Author Topic: Subaru timing belt: mileage or time?  (Read 2037 times)

eostache

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Subaru timing belt: mileage or time?
« on: April 05, 2018, 06:50:27 PM »
2001 Subaru Outback. I bought it in 2007 with 110,000 on it. Paid $4600 for it. It was cheap because the paint job is bad. The timing belt had been done at about 90,000. I have only put another 50,000 miles on it in 10 years. Is mileage or time more important in the life of a timing belt?

The car is not worth much on kbb, maybe $1000. Paint job is worse (crackling and fading, but it looks fine from the driver's seat) and the manual transmission has a noise in reverse (my mechanic says it's probably a piece of plastic from the reverse fork and it has not gotten worse over the years so I just drive it). Engine runs well so I was going to just keep driving it (about once a week). No rust or other body damage on the car.

Syonyk

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Re: Subaru timing belt: mileage or time?
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2018, 08:20:52 PM »
Pull the timing covers and take a look at the belt.  If you've got coolant leaks or oil leaks in there and the belt is gross, I'd replace it.  If it's clean and dry and visibly in good shape with no cracking, it's probably fine.

... of course, once you're that far in, it's easy enough to replace it anyway...

The newer Subaru engines (which includes yours) are interference engines.  That means if the timing belt breaks, pistons and valves clash together, and you ruin the entire engine.  If the rest of the car is in good shape, a timing belt and a few hours is probably worth it (not sure what it takes to change the timing belt on an EJ series, I've only done it myself on EA82 motors).

Realistically, you're probably OK for another few years on it.

Holyoak

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Re: Subaru timing belt: mileage or time?
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2018, 05:53:50 AM »
Any headgasket issues for these series of Subaru engines? 

I myself have always been a better safe than sorry type with regard to timing belts, even on my non-interference Toyotas and Mazda vehicles I have owned.  Especially for any Honda vehicles, with their self destruct design.  I do all the work myself, so that is a factor of convenience/knowing the job is done right; just the same a broken/jumped belt sucks for anyone at any time.  I have seen original belts go 300,000 + miles, but man are you tempting fate.  Might also factor in other items to replace, if you do the change; idlers, tensioners, cam and crank seals, waterpump if applicable, etc.

My gut says if a quality belt was used and installed properly, no problems of being harmed with bad other components/oil swell, or too slack, it probably will as stated earlier be just fine.

Car Jack

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Re: Subaru timing belt: mileage or time?
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2018, 09:01:27 AM »
Subaru is 105k miles or 105 months.  So you're overdue.

Some reasons you might not want to bother:  The car isn't worth enough that you would do anything more than scrap it if something goes wrong.
You don't have the mechanical abilities to do it yourself and don't want to pay someone $800 to do it.
You're afraid that the head gaskets will probably go the week after you pay to get the timing belt done.

All of these could be valid reasons.  I've got an 04 Outback with 77k miles on it now.  The engine was replaced in 07 with 24k miles on it so I'm less concerned about the gaskets because I believe Subaru was probably using the MLS gaskets by then.  But the car has an ongoing P0420 code, which I can work with using my OBD reader and careful driving (as in, rev the piss out of it all the time following a reset, then go in for inspection when only 1 "not ready" remains).  We also got hit in the side, so I've pocketed half the value of the car ($1800....car's worth maybe $3600 in perfect shape).  So I haven't changed the belt.  My son drives it and I don't have a spare car for him to use if I were to take the car down for the timing belt.  If the belt went, I'm a scrapper, so would have no problem first trying to sell the car for $1000 and if not, scrap for aluminum, wiring and sell off some parts, then cut up the body for steel scrap which currently is quite high at $200 a ton.

Now after all that.....if you need to depend on this car, change the timing belt.

Just Joe

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Re: Subaru timing belt: mileage or time?
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2018, 09:12:37 AM »
Years ago - timing belt broke on DW's Accord. Timing belt had never been changed. 120K miles. Timing pulley just sheared a couple of teeth off of the belt and it slipped.

Engine stopped immediately (near idle at the time) and no damage was done. I doubt the belt will break, more likely the teeth will get stripped off of the belt.

I say better safe than sorry. When I buy a used car with no guarantees that the belt was recently done, I replace the belt just to be sure. One car I bought years ago had a new belt I was assured. Took it apart and it was a very dirty "new belt" i.e. it had not been done.

Holyoak

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Re: Subaru timing belt: mileage or time?
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2018, 09:58:43 AM »
Years ago - timing belt broke on DW's Accord. Timing belt had never been changed. 120K miles. Timing pulley just sheared a couple of teeth off of the belt and it slipped.

Classic as I'm sure you know, for a geared cogged waterpump starting to seize; a hell of a lot more teeth stripped when it seizes.  Always hated these type of pumps for interference engines.  Best ever for T-belts and WP's, are early type Mazda/similar engines that are single cam gear, single tensioner, WP driven by a separate V-belt, and a lower crank pulley that does not need to have the center crank pulley bolt removed.  Damn,  I bet the crank pulley bolt on my 96 Civic was 300+ ft/lb's.

Mr. Metal Mustache

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Re: Subaru timing belt: mileage or time?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2018, 11:48:26 AM »
Sadly I was in the same boat as you. Have a hyundai santa fe and change interval is 5 years/ 60k miles. Had 45k miles but 8 years on the belt. Kit was $100 for belt/idlers/water pump. Three hours of my time to do it vs. 500-900 for someone else. Better safe than have the belt break and send the valves directly through the pistons lol.

Goldy

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Re: Subaru timing belt: mileage or time?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2018, 08:28:04 PM »
I am going to need to do this on my Subaru in the next few months so I have been watching YouTube videos and it seems doable.  Better doing it myself then paying$1200 at the dealership.

eostache

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Re: Subaru timing belt: mileage or time?
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2018, 09:08:18 PM »
Subaru is 105k miles or 105 months.  So you're overdue.

Some reasons you might not want to bother:  The car isn't worth enough that you would do anything more than scrap it if something goes wrong.
You don't have the mechanical abilities to do it yourself and don't want to pay someone $800 to do it.
You're afraid that the head gaskets will probably go the week after you pay to get the timing belt done.

All of these could be valid reasons.  I've got an 04 Outback with 77k miles on it now.  The engine was replaced in 07 with 24k miles on it so I'm less concerned about the gaskets because I believe Subaru was probably using the MLS gaskets by then.  But the car has an ongoing P0420 code, which I can work with using my OBD reader and careful driving (as in, rev the piss out of it all the time following a reset, then go in for inspection when only 1 "not ready" remains).  We also got hit in the side, so I've pocketed half the value of the car ($1800....car's worth maybe $3600 in perfect shape).  So I haven't changed the belt.  My son drives it and I don't have a spare car for him to use if I were to take the car down for the timing belt.  If the belt went, I'm a scrapper, so would have no problem first trying to sell the car for $1000 and if not, scrap for aluminum, wiring and sell off some parts, then cut up the body for steel scrap which currently is quite high at $200 a ton.

Now after all that.....if you need to depend on this car, change the timing belt.

I know this engine has head gasket issues that involve only a trickle of coolant emerging. I think the engine was treated for this before I got the car. I have not noticed any problem with the head gasket in the almost 11 years that I have had the car.

My car does have a chronic Check Engine Light. When I bought it the previous owner thought it needed a catalytic converter replacement. My previous 1991 Subaru had the CEL light on for the whole 8 years I had it and it ran great (probably an 02 sensor). This Outback still runs great so I have not done anything about the CEL. We don't have inspections where I live.

My partner has a 1996 Tacoma that he takes meticulous care of, and does most of his own work on. He says of the Outback's timing belt: it's a sealed system so dry rot is unlikely, so he said not to worry about it.

I ride my bike most days. Work is 1.6 miles away. I try to drive the car once a week. Sometimes I don't drive it if I can't think of any place to go. I put new tires on it a year ago so I do have that invested.

I have money on hand already for my next car ($5000 max), or could live without one for a while if I had to.

Syonyk

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Re: Subaru timing belt: mileage or time?
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2018, 09:14:53 PM »
My car does have a chronic Check Engine Light. When I bought it the previous owner thought it needed a catalytic converter replacement.

Almost certainly a P0420 code - catalyst efficiency.  There are a wide variety of ways to get rid of that if you sniff around Subie forums.