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'88 EA82 SPFI: engine repair options


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5 replies to this topic

#1 dgsav

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 12:34 PM

Long-time lurker, first post:

I have an '88 GL 5 speed D/R 4WD wagon that my family bought new. I have maintained it pretty much by the book since new and it has 213K mostly long distance highway miles. We did have some hot-running problems with it for several thousand miles despite a radiator recore some time back, but a new 2 row radiator fixed that last summer, thanks to USMB's suggestion. The car's been pretty trouble-free other than that up 'til recently.

The first issue - I've been losing coolant lately without any noticeable leaks, and just this week the exhaust started puffing white smoke. So I suspect there's a head gasket or head problem, at least. The engine's running good, though, and a compression check shows 165-175 lbs in all cylinders. I'm a little baffled as to how the coolant is getting into the engine (or exhaust), unless it's a crack in the head between a coolant passage and an exhaust port. I've also had an intermittent problem in which the engine would run on 3 cylinders for several seconds after a cold start, and then run fine thereafter. And the #4 spark plug has a bunch of deposits that don't appear on the other 3 plugs.

The second issue - last fall, I had a sudden drop in oil pressure after a high RPM run through the gears. The engine also developed the valve lash "tick of death" at the same time, which it had never done before. I replaced the oil pump O-rings per the advice here, and the valve lash tick mostly went away, but it still comes back once in a while. And the oil pressure is still low. It used to run at the 45 PSI mark at 3000 RPM fully warmed up, but now it sits around 30 PSI or so at the same speed. The engine's been using some oil the past several thousand miles - maybe a quart in 1000 miles when it never used any before. There're no oil leaks to speak of - some seepage here and there. The bottom end is quiet - no loose or spun bearings and I know what that sounds like!

Now for the repair options - should I pull the heads, replacing/repairing parts as necessary? This would probably resolve the coolant problem, but what of the oil pressure problem? Even if I make sure to reseal the oil passages to the camshaft/lash adjuster galleries, is it likely that this will resolve the low oil pressure problem?

Or since I'd pull the engine anyway to rework the heads, should I just replace it? I've a question in to CCR to see what a replacement would cost - that will probably help answer the question.

And if I do replace the engine, it's probably not worth the hassle in going to an MPFI engine to gain just a few HP, right? I'm not interested in going to a turbo and I don't have any extra parts to convert from SPFI to MPFI. Unless someone out there wants to explain what it would take and has the stuff available for sale...

I welcome any thoughts.

#2 MorganM

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 02:30 PM

I'll address your opinionated questions rather than specific details like why your oil pressure has changed. This is because it really doesnt matter what is wrong with the current engine if you are going to replace it with a CCR Inc. built engine.

I blew a head and gasket on my '88 GL SPFI about 5 years ago now. Loving the car so much I decided to rebuild the engine. Not knowing much about real automotive mechanics back then I had a machine shop do the block and heads for me. What I spent there plus everything else it took to get it running again; I could have bought an engine from CCR Inc. That being said I now know a whole lot about my Subaru and automotive mechanics. Over the years now since then I've come to find how much I love offroading and building my Subaru into a trail rider and applied that gained knolwedge; even expanding on it to new areas.

The question is; what are you going to do? :drunk: Read all the opinons that are soon to follow and make the right decision for you and your Subaru =^.^=

#3 erik litchy

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 03:53 PM

maybe one of the 3 oil pump relief springs went bad? thats my guess. how are you loosing coolant? does it go into the catch can? if you let it sit does it go empty?

#4 dgsav

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Posted 18 June 2005 - 08:15 AM

maybe one of the 3 oil pump relief springs went bad? thats my guess.

Good thought; now I remember reading here that the ones in the heads are known to fail from time to time.

how are you loosing coolant? does it go into the catch can? if you let it sit does it go empty?

There's no apparent leaks, the overflow reservoir loses coolant too, I seem to lose coolant only when driving, and now it's blowing white smoke from the exhaust whenever the engine's running.

#5 Erik R

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Posted 18 June 2005 - 12:43 PM

The same thing happened to me last year; I was losing coolant and had no apparent leaks and I had coolant fouled plugs...................No, not the head gaskets! Porosity !
Pull your cylinder heads and have them pressure tested. You may have a porosity into the combustion chamber or exhaust port. Have any used head checked before installing........

#6 MilesFox

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Posted 18 June 2005 - 10:11 PM

you could be dwawing coolant in from the intake gasket. since there is a coolant passage there, this couls allow coolant to be sucked in to one cylinder bank while still showing strong compression




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