EJ 203 Timing belt change - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-22-2017, 06:50 AM Thread Starter
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EJ 203 Timing belt change


First post in the forum as i'm going to be changing my timing belt. It's a SG 2004 model with the EJ 203 sohc engine 2 litre.
Seems simple enough but im struggling with knowing what parts to get or more specifically where.
I want the full kit with tensioner and i want the OEM waterpump or a Aisin as a second choice and i need them in a couple of weeks time.

Any advice or suggestions appreciated.

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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-22-2017, 09:33 AM
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I did mine a few months ago. I would avoid any parts that the country of origin cannot be verified. Doesn't matter who the mfg is, or what the box says, put hands on the materials and look at the part itself. I had one roller from Bosch that said made in Check Rep but the part inside said China on it. I believe your car has two idle rollers, one tension roller asm, water pump, and belt. Beware of rebuilt water pumps, I might be inclined to keep the one you have, or get a Subaru OEM new branded one. Failure of any component in the belt path is catastrophic engine damage.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-22-2017, 09:39 AM
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1) The timing belt interval for US cars is due in part to the regulations around our smog equipment. For some bizarre reason, the timing belt is considered part of the smog equipment, I think - because if it jumps timing, the emissions will be exceeded. Having said that, the current belts are a marvel of product improvement, and most will go well over 105K miles, or 170KMs with even modest care.

2) As for time, the belts are protected from the elements by belt covers, and the entire belt path is not subject to much wear, and even the temperature is fairly well controlled residing just behind the radiator. I wouldn't hesitate to run it to 8 years or more unless someone has fiddled with the covers and exposed it to elements. I've personally seen Gates mfg Porsche belts that have gone > 15 years in service as the job of replacing them is quite complicated on the 944T, 968, and 928 cars.

3) To do the job right, I would call it the 'timing belt path' job. That is, everything in the belt path is inspected, and most of it is replaced when the job comes up, except the crank and cam gears which are carefully inspected for wear. Expect to replace the belt, 2/3 tension rollers, and the tension asm, as well as the water pump. However, the water pump may be kept if the shaft is snug, and the weep hole shows no signs of leakage at all. If there is any question, replace the pump as well.

4) Shop very carefully for your materials! There are mfgs which used to have products made in Japan or US that are now made in China. My advice - do NOT use any Chinese parts in here. Avoid the all-in-one kits on ebay unless they guarantee all non-Chinese parts. Catastrophic failure of any component in the belt path means a dual head job at minimum. Check the actual part for country of origin, not just the box. (ask me how I know)

5) In US dollars, the job including good materials will run $900-1400 depending on where you take it for service. The job is not complicated, and with the help of youtube, and some common sense it can be done by most DIY with modest/decent mechanical skills in less than a day. If you are a klutz, pay someone else, as mistakes in here are again - costly.

6) If you choose to DIY, find the several guides on youtube labelled 'Subaru timing belt' or such, and review before starting. Plan to have another car avail for parts or tools run during the job. There are no special tools required, but if you don't have a car around and need something I guess the next idea is Uber.

7) A couple notes on DIY before I go. Pay strict attention to the cam and crank timing marks when threading the belt. It tends to move around on the cams as the belt is threaded. Make triple sure you are on the right tooth! Use a couple of large black heavy paper clamps to secure the belt to each cam gear and keep it in place while you try to thread it under the tensioner roller last. Don't use any sharp tools on or around the belt. Check your gear timing once more before removing the tension release pin. It's almost impossible to get the pin back in the tensioner once you've removed it and applied tension to the belt. Before going any further, put the pulley on the crank, and the bolt and turn the engine around two times with a socket wrench and check the timing ONCE MORE, before closing up. Leave the left timing cover off at the completion, and start the engine. Note the rotation of the running belt, and check its tracking true on the gear. Shut engine off, and install the left outside cover.

8) Using a felt perm marker, note the date, mileage on the underside of the hood, or shock tower with the 'TB/WP/roller replaced' comment so you know for next time.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-22-2017, 02:04 PM
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G'day & welcome HW.

Maybe get in contact with Jackie (subarupartsgirl) include you VIN; Jackie has excellent parts knowledge, I find parts, including shipping, are cheaper than sourcing locally. Look here: Annapolis Subaru - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
You'll need to check your cam and crank seals while in there.

MY'03 XS AT offroad; MY10 Triton GLX-R
MY'97 Outback RIP

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