1987 Subaru GL Wagon 1.8L from North America


A no style, mini dump truck with class


CV joints at 75K.

Water pump at 80K.

Timing belts every 55k.

Alternator every 40K.

Heat sheilding on exhaust system rattles no matter how well you tie it down.

Starter at 100K.

Clutch at 100K.

Fuel pump at 130K.

Radiator plugs every 40k, and will cause overheating. Check to verify that your overflow tank drain is not clogged as this occurs as often as the radiator clogs.

The manual shift into 3rd gear has never transitioned well, but one learns to treat it kindly.

The locking washers on the rear axles are prone to weakening and not holding tight. Resulting in poorly worn tires and if not checked, worn bearings.

Instrument panel speedometer and odometer went out at 145K.

Consistently eats a quart of oil every 700 miles, and has since I've owned it.

General Comments:

Fold the rear seats down and you could play a soccer game in the back.

A great car to learn the basic on. Very easy to make general repairs for oneself. Even towed a Ford-150 with it, though it still hates me for that.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th May, 2004

1987 Subaru GL 1.8 from North America


It's reliable and fun to drive for such economical transportation


Just routine maintenance to 100,000 miles. Note: replacing timing belts every 60,000 isn't cheap.

3rd gear synchro gear started grinding at about 100,000 miles. Gentle shifting and double clutching has kept the transmission working well to current 163k miles.

Carburetor replaced to pass emissions 100,000 miles. Carb was dripping gas into engine.

Catalytic converter replaced to pass emissions 100,000 miles.

Radio and cassette quit working at about 105,000 miles.

Water pump blew, lost all fluid, stranded 110,000 miles. Ran hot after new pump; replaced radiator which was plugged up, has run at right temp since.

Replaced original clutch 120,000 miles - still working, but thin.

Small cooling hoses under air filter blew at 140,000 miles making car steam and lose coolant. Replaced and worked fine.

163,000 miles A/C compressor sticks and needs replacement along with A/C overhaul. Carburetor shaft reportedly shot and causing slightly rough idle and too high idle speed so needs new carburetor.

Estimating $2,000 per year in repairs to keep running to over 200,000 miles. This seems expensive too me given lack of safety features and fact car is so dinged up and old that I have to park it around the block when conducting business meetings, lest people think I am not successful in my career, even though economically I am better off than most people my age. I'd be happy to go without the A/C, however, business people will think I'm too nervous if I'm sweaty when I arrive to deliver a sales pitch.

General Comments:

Enormous amount of cargo space for a sub-compact sized vehicle. The new Subarus feel less spacious.

95,000 miles on 2nd set of front disk brakes. Still running on 2nd set of rear drum brakes.

Good fuel economy especially compared to what's available today.

Very low power, but you can speed in anything. Does 0-60 in 60 seconds, 60-80 in 30 seconds and 80-95 (topspeed) in 150 seconds. It's about as "fast" as it was when new.

4 WD good for inclement weather, never thought it was built tough enough for serious offroading.

Engine leaks oil - loses a quart every 2000 miles. Mechanics assure me it isn't burning it, but recommend not spending $2,000 to reseal everything - better off just adding oil. At 144,000 miles had same compression as new.

It has worn out the edges of tires all its life until I found tires that allow up to 44 psi. At 40-42 psi, about 12 psi above what Subaru recommends, the tires wear evenly, but it rides rough like a big 4 WD truck.

Still handles well, but suspension is gone and rides very rough even at lower tire pressure.

Axle boots need to be replaced every 5-10 years and it isn't cheap.

Power steering pump leaking now also.

Interior holding together well.

Exterior has some through-the-body rust around rear wheels, but not bad for 16 years old and having been in salt and snow. I have undercoated it myself twice so there's no serious under-carriage rust.

It seems like it would keep on going and be very reliable if I spent the money needed to keep it running.

Mechanics and other owners say that by 200,000 miles I can expect oil and fuel pump failures and bigger transmission problems (3rd gear synchro worn).

For a relatively inexpensive proto-SUV, this car handles very well, probably due to its low center of gravity due to the horizontal engine.

I would continue fixing it if it had modern safety features such as airbags and if 3 of the doors hadn't been damaged in parking lot accidents. They still work fine, but don't look so good. At a projected expense of $2,000 in repairs per year, I'd rather get a sensible new car, however, if the repairs were projected at $1,000 or a little higher per year as in the past 5 years, I'd keep it.

While I'm not a mechanic, I have been able to fix relatively simple problems and perform a lot of the routine maintenance.

Noise level rises dramatically over 70 mph.

I like this car, but it's time to move on to something else. I estimate that it's worth $250 to $500 as is.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd May, 2004