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Old Subaru -Time for Boot Hill?

I’ve gone back to past discussions but need more input. I have A Subaru wagon with valve lifter problems. I have taken it in to a mechanic 4 times. The 1st time the lifters were replaced but continued to make noise. After return visit, three lifters were defective(non Subaru brand lifters). They were replaced but the noise continues. Mechanic tried one application of a seafoam type product. The last visit the mehanic said that he would have to take the engine apart and since it was a “baxter style engine” this would be big bucks. He is a AAA shop and seems nice. The pump still had good oil-pressure and I am worried that the lifters replaced may be faulty, I think they be NAPA parts. Any thoughts? The car has 78k miles on it, and it does mostly around town shopping. Have invested over 1,000 dollars to keep it going. Help.

I am more suspect of all the mechanics that worked on your car than the quality of the parts. Lifters are not rocket components. Your mechanics tried a cheap fix first and it did not work apparently.

Your engine is a “boxer” type, it has horizontal pistons that go back and forth like boxer’s fists.

All cars need maintenance and periodic repairs. The average US car needs $1200 per year or so when driven 12,000 miles per year. By the time a car is totally worn out, it will likely have consumed its original purchase price in maintenance, repairs and tires.

Your engine may indeed have to come out since there is very little room to work on it in the car. AAA approved shops are usually good for routine service and are basically honest. But for complex work they are no better than any other shop. Find a good mechanic who likes to work on Subarus.

There is something being overlooked because the odds of getting one bad lifter is pretty slim. The odds of getting multiple bad ones is near astronomical.

The engine style is “boxster” style and what this means is that it’s a horizontally opposed cylinder split crankcase engine. (two halves)
This also means that if the engine were removed and the block split the entire engine would have to be completely overhauled from stem to stern.

Just curious, but what year Subaru and what engine?

It is A 1992 Loyale wagon but don’t know what kind of engine. It is also an optional 4WD which has been used once. I’m kind of brainless when it comes to cars.

Ok, a 92 should be the 1.8 if no one has changed things over the years.
The oil pump has been checked for pressure but have the mechanics considered the possibility of oil not making it to the valve lifters? An aged car with only 78k miles that has seen mostly around town driving could possibly have sludge accumulation blocking an oil passage, maybe even in the rocker arms, and if bad enough an additive may not be enough to clear this up.
The rocker arms should definitely have been inspected at the time of lifter replacement if they were not.

This is ancient history but it seems there was a service bulletin on these cars about valve lifter noise but I just flat do not remember for sure due to the passage of time.
You might consider checking with a Subaru dealer to see if they can give you some info about this bulletin.

More obscure reasons could be cam lobes going flat or if someone overtightened the rocker arm bolts a bit. This could cause thread pulling which in turn would cause the lifter clearances to increase. (more noise bascially)
Remaining optimistic, I wouldn’t worry about that at this point.

I think that was the reason for going in again was to see if there was an obstruction preventing the oil from getting to the right spot, except the engine has to be taken apart to see what the problem is due to its peculiar type which I inadvertently called a Baxter engine…

Wished I could be of more help but without car in hand it’s near impossible to figure out what the problem is.

Something to consider here and keep in mind that my memory is real fuzzy on this. Subaru has a history of leaky oil pumps and it’s possible for an oil pump seal to leak internally.
While the pressure test may show fine what happens is that the oil being pumped is being aerated, or foamed, or some degree. This can affect lifter operation much like aerated transmission fluid can affect the way an automatic transmission shifts.

It’s something to consider anyway; especially considering the age of the car. Over time the rubber in the oil pump seals can harden, not seal properly, and leak either externally or internally. Hope that helps.

Thanks, I don’t know if I can call this guy up (again) and ask or? The lifters are making more noise now that it has sat for a couple of days. This is weird.

Hello… My 86 GL 4WD (similar to Loyale, but GL isn’t on the Cartalk model list) with 123k miles has a similar problem. Lots of lifter noise. My research corroborates what ok4450 said. The seal on the oil pump may be dried out, allowing air to get in and turn the oil to foam. Then it doesn’t pump very well (the oil pressure is normal which might contradict this theory). The last person to replace the timing belt asked if I wanted the oil pump gasket replaced too and I said “no” which I now regret. Since the cost to replace the seal now exceeds the value of the car, I’ve chosen to just let it go. More than a year later, the car still runs fine, just a bit noisy. Once in a while a little oil gets through and it’s quiet for a few days.

I’m not sure about dried out, the noise just started one day. It is very loud when I first start it and quiets a bit as I drive. I am trying to find a mechanic who will do this, take the car apart, for a reduced fee. I have found one, but you need to submit proof for financial hardship and have your story passed about to others. I am a private person and I will need to swallow my pride on this one. PS I need to have the CV joints done as well…

Well, I finally took it to another shop. The mechanic at the first shop broke the crank pulley and to disguise this(?), put on a shorter belt and bypassed the crank pulley. I was told since this vintage is a non-interference engine, this saved me, but two more of the valve lifters were faulty, there was some play in the part after removal that indicated that the valve lifters were bad to begin with. The gasket covers needed to be replaced also. This from a AAA shop!