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1997 Outback Sport Impreza - Sad Tale


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12 replies to this topic

#1 Balewolf

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 10:00 PM

I bought my Outback in May of 1997. We had just moved into a rural part of Colorado and needed to do a 100+ mile commute on dirt roads into Denver. That car took everything we could throw at her. Two years ago, on a trip to Cripple Creek, the timing belt broke. I had her towed home and my local mechanic who did my regular service told me that because it wasn't a Chevy, he had to defer to a friend of his who was a Subaru mechanic in Denver. The Outback had 218,000 miles on it. The Subaru guy said the motor was hammered because it was an interference engine, never bothering to open her up. He then made me a lame offer of $450 bucks for the carcass. I told him thanks but no thanks. She has been sitting next to the barn ever since.

I am dabbling in distillation of ethanol and thought I would convert her over with another engine in the future, but never got around to it. Two weeks ago, I decided to put her on Craig's list for $900. She had some nice American Racing wheels with new tires and I thought I might get an offer somewhere near $700. To my surprise, I had a ton of responses for full price. Ironically, I had mostly mechanics contacting me.

I had put the the timing belt story in the ad and it was drawing a lot of questions. Finally, one mechanic wrote and said that the 2.2 L in that model was a non-interference engine and that the first mechanic was just trying to get one past me. He said that I could have her back up and running for a couple of hundred bucks.

I was born yesterday, but not last night. I thought I would research my engine and see if it was a non-interference. I have read so much conflicting information on this model, I can't be sure who is correct or not. If I can get her running, I would pay for it in a heartbeat, and if not I'll let her go. Can anyone tell me the best way to determine which type engine this is? I don't want to lose my offers if in fact she is hammered.

:-\

#2 Fairtax4me

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 10:21 PM

From what I understand, all of the EJ22 motors are non interference. I'm a sewb newb though so I may be wrong.

I believe the engine ID tag is dead center on top of the block at the front. Get the numbers off that and post them.

#3 Olnick

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 10:32 PM

[The EJ22 engine did become an interference engine with the '97 model year. I imagine it was universal across the entire Subaru line, including the Outback Sport. Anyone know for sure?

Have you considered swapping in a used 2.2?

#4 edrach

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 01:10 AM

Amazing how often this question comes up. EJ22 was non-interference up to and including 1996. With the 1997 model year, it became an interference engine. With 218K, consider swapping it out with a lower mileage EJ22.

#5 lmdew

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 04:49 AM

If you want to put an engine in let me know. I'm in Colorado Springs and could do it for you or help.

If you still want to sell it, I'd buy it. Larry
Lmdew@hotmail.com

#6 msmithmmx

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 06:48 AM

The offer you had for 450 is not that bad. Scrap its worth 140.00. If it went to a shop your looking at a 1800 repiar on a car with over 200K. The engine swap is the only way I would go.

#7 Fairtax4me

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 04:14 PM

Amazing how often this question comes up. EJ22 was non-interference up to and including 1996. With the 1997 model year, it became an interference engine. With 218K, consider swapping it out with a lower mileage EJ22.


Good to know. What changes did they make to it that made the difference?

#8 Olnick

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 05:37 PM

Good to know. What changes did they make to it that made the difference?


They reshaped the crown of the pistons (IIRC) to improve power--just enough to allow them to interfere with the valves!

#9 johnceggleston

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 06:04 PM

to the op, there is a small chance that the valves are not bent which is the usual damage for broken t-belt on a 97 - 99 ej22. but you'd have to hang a new belt to see, plus replace any damaged idlers, tensioners, or water pump.

but with that many miles, a replacement is your best choice. you might get lucky and fine a 95 ej22 from an auto trans car, it would be non-interference and bolt right in.

#10 hankosolder2

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 06:09 PM

The other thing to consider is just because your car is titled as a '97 does not necessarily mean it truly is a '97. Could be a late '96. If you have the skills, you could pull a valve cover off and inspect. The later engines have screw adjusters for valve clearance, not hydraulic lifters. There may be other easier ways to identify.

Bear in mind that if the car's been sitting for two years, especially outside, the brakes could be badly rusted, it probably needs a battery and may need other things.

#11 Balewolf

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 11:05 AM

Thanks very much for all of the valuable feedback. I have now become 99% sure that I have a dead, slightly hammered EJ22 with 218K on her. As has been pointed out by all of you, if I am going to keep her, I need to find a suitable replacement engine. I have looked at JDM on eBay, but I do not know if that is easier than some other engine company. I also need to find a decent Subaru mechanic in the Colorado Springs/Denver area to do the work without exacting either, a.) an arm b.) a leg. I am a retired school teacher so I don't have a lot of extra cash. I am mechanical and do work on my tractors, but swapping an engine into my little slice of the Tokyo dream seems a bit daunting.

Any suggestions?:eek:

#12 Olnick

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 11:57 AM

Personally I'd be a bit leery of an ebay JDM engine, kind of like buying a pig in a poke. Fortunately you have some excellent resources right there in Colorado.

Best bet would be a rebuilt engine from CCR in Denver but that might be a bit pricey for your situation.

Get in touch with Lmdew (post #5 above) in the Springs--he knows his Subie bits-and-pieces and could give you some excellent guidance, maybe even do the job for you reasonably.

Good luck. Hope you can save your Li'l Darlin.

#13 johnceggleston

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 01:18 PM

i'd start by posting a 'wanted' ad here on our classifieds.
and then i'd look here:

www.car-part.com sort your search by distance, you might get lucky.




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