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Subaru timing belt

Car was running fine…then wouldnt turn over. Horrible sound. Towed it after AAA guy tried 3-4 times to start again. Mechanic says pulley went and timing belt broke. Have to spend $800 to determine if it has engine damage. Do i take risk? he says sometimes it works, sometimes not…

Model? Year? Miles?

If your timing belt snapped, there IS internal engine damage.

However, I’m not sure that I understand your question…"Do i take risk?"
What risk are you talking about?

I also do not understand the statement of your mechanic, namely “sometimes it works, sometimes not”.
To what is he referring?

If the timing belt snapped, there is internal damage that cannot be assessed by simply looking at the outside of the engine, so the question that you should be asking yourself at this point is:

Is the overall value of the car worth spending the money necessary to open up the engine for examination, and to repair engine damage, as well as to replace the timing belt? (The total cost could range anywhere from…maybe $1k to…possibly $2.5k, depending on local labor costs and the extent of the damage)

Just for the sake of discussion, could you please give us additional information?

Which Subaru model?
What is the model year of your car?
What is the odometer mileage of the car?
What can you tell us about the maintenance history of the car over the past 3 years?

Can you tell us the year and model of your Subaru? Tell us if it’s a single cam or dual cam engine? Or perhaps give us the first 10 digits of the VIN so we can get that info? But in a nutshell…

depending which engine you have, there may be internal engine damage. The key word is may. If you’re lucky you escaped major engine work, but there is a chance you need a $2500 engine repair.

You can either have the mechanic remove the valve covers and inspect all the valves for damage (which in itself will cost a couple hundred dollars), or have him put a belt on it and see if it runs (also for a couple hundred dollars). If it runs, then do the complete timing belt job. If not, decide to fix it or dump it.

I think that is where the OP is at. The shop wants to charge $800 to put a timing belt on in order to assess any damage. There is a good chance the engine has internal damage, which makes the $800 a waste. Does she pay the money and hope for the best? I don’t know if this car is worth it.

$800 would be for a complete timing belt job–belt, tensioners, water pump, oil seals, coolant, etc…

The best course of action would be to slip a belt on and crank the engine. This would not cost anywhere near $800. At most a couple hours of time and a belt. And then you’ll know for sure if there’s damage or not. The other option is to remove the valve covers and inspect valves and do cylinder leakdown tests, which would take longer, cost more, and still not be as definitive an answer to engine condition as putting a belt on.

But we don’t even know what engine this is. Could be we’re talking about an old GL with 2 timing belts and a distributor.

The “horrible sound” was most likely pistons hitting valves, so chance of engine damage is high.

“The “horrible sound” was most likely pistons hitting valves, so chance of engine damage is high.”

That is what I am basing my opinion on, but…I would like to hear from the OP regarding the questions that I asked. Maybe there is some light at the end of the tunnel, as asemaster suggests, but w/o details, I am not optimistic about that engine.

If the belt broke then there is engine damage.

The mechainic is seriously misguided if he has to perform a timing belt job in order to determine whether there is any engine damage. That can be determined quickly without replacing anything.

“That can be determined quickly without replacing anything.”

I’ll bet you can slap a timing belt on a late model Subaru (just enough to start it) faster than you can pull valve covers and inspect lash. Getting the engine running gives you more information than just checking for bent valves.

What I’ve always done is pull a spark plug or two, rotate the engine to a point where the valves are closed on that particular cylinder (assuming they’re not bent), and blow some air into the cylinder.
If it hisses out of the intake then it’s engine repair time.

@ok4450‌ , true, but you’ve got to pull the timing covers to get to the cam to turn it to a point where the valves are closed, right? So if I’ve already got the timing covers off, might as well spend 10 minutes hanging a belt on and seeing what happens. Then I’ll know whether to proceed with a t-belt job or engine repair/replace.

Now if this were a 4 cyl Honda where you have to pull the valve cover before removing the timing cover, yeah, I’ll check lash/leakdown.

@asemaster, true enough. Depending upon the year and engine it’s a simple task to remove an end cover and rotate the camshaft.

What I’m adverse to is a mechanic having to rely on 800 dollars of customer money just to tell them their engine is scrap metal and a car owner should be even more adverse to spending 800 to be told the entire operation was a waste of time and money.

The OP also states the crank pulley has gone south. This could mean that the keyway in the crankshaft has been wallowed out and any doubt about the engine lower end being sound would now be gone.

2.2 Subaru was non interference while the 2.5 is. It isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of how much. That requires exploratory surgery. Unfortunately for now, car motors don’t respond to MRIs. If I was taking a big chance like this on an older car, I would try to sell it as is and move on.