Should I replace the timing belt, pulleys and water pump

Asked by Jan 01, 2016 at 08:09 AM about the 2008 Subaru Outback 2.5 i

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I just bought a 2008 Subaru Outback 2.5i (non-turbo) automatic with some minor front end damage I am repairing.  It has 89,600 miles.  The front end of the car is all open currently and I am replacing the timing belt covers.  Should I go ahead and replace the timing belt and related components while it is this easy?

18 Answers


Yes most definitely, with that amount of miles it is due anyway, save yourself grief bending over the front end, might as well take advantage of the easy access.


Yes, I would definitely have this done. It's preventative maintenance, and you can forget about worrying this for a while. By the way, if you are going all is way, replace the water pump, original equipment Subaru thermostat and super coolant. Yes, its all important and makes a difference.


I would do it. The kits are fairly cheap and while it is apart you will save a lot of trouble later.


steverwill- by the way, forgot to ask, how do the head gaskets look on your car?


See this link on multi layered head gaskets,


Oh Christ, here we go again.... The T-belt on 1990-2016 2.5i is especially robust, almost ALWAYS lasting at least a dozen years...or even 15 years! The water pumps have even more legendary durability, btw. So let's be smart here: Since the covers are off you can easily inspect not just the t-belt (in case it was cut by the accident), but also its tensioner and pulleys. If all ok, then decide whether to replace JUST the belt. But remember that labor for the job later is 3 hours, so no big deal...depending on your philosophy. If either of the pulleys (or tensioner) has play (which is doubtful), then replace same with new t-belt (since it's probably in your hands). It's interesting to note that by far the incidence of t-belt related failure follows an improperly installed new one than a left- alone system. Subie's 9yr/105k rec is STRICTLY a marketing ploy, and not base on MTBF analysis. Mark is correct on inspecting the HGs, but a naive worry-wart re service realities. So save your money...maybe unless you can get a friendly wrench to toss in the t-belt for an hour's labor (it'll take half that). Over 30+ years servicing Subies I estimate I've bought less than a half dozen t-belts client's owning '90+ SOHC 2,5i, vs many HUNDREDS of brake rotors, wheel bearings, and ps belts. I have a 10 yr old new water pump sitting in my garage I probably will never have to install. One of the first questions all of us indie Subie wrenches ask a customer with a related problem is if someone has recently "gotten in there to do a t-belt?" unnecessarily. And yes, I know that some are quoting $600-800 for t-belt jobs later, but again it's a 3 hour job that used to be "promo-ed" by $329 dealer mailers. Ha!


So, that's 12 years , regardless of mileage on the timing belt, water pump, thermostat and coolant change? I just want to make sure I understand you. OK, maybe I'm a little more concerned about this, why not call it 11 years and do these all at once? Who wants to wait until the maximum number of years? Maybe you could go 15 years? Isn't that a little bit more of a gamble? I'll admit that I'm conservative on preventative maintenance, I'd rather be safe than sorry.


SIC. Leave water pump and t-stat alone. Change coolant every 5 years. Inspect t-belt annually after 12 years.


Coolant change every 5 years?? The. 2010 Subaru Outback owners manual says the coolant change is 11 years or 105,000 miles and they use a proprietary Subaru super coolant in a closed system. Why would you disturb that prior to the manufacturers recommendation?


I'll probably have all of this done professionally at 11 years. Sure, its expensive, but, not as expensive as buying a new car or risking engine failure or breakdown. Not all of us out there are experienced mechanics like you and while I very much appreciate your input, I have to also have a comfort level about my car. Just my opinion.


One more thing, you raised an excellent point about not doing the timing belt replacement correctly, which is why I have a professional mechanic who has been working on my cars for the past 15 years. It pays to have this done right. If you are not 100 percent confident about working on your car, you should always hire a professional. You know, everything is easy when you know what to do. Unfortunately, my impression, from reading a number of posts on this forum, is the people who get into "pickles" with problems and look for advice to solve a quick fix are the same people that should have called and taken their cars to a professional independent mechanic in the first place.


Ernie, it's guys like me keeping guys like you in business.


Au contraire! I'm finally retiring partly because I NEVER oversell services.


Because they used to suggest 3 years. 11 seems a bit long....


Ernie, that what it says in the owners manual and maintenance schedule, I don't make this stuff up, see ,


It says 11 years, although, it does say to inspect more often.


By the way, I appreciate that you're wanting to not oversell your services, no one wants unnecessary repairs. And, congratulations on being able to retire! I'm just very proactive about keeping my cars running in tip top shape always. I don't mind driving older cars, but, I can't stand beaters. I've saved a lot money keeping older cars going much longer by spending as I go rather than experience a major failure. Good luck and enjoy your retirement.


Happy New Year to you too.

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