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2002 Forester S EJ25 NA 165,000 miles
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35 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm finishing up this install on my 2002 AT non turbo and noticed that I have very little clearance between the air conditioner tensioner pulley and the timing belt cover. The cover is new OEM Subaru and I can push inward on the cover towards the timing belt and I don't feel any resistance so I don't think there's anything inside of the timing cover that is pushing outward that would cause a clearance issue. I had rotated the engine through several times and did not hear any interference after the timing cover was put on. This just seems really odd that the clearance would be so little between the pulley and timing cover. If I put two pieces of computer paper between the pulley and timing cover they won't even fall out. Is this normal?
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2001 Forester S, 4EAT
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5,082 Posts
Should have way more clearance than that. What changed? What work have you done recently. Your post does not state what you have changed or installed?
 

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2017 Forester XT Touring
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1,270 Posts
Does that tensioner pulley have a washer that is supposed to go on the inside of it? Could it be installed backwards?
I just looked at how the tensioner mounts and realized that my above questions don't apply. Are the bolts that mount the tensioner properly seated and torqued? Also that looks to be at the maximum end of the adjustment. Maybe a new belt would help.
 

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2002 Forester S EJ25 NA 165,000 miles
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35 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I wondered about washers and shims also but I've done these before on different Subarus and don't recall seeing any. I've ordered new belts (the one in the picture is old). This engine came out for preventative head gasket replacement. New gaskets, timing belt, timing tensioner, water pump, idler puller, etc all OEM Subaru. Decided to replace the old timing belt cover and camshaft pulley covers with new just for good looks. Those too are OEM. The crank pulley has 1/8" clearance all the way around and if I put the belt on (without the tensioner) and snug it up by hand you can see that the belt follows the same 1/8" clearance against the timing cover. 1/8" clearance is fine but that's without the tensioner pulley and all pulleys have a lip on them which cuts into the 1/8" margin and thus my clearance issue. The only thing that isn't OEM is the tensioner pulley and now I'm beginning to wonder. Going to pick up an OEM pulley at the dealer today. If that doesn't do it I'm really stumped.
 

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2002 Forester S EJ25 NA 165,000 miles
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35 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
For the record I also just spoke with the parts guru and he said that the newer Subarus have done away with this Mickey Mouse tensioner and gone to a "stretchy belt" which oddly I had watched a video on recently. Seems the stretchy belts have a tool for installation and then are self tightening without a tensioner. PLAN B if the OEM pulley doesn't work.
 

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2001 Forester S, 4EAT
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2001 Forester S, 4EAT
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I had a similar issue when I recently changed the Alternator belt on my 2001. I started cranking the tensioner on that belt and I started running out of thread to turn and yet the belt was very very loose. The belt recommended by Gates was not the right length. I ended up searching for a Gates belt that had the same grooves, but shorter and installed that shorter belt instead. So you may need to do the same thing, finding a shorter AC belt so that the pulley does not need to wound that far. Good luck.
 

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2002 Forester S EJ25 NA 165,000 miles
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well there it is! The OEM Subaru pulley is about 1/16" of an inch narrower and provides adequate clearance. Great job GATES :mad:. Another piece of aftermarket junk! And the GATES belt is about an inch longer than OEM Subaru too which explains why I'm at the travel limit with the adjuster.

Lesson learned. USE OEM PARTS AND SAVE YOURSELF A HEADACHE 🤕
 

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2004 FXT 4EAT
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In the first picture, it provides a perfect view down that tensioner. It looks like it's bent... (towards the timing belt cover)

The stretch-belt on the 2009-2013 AC doesn't have a tensioner at all. the best goes over the AC Compressor pulley and the crank-shaft pulley. That's it...
 

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2002 Forester S EJ25 NA 165,000 miles
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I agree. It does look bent but I placed it against a machinist' straight edge and it's dead on. Just an illusion I guess. I'd like to try a stretch belt but everything I read says they're unavailable for the early model Subarus. I think Subaru started using the stretch belt in 09?
 

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I agree. It does look bent but I placed it against a machinist' straight edge and it's dead on. Just an illusion I guess. I'd like to try a stretch belt but everything I read says they're unavailable for the early model Subarus. I think Subaru started using the stretch belt in 09?
Yes, they started using them in 09. But the belt is much shorter.

Oh, I think I get it now. You're hoping to bypass the idler altogether. It just so happens that we own an 04 (with an idler) AND an 09 (with a stretch-belt). let me do some measuring for you to see if the distance and pulleys are actually the same. (I checked, and the 02 and the 04 use the same AC belt)

They advise that the belt is "one time use". So, once you have installed it, you can't remove it (unless you cut it). I've found this to be not 100% true. If you're gentle enough, you CAN remove that belt without over-stretching it.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i Limited CVT
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I recently replaced that bracket assembly on my GFs 2003 XS Forester. Something’s wrong. You may have the wrong part number., The pulley rides up and down on the bracket and there should be ample space for the belt. Even if the belt was not the correct part number, the bracket should not be that close. I’m betting it’s the wrong part.
 

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2001 Forester S, 4EAT
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Given my recent experience with NOT using Subaru parts(Gates for example), I suspect that @Desertflier is on the right track with OEM parts. I found non-OEM radiator hoses leak (not tight enough fitting), Alternator belts too long and now he is finding out the part for the AC pulley adjuster is not fitting well.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i Limited CVT
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I keep getting slammed here for being a proponent of oem Subaru parts. Yes, there are a few exceptions but on the whole, oem parts are just made to better specs.

I’ve had good luck with Subaru genuine parts. I’m not crazy about some of the choices made for the plastic parts, so I just take the good with the occasional bad. You Learn how how to deal with those situations. Like being extra careful when removing and installation. I.e. side cowl panels and clips. . Ha ha.
 

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2002 Forester S EJ25 NA 165,000 miles
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Agreed! Sometimes you have to go OEM for fit. Other times, based on my experience, you WANT to go OEM for things like ignition components. Toyotas are finicky about things like that too.
 

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2002 Forester S EJ25 NA 165,000 miles
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I would love to know what you find out! I think the stretch belts are a great idea. In general I don't like most tensioner designs and I think this one on my 02 (and other years) is particularly terrible. Seems like it was an afterthought almost.
 

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2002 Forester S EJ25 NA 165,000 miles
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have a new bracket on order. Heres what I found out. The old bracket had some damage due to an aftermarket pulley rubbing against it. This weekend the structure but was not a factor with my issue. I have a new OEM bracket on the way. The adjuster bolt was an inch shorter than my new OEM bolt. The new OEM (plastic) pulley is about 1/8" narrower then the Gates pulley it is replacing. The new belt FROM THE DEALER is also a Gates belt but is significantly shorter than the Gates belt it is replacing. Oddly both part numbers check out but the new one was so tight I had to gently roll it over the pulley so there is a ton of adjustment left now with the tensioner.
 
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