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Used Subaru motor horror stories?
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VWinVT
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:04 pm    Post subject: Used Subaru motor horror stories? Reply with quote

I am in the initial planning phase of a Subaru swap for my 81 Westy. I have spent a lot of time studying the 3 big vendors kits and their respective benefits and drawbacks. I am a bit "unnerved" by the prospect of buying a used motor and the ancillaries from a junkyard or a old donor vehicle. Budget prevents me from spending 5K on a new Subaru rebuilt.
Has anyone had things go very wrong with the state of the motor the purchased? I am especially concerned with motors that are already out of the car....

Thanks for your input
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You never know what you are getting if you leave it together and install it. They only way to know, is to take it apart, or bench comp test it, pull heads to inspect and you most likely know this. Without having the budget to rebuild what you get to ensure what you have, you just have to buy from a reputable source that offers a warranty and is hopefully close so freight doesnt kill you if there is a problem.
Or, buy used and run it. Build a core in the garage at night while you are getting a few miles on the used one then swap them.

Look for good low mile runners at the auction that are totalled body wise. Pull what you need , part out what you can and scrap the rest to recoupe some proffit.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Life is like a box of chocolate covered engines...

Are you looking for 2.2?
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djkeev
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It isnt just a Subaru Motor.

Any used motor that you purchase is a huge crap shoot.
You may strike gold, you may get a major POS.

By and large, a motor out of a wrecked car, not a whole but tired car, is your best bet. Preferably a rear end or side impact.
A wreck tells you that at least the car was running.

Best of luck engine shopping!

Dave
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Used Subaru motor horror stories? Reply with quote

VWinVT wrote:
I am in the initial planning phase of a Subaru swap for my 81 Westy. I have spent a lot of time studying the 3 big vendors kits and their respective benefits and drawbacks. I am a bit "unnerved" by the prospect of buying a used motor and the ancillaries from a junkyard or a old donor vehicle. Budget prevents me from spending 5K on a new Subaru rebuilt.
Has anyone had things go very wrong with the state of the motor the purchased? I am especially concerned with motors that are already out of the car....

Thanks for your input


I would not buy a used engine that I had not been able to run in the original car. The first one I got, from a reliable person, had valve damage that would have been obvious if I had seen it run. The seller paid to have the head replaced so in the end it was OK but the process was a PITA. If I bought another used engine out of the car I would get a leak down test done at the very least.
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ScottShelley
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My first conversion I bought a used motor from a reliable Source. Engine ran good except when under load and I would end up with some combustion gasses in the coolant. I wasn't really mad considering what I paid for it and the fact it was provided with all needed components pulled from the car. It was just one of those things. If I went that route again I would definitely change the head gaskets before install. It's just a gamble based on the price.
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Merian
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In addition to the above admonitions, Sube had a run of motors that leaked and they then redesigned them. I forget the displ. and the MY, but IIRC might be around 2001.

Known issue and all over the internet if you search.
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insyncro
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every single engine I have used for my conversions was purchased as a complete car, I tested it all before pulling a single part.
All wiring removed by yours truly and is working well as of today.
I have three Subaru conversions that are over 100,000 miles in Vanagons.

I do not recommend buying ala carte and especially buying the lowest price parts you can find.
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geodude
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bought a running car that had a good smog test results from the year before. The body was wrecked, but I could drive the car and know it ran well. Compression was good and oil pressure was like new. But, even with that I still had a few components that required replacement once I got it in, but that was all external stuff that probably got bunged up during the removal process. Even though it all ran well in the car, I still pulled the heads to take a look and confirmed it was nice and clean inside with fresh looking cross-hatch on the cylinders. The Ej22 is a great engine and lasts forever if treated right. I don't think I would buy a boneyard engine unless it had just landed in the yard and had been in a recent wreck.
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VWinVT
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The unknown, as stated, is the biggest concern for me. I had a lead on a 2.5, but it was out of the car. I knew the guy who removed and since sold it
to the current owner...their stories did not match, so I walked away. I was never comfortable with the fact that it was already removed and I could not do a compression test or even hear it run.

The aircooled motor currently in the van is sound and solid...but, well you know the story....

I am not a mechanic by trade, rather a school teacher. But, I have solid wrenching skills and am not intimidated by the task. How can I source a vehicle that has been in a wreck/totaled?
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rubbachicken
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i'd go into the pick a part on half price day, pull the desired engine.
have it home strip it completely, every nut and bolt and rebuild it, new bearings ring etc etc, i looked into subaru parts on autohaus AZ you could rebuild a subauru engine, new bearings everywhere, piston rings, complete gasket kit etc etc for $500, more $ might be needed for the heads, i'm planning to do just this next time i see an half price day/weekend

some say it's a good idea to do a head gasket job and timing belt, before installation anyway.
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insyncro
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you know make model and year, talk to your local body shops and small dealers that go to auctions regularly.
Offer them $500 for buy a good car and deliver it right to you.
The cool ones will have you along to the auction.
Most are now online and you can preview what will be at the next auction.

Craig's List...Search Tempest will email you anything new once you set up the search.

Get the right car, pull what you need, sell the rest and crush the chassis for a very nice break even or come out ahead deal + plus your conversion parts.
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VWinVT
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the buy it and rebuild it option is intriguing....my only engine rebuilding experience is on antique farm tractors... 1952 Massey Harris Pony and 1948 International Farmall Super A. Can I expect a rebuild of a Subaru engine to be equally as straightforward? Its a lot of work to do this conversion and install something that will detonate!!!
I have done some preliminary searching on craigslist and the local auction site, and there are MANY subarus with 150,000 miles and up (I live in Vermont). Cars with less miles, cost that same as s new rebuilt motor. Perhaps I should simply save my pennies for a few more years a buy a new rebuilt motor
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Forthwithtx
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my case, I drove the Forester home (about 90 miles) to assess any major issues and pulled the engine, harness, and ECU myself.

rubbachicken wrote:

some say it's a good idea to do a head gasket job and timing belt, before installation anyway.


Did this^^^, along with water pump replacement and checked the oil pump and thread locked the screws. I also changed the front and rear main seals, the camshaft seals, and any hardened, cracked, and otherwise marginal vacuum and vapor hoses. Good time to delete the oil cooler, if so-equipped, change out the knock sensor, and modify the throttle cam.

As far as horror stories, this one is notable: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=618117&highlight=blown+subaru
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does the advice of obtaining a motor directly only from a car you've seen running apply equally to Zetec?
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

photogdave wrote:
Does the advice of obtaining a motor directly only from a car you've seen running apply equally to Zetec?


I am fortunate to have a great source for Zetecs who calls me when the cars come in to be parted.
I head over and see them, drive them just before they are pulled from the car.

My other Zetecs are brand new crate motors from Cosworth, a division of Ford racing.

Not many brand new complete, with wiring, Subarus around....and if they are...not less than $1500 like these motors.

I'm glad someone else brought up the Zetec so I can plug Bostig.
RG5 has 4 spots left.
Anyone outside California would be smart to read up on the Bostig conversion...awesome, just awseome Exclamation
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

insyncro wrote:

I'm glad someone else brought up the Zetec so I can plug Bostig.
RG5 has 4 spots left.
Anyone outside California would be smart to read up on the Bostig conversion...awesome, just awseome Exclamation


I almost wish my WBX was running poorly so I'd have the excuse. Maybe I'll find some bad news at this weekend's oil change.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

photogdave wrote:
insyncro wrote:

I'm glad someone else brought up the Zetec so I can plug Bostig.
RG5 has 4 spots left.
Anyone outside California would be smart to read up on the Bostig conversion...awesome, just awseome Exclamation


I almost wish my WBX was running poorly so I'd have the excuse. Maybe I'll find some bad news at this weekend's oil change.


That's your problem! Stop changing the oil, in fact stop even checking the oil, and you'll have a Zetec in there within a year... Wink Very Happy
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insyncro
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Plenty who can't afford a conversion are looking for good running WBXers.
I sell them when sealed, with all good components for $1200-$1500.
That helps when converting.
Sell the sucker before it isn't worth dirt.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I asked a simlar question a couple weeks ago, about how to get a level of confidence that you get a bullet proof 2.5 that also doesn't use oil. Everyone focused on the oil useage, but both are equally important to me. And most answers focus on the low budget options.

I think you have to include a price range and find the best thing in that range.

If the budget is $500, you have to get creative and take some risk. Some of these guys seem better at finding deals and assessing engines. But at $500 I imagine you are just hoping for a good one, plus you'll have to sell the extra parts.

I don't know what scenario gets you a less risky $1500 donor, maybe a junkyard/auction car and then you rebuild the motor yourself.

If you go up to $2500 you can buy a driving donor car that you can live with and make sure it is good. But it still will have high miles at that price and you'll pay tax and tabs if you want to drive it for a while. You might get lucky and find a car for sale that has really high miles but a more recent rebuilt engine. But even those might use a lot of oil after installing it.

At $4,000 you can get a new short block, have the heads rebuilt at a shop, and buy a junk car.

It's probably $5K to do the same thing but buy a completely rebuilt longblock. I don't know enough if that is any better than a new shortblock and rebuilt heads. You can also get a later model wrecked car with low miles.

Maybe there are other options in different price ranges/risk. I am looking at the more expensive higher probability choices. I had 2 bum subaru motors, 1st one spun the rod bearings, and it was a JDM with supposedly low miles, and the replacement drank an annoying amount of oil (around 100K on that one).
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