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2002 Subaru Forester, bent valves after timing belt replacement

I had my timing belt changed on my sube, the car seemed fine afterward. Three weeks later I tried to start it and there was a horrific noise. Had it towed to the garage that had replaced the belt. They found I had lost compression on one side of the engine. The took it apart, sent the part over to a machine shop and found two valves were bent. I asked them if it could have had anything to do with the belt replacement and they said no way, I wouldn’t have been able to drive it at all if that were the case. Based on some other questions I am seeing here about tensioners, it is reasonable to question this. I’m a single gal without any mechanic friends. I take decent care of my car and always have. This was totally unexpected. Any advise you can give me for when I go pick it up to fight the charges would be truly appreciated. Let me know if you need additional info. Thanks!

This is due to a slipped timing belt, likely happened because they didn’t test or replace the tensioner, and should not have happened. They are IMHO responsible UNLESS the suggested changing the tensioner too and you “passed” to save money.

Their denial is based on their assumption that the only possible reason the camshaft could be out of time were if it were that way when they did the work. The assumption is invalid. Or, much more likely, they know they screwed up and are avoiding financial responsibility.

Sameo is correct. See if a new tensioner was included in the price you paid. If it was, I suspect you paid for it and didn’t get it. They come with a kit from Autozone or the dealer at a higher cost. They should also have suggested a new water pump as 9/10 of the labor to install the pump is already done when they have the timing belt off.

To my thinking there is no way the timing belt should have slipped a cog or two if the job were done properly. They owe you a fix as the valves were not bent when you drove it in the first time. You did DRIVE it in didn’t you?

Yes, I did drive it in the first time! lol I changed the belt because it was recommended. And unfortunately all my repair receipts are kept in the car so I don’t offhand know if they replaced the tensioner but I guess I am about to find out. I have trusted these guys with my car for years and they have a good reputation, thus the sincere confusion when the head mechanic said there was no way a mistake could have been made when they replaced the belt. Based on what little research I have done, it has to be related. Could the valves have bent from any other cause? Seriously the car was fine one day, parked it in the garage, went to go to work the next day and it had the horrendous noise so I didn’t drive it again but had it towed to the garage.

While it’s always possible for a fluke to happen, odds are this is an error on their part. If they did not replace the tensioners and water pump they have made an error.
If the cause of this problem was a tensioner bolt coming loose, etc. then this would also be an error; either due to not tightening something properly or not examining threads, etc. before reassembling something.

The big problem you have is not being mechanically minded and not being able to sort out any BS you may be given if they go into CYA mode. (cover your axx)
I do not think you should authorize any repair at this point until the exact cause is pinpointed but it sounds like you have already done this. If so, this means any error on their part could now be covered up.

You could ask the shop to respond on this forum and provide some details. It should not be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak.

I think the shop that did the belt replacement should acknowledge their error and fix your car for nothing. But it sounds like they’ve gone into CYA mode. That’s a shame. You’ll need the information from the receipt to see what parts were replaced and what parts were not.

You’re going to have to try to find out exactly what part failed and allowed the valve timing to go off. Something either broke, came loose, or failed in some other way, and unless you find out what that was you’re going to have a hard time getting this repaired for nothing.

I also wonder why only one side of the engine was affected. But again, we don’t know what broke, slipped, came loose, or otherwise caused the failure. Without that knowledge we’re really shooting in the dark.

Here’s what I do know: When they pulled everything apart they should have been able to determine what went wrong. You have to get them to explain it to you, and then explain it to us.

Saying it wasn’t their fault is not enough. They have to prove it, and the only way they can do that is to explain exactly what happened.

Good luck.

It would be a very good idea to ask for (demand if necessary) all parts that were replaced. This means every single thing no matter how small; such as any broken tensioner bolts, etc.