scottdownsouth HalfDork
2/26/22 10:26 a.m.

Found a 03 Subaru legacy wagon manual down the road from me with a blown motor. 

Owner say the timing belt broke and has been parked for the last year. What are the go to swaps for motor replacements on these? I thought these had head gaskets issues not timing chain issues? Can the non turbo cars be fun to drive? Just looking to see if its worth saving from the crusher....

WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
2/26/22 11:25 a.m.

This swap got me shopping for a Subaru with a blown engine.

adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/27/22 9:39 a.m.

My last car was an 04 Legacy Wagon with a stick, I had lots of fun with it before it rusted away. The motor in that does suffer from head gasket issues but they are typically just external oil or coolant leaks that you can live with for quite a while before dealing with. Motors are very easy to pull in these so grabbing one from a junkyard is straight forward. The only things to do underneath are drain fluids, pop lower rad hose off, pop exhaust off (studs face straight down so easy access with an impact) and motor mounts, everything else is from above under the hood including all the trans bolts. My second time pulling a Subaru motor was in the U Pull yard, I was there at 8 am when they opened and at 9:45 am I was loading the motor in the back of the car, the hardest part was dragging the A frame hoist over.

These cars are pretty dated inside and feel like something from the 90's (which they are) but functional. The car has nice balance and is easy to rotate with some trail braking. I did some open lapping with mine and then a couple of seasons of rallycross. You'll be at a disadvantage to an impreza with the same drivetrain and less weight but you'll still have fun. I would not pay very much for one of these with a blown motor though.

obsolete GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/27/22 11:56 a.m.

I've seen a few cases where people ignored the idler and tensioner pullies when they replaced the timing belt at 100k. Those bearings don't always make it to the 200k belt replacement. The first one to go is usually the toothed idler by the water pump. It seizes up, destroys the belt, shatters the cam gears (if they are plastic), etc.

This is the heaviest generation of Legacy and they are slow without a turbo. Subaru didn't figure out frameless doors until the next generation, and the wind noise sucks. Mine was a lot of fun in the winter, though. I agree that the handling and balance were nice, I put an OEM Baja rear sway bar on mine and it felt just right. Gearing is super short, 4.44 diffs make for lots of shifting, and the shifter gets really vague and sloppy with higher miles (although it was never that great to begin with).

Speaking of sloppiness, this is a car that is kind of hard on control arm bushings. It relies on them being tight to handle properly. If the miles are up there (and it's 20 years old now so it might not matter), new bushings can be a huge improvement. Not a fun job though.

porschenut HalfDork
3/1/22 10:26 a.m.

look for egr vs non egr in that vintage. Swap your intake/wiring harness before installing. Do valve cover gaskets, plugs, oil pan reseal and belt/idlers/water pump. Aisin is the go to, gates is junk now. I have had more idler and water pump failures than belt failures. good for another 100k.

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/1/22 12:55 p.m.

I want to do an ej207 swap at some point.  2.0L, closed deck, forged internals, and reliable at 276 Japanese rated hp.....

scottdownsouth HalfDork
3/2/22 10:16 p.m.

Went to look at the car tonight, not a wagon but a sedan, L model not a gt...

Owner said $500 takes it, but I don't know if it's worth that. How hard is it to stick a LS in one?

adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/2/22 10:48 p.m.

L, GT etc. doesn't really matter with this generation, they were all the NA 2.5. 

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