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Subaru Timing Belt Myths

Great car timing belt and water pump both done by dealership at 81,000 miles. Now at 156,000 does the timing belt need to be replaced before the 160,000 mark? I plan to keep this car for another 100,000 miles. Lots of “myths” and do’s and dont’s and theories on when to replace the timing belt. Preemptive repair? Let’s settle the timing belt debate! Thank you.

The owners manual is your friend, what does it say?

Belts are time critical too. You’ve stated the mileage but not how many years it’s been.
Other factors to consider are any oil leaks inside the timing belt case and even environmental conditions as extremes of heat and cold can affect belt life.

When it comes to belts no one can state flat out that a belt will last X number of miles or X number years.
Most will last the interval the manufacturer specifies but for a few unlucky people a belt can break at 30k miles or 2 years.
Some years back a car belonging to my oldest son popped a belt and that belt only had about 25k miles on it. In his case, he was lucky that it was a free-wheeling engine and not an interference fit.
Just my 2 centavos.

Family is on its third Subaru and still own all three. The 92 Legacy with a shift stick and bigger engine still does a tear and outperforms the 2000 and the 2004. 250,000 easy miles. Our practice, and that of our many Subaru friends, is to do the Big Replacement (timing, belts, hoses, gaskets, etc. etc) at 100,000 then 200,000 etc. Everyone seems to think that’s all OK. Never heard anything else. Don’t know anyone who ever popped the belt.

Why would you get rid of a Subaru in another 100k? Join the 500k club.

The recommended replacement period depends on what model year you have. The earlier models have a 60k mile point and the later models have a 90k mile point I believe. It sounds like yours may be a later model so you should be good to the 171k mile point.

“Let’s settle the timing belt debate! Thank you.”

There is no debate…Rubber timing belts are not the best design feature of an engine. If yours breaks, your car becomes salvage. What’s to debate?

I don’t know what type of myths you are thinking of, but here, this issue has been settled for quite some time. Read your owner’s manual and have the timing belt job done as often as it recommends.

I think, generally, we can agree that:

-if your owner’s manual gives you a timing belt change interval of something like “every 90,000 miles or every 9 years, whichever comes first,” you should change it every 90,000 miles or every 9 years, whichever comes first.

-changing the timing belt before it breaks is important, even if you don’t have an interference engine.

-you should always have the timing belt tensioner changed at the same time.

-if your water pump runs on the timing belt, it is usually cost effective to have the pump changed when you have your timing belt and tensioner changed.

The only thing I would like to add is that if the crank case seal is leaking, it can be cost effective to have it replaced when the timing belt job is done.

I want to add that you must change your tensioner pulley and water pump, if the water pump is driven by the timing belt, when your belt is changed because the ball bearings in each of these can fail after many miles for whatever cause and can or will take the timing belt out and then your engine if it is an interference type engine. Timing belt, tensioner, water pump removal and replace, if applicable, are preemptive repairs. You change them out while they are still working. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke does not apply with rubber timing belts.

If your engine is not of the interference type, you could, with towing insurance and a lifestyle that permits some flexibility, run the belt to failure.

If you are handy with tools and procedures, you can save a ton of money if you change the belt yourself. It is not rocket science and if another human being can do it, you can too.