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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Timing Belt needs replacing, 2003 Legacy 2.5

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10 replies to this topic

#1 Aulthou



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Posted 05 October 2013 - 01:10 PM

Hi everyone, 

I'm quite new to Subaru's but should be able to get my head around soon. I recently bought an 2003 Legacy GT (2.5 lt) on 171k km (approx. 107 k mi). The previous owner said he's never replaced the timing belt. I'm driving on egg shells at the moment, anyone knows a good place to get the thing done around Vancouver BC? I haven't got any tools and/or place to do it myself. I know I should be replacing the water pump as well, anything else I need to remember?
Also how worried should I be in terms of life left for the belt? I've got to use the car everyday=/


Thanks a lot!

Edited by Aulthou, 05 October 2013 - 01:12 PM.

#2 mikec03


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Posted 05 October 2013 - 03:15 PM

As all on the forums will tell you, replace the pulleys, the tensioner, the water pump, and the thermastat as well as the timing belt.  Maybe someone on this site will recommend someone in your area.  Otherwise, use the google search function, angies list, whatever to find an independent place that does subaru work.  It's not hard to do a timing belt replacement, heck even I have done two, so even a non subaru shop can do it assuming that they read the manual.  Maybe that's assuming too much however.


You are overdue basis milage and age so do it right away.  It only takes a shop a couple of hours.

#3 Olnick


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Posted 05 October 2013 - 03:55 PM

Isn't timing belt replacement recommended at 105k miles on "newer" Subarus?  If so, don't panic--it's probably not going to break just because of milage!  But don't put it off too long.  And while they're in there do all that mikec03 mentioned above.

#4 jim in the north

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 07:07 PM

You should be very worried about the life left in this belt. Replaced mine at 160,000 Km and it was shot. Just posted that message to the forum yesterday.

As far as replacing it goes, unless you're a pretty good mechanic, don't try to do it yourself. Too much grief involved with removing radiators, hoses, main crank pulley nut, etc etc. It goes on and on. I've done it, I know. Give it over to a trusted shop. It'll cost you though. Lots of labour getting at it all.

#5 Aulthou



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Posted 05 October 2013 - 08:29 PM

Thanks a lot for the responses guys! I'll be getting it done next week and will try not to use the car much till that time. Labour cost is killing thou=/ @Jim, I'm quite handy but I haven't got that many tools with me and don't have a garage either. Have you heard of any places around Vancouver instead of the dealers?

#6 heartless


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Posted 06 October 2013 - 07:57 AM

dont need a lot of tools to do a timing belt - but it is a bit labor intensive. Experienced DIY-ers can do the job in about 2 hours - newbies 4-6 hours, or more...


your car has an interference motor, so a timing failure can be rather expensive in terms of damaged valves. Do not put it off!


a full timing service should include:

timing belt

all idler pulleys (4 in total, 2 smooth center bolt, 1 smooth cammed (for the tensioner), and one toothed)


water pump

T-Stat (OEM! these cars are finicky about t-stats)

front oil seals (SOHC = 2 cam, 1 crank - DOHC = 4 cam, 1 crank)

and a check of the oil pump w/new o-ring - the screws on the back plate can sometimes work loose.


Get the job done right and you are good for the next 100,000 miles/160,000km


If you are not going to do it yourself, I would find an independant shop that specializes in import cars and call them. Even my little hick town (under 30,000 people) has an import specialist, I would hope Vancouver has at least one, possibly more.

#7 Aulthou



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Posted 06 October 2013 - 10:08 AM

Oh great now I'm not scared at all:P   I think I got the idea, I need it today and then after today the next time I start it, it'll be going straight to the repair shop!

#8 idosubaru


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Posted 06 October 2013 - 02:16 PM

They do break but not often, particularly at this low mileage.  They have a time limit too - 10 years i believe too which you're past.


Install a complete timing kit - pulleys and tensioner. I would not expect the originals to last to 200,000 miles, they're devoid of grease by then.  I would replace those before a water pump, the EJ pumps last a long time and in the odd event it has issues you'll usually get warning signs like slight leakage from the pump. Amazon had gates kits for only $100 recently, someone posted a link here.  Ebay kits are $140 - $200.


If the cam or crank seals/oil pump leak then you'll be paying the timing belt labor (several hundred dollars) all over again to replace a $5 seal, so that's why those are usually done at the same time to ensure you make 200,000 miles without re-paying that tbelt labor again.  If the oil pump is reseald it should be removed and the rear backing plate screws tightened, not a big deal but i can almost guarantee that one or more are loose, i don't think i've ever removed one yet without a loose screw.  Subaru seals should be used, they're higher quality than some aftermarkets.


But if they're bone dry they're likely to last a long time and as mentioned the Subaru seals are excellent quality and capable of a lot miles, though individual  experience varies wildly of course.

#9 WoodsWagon


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Posted 07 October 2013 - 08:04 PM

Do the water pump too, I've seen them seize up. Didn't break the belt because it runs on the smooth side but it sure caused overheating. So easy and comparatively cheap to replace it when in there for a timing belt job.


Check the headgaskets for external coolant and oil leaks, those years 2.5l's are good for those and you may be due for headgaskets too. Use the ones meant for a 04 WRX STi 2.5l, they're multilayer and an upgrade. Subaru is still selling the single layer ones for the non-turbo 2.5l's and they leak.

#10 Aulthou



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Posted 14 October 2013 - 12:26 PM

Hey guys,

So as you all suggested, I got the timing belt replaced long with the additions you added and everything works perfectly! here's a list and a photo of what's been replaced, cost me a small fortune but i don't have to worry about any of those for another 150000 kms:


-Timing belt,
-Two idlers and gear

-2 x Camshaft seals

-Crankshaft seal

-water pump

-thermostat & gasket

-throttle plate cleaning

-hose clamps

-Cooling system flush


-Subaru Conditioner


Thanks a lot for all the advice!

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#11 heartless


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Posted 15 October 2013 - 06:19 AM

Good work! :clap:


Now just maintain the fluid levels and she should be good for a long while.

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