Timing belt

My 1999 Subaru Outback has 65,000 miles on it.Dealer says to replace the timing belt at 105,000 miles but because the car is old I should do it now.

Any advice?

Yes, do it now. Belts deteriorate due to age as well as mileage.

Depending on which engine you have, if the timing belt breaks, it could cause catastrophic damage.

Generally,time is a consideration along with mileage. If your car has its original timing belt your on thin ice here.
Most people agree that 7 years or so is the max. time limit.

check your manual…age or miles…if you have a timing belt. chains don’t need maintenance replacement.

What does your owner’s manual say? If it says you’re way overdue, as I suspect, why don’t you believe it?

Anything with elastomers as a primary component of its makeup is subject to deterioration with age. That includes timing belts, serpentine belts, seals, hoses, and even tires.

12 years is way too long for timing belts and serpentine belts. Officially, it’s too long for tires and coolant hoses too. In addition to changing the belts, I’d want to check the tires and hoses for cracking and for flexability (hoses).


Usually around 250k miles or so. And it’ll cost you about 5 times what a timing belt will cost.


Yet another car owner who has apparently never taken the time to read the incredibly important Maintenance Schedule that came with the car!

Gracie’s Owner: Please open the glove compartment, take out the booklet titled “Subaru Maintenance and Warranty”, and read what it says for timing belt replacement. In case you would like me to save you the effort, it says that your timing belt should be replaced at “105,000 miles or 105 months, whichever comes first”.

105 months translates to 8 3/4 years. Even if we round up that total to 9 years, you are 2-3 years overdue for replacing the timing belt. When it snaps (not IF it snaps) the repair bill for your engine will probably equal the book value of the car. Do yourself a HUGE favor and have the timing belt, water pump, serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners replaced next week, before you wind up causing major damage to the engine when the belt snaps.

You should also thank the personnel at the dealership for bringing this to your attention.
Your should also give thanks to your God for protecting you thus far from the high cost of having postponed this important service.

And then, you should take a look at your maintenance schedule, compare that to your service invoices (you DO save them, I hope), and see what other vital services you may have skipped over the past 11 years or so.

Yes change it. You can use an independent mechanic also to change it if price is scaring you.

Subaru’s are very simple to change a belt and much easier than most cars out there.

But unlike a timing belt, a timing chain will let you know well ahead of time that’s not doing so well. And let’s face, most cars will suffer some other kind of career-ending failure before the timing chain goes.

Inflation ! Wow, Mike. Before You’d Incorrectly State That A Timing Chain Replacement Costs 3 - 5 times More Than A Timing Belt. Now It’s A Flat Out 5 Times ! You’re Frightening The Kids.

Let’s see here. If A Timing belt costs $400 (parts and labor) to replace then a typical timing chain (like on a Dodge Intrepid) costs $2000 ? Wrong.

I’m sure you could find some kind of an example where a timing chain replacement approaches 3 - 5 times what a belt replacement costs, but it’s not a typical example for modern cars. Our Intrepid’s chain(s) doesn’t even cost twice as much (parts & labor) to replace as a t-belt and it would be on its third replacement belt by now.

Oh and another thing, I’ve never had to replace a timing chain, even beyond 250,000 miles. Your 5X warning may have been true, once, but I think times have changed since you last looked into this, Mike.


Both the 2.2 and 2.5 liter are interference engines, so I would do it sooner rather than later. If it wasn’t an interference engine, you could take more risk on the belt not breaking.

Well your Dodge is special then.

Timing chain on a Honda V6 is $2500…That’s MORE then 5 times what a timing belt costs for a similar engine on the same car. I’ve replaced a few chains and a few belts in my days…and a timing chain is a LOT more complicated to replace…and the parts are also cost a LOT more. Timing belt (with new tensioner) $80…Timing chain set - $250. Plus the labor involved is a lot more. You now have gaskets to deal with…many vehicles you have to drop the pan. I can only assume CCA that you’ve NEVER replaced a timing chain before.

Mike, You’re Correct. The Only Timing Chain I’ve Done Is A Honda CL450. Remember Mike, None Of Our Cars (Even With Over 250,000 Miles) Have Ever Needed A Chain Replaced.

Since we’ve got one Intrepid with a belt and one Intrepid with a chain, and since I have done a belt replace on the 3.5L, and since I have factory service manual sets for both cars (and I can see what’s involved), and since some early 2.7s were supposed to have chain guides that wore too quickly, I have received estimates for replacing the entire chain set and guides on the 2.7L. It wasn’t even twice what that same shop would charge me for a belt replacement ( and the belt was no picnic when I did the 24v 3.5L ). I decided to wait until the chain got noisy. It never did.


And I’ll bet the Intrepid is a non-interference engine too!!

And as I said in another post…Chain with a NON-INTERFERENCE engine is the BEST way to go. Interference engine…a belt.

I’ve never found a belt to be that difficult to replace…except on one transverse mounted engines like the Honda…Just no room. My forearm wouldn’t even fit in some of the tight spaces to had to reach into. Replacing the timing belt on my Pathfinders…EASY…3 hour job. Compare that to the WORST timing chain I ever replaced (Isuzu 4-cylinder). Royal pain. Took me 8+ hours.

. Two Chains.
. Had to drop the oil pan…but in order to do that you had to loosen the engine mounts and raise the engine so clear the pan.
. Gaskets…

As I said a royal pain.

I think we can both agree on an NON-INTERFERENCE engine with a chain is the ONLY way car manufacturers should be building engines. I wish they did. But it’s NOT going affect my buying decision.

I have a 2004 Subaru Outback with 138,000 miles on it and haven’t replaced the timing belt. I’m wondering if it has a timing “belt” or “chain”. I’m told that if the vehicle has a timing “chain” that one needn’t worry about it until about 350,000 miles. Any advice? Thanks in advance.

1/9 Doc (new member and first time poster)

"I think we can both agree on an NON-INTERFERENCE engine with a chain is the ONLY way car manufacturers should be building engines." I Agree, Mike. They Owe It To The Motoring Public.

What made my Intrepid T-belt installation difficult is that in addition to a new water pump, new tensioner , idler, etcetera (no big deal for me), I replaced crank and camshaft seals while I was in there and had to R&R sprockets (a bigger deal for me). That’s what the special tools were about. Also, I don’t do a lot of these. 8 hours ? It took me two days for this T-belt.


For clarity only the 1999 2.2L was an interference design. The 1990-1998 Subaru 2.2L was what made people think recent Subaru cars are reliable. The 2.2L is on par with Honda/Toyota motors with regards to reliability running well into 300k range. However rust ate apart the cars were the 2.2L was installed. Many running Subaru’s with 2.2L are junked due to severe rust.

If your Outback is H6 (6 cylinder) it is chain.

If it is the regular motor make the appointment for tomorrow. You are running on borrowed time. Make sure to change the tensioners too as this leads to overdue timing belts demise.

My problem with my wifes Accords was room…What a pain.

My pathfinders since the engine faced forward…EASY…The hardest part was removing the radiator. I too replaced the water pump and a new tensioner. But those were very easy too. Once the radiator is removed there was so much clearance to work on it (about 2’). Could easily see everything. Didn’t have to contort my body or add two new joints to my arm just to reach a bolt. Once the radiator was removed…the second hardest thing was removing the crank pully. Had to buy a pully remover. Only use when I did the timing belts.