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Premium Member
2014 Impreza Ltd CVT
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3,363 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have said this for years, and sometimes falls onto deaf or unwilling to accept ears. After repairing many a neighbors cars ( Subaru's included ), It DID happen to me.

Last Friday, I took our son to Wilkes-Barre on a Friday night to take my dad out to dinner and see the Trans Siberian Orchestra. On the way home, we just got onto I-84 outside of Scranton at 12:30am and the Forester just died. All lights on the dash, no power. Just coasted to the right berm. Tried to restart, but starter spun as if it was free. Lifted the hood and saw the 1st picture below. Knew the timing belt was TOAST and possibly the engine. Called AAA.



Changed belt back at 105K and the cogged pulley as it was dry and noisy. Now this at 143K ???? What happened ????

Now options are to tow me free up to 10 miles, stay in hotel with no change of clothes and rent a car to get home next morning THEN deal with car 100 miles away. Asked for a price to tow us home ..... $375 .... took it as the car would be home, so would we, and would probably cost more than that even staying in a hotel, car rental and then getting the car back to NJ.

Opened timing covers and you see the belt in pieces and wrapped around the crank pulley below.







Pulled heads, Bent valves on cyl 3 and 4.Got prices on fixing them.



Anywhere from $550 to $700 PLUS parts. Got in touch with Bruce, Singincanary, and he put me onto a guy who MIGHT have a used set. Drove up, saw them and $200 later I have a good set from an 03 Legacy with 85K ( engine had bad rod bearing ).




Below are pictures of the crank sensor that was damaged by the belt guide ( keeper ) only found on the M/T engines. AND a picture of the keeper.





Notice the left side screw hole elongated. When I pulled the timing cover, a small screw in perfect condition fell on the ground. Guess where it came from. It must have backed out, fallen onto the moving belt and shredded it.

I'm very anal, so I'm certain I torqued it properly at the time. This time, I'll probably used some Locktie on those. I don't want to make this a habit.

To add insult to injury, today I received my EZPASS statement. Seems on the night I was flatbedded, we passed through the Harriman tollbooth on the NY State Thruway. The tow-er PAID his toll ......and the EZPASS tag on my windshield also registered and deducted a toll for my Forester also !!!!!

The pistons had more carbon buildup than I ever expected, Huck_This already notice the same when he did his first rebuild. Being I do push my engine AND use Seafoam every 60K. Now I'm moving that up to 30K intervals. The pictures were taken AFTER they were cleaned up.





Also note the pistons positions, all at 1/2 way. This is where they are when you have the crank set to the belt install timing mark. No chance of valve to piston interference at this point.

Big THANKS also to Jackie at Annapolis, Called her Monday, by Wednesday, I had the sensor, gaskets and all other parts to start assembly.

A week later, back together and running. I did notice many bolts under the timing belt cover did have some form of loctite on them. So I used some on each one I replaced, including some blue loctite on those holding the guide this time.
 

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Premium Member
2008 2008 2.5i-2018 XT
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13,267 Posts
Allin all..it could have been worse I suppose. ..bc... you got things under control quick. Congrats.
 

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Premium Member
2014 Impreza Ltd CVT
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3,363 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Allin all..it could have been worse I suppose. ..bc... you got things under control quick. Congrats.
That was our son's attitude ..... Dad we were in a good area for cell phones, we were off the side of the road, No one was hurt and we were all home with the car in the driveway by 4 am. Car can be fixed, no one hurt.

AND he was correct !!!!!
 

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TANSTAAFL
2010 2.5X Premium AFF 4EAT
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481 Posts
All lights on the dash, no power. Just coasted to the right berm. Tried to restart, but starter spun as if it was free.
I know that feeling. And, having forgotten my cell phone, I walked 4.2 miles back to town to use the pay phone for a tow. Now I take my cell phone with me even when I take out the garbage.:biggrin:

Great job getting everyone back home, and the Sube back on the road, without major incident.
 

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Premium Member
07 Forester XT
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6,792 Posts
Hey Mikey, I can relate. My 97 Legacy GT suffered a simular fate. I didn't even have it for 5 months when one of the pulleys siezed and caused the belt to jump. Sad because the previous owner had done the head gasket a year before. Needed to replace the heads, cost me near $1500 all said 'n done.

Same symptoms as you, had the radio on and the power just went. Tried to restart while moving and you could hear the starter turn but no motor catch. Not something I care to do twice. I always wondered if there was a way to design motors NOT to self destruct when a $50 belt breaks.
 

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12 Premium 5-speed
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I always wondered if there was a way to design motors NOT to self destruct when a $50 belt breaks.
In this day and age, it's kinda ridiculous that motors are designed in a fashion where this can happen quite easily. Either make it non-interference and deal with those design challenges, or give the thing a freakin' chain. It's not like a chain is going to add a lot of noise to Subaru's already-noisy engine design...

As much as I hate to say it, this is one thing that will have me re-considering the brand on our next purchase.
 

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02 Forester L (sold) Manual
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1,221 Posts
Well, chains are no guarantee of imperviousness to bending valves or other problems. I've seen enough failed chain tensioners, broken chains, etc to last me a lifetime also. Yeah, you're chances with chains are generally better, but they are not failure-proof.

It seems the reaction with a valve bending situation is often "replace engine" or "replace head". Does the casting get damaged, or is the labor to replace the valves just too much that it isn't worth doing? Curious...
 

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02 Forester L (sold) Manual
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1,221 Posts
Why do so many cars still use rubber belts? When will they all go with steel timing chain?
Any time you have to ask that question about manufacturing a component on a vehicle, the answer is almost always cost. Belt systems are cheaper to make, cheaper/faster to install at the factory level and...bonus...they create needed services for the dealer to perform!

Timing belts became common back in the 1970s, but since a lot of engines were low compression emissions motors interference frequently wasn't a concern.
 

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Super Moderator
2018 2.5i Premium CVT
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17,902 Posts
DESIGN FOR MAINTENANCE!

It was, however, a similar though fatal (to the car), experience with my Neon that accelerated my Forester purchase by 7 or 8 months! And I've never looked back.
 

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2002 Forester L
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48 Posts
Sorry to hear this, it sucks, but good job on an inexpensive repair. I replaced mine about 25000 miles ago, and your post made me think that perhaps it wouldn't hurt to pull the accessory belts, the TB cover and re-torque everything under the cover.

I once replaced the TB on my 97 Rav4 and within a year the tensioner got noisy and I had to redo the job to replace it. I learned a valuable lesson here and replaced lots of moving parts when I did the Subaru.

One question. The photo with the 2 pistons showing, are those notches cut into the piston face? They look too perfect to be caused by the valves hitting. If you know, what is their purpose?
 

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Premium Member
2014 Impreza Ltd CVT
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3,363 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Yes they are ... valve depressions. To allow the valves to open SOONER as the piston goes down. But not enough to allow the valve to open when the piston is at TDC.

Re: Bent Valves, I have a picture there. IF I had them reworked, they would have replaced all the stems, seals and ONLY the bent or defective valves, along with magnafluxing for cracks, cleaning and grinding the valve seats.
That alone would have cost more than the parts, used heads AND tow home. At least I found a good set of heads with less mileage. So I can expect the same from them as from mine before this happened.
 

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Premium Member
07 Forester XT
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6,792 Posts
Guy down the street sold an 01 Impreza RS for $600 a few months ago. Even came with the 16x7 wheels. Would have been worth pulling the heads off and mailing them to you.
 

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2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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8,073 Posts
...It seems the reaction with a valve bending situation is often "replace engine" or "replace head". Does the casting get damaged, or is the labor to replace the valves just too much that it isn't worth doing? Curious...

If you are mechanically capable of pulling the heads the cost of having the heads repaired is not out of line, even if the combustion chamber takes a beating. Some welding, die grinder, and sanding work can have them as good as new.

The big money comes if you have to pay some one to do the labor. Basically you are looking at a HG job that most places hit you $1500 +/- 300 for. Plus Valves, head repair, valve job.... say $250-500. If the pistons are damaged add in another $500 in shop parts and labor. Plus you have the labor of the disassembly to find out if any of it is savable. In the end you have a bill of $2000+ at a minimum, plus extended down time for the repairs(could be 2 weeks before all parts/repaired parts are back to the shop).

Thus the reason most shops have turned into parts/components changers. A used engine via forums/wrecker yards/craigslist can run any where from $500 to $1500 on average. Most shops will hit you $500 to $800 for the engine swap labor. Which in all reality could be done in 2-4 hours on a Subaru. In the end it is/can be cheaper for the customer and is a bigger money maker for the shop and opens up the bay for another car sooner.
 

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07 Forester XT
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6,792 Posts
^^ That's sort of what happened with me. I am not mechanically inclined past brake jobs & suspension swaps. Our local club mechanic did the work, told me it was cheaper to swap in another set of heads or for a few more $$ he could swap in a JDM 2.5 with around 60-80km for $1700. At the time, the extra $500 made a difference.

If the universe had aligned in my favour a $500 "as-is" Subie would have turned up, bribed a few guys with steak/beer and I'd have had another motor swapped in over a weekend for sub $1k.
 

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2014 Impreza Ltd CVT
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3,363 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Fast Forward 2 weeks ....... after I completed this, all was fine and sounded OK. This past weekend, as the temperature dropped, I noticed what sounded like 'cold start piston slap'. I did have some of this last winter also.

Today the noise didn't seem to go away, so out came my 'FREE' from when our local Harbor Freight store opened Stethescope.
- Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices
In the past I used a piece of small tubing held to my ear. I located the sound at the front of the motor. Removed the left front timing belt cover and listened. It was VERY LOUD when I put the open end into the cover. Didn't see anything bouncing, tensioner or timing belt, but thought I would take a closer look. Don't want to do another rebuild so soon.

Apart it came ( timing belt covers that is ) and removed tensioner. I do remember changing some of these on 99-01 Subarus. Well from the picture you can see, it was bouncing against the stop. Replaced it and all is once again quiet.

Just fortunate I can do my own work.

Pix from cellphone ..... fuzzy, but you can see where it was bouncing.
 

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is that the tensioner? too blurry to tell. i think mine is bouncing too... haven't had time to take a look yet.
 

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2014 Impreza Ltd CVT
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3,363 Posts
Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Yes, that is the TOP of the tensioner where it extends and pushes against the roll pin on the front of the block. It has a nice ridge in the center from bouncing against the pin.

Here's an Endwrench PDF. My picture is from the TOP. This drawing is from the front. But at the top of the tensioner. if you blow up the PDF scale, you see the P and below it an F. This is where the tensioner extends and puts pressure on the belt pulley.

http://endwrench.com/images/pdfs/EngineNoiseInfo.pdf
 
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