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2004 Forester XT Premium 4EAT
29,433 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this kit is pretty popular here, so I thought I'd re-post this here as a caveat regarding the water pump included with the kit: Why we won't use Gates Timing Belt Kits - i-Club

Proper maintenance of your Subaru is paramount at FW Motorsports; poorly maintained cars are no fun to own, buy, or modify.

Since we've been asked why we charge more than other shops for our Timing Belt service, I'd figure that it was worth my effort to educate you, the customer on the reason we use, and don't use, particular parts when you choose to bring you Subaru to us.

This first post will be in regards to the (in)famously cheap Gates Timing belt kit, p/n TCWP328RB, which can be had for less than $250 on Teh InterWebz.

The belt, tensioner, and most of the rollers, are high quality parts. There's only one company that makes the tensioner, NTN.
These parts are worth the price of the kit, however the water pump and gasket are another story.

The pump is of unknown manufacture...looks similar to a manufacture's part that's made in China and the gasket is a flimsy paper part that leaks in short order.
Here's a close up of one of the mounting bolt bosses that is poorly cast and not machined. The bolt flange bearing face needs a flat bearing surface to create a leak free joint.

Is this defect present on all pumps? No, but as time is money, the few bucks you "save" using a non OEM part are quickly lost when the pump has to returned, repaired, or worse, replaced after installation.

This is an OEM Pump or a pump made from a past OEM supplier. All the mounting bosses are finished machined, providing a flat/parallel mating surface.

This is the OEM water pump gasket, made of coated, embossed stainless steel.

Here is the flimsy paper gasket that comes with the kit. Even with using a sealer, these gaskets will leak.


Premium Member
2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
8,064 Posts
Doesn't scare me, I have had bad parts from the best of manufactures and good parts from the supposed worst.

The installer is always responsible for making sure the fit, form and function of the parts they are installing is up to par. The installer/builder is the last line of defense in potentially putting a faulty part in or on.

Paper gasket, You know Subaru has gone back and forth a few times on the metal gasket and paper. I do personally prefer the metal, but that doesn't make the paper gasket bad.

The idlers and tensioner you get in the Gates kit are OEM, as they said NTN is the only company making the tensioner.

Water pump in the Gates kit, they are made in China. Gates doesn't hide that, they don't out right say it up front but they wont deny it if you ask them. I have installed many of the Gates kits WITH the Gates pump and I have not seen or had any issues with them.

Though like everything I do have my preferences. I do mostly NA work, I keep a couple of the Gates kits(minus water pump) on hand. I prefer to source the WP locally for a couple of reasons:

One, because the water pumps differ depending on if it has a oil cooler or not. It allows me to get the best price on OEM timing belt components via the Gates kit.

Two, even though I haven't had a bad Gates water pump or had one fail on me. It allows me to pick the manufacture, usually AISIN or from the dealer for the pump.

Three, it gives me a reason to take a break to go get said pump.

Is the pump bad that they are using for their example, Yes. But that doesn't make the rest of the kit bad, the bad pump the isn't the norm.

2002 ES300
4,412 Posts
You just be selective on what you buy and from who, regardless what the item is. ... Part of why I get the Gates timing belt kit and an OEM Subaru water pump.

2013 X premium 4 speed auto trans
41 Posts
Choose where to buy and inspect the parts that you buy.

Choose where to buy;
-reputable parts store and inspect the parts before leaving the store
-reputable online parts store and inspect the parts if defective and needed to be returned. That is what I do.

Though there's no need for me to replace my 2013 forester's water-pump, I'd still give gates a shot.

The Gates water-pump I installed on my 2006 chrysler town is nowhere as sloppy looking as the attached picture above, in fact it was better casted and machined with better gasket than the OEM waterpump that conked out at 32,000 miles on the odometer (just about when the factory warranty ran out). I sourced it from a local NAPA parts store.

The other Gates water-pump that I installed on one of my 2005 Rav4 had the same quality of material, machining and same quality gaskets as the OEM toyota water-pump that I had removed. I sourced it at Rock-Auto online parts store.

Both water-pumps are still in service today. No problem at all.

I credit that advertising shop for showing how a boot-leg part looks like to promote their own stuff. Good marketing on their part, and a touch of caution on our part to choose wisely . . . Garbage-in >>> Garbage-out.


The water pump that came with mine had a nice metal gasket, but it didn't have the extra nipple for the oil cooler (4EAT vehicles). It had the stamped impeller.

2010 Forester 2.5X
1,698 Posts
I have never used a steel gasket on a water pump. And I always use Permatex #3.. or I think it used to be called Aviation gasket sealer.. goes on with a brush.
That fiber gasket shown in the picture looks used without sealer.

Am I missing some special Subaru waterpump replacement trick?

2003 X AWP Manual
15 Posts
Have used the paper gaskets smeared with little grease on fitment & have worked perfectly fine although do prefer the stainless gasket with sealing bead & stock a couple of these but all our pumps from SA or ADL come with this style gasket already.
Try and avoid poorly made pumps & belts as pointless removing japanese quality for chinese unpredictable quality.
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