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ArtemasRex

89 GL disaster. From wheel bearing to... head gasket?

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A week ago I bought an '89 GL with no issues except the front driver wheel bearing needing to be replaced. I drove about 30 miles with no issues and all of a sudden it started this horrible thing. A violent clanking as I pulled out of a parking lot. This clanking would come up intermittently, usually around 25 MPH with some deceleration. The whole car jerking back and fourth with a slamming sound coming from the engine compartment.

 

We replaced the bad wheel bearing, but things just got worse after that. The test drive didn't go well. The same clanking, but now I was losing power. I did half a mile on the freeway and couldn't get above 45. By the time I got back home the damn thing was smoking. I noticed a bunch of oil on the ground where it had just been parked. After I re-parked it a whole new trail of oil. 

 

codswallop.

 

The neighbor who helped me with the bearings said it was a blown head gasket but I couldn't get much more out of him because he was so pissed that I had been ripped off. I don't know if I was ripped-off intentionally, but this vehicle was certainly a huge mistake. Any bright ideas? Assuming the guy I bought it off isn't going to magically refund my dollars, how much do you think this might be worth as a parts car? Everything on it sure seems tip-top shape. Seems.

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BAd clanking - tied to engine RPM or ground speed?

 

Either way, clanking isn't usually tied to blown head gaskets.

 

If it overheated badly, especially if low on coolant, the head gaskets are likely blown.

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I had one car develop a horrible thunk and jerk while moving forward while engine breaking - fine if accelerating.  Turned out to be a destroyed bearing on the differential input shaft. 

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It's worth virtually nothing as a parts car. Isn't worth much as a running/driving car either. When you can buy pretty nice Legacy's for a few hundred $, how much could a broken GL realistically be worth.... I just bought an immaculate 1990 Legacy with 112k on it for $200. Needed plug wires. Not even kidding. It's in my loaner fleet now.

 

Can't get parts for the GL's hardly anymore.

 

I know where two VERY nice wagons can be had for about $1200 a piece. One of which is a low mileage 86 with a Weber swap recently done by yours truly. If anyone is interested please let me know - the widow of the former owner needs to unload them.

 

GD

Edited by GeneralDisorder
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GD's protests not withstanding  :D these cars are not difficult to work on, and things are often times not as bad as they appear on the surface. You need to methodically check things out and see what really is wrong with it first. Even if it is a head gasket, it's not a car killer. 

 

That being said, they are becoming more of a novelty/ toy opposed to a viable only car/daily driver. If you are not doing the work yourself, and don't have something else to drive when things go haywire, then GD's advice is probably good to follow.

 

Don't lose your head and do something silly out of frustration. Nice specimens are worth saving to somebody, even if its not for you. 

 

Good luck!

 

Dan

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A week ago I bought an '89 GL with no issues except the front driver wheel bearing needing to be replaced. I drove about 30 miles with no issues and all of a sudden it started this horrible thing. A violent clanking as I pulled out of a parking lot. This clanking would come up intermittently, usually around 25 MPH with some deceleration. The whole car jerking back and fourth with a slamming sound coming from the engine compartment.

 

We replaced the bad wheel bearing, but things just got worse after that. The test drive didn't go well. The same clanking, but now I was losing power. I did half a mile on the freeway and couldn't get above 45. By the time I got back home the damn thing was smoking. I noticed a bunch of oil on the ground where it had just been parked. After I re-parked it a whole new trail of oil. 

 

codswallop.

 

The neighbor who helped me with the bearings said it was a blown head gasket but I couldn't get much more out of him because he was so pissed that I had been ripped off. I don't know if I was ripped-off intentionally, but this vehicle was certainly a huge mistake. Any bright ideas? Assuming the guy I bought it off isn't going to magically refund my dollars, how much do you think this might be worth as a parts car? Everything on it sure seems tip-top shape. Seems.

Smoking, oil, and clanking with RPM change? I would say thrown rod or something else major... Further inspection is obviously warranted, but all those things together sound really bad.

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That sucks man, nothing that can't be fixed hopefully.

That bucking might just be timing or a carb issue. Odd that it wasn't present right away.

Edited by sparkyboy

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Man, I wish I had posted on this board rather than the intros board when I bought this thing. If I had known that this isn't a viable daily kind of vehicle I would have avoided it. 

 

Sucks to have thrown $2500 away. Maybe I'll learn a lesson and not do that again. 

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I use a pair as daily drivers, technically, every other day.  I do all my own repairs and maintenance.  I have worked on these since 1988, so I know them well, what to watch, etc.  When one needs work, I have the other.  I have *lots* of spare parts from previous identical cars I've owned that were retired due to rust.

 

Not practical to have as an only vehicle AND you rely on paying people to repair it.  If that is your situation, you really want a newer generation, but even with those, read a lot to learn the key items to watch out for before buying.

 

The 2 I have currently, are both very good condition rust wise for being around 30 years old.  Partly due to where they were and how they were used, and some work by me.

 

Any new to me one of this vintage, I would assume needs an engine reseal, bearings, radiator, ball joints, timing belts and idlers and numerous other smaller things that don't last forever.  The original alternator will wear out a brush at 150K miles, for example.  Occasionally, I have to do some repairs, but mostly they are reliable for me.

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