Subaru Timing Belt Extravaganza

This weekend, April 17-18, Dave Forsberg and I finally got around to replacing our timing belts.  His 1997 Subaru Outback has over 200k miles on it and he doesn’t know when the belt was changed.  My 2004 WRX has 108k miles and Subaru recommends replacing it at 105k.  Rather than tackling this maintenance individually we figured we team up, share tools, knowledge, and a few beers in the process.  

Dave opted to go for generic parts except for his timing belt and belt tensioner.  I decided to go OEM all the way, which isn’t cheap but this is a once in 100k miles cost.  All told the parts cost $625.22.  Here’s what I decided to do for my 105k service:

  • timing belt tensioner (PN 13033AA042)
  • thermostat & gasket (PN 21200AA072 & 21236AA010)
  • intake air filter (PN 16546AA020)
  • upper radiator coolant hose & clamps (PN 45161FE050 & 091748014 x2)
  • lower radiator coolant hose & clamps (PN 45161AE020 & 091748014 x2)
  • timing belt (PN 13028AA240)
  • idler pulley, small one (PN 13072AA230)
  • idler pulley, large (PN 13072AA142)
  • water pump & gasket (PN 21111A026 & 21114AA051)
  • PCV valve (PN 11819AA001) though I haven’t installed this yet
  • accessory belts (809218430 & 73323AC000)
  • BG 44K fuel additive (PN 208 44k)
  • idle air control gasket (PN 22659AA120) haven’t done this yet either
  • Peak Long Life premixed coolant 
  • NGK Iridium BKR6EIX spark plugs

I found that NASIOC has some good threads on all the service I needed to do.  Though the PCV valve is lacking some what in this area.  Here’s the generic maintenance thread and here’s the timing belt specific thread.  

We started Friday night.  Both Dave and I were able to get the radiators and associated stuff out.  I let mine drain overnight before taking off the timing belt covers.  Saturday we got into the details.  After removing the covers I found that one of the pulleys had a bit more play than I liked.  I was already replacing the small pulley but figured I should do this one too.  Dave and I made a trip up to Branford to Premier Subaru and I was able to get a good deal on the replacement.

We replaced Dave’s belt first.  This turned out to be pretty easy on his single overhead cam engine.  Getting the belt around all the stuff and lined up wasn’t too bad.  He was able to refill coolant and start his car up Saturday night.  Getting my timing belt on was a bit more difficult.  The engine is a dual overhead cam and it is an interference engine, which means the intake and exhaust valves can hit each other.  Because of this the cams need to be rotated in a certain direction.  With the help of Eric, my iPhone camera (to see if timing marks lined up), and some binder clips, we were able to get my timing belt on.  I got everything ready to fill up the radiator done Saturday, but held off because it was getting late.

Sunday I woke up, opened up the garage and found some wetness from Dave’s side.  His car had been leaking a little all night.  I sent Dave a text and put the drip pan underneath his car.  Once he got there he started ripping stuff off the car to figure out where the leak was coming from.  Luckily the culprit was only a missing hose clamp.  After he got that squared away it came time for me to fire my car up.  A turn of the key and it started up instantly.  No horrible noises of valves smashing into each other.  Well I kind of knew that wouldn’t happen because we followed the directions and I had turned the engine over by hand numerous times before reinstalling the covers.  

Dave and I were pleasantly surprised at how easy this service was.  While it is time consuming it isn’t too bad.  I’m good for another 105k!


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