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Discussion Starter #1
I have an acquaintance who owns a 2008 Outback that all of the sudden starting knocking badly. 150K miles.

Dealership told them it was "bad" and it would be $1500 diagnostic fee to dig into the engine and tell them what's wrong!! They've decided to ditch it as is.

Right now the dealership will give them only $600 as a trade in for it and I bet they would sell it to me for that.

Should I take on this project haha? I figure at best case scenario it is the timing belt tensioner. At worst its spun a bearing or threw a rod and needs a new engine entirely.

What would a JDM engine cost? $1800?

Is it worth it to take on the project or too much work/risk? Thoughts?

I just did a head gasket job on an 02 outback and would feel fairly comfortable pulling the engine.

I have an audio file of the knocking but don't think I can attach it here.
 

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if you decide to drop in another engine, do some research to determine if the replacement has a 7mm oil pump. If so, upgrade to 9mm when doing the TB system service.

there's a long list somewhere but, you could just measure the pump's rotor thickness.

from what I have read and watching a coupla videos, tensioner knock will sorta come and go with rpms, rod knock only get s worse - louder and more aggressive. Also, a Blackstone oil analysis would find excessive iron/metals if a bearing is being pounded.
 

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if you decide to drop in another engine, do some research to determine if the replacement has a 7mm oil pump. If so, upgrade to 9mm when doing the TB system service.
Good advice to watch for pump size, but you'll need a 10mm pump to keep the AVLS happy (06+).

If the system hasn't been run TOO long after a spun bearing, the heads could be savable with a good cleaning. You can use a short block from many Legacy/Outback/Forester/Impreza, but 2008 would need a "PZEV" shortblock from an 06-09 Legacy/Outback, 06-11 Forester, 06-11 Impreza if you want true plug and play.

If you don't mind the loss of torque, a JDM EJ20 can be had for near $1200 delivered if you shop around.
 

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Be a good mate and give him the $600 and a box of beer. Then help him drink 'his' beers after he has helped you fix 'your' new car :grin2:
 
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the JDM EJ253 is a later version, like a US spec 2010-12.

so to make it drop in and match the 2008 ECU,...you would need to swap intakes and valve covers etc.
 

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. . Where ?

. . Where are you located? ? I'd give him double what the dealer will. .
. . 99% of the time it is a rod bearing. . I've only seen one tensioner make that noise in my life and it is easy to tell that it is coming from the front and not in the center. .
. . Low mile used engine anywhere from $1900 to $2600. . You can get a rebuilt long block for $2000 or a rebuilt short block for $1000. .
. . Remember, which ever way you go you will need to add timing components, oil pump and water pump. .
 

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Discussion Starter #9
hmmm. decisions. I'll probably go for it.

What are the exact EJ motors that would be a direct bolt up/ plug and play? I'm getting a bit confused looking at JDM stuff versus US stuff. I'd be interested in the EJ25 and EJ20 options. Last think I would ever want to do is get a motor that caused 20 extra hours of work because it didn't quite match.

It's an auto btw.
 

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hmmm. decisions. I'll probably go for it.

What are the exact EJ motors that would be a direct bolt up/ plug and play? I'm getting a bit confused looking at JDM stuff versus US stuff. I'd be interested in the EJ25 and EJ20 options. Last think I would ever want to do is get a motor that caused 20 extra hours of work because it didn't quite match.

It's an auto btw.
"Plug and Play" gets a bit tricky. How "plug and play" do you want? Auto and manual engines are the same (save for a flywheel/flexplate change).

For the EJ25, here are the options.

100% complete engine: 2006-2009 Legacy and Outback

Long block (heads + block): 2006-2011 Forester/Impreza, 2006-2009 Legacy/Outback

Short block: 2006-2009 Legacy/Outback, 2006-2011 Forester/Impreza, *2000-2005 Legacy/Outback, Forester/Impreza, ** 2010-2012 Legacy/Outback

* The oil pump will need changed to a 10mm pump. The pistons are not exactly the same design, but will work

** This engine requires extensive modifications (including drilling and tapping the block).

For the EJ20 (JDM/EDM), the options are roughly the same above, but EJ203 (from what I can find) does NOT come with AVLS (variable valve lift system). The engine will run and work fine, but the ECU will stay in "safety mode" with reduced engine power and fuel economy due to the missing components. This can be turned-off, but you need the help of a tuner with experience to do that. The EJ20 non-turbo swap makes more sense for pre-06 owners.

For the EJ25 (JDM/EDM), similar rules apply, but the rest of the world got mostly EJ20 and EE20 (diesels). The Ej25 didn't start appearing en masse until 2010, and that was in the legacy/outback chassis (of which is NOT easily adaptable). And pre-06 EJ25 didn't have the AVLS system.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the replies and help. So if I?m interpreting above correctly, I should avoid JDM stuff entirely? Looks like there either aren?t many of them or are not plug and play.

So buy a junk yard motor in America or a short block seems like my best 2 options.

I?ve done head gaskets but not a build up from a short block. Do you just bolts everything on or is it more complicated that that?

Do you generally buy a short block straight from Subaru?
 

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Thanks for the replies and help. So if I?m interpreting above correctly, I should avoid JDM stuff entirely? Looks like there either aren?t many of them or are not plug and play.

So buy a junk yard motor in America or a short block seems like my best 2 options.

I?ve done head gaskets but not a build up from a short block. Do you just bolts everything on or is it more complicated that that?

Do you generally buy a short block straight from Subaru?
$1500 buys a unused short block from subaru. (probably....I did not look at the price this minute)

or you could buy a long block out of a rear end wreck of a 2006-09 legacy / legacy outback., with a 30 day warranty / guaranty (hopefully that you can hear it run before you buy,...or if not get it in and running within 30 days to specify that it is 'good" and you don't want another.

car-part.com and similar.

and here and there, are shops that rebuild EJ253 and swap with you for $1800 or so. (not a bad deal as it limits your work).
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Project update. I bought the car for $700 and have discovered that the noise was at least primarily the timing belt. I took it all apart and the belt was frayed and trashed. Tensioner bolt had backed out and trashed its hole.

Timing was off 2 or 3 notches on the left cam but the engine ran ok before I took it apart (minus horrendous knocking). No CEL and idled fine.

About to throw new timing belt and components on it. Is there a way to double check if the valves are bent? Timing belt is already off. I’m guessing they aren’t but I don’t know for sure.
 

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About to throw new timing belt and components on it. Is there a way to double check if the valves are bent? Timing belt is already off. I’m guessing they aren’t but I don’t know for sure.
cheap mechanics stethoscope, to the heads/ valve covers.

and hand crank the timing belt when the covers are off.

and updating thread title...so you can keep going on this project on the same thread if you want to.

is this a leather limited? or a cloth seat one?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for changing it.

Black Cloth interior

So just listening for metal on metal contact? What am I listening for?
 

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Thanks for changing it.

Black Cloth interior

So just listening for metal on metal contact? What am I listening for?
rhythmic tapping like the valves contacting anything.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Update: looks like I got lucky. Everything went back together great. The timing belt tensioner and bracket were all torn up. Put new ones in and new idlers. Cranked right up and idled great. I’m assuming if I had bad valves that wouldn’t be the case.

I’m kind of falling in love with how easy the EJ25 is to work on. I’ve only owned Subarus for two months and it really easy pretty fun to work on them. Thanks for all the help.

I’ll do a test drive tomorrow but looks like I might have paid 4 hours and $900 for a perfectly running 08 outback haha.
 

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Looks like you ended up with a good car here.

In 500 miles or so, I'd suggest you pull the timing belt cover off for a quick inspection of the new belt you just installed to make sure all is well - just as a precaution, because of your description of the previous belt's condition.
 
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