Below are a couple of pictures of a failed Timing belt idler we recently replaced, because it came out of a Subaru with a manual transmission there is a belt guide just above the crankshaft sprocket that prevented the belt from coming off, so this driver was very lucky, had it been an automatic model the belt would have come off causing valve damage. I will add that we do still see Subaru Manual transmission equipped cars with the belt guide still jump time, there is just less of a chance it happens
If you have read enough of the articles and posts on this website, you will find one of the things I really try to drive home is that when its time to replace the timing belt, make sure its done completely!
The belt is just a piece of rubber, The service interval on most Subaru models is 105,000 miles this is to one prevent it from breaking costing you thousands, and two to replace a “stretched timing belt”.
In the maintenance booklet it will state to replace the timing belt, so it sounds like the only thing you need to do is to replace the belt right? Not so fast, in the Subaru Service manual it states replace the timing belt, and INSPECT the timing components. Once the timing components have been inspected there are few ways to proceed. Most likely the timing belt tensioner, timing belt idlers and the water pump (which are all part of the mechanical timing system on your Subaru) are still just as old as the Timing belt, if you don’t replace them now when its all apart then when? Even if they appear to be ok at this time, what about in another couple of years when you are on that “Road Trip” is that a good time to replace the components? The problem is that seldom will you from the drivers seat be able to audibly depict the increase in engine noise as one of the Timing belt idler bearings starts to make more noise just prior to seizing, or hear the occasional timing “belt slap” as the tensioner can now longer keep the timing belt tight under heavy acceleration just prior to the belt jumping a few teeth.
The problem here is that either one of these scenarios are going to cost in the thousands if they occur. I will be the first to tell you that in some cases I have seen the components go 200k before one failed, but I can also tell you that we have replaced engines on cars at 110k because the same thing occurred. At either mileage the costs are debilitating, and for some they will have to move on from what was a great car the just day before.
I say this all the time but if car makers really let you know how much it costs to own a car you might never buy one.!
As a small business owner, I truly understand the need to try and be frugal, but part of being frugal is understanding the possible ramifications on taking the less expensive route. If you Get a full detailed estimate for everything from a Subaru Dealer, and then from us obtain an apple to apple comparison, you will find that we can save you about 20%. That should echo in all areas of this country, so if you want to save some money find a good Independent Subaru Repair shop like All Wheel Drive Auto but don’t skimp on the repair to save even more, even if you avoid catastrophe, you will still be paying labor twice to do something that could have been paid for once.
Sometimes shops and especially the Dealer don’t take the time to try and explain why. Someone calls and asks for how much to replace the timing belt, the answer includes the belt and the labor as shops are to afraid of having a higher price than who you called last to get you in the door.
The tensioner first lost its hydraulic fluid as the seal failed, then starting bouncing on the tensioner bracket which is the notch worn into the housing.
Thanks for reading
Your Independent Subaru Expert