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Improper timing belt install.? Am I getting screwed over

2008 Subaru Outback
Long story short. I had my top end rebuilt. Two new heads. Head gaskets oil pan gasket oil seals plugs wires and timing belt. One week after I got it back it wasn’t idling right still leaking oil giving me a bunch of codes they said it was the oil sending unit and replaced it. A week after that it started squealing battery light came on lost power steering l, they said a belt tensioner needed adjustment. One week after that ( it never ran right) it throws a rod. What I’m asking is if you think it could be from improper timing belt installation or something they might have screwed up or if it was just a coincidence?

I’ve never seen an improperly installed timing belt cause the engine to throw a rod.

Bend valves?


But to cause a rod to break?



Yes, but if the timing belt was installed wrong couldn’t it have caused the engine to receive improper lubrication? Meaning not enough oil pressure,etc. Other explanations for breaking a rod?

The oil pump doesn’t care if the timing was installed wrong.

How many miles on this thing?


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110k miles. I’m just furious because I spent roughly 4g on these repairs and now I’m out an engine and they are claiming no liability.

I wouldn’t either.

After all, it is a Subaru.


Well if I paid you to fix an oil leak etc. and you failed on the first try, and more problems after that “correction” arise Because of shit tier work. I’d think you’d be liable.

…and there is the “Rub” as they say. If @Tester performed the diagnosis and repair of your vehicle… You would still be driving it today.

Sorry to hear about this whole fiasco but all shops are not equal, it seems you found one of those places that were not up to the task at hand as none of these things should have happened.

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I’ll call @Tester next time. What do you think about this ordeal @Honda_Blackbird?

If you had an oil leak, possibly it was due to a breach in the head gasket. And if the oil breached the head gasket, coolant could have too. And if coolant breached the head gasket suddenly, it could have hydrolocked the engine and broken a rod.

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I am amazed to see all these responses claiming that the shop did nothing wrong, and this is just an unfortunate coincidence. If all the shop did was replace the timing belt (and tensioner, idler, water pump, etc.) then I’d agree that a subsequent bearing failure is completely unrelated. However, the extent of the work was way more than a simple timing belt replacement, and more importantly, the type of work performed could most certainly lead to failed bearings if done incorrectly–either due to coolant contamination of the oil, or due to a loss of oil pressure in some part(s) of the engine.

You did not mention why this work was done. If it was due to bent valves from a failed timing belt, and there was no overheating or coolant contamination of the oil, the mechanic made a mistake, which cost you the engine. If the work was done because the engine had previously overheated, or because coolant was leaking into the oil, the bearing failure is probably not the mechanic’s fault, though they should have cautioned you against putting this much money into an engine that was overheated, or even worse, which had coolant in the oil.

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No one knows exactly what the shop did other than what the OP stated. It is at least possible that if the head gaskets were leaking engine coolant into the motor oil before the work was done that the lower end could have been damaged due to oil dilution. At some point it will give up and I’ve seen some Subarus chuck rods after head gasket issues.

A rod seldom ever gets thrown without advance notice. Knocking, rattling , oil pressure light illuminating and so on. As mentioned, an improperly installed timing belt will not cause the engine to throw a rod.

I might ask the reason for both heads being replaced. Severe overheating or what or broken timing belt?

I’m also curious as to why $4000 was spent on the top end of a 12 year old engine.

Why not a complete rebuild or replacement ?


I know that if I were facing a job like this (and have many times) I always ask a lot of questions in advance and if the customer wants to proceed I advise them of potential pitfalls in advance.
I would have advised to not spend 4 grand on a 12 year old engine.

It would be highly unusual to replace heads except in the most extreme circumstances on a Subaru. The only reason for replacements would be major valve seat damage/valve damage and/or severe overheating which warps the heads more than the .002 allowed and which exceeds a surfacing limit of .004ish although I have seen a few taken down a couple more thousandths with no problem.

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I do not now all, but just thinking damage was done before the work was done and surfaced after all the repairs.


It has been common wisdom for as many years as I have been alive that you don’t rebuild the top end of a high mileage engine without rebuilding the bottom end. It is not an uncommon thing for worn bearings to not be able to stand up to the increased compression and power of a restored top end.

I don’t know about modern coolants but the old green stuff was not only a poor lubricant, it was actively corrosive to bearings.

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Originally The car overheated and a head cracked. I brought the car to them not knowing the extent of the damage. They assured me that new heads/gaskets would fix the issue. The timing belt etc were just add ons that should be done while they have it apart. It seems it was showing symptoms that it was getting ready to throw a rod from the time of the initial repairs. Also after the initial repair it was still leaking oil from a seal and from an oil sending unit which I didn’t notice for about a week, when check engine light came on.

How low did the oil level get?

It was pretty low I had to put some in it to get it back to them.

Do you think engine damage could have occurred from running low on oil? How much is “some”?

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