BY JORDAN DUROSE
By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard of the recent developments expanding chapter 18 of the Los Alamos County Code of Ordinances: the Nuisance Code. Lisa Shin, taking a strong stance against the code, stated in her editorial that “It pits the government against citizens and citizens against each other.” She offers that the Code “involves hefty fines and penalties for non-compliance”. In particular, Chapter 18 section 38 – unmodified by recent drafts by Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, three examples of semantic satiation – regarding “Inoperable or abandoned vehicles” states that “Storage of inoperable vehicles within a front yard is prohibited” barring some exceptions that I don’t care to read about.
What I’m offering today is a way to sidestep the issue entirely, and to get your mom’s 2003 Subaru Forester back to roadworthy condition. It’s been parked halfway up the front stoop for the past three years since it broke down. Maybe you’re tired of stepping around its scratched up front bumper every time you need to bring groceries in, maybe you’re tired of its various fluid leaks undercutting the “xeriscaping” you told your mom you worked so hard on, maybe you just want to exercise your rights as a citizen of the United States, New Mexico, and Los Alamos County and actually conduct this vehicle on various roadways around town. Maybe a cop just cited you and because your house is on a big hill, you have literally nowhere else to park it than hardscrabbled across your lawn and stoop.
Firstly, some history. In the blissful year of 1999, GM bought 20% of Fuji Heavy Industries, the manufacturers of the Subaru brand to “[work] together for various synergic effects” The resulting alliance allowed for GM to release the Subaru Forester into the Indian marketplace as the 2003 Chevrolet Forester. Various peoples realized this was too weird to continue so the alliance dissolved in 2005 when Fuji quickly decided to give a warm side-hug to Toyota instead.
“Subaru” is a constellation of six stars mainly known in the west as the Pleiades cluster. It seems during this complicated time that Fuji Heavy Industries was out to ascribe each member of the cluster to a partial owner. It’s clear that Nissan is in there somewhere, as when you pull back the components of your mom’s Subaru’s interior, a Nissan logo is embossed on the plastic underneath. One can only surmise the identity of the other stars – at the time of this editorial, the writer surmises the remaining stars represent global corporations such as Exxon, Wells Fargo, and the Japanese street food popularly known as takoyaki.
The question remains – why was your mom’s 2003 Subaru Forester parked halfway up the front stoop? What caused it to both break down irreparably while still maintaining enough power to climb halfway up the gigantic hill to your front door? Well, I’ll give you one word. It’stheHeadgaskets.
Subaru is unique in that aside from the very beginning, they use flat or boxer engines. The pistons travel horizontally – most of the Subaru line up comprises four cylinders, two on a side, battling it out left and right to figure out who’s the coolest dude that can contribute to this design’s legendary smoothness in operation. Flat engines somehow get around secondary vibrations and harmonics (please send me some diagrams) resulting in smooth operation. But a side effect is that as oil pools around the return passageways to the oil pan, this tends to dramatize any of the smallest possible leaks.
The head bolt pattern of a standard modern Subaru 2.5L single overhead cam engine focuses the bolts’ compression around the important parts – the sealing ring of the gasket that seals the compressive forces between each of the two head’s cylinders against its head and the coolant jacket that surrounds each cylinder. By focusing on these, they seem to lost focus just like this letter did on paying attention to oil return. As a result, you will find most Subarus with this single overhead cam design to leak oil externally from the engine from its head gaskets, starting off slow and developing to an extreme amount, as you found when you parked your mom’s Subaru for three years.
What does single overhead cam mean? Well, let me explain. The first step of replacing the Subaru’s head gaskets is to drain all of the coolant and the oil. Then you disconnect, like, hoses and stuff, disconnect it from the transmission, cut off all these, like, wires that are just there for emissions, and just yank it out of there. Just yank it. Remove the timing belt, valve covers, cylinder head bolts, do the thing, and put everything back together. You might want to replace the steering rack and pinion while you’re in there – a common vintage Subaru woe.
It’s a job that only takes about thirty minutes. Once you’re done, you will be able to rebadge your mom’s Subaru as a Chevrolet and enjoy at least twenty more years of boxer-engine ownership.
With Subaru off your stoop, you can swing your hips wide with 12-packs of Dr. Pepper up the front stoop and “D/P/S” won’t throw you in jail for evasion of HOA fines.