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94 Subaru Loyale front end replace?

Hi all, I recently bought a 94 Subaru Loyale Wagon for a young woman/ex marine who has had a spate of really bad luck with cheap cars. It has 182000 miles on it, the body was in good shape, the interior is worn but okay and it seemed to drive okay for such an old car. Engine missed a little - it can lose power at low speeds - to me this seems like fuel filter/gas line issues, but the engine seems okay. It had mismatched bad tires on it when we got it, so after new tires it rode better...but at highway speeds, 70 or so - there's still significant wobble in the steering.
It's electric windows are a little funky but work with some modification - I think the master panel in the drivers door is toast or close to toast - windows go down with the master control but only go up with the control on the passenger door itself for the shotgun seat. The go up s l o w l y.....

New front end? Tires were aligned and balanced, and it is better. Is this a Subaru thing? (I don't know these cars).

We were shooting for a car that would be repairable but still worth repairing, and this one seemed to fit the bill because it felt generally sound, but like any old car, has some problems. The running rough seemed to be an easy fix, the wobble at high speeds seems more like an expensive fix. Anyone know these cars? It's a wagon, four door, has optional 4WD that you kick in with a button on the shifter (how I miss cars like this), which appeared to work just fine. Everything else seems generally solid, in short, it was a reasonable buy for the 1400 bucks we paid for it. Would love any responses on this...as I know nothing about these cars.....thanks.

Comments

  • Does the shimmy occur when you go slower and press the brake?
  • So the OP's question is about the wobble at high speed? You don't buy and replace a whole "front end" of an AWD car. You find the problem in the front end and fix it.

    The wobble could be caused by the front end being significantly out of alignment. Some worn parts in the front end could allow too much "play" and that feels like a wobble. Even with new tires one or more wheels could be bend or out of round.

    Start by moving rear tires to the front and front to the back and see if the wobbles moves with the tires and wheels or not. If it moves then you have a wheel/tire problem.

    If it doesn't move now you have a front end or rear end issue. Both the front and rear of these cars are aligned so the next step is a 4 wheel alignment. The tech doing the alignment will check the suspension and steering parts for worn, broken, or loose parts. Make the needed repairs to complete the alignment and see if the wobble is gone.
  • Uncle Turbo! You are great! I'll follow through - I bought this car for a young woman and we will follow up. Thanks so much! I had a 98 Rav for a long time, how I miss that car, but it wasn't at all like this car - and did have to have the front end replaced when it got to really high miles, but I don't know which parts they actually replaced. So grateful! Thank you!
  • Shimmy happens at higher speeds, decreases at lower speeds. It's most noticeable at highway speeds, like 65 or 70. Yesterday it was pulling so hard to one side it scared her, and she's a Marine, so that's saying something, but she doesn't know cars as well as she knows tanks.
    When you drive it at low speeds the steering wheel feels "loose" as in, has play in the wheel, maybe 3 inches or so, when going down a straight road. If you're turning a corner though, it responds just fine, isn't loose if you turn them.
  • Update: Well looks like one of the ball joints was so toasted that the mechanics wouldn't take it on a test drive until they replaced it. The head gasket is also gone, alternator belt needs replacing. Other than that...it may be okay. With the ball joint repair we will have "bought" this car for two grand. To do the head gasket or not to do the head gasket....clutch seems fine, brakes are good, body is good, interior is adequate, suspension is okay, in the words of one mechanic, "fix it and you'll have a good beater" which is exactly what we wanted....but has the economy gotten to the point that "a good beater" is a 4 thousand dollar proposition?? Wow. I am amazed. It is, however a better bet than the other two she bought that lost engines and transmissions - head gaskets we can do for less than an entire power train. One mechanic said that Loyale's typically didn't have Subaru's famous head gasket problem, and questioned the diagnosis, but I think it's likely to be correct. Thoughts anyone?
  • edited September 2012
    FWIW, that one mechanic is right: Loyales didn't have head gasket problems. The head gaskets showed up around 1999 onward until about 2002/3.
    What makes you believe you have a head gasket problem? Many mechanics see 'Subaru' and that's what they'll say first, like a mantra.

  • My only thought is that perhaps in the future it would make more sense to get the inspection by the mechanic doen BEFORE the purchase rather than after.

    As to the young lady, she may have had a spat of bad luck with cars, but as an ex-marine she can walk proudly and with my humble respect for the rest of her days on this earth. Pass on my thanks for her service.
  • Ahhh if we'd had one nearby we would have. Looks like something is amiss with the front end after all...it over responds when you turn the wheel on the highway. Enough so that she won't drive it in winter. Tuned up okay but they couldntalignthe rear passenger wheel completely, got to within .75. But the concern about the steering persists. I suggested we take Tito a Subaru only garage to get a diagnosis..or simply sell it for less and take the loss. Can't be a winner every time. It's a tally hard to find any cars in the price point of less than two grand here...they all seem to be projects...


  • Have a friend with a 1.8 litre Brighton,the factory had to replace the heads finally,you have went this far, why start gambling again? you will probaly be better off to see this through now at this stage-Kevin
  • The over response on steering is an alignment issue. A bad ball joint or a sketchy tie rod will make a proper alignment difficult. At this age the rear bushings or rods may need replacement to put the rear back in line. In my area rust usually makes these a replacement item. The alignment shop may not have hit the mark correctly have them try again and really test drive it.
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