21 March 1997


Its time to give the pickup a

birthday. With the help of

independent specialist Urchfont

Garages, Andrew Pearce details the main service points around Subarus MV

SUBARU pick-ups may be extinct as far as UK showrooms go, but there is still no shortage of them on farms.

As the little trucks get older and the prospect of paying main dealer service rates loses whatever attraction warranty gave it, so the scope grows for saving a penny by DIY servicing. The MVs basic simplicity and roomy engine bay make the job a doddle, easily knocked off in a wet morning by anyone with basic tools and half a grip.

Here we concentrate on key points in the 24,000-mile procedure, which conveniently also covers the jobs to be done in the 6000- and 12,000-mile intermediates (see box "When to do it"). Get in supplies according to the box "Whats needed?", and you are away.

Urchfont Garages foreman Remo Gistri goes through the basics. "Clean the undersides and engine compartment before you start, as dirt otherwise gets in where it shouldnt and the whole job is harder," he says.

"To give yourself clear access to the engine, lift out the spare wheel and take off the air filter housing. And, as tappets have to be set with the motor cold – the manual says between 20C and 40C (68F and 104F) – either do them before driving the car to warm the oil, or leave them until you are sure the engine has cooled right down."

The following pictures show a typical service sequence, though (tappets apart) the order of work is not important. Basic jobs like changing the engine oil and filter, adjusting fan belt tension, changing the air filter, checking brake fluid/radiator water levels and looking for leaks are too simple to detail, though all are part of the procedure.

CAUTION: Work shown was done on a ramp. If you are confined to the floor, use solid axle stands to support the car. NEVER RELY ON JUST A JACK.


Although Subaru lays down 15,000-mile main service intervals with oil changes every 7500 miles, the vagaries of farming life – frequent short runs, plenty of mud, not much sight of the hosepipe or oil can – suggest it is better to work on 6000-mile intervals.


&#8226 Plug gap 0.7mm-0.9mm.

&#8226 Valve clearances 0.25mm, 0.29mm exhausts.

&#8226 Cylinder numbering.

1 Sparks department. Take out the plugs and whip off the distributor cap. Gap new plugs to 0.7-0.9mm (28-35thou) and fit them. Ignition on all but pre-1984 cars is contactless, so there are no points to bother with. Check the distributor cap (top right) and rotor arm (centre) for cracks or the burnt signs of spark tracking, and wobble the distributor spindle to find

developing wear. If it is bad, think about changing the distributor. Make sure all ignition leads and the coil are clean, as dirt and damp leads to

poor starting, misfires and possible electronics damage.

2 Tappets. With the engine cold, take off both rocker covers and lay them face down somewhere clean. Check the diagram in the "DATA" panel for cylinder numbering and gaps then turn the crank pulley clockwise until valves on no 1 cylinder are open and just "rocking", ie one is starting to close as the other comes fully open. With no 1s valves set thus, adjust both tappets on cylinder no 3. You will need a 13mm ring for the locknut and a 5mm open-ended spanner for the adjuster head, though at a pinch a small adjustable will do for the latter. Set clearances so feeler gauge is a light-drag fit. Note: On each head the middle valve pair are inlets, the outer valves are exhausts. Then turn the engine over until no 2 cylinders valves are rocking and adjust no 4. Repeat with no 3 rocking (adjust no 1) and finish with no 4 rocking (adjust no 2). Wind the engine over several times and re-check gaps. Fit new rocker cover gaskets and put back the covers.

3 PCV valve. Screwed into the inlet manifold behind the carburettor is the PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve. It and the hoses from the rocker covers need to be cleaned of carbon. If they block, the crankcase will pressurise and may blow crankshaft oil seal(s). Pull off the hose, unscrew the valve and clean it in strong solvent; carburettor cleaner is ideal. Repeat for both rocker breather hoses, checking also inside the rocker cover stubs. WARNING: When using solvent, wear appropriate gloves, eye protection and do not breathe the vapour.

4 Clutch. Find the adjuster where the cable meets the clutch bellhousing. Unhook the return spring from the operating arm and set the adjusting nuts to give 2mm free play at the arm tip. Do up the locknut and re-attach the spring.

5 Fuel filter. Often forgotten and usually covered in crud, this vital item lives under the body. With the car securely on axle stands, look forward and inboard of the rear nearside wheel to find it. Clean the area. Clamp off the fuel line from the tank, ideally with a hose clamp but otherwise cautiously with locking grips. If using the latter, pad the hose with cloth. With a container handy to catch any fuel spillage, change the filter.

6 Drive shafts. Hard-used Subarus tend to split their shaft boots. With the car firmly set on axle stands, slide under and check all eight rubbers; each shaft has two. If grit gets into the drive shaft joint it will soon turn it to expensive scrap, so fix any problem fast. While you are there, check the rear propshaft joints for play by wobbling them.

7 Rear differential and transmission. Change the rear diff oil, draining it from the bottom plug and refilling through the upper level plug with fresh 80/90EP. Drain gearbox oil via the

hex-head plug just behind the sumpguard, clean the plug and replace. Refill with 80/90EP through the transmission

dipstick hole.

8 Front brakes. Undo the lower retaining bolt and swing the caliper up, as here. Check pad lining, replacing the whole axle set if under 1.5mm remains. Change the discs, too, if these are badly scored, common on farming Subarus. The caliper must slide sideways freely to work, so move it inboard and off the upper pivot pin. Coat the upper and lower pins with copper-based grease, slide the caliper back over the top pivot and down over the pads and tighten the bottom bolt firmly. The handbrake operating arm sticks out from the caliper top, see it moves freely and that the cable is not seized.

9 Rear brakes. Leave the wheel attached. Take off the shaft centre nut, jar free the tapered washer behind it, by tapping the shaft with a soft-faced hammer, then pull off wheel and drum together. Clean the inside of the drum (CAUTION: Asbestos dust hazard. Brush clear outdoors; do not use an airline). If the drum is badly scored, have it skimmed or replace.

10 Linings and hydraulics. Replace linings if thickness is below 1mm at any point. Grabbing rear brakes can be cured by chamfering each shoes leading edge, the one the drum passes over first in forward travel. Release the automatic adjuster (bottom left); if it is stuck, strip it and free it off or the brake cant self-adjust. Pull back the cylinder boot (top) and look for leaks, as here. If you find fluid, reseal the cylinder or change it for a new one. To finish, put back the wheel/drum and tighten the shaft nut to 145lbf ft, or pretty darn tight.

11 Suspension and bearings. Find play in the front suspensions lower wishbone ball joint and rubber bushes by holding the road wheel at top and bottom and rocking it hard. Repeat more gently to isolate wheel bearing play, confirming this by putting on the handbrake; if play disappears, wheel bearings are the source. Check the back bearings in the same way. If you find any, either front or rear, you will have to change bearings, as there is no adjustment.

12 Steering. Look around the steering rack gaiters for splits and shock absorbers for leaks. Holding the road wheel at the sides, rock it. Any loose movement or clonking points to wear in the track rod end or steering rack. Watch each closely while rocking to find which is the culprit.


&#8226 Engine oil: Four litres of any good quality 15W/40 or 15W/50.

&#8226 Oil filter: Either genuine part or big-name pattern, like Crosland (694) or Fram (PH2985).

&#8226 Plugs: Four NGK B6ES. MVs are happiest with NGK plugs, though equivalent in other brands will do.

&#8226 Transmission oil: Good quality 80/90EP, 2.8 litres for the gearbox and 0.8 litres for the rear diff.

&#8226 A pair of rocker cover gaskets: Dealer part.

&#8226 Fuel filter: Dealer part.