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Our 98 Forester S with 277,000 miles sprang a nasty radiator leak. My wife neglected to mention she noticed puddles on the ground. She also didn’t notice the temperature gauge was full hot. She arrived home last week with the thing steaming. It looks like there was no more coolant but the engine didn’t seize.

 

I was thinking maybe the engine was partially ruined but I got a used radiator from Interior Auto Salvage here in Fairbanks Alaska and put on a new water pump. While i was at it I got the cheapest possible timing belt kit on EBay for $82. That’s with new pulleys and belt tensioner. No doubt Low quality stuff from China. The belt didn’t even have marks on it. But I’m hesitant to put much money into a higher mileage engine.

 

I got it back together today and no coolant leaks and the engine runs great. Apparently I got the timing right. Also no blue smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe. The engine is much quieter with its new cheap Chinese timing pulleys.

 

So I was hesitant to put much money into it not knowing exactly if the engine had been damaged by no coolant. What would you have done? Any suggestions on what to expect after this overheating event? The

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Change the oil too.  If overheated enough possible issues could be rod knock or head gaskets.  Yours will likely fail sending exhaust gases into the overflow bottle.

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I’ll change the oil as it’s about time for that anyway.

 

So if the head gaskets start leaking would you say not to put any more money into the engine at its mileage?

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The oil is still black so it doesn’t seem oil is getting into the coolant. My wife took the car to town so I am very curious to see if signs of head gasket failure have shown up yet.

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I believe that is a sohc engine.  You won't get coolant in the oil. The dohc engines leak into the cylinder, not the crankcase.  Most likely damage on a sohc is the rod bearings. Listen for a quick rod knock on start up. If you hear one its short block time. Your 80$ timing set is more dangerous to the engine than anything else. If it is a dohc and heating up , just give it new head gaskets (Subaru only !!!) If you do that then give it an oe timing set and your good to go.

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98 should have the DOHC. You will know your head gaskets are gone when the overflow tank is boiling over.

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It is a DOHC. When my wife got home last night I checked the coolant reservoir tank to see if it had overflowed and it was almost empty. The oil is still black. I told her not to fill up the gas tank but only to put in a few gallons as we could expect head gasket failure at any time.

 

What is the most dangerous thing about the Chinese timing kit? The belt or the pulleys?

 

There is another thing I didn’t mention about the car’s history. It is setup to be towed behind an RV and the story is that a previous owner towed it around North America for about 50,000 miles. So even though the odometer reads 277,000 the engine may have about 50,000 less.

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Your 80$ timing set is more dangerous to the engine than anything else. If it is a dohc and heating up , just give it new head gaskets (Subaru only !!!) If you do that then give it an oe timing set and your good to go.

I sent an inquiry to the eBay seller and here is his reply:

 

“Thanks for the inquiry. This product is our own in house brand and is manufactured specially for us from our suppliers in Japan, China and Taiwan.

 

If quality is your concern, we have sold hundreds of this item and our customers are generally happy with the quality of our products. They are expected to match OEM specifications. ”

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China and Taiwan are the two things to avoid in timing components.  Koyo, NTN and NSK are the preferred supplies.  Ask him it he will pay for the engine damage if one of his idlers/tensioner die.

 

Probably not an issue as you will likely have rod knock from massive overheat in the next few thousand miles anyway.

Edited by Mike104

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So are we talking about the connecting rod from the crankshaft to the piston? So does the bearing fail? What is the rod knocking? Extra play in a bearing?

 

Anyway I’m looking forward to the outcome in the next few thousand miles. Two years ago someone sideswiped the car causing cosmetic damage and the insurance company totaled it and we have a reconstructed title now. So the car doesn’t have much value. Yet here in Fairbanks Alaska elderly well used Subarus still fetch a decent price. My 19 year old daughter searched hard and ended up spending $1000 on a 1995 Impreza with huge cosmetic defects.

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It's usually where the connecting rod attaches to the crankshaft.  The overheat damages the bearings and they wear quickly resulting in excessive clearance and hence the rod knock.  Just keep driving it till it dies.  Then throw in a used EJ2.2L engine and it will run forever.

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Thanks for the information. Back in the 90s i used to hear one could get low mileage engines from Japan for a good price. Apparently once the engines reached about 100,000 miles in Japan they are required by law to replace it. Are those engines still available these days?

 

So is the 2.2 liter engine better than the 2.5?

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Cut your oil filter open and look for debris or better yet send a sample to an oil analysis company to look for traces of bearing material in your oil.

 

Otherwise just run it and see what happens. Granted it’s high miles but its possible to overheat and carry on without a hiccup or have issues in one week. Have you owned it since new, maybe the head gaskets were previously replaced? Doesn’t much matter either way though.

 

Yes the 2.2’s that swap into your vehicle are excellent engines. Low cost, easy to maintain, reliable, high mileage engines. But they’re so old they’re hard to find in well known/good condition.

 

That your car was totaled is meaningless in terms of value. That matters with top dollar collectors or new cars but that’s not even in the same country as this topic. For older vehicles You’ll maybe loose one out of ten buyers of cars in that age/price range so it’s no big deal.

 

JDM engines are frequent options.

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Head gaskets might have been replaced about 125,000 miles ago. We got it when it had 103,000 on the odometer.

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I looked at the JDM engine website. Alaska always has high shipping costs associated with 300 pound items. It would probably at least double the cost of the engine.

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Not sure how much you'd want to pay for a used ej22 non-interference engine with some mileage on it, but: http://car-part.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?userSearch=int&userPID=1000&userLocation=USA&userIMS=&userInterchange=F%3E%3F%3F%3F&userSide=&userDate=1995&userDate2=1995&dbModel=70.6.1.1&userModel=Subaru%20Legacy&dbPart=300.1&userPart=Engine&sessionID=11000000022543877&userPreference=zip&userZip=99707&userLat=64.8366000&userLong=-147.6994000&userIntSelect=1042924&userUID=0&userBroker=&userPage=1&iKey=
I used a 99707 zip code and looks like there are 2 in Wassilla for $600 from '95 Legacy.

'96 has a handful of vin variations on the ej22, but same place in Wasilla (Knick Towing and Wrecking) has an early '96 (this engine appears with all the 2.2L vin codes in the search) with less mileage (164k) for $500
http://car-part.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?userSearch=int&userPID=1000&userLocation=USA&userIMS=&userInterchange=F%3EF%3F%3F&userSide=&userDate=1996&userDate2=1996&dbModel=70.6.1.1&userModel=Subaru%20Legacy&dbPart=300.1&userPart=Engine&sessionID=11000000022544082&userPreference=zip&userZip=99707&userLat=64.8366000&userLong=-147.6994000&userIntSelect=1042925&userUID=0&userBroker=&userPage=1&iKey=

They are close enough to you you could drive up there and snag one. That '96 engine is showing what appears to be a 3-'96 4eat build, so it's an earlier '96. FWIW, my ej22 has a 196k and still runs flawless. Only engine work was replacing all but I think 2 of the lifters from a '96 (mine was around 172k, donor was 164k~) with the same mileage as that $500 engine near you. They all needed cleaning, priming, and 5 years later, still doesn't tick nor collapse if sitting extended periods. All usual belt, plugs, full synthetic done, and runs like a champ.

Edited by Bushwick

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Thanks for pointing these out to me. Our Forester has a Manual transmission. Does the replacement need to come out of a car with a manual as well?

 

The plan is to run the current engine until it is done. I’m really curious to see what happens. Then probably my wife will get something newer that isn’t cosmetically challenged. My 17 year old daughter could have the old Forester and I’ll try and get one of those engines.

 

So when we put in a EJ22 into a Forester does fit together easily or does one need some special adaptation?

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I have no idea on the swap, but I almost got a '99 Forester and was gonna swap my '95 into it, and IIRC people stated it is pretty straight-forward with I think the exhaust manifolds being the only thing that was really different. Someone else will have to pipe up. There should be posts about doing the earlier ej22 swap into your Forester, but they might be drawn out with comments. What I do know, is the ej22 with egr (auto cars had the egr if I understand it correctly) is typically needed for some later cars and I think the earlier i.e. '95 manual trans cars were w/o the egr.

 

If the donor engine has the exhaust manifolds, you can probably get your cats to hook up to them, one way or another.

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This is an update on our overheated engine 500 miles later.

 

It is still running terrific. No indication of the head gaskets leaking, no rod knock yet.

 

My wife doesn’t believe me when I tell her the engine is going to be finished in a couple thousand miles. I can already see her planning her next long distance trip from Fairbanks to Anchorage and back. 

 

 

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If it leaks , it will just drip anti freeze and or oil.  The rods if they were damaged will tell you ahead of time.   They will give a quick rattle at start up and if your listening at certain rpms and loads you will hear them.  

Keep driving it.  

On engines ;  automatics and standards are the same block.   Intake manifold and the cam and crank gears from your original will need to go on the replacement motor, to match your ecm.  

EDIT)   I see your looking at 2.2 engines not 2.5        good choice but not sure what you would need to modify (if anything) to put in your car

Edited by montana tom

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If you've changed the oil and haven't heard any rod knock you're probably in the clear there. But keep an eye on the coolant level and ensure it doesn't mix with the oil, if it does get onto it ASAP.

As for the timing belt kit, change it sooner rather than later, the quality of the belt and bearings in the tensioner's are usually the issue here. They more than likely won't go the distance of the regular change interval. If your belt breaks or skips enough teeth it could cause severe internal engine damage - mashed valves and pistons. Best case scenario is only the valves bend.

Cheers

Bennie

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