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Any thoughts on AWD vs. 4WD?


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13 replies to this topic

#1 stoner72

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 10:53 PM

OK, so I work in land development, and folks generally have big ol' trucks with 4x4 (currently driving a Yukon), but was poking around and discovered that you could get a little lift out of a Subaru, so I thought I'd look into this avenue.

Any thoughts on whether the AWD GLs of the late 80's are any better worse than 4x4s? I'm a little ignorant on the Subaru issues, but eager to learn. Pros and cons of both?

I've found a 91 Loyale locally that the guy claims is an AWD, 5 spd. If 4x4 is better than AWD, can it be converted?

What about head gaskets? The claims it needs a HG. Are they difficult to change out? Anything in particular to look for, or do in addition to just putting in a new gasket?

ANy info is helpful, so feel free to take this where ever. Be gentle... newbie.

Thanks

#2 Subarian

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 10:59 PM

The GLs mostly had 4wd, with the exception of some turbo wagons that had the full-time 4wd. Both are very capable off-road. On dry pavement, the part-time 4wd will bind in 4wd, as there is no center differential. The center differential on the full-time 4wd can be locked for extra traction off-road or in the snow.

Lifts are becoming more common, and there are several board members who manufacture them. If you're serious about going off-road, you'll probably want to convert your 4-lug wheels to 6-lug wheels, which isn't too difficult. Then you can run 14 or 15 inch wheels from nissan, mazda, toyota, etc.

#3 zyewdall

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 11:29 PM

Well, first of all, loyales are 4wd, not AWD. They have single range 4wd. The GL wagons from '89 and earlier had dual range 4wd (except for some of the turbo ones which were AWD with a locking center diff), which you sort of have to have if you're doing a lift and putting bigger tires on. I like 4wd (without the center diff) better -- but you can't use it on pavement. If you're used to 4wd trucks you know this. My personal recommendation is a '88 or '89 GL, because they still had dual range, and had fuel injection which has more power and less problems with vacuum lines. Or a '81 - '84 GL or hatch. Those had a different engine which had less power, but a little more low end torque, and doesn't have timing belts. And not quite as complicated of carb.

My personal experience with my GL wagon (not lifted), and my 4wd mitsubishi pickup is that the subaru does better under snowy conditions than the truck does, until ground clearance becomes an issue. Even with a bunch of cinder blocks in the back of the truck it seems like I'm spinning the wheels more.

As far as the head gaskets... You can probably find a new EA82 engine for $250. I redid the head gaskets in one of my subaru's, and it took way longer than swapping engines would have taken. About 4 weeks of evenings (interrupted by some snowstorms, if I recall). It wasn't that hard, and was sort of fun to see all the internals, but I can swap an engine in a day and a half, and some people on here claim a day. In general, the old subarus are very easy cars to work on (compared to all the transverse engine fwd cars at least)

Other things to look out for is leaking oil (they're known for leaking -- keep up filled), and timing belts. People are always breaking timing belts, because no one ever replaces them on time. They are non-interference engines, so you just stop till you put a new belt in.

You'll find that this forum is awesome -- there's almost nothing I'm afraid to attempt, because if I get stuck, theres someone on here who's done something even crazier.

#4 stoner72

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 11:42 PM

Sorry, so are you saying a 91 Loyale (presumedly 4WD) can be lifted or cannot? The single range 4WD is where I think I am cornfused...

#5 [HTi]Johnson

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 11:46 PM

Can be lifted. Every subaru can be lifted...it's easier than any of the truck lifts.http://alliedarmament.homestead.com/

#6 zyewdall

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 11:50 PM

Yeah, a '91 loyale is exactly the same body as a GL wagon from '85 to '89 so lifting it isn't the problem. The problem is not having low range in the tranny. If you put bigger tires on the there, the engine won't have enough umph to go up steep hills.

But, you can always swap in a dual range tranny from a GL too to get the lower crawling gear.

Neat subaru fact of the day: The dual range in subaru 4wd's is not from a transfer case on ouput shaft of the transmission like in most 4wd trucks. Instead, there is a stepdown unit in the input shaft of the transmission, before it starts going through all the gears (R, 1,2,3,4,5). This saves alot of weight, and essentially allows the use of a front wheel drive transaxle (with an extra driveshaft coming out the back for the rear wheels). But some people put a transfer case one the back of the subaru transmission, put a divorced transfer case and axle for the front wheels (instead of the one inside the transmission that is stock), and take off the original front axles which come directly out of the transmission. I only learned this recently.

#7 WoodsWagon

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Posted 11 February 2006 - 11:34 AM

Subaru 4x4 drive systems:
Loyale's= pushbutton 4wd vacuum operated engagement. Either front wheel drive or 4wheel drive, no reduction. Think a newer Chevy blazer with the buttons on the dash, except no 4lo.
GL's, DL's, GL-10's 4wd with a lever. Just like a pickup transfercase in operation. One position for front wheel drive, one for 4wheel drive, and one for 4wheel low. There was a second version of this transmission, with a center differential that could be locked (think Jeep J-10's)

If offroading a subaru, the low range is a savior. so much less damage due to lower crawling speeds. All the loyale's and earlier can be lifted with a kit. Legacy's can be lifted too, but more expensive for the same height. Justy's don't have a kit yet.

#8 Subarian

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Posted 11 February 2006 - 02:51 PM

Not all GL/DL subes had d/r 4wd. Pushbutton (single range) is actually very common.

#9 WoodsWagon

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Posted 11 February 2006 - 06:37 PM

pushbutton sucks no matter what car it's in.
4LO is the way to GO

#10 archemitis

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Posted 11 February 2006 - 07:44 PM

if you are getting it as a second vehicle and a kindof a toy, you should only go with 4x4. you wont be happy with awd offroad. better yet, get one that shifts from hi range to low range. most truck guys are impressed when they hear i have dual range in the ford festiva lookin thing. headgaskets are pretty east to change out compared to most vehicles. the only problem is, if the engine sat with coolant/oil sludge in the lower end for any length of time. main bearings can get rusty after a while.

#11 stoner72

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Posted 11 February 2006 - 11:41 PM

Thanks so much for all the info thus far. Is there a way to swap in a D/R into the 4WD push button? I checked it out today without the owner around, so I didn't have keys. But it needs cleaned bad, as well as identifying whether all of the general stuff works. As for the driveline, it's missing a radiator, the shifter seems sloppy and it has at least 213K so it might just be time for a new motor/tranny/transfer case anyway.

Again, thanks for the info. This is truly a great little community.

#12 Numbchux

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 02:41 AM

Yea....the shifter's sloppy, that's a common problem. Thought the lifted '88 wagon I just bought doesn't have this problem, I guess one of it's previous owners had a solution...more on that later

or.....get used to it (sounds mean, but I'm serious, I did, most of my buddies can't find my 3rd gear....)

yep, you can swap in the D/R, but it's a tranny swap, and you have to figure out linkage for the extra lever...other than that, it'll be very straightforward...just chuck out the vacuum actuated pushbutton crap...

#13 azsubaru

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 12:07 PM

Hey, Stoner, I think I know which car you're looking at - near Roosevelt?. If you're thinking of buying it and replacing the motor/trans, PM me - I could use the heads and maybe a couple other motor parts. We could split some costs.

#14 grossgary

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 01:02 PM

the EA82 headgaskets are easy to do and can be done easily in a weekend, even in a day if you have all the parts you need. no special tools required, air tools help immensely with getting headbolts out and cleaning the head bolt holes. the heads should be machined, checked, repair the cracks between the valve seats and a valve job in my oppinion. if you do the headgaskets, be sure to replace them both. replacing one is a bad idea.

easiest solution is to get a known good block. then you don't have to worry about all the head and valve train issues and possible rust/damage to main or rod bearings.

best to repack (or buy new) the timing pulleys, replace the timing belt, water pump, oil pump, crank seal and cam seals while you're in there. the water pump, oil pump and cam/crank seals are all behind the timing belts, so they are right there in front of you when replacing the timing belts. i can do all of this in 2 hours so it's not that hard. double that for your first time.

you could just try slapping on two new headgaskets to get it running and see how you like it. then while it's up and running start sourcing a good EA82 block and the transmission you want (dual range) and get them ready for a big swap. pull the engine trans togehter when you're ready and install the "new" engine and trans already bolted together, won't take long at all.

for that matter you could start doing that now and get the motor/trans you want. get a good engine, bolt it to the dual range trans you want and pull your old engine/trans out at the same time (they'll both come out bolted together) and swap in the new stuff.




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