. How long does this usually take? I've rebuilt a rotary engine before, and torn down several piston engines, but never actually rebuild a piston engine. Realistically I have about 3 days to get it done.

3. When the engine is running, the "brake" "charge" and one other light glow dimly. They sometimes go out after I've poked with the battery connections, but after a while they start glowing again. It's not a "signal" light brightness, just... glowing dimly. Is this anything to worry about? The car runs fine and reads a full 14.5v on the battery terminals when running.

4. How would I increase power somewhat? Merging onto the highway sucks. Also, more importantly, doing a "drag launch" from the side of the highway back into traffic is very difficult. I stop to help people change tires, and getting back into the flow is rather hazardous at times. I live in Iowa, so I can get rid of the cat if it would help. I've also considered putting a MSD6A unit on it (capacitive discharge coil driver, multiple sparks at low RPM and a more powerful spark in general).

5. Where on earth is the rear windshield washer fluid fill? I can't find it, and while I can hear the motor run, it doesn't seem to be finding any fluid.

6. How is the clutch cable supposed to be connected to the release fork? A picture of this would be wonderful, because the end of the threaded rod keeps hitting a flange when it's set up how it appears it should go. I have it rigged to work, but it requires me to really dig my foot into the floor to release things.

7. Is there any way I can add cruise control? I miss it on long trips.

8. Is there anything I'm missing? I'm considering replacing the throwout bearing & other such things while the engine is out, and possibly the clutch (depends on wear). Anything else suggested?



#2 85Sub4WD


    EA82 Junkie

  • Members
  • 1,244 posts
  • Raleigh NC/Charlotte NC

Posted 07 February 2005 - 01:55 AM

1) dealer/subaru parts supplier ( www.1stsubaruparts.com )
3) failing alternator - textbook symptoms or a bad contact (tighten bat/alt connectors)
5) in left rear panel - not the latch one but the one closest to the tailgate
6) if it's hitting something, you are probably out of adjustment, or your hill-holder is binding
7) there was a dealer install kit available years ago, if you can find one great, if not there are aftermarket kits available
8) if you pull the engine, common sense dictates you do the clutch, best to replace pressure plate and have flywheel turned by a machine shop before reinstalled

#3 phishy75


    USMB is life!

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  • victoria, bc, canada

Posted 07 February 2005 - 01:56 AM

I'll throw my limited knowledge at a couple of these:

1) Most guys (and gals) around here highly recommend OEM parts. I agree for the most part, but I have been known to break the rule (and so far to no ill effect). You will definitely pay more from a dealer, but especially when it comes to things like gaskets (head, intake or exhaust manifold etc) they really are superior. I know you can get jobber top end seal kits for pretty cheap.

2) Maybe. These motors can go forever. That's my best guess:rolleyes: If it's been really abuse and run without oil, then it is probably a good idea to go into it further.

2a) dunno, havent dunit

3) Are you sure your alternator is working properly? How about the connections and grounds?

4) No cat = faster, especially if you make the exhaust bigger all the way back and do a few other tricks. Look up performance mods and you'll find tons of info.

5) Have a look in the little compartment on the drivers side in the back. There are two and both have latched doors. I think it is the smaller one more towards the back.

I'm done.

#4 Skip


    Flatuous Blather

  • Moderator
  • 8,991 posts
  • Latrobe, Pennsylvania

Posted 07 February 2005 - 07:15 AM

85Sub and Phishy do a fine job on your wish list
I'll add my 2 P

1) Ebay - always seems to be good deals on full kits

2) No, very stout bottom ends and the rings and such seem to last a very long time.

3) As said this is an alternator problem (they have built in regulators)
I have seen your symptoms due to bad brushes (coming and going light show)

You obviously know which end of a left handed metric crescent wrench
is the business end and could change them but

a used alternator is only 25 bucks, buy one and put it in the boot.

4) Engine = Air pump. you know this drill
Open the intake (K&N or what ever blows your skirt up) free up the exhaust
Y pipe back if possible with 2" (max) pipe and a free flow pack of your choice

5) Follow their lead and an owners manual is a wonderful thing (many available on market place or Ebay)
Pick up a FSM (Factory Service Manual) and leave Haynes to making underwear and the Children's (Chiltons) book to the kids.

6) The hill holder cable operates as the return spring. The spring incorporated in the HH is what pulls the release
fork back. Remove the cable, set the release fork for .5" pedal freeplay. Reconnect the HH cable and adjust as necessary
to have the HH work (clutch in on a hill, HH should hold brakes on, brakes release just as the clutch engages)

7) Many after market types try J.C. Whitney. A factory unit is costly sometimes and overly complex compared to
an after market item.

8) Change the clutch, pp and throwout bearing, get the small clips that hold the bearing on the fork, pilot bearing is a sealed ball bearing unit and lasts a long time.

9) Welcome to the good ship USMB hope you find your stay enlightening.

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