Is it timing belt or rod adjustment or oil pump ?

Asked by Apr 12, 2015 at 01:42 PM about the 2000 Subaru Outback Base Wagon

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I've a 2000 Outback 2.5L, just went over 160km.   It starts good any weather all year around.  But it has developed over  last couple of years an annoying   clikety clack off timing  push-rod kind of noise  after engine starting that goes from very noticeable to faint and completely gone  for few minutes as the  engine warms up.     Colder the engine  the louder it is and it also seems to lose power when it makes the most noise cold.  So lately I started to let it warm up for few minutes before moving..  It used to be like crank it and drive immediately out but no more.

I'm wondering what it could be given that it passed emission test only 2 months ago in flying color ( of course it was done after engine got warmed up good).   

Everything else runs good.   Fuel consumption seems to be standard.  
For example;  month ago  I go to Toronto  190Km back and forth  no problem with no change in mileage.     One thing that I noticed is that the car can stay parked for few hours even in the cold winter like we just had, say for 5-6 hours , and  I can start the engine and have no trouble. I hardly hear the noise.   So I assume the engine is by now cold enough  but it give no effect.     Last September I took it to a mechanic to show him but he couldn't hear a thing so we left it.    But now I can feel it got  a  bit worse than last autumn .  It is getting worse and worse with time albeit slowly.  I have already done system cleaning on injector valve and pushrod several times over last 2 years with very little results.  

On my last oil change  in February it did get a bit better.  What I did was this.    I put a new oil filter along with a half can of STP engine treatment (that gooey thick oil that's supposed to help seal up piston better )   with about half-half mixture of 5w-20 and 10w-30, along with a additional engine cleaning fluid .     It did perform better with  about half the noise level.     I am thinking it may be timing belt  but than again oil pump or oil blockage or worn out  push-rod .    But they can't  just change with engine temperature can they ?    I've done push-rod adjustments before on many cars ( I am a home mechanic) and never seen it like that.  Once a rod is out of spec it stays the course at all speed and temp more or less and not change it drastically in few minutes.      A  timing belt on the other hand could possibly change its sprocket gap a bit  but it seems a bit too much even at that.       Blocked oil pan ?    It doesn't sound like oil pump .      It should get bad as oil gets warm up as oil viscosity decreases when hot thereby producing less oil available as oil pressure also decreases..  I could use help figuring this out.     Something else is off timing when cold ?..   Thanks to you all.

14 Answers


well, you shouldn't have a pushrod motor.. it likely has adjustable lifters and one may be slightly out of spec. The bigger the gap, the harder it hits and that's the clickity clack. Some folks say that this is pretty typical of the foresters 2.5 but I would have to dig to find that source. But if you adjusted it and then it warmed up and then didn't have enough of a gap it might leave your valve open and burn a valve.

It just that It's rather unusual for lifter metal to change their length that much . The noise seem to start disappear at lower end of temp where temp guage needle barely start rise . Higher the outdoor temp less the noise and faster you can move out. For example , if outside temp is over 15 C it's good to go almost right away. Whereas if it's 5 C or so it needs ten seconds or so of reving up before moving. Also, when cold outside, if you keep engine rev high and hold it for about 10-15 seconds after cranking at above 2500 rpm quicker the noise abates. Specially if engine temp is cold as -25 C and that 10-20 seconds of high rev couldn't make that much difference or could it really ?


Google search the following: 2000 outback 2.5 loud clicking

1 people found this helpful.

Hey walth thanks. I went to see your link. What I gathered from those is following. It's NOT Lifter rod. Nor clapper. which I suspected more or less. Two things are most prominent it seems; worn belt or spark plug related : either not firing proper or loose and low compression or damaged/worn internal components. I will check for loose plug and check for comp but I'll replace the belt first before going any further I got to do it, it's time for it anyways, right . .


Hi Clickety Clack- are you the original owner ? If so, when did you first change the timing belt? I'm sure that you changed this a while ago even though you have not reached 100,000 miles? And, have you ever had problems with over heating and head gasket leaks?

Markw1952 I am the second owner. No it never had belt change . I got it at 120K ish few years ago. I was just considering it the last few months though. No there was no such incidents . No overheating or head gasket leaks. Although it did have oil pan leak when I got it but I gave it a couple of touches at the bottom end and now it's been so far good.. Only other little headache was Engine warning light which didn't affect mileage what so ever, but would've failed emission test, but it turned out to be a second O sensor, so it's been good as well. Only other trouble that has surfaced in the last few months aside from clickety noise is squeaking sound as steering turns, but not all the time, so I will have to give a look as well down below.


Clicecty Clack- OK, then, you're original post said 160km which would have translated to just under 100,000 miles, but, now I see your last post said that you acquired the car two years ago with 120k, which now sounds like 120,000 miles. And now there's 160,000 miles on the car? I'm going to presume that you got the car with the 120,000 miles and that the previous owner changed the timing belt in the 8th year or so. You'd better hope that's what happened, because if that's the original timing belt it could literally fail at any moment, in fact, if its that old, it could snap the next time you start your car! Inspect the belt right now, if it looks old and it probably is, have it and the water pump replaced pronto. Let me tell you this, it's not just mileage, its years and weathering. Smog, high heat and the elements eats up the rubber. Its cheap insurance compared to rebuilding your engine which is what will happen if it breaks. I'm sure you would rather join the Subaru high mileage club instead of the broken engine club. Do it now. The time frame to replace it now presumably the second belt change is right on schedule. Have this done professionally by a trusted mechanic, you'll be happy you did. And, if you think that sounds expensive, try comparing that to recurring car payments at $400 per month for the next 60 months to get a new car or late model. You'll see I'm right.


Don't use STP! This is not good. Too thick for your engine. I wonder why this product is still on the market.

yeah mostly I do agree with you Mark1952. I've got a guy close by asking $600+ for the job . But I'll do it with a Belt kit at $250, I will be ordering . Anyhow to clear it up, I got it a few years ago at 120km and now it's sitting at 160km. And this will be first belt replacement. But I got a funny bone telling me I will still have this clakitty noise.


Clicecty, I presume that you know what you're doing. It's better to be lucky than good and if its truly the original timing belt, you're one lucky individual. OK, so, it is kilometers not miles? Are you in Canada? $600 for a timing belt and water pump replacement, if that's included, is a great price. Have you replaced a timing belt and water pump yourself before? It's highly recommended that you do both at the same time and it requires a high degree of calibration. I guess we all look at things differently and have different levels of skills, but, I would definitely have this done professionally myself. If you have it done by someone, you'll be assured that it's done perfectly. Don't know about your clicking noise, but, taking in your car for the timing belt may also be a way for this professional mechanic to solve that for you as well with a multi discount deal. No harm in asking. Everything is negotiable. Good luck.

Hey I changed all 3 belts( timing and 2 accessory) and put in a set of new plugs too. Old plugs were still clean but had worn down electrodes with gap twice the size LOL . Now it runs good. It cost me $285. for the parts. It took me extra hours in order to fashion a holding tool for undoing pulley nut and another tool for setting driver side timing sprocket onto timing belt. I found that without it, it gets damn near impossible to put on the belt right. . So now I have both set of tools to work on any Subaru engine. . It wasn't so bad compared to 452cubic inch GM engine. At first it showed little tapping noise but it soon disappeared after couple of days. I think it took a while for new belt to really sink in good. Thank for all you fellars input.


Clacking sound... get a stethoscope and try to isolate thr location, But being a veteran of solid lifter Chevy's in the olden days of leaded gas ,it sounds like you need a valve adjustment.


Sigh...more verbiage re unnecessary t-belt jobs. Subie 2.5i are notorious for "piston slap" from short skirts that don't keep the cold pistons horizontal until full warmup. This phenomenon is temperature and age related, and mysteriously can disappear after LONG break-in! If changing a t-belt truly solved this problem then I suspect the initiall noise was from a loose t-belt auto-adjuster (leaky hydraulics) that allowed the loose t-belt to randomly "clack" against its outer plastic dust shields. Fairly rare. Interestingly the belt is usually salvageable, but a good wrench will replace belt, tensioner and idler pulley too. But leave the water pump alone. But PLEASE, let's stop the paranoia around Subaru t-belt fatigue and motor risk. Since it's so damned easy to pry forward the left (driver) upper cover and inspect the belt (and tensioner function!) I suggest that owners START to INSPECT belts themselves annually after 10 years, and only get in there if there's "clacking" noise at idle, a very rare oily mess, or a cover's been broken off long enough to dirty up or abrade the belt, which also is very rare. Subies are NOT like Hondas, Toyotas and VWs that eat timing belts and water pumps for lunch. Save your money for better plugs, ignition wires, wheel bearings and all those brake rotors....


The STP comment bears qualification. YES, any molasses is too thick to run a motor on. BUT, horizontally opposed motors sit IN their lubricant bath, so don't require skinny oils for splashing UP to OHCams. If you're running too-skinny 5w oil then a can 'o STP will balance out to about 10w, which is just dandy. Or take 10w to 15w. But I wouldn't add it to 20w50 unless it's summer time. These are 3k rpm workhorses, not 9k rpm Honda hummingbirds that need quickest splash-ability. Even with turbos, I think it' the high temp stability of synth that's more important than starting cold viscosity...but I'm outta my league at that point.

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