My 2002 Subaru Outback is leaking coolant and a mechanic told me it’s most likely the water pump. They said it’d run me about $500, but I researched the parts and different tutorials online for a 2002 outback, it seems it’s more time consuming than it is difficult. I feel confident I could do it myself, but I need someone else opinion.
First step is to identify the leak, could be the water pump, could be something else.
I don’t know what tools you own, your skill level, your support network if you need parts mid-job or need a ride to work if you don’t finish the job in time. I can’t render an opinion of your ability to replace the water pump. Only you can do that.
I say dive in. The car is old enough to vote. How badly can you mess it up? Watch some Youtube vids and have a plan to tow it to a mechanic if you can’t get it done.
With everything apart and considering the age of the car cam/crank seals should be replaced along with the entire timing kit; meaning pump, idlers, timing belt, and so on.
You need to make double sure the belt timing is correct and rotate the engine by hand a few revolutions to verify the timing marks are correct before using the starter motor. If you hit the starter and the belt is out of time it will quite likely bend some valves in the heads and then you will be up the creek.
I don’t know your skill level so I have no idea if you can do this correctly or not.Then again, you may have a leg up on an alleged mechanic I worked with at Subaru. He could not do an oil change or change wiper blades without throwing tools and cursing at the top of his lungs.
WP replacement involves removing the timing belt, so you’ll likely have to remove the crankshaft bolt and possibly a camshaft sprocket and tensioner. So you’ll need to either rent or invent some specialty tools, and it’ll be a pretty big job. The shop time is 3 hours, so for a diy’er doing this job the first time, expect to budget 6 hours or more of your time. But it’s definitely possible for a diy’er to do. Suggest to purchase an oem water pump at Subaru. Be sure to follow the service manual procedure, especially on the tightening sequence how to torque the bolts that connect the water pump to the block. Before removing the timing belt take a photo of how the timing marks align. Best practice is to to not rotate the crankshaft or camshaft at all w/the timing belt removed. Best of luck.
If you have to take the timing belt off, you might as well put a new one on while you are there.
And that’s just actual time turning wrenches. Budget at bare minimum an extra day for running back and forth between the car and your computer to look stuff up on the internet.