98 Forester fix up completed

My wife and I drive a 2005 Impreza wagon. Recently I bought a 5-speed '98 Forester S with alloy wheels and 280,000 km for $1000, for my son, 19. The
main problem was that a previous owner had treated it an off-road vehicle, not an all-road vehicle, and some of the 'maintenance' had been problematic.
- all four caliper slides were rusted solid. - a rear brake caliper bracket bolt was snapped off with only 2mm of the broken stub holding the caliper bracket in place. - rear lower control arms bent from someone jacking the car. - first exhaust flange welded (because the gasket was leaking...). why not replace the gasket? - gearbox exhaust support cracked, tack-welded and broken again. Taking the support off and fixing it properly must have been too difficult. - rusted under-floor box sections in the front wheel well and rear end of the sill rails had been filled with expanding construction foam and covered with fiberglass. The sill jack points were unusable because of this. - inner rear shock towers and fuel filler cavity and filler neck rusted because dirt not cleaned out after 'off road' trips.
On the plus side, - the engine had been serviced with new head gaskets, and it ran perfectly. - good paint and good interior despite the high mileage - no wheel bearing issues - good tires, clutch and no transmission problems
Now, most people would have scrapped this car because of the rust. Fortunately, the rust was pretty localized (good Subaru rust proofing), and while it took me three weekends to cut it out, fabricate some new box sections, partial wheel well panels and rebuild it, the car is now solid, and I can actually use the jack points on the sills. Thank goodness for angle grinders and MIG welders.
- replaced the two rusted power steering tubes on the rack (a common problem apparently) - repaired the rusted fuel filler neck and filler cavity - freed the tie rod lock nuts so the alignment can be done. - replaced all rotors, calipers and pads. - replaced the worn out and soggy (first replacement) KYB GR2's with new GR2's and new strut insulators. The rear insulators were rusted out, and the lower M14 mounting bolts needed a 4 foot lever to loosen them. They must have been done up to over 200 ft-lbs instead of the needed 50-60. Both rear bump rubbers (on the strut shaft) were broken. - replaced a broken front spring. One had already been replaced, a likely legacy of the 'off-roading'. - replaced a stone-holed headlight with one from a wrecker.
The only remaining problem was a somewhat rough idle and an intermittent misfire error on cylinder #3, which seems now to be solved by replacing the ignition coil assembly with one from a wrecker. The engine now idles noticeably smoother and the misfire has not returned.
My son now has a very solid and safe vehicle for about $2600. I have impressed on him that he got all my labour free, and this would have doubled price if he had to pay for it.
SD
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[D.Vader voice] Impressive [/D.Vader voice]
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Oh the hubris of the Mechanisti: the beast conked out last night.
Checked for fuel pressure this morning: no problems there. It also fired briefly, but sounds like its running on two cylinders. And the P0303 misfire code is back immediately after I reset it and try to start.
I also note that the coolant is down perhaps 1 cm or less from where I last recall it. There's been no evidence of burning coolant: no exhaust smoke of any kind, no overheating, no spraying of coolant from the overflow bottle, which has min level coolant in it.
My son who was driving it at the time said the engine just lost power suddenly and would not start after he pulled over. When I got there about 20 mins later the temp gauge was normal, so there's no apparent overheating. When the engine stopped it took 10 seconds or less, and what ever happened was not related to fuel, as there is still plenty of fuel rail pressure.
Sure hope this is not the dreaded head gasket problem. The car was supposed to have had both gaskets done quite recently (within 10K km), and there's obviously been recent work done on the heads and exhaust gaskets. The timing belt looks new and seems correctly tensioned.
Pulled the RHS plugs (and I thought the early BMC Mini's were hard to work on) : front was gapped at .085", rear gapped at .065". ie worn out. Put in some new Bosch plugs, and cleared the P0303 code. It still won't start, but neither does it generate the P0303 either, so I'll say the new plugs fixed that.
I'm at a loss at present as th why it won't start. If there was an engine management sensor problem (e.g. crank angle sensor, TDC, knock sensor etc), I'd expect that the ECU would set a code, but when I crank the engine, no codes are thrown.
If it was a head gasket, I'd expect that the engine would probably run, though roughly, at least for a while, but I'd also expect to see an ECU code. Other (much older) cars I've owned blew head gaskets, but the process was generally quite gradual, not in the space of 10 seconds.
I'll check the obvious: blown fuses.
Next steps: check the timing belt tensioners check the timing in case the belt has slipped a tooth
Any other suggestions?
SD
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I would inspect the timing belt before anything else.
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Yep, possible shift of cam timing on one side. Do i recall that if the tensioner is bad, one side is more prone to this? Also, do I recall you're supposed to wrench the crank around some specific number of times after replacing the belt? If you don't, what happens???
You might try having someone crank the engine while holding a strip of paper at the tailpipe. If it tries to be 'sucked in' it may mean timing has slipped. This probably wouldn't detect one or 2 teeth displacement but....?
anyway - I'm sure you'll get this sorted out soon.
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Hi Stewart!
wrote:

Well. the first thing will definitely be to check the timing belt system. Take it all of the way apart, replace any idlers that aren't perfect (seriously; if they feel even the slightest bit rough or loose do _not_ re-install them), and put everything back together with the proper orientation. The easiest way to get the harmonic balancer bolt loose is with an air impact, but you will have to pull the radiator to get enough room for the tool. I have fabricated a holder, and can send fotos if that will help. There are other ways to do this as well; I'm sure others here can offer some suggestions. Then run a compression check; should come in at 150lb (at least), and be even within 5 - 10lb across all four cylinders. Check that the injectors are firing; use a mechanics stethoscope, and listen for a distinct clicking as they open. Use a timing light to verify that spark is happening on all four at approximately the right time (if #1 is on time, the rest probably are as well). Once you have run thru these diagnostics, you will probably have found why the engine isn't running. Write back, and we'll see if we can't pin point it from there.
ByeBye! S. Steve Jernigan KG0MB Laboratory Manager Microelectronics Research University of Colorado (719) 262-3101
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your on the right track. I brace a 22 mm breaker bad against the frame and bump the starter to break the crank loose. Do not pull the belt off until you look at it, roll the engine over until the crank is up (the keyway will be down. IF the cams line up and the crank is off, then it jumped at the crank. there should be a small plate over the crank pulley; this is suppose to help with that kind of jump, and some techs don't put it back on.
I have a 1998 forester too.
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