Newer timing belt shredded by something...used "newer" engine ok? $8k price tag for repairs!

[quote=“allywest707_182430, post:1, topic:186587”]
My 2011 Subaru Outback’s timing belt broke while driving a while back.

We have not had the car looked at to assess further damage. I am wondering if it is worth getting it looked at? Is there a way we can assess the damage from home?

I am presuming it needs a new engine. Would it be worth replacing an engine in this vehicle?

Our 2012 Subaru stalled after an oil change…some kind of plate came off due to what they think was a loose bolt, the timing belt came off and car stalled on a freeway entrance… (timing belt one year old)…so the car is a 2012 Outback, great condition otherwise, well maintained with 117,000 miles on it. They can get me a new engine and all repairs for approx $8k…including labor at the dealership. The engine has approximately 100K on it. Is this worth it?

Ask a mechanic to hand-rotate the engine, determine if there’s anything interfering with it turning freely. That’s a good first step.

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It should be possible to repair the existing engine for less than $8k…even if the pistons are damaged and a complete rebuild is required. If the pistons and cylinder bores are ok, it should be possible to repair the existing engine for under $4k.

Whether or not $8k is a fair price for this “new engine and all repairs” depends on what exactly is meant by a “new engine” and what kind of warranty it includes.

If the “new engine” is actually a 0-mile factory-new replacement, what a deal. If it is a used engine which was remanufactured by Subaru itself, this might still be an acceptable price. If it’s a used engine which was rebuilt or remanufactured by someone else, not such a good deal…and of course if it’s a used engine from a junkyard then it’s a terrible deal. Edit to add: I just saw your edit, and it appears this is a used engine from a junkyard with 100k miles on it. This is a rip-off for that type of repair.

I still think that all this talk about engine replacement is premature. It is more likely than not that the only thing needed will be having the heads removed, sent to an automotive machine shop for reconditioning (new valves/valve seat regrind/resurfacing/etc) and reinstalled (obviously with new head gaskets, bolts, etc.) Perhaps there will be minor nicks in the pistons, which can be buffed out with sandcloth or an abrasive tool.

In the real world, people do not normally replace an engine just because the timing belt failed…unless the cylinder bores are ruined. Otherwise, they clean up the pistons, repair the head(s), and reassemble the engine.

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The valve to piston interference design allows for a higher compression ratio, which generally gives better fuel efficiency. Then the engine can be run very close to where it knocks, relying on the knock sensor signal to the ECU to retard the spark enough to stay out of knock.

The intake valve to exhaust valve interference design can occur on the DOHC (double overhead cam) engines. If the timing belt or chain slips or breaks, it can let both of the intake and exhaust valves try to be open at the same time, which means they could hit each other. Often times they do not though. It is more common if the timing belt breaks to have one or more bent valves from the piston hitting them.

But sometimes you can get lucky and not have any damage. So often people will put on a new timing belt and then do a compression test. If compression is exceptionally low in any cylinder, it may mean a valve is bent. If so it requires removing the cylinder head to replace the valve.

Another test some people do is, after putting on a new belt, if compression is low in a cylinder, mechanically block the engine from turning, and apply compressed air in the spark plug hole of the cylinder with the camshaft in a position where both the intake and exhaust valves on that cylinder should be closed. If there is a bent valve, the air can be heard blowing out either the intake or the exhaust, depending on which valve is bent.

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Before doing that, better install a new timing belt. Of course, it is possible that once a new belt is installed, the engine will turn just fine, but once started it just won’t run right due to slightly bent valves. Or there might be enough cylinders with poor/no compression that it won’t start at all.

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Wow–thank you! I really appreciate your answer…now to find a shop in MInneapolis area that will do this. Any recommendations, anyone? My favorite shop just closed due to retiring owners…ugh. So sad about that.
I know I felt it was way out of line…I am asking for my daughter and son in law–I gave them my old Subie and just bought a new Outback…and then this happens. I thought the $8000 was high…of course it is the Subaru dealership we’re talking about…
Just want to make sure if they pay that $$ they are actually getting a very new-ish engine…and not some junkyard model. I expect a dealer wouldn’t do that though, right? Sigh. What a mess. Never had one issue with that car and I feel just terrible for them. This new Outback is my 4th…love them so much.
I appreciate all your detailed answers!

I appreciate the answers and replies everyone–thank you!! Eva

Subaru dealerships are not owned by Subaru, they are independent franchises. Some are better than others.

Many Subaru dealerships offer deal on new head gaskets and timing belt service, often well under $2k. Refurbishing the heads should be under another $1k for the pair. The labor is covered in the gasket/timing belt service so it should be under $3k to get back on the road. This is for a 2.5L or 2.0L 4 cylinder.

Edit: the consensus on Google is $3-5k for a quality remanufactured engine, out the door. See if there is another Subaru dealer that you can get to.

Send at private message to tester. He’s up that way.

A broken timing belt does not mean a a new engine is required. The valves will nick the piston tops and bend the valve stems; usually only on the intake valves.
Repair or replace the cylinder heads and smooth out any nicks on the tops and the existing engine should be good to go.

For what it’s worth, I’ve never had to replace an entire engine because of a broken timing belt no matter the make or model.
With a boneyard engine you really have no idea what you are getting as it could be a rod knocking, oil burning hunk of scrap metal. With your existing engine you know what you have.
My vote is with bcohen2010.

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