Subaru Outback Timing Belt


Have a 2000 Subaru Outback. At ~150,000 miles had the head gaskets replaced as well as the timing belt (general rule of thumb is that the belt gets replaced while doing a job such as this). Just this weekend (4/4/14) at ~209,000 my timing belt blew while moving fast on the interstate.

Question is: is it unreasonable to think that 50,000 miles is a bit premature for a (new) timing belt to go? The mechanic who currently has my vehicle thinks that I should be in touch with the mechanic who performed the head gasket/timing belt replacement and that they essentially should pay for the timing belt that needs to now be replaced and any ensuing damage. I’d like to be on the same page with this idea, but I also want to make sure I have a leg to stand on when speaking with the mechanic who did the original work.

(Plus, the car is 3 hours and 200+ miles from home, meaning it would need to be towed – to much to hold the mechanic accountable for?)



That timing belt now has 59000 miles . . . not new, according to my calculations

How many months/years ago was this timing belt replaced?

Talk to the original guy if you wish

However, as far as I’m concerned, he’s no longer on the hook, as this probably happened well over a year ago. And parts and labor are usually warranted for 1 year

Yes, a timing belt should last longer than 59K miles. Should. But sometimes sh*t happens.

You’re going to have to tear into it and find out exactly what broke. It’s rare for a timing belt to just snap. Perhaps a bearing in a pulley seized up, or the water pump failed breaking the belt, or any number of things. If you can show that the failed part was replaced at the timing belt service, and if you have a VERY good relationship with the shop they may show you some goodwill and help a little with the repair. But I doubt it. Standard warranty for most places is 12mos/12,000mi and limited to the parts replaced, not to any susequent damage. I’ll warranty a timing belt job for 3 years/36,000 if every single serviceable piece inside the timing belt cover is replaced with new. But you’re way beyond that even.

I’m surprised (no, not really, some shops just like to look better than they are) that the current shop would want you to get in touch with the original shop and ask them to foot the bill here. Ask the current shop, if you have him do the repair, to provide you with a written warranty on his timing belt and related components and labor that is good for at least 5 years/50,000 miles.

Your car has an interference fit engine and that means you have a lot more serious problem than a broken timing belt. Cylinder head valve damage and possibly engine lower end damage can occur when a belt breaks on an engine like this.

In theory the belt should not break at 59k miles but I doubt that you have a legal leg to stand on as far as forcing the shop to do anything. The unknown is WHY the belt broke.

One thing that should not be done is to replace the belt and peripherals in the misguided hope that things will be all right no matter who pays for it.

It’s too late to assume that perhaps the tensioner was overlooked or something else was wrong during installation. I personally don’t think it’s OK that it didn’t go longer but there is little you can do. It would not stop me from complaining to the installer though. Get it off your chest. If they don’t pay, which they won’t , at least you might feel better. I might do it in writing from a distance. I would not expect a reply.

No leg to stand on good luck with repairs or getting your next ride.

I agree that 59k mi is too soon for a TB to snap. It should have lasted at least 100k mi, unless the belt that was put in was low quality. It’s also recommended, when changing the belt, to replace all the pulleys and tensioner, and failing to do so can cut the belt life in half. Assuming nothing else in the engine failed, either of the above could explain your TB’s short life, but it’s really all guess work…