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2004 Forester XS Automatic
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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys. I've been a VW guy for a while, and have done various repairs on my vehicles over the years from oil changes to timing belts and clutches. Suffice it to say I've done plenty of work and feel comfortable with any maintenance I have coming up, but wanted to clarify a few points before I begin.

Timing belt:
We bought our 2004 Subaru Forester XS with about 185k miles, and it's now closing in on 200k. If the timing belt was done at the last proper interval I should be good for about 10k miles longer, but I don't know how long ago it has been, and I'd rather change it now than chance it. There doesn't seem to be many Subaru-Specific parts sites like there is for Volkswagen, so am I pretty much fine sourcing parts from RockAuto and local B&Ms? RockAuto isn't coming up at the moment so I can't link to a kit, but can someone point me toward a good one with quality components? I want to do water pump as well.
I've also seen various things about bumping the starter to break the crank bolt loose, etc. Is it recommend I buy a special high-mass socket for it or is it really all that bad?

Coolant:
I've over-researched this to death. Pretty sure my car still has the blue OEM coolant in it, but I want to flush it all with the timing belt change. I have loads of pink Pentofrost SF laying around (red cap), could I flush my system out with a hose and refill with Pentofrost just to use the same in both my vehicles? Or should I just buy a gallon of whatever concentrated blue coolant I can find?

Other thoughts:

My driveshaft just crapped out completely, and I managed to find one in a pick-a-part with 136k miles for $100. I went ahead and installed it with a marked improvement in road noise and smoothness of acceleration. I'm planning to replace the old U-joints in my stock drive shaft per a YouTube video I found with an appropriate P/N for new joints. The new shaft is much better than the old one, but is still a bit noisy. I'd like to at least have a spare around if and when I need it.

While I had my car on the rack for the driveshaft, I checked all four wheels for play and found none. My tires are pretty crappy, so those will be up for changing soon. I don't need anything too grippy, we've had some decent snow in KY over the last two winters, but our Subie did fine with the road tires. But suggestions are welcome for something that will have good traction and still maintain decent fuel mileage.

If I'm not getting engine codes for emissions, should I just leave everything alone? The exhaust on this thing seems more complicated than it should be, and I can't help but think it would help things along to cut out everything not completely necessary and put in a more free-flowing cat. But I'm used to my straight-piped diesels.

I replaced my rear struts immediately after buying the car to fix the clunking issue. Is there any reason to replace the fronts yet if they pass the bounce test and don't make any noise? And should I get it re-aligned before new tires?

I think this is it... I'm sure there are loads of threads I haven't read yet, but I would also like to dampen down the road noise a bit more. The plastic tubes in the window seals helped, as well as the new driveshaft, but there's definitely more wind noise to take care of. I'll keep reading, but tips are still appreciated.

Thanks for hosting such a great forum - I've been reading a lot here over the last couple of years, and now it's time to really dig in on some stuff.
 

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14 outback auto
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342 Posts
You want the Aisin timing belt kit. It may not be available from rock auto. Google it. Change everything, pulleys etc. I never buy snow tires and never get stuck in wisconsin. I continue to use the OEM coolant in my 2002. The main thing you have to worry is a head gasket leak. Mine stated to leak at 90K and I changed it 10K later. It was just a slow oil leak.

Good luck. You will enjoy the subaru, especially the ease of working on them.
 

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2007 2.5XT Limited 4EAT
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300 Posts
+1 on the Aisin timing belt kit. As far as I know, at this point this is the only kit that still has all the components made in Japan. I can't seem to find which part number you need so you may have to do a bit of sleuthing to figure this out. Rock Auto currently does not have the kits in stock for auto trans Foresters of your model year.

Don't overthink the coolant issue...if you are set on the Subaru super coolant you can't go wrong. However, if you flush the system you can put in any coolant you like.

The other stuff on your list seems to be more of a question of preventative vs necessary maintenance...two schools of thought, and I happen to subscribe to both depending on how deep my pockets are at the time. If it's not broke, don't fix it...but since I have a bit of OCD when it comes to vehicle maintenance, if I have the money and I'm already going to be in there fiddling about, I will generally replace every part that I have to remove to get at something else.

As far as the alignment question goes, it's never a bad idea to have the alignment checked before getting new tires. However, since the correct alignment specs are built into the struts, as long as your ball joints and wheel bearings are in good shape you car should not need an alignment after installing the new struts.
 

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2004 Forester XS Automatic
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Discussion Starter #4
You want the Aisin timing belt kit. It may not be available from rock auto. Google it. Change everything, pulleys etc. I never buy snow tires and never get stuck in wisconsin. I continue to use the OEM coolant in my 2002. The main thing you have to worry is a head gasket leak. Mine stated to leak at 90K and I changed it 10K later. It was just a slow oil leak.

Good luck. You will enjoy the subaru, especially the ease of working on them.
Good deal - I'll look it up. I actually found it on Amazon but didn't look too close. Definitely changing all possible components!

+1 on the Aisin timing belt kit. As far as I know, at this point this is the only kit that still has all the components made in Japan. I can't seem to find which part number you need so you may have to do a bit of sleuthing to figure this out. Rock Auto currently does not have the kits in stock for auto trans Foresters of your model year.

Don't overthink the coolant issue...if you are set on the Subaru super coolant you can't go wrong. However, if you flush the system you can put in any coolant you like.

The other stuff on your list seems to be more of a question of preventative vs necessary maintenance...two schools of thought, and I happen to subscribe to both depending on how deep my pockets are at the time. If it's not broke, don't fix it...but since I have a bit of OCD when it comes to vehicle maintenance, if I have the money and I'm already going to be in there fiddling about, I will generally replace every part that I have to remove to get at something else.

As far as the alignment question goes, it's never a bad idea to have the alignment checked before getting new tires. However, since the correct alignment specs are built into the struts, as long as your ball joints and wheel bearings are in good shape you car should not need an alignment after installing the new struts.
New struts shouldn't warrant an alignment? I'm loving this car more all the time!
 

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2016 Foz CVT
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890 Posts
Pretty sure Subaru didn't start using the 'super' long-life coolant until 2008 or so.
 

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2004 Forester XS Automatic
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
So I found two kits, TKF-001 and TKF-004. According to the Aisin website, 001 is for engine EJ251, naturally aspirated, manual trans. 004 is for EJ255, Turbo. Since mine is a naturally aspirated automatic, which kit do I go with?
 

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2007 2.5XT Limited 4EAT
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300 Posts
[New struts shouldn't warrant an alignment?]

They really shouldn't as long as they are all you are replacing. By virtue of replacing the struts you are in essence realigning the camber and castor angles already, so there really should be no need. As I mentioned though, it's never a bad thing to have checked after doing steering and or suspension repairs, if only for peace of mind. But honestly if you are going to replace the struts, you may consider replacing the ball joints and tie rod ends as well. They usually wear at about the same rate. This will definitely warrant an alignment afterwards.

[According to the Aisin website, 001 is for engine EJ251, naturally aspirated, manual trans. 004 is for EJ255, Turbo. Since mine is a naturally aspirated automatic, which kit do I go with?]

This is what I found as well and it's fairly confusing. You may want to give the folks at Rock Auto a call or fire off an email to Aisin to get the answer. Or maybe someone with your same car will chime in and let you know what kit you need.
 

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2012 XT Touring 4EAT
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So I found two kits, TKF-001 and TKF-004. According to the Aisin website, 001 is for engine EJ251, naturally aspirated, manual trans. 004 is for EJ255, Turbo. Since mine is a naturally aspirated automatic, which kit do I go with?
TKF-001. (Was this a trick question?) There may be one part in the TKF-001 that you won't use - the small belt guard (only on manual tranny engines).

On coolant, you might try Peak Global. It is compatible with your vehicle and not too hard to find. You will need a gallon of concentrated fluid.

The Company23 crank tool is a bit more civilized way to remove the crank bolt and pulley (aka harmonic balancer). No, you don't need a special socket - it's not that tight. Once you get the timing cover off, put the pulley and bolt back on the engine - you will need the bolt head to turn the engine over (using a breaker bar). Don't put the bolt in the crankshaft without the pulley or you may end up with a very tight crank bolt and no way to hold the crank to get it out (ask me how I know!).
 

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2004 Forester XS Automatic
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Discussion Starter #9
TKF-001. (Was this a trick question?) There may be one part in the TKF-001 that you won't use - the small belt guard (only on manual tranny engines).

On coolant, you might try Peak Global. It is compatible with your vehicle and not too hard to find. You will need a gallon of concentrated fluid.

The Company23 crank tool is a bit more civilized way to remove the crank bolt and pulley (aka harmonic balancer). No, you don't need a special socket - it's not that tight. Once you get the timing cover off, put the pulley and bolt back on the engine - you will need the bolt head to turn the engine over (using a breaker bar). Don't put the bolt in the crankshaft without the pulley or you may end up with a very tight crank bolt and no way to hold the crank to get it out (ask me how I know!).
Very good, thank you for your insight! I had planned on going with the 001, because it doesn't make sense that you'd need a different kit for a manual trans. lol
 

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2010 XT Premium
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I think i spent several hours over the last few weeks reading up on timing belt kits. From Gates to AISIN to OEM there is lots of ‘opinions’. The Gates kits are very popular but there is a small risk that their idlers are now made in China and this puts people off (I’m not judging just passing on what i found). The AISIN kits look good but are hard to come by depending on your Geographic location. OEM too $$$$. Then I read about a Motorsport outfit in the UK who put together kits and use the OEM idlers etc. Anyway that’s what I ended up getting. here are some photos:-






Nice box too :):)

2010 Forester Upcoming Head gasket repair
https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?share_fid=32000&share_tid=800401&share_pid=7548333&url=https://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=7548333&share_type=t

Posted in another thread.


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