Getting headgaskets replaced. Should I also do the timing belt and pulleys?

Agree 100%. Luckily, I haven’t had to do that in over 30 years.

And fortunately, if you ever have to have one of your cars down for an extended time for repairs, you now also have an extra vehicle to use in the meantime. And it’s fun to drive too.

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My first question is why are you getting the head gaskets done? Does your engine run now? How much coolant is it losing? If it is less than one cup per month, I would put in a bottle of Subaru cooling system conditioner. That will extend the life of your head gaskets up to the life of the vehicle. You should add a bottle every time you have the coolant changed.

If you are losing coolant at a faster rate than that, then you will need new head gaskets. The conditioner is primarily for head gaskets that aren’t leaking yet, to keep them from ever leaking, but it does help for gaskets that are just beginning to leak. Subaru started using it in the factory fill around 2012 or so.

If you need the head gaskets, then doing the timing belt at the same time is the most economical alternative. A $900 timing belt job every 7 years works out to a little over $100/year vs $200 to add three years that is about $67/year. No brainer for your plans for the vehicle.

Edit: if the conditioner works for you, then you may consider doing the head gaskets when the next timing belt job comes due, even if they have stopped leaking. BTW, if you have overheated this engine, the conditioner is probably not going to work even if you ar enot losing that much coolant right now.

Replace the timing belt but not the other stuff that comes with the timing belt kit.

Why not? Bad idea.

You are saying just throw away the new parts and not replace the old ones while they are easily changed while the work is being done .

Where do you get these dumb ideas ?


Why would anyone do that? Makes Zero sense.

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I take it that the \\ SNOWMAN/// is spouting nonsense again. :roll_eyes: :upside_down_face:


Concur, not the best idea. Certainly not something I’d do. Unless I was crunched for time, no obvious problems with those parts on visual inspection, and absolutely necessary to get car back on the road by the next day.

Can’t you just buy an OEM belt and not the whole kit? A mechanic told me that you should be very cautious of non OEM timing belts.

I was under the impression that the water pump was not part of a typical timing belt kit anyway. That is a separate issue.

I think the other parts should outlast the belt by a lot. The water pump should too but not by a lot, but this is only going 30k miles over. If the water pump starts leaking then just schedule the next timing belt change early.

How many failed timing belts have you seen that failed due to one of the other parts included in a timing belt kit failing? I fixed one due to a failed water pump that broke the belt, but it was a Gates water pump that failed at 50k miles, not an OEM Toyota pump.

False economy. If you drop $3k on repair work, why risk the 20 hours of labor to save $100 $200 or even $1000 just because you think the part might last until the next timing belt change. Why risk a new head gasket with a slightly less than flat head? Valve guid seals? Or valve seats? Especially on an engine that is KNOWN for these issues!


Say the chance of failure of those parts is increased by .02 by going 30k miles over. The savings are $100. The cost should the parts fail is $3000. $3000 * .02 = $60 I assume it’s an interference engine.

$60 is less than $100. Math says to not change the parts if the chance of failure is less than a bit over 0.03 (3%).

Nuts…just nuts.

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If they were planning to skip the tensioner and idler pulley and drive the next 90k miles until the next timing belt service I would understand why it’s a bad idea. But this is only 30k over.

How often do these parts actually fail?

But you don’t KNOW this. It is simply a wild-donkey-guess with $3000 of your money. You can accept whatever risk you feel comfortable.

I would change these parts if I were doing the job myself with my own free labor. I’d certainly suggest it to anyone PAYING the labor for this.

My next recommendation would be to dump this Subie and switch car brands. I don’t consider scheduled engine-out rebuilds acceptable at less than at least 200K miles.

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What’s the cost of your wife or daughter being stuck on the side of the road on a rainy night? How much does it cost when your son’s baseball team loses a game because the starting catcher is home with a car that doesn’t run? How much does it cost to have students in an empty classroom because the teacher didn’t make it in?

The goal is not to save money. The goal is to have a car that starts and runs properly, every time, all the time.


The cost is the same as a flat tire and possibly finding out that the spare is flat too, a broken alternator belt, the next failed head gasket, running out of gas because you’re late and you think you have enough to make it, or being stuck in traffic for half an hour because an emergency vehicle is stopped with its emergency lights on for a very minor incident and the whole highway is down to one lane going 15 MPH because of the move over law.

Subarus are somewhat of a lifestyle choice and engine repairs are just part of the cost. If you drive a Ram 2500 you’ll replace the ball joints, track bar, steering gear, and install a steering stabilizer at 100K. If you drive a VW/Audi, chances are you’ll do a walnut-shell carbon clean at 100K.

Many people who drive Subarus find that they do certain things better/longer than any other similar car out there.


I get that. It’s a Subaru thing…I accept it without understanding it!

Every model has its weak points, it is a matter of cost vs benefit… all in the eyes of the owner.