timing belt on a 97 outback


Asked by Oct 12, 2015 at 02:58 PM about the Subaru Outback

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

My Subaru mechanic says I need to replace the timing belt, and head gaskets which show minor leakage on my 97 outback, which has only 98k miles, which I know is the right thing to do. But, can I do a 600 mile round trip first? I have it scheduled, but mechanic doesn't have time till the following week. Car has been regularly maintained.

6 Answers


I wouldn't advise the 600 mile trip. Look at it this way, you're going to do the timing belt soon, just do it now and not worry about it. It's like someone saying that they want to get the last 600 miles on their tires before they replace them. Plus, if your mechanic told you to do it, and he's seen the cracks and wear on these parts from age, he probably knows what he's talking about. I'll bet that this is your first timing belt replacement and you know that you have to replace the water pump as well, cheap insurance. It's all labor. And, you need a head gasket job as well. See if you can get the head gaskets replacement with the multi layered head gaskets, newer design. You shouldn't have to revisit these items for another 100,000 miles. It's likely going to cost you about $2,500 for all this, but, you cannot buy a new car for that price and it wouldn't even be more than the sales tax on a new car. Hope this helps. http://www.felpro-only.com/blog/sealing-subaru-2-5l-engines/

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

Yep, I figured as much. Mechanic suggested renting a car for the trip (this weekend) but also said if I took it easy - not 4 hours of non-stop 65mph driving, and paid attention to not overheating, perhaps it would be OK, and he does know the car after a lot of years. Now I think I will see about borrowing a car for the trip, and get the work done when I get back. Always good to have another opinion, and be safe rather than sorry. Those new Outbacks do look pretty tempting, but as you said, it is a serious difference in cost. Thanks.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Sammers- glad to give you another perspective. You might be able to get this done for around $2,000 , depending on where you live. I imagine that you have a good independent mechanic and he's honest. I hope he's aware of the the multi layered head gaskets issue. By the way, you can save a lot of money purchasing a CPO vehicle lease return that's three or four years old. It saves a lot on depreciation, that's how I purchased my car. And get the extended warranty to 100,000 miles. In the meantime, yes, the rental car sounds like a good idea. So, was this your first timing belt, etc. If so, you've gotten great service from your car. Are you the original owner and have you had any other serious problems? If my answers have been helpful, please mark them best answer. Thanks and enjoy your car. I love mine.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.
Best Answer

Yes, it is my first timing belt, and have had very few issues with the car over the years. I love my Outback, and my local mechanic, who only works on Subarus. His estimate was 2,000. for the work. I have a friend with a 2015 Forester who is going to loan me her car while she is out of town. What luck! thanks for the tip on a lease return vehicle if I change my mind in a few years, but frankly there are a lot of things I still like about my 97.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Sammers, thanks for marking my answers, I appreciate it and glad I could help you. Great to hear that your 1997 Subaru Outback has served you well. Soon, you'll be joining the Subaru high mileage club at 100,000 miles, they'll even send you an emblem you can put on your car. Just call them at the 800-782-2783 number. Sounds like you purchased this car new, is that correct? You know, I purchased my 1995 Honda Accord EX brand new and it was a great car, but, after I got my teardrop trailer, it was apparent in the first six months that my Honda was not up to the task and I had to sell the car. A friend of mine convinced me to consider the late model CPO car and I couldn't be happier, it was the best decision. I have a couple of friends with Subaru Forester models, they're nice, but, they drive more like trucks, the Outback feels more like a large sedan in the station wagon form. It's also on the Legacy platform, larger chassis, more comfortable ride. And, it's just physics, the Forester and Outback have the same 2.5 Four engine, but, the towing capacity of the Outback is 2,700 pounds while the Forrester has only 1,500 pounds capacity. And, you can get the 3.6 H6 engine in the Subaru Outback if you really need more power. Funny thing is, the 3.6 H6 engine can only tow 3,000 pounds, a mere 300 pounds more than the Four. Anyway, hope your trip and repairs go well. It's always less expensive to fix your car than get a replacement. That's why I kept my Honda Accord EX station wagon for 19 years with almost 150,000 miles. And when I sold it, I got $3,000 for the car.


Sammers, by the way, I have 73,000 miles on my 2010 and it runs like a new car. Keep logging the miles, Subaru cars are known for going a long way.

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