CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

2003 forester 100k maintenance

I have a 2003 Subaru Froester and it is approaching doing the 100k mark. I am planning to take it in for service. I asked the shop about the 90k service and the timing belt. What is your opinion on the work to be performed and the cost?

A 90k service for that vehicle includes, spark plug replacement, fuel filter replacement, cabin air filter, air filter, brake fluid flush, coolant flush, brake inspection, steering and suspension inspection, and all other fluids inspected. The cost for those replacements and inspections is $680, however, it may be less if things like the coolant and brake fluid are clean and do not need serviced, and it could also be a little more if the differential fluids are dark and need serviced.

For the timing belt job it would be parts, tax, and labor of $1,200. However, we go through and replace everything so you can go another 100k without any problems, this would include: timing belt, timing belt tension adjuster, water pump, 3 timing belt idlers, front crankshaft seal, tensioner roller, 4 camshaft seals. Give us a call at 303-466-6552 if you would like to schedule and appointment.

So for both services they are looking at almost $1900??? That sounds WAY high, considering that the coolent needs to be dumped for both jobs any way. YOU MUST Do the timing belt, but I dont think they are hard to do on a Subby, so that seems very high… MY advice is to call other shops and get estimate from them, no need to go to the dealer as you are not in warranty any more !

Goos luck

I agree, call around. But you can’t tell by looks whether the coolant and brake fluid need changing. If it’s been more than 30k, have them changed, no matter what they look like. If the garage is changing fluids by how they look, I’d find another garage.

All of those services are due at that mileage and age. Offhand, the price sounds a bit high but there’s also a lot of variation in prices based on locale. That price is a bit high here in OK but if you’re in San Francisco, Chicago, NYC, etc. it may be in line because labor rates can be double in those areas as compared to here.

There is no way that someone should replace a timng belt and not do the tensioners and idlers. It is recommended even by Gates (leading belt manufacturer) that idlers/tensioners be replaced. The seals could be debateable but they’re not a bad idea if you’re going to keep the car.

After reading their post I’m not sure whether they are needing to get work done or if they are using the site for free advertising. The post starts out saying they need a 100K mile service, but it ends giving a phone number to call if you want to make an appointment for a timing belt change at $1200 plus parts and tax. I’ll just continue doing my own timing belts. I can do the belt, water pump/tensioner in a 1/2 days time for under $100.

My wife took our 2005 Legacy in with the turbo 2.5L and spent $450 on a timing belt, pulleys and tensioner. Water pump likely would have been prudent but at same time he said only 2hrs labor to replace if ever beyond part price.

The $680 service is about $500 at my local dealership and $350 at my independent.

This was Subaru specialist one man show at $60/hr labor. Parts prices are on par with dealer.

Moral of the story shop around. $680 is really high.

The post is confusing, I think the OP copied the last 2 paragraphs from the text of the estimate they emailed him.

You can avoid most of these expenses by learning how to change filters and check fluids yourself and drive vehicles that use timing CHAINS instead of rubber belts…

Here is a number that should be posted on the new-car window sticker…"Following the manufacturers maintenance recommendations, the estimated cost-per-mile to operate this vehicle is $0.00…

Caddyman’s suggestion is a good one–in theory–but unfortunately I believe that it would lead to a new round of manufacturers engaging in “let’s see how far we can reduce the list of recommended maintenance procedures”. We have already seen the elimination from many maintenance lists of things like trans fluid changes and valve lash adjustments, and recommendations for oil change intervals that are unrealistically long for most drivers.

I would hate to see what else would wind up being eliminated from recommended maintenance lists if the Monroney Sticker on new cars had this type of info!

@Caddyman the majority of new cars use chains and most of Subaru now too.

The issue that arises is timing chain problems in the 200k+ range are inordinately expensive to fix. Two timing belt changes is still far less. However majority of owners never see that day anyway.