All Wheel Drive Auto: Independent Seattle Subaru Service


Subaru Repair Seattle; Subaru WRX Timing Belt Tensioner Failure

Pictured below is a set of circumstances that led to a customer of a Subaru Impreza WRX having to spend some pretty serious money. An expense that could have been avoided, if only our advice was followed.
The Owner of the Subaru in question paid to have a Subaru Dealer replace thew timing belt on this WRX two years ago, the only thing that was replaced was in fact the timing belt. The Tensioner and idlers were left to chance. My Question has always been if you don’t replace the tensioner and or idlers while replacing the timing belt, when? They are not lifetime components, they are to be inspected and replaced as needed or as preventive maintenance. Meaning you replace them in order to prevent a catastrophic failure resulting in a large expense.  Understand the Dealer actually wants you to buy a new car every 5 years, the Tech at a dealer doesn’t want to wait for you to decide if you want to spend the money on needed idlers and tensioner so he or she just does the timing belt, the Service advisor would never initially quote out anything else than just the timing belt and maybe the tensioner for fear you will take it somewhere else because of price.

Subaru Crankshaft Timing Mark alignment
Subaru Crankshaft Timing Mark alignment
Subaru WRX Timing Belt Off
Subaru WRX Timing Belt Off
WRX Timing Belt Off
WRX Timing Belt Off

The tensioner in question leaked out hydraulic fluid until there wasn’t enough left in it to maintain proper tension on the timing belt, the belt jumped, the valves made contact with the pistons and we performed a valve job. When the driver contacted the dealer that did the timing belt about our findings he was informed it wasn’t replaced and therefore not under any type of warranty. Which is correct but the bigger question is why wasn’t the customer allowed to make his own choice, why shouldn’t you have the choice to do it right and have the piece of mind the service was done in a way where you have done everything you can to avoid future grief and expense? The mileage was 27,000 since replacement.

At our shop we do in fact suggest the tensioner and idlers as well as the water pump, but we also leave the choice up to you and that’s the way it should always be.  You deserve better, and like I always say; your experience with your Subaru will only ever be as good as who you allow to service it!

Thanks for reading.


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