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Thread: radu416's 2005 OBK

  1. #1
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    radu416's 2005 OBK

    This car found me in a funny way, and it's got a weird story, but I'll reserve that for another post.

    My goal is to make this into great-handling, comfortable, winter capable, parts hauler, daily and exploring machine. This won't be the "fun" car. I won't be turning this into a sleeper, it won't be turbo swapped, RWD converted or any other such things.
    I recently moved to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and there are lots of places to explore. The roads here are twisty and fun, but not too technical. Handling and being able to stop are a high priority. Fuel economy and comfort is also important as I often do long-distance trips, and the trunk needs to be able to handle anything from airport pickups and camping, to serious junkyard hauls. Being able to see at night is a priority, as is the ability to drive on gravel roads, bad pavement, and snow.

    It's a 2005 Outback Base. It's manual and at the time I got it had over 420,000 kms. It was cheap. I am the 7th or 8th (and last) owner of this car.
    This is what life with it has been like so far...




    Reserved space for mod List
    Last edited by radu416; 09-10-2019 at 06:23 AM.

  2. #2
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    Background Story

    So why did I get it? I knew I was moving to the east coast, and I needed a winter car, as I wasn't going to expose my beloved BH (RIP buddy) to the salty maritime winters.

    I was browsing the usual places for a winter car for my buddy when I found this one and I decided I'd take it myself. I wanted a 2005 Outback. I LOVE wagons. I like the BP's looks and proportions, and I wanted the 2005 MY because it doesn't have AVCS so it keeps the engine simpler.

    This one claimed to be rust free and manual, but it needed an engine. The seller claimed that it "dropped a valve". I didn't really care, I wanted a manual, rust-free shell in which I'd drop a serviced stock engine and have a car that needs nothing for under market value.
    Checked out the car, and it was in good shape for the mileage. 423k km on the clock, interior kinda dirty, but overall the shell was in great shape. Agreed on a price and got it. Here's how it looked when I first got it.



  3. #3
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    Getting acquainted

    The car arrived at my girlfriend’s grandma’s house on a trailer, where it sat for nearly 3 months. I didn’t have parking for more than 2 cars at the time I got this, so I needed a place to keep it until it received an engine, and then again until I moved.
    As soon as I got it, I began cleaning it and the nasty surprises started showing up.

    First, I found that it had been smoked in, and it reeked of cigarette smoke. When I checked it out, I spent so much time inspecting it underneath and outside that I didn’t bother to check the ashtray and the air fresheners masked the smell. The ashtray was full. I removed it from the shifter trim and threw it out.
    Second, that the trunk didn’t open. Had to crawl into the trunk from inside, remove some trim and open it manually.
    Third, was some sketchy wiring. The car had sub at some point, and the last owner removed it, but left the wiring in. While removing the wiring, I noticed a wire going from one of the relays in the driver footwell area to very poorly executed ground in the engine bay. Just stripped wire wrapped around a bolt, not even a crimped ring terminal.

    And the last surprise was the worst. While cleaning the car I found water under the driver seat, and an unopened can of beer that got pierced and leaked all over. The carpet was so wet that I could wring the foam in the carpet and water would drip. After removing the front seats, rear bench, and lots of trim pieces I finally pulled the carpet out and threw it in the sun to dry. Underneath the driver seat there was rust from that beer that leaked. Smell of smoke + smell of beer + wet carpet. The car smelled like a bar.



    Overall, not a great start. Pretty bummed out by the carpet and rust, and also the smell of smoke.

  4. #4
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    Story time

    I guess at this point I should tell the round-about way in which I got this car. It's not a good story, but explains why I have no info on this car.

    There were 2 sellers involved. Seller A lists of on kijiji (Canadian craigslist). I messege seller A to go see it ASAP. He sends some bad interior pics, tells me he thinks the engine had a dropped valve, won’t run, transmission and clutch are ok. We agree to meet on the weekend to see it, but by Friday the car is sold.
    A friend sends me a link on Facebook marketplace to a similar car. 05 OBK, Blue, Manual, no rust, needs engine. This is seller B. He said he had recently gotten the car and was going to part it out, but he’d rather sell it whole. Doesn’t know what’s wrong with the engine, but the battery is dead so it won’t crank. Car isn’t registered to him, but has signed ownership. I agree to buy it, he agrees to drop it off for me on his trailer. I take the ownership. Pretty happy with the deal.

    The address on the ownership is in the same town as Seller A’s ad. I start looking at some of the details of the photos from Seller A and realize it’s the same car. The car had some cheapo aftermarket wheels in A’s ad, and factory wheels on B’s ad. The car also had some stickers which were missing in A’s ad.
    Blue air freshener, yellow film on fog lights, lifting door trim on rear driver door, sub wiring. Same car confirmed. A sold it to B, B flipped it to me. Now I have a car with unknown history and the guy that’s selling it doesn’t know any of the stories behind what happened with this car. Great…

    TL;DR: Seller A sold to seller B, seller B sold to me. Seller B doesn't know anything about the car.

    The only photo from seller A’s ad.

  5. #5
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    No crank

    So I knew the engine was in bad shape, but I wanted to see just what I needed and as I didn’t have any useful information from the previous owner(s) and I started to investigate.
    Checked the timing belt, it was there and not broken. Pulled each spark plug and used a borescope to see if there were marks of the piston hitting the valves and I didn’t see anything alarming. Checked the oil and the dipstick came out dry.
    At this point I decided the engine was a lost cause. There was no way I wanted to take a chance with this engine. Who knows how long it ran with low oil??

    I threw in some old oil I had lying around I tried to start it just for fun and see just how bad that engine ran, but the car wouldn’t crank.
    Using the FSM, I started troubleshooting the starter motor circuit, and as it turns out that loose wire going to the engine bay was actually grounding the starter relay, completely bypassing the rest of the system. You can see that the wire going to the security relay was cut.


    I reattached the wire to troubleshoot the rest of the system. A lot of panels came out before I found the security relay behind the glovebox. Also found out that the wire going to the neutral position sensor had been cut and re-spliced. I didn’t find anything wrong with the harness or relays. At the end of the diagnostic procedure in the FSM I was left with “Contact your SOA service center”. Great…



    At this point all sorts of theories are flying around and it looked like a trip to the dealer was in my future to “marry” the body integrated unit, ECU, and key.
    With the starter relay pulled to ground it started, but it made such terrible rod-knock noises that I didn’t let it run. Time start looking for an engine.

  6. #6
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    Engine replacement

    I was juggling favours from various friends, and pulling the old engine out and working with it just wasn’t an option. I didn’t have space at home to service and swap the engine, my friend was okay to work at his place, but the car couldn’t stay there long, and my girlfriend’s grandmother was not cool with us doing the work there, but the car could stay there as long as it didn’t leak.
    The plan was to get a used engine and service it at my friend’s house. Then when the engine was ready to go, I’d tow the car to him, pull the old engine, install the new one and drive the car home. We had both done this before so we knew we’d be able to do it quickly. Also, I’d be moving across the country in a couple of weeks so time was running out.
    I didn’t want to mix and match blocks and heads as I didn’t want to find out the hard way what heads and pistons are and aren’t compatible. I was only after a 2005 MY Legacy or Outback EJ253.
    After a couple of days or searching around, my donor. A 2005 Legacy sedan with an AT and 248k KMs had just been brought to my proffered junkyard after a front-end accident. The damage was enough to write the car off, but not enough to damage the engine. This was a u-pick yard, so I was lucky I got to the car before anyone else. I found the key inside the car, hooked it up to my booster and tried to start it. It cranked beautifully, but had no fuel (gas tank was gone, yard procedure) so it wouldn’t start. I performed a compression test on the engine and got around 155 PSI across all pistons. Quite a few heads started poking out from other cars. I guess you don’t expect to hear cars attempting to start inside junkyards.
    It was $100 more to have the yard pull the engine for me so I let them do it. Came back a few days later with a friend and his truck and we picked up the engine. Transferred it into my BH Outback and brought to another friend’s house where we began tearing into it.




    Other than the leaking head gaskets things were looking great. An engine shop checked that the heads were healthy and then machined them flat. We cleaned the mating surface on the block and the piston faces by hand. I used gaskets all around, and for the head gaskets I used the EJ255-257 ones as they are multi-layered steel.I didn’t want to install the timing belt yet, as I read that there may be different pulleys between the two engines so I had to compare and use the Outback ones if needed. This wasn’t the case, and the only thing missing was the timing belt guide that MT cars have.



    When the engine was ready to go into the car, I rented a U-Haul trailer and a buddy towed it for me. The old engine came out quickly, took the timing belt off and compared pulleys. Luckily for us the crank pulleys were the same because the one from the old engine was seized and we broke a tooth removing it. I used an AISIN timing belt kit.
    The condition of the clutch and flywheel were unknown, so new ones were acquired. I also didn’t know if the transmission had a repair sleeve installed or not so choosing a compatible clutch was very important since I couldn’t afford the down-time to source another one. I used the “M-PACT 15004ST1” from RockAuto as it included a repair sleeve and throw-out bearings for both sleeved and non-sleeved applications.
    Once everything was bolted up, we filled it with fluids and it fired on first crank. Had a few check engine lights. One for the start circuit and two more for O2 sensors. More on that in aonther post.




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