Subaru Head Gaskets, timing belt, water pump, tensioners

I have a 2004 Subaru Outback (85,000 miles) which has head gaskets leaking oil. I was able to get Subaru of America to pay for half of the work on the head gaskets, but now the dealer is recommending I get the timing belt, tensioners and water pump replaced to the tune of $500 or $600. I was told by a mechanic I trust not to pay for any labor on the timing belt, since they will already be in there working on it. What about the tensioners and water pump? Should I be charged for labor on those repairs? Thanks!

It’s a fair deal to pay for the water pump and belt tensioner labor. Get it all done at the same time and you will drive trouble-free for many years. Don’t pay for the timing belt installation or dismantling the front of the engine; that has to be done to replace the head gaskets.

Yes, the water pump and the tensioner are separate, but the timing belt will already have been removed to take the heads off.

The items you mentioned are normally replaced for perventive maintenance later on since they are accessible in that area of the engine already. Replacing the items will extend the service life of the engine. If you plan on keeping the car for at least another few years you should have the parts replaced so you will get some return value on your investment.

The timing belt is a normal wear item and you are about due for a replacement anyways so you may have to pay for the part yourself and really isn’t a lot of money to worry about. I doubt the shop will add any labor charges for that but they are justified in getting labor for the other items.

You are getting a very fair deal I think. Not many companies would not think of making the offer you got for a vehicle that old. After the work is done you should have a lot of trouble free miles ahead. You may need some alternator work in the future since they can have trouble but that is pretty normal also.

Here’s what I think I will do, and I hope it is wise. I spoke with a mechanic people I know trust, and his advice is: Get the Timing Belt done now. Do not get anything else done since it should be fine until my next timing belt at or around 150,000. I never did get an exact quote on the other work, and the woman at the dealership was a bit edgy. Since you never actually get to speak to a mechanic at the dealer, I never know if I’m being screwed or not!! At this point I’m ready to get as far away from them as I can. Is it risky to not get all the other work done now? Am I just being stubborn and untrusting of the dealer by not getting the Water pump and tensioners replaced now? Thanks for any advice!

What you propose to do is reasonable and you should be able to get by until then. The water pump and tensioner may last until then. You may want to find out how much the shop that you trust will install the extra parts for in case you need more work done later on.

You are right on not trusting them. First change interval is 8 yrs/105,000 miles. In this case $500-$600 is charging you full price for timing belt/water/tensioner(s).You already are paying(1/2) + Subaru(1/2) for majority of the labor involved. So essentially this is double billing IMHO. I would negotiate for paying parts + smaller portion of labor. Otherwise have it done at 8yrs/105k.