All Wheel Drive Auto: Independent Seattle Subaru Service


Another Subaru Timing Belt Idler Problem

Damaged Timing belt Idler


This is yet another Subaru that had a timing belt done at the Dealer, the only thing that was replaced was the belt and the tensioner, the rest were left to chance.  I cant stress enough that most shops will ignore these items.   At a Dealer the Tech will have to inspect these items, then go to the Parts department to do what is called P &A (Price and Availability), then go tell the Service advisor it needs the idlers and maybe a water pump, the service advisor then calls the customer and has to try and “sell” them on the idlers, this is of course if he or she can get a hold of the Vehicle owner at all. . All this time the Tech is now sitting around waiting for authorization, and not making any money now as its a pay by the job environment.   If the Tech has other jobs that are in danger of not getting in and done  (which will affect his or hers paycheck) they may not even bother which is what I was always witness to when I was at a Dealership.   Can you really blame the Tech?  If over a week he or she is slowed down half a dozen times by something like this it could mean a difference of hundreds on their pay check, who wants to work just as long for less money?  The Tech stands to make no more money by suggesting idlers, instead if the sale isn’t immediate can loose hours as at most Dealers its one tech per bay, if your car is taking up that bay while the advisor tries to track you down and tell you its going to be more money, The Tech is typically left with nothing to do but wait while no longer making any money.

Its the system that is the issue, we deal with this locally as the Subaru Dealers never quote out for the idlers and tensioner for fear of not getting you in the door with a high but albeit honest price. Instead they quote the timing belt only, some will quote the tensioner but almost never speak about the idlers and water pump.  Again if these items are not done with the timing belt, When?

Subaru Timing belt Idler
Geared Idler that has come apart
Subaru Timing belt Idler and Tensioner
New Tensioner but old idler
Subaru Timing Belt Idlers and Tensioner
Subaru Timing Belt Idlers and Tensioner

You can see below the idler on the left has some black timing belt residue adhered to it this is a result of the bearing in the idler having difficulty spinning.

Subaru Timing Belt Idlers
Small Idler just above the tensioner that is showing wear as well

Below is some of the Debris from the failed idler.

Timing belt Idler Debris
Timing belt Idler Debris

The engine did in fact “jump” time as a result of this failure but fortunately not enough to bent the valves.

Thanks For Reading



4 Responses

  1. Justin, you are on the proper track here with your educating of critical normal maintenance items! One case in point, GM coolant change intervals. Dexcool 5yrs/150k miles! A marketing ploy to sell cars on unrealistic maintenance schedules. I go 2yrs/30k miles, period. Changed out many L.I.M. Gaskets & head gaskets with upgraded Fel-Pro PermaDry Plus parts! On GM 3100/3400 60 degree V6 engines. All manufactures have issues with something on their cars. In order to live with these vehicles, people will need to search out businesses that INFORM the owners of the issues & the true solutions for their vehicles. It’s all perspective! Superbly crafted videos!

  2. Hi Justin,

    My 95 Legacy is ready to have timing belt change at 210K however my local independent Subaru shop will replace belt, idlers, and tensioner but suggests only inspect water pump and replace if need it only. Is this a normal procedure? Because all of my other cars always have water replace when change timing belt.


    1. We typical;y try to replace the water pump each instance. Its silly to leave it only to have it leak a year later as a result of the increased pressure of new components around it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *