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2005 Outback with only 36K miles - Replace timing belt?

Yes, I have a 2005 Outback with LOW mileage. Only 36,000 - really. Very easy life for the car.

I realize that by age alone the timing belt should be replaced.

From a pragmatic point-of-view, does this really makes sense?

I do know a broken belt can cause mega damage but I am a bit queasy about spending a lot of money to perform un-needed maintenance.

If the vote is yes, should all the other related things be replaced too like tensioner and water pump too?

Thanks for the help.

Yes, I can’t imagine anyone telling you it all right to not change the belt and why not do the other stuff at the same time.

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It’s your choice. Take a chance on major damage or spend close to $1000.

Yes, my vote is to change the water pump, tensioner, etc.

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The belt, tensioner and water pump are made from different materials and therefore, have different wear factors. Cracks can form in a rubber belt just from exposure to air and its pollutants. I would say just change the belt.

Dig around the back of your desk for a rubber band that’s been sitting there for years without being used. Stretch it out and see what happens. If it snaps, you have your answer.


Yes, change it. The risk is too great!

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Have someone check the belt for obvious signs of wear, cracking, etc. If none don’t bother. My brother inherited my mother’s 2000 Accord in 2014 when it had about 30,000 miles on it. He did the timing belts last year when it had about 75,000 miles. If your car has sat without being used for a long period of time, you might consider it, but otherwise you can probably wait until 70-8000 miles or so. It doesn’t look like it’s an easy job (for an amateur), so you probably shouldn’t attempt it yourself. Google 2005 Subaru timing belts and you’ll see everything that’s replaced.

I don’t know how difficult it is on this car to get to the timing belt, but usually it is difficult, which means time and money. Go to all that trouble and not replace it (and the other stuff) is just a waste of money.

Specially as I don’t think you can predict failure by inspection.


It comes down to your risk tolerance. Would loss of the car or the inconvenience of sudden failure of any of those parts (they don’t tend to give warning) cause hardship? Given the age, you also might want to consider other items that “age out”, other belts, cooling hoses, rubber fuel hoses, radiators with plastic end take, fuel pump, brake fluid, coolant. They all may not be necessary immediately but some are bound to fail within a few years, you just don’t know the order.

Get it changed fast and do the tensioner and water pump . My mom has also has 2005 and we spent like 500 to do everything and that was a few years ago. This car will go many more miles if you get this done.

Change it and sleep better. The belt is aged and at 13 years it has lost elasticity and is overdue for replacement.
I’ve seen inside a 2.4 Subaru engine where the timing belt broke, the piston hit a valve, broke the valve head off the valve stem and buried the head of the valve into the top of the piston. Also destroyed the combustion chamber in the cylinder head.The engine itself was a total loss.
Regarding the water pump, if there is a labor savings if you do both at the same time, then also do it. Often, so much must be removed prior to changing the belt, it makes sense to also change the water pump/belt tensioner at the same time.
Good luck.

Let’s see, the belt is 13 years old? hmmm … The best practice at stated above is to replace the belt. It’s well past due on the time factor. The downside risk of not replacing is considerable. But if you feel lucky, have a shop remove the covers enough to inspect the belt along the whole length (both sides) for any signs of deterioration/cracking/etc . If you live in a mild climate, keep the vehicle parked in the shade or garaged, and the inspection shows no problems, you might can defer it for more years. If I had that situation myself however, I’d replace the belt now. I wouldn’t replace the water pump or the other stuff unless inspection showed a problem.

one more point, there is always the risk of replacing a working part with a defective one, or the mechanic installing it incorrectly.

Going to a reputable shop that guarantees their work is the only hedge against that.

yea they say time or miles. i have has a lot of older cars with low miles and jsut changed them because of there age.

1987 lebaron 44k on it i just changed it due to age.

Thank you all. I hear the voices of experience. I will have the work done by my local shop (reliable from experience). I will cringe at the bill, though. But as was also mentioned - I will sleep better too.

Or do it yourself.

I would not trust any visual inspection. The cords inside the belt provide the actual strength, and no way to tell what shape they are in. You’re doing right replacing it.

Yes, replace all the stuff. Labor is expensive on this job and the parts are cheap. A lot of the labor is redundant so just change it all at the same time. Odds are the water pump and tensioner are fine but for an extra $100, it is worth it if you ask me. If one locks up, the belt and then the engine self-destruct.

I stand corrected. Replace the timing belts. I asked my brother about this, and he strongly recommends replacing the timing belts.

You know if you don’t replace the belt, it’s gonna fail at the worst possible time. In the middle of a snow storm when you are out in the boondocks or something. Replacing now is a good call.