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Rplacing Timing Belt

I have a 1999 Subaru Impreza Outback sport with a 2.2 liter engine and it’s time to replace the timing belt. I’m a fairly competent mechanic. Should I attempt this repair and where can I find a manual for free (I’m a cheapskate otherwise I would pay someone to do this)

It depends on how you define “fairly competent mechanic.” Personally, I would pay someone to do it. Messing up this kind of job can cost a lot more money in the long run. In addition to replacing the belt, it usually involves replacing the belt tensioner, the water pump, and the crank shaft seal if it is leaking oil. It also involves setting the timing correctly. If you have the money, shop around for the best price and look for coupons to satisfy your inner cheapskate.

I replaced the timing belt on my '96 Legacy 2.2 liter with the help of a Haynes service manual. It took me about five hours start to finish. The hardest part was keeping the engine from turning while loosening the crankshaft bolt. My car is an automatic. If you have a manual transmission this would not be as much of a problem.

I’m not a professional mechanic but I had all the necessary tools and I can follow instructions. I bought a timing belt from a local parts store. The belt came with timing marks on it that made lining everything up relatively easy. You still have to count belt teeth between pulleys, but if you take your time and double-check everything you’ll be OK.

The nice thing about the 2.2 engine is that it’s NOT an interference engine.

A Haynes manual doesn’t cost much. You might be able to get a used one at

I suggest replacing the water pump, thermostat, and radiator cap while you have the timing belt off and it’s easy to get at.

I agree with Whitey.

If you go to a parts store and take a look at one of those very long Subaru timing belts, that will give you just a small hint of what you are in for. The horizontal layout of the engine is such that you have twice as many chances of screwing something up when it comes time to line up the timing marks correctly.

If you don’t line everything up perfectly, when the engine is started the result could be not much different from what would happen when a timing belt breaks, namely, valves and pistons colliding. At the very least, you could wind up with a badly running engine.

Unless you have done this type of job previously, I would urge you to take the car to either a foreign car shop specializing in Subarus, or to the dealership.

I Am Thrifty, Too And I Have Replaced Timing Belts In My Drive Way.

I buy (factory) manuals for all of my cars. They don’t “cost”, they “pay” in savings by your not botching the job. I suggest that if you are so cheap that you won’t buy a manual then you are too cheap to replace the belt, even DIY.

I have even had to buy a couple of “special tools” for crankshaft sprocket removal, seal removal, etcetera (Sometimes it’s desirable to replace a crank seal) and have still come out hundreds of dollars ahead.

Get that duct tape wallet out and spend a couple of bucks or you could be penny wise and pound foolish.


This deserves to be repeated: “[b]…if you are so cheap that you won’t buy a manual then you are too cheap to replace the belt…[/b]” Perhaps Phil could collect aluminum cans to pay for his $25 Haynes manual.

And since a factory manual costs several times that we know he won’t be buying one of those.

Some companies…it’s PLURAL manuals. My Toyota has 2 manuals ($90 each). My wifes 96 Accord had multiple manuals too. But they are well worth it.

Hey! hey! I said I was cheap, but I guess I should have stated I was frugal.

Thanks everybody - got it covered. Apparently my particular model doesn’t require a timing belt R&R for another 20K miles. Thanks again.

No offense intended, Phil. I was just making fun of the caricature you painted of yourself.

It is one thing to try to minimize the cost of maintenance. It is another thing entirely to seek a free manual. Compared to the cost of a timing belt job, the cost of a Haynes or Chilton manual is pretty insignificant, and having it on hand could save you money in the future. However, you could always check to see if your local library has a manual for your car.

When the time comes, do the job yourself. If you are fairly competent, you’ll be satisfied and will save money too. Not only that, after you do one timing belt, any future timing belts will be similar, (although minor differences) on different cars. Go for it!

I’ve done many timing belts…and replacing a timing belt on a transverse mounted engine is NOT fun. There is so little room. There were bolts on my wifes Accord that I couldn’t reach because my arms wouldn’t fit through the tight spaces. The belt on my 90 and 98 pathfinders were EASY. Hardest part was removing the radiator.

No offense taken. I pretty much gave everybody a big opening. Thanks for your input.

FYI in 99-01 2.2L they went to interference. A boost in power happened too.

Luckily for the OP, Subaru engines are not transversely mounted, so at least he will have one less problem factor if he decides to do this job himself.