2 Trips, 2 Weeks, 2 Cars, Today

Sometimes I wonder about my sanity, other times I’m sure…

So in 2 weeks I’ve bought 2 cars and run all over the place including a “jaunt” to Las Vegas… Something in the water or what?

The Banana Boat was pronounced not worth it for me to make it into a continental covering expedition car again. Florida doesn’t know how to fix anything older than 2000 A.D. (as many mechanics there refused to consider working on anything without a computer to tell the parts changing monkeys what to do, including the Mercedes Dealers.)

The spousal wagon is an ’89 that needs to go in for more repairs, as all cars eventually do, so I bought her a newer E300 wagon, and that older wagon is now the “spare car”. As a “2nd Wagon” it also fills the role of the Banana Boat in my constellation of travel things. 6 Cylinder Gas Automatic instead of 4 Cylinder Manual, but you get the idea. About the same car, though the Banana Boat got better gas mileage despite being bigger and heavier.

But that still left me with Car Envy. Thus my “surprise” trip to Las Vegas for a Great 420 SEL with really clean interior and a nice white color with brown interior in Great Condition… that turned out to be a cream (think not quite yellow but not really white either) with chocolate interior (think not quite black but far from the regular tan that’s usually called brown) with a drivers seat where stuffing can be seen and a rear seat with stitching letting go and a rumble from the exhaust that really wishes it had a muffler to speak of and a misfire in the engine as the seller could not remember when was the last tuneup but thought his Dad had bought spark plugs a few years ago… And I decided sushi at a brewpub was a much better idea than buying that Fine Gem in Great Shape!!!! (Despite only 133 K miles, it was worn out by neglect and sun, IMHO with “ample” dash cracks and the “small crack” in the windshield that was really several feet of spiderweb cracks from some impact…)

After a dozen hours on the Grey Dog, I got home…. without that fine car…

And today I bought a 2001 Subaru Forester…

Impeccable interior. Paint is great other than some clear coat issues on the roof where you can’t see them ;-) Needs the front suspension and drive system fixed (that click on turning and wobble at 80 MPH in a turn) and the brakes done, but otherwise OK. No overheating and no evidence of oil in the water or the other way around either (so head gaskets likely good). 200k miles and can’t get the maintenance history, so I’ll be having the serpentine belt done on general principles. $1400; so even with $1200 to $1600 to “make it all good” I’m inside what it is worth all fixed up. I’m OK with that. Oh, and a new battery. The “flipper” I was buying it from had it up for sale as dead battery. Seems the actual owner hadn’t used it for several months and the battery ran down. After running an hour or so, it’s acting fine again and starts smartly.

Now, the thing that got under my skin a bit. BOTH of the cars I bought in the last 2 weeks are from “flippers” with various stories.

The first guy it was “bought it for my daughter but she doesn’t want it”… well, except the paperwork was from a “dealership” that was his “cousin” who “bought it for his daughter”… and nobody ever bothered to register it… OK, it cleared DMV THEN I gave him the money… and got a 2001 4-Matic Mercedes wagon in pretty good shape for $2500. (I’ll find out exactly how good when My Mechanic gives me whatever bad news there is… but my assessment is it needs cleaning a bit – we cleaned “goo” off the steering wheel buttons likely from hand cream… the rest of the interior is clean) and a new drivers seat cover. Plus it needs 2 front tires. Everything else seems OK.)

The second was a guy and his wife who were “selling it for a friend” but also had other cars they were selling and on pressing they admitted to flipping cars they bought but didn’t bother to reg. OK… So I might have to add a smog test and who knows what to the Subaru. Then again, for a 2001 Forester, I’ve got a fair amount of headroom in what I paid for it to still do OK on the deal.

In any case I’m set to get my feet wet on just what Maintenance issues are like with a Subaru. I expect it to be much cheaper than the land of Mercedes where my Florida Friend calls it the “Thousand Dollar Car Wash”… The dealer there gives you a “free” car wash with maintenance… but everything ends up over $1000… I’ve budgeted $1500 to cover “whatever”, and we’ll see if that works out OK.

FWIW, my Son said “Oh, at last you’ve bought a car from this Millennium!”… Oh, yeah, I guess there’s that ;-)

I’m still keeping my 1980 Mercedes 240 D as the “backup car”. BUT, I expect to put far far less maintenance money into it. As just one example: I hit a pot hole a year ago. Didn’t know it until I did the Chicago and back trip, but it busted up some of the rubber in the suspension. Entirely ate the inside edge of the two front tires in 3000 miles… OK, two spare junk tires are on it now. BUT, the money I would have put into that suspension fix will go into the ‘new” Forester instead. The 240 D gets about 1000 miles / year on it “around town”, and I’m OK with that with alignment not right as the scrub rate is way lower and there’s no real risk. Maybe next year I’ll get that suspension work done… Essentially, I’m sending maintenance at the Subaru to “build it up” and “make it right” first, and with the Mercedes being, instead, fix as needed… really really needed.

For big cross country trips, we have the 2 Mercedes Wagons for now any way; so the other cars are basically grocery runs and maintenance spares only at this time. In a year or so the Subaru needs to be ready for a Florida run, but until then, it’s looking at 30 MPH grocery runs. Plenty of time to get it caught up on differed maintenance.

The really good news is that I’m now done with the whole “update the fleet” stuff for another half dozen or dozen years. Moved from 1979 and 1980 to 2001. That’s a nice jump up ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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77 Responses to 2 Trips, 2 Weeks, 2 Cars, Today

  1. Larry Ledwick says:

    Good plan on the cam belts – if that is what you mean by serpentine belts (have them check the idler pulleys while they are in there – the idler/tension systems often get tired when the engine is old and it is much cheaper to replace them all at once than to have to get in there 2x).

    The click on turning is the CV joint on one of the front axles (not uncommon on high mileage subaru’s) Just avoid accelerating hard while turning until you get that fixed. (often a give away on which one it is aside from which side the click seems to come from is that one of the axle CV joint boots is torn.

    When you get the cam drive belts done (the internal gilmer belts under the front engine cover, that time the cams, to be sure we are talking about the same thing, not the same as the “fan belts) also called serpentine belts.

    As a general rule on high mileage Subarus it is a good idea to get a compression test (and leak down test if you can). If fed poor fuel or or driven hard hot, due to oil leaking past the rings they can break compression rings due to long term low intensity detonation. They will appear to run fine but once that starts leaking oil into the combustion chamber it will eventually kill that cylinder. Best caught early.

    Subarus will go over 200k miles if cared for well. Normal cam belt replacement is at 105k miles for that vintage so it might be due for its second belt change right now.

    If you got one that was owned by a school teacher that took good care of it should last a long time if you do appropriate maintenance.

    At that mileage if it has trouble passing emissions I would start with a new O2 sensor – they get tired after a couple hundred thousand miles and respond slowly leading to difficulty passing emissions.
    A trick to get them past emissions tests if they are on the edge is to put 2 gallons or so of E85 in the tank, this often will solve emissions issues. I was able to get my 2002 wrx to pass emissions with no cat here in Colorado with that trick when I was racing it.

    Congratulations on the new cars.

  2. Larry Ledwick says:

    By the way I was quoted mid $800 to do the belts on my ’99 Outback wagon Subaru with the same engine just a couple weeks ago. Will get the work done in the next few weeks.

  3. Alexander k says:

    EM. I loved the Subaru’s I have owned, but they are a very old design, having started life in post WWll UK as the Jowet Javelin, which was the fastest production 1500cc sedan on the market. Jowet was a very old motor manufacturer and had a long history of making vehicles whose ssimplicity made them ideal for use in very remote and primitive conditions. The Ford empire bought out the bodybuilding firm who built the coachwork for the Javelin and Jowett were bought by Fuji Heavy Industries of Japan, who introduced a new unitary constructed sedan, station wagon and light utility all with the old Javelin engine and gearbox driving all four wheels.
    These early Subaru’s were hugely successful and quickly became known as pocket rockets which could go almost anywhere.
    In my experience they are as much fun as you can have on four wheels, but the engines tend to become a little fragile as they age and many experience overheating and subsequent blowing of head gaskets.

    So good luck, and have fun with your Forester.


  4. Larry Ledwick says:

    On the over heating, one trick with the subaru is due to the flat 4 engine design if you do anything that requires significant addition of cooling fluid (boil over, or replace water pump etc.) it is a bit difficult to burp all the trapped air out of the cooling system. One way to facilitate that is to part the car on a steep hill (nose up) and top off the cooling system the first time.

    Then drive the car a short distance and “milk” the upper radiator hose a bit after running the engine for a minute or two to burp more air out. Keep doing that until you have back to back coolant level checks that do not require additional water. It can take a couple days to get all the air out if you don’t make a concerted effort to eliminate air when you first refill the cooling system.

  5. omanuel says:

    Unfortunately, you are no more, nor less, sane than the rest of us!

    Relax, you are exactly the creature that your Creator made!

  6. John F. Hultquist says:

    I do volunteer trail work in the mountains of Washington State. The group is called Washington Trails Association. Trail workers and serious hikers have a high propensity to show up at trail heads in Subarus. We also might be 10 – 15 miles from having a cell phone connection and then still 30 miles to the nearest assistance. Thus, I like a newer car. We don’t blow a lot of money in other ways — my sister says I’m frugal, but not cheap.
    Our 2004 Outback developed a CV joint boot tear with not so many miles on it. Apparently these will wear faster if tight turns are made frequently. My wife has that tendency when backing out of the parking space and cranking into a tight turn. Her dad had a ’35 Ford and taught her to listen to the engine and other noises. The clicking sound started and, I think, she noticed it on about the 3 click.
    Likely that was a bad boot or otherwise damaged. We’ve not had enough experience, making trades before such things normally happen.

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    Thanks for the tips! That’s the kind of stuff it takes a while to pick up about a given design.

    This one has had one owner (per the pink slip / title that has the original new sales date and 71 miles listed on it) until the “flipper” got it (and was signed by that same owner all of 4 days ago per the date on it). They claim it’s a friend they know…

    Rear window has the stencils of Dad, Mom, Daughter, Son and small dog, so I think it was mostly a Mom Mobile that sometimes went to the beach with the whole family. At 12,000 miles / year average, that’s pretty much spot on regular suburbanite commuter. From the peninsula, about 20 miles south of San Francisco, so not a lot of wild country to explore (and not enough miles on it to have regularly trekked off too far). Supposedly it was let stand for the last 5 or 6 months until the battery was dead.

    Jumping it and running a couple of hours, it seems fine now. My guess is the daughter and son grew up, and Mom got a new car for groceries (minus the 4 x 4 gas consumption) and there it sat with 2 parents not taking it to the beach any more as the kids were on their own (and them not wanting Mom’s Car but something else…)

    The nearly pristine interior tells me it was not left in the sun, nor were rowdies in it. the complete lack of even door dings says it was parked with care and not taken into brush country…

    Near as I can tell, the engine is FINE.

    Yes, the belt I’m talking about runs between both heads and the crank and runs over a couple of idler pulleys too. As that is critical to keeping the valves away from intimate conversations with the pistons, and it’s “about time” for round 2, I’m just going to have it all done. Then the front 1/2 shaft issue I’m familiar with from my Honda days, so I’m just going to have them both looked over / done as my mechanic recommends. My guess is that the need for those two specific bits of maintenance was why they parked and didn’t drive 5 or 6 months back… I’m also going to have all fluids changed then too.

    I figure that’s a good start. (Plus “all the usual tune up stuff”… and a compression check…) and any filter that can be changed…

    I’ve budgeted $1500 as the likely total in my estimate of the car’s worth. Eventually we’ll find out if I’m right or not. Since the Mercedes can chew up that much on a minor repair, I’m hoping in the long run my total maintenance costs go down… (Or put another way: The 240 D needs about $2k of suspension and tune up work that I intend to delay by putting that money into this car and driving it instead… while I park the 240 D for 5 or 6 months… Oh, Wait! ;-)

    @John F. H.:

    I’ve had a couple of “several hundred thousand” mile Hondas. The whole CV thing is very familiar to me. I’ve done one myself, but the mechanic I used last time did it for something like $60 plus parts. I haven’t seen him in a couple of years, so hope he’s still doing Hondas and Subarus!

    Part of my reason for wanting a Subaru is their simple maintenance procedures. I watched a couple of “How to overhaul your Subaru engine” YouTubes in prior months, just to see what it took. One guy pulling, overhauling, and re-installing the engine himself with only a fairly small engine hoist dolly (looks like it would be about $200 maybe to buy, possibly less). EVERY procedure was easy.

    I’ve done a few air cooled VW rebuilds, and this was similar (modulo the water jacket stuff).

    My thought is that I’m going to try doing more of the maintenance myself on this guy and see how much I like doing it… The Mercedes has a lot of Strange Stuff that is just a PITA to the ‘one off’ home repair guy. Like a giant Allen Wrench head bolt holds the starter on. My mechanic had a 4+ foot extension on it and a BIG socket wrench driving it and STILL had to work at it! Similarly I bought some special “claw foot” wrench heads for my socket set to adjust the valves (that I only did a few times…) It just seems like every time they can make something gratuitously different, they did…

    So I figure I’ll look up my old Honda / Japanese Car mechanic and let him do the timing belt, suspension work, and first round of fluids and tune up; then start my training program for the next round ;-)

    When it comes to cars, I’m something of a bottom feeder. I like to get older cars with lots of miles and some acceptable known issues at WAY low prices, then drive them for 100,000+ miles… (Or 200,000+ for a couple of the Mercedes I’ve bought). To do that, you must have a good eye for value and a good ear for expensive noises; and be willing to pay the repair costs.

    In exchange, you get a known condition car with far more future-miles / $$$-spent than anything else. I’d rather get a car with a known suspension problem and pay $1000 less, than buy one where that shows up in 3 months…

    Basically, IMHO, there are two “sweet spots” to car buying: New, so you know things work. Used but well cared for so you know Blue Book is way below what that particular car is really worth.

    So far I’ve done well at it. My 240 D cost me $1200 about 16? years ago. (Maybe 18…). I’ve put something like 80,000 miles on it (as a 2nd car) so that’s about 1.5 ¢ / mile. Now realize it’s got at least 100,000 more miles in it… Needs some suspension work (’cause I hit a big ‘ol pot hole at 75 MPH in the middle of the freeway) and a new coat of paint, but the interior and mechanicals are in great shape otherwise. The Banana Boat cost me $2400 at the same time (wagons cost more…) and I put about 160,000 miles on it so about the same $/mile for the purchase price.

    Will I get another 100,000 out of the Forester? I doubt it. I don’t think I have another 100,000 in me! So my goals have shifted. I want it to go about 5,000 miles here, then 3000 to Florida, once fixed up, then get about 2000 / year for the next 5 years. Figure 20,000 max. By then, I’m probably going to be in golf cart only land. It, and the new Mercedes Wagon, are both automatic 4 wheel all the time cars. They are the “bug out” cars if for some reason an OMG storm hits. They are also “Florida Friendly” as they are in the 2000s.

    We’ll leave the 240 D (and likely the other ’89 gas wagon) in California with friends as “fly in cars”. Maybe put 1000 miles more on them just visiting folks here (once we are in Florida). No more driving coast to coast a dozen times! They are not really Florida Friendly and I’d not get enough out of selling them to cover 2 weeks of rental cars, so what’s the point? Find a friend who would like an “emergency spare car” in exchange for parking rights and “fly not drive” coast to coast…

    So that means less emphasis on condition of transmission and engine (as if they are good enough now they will almost certainly be good enough in 2000 miles…) and more emphasis on condition of paint and interior (as they will age at a constant rate…) Thus my emphasis on what looks like a garaged car with lots of drive train miles. It only needs to get about 20,000 more on the engine and transmission for me to be “Winning!”…

    That’s the plan anyway. We’ll see how it shakes out in the next decade.

    Oh, and having a 4 x 4 to visit Chicago in the winter has a certain attraction to it too! Grandson and Son’s birthdays are both in winter. I’d rather be 4 x 4 when driving in winter slush in Chicago.

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    Yes, we are all “just right”… but that doesn’t stop me from making a bit of a joke at my own “expense” ;-)

    @Alexander K:

    Thank you for that bit of history!

    I’d just always sort of assumed they did a “copy and improve” on the only other flat 4 maker I knew of, VW. It’s gratifying to know it has an English heritage!

    Now I’ll need to do a bit of a Dig Here! on the Jowett Javelin… Seeing as I now have a ‘heritage’ with them! ;-)

  9. Larry Ledwick says:

    The 2.5 liter short block (with crank and pistons) weighs just about 110 pounds, I have lifted and carried one by myself on a couple occasions. Engine is easy to work on for most things, has a couple places where subaru makes “special tools” to do certain things. One of those is a pin spanner type wrench to control the movement of the cam drive gears when you put on a new timing belt. One head naturally goes to the right position as the valve springs want to move the cam so it is in that position, the other head when the cam is in the right position the cam is holding the valves open and it does not want to stay there. You can jury rig your own on that tool if you have a basic shop (did that on my 88) most of them you can reverse engineer once you know they exist and what they are for. It is worth it to pick up the real factory service manual as some of the after market manuals like Chiltons leave some details out (on the 88 subaru the cam timing instructions were wrong – if you followed their instructions one cylinder head was 180 degrees out on the cam timing – it would allllll most start but not quite running as a two cylinder.


    Some of these issues can be side stepped with proper technique once you know what is supposed to line up with what, a good digital camera is helpful if you take pictures of the cam timing marks before you take the engine apart.

    There are some good online subaru forums with knowlegable people on them (and a good measure of smart ass youngsters) but with care you can find the answers to even the most obscure issues on line.

    One of the biggest is: https://forums.nasioc.com/

    I used to post there a lot under the user name hotrod but have been inactive for a long time, they still have some of my threads though.

    By the way some people recommend replacing the water pump on high mileage engines when you do the cam belts the second time near 200k miles, as they seem to fail about the same time you get it back on the road at just over 200k miles. Again one of those while you are in in there things it is cheap and easy, compared to a second repair a few miles later.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    Ohw Gawd! Now I WANT one!!


    The odds of finding even ONE in the USA at any price I could pay being zero…

    Oh, well… I guess I’ll just have to be happy with the great great grandson of it all… ;-)

  11. E.M.Smith says:


    Honda is the same. IF you are doing the timing belt, a $40 water pump is just figured into the process as standard to change the damn thing that breaks anyway…

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    Basically, if it moves, and is on that belt, I’m going to have it replaced anyway.

    BTW, the video I watched covered the special “wrench” for the alignment of the cam gears and gave a source ( IIRC something like $30…) for it. Why I’m going to have my mechanic do the “first one” as I figure I’ll not make it to the next one ;-)

    Maybe I need to find those videos again and post the links here… so I don’t have to go hunting to find them in 4 years ;-)

  13. Bulaman says:

    Welcome to the world of Foresters. Mine is a 2005 2 litre manual. In the old days they had a split gearbox that gave you high and low ratios for really challenging off roading.
    The cam belt/idlers and water pumps are done at 60,000 mile intervals here in NZ. I have had over 250,000 miles out of them. Best part is the handling in the hilly windy countryside. Low CofG really helps esp if wheels are properly balanced and aligned!

  14. Alexander k says:

    EM, if the Javelin makes your mouth water, Jowett also made a very slick two seated tourer variant, the Jupiter. This was an absolutely gorgeous little car I once would have given a lot to own one.
    Old age is a sod!

  15. EM – I read a tip a while back on replacing the timing belt. If you cut the old belt down the middle along its length and take the outer half of it away, you can fit the new belt onto the toothwheels while the alignment is retained by the old half-belt. Then cut the old belt off and push the new one all the way onto the wheels, set the tension and it’s done. I don’t know if this is possible with the Subaru, since it requires the toothwheels and tensioners to have no higher outer rim. If it works, though, it saves problems in getting the belt misaligned and saves getting the special tools.

    For front wheel alignment (toe-in) I use a home-built tool. Take a couple of pieces of metal or strong plastic sheet around the width of the tyres and 2-3 foot long, and join them with a pivot bolt at one end. For the other end, cut the top one to form a pointer and mark a point (and scale if you want) on the bottom one so that the you have a zero-point with a scale either side. Maybe use oil or grease between the plates to reduce friction. On flat ground, set the device on the ground in front of one wheel with the pivot near the wheel. With the steering pointing dead ahead, move the car forward along the length of the device. If you have toe-out, then the top pointer will move inwards, and toe-in moves the pointer outwards. How much it will move for a specific toe-in or toe-out can be calculated from the car specs. Although it’s easy enough to make an optical gauge using a laser and mirror, those depend on the wheel not being bent, and in an old car that isn’t certain, whereas the two plates idea is independent of the wheel distortion. Of course, check that the bearings are adjusted (if possible) and that the rubber bushes are good, but using the plates will tell you if the tyres are scrubbing anyway. Normally, with cars I’ve worked on, the toe-in or toe-out is specified as around 3mm measured at the rim, which keeps the bearings under a bit of tension and stops the wheel chattering in and out as the bearings get slacker (which would happen if you set it to the “ideal” zero misalignment).

  16. John F. Hultquist says:

    “Subaru’s . . . started life in post WWll UK as the Jowet Javelin”

    When you buy a Subaru from a dealer, you start getting a magazine called Drive. It has lots of pretty photos, stories about owner’s cars, and all the good deeds the company does. However, the ‘Company’ is Subaru of America, and their history starts much later when a guy started to import scooters.
    Thus, the Jowet Javelin heritage is something I had not known. Thanks.

    ~ ~ ~ ~
    E.M. says:
    Stuff that is just a PITA to the ‘one off’ home repair guy. Like a giant Allen Wrench head bolt holds the starter on. My mechanic had a 4+ foot extension on it and a BIG socket wrench . . .

    That made me smile: In 1980 +/- , our Chevy wagon needed a new water pump. By the time I got the old one out, made two 15 mile trips to town, and banged my head and hands a few times, I decided I was not suited to be our auto mechanic. Except for changing oil, every thing was a difficult “one off.” A neighbor decide to do his own brakes. Took him a day and a half.
    Besides, bird dogs and horses are amazing time and $ sinks.

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    @John H.F.:

    I was the house mechanic for my Hondas and it wasn’t bad. Had a neighbor swap the transmission once ( I sort of watch-helped ;-) and did most of the other stuff myself. Brakes, for example, were trivial.

    On the Mercedes, I was doing oil, filters, and brakes for a while. The brakes are almost as easy as the Honda, but parts are bigger and forces a bit higher (torques and getting the slave cylinders back in place). Eventually just let it go to the mechanic as I was working too much to spend time on cars.

    Now that I’m basically retired, I’m thinking maybe it’s worth the shade tree time to start DIY on some bits again. Hopefully the Subaru will be as easy as the old air cooled VW and Hondas were… While oil and filters are easy on the Mercedes, it’s things like using a 4 foot extension to reach a giant allen head bolt that puts me off the rest of it. From underneath the car, the bolt is in the wrong place, and from above, well… unless you have 4 foot arms AND can put force at the end of them AND don’t mind 3 inch ‘swings’ of the ratchet… Oh, and happen to have a giant (14mm?) allen head driver laying around…

    The all the “tricks” that are used so the door liner panels and handles show no fasteners means you have to know how to move it to get it off without breaking it… and more… Like even the manual transmission reverse you pull UP to get into reverse where most cars you push DOWN. After a while you just want something to be simple and as expected…

    The video of the Subaru overhaul looked that way ;-)

    I’m hoping that I never personally get to do one of the timing belts. This first one will be done by a mechanic who knows how and has the tools, then I’m expecting to not put enough miles on the car to need another one before I’m “golf cart only” certified… Only if, for some reason, the heads or rest of engine ends up needing an overhaul will I get the pleasure; as I’d do that whole job myself to save the $$$ and that would mean the timing belt too.


    Interesting trick on the belt! I hope to never need it though. On the overhaul video they used a fairly cheap tool, and the procedure looked easy. I’ve done timing on motorcycles, VW air cooled, a Mazda made Ford Courier mini Pickup, and a couple of others; so I think I’m OK to do it if needed. But this first one I’m just going to pay somebody. Just want to make sure it’s right and done fairly soon ;-)

    I’m going to start with things like oil and filters and brakes and such and work my way up, as needed…


    Wonder why the change intervals differ NZ vs here… maybe shorter average drives on the islands?

    I see you and Alexander K are determined to get me to own an antique car in another country ;-)

  18. Larry Ledwick says:

    Change interval depends on the engine series – on the 1988 vintage wagon the change interval is 60k miles – they reliably break about 65K (good news that engine is a non-interference engine, broke 2 no harm no foul)

    The later engines are improved and go 105 K on the belts.

  19. Ian W says:

    I can remember many years ago trying to change the oil on a Fiat 124. The sump plug was a socket that required a non-standard Allen key. I went to the Fiat agent’s parts department and there was a bin of Allen key sump plug spanners. I asked the engineer there why it was that Fiat had the non standard sump plugs. He said “so I can sell spanners”.

  20. EM – the only reason I use an old car (30 year-old Renault 5 Diesel) is because I can fix it with the tools I have, and it was well-designed in the first place. The fact that it actually achieves almost as good miles per gallon as the modern Eco-vehicles is a nice plus (around 4 litres per 100km). A newer one would need more special tools, and a recent one might well have an inbuilt computer that, as a spare, is well over-priced for what it is and where all the necessary connectors have inbuilt failure-mechanisms from fretting and standard contact failures. Intermittent faults in those are very hard to find, so taking it into the garage to get it fixed could result in a very high bill, with the fault maybe returning. With the Renault, most parts are still available new and the secondhand parts are not too expensive. I’ll likely run it until I can’t get the parts (or make them when needed).

    The giant Allen key probably makes sense if the engine is out of the car, and would be accessible (after all, it’s built on a production line). How often does a starter motor go wrong, after all? It’s only if the engine hasn’t been well-kept (so it’s taking a lot of turning to start it) or the engine has really high mileage that you’d wear the brushes out. It should therefore be something you’ll only need to fix once in the life of the car, and that would be when the engine is out anyway for new rings or bearings.

    Having the job done at the garage to be sure it’s done right doesn’t always work out that way, of course. Helps if you know the mechanic and can gauge their competence. Where you’re being paid a lot per hour and you pay less than that to the garage, better to use the garage, but now you’re not getting paid that much DIY looks a better deal. You will then know what’s done well and what will need doing at some point in future. Still, it does get harder to actually get under the car as we get older.

    One advantage about owning an old, battered, and nondescript car is that people with nice shiny new ones will give you a bit more road-space. Another advantage is that it’s less likely to get stolen. Against that you’ve got the problem that they will need more maintenance as things reach end-of-life, and that the design may not have been as reliable to begin with. Also, as you’ve noticed, there aren’t as many garages that will fix them. I wouldn’t suggest getting a “rare” car because of the spares problem if you actually want it for daily use and long trips. Maybe nice and pretty too, but a pain in the butt when you’re trying to get replacement parts.

    Good luck with the new transport!

  21. Power Grab says:

    May I ask a couple of questions while we’ve got our motor-mechanic hats on? ;-)

    My cars are old (27 and 16 years), but not exotic specimens like yours!

    My 1991 Buick Century has gotten choosy as to when it decides to let all the parts inside the ignition work together and do more than just, oh, say, turn on the dash lights and unlock the steering wheel…and actually start the car. We had some ungodly cold weather in the last couple of weeks and it decided to take a vacation. It almost seems like the parts inside the ignition have shrunk due to the cold. The last time I started it the weather was in the 40s. And the key was warm from my pocket… Maybe if I had a way to warm up a spare key after one gets cold…?

    The starter itself seems fine. I have had bad starters, and this isn’t that. The battery is fine. I have had bad batteries, and this isn’t that. It’s just that something inside the ignition switch(?) seems too loose after 27 years and can’t quite get it all together when it gets below 10 outside.

    Today we topped 50, and the next week or so looks practically balmy. So I will take another shot at. I should be able to drive around however long I want to. But when I turn it off, will it start up again without having to try 15-20 times? Or more?

    I talked to my mechanic about it. Without looking at it, he seems to agree that the ignition switch(?) needs replacing. Does that sound right to all you people? He quoted me about $240 for the job. Or is there something else (besides starter or battery) that might misbehave intermittently, and worse when it’s unseasonably cold?

    I’m trying to limp to the end of the month before springing for the repair. That means I’m having to deprive my kid of the 2002 Honda Civic.

    Which brings up the second question: The Civic’s odometer is less than a tank of gas from 200K miles. I’m getting a little blinky message on the dash every time I start it up, to the effect that it wants maintenance. Are we talking big bucks for 200K Civic maintenance? The car was given to me about 3-4 years ago. I have put maybe $1000-$1300 into it for repairs. (A pin was stuck in the brake(s) which made it not want to stop unless you stood on the pedal. If you ran the AC on a real hot day while stopped, it would die and not want to run again for 2-3 hours. That was apparently the TDC sensor; after it was replaced, the problem went away. I replaced the radiator.) I used to be afraid to take it on a road trip, but not so much now. It seems pretty well behaved.

    Wait, one more question: The Civic’s airbag has been recalled. I have dragged my feet on that because the local dealer has to do it (instead of my regular mechanic) and they have to have appointments. I have been insanely busy for many months now. It would be a real PITA to have to do without it at this time. Are they going to find something else to charge big bucks for if I take it in for the airbag replacement? Is that how this game is played? Or do I have to act all stern and cranky to get them to only do the airbag and nothing else I haven’t asked for? I can do stern and cranky, but I don’t enjoy it. I have cultivated the opposite demeanor for many years and hate to get out of character just for show.

  22. Larry Ledwick says:

    Ignition switches getting funky is not unheard of at high mileage, it could also be related electronics. For example years ago I had one that would periodically refuse to start. It had (as do most modern cars with manual transmissions) a neutral safety switch (it would not start unless the clutch was depressed) that sensor switch was getting sticky. Once that was fixed problem went away. There are several ways the manufactures accomplish the safety. On automatic transmissions they have a sensor switch that detects if the transmission is in park. Manual transmission setups detect either the clutch being depressed or the brake being depressed.

    The steering column switch is a pain to replace so that repair bill sounds about right (around 2 hours work plus the parts.)

    On an automatic car try jiggling the shift selector to see if the switch that senses it is in park is getting sticky when cold. On a manual check switchs they might be mechanical on the peddle under the dash or somewhere else in the linkage like a hydraulic pressure switch if it has a hydraulic clutch. You might want to do a google search for “no start when cold” on your make and model to see if it has a favorite way of failing when high mileage.

    The check engine light indicates the engine management system has thrown an error code. If the light just comes on and stays on or comes on steady and then after several driving cycles goes away it is probably not crictical. It is probably urgent if the check engine light flashes.

    Many auto parts stores here in Colorado will pull the error code for free, or if you know someone who has a code reader you can pull it yourself. Then look up the error code and judge for yourself if it is an urgent issue. It might be something like “miss detected cylinder #1” which could be fixed with a tune up. Most of the codes are standardized but each model car might have a few codes unique to that car.


    Some codes will clear after a few driving cycles without the error. I have had a couple cars that throw codes only in cold weather but in the summer time the codes go away.

    If you can’t get anyone to pull the code, for you take it to the shop you plan on doing the work and ask them to pull the code for you, so you can make a decision on when to do the work. That will give them a hint you have a clue and if the pull a code for misfire it will be hard for them to explain doing work that does not fix a misfire. Older cars sometimes get nuisance codes as sensors get old. Could be an old cracked rubber vacuum line to a sensor leaking air, could be a bad sensor. On older cars the O2 sensor sometimes get lazy and does not respond fast enough to keep the engine management system happy which results in bad fuel air mixture and misfires too rich or too lean conditions etc. Some error codes can be caused by small exhaust leaks or cracks in the exhaust system that leak air and that confuses the O2 sensors.

    The usual drill is pull the error code and then clear the code and see if it comes right back. It might come back immediately or a day or two later. Then pull the code again and check to see if it is the same code you pulled earlier. Sometimes the car will throw 2 -3 different codes all related to the same problem.

    The code readers are pretty cheap now so they are pretty easy to find. ($35 – $100) be sure the code reader you buy will pull the codes on your make and model – being a Honda that should not be difficult given they are so popular.

    Once you get the codes pulled a google search will give you a good idea if that code has a common cause for you make and model, and help you decide what you should do to fix it or if it can be safely ignored for a while.

  23. Power Grab – it may be worth checking the connector to the solenoid on the starter motor. Last time I had that “won’t turn the starter motor” problem, it was that. The connector can get oily and wet, so try cleaning it with WD40 or similar, and then disconnect it and clean the inside and the connector it fits on to. If this is a standard spade terminal, then maybe a bit of judicious squeezing of the female spade may be useful, so it holds tight.

  24. jim2 says:

    @Power Grab says: 19 January 2018 at 6:35 am

    The air bags on my Honda Accord had to be replaced. I asked if they could replace the cruise control switch on the steering wheel while they had it apart, at a discount. Of course they … WOULD not. It would be an extra $400. No thanks, says I.

  25. Glenn999 says:

    Power Grab
    Ignition Switch on my 1986 F150 was replaced and solved lots of problems. Also replaced the solenoid and now things are running great. Price on Ignition switch also sounds right.

  26. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, just back from a marathon afternoon of California Registration… Subaru passed the smog check just fine on the first try. Now I can see about a tune-up ;-) (The “trick” there is that if your car simply can’t get through smog, you must spend some magic number of $$ trying, so if you have not yet had a tune up, that counts… but if you already did that, you must do other expensive stuff… So always just check it once first.)

    At this point I’ve also checked the manual. Says to do that inspect / replace at 100,something K mile intervals. So it’s up for that. Local mechanic says $950. I might, or might not, try it myself…

    At this point it definitely needs brakes, that I know I can do myself, and a fluids change that I’m also OK with DIY. Basic tune up will likely go to a mechanic as I’m not familiar with what all it takes (being a car from the computer with steering wheel era…). That leaves a clicking half shaft on hard right turns.

    The mechanic quoted about one hour of labor on that one, so I’m thinking I might give it a go myself too. I need to look up the procedure to see, but if like most, it’s take the wheel / brake assembly / rotor / bearing off, swap shaft (and gasket at differential) and put stuff back on. I’ll know more when I watch a video on it and take one wheel off to asses the brakes…

    Having rebuilt a Honda Motorcycle or two, overhauled several air cooled VW engines and one manual transmission, and rebuilt the top end of a Ford Courier (Mazda) pickup, plus sundry things on a few Hondas, I’m figuring I can handle the suspension and tune up stuff. I’m going to re-watch the video on the timing belt (well, really, find one just on it… the one I watched was rebuild the whole engine and, oh yeah, do the belt…) and then decide how ambitious I am.

    As this is presently a 3rd car, I figure I’ll get about 2,000 miles on it this year. Well inside the safety band of the service interval, so unlikely to be essential to do the belt Right Now. I figure I’ll find out how to do an inspection first and then make the call… Similarly, the CV joint / shaft click (I think… at least the Honda would go several hundred / a thousand miles once making noise…)

    All that ought to be still inside my estimated value vs cost envelope. So far no surprises. Oh, and the tires are high end Bridgstones with 80,000 mile rating and found the warrantee in the glove box… bought 7,000 miles ago. So the car was being kept up to the end.

    So now it’s a legal “driver”, and I just need to start rotating it into the maintenance cycles.


    Nice to know. I’ve got the 2.5 L engine ( I think ;-) and hope it is still a non-interference engine…

    @Ian W:

    Well, at least he was honest ;-) (Wonder if anyone sells standard size replacements on ebay…)


    That’s the role my 240 D is destined to fill. It needs to go to the shop for a suspension fix, then I want a new paint job on it. It’s got about 140,000 miles on a Million Mile Engine, so no worries there. (My last one of these had over 350,000 when I let it go…) Only the paint is really crappy.

    So part of the “role” of the Subaru is as Daily Driver once the 240 D goes off to restoration land. Then the 240 D is the “keep forever” and go anywhere car, while the Subaru is the “Folks in Florida know how to fix it” car for running around there (and maybe some coast to coast runs starting in a year or two).

    Yes, I see the 2000+ model year cars as disposable computers with steering wheels that can’t be fixed once 20 years old.

    FWIW, my Mercedes Diesels have reliably needed a starter swap at 160,000 to 170,000 mile intervals. I’ve done it twice in the same car… 165,000 and about 300,000.


    Yes, old ignition locks get loose and sometimes intermittent. On the Benz, they can tend to lock the steering wheel. You get “wiggle and go” 3 or maybe 4 times, then it just stays locked,… so at the first “wiggle and go” you go to the mechanic. About $100+ for the new tumbler set from the Dealer and then swap and go.

    The newer 1990s era 190D had the tumbler simply divide in two… but didn’t lock the wheel as it was the drivers door lock. It’s presently getting fixed…

    I’ve had a couple of Civics. Just make SURE you change the belt on schedule. Do have the water pump done then too. (It used to be $60 for the belt and $35 for the pump, probably double that now). If you do not do this, the water pump dies, takes the belt with it, and that puts your valves into a “bend or break the pistons” encounter…

    Oh, per Larry’s point: Yeah, it can be interlock sensors. The ’89 Mercedes has a “must be in park or neutral to start” switch that fails. Right now it will not start on cold days in park (so I put it in neutral…). Ask around to see if that’s common on your model /year.

    Have them do the air bag. Those were known to throw shrapnell into folks faces and you don’t want to discover yours is bad with a bump in the parking lot… Humidity makes failure more likely, so folks in the desert southwest less at risk that folks in the southeast.

  27. Wayne Job says:

    From an old engineer, the Subaru is a good deal it will go anywhere. I had a friend in the past that worked in the highlands of New Guinea, terrible dirt mountainous roads and rocky river crossings.
    He gave up on Toyota 4WDs and used a Subaru car ,late 70ties ,the big rocks in the rivers killed the rubber boots on the constant velocity joints, which he changed often, but they did not die like the big 4WD Toyotas.

  28. Seth Roentgen says:

    I’m on my 4th Subaru, and always did my own maintainence. My 1st Legacy Wagon got to well over 300,000 km before my ex-wife traded it. It still drove like new. Cam-belt changes are a snap. Pull the belt covers off. Get it lined up at TDC on no1 compression stroke. Remove the old and fit the new belt, tension and confirm that all the timing marks line up. Wind the engine round with a socket and ratchet, and re-confirm. That goes for the DOHC engines as well as the SOHC. Job jobbed.

    The only Subaru issues I had were on the 300,000km wagon. At about 200,000km a CV joint boot had gone and the joint started knocking. Solution: replace joint. At about 250,000km the cam belt driven pulleys were so worn that the cam timing slipped a tooth. Solution: replace drive and driven pulleys and belt. There are no mysteries with these cars. Allow yourself plenty of time, take your time and confirm youv’ve got it right.

  29. E.M.Smith says:

    I find it fascinating that the folks here have a high percentage of Subaru’s, Diesels, and generally a DIY attitude. Folks who can assess quality, durability, and value and know how things work. Wonder if that’s a general description of Skeptics?


    Interesting confirmation, since Toyota has a reputation of an Africa go anywhere truck too.

    I’ve been wanting one of these for a couple of decades. Started with the Outback in about 1979… for skiing and such. Got a Honda Civic instead (new) and that kept me occupied for the next 14 years… By 1994 when it “moved on” I was busy with a family and new house so moved into the used cheaper segment of the market and spouse got a new Honda Wagon in ’96 IIRC.

    But I kept watching Subaru’s the whole time. They are very durable AND folks just keep fixing them as they are not hard to repair. So finally I’ve made the leap. Lowest cost of entry I could find with good interior and body and without engine issues. Figured that will let me “explore” the “usual” repairs myself and see if I’m still any good at it ;-)


    Nice to know! I’ve watched a how-to video and it looked relatively easy, but it’s nice to have confirmation from someone who’s done it. (Or the alternative “FOO tends to be a bugger if you…”)

    At the going price is nearly $1k for that belt change, I’m leaning more to DIY. “They” use a kit that includes replacement water pump, idler pulleys and more. Looked like about 4 “things with wheels” on the ends. Plus various gaskets and seals. As this is at 200K miles (or about 325,000 km; I’m leaning toward the “if it moves, replace it” on that timing belt loop.

    This car will be low usage for a year or two. Maybe 2000 miles / year. During that time I’m going to repair the stuff that needs it. Then it will go on that long drive to Florida… Why the low miles? Well, I’ve got my 240 D for the around town stuff and the wife’s old wagon for long drives… This one is mostly for Florida and getting there, so I’ve got a while to prep it. Plus, it’s a automatic so the spouse can drive it if her car is out of service and I’ve got the other wagon.

    Once it’s “in proper condition” for reliable long drives, then we’ll retire one of the other older things. Like maybe the ’89 wagon. Folks in Florida just didn’t want to work on anything from the 19xx century. So it is unlikely to make that trek to Florida… But we’ll see.

    @Per Brakes & Half Shafts:

    Found some decent procedures for the brakes. Looks nearly trivial. About like the Hondas I used to do, and a bit simpler than the Mercedes (that I did a few times a decade back). Jack it up and remove the wheel. Remove bottom bolt in caliper, pivot it up. (Hang from {something} with a bungee cord) Swap out pads and shims (goop as needed). Pivot down and put back bolt and wheel. Plus all the usual details about making sure the fluid isn’t full in the reservoir if you just shove the piston back or use the bleeder valve; and inspecting rotors and all.

    Even the rear drum emergency brake is easy. Same basic design as the ’56 Chevy I did with my Dad all those decades ago, just smaller ;-)

    On the half shafts / CV Joints: There were 3 different causes / fixes stated. I’m hoping it’s a cheep one!

    1) Sheet metal behind the brakes / rotors can rust and cause the ticking sound. So need to figure out how to inspect for that. Hope that’s it ;-)

    2) Just dry joints / axle end. Put grease on splines of shaft end behind rotors. Regrease inside CV joint rubber. See if it shuts up. I’ll likely do that just as part of the brakes / inspection as all it seems to need is some grease and time.

    3) CV Joints / half shaft. There were three different procedures some folks used. One you had to mark / memorize bolts positions to avoid needing a realignment. Another one just dropped at the ball joint? and avoided that. That divided into removal of hardware above or below the ball joint based on having a lift, or not. So more pondering needed here. I’ll know more once I’ve done #2…


    Yet here it is a sunny warm enough Saturday about noon and I’m NOT out with a jack lifting the rear wheel for a brake inspection… So I’m wondering how many weeks of this before I give up on grand DIY ideas and just pay someone to replace the brake pads ;-) As usual “We’ll see.”

    Maybe I need a truly warm day and a 12 pack of beer ;-)

  30. Larry Ledwick says:

    Some folks suggest the smart way to do the front axle shafts / CV joints is to just buy rebuilt front axles and swap them out. If you plan on keeping the car for a long time (milage) it covers all the wear parts in one quick job.

    This looks like a supplier in your part of the country.


    For my 1999 Legacy Outback prices range from $55 to $79 per axle.

  31. E.M.Smith says:


    That’s basically the idea…

    I figure some warmish afternoon I’ll just take out one front axle and inspect it. Get an idea how much work it is to do the whole thing, or not, and see how worn it all seems. Then either fix a bit, or just put it back in, or buy a new remanufactured one to put back in. depending.

    But first I need to learn how to tell which one is clicking (or both) and get the ambition up to take a wheel off ;-) I’ll likely put another 3 months on it before I get to the axle point. Call it April or May. I expect I’ll go about 400 miles in that time, max, so not a big risk. All of it inside 10 miles of home and easy towing distance to many mechanics if needed. Frankly, I’d rather be a bit warm and sunny when doing this than cool headed for rain any time… For that, I’m just looking at brake pads and whatever I can inspect while I’m looking at that area.

    The nice thing is that having “spare cars”, I can have one out of action in the driveway for a while and just not care. Need to buy a couple of jack stands though… I had some 30 years ago, but who knows what happened to them…

    I DID inspect the brake pads today. Turns out it’s nearly trivial as you can see them through the wheel ;-) Both front and rear are essentially gone. Fronts still stopping the car, rear barely removing 1/2 the rust from the rotor surfaces. So before I drive it much of anywhere I’m going to pick up a set of pads and do the rear brakes at a minium. Most likely all 4 unless rain gets me.

    I know I most likely ought to do a rotor swap too, given a bit of rim ridge, but I ran my old Honda rotors way into Grooved Land and they still stopped the car fine. So I figure I’ll just “Muldoon” the pads, and leave the rotors for when I get to that whole “do the axles” thing. Pads are cheap and if that eats 20% of pad life, that’s like $10 or something so who cares. Frankly, on the Honda, I thought the rotors with rippled ridges had more surface area and stopped the car faster! “Texture” and all that ;-)

    My Mercedes Mechanic has an interesting trick for doing alignment. He just very very accurately measures distance between the inner edges of the wheels. (Make sure your rims are straight). Claims he gets better results that way than using his fancy gear. Car on the ground, measure. Adjust. Measure. Makes sense as that’s what’s actually happening ON the ground. I figure I’ll use that method when I play with front axles to return to the present settings. Then later take it in for an assessment at some shop after the work is done and see what they say. If I get it right, I’m done, if not, then they can make the final adjustment. We’ll see when that day comes and I learn more about it.

    So far, everything I’ve seen looks straight forward and clean to do. I’ve got most of the tools I’d ever need already (including floor hydraulic jack and compressor and air wrenches / sockets) but might need a couple of bigger sockets for the axles. Need to do a bit of tool organizing and cleaning first, though. Things have scattered a bit since 15 years ago when my Son and I overhauled a Honda 360 together…

    First size the job, prepare the work space and the tools, and plan the materials and schedule… I’m at roughly the “size the job” step with some plan the materials and thinking on prep of the work space.

  32. p.g.sharrow says:

    Several times I have had to realign front ends on various vehicles.
    need a flat smooth area
    center the steering wheel
    roll the vehicle a bit forward
    ether using a straight edge or eye ball front to back along the outer edge of the tires
    rear drive: front, should “sight” about an inch outside of the rear
    front or 4 wheel drive: should be aligned with the rears.
    roll forward and check again.

    While you are at it, use a level on the vertical to check for camber, they should be even and plumb, to a bit out, at the top. Twisted frame or worn bushings will result in spayed out at the bottom.

    I don’t know how many times I have paid professionals to align my vehicle and discovered that they did it wrong Just went out in a parking lot and DIY!
    Always a good idea to jack up each wheel and check for loose bearings and joints…pg

  33. Larry Ledwick says:

    The easiest way I have found to determine which one is clicking, is take a friend out to a large parking lot and drive in circles around them, they can usually tell by ear much easier than the driver can which side is clicking. You may also find it clicks more turning left than right for example, the clicker is usually the wheel on the inside of the turn that is more prone to clicking.

    Generally folks accelerate harder while taking left turns (trying to beat traffic) so that is the side I have had fail on my cars. The other thing you can do is get under the car and see if the half shafts are different lengths, the short one is more prone to CV joint problems (higher joint angles when hitting bumps)

  34. E.M.Smith says:

    Interesting… Subaru has an online parts dept (at very high prices) but with nice parts diagrams


    OK… now I need to find an open quiet empty garage and a friend with good hearing ;-)

    I think I also need to learn what “base” S and L types means… OEM Manuel in the glove box so I guess it will tell me what I bought…

  35. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes Subaru can be a bit proud when it comes to parts costs – but that is where you get a high mileage reliable car.

    Sending you an email with some additional info.

  36. Larry Ledwick says:

    That is why the rebuilt axle shaft is usually the best way to go, most of the parts get reused and you only end up paying for seals and a few wear parts. Cheaper that buying random single parts and doing the work yourself in almost all cases. Also some of that drive line stuff requires special tools .

  37. E.M.Smith says:

    Hmmm looking at the wiki, I’ve got the top end job:


    Forester L came with a high level of standard equipment, including ABS, air conditioning, power windows, power locks, cruise control, digital temperature gauge, multi-reflector halogen headlights, fog lights, roof rack, rear window defogger, trailer harness connector, reclining front bucket seats with adjustable lumbar support, tilt steering, tinted glass, AM/FM/cassette stereo with its antenna laminated in the left-rear quarter window. Notably new in 2001 were the three-point seatbelts for all five seating positions, including force limiters in front and height-adjustable shoulder belt anchors for front and rear outboard positions, plus rear seat headrests for all three seating positions.

    Forester S adds a viscous limited-slip differential, rear disc brakes, 16 × 6.5-inch alloy wheels with 215/60R16 tires (the L uses 15 × 6-inch steel wheels), upgraded moquette upholstery, heated front seats with net storage pockets in back, dual vanity mirrors, heated sideview mirrors, heated windshield wipers, and keyless entry. New equipment for 2001 included Titanium pearl paint for the bumpers and cladding; six-disc in-dash CD sound system; leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and handbrake handle; variable intermittent wipers with de-icers and driver’s side fin; and the five-spoke alloy wheels. Some models were equipped with the $1,000 optional premium package on the Forester S, including monotone paint (Sedona Red Pearl), power moonroof, front side-impact airbags, and gold accent wheels. Other options were the $800 automatic transmission, $39 chrome tailpipe cover and $183 auto-dimming rear-view mirror with compass, bringing the sticker price to $25,412 including $495 delivery (USA dollars quoted).

    I have rear disk brakes and that looks diagnostic of the S.

    Plus, when first driving it my bottom was being heated till I found the seat heater off position… I do have the CD Changer and leather stuff, plus the intermittent wipers and deice and five spoke wheels. I have a monotone silvery paint, moon roof, airbags all over, automatic transmission and the rear view mirror has no dimmer-flipper and claims to tell me what direction I’m pointed. Oh, and the tire size matches at 215/60R15.

    I don’t have red paint and don’t know if I’ve got a chrome tailpipe cover. Also don’t think the wheels have gold accents, but they are a bit worn and I don’t know what I’m looking for as “accents”, so maybe not ALL the options…

    I think that pretty much makes it the fully decked out one.

    I’m liking this car more each day ;-)

  38. Larry Ledwick says:

    You should be able to check the vin to confirm what your trim level is.
    Looks like 7 th character defines the trim


  39. E.M.Smith says:

    Decoding my VIN was fun! It IS an S with all the doo-dads!

    Also, looks like Subaru made both non-interference and interference engines.


    Interference or non-interference engine: If the timing belts breaks, the pistons and valves will collide, they will hit each other and basically ruin the engine. The 2.2L engine is a non-interference engine, all 2.5L engine are interference.

    Reference – http://www.cars101.com/subaru_terms.html

    So looks like I’ve got an interference engine and need to be very very careful with timing belt breaks or replacements…

    Also referring to the quote in your post, since 1997 ALL USDM Subaru engines are interference. That includes the 1997 and newer 2.2L. That year the pistons and heads were redesigned ( which included ‘solid’ lifters ). They were also redesigned in 1999 again for the 2.2L. ( in 1999 they used the 2.5L SOHC head )
    Yes, the 2.5L’s are all interference valves to pistons. The dohc’s can also be interference intake to exhaust valves in addition to pistons to valves. Symptoms of a bent/knicked valve could include loss of power and poor fuel economy. To check for this, among other engine issues, you would do a compression and/or cylinder leak down test.

    Not keen on interference engines with rubber timing belts, but have had a few.

    OTOH, I’ve had 2 Mercedes V-8 gas engines self destruct with metal timing chains. A 380 with single chain and a 420 with double chain where the chain guides wore out. As a consequence I really really don’t like interference engines as a design goal…

    But live with them…

  40. Larry Ledwick says:

    One of the unfortunate compromises in engine design. You can build a bullet proof none interference design like the ford flat head or a moderate compression overhead valve engine where the piston cannot contact the valves at any point in the engine cycle, but to do that you give up high compression ratios (high thermal efficiency) and low dead volume (low emissions).

    To get high thermal efficiencies you need to use at least moderate high compression ratios and to get good emissions you need to squeeze out all the dead space possible in the combustion chamber piston design (place top compression ring very close to the top of the piston) but when you do that you make the engine fragile and subject to breaking the upper ring land or upper compression ring if it detonates.

    It is a trade off that has to be made with modern engine design priorities for low emissions and the ability to make it still run on regular gasoline in an emergency – they walk a very fine line in engine fuel and timing mapping.

    The Subaru engine really loves octane, given its choice the engine sings on fuels over 105-110 octane, but will get by on lower octane fuels if every thing is right.

    The only times I have broken a timing belt on my 88 Subaru was during sudden rpm changes – once accelerating quickly to change lanes and the other while down shifting to make a turn. It is those shocking changes in engine rpm that result in belt whip and excess stress in the belt and idler system and end in either breaking a tired over mileage belt or causing the tensioners to lose control of the belt and it jumps a tooth, but that is only a worry if the engine is past its recommended service cycle for those parts.

  41. Power Grab says:

    Thanks, everyone, for the tips about dealing with my ignition switch. There are some good, actionable ideas that I can certainly make use of!

    My 1970 Toyota Corona had to have a CV joint replaced. It was clicking when I did the right turn into my driveway. After the repair, I decided I should take that turn more slowly. ;-)

    I have considered getting some kind of code reader ever since my brother asked years ago about whether I had any ideas what kind of hardware it would take to connect a laptop to his engine. I think it was considering going that route because the readers were pretty expensive.

    I haven’t done any research into that, but I do like the idea of being able to read my own codes using a technique more advanced than counting blinks.

    I have wondered if any code reader I bought might become obsolete sooner rather than later, making it a waste of money. But since I don’t replace cars very often, maybe that’s not a significant possibility for me?

    /…”computers with wheels”… LOL! Aren’t the newer ones even worse that way?

    Oh, I watched some of those videos of millennials struggling to open cans with manual can openers! What a hoot!! I mentioned that to my kid and said I thought we should have a lesson on that subject. Then I had to be reminded that we actually did that lesson not many weeks ago! i’m going to blame that memory loss on getting too little sleep. I work such long hours that, to get anything at all done at home, I have to sacrifice an average of 3 hours of sleep a night. Yeah, one of these days…

  42. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, read up on the axle change procedure. Lots of folks complaining of vibration at idle or acceleration with non-OEM axles. Lots of recommendations to get OEM Re-manufactured.

    Only issues I see are:

    1) It’s all dirty and rusted. Going to be a WD-40 day with goggles and would be better with a lift.

    2) That staked axle nut with 137? ft-lbs torque. My air wrench is a light duty and my torque wrench makes my hands uncomfortable at 100… AND they said to just let the air wrench take the stake out of the nut! I can see that being a bit of a bear. I once cut a 36mm? 39mm? axle nut of an old VW Bug air cooled circa 1967 year. Still have bad memories…

    3) There seems to be a half dozen sets of what to disconnect, or not, or what to bang on, or not. Deciding just who’s advice / procedure to use is, er, “an interesting question”…

    4) Lots of questions about just what axles to use and why. Somehow it never occurred to me that their would be types / makes of axles. Then folks getting vibrations or early failures from some replacements. I’d have thought there would be The One True Way / Part that surfaced as good.

    I’m now leaning just a little bit back toward paying a good shop to do the first one… but we’ll see how I feel after the adventure in brakes land…

  43. E.M.Smith says:


    Yeah, but I don’t have to like it… ;-}

    I think for the next few months, at least, I’m just going to drive the car only a little and with gentle hand / foot inputs…


    You only need to buy a new code reader when you buy a significantly newer car… Just figure $100 when you but that newer car for the newer code reader and that you will make it up in saved charges when you tell your mechanic what your reading / interpretation of the codes was. Lets them know they have an informed customer / opponent…

    FWIW, my Mercedes Mechanic has had what looks like the same code reader for at least a decade. Don’t know if it has presented any problems, but he uses it on all sorts of years of cars.
    I think he was griping about some cars from the last couple of years where some obscure codes were not known to it, but it wasn’t enough bother to buy a new one (and he uses it every day).

  44. Larry Ledwick says:

    The better code readers allow updates to the software to handle newer cars. As I mentioned earlier, the majority of the codes are industry standard (driven by emissions testing laws I believe) it is only obscure features that usually show up in the custom codes).

    The real issue for compatibility, is that there are several different interface plugs used. As I recall (it is freezing drizzle right now so not going to go over to the garage and try to dig it up) there are around 4 or 5 dominant interface plugs ( GM, Ford, German, Japanese etc.) If you check the fine print they will tell you which cars models and years they are compatible with.

    The several thousand dollar factory diagnostic tools can pull some extra info that is not available to the run of the mill readers, and run diagnostics, but that mostly just speeds up the analysis and points the way to a handful of odd situations.

    Most emissions problems are routine codes, like O2 sensor issues, misfire, excessive fuel trim, throttle position switch failure etc. (fuel trim is the effort by the engine management computer to get to the target fuel air mixture reported by the O2 sensor.)

    The O2 sensor reads available oxygen in the exhaust and tries to get near perfect combustion. Most cars have about +/- 15% fuel trim authority (ie 15% rich to 15% lean). So the O2 sensor reports too much unburned oxygen in the exhaust under what should be lean burn conditions (light throttle highway cruise fully warmed up), for the fuel delivered so it interprets that as being too lean fuel trim. It will dial up the fuel injector pulse width a bit and check to see if the issue resolves itself. This adaptive fuel trim allows it to compensate for changes in fuel density (seasonal change in fuels) different barometric pressure, aging of components, fuel pressure variation etc. The O2 sensor can be fooled how ever due to misfire, as a cylinder misfires it dumps a lot of unburned O2 into the exhaust, the emissions system can sense that as too lean and add even more fuel – so there are a few odd situations where the ECU gets confused and all it can do is throw and error code and let you figure out what is really going on.

    The modern Subaru’s have right about +/- 15% fuel trim, some cars go a bit higher (especially flexible fuel vehicles)

    The fuel change required to burn straight E85 is +30% over standard gasoline, so if you tune your Subaru so it needs to go to -15% fuel trim on gasoline, and put straight E85 in the tank it can dial up the fuel trim to +15% and in effect operate as a FFV. I did that on my WRX, by changing the fuel injectors and putting an adjustable fuel pressure regulator in it. When was racing it on straight E85. If I could not find E85 I would just pop the hood and dial back the fuel pressure a bit and fill it up with normal gasoline.

    The code reader I got from Autozone also showed things like the actual fuel trim in use, engine rpm etc. so with the code reader you could also do some simple tune up of the car if you understood what the functions were telling you.

    It is a good investment if you get one that handles a broad range of engine interfaces, and you don’t have that one car model that has some goofy one off plug or coding system. Mine has 4-5 plugs and according to the list would handle codes on all the modern engine management systems up to about 2004 (when I bought it). Any car that went to the digital codes rather than the early blinking light systems in that range. If I bought an update to the software it would probably work on current manufacture cars too.

    If your car uses those primitive blinking light codes I think you are stuck with using them (like my 88 subaru)

  45. EM – to loosen the rather large nuts holding the axle in place on the Renault, I use an extension bar (bit of strong steel tube around a yard long) on the wrench, and stand on it. Risk of bending the wrench of course, but works. The car needs to be standing on its own wheels with the brakes on and maybe an odd chock or two under the wheels to stop them rotating. Once the nut is loosened you can jack it up and remove it using a normal socket-wrench. Doing them up again afterwards is simply a reverse, and if you know your weight then you can get the torque right. Undoing them, of course, takes more torque than doing them up. Standing on the extension is better since, though you can probably apply more force lifting, it tends to lift the wheel off the ground.

    Like prop shafts, the drive shafts ought to be balanced after assembly to avoid vibrations at speed. If you’re replacing bearings etc. in an old shaft then that’s why you need to mark things so they stay in the same relative positions when you reassemble them. Maybe some of the rebuild companies do a bad job on this and/or don’t balance the shafts after the rebuild, which would require a special rig. Maybe a reason not to go for the cheapest rebuilt shaft supplier, but without inside information it’s hard to tell. It’s also maybe a reason to get the bits and do the rebuild yourself, if you’re not satisfied with the suppliers available. In a perfect world, of course each part of the assembly would be balanced at manufacture, and this wouldn’t matter. Real life, the tolerances build up.

    If the water-supply is available, maybe using a pressure-washer on the area to be worked on would make things nicer to work with. That removes the black stuff and the loose rust, and makes it more pleasant. Of course, a spray of WD40 on the threads and waiting for a while also helps.

  46. cdquarles says:

    Now you’re talking about my nephew’s business, which is cars and working on them. Code readers 1.x, 2.x, 3.x and maybe 4.x now. New readers generally work on older systems but old readers don’t work fully on newer systems. I’m not sure how often the on-board diagnostics systems change (my guess is a decade or so with point updates in the interim … I’ll ask my nephew if needed and I remember to do it). Current readers likely can be upgraded software wise, so get a good one now and it should be good for 10 or more years. Hopefully (not a strategy ;p), the whole industry has agreed to standard ports.

  47. E.M.Smith says:


    We call those “Cheater bars” here ;-)

    Once, long long ago about 1974, I was helping to remove the rear passenger side axle nut on an old VW Bug. We had a Sears 3/4 inch drive flex handle and about 4 feet of pipe on it. Standing on it, the drive square broke off ….

    In those days at least, you just walked into Sears with a broken tool and they handed you a new one. Figuring doing that 2 or 3 times with the same tool in the ONE Sears in town might tip them off that we were “cheating”, we used a hammer and cold chisel to cut the nut off. It had a decade or so of “stickage” to get through ;-)

    I know the drill, just don’t want to DO that drill again…

    OTOH, this looks like a much smaller nut and the nut finish looks less likely to have rust-welded itself in place (or maybe pressure welded…) That they say the air wrench will generally just remove it gives me some hope for an easy removal. I have a nice air wrench (gun) used for tires. My small compressor ( 1 Gal) is good for short bursts. I’ve also got a bigger compressor that’s not been used for a couple of years, so the hoses are shot. For $30 I can re-hose it for more power and longer run time of the air wrench.

    I think mostly I’m just having “stage fright” jitters before actually doing it again. It’s been 15 years of letting someone else do my cars. I’ll be fine once I’m up to my elbows in axle grease again…

    Looks like the “solution” to most of the vibration and fitment issues is just use an OEM Remanufactured axle and move on. Cheap Chinese somewhat out of spec seems to be the major thing to avoid. I’m OK with that. Doubt I’d rebuild my own when for $70 or so you can get good ones. (Would hang on to it long enough to assure the replacement wasn’t a problem prior to turning it in for core charges though).


    Neat Trick! with the E85! As I have this occasional desire to run E85 in something, I would love to have a “How To” write up as a posting. With specifics for things like reading what off the code reader and setting what gizmo to which reading… Hint Hint…

  48. catweazle666 says:

    “We had a Sears 3/4 inch drive flex handle and about 4 feet of pipe on it. Standing on it, the drive square broke off ….”

    Yes, I know the feeling!

    Back when I used to do a LOT of stuff like that on aged, recalcitrant threaded fasteners, I would have traded an important piece of my anatomy for one of these:


    A friend of mine acquired one recently and proudly demonstrated it, the way it releases nasty rusted-together exhaust joints and manifold nuts is a wonder to behold…

  49. EM – since I was using that 3ft “cheater” on a 1/2″ drive, breaking a 3/4″ one says maybe the Sears tool was in fact not up to scratch. The socket itself showed signs of splitting after 4 of those, though, so I have got a higher-quality socket. Mainly though, it’s that the nuts succumbed to that at around the same lb-ft of torque you’re specifying after being untouched for maybe a couple of decades, so it should work for you. For the R5, front nuts 184 lb-ft, rear ones only 118 lb-ft (and I suspect you weigh more than I do).

    Stage fright I can understand, since I wonder if I’m still up to it, but I figure they get people in to make the cars with only a short training, so it can’t be that hard. Main problem is finding the manual, since even the Haynes ones now seem printed on poor-quality paper and written by people who just aren’t as competent as they used to be.

    There used to be a hand-driven “rotary hammer” for those really nasty nuts. The shaft with the square end had a dumbell mounted on it that could be spun against a stop on the shaft to provide impact torque. I haven’t seen them around for a long time, but maybe it’s something I ought to make for the times when the air-hammers etc. aren’t available. More portable than the air-compressor, tubes and gun, too. It should be possible to start with a stout square-drive extension and machine up the spinner and the stopper on the shaft.

  50. Larry Ledwick says:

    After working as a repair and maintenance machinist where we took horribly abused things apart and tried to fix them, I learned that removing rusted bolts is a bit of an art. Just using brute force sometimes works, but it should be preceded with some prep to make life easier (and save the fastener).

    A brass punch and a big hammer, along with a penetrating oil are a huge help as is properly applied heat.

    (by the way apparently those induction heaters for bolts are not readily available in the US yet and at $400 to $500 a bit steep for anyone but a professional shop.)

    I first try torque and see if I can get it to move, if not I try tightening it, (sometimes they will tighten slightly because the corrosion is only on the end of the fastener. If you can get it move at all, wire brush the exposed portion and apply a penetrating lubricant.

    WD-40 is not your lubricant of choice for this!!
    There are many others which are much better.
    Liquid Wrench and good old fashioned 3 In 1 oil are my first choices. If those don’t get the job done than you reach for the magic sauce (50%/50% acetone and automatic transmission fluid)
    The low viscosity and wetting characteristic of the acetone will draw lubricant in to very very tight joints that laugh at other oils.

    The key is getting some sort of a break in the corrosion to allow the penetrating oil to be drawn in with capillary action.

    Turning the fastener if it will move at all, is one way.
    If that does not work mechanical shock (brass punch and hammer give it a good whack on what ever portion of the fastener you can reach) then try to apply torque again.

    If that fails, add quick heating of the nut without heating the internal fastener to allow it to expand a bit often accompanied with a bit of percussion persuasion from the hammer and punch.

    Time is your friend here and I have been known to fiddle with a rusted fastener over a period of 2-3 days to get that initial break so it will turn and draw in lubricant.

    Just powering it off with an air wrench causes huge friction heating on a dry fastener and galling of the threads, often totally destroying both the nut and threaded stud/bolt.

    I only do that when I decide the fastener is beyond help and start looking at options like drilling the nut and breaking it (drill 1/8 inch hole parallel to the stud in the bolt, then drive a nail set like tapered punch into the hole to physically split the nut)

    Or reach for the hot wrench (cutting torch or a really big hammer and a cold steel chisel)

    I am also a big fan of 3/4 inch drive ratchets and breaker bars and impact rated 6 point sockets on such fasteners.

  51. Larry Ledwick says:

    @I would love to have a “How To” write up as a posting.

    I will see what I can do, have done one a long time ago on one of the forums let me see if I can find the info.

  52. Larry Ledwick says:

    Sent you an email on the E85 posting.

  53. E.M.Smith says:


    We had TWO people standing on the cheater… (Well, really one plus one ‘loading up’ when it went). The socket was, IIRC, a 39 MM 6 point drive – i.e. not going to round the nut or socket. We’d had one guy try the bounce up and down and that wasn’t enough… He was about 160 lbs IIRC.

    Even with sledge hammers and a cold chisel it was a bear.. I don’t think the Sears flex handle was at fault… One of the engineering students in the group figured up the forces and pronounced it our abuse of the tool and that it was unlikely a replacement would survive either.

    The old VW Axle Nut was the same size as the main flywheel nut so you only needed one of those giant sockets. It might have been 36 mm… but one of those two. Figure about 1.5 inches

    Ah, looked it up:

    “36 mm hex – Flywheel gland nut and rear wheel gland nuts.”

    The Subaru one is much smaller and ought not to take nearly so much force, even if stuck. Not just less circumference, it looks like less thread length too.


    My Son and I had many adventures in Stuck Fastener Land on the motorcycles. Something about the particular metals used just seemed to lock them up like welded. I ended up using all sorts of oils, heat, impact, and even a nice little “hit it with a hammer” impact wrench. Still had to use a drill and “easy out” on some of them (3 different kinds of “easy out”!)

    I just cringe at the idea of doing it again on bigger bolts ;-)

    I’ll check the email…


    Well, I fixed the rear brakes. I just don’t know how…

    Ever have one of those times you go through the motions but nothing is “wrong”, yet it gets fixed?

    So I decide it’s a warm sunny Sunday, and picked up some cheap ass rear pads for $22.50 at O’Reilly Auto parts. The idea being to use them like Brillo Pads to scour the rotors for a couple of thousand miles and then see if I want new rotors and ceramic pads… Figure out the jack (scissors type) and jack points. Loosen rear wheel ( 3/4 nuts so Mercedes 17 mm socket useless…) and remove. Vision of rusted stuff in front of me. Clearly a Peninsula Car in the ocean fog zone.

    I find the lower bolt. IIRC it was a 14 mm. Wrench on. Nothing. LEAN on it. Nothing. Slides a little… Inspection shows the 12 point end and the bolt both showing “give”. Shift to open end. Nothing. Apply stabilizing pressure and whack with the lug nut wrench to percuss it. After a dozen whacks it starts to move. Bolt out, lift inner caliper, pivoting on top bolt. Remove one pad (with a bit of screw driver lever and wiggling). It has about 1/3 of the pad left.

    WTF? I thought there was NO pad left and it was at the limiter as there was zero removal of rust from the rotor surface with use. Just “coaster brakes” feeling.

    OK, I’m in here and I bought the pads, may as well finish swapping them. Two on, go to compress the piston. (Loosen cap on reservoir, fluid about 1/2 full) No joy. Squeeze. Push with big wrench. Tap. Put rod on rim and whack with lug wrench. Maybe it started to move. Use LARGE slip joint pliers and it moves… Lower caliper back over pads. Put in 14 mm bolt. Tighten to a firm hand tight. Put wheel back on (65 ft-lbs) and repeat on the other side.

    BOTH sides have pads with about 1/3 remaining. One of the two pads with the wear bar not yet used up (Inside pad on each side I think, but wasn’t really caring).

    Pump the brakes and go for a test drive. Better. Not great, but some brakes. I do a few up to 40 mph and stop cycles. Even better. I go home and visual inspection shows some of the rust off the rotors in back. Brakes about like old Ford now. “Good Enough”. Pedal still goes a bit further down than I like and a bit spongy, so needs fluid change and bleed; but at least now I’m OK with driving it and not feeling like it may never stop… Now, with firm pressure, it STOPS.

    I’ve fixed it.

    But why?

    It had pads. Kind of rust stuck, but the hydraulics ought to bust that loose.
    It had rusty rotors, but as soon as pads hit them they started to polish off the rust.
    It had a kind-of stuck slave cylinder, yet it DID move by hand tools (eventually).

    I’m just not sure at all what turned it from “no rear brakes” to “OK not great rear brakes”.

    Were the old pads some kind of hardened ceramic that became glassy on standing? Ought not be.
    Was it just unsticking stuck stuff? Maybe. But what now? Just drive it, or ought something be replaced? If so, what?
    Maybe just luck and a dry master cylinder seal got lubed with some use?

    I don’t know. But I have brakes.

    Other Bits:

    It was not hard AT ALL, even with the stuck bolts. I’d barely started my stuck fastener tricks. Now, with one change done, future changes are about a tire change plus 5 minutes.

    It is as easy as I’d hoped it would be. Easier than the Mercedes. I’ll be doing the fronts “soon”. Maybe next week. I expect those pads are in even better shape as the rotors are already bright, but may as well just to be sure of the actual status. Removed pads can go in the “emergency spares” box… i.e. junk unless you are desperate.

    I got to be up close and personal with the rear half-shafts. That dinky little axle nut is not nearly as imposing as the big one on the old VW. Plus, it was CLEAN. I’m encouraged to consider doing the axle myself.

    In the test drive after, I noticed no clicking on left turns. Only on right. I think that means it’s the right front 1/2 shaft… More testing to follow, but I’ll be playing with that one a bit more when I do the front brakes. (Stage fright over now that I’ve done the first Act ;-)

    I think I also need to figure out how to best “pickle” the surface of the brake parts so I can properly prime and paint them. “Rust” is not a pleasant surface treatment… These things are very easy to take apart, so ought to be easy to remove, clean, paint, and put back all on one long warm summer weekend.

    I need to do a full brake bleed fluid change. Maybe next week after the fronts are done.

    I found the “gold trim” on my wheels. “It’s not dirty yellow, that’s old gold trim!” ;-)

    I’m really really liking this car… and I’m happy to be a mechanic again, not just with 15 year old stories ;-) I’m also happy my $350 “quote” for rear brakes turned into $25 (with tax) and 2 beers ;-) I may yet need to put $100 of rotors into it (“they” had rotors and pads) but that’s still $125 vs $350. And I get to drink the beer ;-)

  54. jim2 says:

    RE: induction heater – neat idea :)

    I’ve used dry ice where heat has failed – on the inner piece rather than the outer one of course.

  55. E.M.Smith says:

    Propane torch is the easy traditional approach. Do not use near gas lines or brake line hoses ;-)

    Works reasonably well on nuts, not so useful on bolts….

    Oh, and once managed to “round off the fastener” on a 300TD glow plug attempting to change it at home with the wrong wrench…

    Got to watch my real pro mechanic braise an iron nut onto the brass like glow plug then just use the right wrench and turn it out…

    Sometimes it pays to “know a guy” ;-)

  56. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith: your brake problem sounds like dirt/corrosion under the boots of the slave cylinder. My experience is just replace the slaves. If you take them apart and clean them they will leak. They are too cheap to be worth the hassle of honing and and kitting and a real pain if they leak. Sometimes I have found that the inter-bore of the slaves is loaded with gunk as well. As long as the rotors are not deeply worn or gouged they should be fine with new pads. The main thing is just clean and lube the moving parts so they don’t jam or hang up,,,pg

  57. Power Grab says:

    Re the stuck bolts…EM, my ex used to put a “cheater” on the end of a wrench to give it more leverage. IIRC, it was usually just a piece of steel pipe where the inner diameter was a good fit for the handle of the wrench, and long enough to make less effort produce more results. IIRC, he also used lots of WD40. And when he re-assembled stuff, he often used anti-seize gunk.

  58. Larry Ledwick says:

    Permatex anti-sieze is your friend when dealing with suspension, exhaust and brake system parts which tend to rust in place. I highly recommend this stuff!


  59. EM – that bit of extra information…. Yep, maybe an overload.

    For the brake caliper, it sounds like the pistons had rusted to the cylinder walls and thus the pistons were simply stuck in place. Pushing them in should have moved the seals to an unrusted part of the bore and made them moveable, but may be a problem with leaking seals when you’ve worn the pads down to the same level as they were. Probably not a problem right now, therefore, but maybe plan to replace those calipers at some point in the next couple of years. Good condition pistons should push back using hand pressure, though it’s been a long time since I had pistons that good. It’s on my list of “jobs to do” when the weather is nice, too.

    Of course there’s the question of why the bores have rusted, but brake fluid does tend to be hygroscopic and so if it’s not changed often enough then the water in it can produce rust. Also boils when the fluid gets hot and thus reduces brake pressure and makes the brake pedal spongy. Flushing out the old fluid would seem a good idea.

    I tend to use a Copper-based anti-seize lubricant on the various nasty nuts when reassembling, and for parts like brake-caliper slides where they say to not lubricate them but it obviously needs something to stop it sticking. It does make it easier next time you have to do the job. I’ve had the same tube of it for maybe 15-20 years, since it needs very little.

    Apart from the cost benefit, the nice thing about doing the work is that you note all the other little problems you encounter on the way, and can plan to get them done when it suits you rather than possibly needing to book an urgent garage job when it fails.

  60. E.M.Smith says:

    The car came from a high humidity zone of the peninsula (between ocean and bay with daily fog in many seasons) and has significant rusty spots on specific exposed metals (iron that’s exposed) but not anything more than light surface rust. That is, no damaging body rust like back east gets. Just some various nuts and bolts and exterior of calipers and rotors and such.

    It was reputed to have sat unused for 6 months and evidence supports that. (Battery dead, but recovered on charging, rust on face of rotors, but wore off with first few miles of use for the front rotors).

    I’m thinking Simon has it right. Condensation in the brake fluid and no heating driving the water out. Use (i.e. heating up the brakes) has made them less spongy.

    Likely it was over a year from last service when it was left to sit in the garage for 6 months. Plenty of time for water in the brakes to seize a piston in the low point.

    OK, speed up that “bleed the brakes and fluid change” process time ;-)

    As long as they are working, I’m not going to change the calipers; but I’m going to start planning and pricing. I agree with P.G. that rebuilding isn’t worth it. I’ve done it before and mostly you find the inside pitted and the new seals don’t seal to pits well… It’s easier and better to just swap to a replacement part.

    As of now, about 1/2 of each rotor surface is showing shiny metal as the rust get polished off. Stopping improving with each use. (And that’s only about a dozen stops…) I’m happy with the brakes as of now, and know they are getting even better.

    @Power Grab:

    Well, I used the “thump it” method mostly just because I was too lazy to go into the house and get my proper socket set. There wasn’t enough room in the wheel well for a pipe cheater, but a socket on a swivel extender with a long handle ratchet would have been easier… had I not been a lazy bum about it ;-)

    @Anti-Seize & lube Topic:

    Next run to the store I’ll need to get some. I thought about it when putting the 14mm bolt back in, but figured I was just doing a “get them working at all” fast fix and was not going to wait long enough for the bolt to stick again before I was back in there doing the final fix. But then, I’m going to need something like that I think…

    I’ll likely have by the time I do the fronts. I also want to get something to lube / coat the backs and edges of the pads, but not sure just what. I’m also going to be putting protective coatings on any surface that looks prone to rusting. So paint on calipers and rotor rims, grease or goo on places that benefit from that, etc. The wiper beam (from motor to thing that holds the blade) has a rusty outer face on both of them. Sides and backsides are fine, so I figure the front was thin black paint and weathered through enough for rust to start. Those will be hand sanded and touch-up painted flat black again.

    It’s very strange, the pattern of rust. Almost nothing over almost all of the car; then a few simple iron parts or surfaces with a layer of rust, and some ‘white fluffy spots’ on exterior aluminum bits in the engine bay (like alternator case). Nothing very deep at all, just light surface stuff. I think it likely happened in 6 months of cold and dank. Heating in use usually prevents that along with “road oil” getting on exposed parts acting as protection. So I figure some modest time spent finding, buffing, and coating those places and it will be really pristine. And maybe an engine wash IF I can figure out how to do it without putting water where it doesn’t belong ;-)

  61. Larry Geiger says:

    “Sometimes I wonder about my sanity, other times I’m sure…” We all wonder also. But maybe that says more about us than you :-)
    “WD-40 is not your lubricant of choice for this!!” Find some AeroKroil. It really is amazing sometimes. Soak it down overnight and then try again. Not always perfect but sometimes it frees up stuff you would never think would come apart. I’m on my second can in almost 30 years. It has saved me several times. Patience is a virtue.
    The new Ryobi battery powered grinder is really cool. If it’s a bolt, cut the head or the nut off and just replace it. If possible. I love the sound of that thing spinning up, wrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaah. Sparks everywhere. Wear eye protection. Spun it up yesterday cutting ClosetMaid wire shelves for a closet re-do. So cool.

  62. Larry Geiger says:

    I have rebuilt several brake calipers. It’s kind of fun. Rejected one or two because of pitting in the cylinder, but otherwise, all the others worked fine. Disk brakes are such a fun job. I just kind of like fixing and cleaning up everything in there.
    1960 something Ford Econoline van. Drum brakes all around. Oh my goodness, what a mess to clean up. My dad bought this thing for the family and we drove it all over the place but the brake job took forever and it was a nightmare. One of my first real jobs. I was 15 or 15. Learned to hate drums. My first car was a Volvo wagon with discs all around. Used to go to the junk parts place in Bithlo east of Orlando to get parts. Bought all my replacement pads and calipers there. Took a set of metric sockets and pulled them myself. I was 18. It was fun.
    I was 18. Bought my first car. A Volvo wagon. I was the geekiest of the geeks :-)
    I bought my second Volvo wagon for $2800. Drove it over 100,000 miles. About 64,000 to over 175,000.. Sold it for $800. Maybe replace a water pump or alternator (besides tires, gas and oil). Could have given it away and would still have gotten all my value out of it.

  63. Larry Ledwick says:

    The fluffy white spots in the engine bay aluminum stuff is normal for Subaru’s I think it is due to the choice of aluminum alloys they use and common road salt (or sea salt).

    A good wash with a power washer in a do it yourself car wash followed with a bit of WD-40 or similar light oil ( this is what WD-40 was designed for, used on Atlas Missiles as I recall to control random atmospheric corrosion).

    Yep sounds like you just need to re-bed the brakes to get most of your stopping power back. A couple of good hard pull downs from speed, let it cool a bit, then a couple of 98% brake effort stops in a safe place will get your rotors all bright and shiny again and restore normal brake effort.

    Your pads might have been slightly glazed too if it was a grandma’s car and they tended to ride the brakes a bit. A couple good hard stops with cooling periods will strip off any glazing and cook the pads enough to restore their normal friction behavior.

    On the engine wash, I assume your engine bay looks like this:

    On my subarus, I have washed the engines many times.
    Give the distributor a light spritz of WD-40, and wrap the distributor with a piece of plastic just to keep the water jet from directly impacting the ignition wire boots, try to keep the spray nozzle away from the ignition coil and distributor so you don’t drive water into them and be judicious about the alternator (quick hit of the spray does not seem to be a problem), and avoid really blasting the connectors for other electronics. Then once done washing the engine – “immediately” start the engine and let it get up to full operating temperature, this dries things off before the water has a chance to find its way into tiny crevices and wick into places you don’t want it.

    I do the engine wash last, rip off the plastic, jump in the drivers seat start it and then go for a short drive to blow off excess water and get the engine bay dried out a bit.

    If engine is heavily gunked up I will spray it down with that engine cleaning stuff (basically a light oil in a spray can) let it soak a bit while I prep the distributor with plastic, then do the wash.

  64. E.M.Smith says:

    Sidebar note on Mexican Fast Food:

    On the bus ride back from Las Vegas, it stopped in Avenal (1/2 way from Los Angeles to Silicon Valley) for a 1/2 hour lunch break. Buses do that some times, usually at places with fairly limited and mediocre choices. This one stopped at the large “76” truck stop on the West side of the road. (It is on it’s own exit so there isn’t much chance of confusion what with nothing else nearby).

    Well, it had a Mexican Fast Food place in it along with a Subway Sandwich shop. Being extraordinarily fond of Mexican food (having grown up on it 1/2 the time), I decided to try it. I was VERY pleasantly surprised. The Tortillas (I had flour) looked to be home made. The frejoles refritos were done right. The Spanish Rice was properly colored and flavored (and without the bits of corn and chunks of peppers or tomatoes floating in them that Fru Fru chefs do to try and “make it special” – comfort food is NOT about “special” aka strange…). Realize the rice, beans, and tortillas are the basic meal. Everything else is the added special dish of the day. Tamales and even enchiladas were more of holiday or special occasion foods when I was growing up.

    So I looked over the menu board. Lots of good choices. Very heavy on sea foods (which seems to be their specialty focus). But my favorite is carnitas. Something about properly done carnitas is just hard to explain. Meaty and soft while at the same time having flavor rich “crusty bits”. Some “kick” in the sauce, but not so much as to overpower the sweetness and umami of the base meat chunks. On the board was a “Pork plate”. I asked the (very Mexican looking) guy running the counter “Is the pork plate Carnitas?” He gave me a smile of approval and with accented English said yes, they were. So that’s what I ordered.

    The name of the place is Asaderos Mexican Seafood at 44779 South Lassen Avenue, Avenal, California 93204.

    My Carnitas plate was a very nice quantity. The quality was also quite authentic and good. Not the greatest carnitas I’ve ever had, but well into the top quartile. It was $10.99 for the #12 plate and $1.99 for the iced tea (soda). With tax and all $13.92 for a meal that was big enough to have “left overs” for dinner that night ( I got it in the to go tray box) and have nothing wasted. It comes with a nice salad and dressing too. Some slices of tomato on top. For fast food, it’s far far better than the rest of the class. Now I’m wondering about their seafoods, as that is their main focus. If their “oh yeah” carnitas are that well done, what they really care about ought to be even better ;-)

    As I’m often making a gas stop at about the 1/2 way point, I’d typically gas up at Kettleman City. There’s several gas stations there and the farthest one (A Beacon of Valero or some other not quite big 3 kind of brand) has decent Diesel prices. Then I’d eat junk food from the snake shop or get some generic fast food that was entirely forgettable. From here on out, I’ll be making a food stop at Asaderos. As to the gas, I’ll need to comparison shop gas prices. IIRC, the ’76 wasn’t too bad, but the other one was lower (I’m pretty sure it is now a Valero but started life as something else, thus the overlapping memories of the brand…). As I’m more likely to be driving a Regular Gas Subaru now, I need to re-do the gas strategy anyway. Regular is much more uniform in pricing than Diesel. If it’s just a penny or two, I’ll get gas and food at the truck stop.

    One thing is certain:

    My days of getting Taco Bell at Kettleman City are so so over ;-)

    @Larry L:

    Thanks for the wash procedure.

    Yeah, the engine looks like that, only a little more so. I’ll likely do a preliminary rinse in the driveway with just how water via the garage sink hose fitting. Then an light overspray of some detergent from a misting bottle, then a re-rinse. After that I’ll see if it needs the powerwash stuff. Has the advantage, too, that IFF I muff the procedure it can sit in the sun in the driveway and dry out ;-)

    @Larry G:

    I almost bought a Volvo. When I got my first Diesel Wagon, it was only a Mercedes partly by accident. The dealer had one for fairly cheap. (Later found out they put a replacement AC radiator {condenser} in and forgot to remove the shipping plug, thus driving them nuts trying to fix the AC… so sold it off cheap as a ‘lemon’ – but my guy was able fo figure it out ;-) I was actively shopping Volvo Diesel Wagons as a lower priced just as good alternative.

    Ah, Bithlo. I think I got some parts for my old SLC there. Sort of North and Eastt area of Orlando. Some junk yard out there anyway. I’ve certainly seen the name on the signs while driving by.

    I’ve rebuilt master and slave cylinders before. I didn’t find it very hard to do. A bit messy, but not too bad. Only once was a mater cylinder rebuild thwarted by pitting (though a couple of slave cylinders were likely marginal…). But then rebuilt over the counter prices got so low as to not be really worth it. I’ll be taking the wheels apart at some point, and may well end up doing a rebuild on one of them “just to see” the condition inside. It will wait for some slow warm summer day, though, and a new supply of beer as the last one is all used up ;-)

  65. E.M.Smith says:

    Adventures In Car Maintenance Land:

    I ordered 2 tires for the spousal old wagon. Turned out they were a match to the brand on the rear axle that were to be replaced, but not to the ones on the front axle that were still treadful and to be kept. My Bad. ( I’d forgotten that the Mechanic had replaced two Yokohamas with Kumos a couple of years back…) So a return / reorder and another day wait.

    The interesting thing is the variable price…

    This particular tire shop, Just Tires, ordered from TireRack. The Yokohama Avid Envigor had been “next day from Nevada”. So were the Kumo Exacta LX Platinums… So both shipped “next day” and both from TireRack. Except, the Yokos were $75 base and the Kumos were $66 base yet they were almost exactly the same in the quote… Why?

    Seems one “next day shipping” was $17 the other was $29. One was UPS, the first was not. I didn’t ask what it was as the clerk was already ditzy and a bit lost…

    OK, end point for me was roughly the same price. I didn’t have to pay for the wrong order shipping. I wanted my tires on the car. All up out the door about $233 or something like that. (Remember the California sales tax of over 9%… )

    I’d originally said to toss an oil change on the bill too. Once checking in, the $28 standard oil change turned into a $50 mandatory synthetic oil change PLUS an unknown uplift for excess oil (my car wanted 6 quarts and they price based on 4). I asked why. They said “Because it is a Mercedes”… Well, new Mercedes may require synthetic ( I don’t know) but my old one does not. I’ve read the manual. Never mind I had the specs required in the user guide in the glove box, it was “Mandatory Upsell” or nothing. I chose nothing…

    On my way home I picked up a $20 gallon of full synthetic oil at Walmart (it was only $3 or $4 more than the regular gallon) and 2 x quarts of very good regular oil for $4 each. Yes, making up my own “synthetic blend”… Quaker State. Historically a good brand, and I’m hoping it still is.

    But Wait, there’s More!

    Not surprisingly, the Walmart parts advising tablet thing (books being passe now) had the FRAM filter number, but none were on the shelf…

    On the way home, stopped at O’Reilly Auto Parts. They have a “scan this bitmap image” thing instead of a parts book or a tablet. As my cell phone doesn’t scan things AND I don’t want to install whatever their App is on my phone anyway (they need not know who I am, what parts I want, or where I go…) I got to wait for the quasi-clueless clerk to look up the part. They had a choice of some brand I’d never heard of for about $5 or a “Mobile 1” brand “for synthetic oil” at $15. The Wix or Fram could be ordered for delivery in a day or two. I said no… Moving on…

    On the way further home I stopped at what had been a very good All Parts store. I’d not noticed the brand had changed on my way in as the colors were about the same. At the counter I asked about oil filters, none being on the shelf. Clerk asks make, model, year. Taps keyboard. Makes a face. Scurries off to the back room. (Talk to the customer? Why do that…) Comes back with a white box and hands it too me. It has “Carquest” logos all over the box.

    “What brand is Carquest?” I ask. (Dumb look…) “Is this your house brand?” (Confused look – seems the phrase “house brand” is unclear…) Clerk: “It’s either a Wix or a Bmumble”… Me: “OK, so this IS your house brand, your store brand.” Clerk: “It is either a Wix or a Bmumble.”…

    I decline to buy it with the statement “That may well be, but I want to know what brand I put on my Mercedes”. They wanted $11 anyway. He did offer that they had an even cheaper house brand if I wanted it…


    So tomorrow I go off on the Car Parts Store adventure. To find what car parts store has Mercedes oil filters by a name I know at a reasonable price. THEN I can change my own damn oil…

  66. Larry Ledwick says:

    I tend to buy my oil filters at NAPA parts stores, one of the local ones is great the other is not so great so it depends a bit on the local owner.

    For what it is worth the Wix oil filters are highly regarded in the import performance community, actually pretty good filters, much better than the trash Fram filters you find a walmart etc.
    I also like the Mobil1 filters they are a premium filter and one of the better ones in my view.

    Wix does make a lot of house brand filters from what I understand.
    I have used the Purolator one filters and no complaints. The synthetic elements are supposed to have better flow rate and particle capture than the cheapo cellulose. The really high end industrial hydraulic oil filters all have synthetic fiber filter elements as they have much better control over fiber size and pore size.


  67. jim2 says:

    I’ve replaced an entire auto AC system sans the evaporator. Whoever installed the AC radiator must have been working drunk AND stoned to miss the shipping plugs :)

  68. E.M.Smith says:


    It was only one plug missed, but it got pushed into the high side pressure inlet to where it was hard to see. Don’t know if it was like that at install or only after the compressor pushed it.

    My mechanic didn’t see it until he put compressed air in the other side and it popped out and flew across the garage ;-0 excitement for all…

    But yeah, how can you not realize it is plugged even if new and try blowing air through it… then again, parts monkeys are not known for diagnostic skill…


    I was looking for Wix or something German, didn’t want maybe-wix. I’ve never looked into Mobile filters so wasn’t going to pay up out of ignorance. Nearest Napa I know of is 15 miles away… ought to be one closer so a web search is next. I’ll likely hit Autozone and Pep Boys as they are on my way to everywhere else…

    It looks sunny and dry today, so guess I’ll be getting dirty :–)

  69. E.M.Smith says:

    At the end of the day, it was a bit of an adventure.

    I changed the oil in the spousal 300TE wagon. The 300 means inline 6 cylinder gas. The T means Touring i.e. wagon. The E is for fuel injection in German.

    First off, I had to do a web search to find the oil filter. It is between the air filter and the firewall. Black filter in a black hole with no clearance. Skipping over 3 trips to the auto parts store to buy various oil filter “wrenches” and pliers… I eventually got the oil filter loose with a design for purpose pliers AFTER removing the air filter housing in it’s entirety….

    THEN I could get enough grip with the “pliers” to remove the oil filter with extreme force. Someone does not understand the meaning of “hand tight” on the oil filter…

    This was after 3 trips to auto parts stores to find one with the filter. It would seem that Mercedes owners do not do home oil changes much….

    Then I ended up 1/2 squashing the filter to get it off. But, in the end, I won.

    OK, so I’ve managed to do a trivial oil change. All up, new jack stands and tools included, I’m at roughly break even. (Don’t count the value of 6 hours of Saturday warm sunny day…)

    Next time will be MUCH easier.

    I’ve also looked up the location of the Subaru oil filter. It will be far easier to reach, and I now have the tools.

    I do have to say: The much touted “German Engineering” does not leave me impresed. It is largely over complex and with things NOT designed for ease of repair. Much of it has an odor of “kludge” about it. The Air Filter housing is held on by 2 nuts with washer like skirts, one nut that’s a simple hex nut, AND an Allen wrench bolt that’s almost impossible to put a typical Allen Wrench key onto and turn. Really? You could not figure out how to use 5 of the same nut or bolt? You had a “kludge” of an allen wrench head bolt ’cause you could not mold a small indent in a plastic housing?


    OK, I’m happy anyway. I can now go about a year of “My Maintenance” before it goes to The Mechanic for the major service. Who knows, perhaps by then I’ll have mastered that bit, too.

    I did the valve adjustment on the Banana Boat a couple of times. It can’t be that much harder ;-)

  70. Larry Ledwick says:

    Oh by the way! On the Subaru oil filter, if you are not in the habit already of doing this, since it is a screw on filter that attaches from the bottom (ie right side up) it is recommended to fill it about 1/2 – 3/4 full of oil before you screw it on. That allows the system to build oil pressure almost instantly when you first fire the engine after replacing the filter.

    Not a big deal but just something the Subaru guys recommend.

    I think your car also uses the “Subaru crush washer” on the oil drain plug. This is a soft copper crush washer that is intended to be used only once.

    I have never had a problem reusing them if they are not boogered up (dents and dings) You can get them from Subaru dealerships, and a few autoparts stores but you can also get them on line from amazon.


    I believe this is the NAPA part number for them they sell them for about a dollar a pop if you want to buy a couple just in case:
    NAPA drain plug gasket- 704-1963

  71. E.M.Smith says:

    The Merc also had a copper washer. Being familiar with them from my VW days, I did the usual re-crush tighten process….

    I’ll likely lay in an inventory of a 1/2 dozen at some point for the Subaru…

    Yes, I pre-fill filters. The Merc 300TE has the filter facing down… so I did the Fill it and let it soak into the filter… then rapidly invert over the fitting and let it drain down….

    THEN I did the “several almost starts” to assure oil was pumped prior to the real start…

    This isn’t my first oil change rodeo… even if it has been 15 years since my last one ;-)

  72. E.M.Smith says:

    Minor update:

    Yesterday I had a professional mechanic inspect the car (Subaru Forester) and do engine fluids change.

    1) Oil Cooler hoses (little things about 1/2 inch diameter and 4 inches long) were looking sad and maybe leaking a bit. The oil cooler itself has a seal to the block that was leaking ( I *think* that’s the coolant side). Paid for that to all be fixed along with oil and coolant changes.

    2) Several suspension bushings are looking a bit sad. These are on sort of long U shaped things between the sway bars and the rest of the suspension. Quoted about $60 each + $40 labor each to replace them. I’m likely to do this myself as it looks easy and I’m pretty sure that parts cost is high.

    3) Going to do rotors and pads myself. The rust is coming off, but under that the surface is a bit irregular and has some pitting. As rotors are about $40 each at the local parts store, not worth the trouble to try refinishing the old ones, IMHO.

    4) Timing belt (under the cover, runs the valve trains and water pump) looked very good by eye. Mechanic pushed it down and up and said it was a bit less taught than he liked but that he figured it was about 20,000 to 30,000 miles before it ought to be replaced. I’m thinking on general principles to have the whole thing done and water pump too toward the end of this year, or about 5000 miles from now (as I’m not driving so much anymore…). Not going to worry about it until I’m about 10,000 miles more down the road and then will do a re-inspection if I’ve not replaced it.

    5) Ignition stuff and air cleaner all look good. Claimed the plug wires were looking old (based on the rubber feeling soft… an odd thing IMHO). “Someday” I’ll pull a plug and look at it, but it runs fine, passed smog, and it seems it’s a bit of a pain to pull the plugs. (Mechanic wanted $100 to do plugs and wires as they are ‘on the side and hard to reach’. I did old air cooled VW plugs for years and I’m not seeing what makes it all that hard…)

    6) The Biggie: Claims an oil leak from the power steering box. $800 part + $200 labor. I’m thinking there’s got to be a cheaper better way to reseal things. So R&D to be done.

    7) Right front axle shaft has a torn boot. Clicks. $160 to replace it parts and labor. Claims to have used a lot of some brand (CB? something like that, $60 part cost) without issues. I’ll likely let him do it since I can keep the OEM axle he takes out and play with rebuilding it IFF I get bored or “issues” start. Gives a 1 year warrantee on parts and labor…Worth the $120 to me just to have him break loose all the stuck bolts first ;-) and know it’s “Not my problem” for a year.

    8) Transmission pan gasket has very slight seepage kind of leak. For $100 will fix that, and do compete drive line fluids. Transmission, gear boxes, differentials… I’m thinking that sounds like a good deal since doing that on the ground is a PITA.

    9) No evidence of any head gasket issues.

    I think that was everything. Well inside my expected budget for unexpected repairs. Only real surprise is the steering box. Just seems kind of way expensive for a part, and especially if it is just a seal in that part. But who knows, maybe it’s precision hydraulics that have worn and must be replaced with new precision hydraulics… I’ll find out before I have anything done with it.

    The really happy thing is getting to see the valve timing belt looking pristine. Clean, no fraying, nor any real indication of age / wear. Only the degree of flex seemed to bother the mechanic. ( I thought tensioners were supposed to deal with that but he does Subaru’s for a living so I’ll accept that’s a valid way to test belt stretch and age; until proven otherwise)

    All in all, I’m quite happy. I figure I’ll do the brakes / suspension / plugs & wires stuff. Let him do the transmission gasket & driveline fluids change along with the axle. R&D / bargain over the steering box and figure out if “Pick N Pull” is a viable option if rebuilt parts are really several hundred $$$. it looks like a slow leak of power steering fluid, so cheap to feed it PS Fluid for a year of not much driving while I learn more about it.

    I figure I’ll be about $2400 into it for Car + Repairs for everything BUT the PS box issue. Even with that, I’ll be in an OK total cost for a car with all that stuff in proper order with great body and interior and nearly new tires. But IF I can get that particular repair cost significantly lower I’ll be significantly happier ;-)

  73. Another Ian says:


    IIRC from some old machinery sites I think NAPA filters are Wix. Something about you drop the first number on one of them to get the interchange.

    IIRC as we don’t get either here

  74. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    Thanks! I’ll look into NAPA parts. The nearest store is a bit far from me, but not bad. I used to go to a NAPA store a few decades back when I lived nearer to one and liked them. For this last oil change on the Mercedes 300TE I just used a Champion brand (mostly because I gave up after 3 parts stores and just bought something.)

    FWIW per the Subaru:

    I have put new rotors on all around and the right front axle will be done later today.

    At that point, it will pretty much be down to the power steering box leak and some suspension bushing things. The suspension stuff looks pretty easy ( I need to figure out if they are under pressure at rest before I undo them and perhaps figure out a restraint to hold things in place while doing the bracket swap – or not if they are not under stress…)

    At some point I’ll drop $100 on having the drive train fluids changed and the transmission pan gasket. It’s not a priority but a “someday sanitation” issue.

    Mostly it is approaching “done” and everything important as it ought to be. Fun car!

  75. Another Ian says:


    The good griffin of Wix – NAPA filters

    6,609 posts
    Location:Eastern Virginia

    Report post

    Posted 4 hours ago



    You can get them from NAPA if you have them. NAPA 1664 (drop the first Wix digit).”


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