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New to forum, EA81 GL Hatch check engine light after every 20minute drive

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New to the forum!


My SE-R's QR25DE bit the dust so for the time being I had to buy a winter beater. I was looking at 90's Civics, Crollas, Camrys, Maximas. Suddenly had the idea to check the area for Subarus.


I didn't think I'd find one in my price range, but hey: 1987 GL Hatch?

Rebuilt title? Rusty rear end from probably rear end repairs?


Nonsense, less than a grand and some TLC later, I've got a soild runner. Someone even installed modern AC that works. There's only two things that concern me.



1. If I drive this car casually, after about 20 minutes the check engine light comes on. I'm guessing the engine or transmission warms up enough for something to go awry?


Autozone and my local Subaru dealership said they don't have the equipment to check my computer, too old. An older guy at Subaru told me that it's probably "something with emissions (O2 sensor?)" and that although it won't get the best gas mileage, it'll run fine. THe only warning he could offer was to watch out for overheating.


Driving on the highway or using 4WD offroad cuts this time down til the check engine light comes on.

She starts everytime, runs decently well. I wouldn't be able to tell if it's running rough but it sounds like the ones I've seen on youtube.


2. I can hear an audible clicking coming from the driver's side front wheel/hub/rotor.

 It's always there, more noticeable now that the car actually has a muffler.


It speeds up with speed of course, and I'd have to double check but I'm pretty sure it's always there. Not like it goes away by shifting to neutral. My memory is fuzzy at the moment, so I'd have to double check.

I've done research while looking at other older cars, and from what I've learned: it could be a bushing? CV joint? Worst case, axle? These are just educated guesses, please enlighten me!



I hope nothing too serious is wrong with my new Hatch, it drives very well, shifts great, and the suspension is like new (probably replaced). Let me know if I need to bust out my wallet to "buy" my car again :/


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Congratulations, you bought an excellent vehicle.  It's got a 1980 front end BTW.  The clicking you hear is probably a CV joint.  To fix it you replace the whole cv halfshaft or axle.  It's an easy DIY job.  I recommend getting an EMPI halfshaft from Rockauto.  Make sure you do some research on the conical spacer and belville washer and torque required on the castle nut that secures the halfshaft to the hub.  If you replace it, check if your clicking halfshaft is OEM, if so, keep it and refurbish it.


The check engine light is almost certainly defunct emissions gadgetry that is no longer functioning properly.  I don't know how mechanically inclined you are but the EA81 is a great, simple engine.  I recommend you get rid of the emissions garbage and put a Weber DGV 32/36 carburetor on it ($250-$290 new, can be found used).  These engines can easily pass modern emissions tests without the 80's emissions equipment and you can't really even get replacement parts for many of the emission components anyway.  I drive an '81 hatch with 299,600 miles on it and it recently flew through emissions testing no problem with no emissions gear other than the catalytic converter.


If you learn how to work on this car, you can get it running really well.  It's a great engine to learn on because it's so simple and well designed and there is a huge amount of information and expertise on this forum to draw from.  I recommend tracking down a Factory Service Manual (FSM).  If you rely on a mechanic to keep it maintained you will probably be disappointed and it will cost more to maintain than a reasonable person would be willing to pay.

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I agree with Ferox, get involved man!  There is only one way to learn, and we are all here to help you when it turns to custard (and it does!).  I get so much enjoyment out of fixing my old Subaru and it's so simple.  Get a hold of the "How to keep your Subaru Alive" manual too, this is invaluable and also a great starting point.  Sounds like the others are more familiar with emissions equipment than me, we didn't have emissions equipment fitted over here.  Definitely seems like a CV is causing the clicking/popping sound, just remember to do up that hub nut to the correct torque!

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Thanks! I have done work on my car before, but never had the chance to DIY something a bit more involving than maintenance, fat matting my trunk etc.  This will be a great opportunity to do so.


I'm looking to do a few things to my subaru in the next two weeks, but I wanted to know how serious is the CV halfshaft problem? What could happen down the road? (pun ha)


I'm looking into getting the carb, if it makes it run smoother than I'm game. Overall these fixes don't brake the bank at all, thanks for the info!





For now, I have to pop those rims off and take a look at the brakes. Before I post a thread, anyone know if it's an easy mod to replace the rear drum brakes with disc brakes?


Any links for a free FSM copy?

Edited by SnatchedHatch
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Yes, the rear disk mod Is bolt in. They generally run ~$150 from what I've seen lately. Post a wanted ad, you should get a response pretty quick. That is a very clean hatch you have; enjoy it! Do not even hesitate on the Weber! It's a wonderful investment that will boost power, and clean up the engine bay.

There is also the FI conversion, but that requires a lot of wiring and a few modifications to the distributor.


Edit: Here is the FSM http://jdmfsm.info/Auto/Japan/Subaru/--Old%20Models--/1983%20Subaru%20EA81.pdf


It is a very big file... Takes forever to navigate and load. I like my hard copy more.

Edited by BratRod
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