I want your opinion on 91 Subaru XT6

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Mar 13, 2013
Upstate NY
So, long story short, I got myself a 1991 Subaru XT6 free of charge. It moves on its own power; I can't imagine its worth more than $500.00 on a good day. I'll be quitting my full time job pretty soon to attend nursing school, and I intend to get a part time job delivering pizzas. Don't want to do that with anything new, so I figure this might be a good beater for the job.

Well, when I got it, it stalled constantly and there was a vacuum leak over the exhaust. First things first, I replaced the line. No more leak. Obviously, smoking not coming in through heater duct-good!

Then the questionable stuff begins. Mind you, I don't do much with my cars other than change my own oil and maybe a pad slap here and there. So I do value your opinions.

After googling around, I realized part of my problem may be a faulty MAF sensor. $200 part on a $500 car? I don't think so. I unplugged the MAF and called it a day. Ran better. Stalled less. But still stalled. I know its not ideal, but good enough?

Then, I noticed oil pressure was not very good. So I changed oil, four quarts of 10-30 and a bottle of lucas. (I know better than to use that stuff in a real car, relax.) Pressure was still very low. I was about to junk the car at that point, but at the last minute I experimented. Two quarts of lucas and two quarts of 15W-40! Anathema to a BITOGer, I know. But I'll tell you what, after I did that, I could actually get the car to GO! I could get it to 70 on the highway, no problem, whereas before, 35 mph was a stretch.

Then, I still stalled a little, lost power. Very low idle. Did not want to stop at traffic lights, had to two foot it. So I cleaned the very very dirty throttle body. Helped a little, but still stalled sometimes. So I taped a penny in the throttle! Same effect as two footing it at a light, obviously, but more convenient. Now it runs very well! Sometimes the tape comes off, though. I think I will JB WELD the penny.

I know none of these are proper repairs, but remember what we are dealing with. We want something that will deliver pizzas for a couple months before it finally gives up and I cash it in for my $300.00. I want opinions, tips, and tricks. Thanks guys.
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Have you looked at the plugs or checked the fuel pressure? I had a 96' Chevy truck that kept stalling randomly. It was a bad fuel pump relay that had a mind of its own.

Also you should be able to find a MAF sensor in a junk yard, the MAF sensor is really important, I helped my brother work on his car and we forgot to plug it back in, it would barely rev and wanted to stall wih it unplugged.
GHT reincarnated? haha. I kid.

I had a friend buy a Cherokee for $250 or something really low. The TPS was broken (physically). He fixed it with some zip ties.

Where in Upstate NY ?
I usually do the math: 2014 minus 1991 = 23 yr old ride. I think maybe you should have driven this ride down the interstate for 20 miles , then let it idle for 2 hours while in gear, just for starters, if it would do that, its still a maybe, imho. If its free, thats a sign..................take 2 aspirin and call us in the morning. Ps, good luck and the best to you in Nursing School.
take a look at your MAF sensor first, sometimes they can be cleaned. There is a little wire that sits in the air intake stream and if that is dirty it may not be sending the correct signal. Be very gentle with the wire obviously as a broken wire will do you no good.
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Is it throwing any codes? What is the full throttle behavior? If it will accelerate decently I doubt it is fuel pump . He said it only happens at idle, I would disconnect battery and run some techron or regane at a high concentration like a half tank or so.
I would also vote for junkyard MAF
Not quite enough info to really help much. But cleaning sensors carefully always helps. I wonder if there is an idle air control valve. The pintle could be dirty or the passageways. almost should have got a super cheap new car. I pay just over 200 a month for mine. including insurance. Let us know how you make out.
How did you diagnose this oddball foreign OBDI car? Voltmeter swings between computer pins?

I'd sell all the weird and rare parts on ebay then deliver pizzas in a 96 saturn.
These cars have a small cult following. If it's not a rust bucket and you aren't interested in it, you might be better off selling it and buying something a little more common, like a Cavalier/Neon/Saturn.
I also recommend cleaning the MAF.

You found one vacuum leak on a 1991 car and that's great, but did you check for additional vacuum leaks? It's reasonable to assume that it has (or had) more than one vacuum leak, so look for more.

How many miles on this car?

I do not trust IAC's past 100K miles.

If it's like a lot of other Subaru;s that age, the spark plugs are extremely difficult to get to. They may need to be replaced or regapped.

Does it leak oil? How do you know that the low oil pressure wasn't due to low idle?
zyzz, John- Spot on! Cleaning the MAF makes it so I can drive it WITHOUT the pennies! Lower, quieter idle, too. Thanks!

Courrier- Thank you sir. I took a test earlier today for admission, did quite well. I promise I will not tend to patients as I tend to this car.

Miller- Syracuse! Don't tell me you were born in 88? I was.
Originally Posted By: 3Aone
zyzz, John- Spot on! Cleaning the MAF makes it so I can drive it WITHOUT the pennies! Lower, quieter idle, too. Thanks!

Courrier- Thank you sir. I took a test earlier today for admission, did quite well. I promise I will not tend to patients as I tend to this car.

Miller- Syracuse! Don't tell me you were born in 88? I was.

Ha! I'm also in Syracuse. You are correct on the 88.

I haven't seen one of those Subarus in a while ... how rusted out is it? And is it AWD?
Originally Posted By: 3Aone
Hardly any rust. I'm certain it is not indigenous to the area.

AWD....um, I think so?

1 Syracuse winter on a 23 year old car ... It'll be rusty in 6 months!
Posting this strictly for posterity, since this is an old thread:


I had a '91 XT6. They're terrific, super-cool cars. The XT forum at that link is wonderful. Austin, Huck, John, et al are outstandingly helpful, both through their historical posts and 'live' (if they're still there). There's simple help for replacing the air suspension once it fails, the idle troubles are not too tough to fix, and the ER27 (engine) and tranny are totally bulletproof so long as you just leave them alone beyond maintenance.
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