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Girlfriend's 89 Subaru Justy has died

She was driving the car and to the best she can explain it started making a loud metallic sounding whining/whirling/screeching/fast high pitched clicking type of sound while driving at 55mph or so.

She, regrettably, continued driving the vehicle for a farther 5 minutes as the sound continued and the vehicle was losing power. She said that she was giving it more gas to keep up speed and within a few minutes it eventually slowed way down and stalled out.

She was then sitting on the side of the road with a car that would not start. When I came to get her, the first thing I checked was of course the engine oil and it did indeed have plenty of oil.

The next day I attempted to start the Justy and it turns over alright. Though it seems to vibrate and shake the vehicle more than I remember… On the second attempt it fired up for about 3 seconds and ran real rough and then stalled. I tried a few more times and it only turned over but would not start.

She loves this little 4wd Justy and I’d like to repair it for her. Any ideas what the issue may be?

How many miles?

Not sure how many miles as the odometer only goes to 99,999 an it reads about 85,000. But that might mean 185,000 She bought it from an elderly fellow whose wife had not had it on the road since 1999. Had been sitting in a garage. I tuned it up for her about 9 months ago and it’s been just fine into yesterday.

Pull the distributor cap off and crank the engine to see if the rotor turns with the engine.

Do you mean crank the engine as in turning the key to turn it over? What might it mean if the rotor does not turn?

That something like maybe the timing belt is broken. This could be a pretty major problem, whatever it is - do you have anybody that knows cars that could drop by and take a look? You’ll get much better answers from somebody looking at it.

It may be unconnected but worth noting, I found several tablespoons worth of engine oil in the air filter housing.

Is the coolant level normal? Was there any overheating?

Don’t these cars have a CVT transmission? THAT was the weak link in the powertrain…

Will the engine turn over by hand with a wrench, turn smoothly? How about running a quick compression test…But if the transmission is mush, it’s the end of the line…

And some here think that the only weak CVT transmissions were in DAF cars in the 1950s . . .


This is it trying to start right now. If you notice, on the first try it just about gets going - though not well.

Mechanical noises for 5 minutes, engine quit, and refuses to start back up. I think that was this 24 year old car’s death song. A compression check will confirm my fears. I think it’s time to say good-bye. It’s only 3 cylinders, so it shouldn’t take too long to test.

Yep most card that old are in the junkyard (or melted down).