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have 1985 GL wagon--white smoke @55mph

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hey you all, i'm new to this site--at least for posting. we traded our mercury tracer even-even for this wagon- a 1985 GL 4WD automatic with a little over 68000 original miles--not quite two months ago. anyhow we are not heavy users--most of the time i drive UNDER the speed limit. anyhow the vehicle has only had two local owners since it was made. i have the original dealer prep papers, key ring, etc. anyhow it's never had much power and a fair oil-burning smell. i've put new spark plugs, wires, cap & rotor, new PCV valve, new air filter. it's got four mismatched P185/80R13 tires with very good tread, the original donut (dif. size-never been used). radio, with cassette. fairly good interior, hatchback, carbureted, EA82 engine (a local dealer service manager said it probably needs a complete rebuild on the engine to stop oil burning--"these engines were noted for that"). i've never rebuilt an engine, altho i'd like to try. but on our fixed income, it seems it would be prohibative. anyway to rescue the head gasket without a rebuild? or anybody interested in a project--i can't drive it far, unless somebody knows a temporary fix. email: polackhlbly@yahoo.com phone: (740) 384-1840

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may5th (friday) was the only time it really smoked & then i slowed down to 45mph & it stopped & we nursed it back home from the VA in chillicothe--took flatter roads--we made it but i'm probably not ever taking it except in town--less than i mile or so--for short trips. we can send pictures--what's it worth??--would take an an automatic trans, carbureted "beater" in exchange doesn't have to be Subaru--just not Ford--something with no major mechanical defects.the '85 GL wagon's VIN# is JF2AN53B7FF432432 manufactured 12/84. it's metallic black/ dark grey. hood and roof need paint attention. little rust. nice white repainted wheel rims. can send pictures. manual windows door locks/ manual steering/ starts right up all the time.

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Sounds like the PCV hoses/valve are clogged up. If its not smoking constantly, then its most likely NOT your headgasket. When mine blew and starting burning oil, it was an all the time thing.

 

You should look for where the PCV valve is, pull it out, and clean it out. The remove all of the PCV hoses and clean them out.

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"a local dealer service manager said it probably needs a complete rebuild on the engine to stop oil burning--"these engines were noted for that""

 

I don't believe that oil burning is ever much of a problem in old Subarus. We've had five, with up to 215,000 miles, and none burned oil. The last GL I had ran from Whitefish, MT to Baltimore, MD at interstate speeds,non-stop each way, total oil consumption 2 qts. Our current 2000 Legacy has 175,000 and doesn't use even 1/2 QT between changes.

 

I agree, check the PCV system, change the oil and filter and see how it goes before you trade it away. And stay out of 4WD on pavement with those tires.

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Sounds like the PCV hoses/valve are clogged up. If its not smoking constantly, then its most likely NOT your headgasket. When mine blew and starting burning oil, it was an all the time thing.

 

You should look for where the PCV valve is, pull it out, and clean it out. The remove all of the PCV hoses and clean them out.

have recently put new PCV valve in. hoses looked clean. lots of oil/greasy around valve cover gaskets(have new ones to put in) and around oil pan. i already got the clue about the clogged PCV valve from Ultimate Subaru Nation a few weeks ago. it's a good running, sharp looking wagon, but we had a head gasket & head go out a few years ago on 1986 pontiac sunbird that we had invested a lot 0f $$$ in, and i'm kind a very wary this time.

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since its an automatic, it could be the vacuum modulator in it, which when they go bad, they'll start to suck up the ATF from the tranny and dump it into the intake of the car, which will burn it out the exhaust. If it was a headgasket, it would slowly get worse and it would smoke consently instead of every now and then. Can you tell us what color the smoke coming from the car is? If it has a blueish tint to it, it'll be oil of some type, either ATF or engine oil. If its white, then it'll be coolant, usually a bad intake gasket, and then the headgasket if its real bad.

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thanks for all the advice on PCV valve, but it's not the problem. the spark plug wires were all dried up around the plugs--i don't think the 90 year old lady who had this for almost 35,000 miles did much in the way of maintainence--supposedly she just drove it up & down the hill to the mail box. they had to take the battery out & tell her the vehilce was unfixable because she was driving down a busy 4 lane the wrong way. under the hood & all over it looks pretty original except it has a burning oil smell AND now the white smoke when we tried to drive a steady 55mph for about 20 miles. a few days before that with my wife, her older sister & myself (total around 650 lbs.) it just didn't like it and was getting very hot (temp. guage) and blew a little white smoke for a few hundred feet. (on a 21 mile trip).

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since its an automatic, it could be the vacuum modulator in it, which when they go bad, they'll start to suck up the ATF from the tranny and dump it into the intake of the car, which will burn it out the exhaust. If it was a headgasket, it would slowly get worse and it would smoke consently instead of every now and then. Can you tell us what color the smoke coming from the car is? If it has a blueish tint to it, it'll be oil of some type, either ATF or engine oil. If its white, then it'll be coolant, usually a bad intake gasket, and then the headgasket if its real bad.

you'll have to give me a few days to check these things out. but thanks for replying & i'll try to let you know what i find.

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Almost certainly ATF. If it is white smoke (does not dissipate like steam) it is ATF, probably from a ruptured vacuum modulator. (Not what the parts store calls it.) The VM is located on the (US) passenger side of the tranny, just above the fluid pan next to a similar but larger can that has wires running into it. THE VM has a rubber vacuum hose runninfg to it, and if you remove this hose at the VM it should be dry but will probably be wet/dripping with ATF (indicating ruptured diaphram). Cheap ($15-35) and simple to replace.

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since its an automatic, it could be the vacuum modulator in it, which when they go bad, they'll start to suck up the ATF from the tranny and dump it into the intake of the car, which will burn it out the exhaust. If it was a headgasket, it would slowly get worse and it would smoke consently instead of every now and then. Can you tell us what color the smoke coming from the car is? If it has a blueish tint to it, it'll be oil of some type, either ATF or engine oil. If its white, then it'll be coolant, usually a bad intake gasket, and then the headgasket if its real bad.

we've hardly used the car in the less than two months we've had it. never over 40 miles one way and hardly ever that (to chillicothe VA). and i drive slow & gentle. the white smoke has been seen just since we put an extra load/ push on it.

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we've hardly used the car in the less than two months we've had it...

If it is truly white smoke and not bluish or steam, than it is ATF. Pulling the vacuum line off at the vacuum modulator and checking for ATF in the line is a sure test, and pretty darn quick to do.

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O.K. ... Since you have checked all Hoses and P.C.V. and all of them are good... I think that I got your answer... But it takes to two choices:

  1. First of All, Check the vacuum modulator, maybe it´s suckin´ up the ATF...
  2. Then If it´s OK...and everything else is Checked and O.K., then Change the Valvle´s Seals.

This Second did work for my EA82 Carbureted GL wagon of 1985... but it´s not cheap. Let me Explain:

 

Each of the eight valves of the Engine, got a Seal, its a sort of "O" Ring, that holds oil out, from the Head... and they´re made to last about 100,000 Miles, or Ten years... due to the fact that seals become Old and Dry with time, and then doesn´t work almost at all...

 

Also: due to the Fact that the Smoke is Comin´ only when engine is Forced... I am 99% Sure that your engine got worn seals... That it!.

 

To change those seals, you´ll need all the Eight New Seals... And both head gaskets.

 

I Really suggest to do a good thing with that engine: buy the entire Seals & Gaskets Kit for EA82, (There are good Japanese Cheap Aftermarket) and change all the worn seals, gaskets, etc... in only one Step... if not, you must do the "Change Thing" one by one, and that way is more expensive, needs more time... etc...

 

So, I suggest that, because in my EA82 did work great! No white or Black or Any visible smoke or Leak at all, and it got 223,000 Original Miles so far...

 

Good Luck! :)

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yes, check the modulator. mine went, everytime the engine was under heavy load a cloud of white smoke poured out my tailpipe. embarassing.

 

good trade though, a mercury tracer for a sube.

 

and no, these engines were NOT noted for oil burning. maybe oil leaking, but if it is indeed burning oil, could be bad valve seals. i'm willing to put money on the modulator being bad though.

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Almost certainly ATF. If it is white smoke (does not dissipate like steam) it is ATF, probably from a ruptured vacuum modulator. (Not what the parts store calls it.) The VM is located on the (US) passenger side of the tranny, just above the fluid pan next to a similar but larger can that has wires running into it. THE VM has a rubber vacuum hose runninfg to it, and if you remove this hose at the VM it should be dry but will probably be wet/dripping with ATF (indicating ruptured diaphram). Cheap ($15-35) and simple to replace.
thanks, i'll definetly look into this in the next few days--we've got a lot of rain coming and we don't HAVE to use the subaru, but many others are saying "start here" and then move on to valve seals, head gaskets , etc. i really appreciate all this independent advice, not being able to just throw a whole bunch of $$$ at it & then that might not even work.

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O.K. ... Since you have checked all Hoses and P.C.V. and all of them are good... I think that I got your answer... But it takes to two choices:

  1. First of All, Check the vacuum modulator, maybe it´s suckin´ up the ATF...
  2. Then If it´s OK...and everything else is Checked and O.K., then Change the Valvle´s Seals.

This Second did work for my EA82 Carbureted GL wagon of 1985... but it´s not cheap. Let me Explain:

 

Each of the eight valves of the Engine, got a Seal, its a sort of "O" Ring, that holds oil out, from the Head... and they´re made to last about 100,000 Miles, or Ten years... due to the fact that seals become Old and Dry with time, and then doesn´t work almost at all...

 

Also: due to the Fact that the Smoke is Comin´ only when engine is Forced... I am 99% Sure that your engine got worn seals... That it!.

 

To change those seals, you´ll need all the Eight New Seals... And both head gaskets.

 

I Really suggest to do a good thing with that engine: buy the entire Seals & Gaskets Kit for EA82, (There are good Japanese Cheap Aftermarket) and change all the worn seals, gaskets, etc... in only one Step... if not, you must do the "Change Thing" one by one, and that way is more expensive, needs more time... etc...

 

So, I suggest that, because in my EA82 did work great! No white or Black or Any visible smoke or Leak at all, and it got 223,000 Original Miles so far...

 

Good Luck! :)

thanks for this detailed reply. we're having a lot of rain right now, so it will take me time to get to all this. we just got all our yardwork cleaned up from last fall, so now all we have is regular mowings, so i can look into other projects. i recently solved the horn not working on my 1987 toyota pickup--one of the relays near the battery was pinched and shorting the battery; also the horn plate ring was not connecting to the lead that plugged into it from the steering wheel, but it was just the right day to solve that problem. being on disability with a wife on disability, i have to work on things when i can. any how thanks again!

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theres only a couple ways youll get white smoke...keep an eye on the trans level...soundslike its sucking transfluid...

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