Replacement of timing belts

I have a 2000 Subaru Outback wagon with ~180,000 miles on it. The timing belt was changed ~90,000 and my mechanic says it’s time to do it again, to the tune of $1100 (he proposes doing other stuff like water pump as well). Is this really needed? According to the KBB, it’s only worth about $4000.

That’s an interference engine, which means if the timing belt breaks the valves are toast, requiring a costly rebuild. So yes, it’s definitely needed.

The water pump may or may not be required right now, but it will one day, and you have to take apart the same stuff to get to it, so you might as well replace it. The part is pretty cheap, and most of the labor you have to pay for anyway to have the T-belt done.

Do You Have The Subaru’s Owners Manual ? What Does It Say About Timing Belts In The Maintenance Section ? Intervals From Manufacturers Vary From about 60,000 Miles To 120,000 Miles And Often By An Age Recommendation.

It’s only worth about $4000 with an intact timing belt. It’s worth about scrap value with a broken one.


Your timing belt is supposed to be replaced every 7.5 years or 105k miles, whichever comes first.
(You knew that, right?)

However, you have not elaborated on the elapsed time factor, so we don’t really know whether the engine is due for this service or not. Perhaps you can access your service records and enlighten us about the elapsed time factor.

When the timing belt is replaced, you should also replace the water pump, serpentine belt, and all tensioners. Does that coincide with your reference to “other stuff”?

All of that being said, while it may be appropriate to have the timing belt replaced again, your mechanic’s price quote is WAY out of line if it includes just the timing belt, water pump, serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners. Is he playing the ponies, supporting a mistress, snorting illicit substances, or…?

Even a dealership–which tend to be known for high pricing–would likely charge about half of what he wants to charge you, and perhaps even less than half of his price quote. I really think that you need to get other price quotes and begin questioning this guy’s pricing policies.

It’s your money, and it’s your car. If you don’t feel the car is worth it then don’t replace the timing belt. Just remember that if it breaks then you pretty much have to declare the car a loss and donate it for a few dollars off your taxes. The current belt could last another 2,000 or 100K miles. There is no way of telling when it will break. If you are willing to gamble then drive on and see how long it last.

Yes, it’s really needed. If the belt breaks the engine will suffer internal damage. How much a car is worth has nothing to do with the cost of maintenance.


Anyone who has read my posts over the past few years should be well aware that I am a very strong advocate of proactive car maintenance. I don’t wait for the last minute to perform maintenance, just like most of you.

However, let’s take another look at the facts (or lack of same):
The car is 10 or 11 years old, and it has apparently gone ~90k miles since the last timing belt replacement.
IF more than 7 years or so has elapsed since the belt was last replaced, then it is due again–or perhaps even overdue.

On the other hand, if–as I suspect–it has been only 5 or 6 years since the belt was last replaced, then the OP should be able to safely drive another year or so on the present belt, as the specified interval is 7.5 years/105k miles–whichever comes first. I would really like the OP to tell us how long the present timing belt has been in place, so that we can all answer with some assurance of accuracy, but in the absence of hard data, we are all guessing as to whether it is now due, overdue, or if replacement right now would be premature.

And, then there is the issue of price.
Doesn’t anyone else see something amiss with the price quote?

I can’t even see a dealership in New york City charging this much for the job

VDCD, I Agree . . . Miles And Time As Specified By Subaru. That’s What I Was Getting At In My Previous Post.

At this point in your cars life I would simply have the timing belt only changed and drive on.

Yes there a possibility that the other parts(accessory belts, tensioners/pulleys, seals, water pump) they prescribe could fail but not a given. I presume you are in expensive locale and all those items are also getting changed out?

The belt tensioners and water pump should always be replaced when the belt is changed.
Any shop that does not do this is lax.

The shop is paid to change the belt and is also expected to stand behind their work. If a shop fails to do this and 2 weeks later a tensioner or water pump goes south the car owner will point the finger at the shop about 999 out of a 1000 times; even if the car owner insisted on a belt only repair. That can be etched in stone.

Some years back my daughter bought a Mitsubishi that just had a timing belt replacement. Six months later it was spotting anti-freeze on the driveway. So where was this coming from? Yes, the old water pump; which has now saturated the new timing belt and has made it dangerously soft and close to failing. And on an interference engine no less.
So Dad had to redo the entire thing.