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98 Forester timing belt replacement


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20 replies to this topic

#1 Curtis1955

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Posted 12 December 2003 - 12:47 AM

My Forester has 107k miles--I bought it earlier this year with 102k miles. So it's due for a timing belt and valve adjustment.

Anyone familiar with these tasks?

My info makes it look quite difficult and requiring special tools. But the local shops/dealer want big bucks, saying that a water pump replacement, oil pump reseal, and crankshaft seal are justified at the same time.
I thought I got a great deal on this rig at $7200, but after a new windshield and an air bag light fix ($400-plus), it's not such a bargain.

#2 alias20035

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Posted 12 December 2003 - 12:58 AM

Originally posted by Curtis1955
My Forester has 107k miles--I bought it earlier this year with 102k miles. So it's due for a timing belt and valve adjustment.

Anyone familiar with these tasks?

My info makes it look quite difficult and requiring special tools. But the local shops/dealer want big bucks, saying that a water pump replacement, oil pump reseal, and crankshaft seal are justified at the same time.
I thought I got a great deal on this rig at $7200, but after a new windshield and an air bag light fix ($400-plus), it's not such a bargain.


No special tools required, but you will need the following:

5" bench vise to compress the timing belt tensioner for reinstallation
feeler gauges to adjust the valve lifters
sometimes a chainwrench is required to take the crank pulley off, but you can lock the flywheel in place to do this most of the time

The water pump, cam and crank seals should all be done at 100,000 miles, as should the valve cover seals when the valve covers are removed to adjust the lifters. Do not skip changing the oil seals or water pump. I would also change the thermostat and its gasket as well as the radiator pressure cap. I would also heavily consider replacing the upper and lower radiator hoses and the heater hoses.

The job is not too hard, but I recommend that you have better than moderate mechanical ability as it is significantly more difficult than changing oil and sparkplugs. The Haynes/Chilton guides leave a lot of information out, so solid mechanical knowledge must fill in these gaps.

#3 Curtis1955

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Posted 12 December 2003 - 01:48 AM

Thanks for the reply. My information says that the camshafts will turn, causing valve collision, if they aren't held fixed. The Subaru Endwrench website shows tools that hold the camshafts, as well as a special crankbolt wrench. Also, that site says NOT to use a bench vise to compress the tensioner--that a press must be used, along with a pressure guage that keeps you from using more than 66 pounds force on the tensioner.
Comments?
I'm aware that this engine is trickier than older ones that weren't interference.

#4 theotherskip

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Posted 12 December 2003 - 05:17 PM

i wrote a site when i overhauled my engine for a blown head gasket. while changing the head gaskets, i also changed all the seals, water pump, resealed the oil pump, all the things that have been mentioned. since i was doing the head gaskets, i pulled the engine, but it can all be done in the car, though adjusting the valve clearance would be more difficult. i believe that subaru makes a special tool for this. since i had to remove the cams, i didn't need any special tool to compress the valves to remove the shims.

you don't need the special tool to hold the camshafts when you remove the belt. just be sure to rotate them in the correct direction (away from making contact). you can find really good instructions in the factory service manual, available here .

you can read details here to see if you feel like doing it yourself.

#5 Curtis1955

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:03 PM

Well, I'll repeat myself. I've read recently (on the Subaru Endwrench) that valve spring pressure will cause the cams to rotate and damage the valves on this engine. Was your engine the DOHC (mine is)?

#6 Phillip

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:39 PM

I recently had to purchase a new short block for my '99 Outback (DOHC), and spent a good of time studying camshaft timing (and potential valve interference) before I installed the heads & timing belt. I didn't want to screw anything up!
While the cams may turn slightly when the timing belt is removed, the valves will not strike each other if the procedure outlined in the manual is followed exactly (camshafts in correct postion as shown in the manual). The camshaft holding tool is a 'nice-to-have' not 'need-to-have' tool. The valve spring compressor is necessary to adjust the valves (unless the cams are removed). A job of this magnitude requires moderate to good mechanical skills. Assess your skills and available time before proceeding. Let us know how it goes.

#7 Curtis1955

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:49 PM

Did you work with the engine removed? I certainly don't want to screw up a good engine--but I've done a few timing belts on other vehicles with success. Including a 1989 XT6, which may have had similarity to the Forester.

#8 99obw

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 06:59 AM

Originally posted by Curtis1955
Well, I'll repeat myself. I've read recently (on the Subaru Endwrench) that valve spring pressure will cause the cams to rotate and damage the valves on this engine. Was your engine the DOHC (mine is)?


The left side cams will rotate slightly when the belt is removed. The cams rotate due to spring pressure, meaning that the valves are closing, i.e. moving away from each other. No damage will be done. The haynes manual that covers our outback actually goes so far as to tell which direction to turn each cam when installing the new belt. I would definately buy a haynes manual that covers the 2.5 Phase I or download the FSM if I were you.

#9 theotherskip

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 05:27 PM

when i did mine, i pulled the engine since i was changing the head gasket, but it is possible to do it all (including the head gaskets) in the car. you should definately remove the radiator for extra clearance. doing the valve clearance will be somewhat difficult, as the heads are right along the frame rail...

#10 Curtis1955

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 12:28 PM

Okay, I'm still not convinced I should risk a good running engine by doing the timing belt myself.

This engine has 4 valves per cylinder, and they're driven by 4 camshafts, two camshafts on each side. The valves, which are small and delicate, can hit each other, not just the pistons. The valve spring pressure can turn the camshafts when the timing belt is removed, if a camshaft tool isn't used. And I'm not adjusting the valves at this time, probably.

So, "Other" Skip and whoever is kind enough to read and respond to this, does this sound like the kind of job you'd risk? Is this multi-valve engine identical to yours?

#11 99obw

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 12:58 PM

I have done the timing belt job and then the head gasket job, both on the Phase I 2.5, which you have. I had done several other timing belt jobs before I did this one. I have been working on engines for about 20 years (my first job was a timing chain on a 400 pontiac with my mom when I was 9). I don't think the timing belt is that hard, the head gaskets are a bit tougher. If you feel up to it, do it, it's not that hard if you follow the book. Just don't be mad at me if you goof something up.

Regarding the valves hitting things. In the haynes manual it tells you to first bring the engine to TDC for cylinder #1. I use a compression tester to do that. Then, after you remove the timing covers, turn the engine clockwise until the timing marks align. If you do this, the valves will not hit when you remove the timing belt idler. I don't know what will happen if you don't align things properly.

#12 myles

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 03:01 PM

Originally posted by alias20035
No special tools required, but you will need the following:

5" bench vise to compress the timing belt tensioner for reinstallation
feeler gauges to adjust the valve lifters
sometimes a chainwrench is required to take the crank pulley off, but you can lock the flywheel in place to do this most of the time

The water pump, cam and crank seals should all be done at 100,000 miles, as should the valve cover seals when the valve covers are removed to adjust the lifters. Do not skip changing the oil seals or water pump. I would also change the thermostat and its gasket as well as the radiator pressure cap. I would also heavily consider replacing the upper and lower radiator hoses and the heater hoses.

The job is not too hard, but I recommend that you have better than moderate mechanical ability as it is significantly more difficult than changing oil and sparkplugs. The Haynes/Chilton guides leave a lot of information out, so solid mechanical knowledge must fill in these gaps.



You can download entire FSM's at http://techinfo.subaru.com for about US$20

#13 myles

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 03:05 PM

Originally posted by Curtis1955
Okay, I'm still not convinced I should risk a good running engine by doing the timing belt myself.

This engine has 4 valves per cylinder, and they're driven by 4 camshafts, two camshafts on each side. The valves, which are small and delicate, can hit each other, notjust the pistons. The valve spring pressure can turn the camshafts when the timing belt is removed, if a camshaft tool isn't used. And I'm not adjusting the valves at this time, probably.

So, "Other" Skip and whoever is kind enough to read and respond to this, does this sound like the kind of job you'd risk? Is this multi-valve engine identical to yours?



The Phase-I (DOHC) EJ25 uses hydraulic lash adjusters.

#14 99obw

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 03:39 PM

Nope. Solid lifters.

#15 Curtis1955

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 03:58 PM

A Subaru site says this--

http://endwrench.com...tReplaceF00.pdf

#16 99obw

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 04:06 PM

Well, I can't disagree with Subaru, but I can say that I have done the job twice without the special tool with no damage to the valves. YMMV

#17 Curtis1955

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 04:17 PM

How did you retorque the crank pulley bolt without a special tool to hold the pulley?

#18 99obw

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 05:03 PM

I wrap old accessory belts around the crank pulley to protect it and then hold it with a chain wrench. Others either put the car in gear and have an assistant hold the brakes (manual tranny) or wedge something in the bellhousing (auto tranny).

#19 theotherskip

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 05:17 PM

what 99obw said. if you are still uncomfortable, don't do it. but i had no trouble whatsoever. after working on the engine, i think there is little i would have done by a shop, as it has pretty good access (accept the the heads). mine is the same quad cam, 16 valve 4 cyl engine as yours and 99obw's. i do highly recommend getting the factory service manuals from techinfo.subaru.com (too lazy to link). when you do it yourself, you are assured that things actually got done at a steady pace and throughly.

#20 Curtis1955

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 07:34 PM

As far as the manuals, I have the CD manual that I got on eBay, which purports to be the same as the factory manuals. I don't have the Haynes manual for this model, yet.
Thanks, again!

#21 avk

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Posted 23 December 2003 - 11:17 AM

Originally posted by 99obw
Nope. Solid lifters.


Except for '96, maybe that's what Myles has?




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