Timing Belt Maintenance
I have read a lot of comments that the timing belt should be changed on a Subaru as an important maintenance priority to prevent possible damage to the engine. I bought my Subaru with almost 90k miles on it. It runs great with no indication of problems. I do not have the service history. Is there any way to know if the service has already been done? I have 104k on it now. Any advice?
If there is any doubt just do it, that way you know it was done.
There is a doubt, so I will probably just suck it up and do it. There is no easy way of telling if it has been done?
If a shop did it, sometimes they'll put a sticker, say, on the air box or intake with date and mileage. And I can't speak for the outbacks, but for the foresters, the forums are good about sticking to 105k mile interval. But I've seen a few people on here get freaked out at anything over 70-80. I would recommend checking Nasioc or the Outback forums for maintenance topics. And I'm guessing it's the same as the forester, change everything, the belt, tensioner and pulleys but I would search for that info. You should be able to get it all in a kit -- check rockauto.
Thanks, I will take a look under the hood.
My advice is change the timing belt, water pump and other maintenance issues now. Why, it's not just mileage, but, it's a matter of time. Your car is a 2008 and it's 7 years old with 90,000 plus miles. I have a 2010 with just over 70,000 miles and in two years, I'm changing the belt regardless of what the mileage is. Trust me, you will thank me later for this advice. It's not worth blowing up your engine. By the way, unless you absolutely have 100 percent confidence in doing this yourself, take it to an independent professional mechanic. They know how to adjust the belt precisely for the engine. Also, I would change to synthetic oil. As you have the same engine as my car, the EJ25 phase 2 engine, you can run 5-30 . Just keep an eye on your head gaskets. The ones on your car were just prior to the multi- layered head block design. Good luck.
Wow, I just read your original post once again and see you have 104,000 miles. Subaru recommends that the belts be changed at 105,000 miles. Don't wait, take your car to the mechanic next week, I'm serious. If the timing belt should fail, you will be looking at a major engine overhaul and at least a complete valve job. It could cost you $3,000 to $4,000. Do yourself a big favor now and avoid that.
I had my timing belt , water pump, pulleys and cam seals done all at the same time , I brought my car used and wasn't sure of the maintenance history the car had 187000 when I got her and the service station did put a sticker on the upper shock column the date and mileage when they did the work my car is a 2001 Subaru outback
Nice Kinker. Prices range from state to state and shop to shop but about how much did you spend for that?
Kinker, tell me, does your 2001 burn oil and did you or the person before you replace the head gaskets?
Thanks for the advice, guys. You have convinced me that it would be a good investment. Is this job something a Subaru dealership should handle or do you think any shop could do it. I have limited skills when it comes to working on cars. They are so much more complicated nowadays and often you need specialized tools. Is there anyone else who remembers the days when there was plenty of room around the engine to work and all you needed was some liquid wrench and a good socket set?
I would call around and price it out. Dealers can be good or bad. It just depends on the dealer. Some rip people off and some take good care of customers. I would check out the forums man. You might find some good reputations on there of people in your area or get some good ideas of price ranges. I would definitely call around and figure out how much it will cost and how long of a warranty on their work. You could also look on google maps for mechanics and see what kind of reviews places have. Here's a favorite thread I keep handy for 1998- 2010 EJ25 2.5 NA: http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f66/how- replace-ej25-head-gaskets-without-removing-engine-57335/
Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.
Yeah I can remember when you could actually crawl right up inside the engine compartment and work on the engine, no computer controls, just points,condenser, and a carb! If you had compression fuel and spark it would run, now you can't even see the engine without taking off a bunch of covers, and computer control for this and computer controls for that. I guess I am glad I finally retired, just getting too expensive to maintain a shop any more.
@walth Cool link. There is one dedicated to Outbacks as well. I just need the time to explore it. Thanks for the info. @tennisshoes I changed the water pump and hoses on my sister's car when I was 12. The cars were simple and you could crawl right up inside. I don't think I would want to give up the features and reliability of today's cars though. Starting the old ones up in the winter meant being good at using the choke and pre-power steering meant parallel parking was a chore in it self. Now we start the cars from inside and they park themselves!
Yeah but look at what is costs to fix that stuff when it messes up and they do mess up. Too much dependence on computer controls.
no I have not replaced the ehad gaskets and am not sure if the headgaskets were done before i got the car, it does leak a little oil i can see it at the top of my oil filter
ccorreia - Did you get your timing belt and water pump replaced? Look at it this way, once you do that, you'll be good to go for another 100,000 miles. You'll sleep better not worrying about blowing the engine. Try and find an independent garage, a friends recommendation can be very helpful here if you decide to get it done professionally. It should not cost more than $900. That's a lot less than risking an engine failure and paying $3,000 or $4,000 for a new valve job. Good luck.
Hi Mark, No I haven't done it yet. I do plan to get it done and professionally, but finding the time is the problem. I work two jobs so basically I'm committed seven days a week. If I have time off one job, I am on the other, plus I am taking a course one day a week into June. Time is the issue. I can definitely get it done in July. I plan to go to a dealership where my wife takes her car because I figured they would be more familiar with the service. It's more than an oil change, lol, and I want it done right if I'm going to shell out serious cash. The dealership is a distance away which makes scheduling even more difficult. Also, it is a manual transmission and I'm the only one who can drive it in my family. Sounds crazy, huh? Do you think the service is really that dire? I mean, I doubt Subaru makes them to self-destruct at 105K. I figure I should be able to get at least couple of months more. What do you think?
ccorreia - A few months probably will be OK, but, please keep in mind that it's not just the mileage, its also the time and years on the rubber belt as well. The timing belt is exposed to weather conditions, heat, cold, humidity, etc. All of this takes its toll and the rubber belt can become brittle and you definitely don't want this to break. This engine, like many other cars, are "interference engines ", and the four valves per cylinder will be severely damaged if the belt either jumps out of alignment or stops working during a failure. I have 70,000 miles on my 2010 Subaru Outback 2.5 and I doubt that I will reach 105,000 miles in 7 years, so, I plan on replacing this early as well in the 7th year. The reason it's prudent to replace the water pump at the same time is the labor costs and your water pump is that a water pump failure can damage the timing belt as well on many cars. So, it's a strategic move to go ahead and replace these items earlier and avoid waiting until the last minute or wait until the 105,000 mile mark. I wish you many more miles and years with your car. Did you purchase your car new? Have you had any problems with your head gaskets? Or, any other weak areas you can share? Once you get to 100,000 miles, you should definitely join the Subaru high mileage club. Best of luck. My mechanic told me the timing belt and water pump replacement should cost no more than $850 . I imagine that you also have the automatic transmission and you don't burn any excessive oil? Is that correct?
Mark, I have 105k on the car right now. Next oil change is scheduled for 107K. I got the car last year with about 92K. I bought it used from a dealer I trust. He only resells trades that he feels are reliable. The car is NOT an automatic. I wanted a standard so I can teach my daughters to drive them. I didn't want to buy an expensive car in case I didn't like a manual (it's been a while since I owned one). I do not burn oil, but there was an issue with oil leaking. The garage said it was an oil pressure switch? sensor? and they replaced it. It seems okay now. Unfortunately, I don't have the service records on the car.
Ccorreia - I see that your car is a manual transmission. Is that working well for you, no clutch problems? . I've got a friend with a 2009 Forester and she has a "bird noise " in her clutch and even replaced the clutch once. It's driving her crazy and she's thinking of trading in the car.
No problems with the manual transmission. It shifts smoothly and quietly. It's been over 25 years since I owned one so I guess the technology has improved a little! I would love to get a new one, but Outbacks no longer offer manual. You must get the smaller Forester.
Ccorreia, I see. If I were you, I would definitely recommend making arrangements to get the car over to the shop and get the timing belt and water pump replaced. You'll be good to go for another 100,000 miles. OK, I understand that your car was a secondary purchase, I actually purchased my 2010 last year as a certified pre-owned car. I think used cars from the right place can be a better value than purchased new. As you know, new cars have a very steep depreciation factor. I imagine that you probably decided on this car for your daughter because of its safety record. Question, does your daughter or even you like driving the manual? Maybe it's just a difference of opinion, but, I think there's less maintenance with the automatic transmission and newer automatic transmissions get better fuel mileage than manual transmission cars. I've had two manual transmission cars and they're not the same as years ago when they really did save fuel. A lot has changed in 40 years. Just my two cents. Did you really save that much money when you decided to purchase the manual over the automatic. Is your Subaru Outback a base model? Maybe that's why you have a manual if you were only looking for that entry model? What did you pay for that car, and is it in excellent cosmetic condition? Used cars are all about condition, to me, mileage on the odometer is secondary.
Ccorreia, in case you have not yet done so, take the new Outback for a test drive with the new Lineartronic CVT transmission. You'll be impressed. It's for fuel economy standards with the federal government. And, I think from an engineering standpoint it's a great transmission. Just so you know, there's been some problems with the new FB series engine on the new cars with some oil burning issues. Not all cars are affected, but, it looks like most of them are Forester models with the manual transmission. Sure, a lot of improvements have been done with manual transmissions over the last 40 years, but, more advancements have been made with automatic transmissions. Over the years, there are electronic controls, hill adjust and of course, continuously variable transmissions which change all the time while you drive keeping the engine speed in the sweet spot no matter where you are driving, up hills, just about everywhere. I took my car up to the top of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon pulling a 900 pound teardrop trailer and it just went up the mountain with no complaints.
You can still get an Outback in Canada with the manual transmission, but, whether it would pass smog requirements is a different story. And, I don't know if Canadian cars have catalytic converters as standard. Now, even if those issues were not a concern, I would still get the CVT. You'll just have to drive one to see what I mean.
Mark, I love driving standards even though I know they are not as practical as automatics nowadays. It is even less practical for my family because right now, I am the only one that can drive it. I got the car to teach my daughters how to drive a standard. One daughter went to Tahiti for college semester abroad and the only cars rentals were standards. No one in her group could drive one. How sad! So I decided I wanted the daughters to learn even if standards are going the way of dinosaurs. Plus standards are fun to drive! The car is in excellent condition and runs great. I had planned to keep it a couple of years, but now I would like to keep it much longer. The only problem I have is carting lawn and building materials back from the stores. I am thinking of getting a trailer. I can't get sheet rock or plywood in the back.
My oldest daughter has a Crosstrek 2014. I think that has a CVT.
Where are you from Mark? What time zone?
By the way, I originally had set my sights on the H6 engine over the Four, but, once I test drove the Four cylinder with the CVT transmission I was pleasantly surprised by how much power and acceleration the car had. I purchased this car to pull my small teardrop trailer and it does that beautifully. My previous car was a 95 Honda Accord and it was too low to the ground and its tow capacity was 1,000 pounds. It was feeling a little tired although it could barely do the job . An interesting feature of the 2.5 Four cylinder is that it can tow 2,700 pounds while the 3.6 H6 engine can tow 3,000 pounds, a mere 300 pounds more. I guess there's an engineering answer for this, but, I would have expected the H6 engine to have been able to pull more. Oh well. In the meantime, my H4 is doing fine and giving me 22 mpg towing my teardrop trailer on the highway. Not bad at all.
Yes, I read in the manual that the 08 Outback can tow something like 2700 lbs., more than enough for me. how much does the teardrop weigh?
I live in Southern California. So, cars last as long as you want provided you fix them and I've found fixing even older cars can save you a lot of money in the long run. Think of it this way, on average, a typical car payment is $400 per month or roughly $5,000 per year. Once the car is paid for, you're not going to see $5,000 in actual repairs every year, probably won't happen. So, maintenance on a car averages say $1,000 to $1,500 per year with repairs. As far as the pleasure of driving a manual transmission, I understand what you are saying, but, the new CVT Lineartronic transmission has paddle shifters on the steering column and you can drive it in manual mode if you like. On my descent out of the Grand Canyon I used the paddle shifters a lot to brake and control the car. It works very well. How do you like the Crosstrek? I understand that it's been a sales disappointment for Subaru. And, you're right, it might be a CVT transmission? I don't know if all of their cars with CVT have paddle shifters, but, they are on the Outback and Legacy models for sure. I just cannot go back to the manual, it's just a royal pain in traffic. I see you are looking for a utility trailer? There's a lot of them online. Our teardrop is a queen bed on wheels with a kitchen. Getting too old for tent camping and my wife and I like to travel, so, this was a great compromise.
Here's a picture of our teardrop trailer with the car. Fully loaded it weighs between 800 and 900 pounds if we fill the water tank. Sometimes we pull it dry and fill up when we get there. The trailer is a fiberglass composite and is one that the lightest units on the market, that's why we chose it.
Sweet. It looks very efficient. Does it expand like the older pop-ups ans Volkswagon vans? We are not campers, so I have never seen one. Are they common?
No, they're not really common, but, there's been a resurgence in the popularity of these trailers recently and a lot of articles have been written about them from Sunset Magazine to Cool Tears. Here's the website for Cool Tears, http://www.cooltears.com/, we got ours new from Nest Egg Trailers and their website is, http://www.nesteggtrailers.com/ The trailer we bought is so new that there's just no used ones on the market and all of these are custom built to your specifications. They all start with the basic shell and they come with options. As you can see, we have air conditioning on this front of our trailer. Give me a few minutes and I'll post a picture of the inside, and no they don't expand, its for sleeping but it's very nice, compact and we'll insulated inside, think space shuttle. We were not really campers before we got the teardrop, and in fact, had some really terrible experiences with tents, but, this is great. I'm recently retired and we wanted to travel and see places while we still had the energy to do that. For example, we went to Death Valley and stayed for four days. Well, the choices there are stay in a five star resort at $350 per night or pitch a tent, this is a great way to save money and still be comfortable. We stayed in the National Park area and since we're over 62 and have the senior pass ( former Golden Eagle pass), we paid only 50 percent of the posted rates. By the way, the pass is available at any National Park office, is only $10 and is good for your lifetime, no renewal fees. It's the best investment you can make. I'll work on posting those pictures for you now.
Here's a picture for you, it has carpeted walls, cabinets and a place to have our tablet. Since the trailer has two doors, it's easy for us to get in and out without climbing over one another.
Here's another picture, this works really well for us. Many people ask, OK, what about a bathroom, we tell them there's always facilities nearby at campgrounds with showers and bathrooms. People with large recreational vehicles we've met always prefer to use the campground facilities to avoid having to deal with cleaning out their sewer systems. They tend to use their rig for a bathroom only in an emergency. We don't have to deal with any of that and I like it.
OK, here's one last picture of the kitchen, it's in the back, the rear hatch opens and we have running water, a holding tank for gray water and plenty of cabinet space with a large ice chest cooler.
Really nice, Mark. So efficient looking. You are right about the big recreational vehicles involving a lot of work, plus getting them in tight areas or cities looks to be a challenge. Not to mention gas mileage. I think you really must love the that life to commit to owning one. I see it as work! My wife and I just stay in hotels. Your tear drop reminds me of the micro-hotels in Japan where you are basically renting a sleep tube. The tear drop must save you a ton of money on hotels so you can travel longer or more. I'll visit the links you sent later. I'm off to work now. I llive in Massachusetts where the New England weather destroys cars in a matter of a few years... think road salt and frost heaves : )
Yes, we thought how cool it might have been to get a large class A vehicle, live in it and travel around the country. Then we started thinking about the fuel, depreciation, and the all the problems associated with the upkeep on one of these road behomths. I've seen and talked with many people who had these rigs and more times than not they sat in their driveways and couldn't afford to take them very many places. In fact, a lot of these folks got rid of their larger RV's to get smaller rigs . We decided to get this smaller teardrop so we could make more trips. Yes, look at the websites I referred you to. Our teardrop is more of a fairer weather unit, although we did all right in a rainstorm in the Grand Canyon. Yeah I know how your weather is much harsher than Southern California on cars. There's no wood on our trailer and its an incredibly low maintenance unit, which is why I like it. Let me know what you think after you see the information on the Nest Egg website. There's a you tube video that's really cool. And, the trailer looked better than I expected in person , I was very impressed and I'm glad I bought it.
Ccorreia, I've never been to Japan, but, I know that things are a lot smaller there. The teardrop is very efficient and serves our needs to explore the great outdoors. And, its so affordable, we can always and sometimes do opt to stay in a hotel. I would say that the wind is the biggest problem we encountered at camp sites. You can't even feel the wind with the car on the road the whole setup is very aerodynamic and the trailer and car goes anywhere. When we get to camp, we just detach the car and use that as a base of operations and go anywhere we need to go.
Way too much paranoia around here! Subie water pumps are GOLD, and almost NEVER fail. Replacing one with a t-belt job is foolhardy...as is changing Subie's VERY robust t-stat. Subie went from the oil Jap boilerplate 5yr/60k t-belt maintenance in 1998 once CA specs downgraded motors with internal parts requiring maintenance before 100k! So now they state 9trs/105k. But routinely we see this extremely robust belt giving 12+ years and 200k+ service. Since it only takes one minute to inspect the belt for contamination, fraying, cracking, or oil contamination I recommend that owners simply take a peek, and depress the belt with a forefinger to get to know normal tensioner resistance, annually after the 10th year. IF your tensioner is shot you'll hear an INTERMITTENT clacking of the smooth side of the belt against the upper plastic dust shield at warm idle. Then inspect, and replace tensioner (and the belt unless you're cheap!) at the same time. But for gosh sakes, leave the bloody water pump alone. Total time 3-3.5 hours and under $200 for tensioner and belt. Sometimes Subie dealers send out $390 coupons for this job just to get you in there to do head gaskets or overpriced brakes, etc. Hence $600 is overpriced....
TheSubaruGuruBoston- thanks for this information. I imagine that you would know since you're a professional Subaru mechanic. Actually, I do tend to err on the side of caution, and following the method suggested that you change the water pump is consistent with Subaru's recommendation to change the "super coolant " at 105,000 miles, which is directly related to the water pump. I agree though that all of this gets expensive for everyone. No more cheap wheels. Wow, 12 years on the timing belt, I'm sure that's for newer models? And, hopefully, by now , or at least I'm told as of 2010 , with the multi layered head gaskets, that this is something that Subaru finally got right? . I've been more concerned about the head gaskets than the timing belt.
The t-belts have been robust since 1990. But CVTs are starting to fail. Let's hope Subie hasn't traded head gasket frailty for CVT fragility, but my expert buddy in Maine has replaced a half dozen CVTs this year. Sigh....
Good advice here! I just acquired my dad's 2003 Forrester with only 25,000. Trying to figure out if he replaced the belt at its 10 year birthday. Probably going to bite the bullet and do it just to be safe.
Wow, 25k on a 2003! That is awesome. He bought it new? Does he have the service records? I'm not sure you would need that service until you hit the mileage point even though it is older. What do the experts out there say? I hope you live in a forgiving climate. I'm from the Northeast and the salt air and winter road chemicals do a number on the paint and undercarriage. My friend in Georgia says he can always tell a northern car when he puts it on a lift, lol. Good luck with your 2003. At 23k you should get many good years from it.
can you repair the timing belt and valvue gaskets yourself at home, or is it something that you should bring/need to being in to the shop. also where can you buy these types of equipment. I am having trouble with my timing belt and valve gaskets, but the mechanical shop I went to wants to charge me $1300 dollars to repair both and that just seems rediculous. So please tell me there is a way to do it from home. Thank you
If you are mechanically inclined and have some good basic knowledge of how to do this job, then you can do this, but if you have the slightest doubt then don't attempt it,cause if you do it wrong you will bend valves. And your right about the charges, that's too much, find another shop if need be.
mel874- and tennisshoes-, hey, don't know where you live, but, in LA, that seems like a reasonable price to me for the timing belt and valves... A timing belt change here is around $900 to $1,000.
Alissa- sounds like you have a nice old 2003 , my advice is get the timing belt serviced right now, professionally.. your car is on borrowed time... Don't fool around with this... Trust me, you're going to be glad I told you..
Looking for a Used Outback in your area?
CarGurus has 29,744 nationwide Outback listings starting at $1,200.
Search Subaru Outback Questions
Subaru Outback Experts