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I recently picked up a nice rust free 1997 Legacy 2.2 with a broken timing belt. I’ve gotten it started a few times but I am convinced the timing is still off. I was wondering if anyone on this page could offer any additional help.

Things I know:
Car is vinned as a 97
Inspection plates states that it was manufactured in August of 96
Motor is an ej22, non-interference motor – confirmed by grooved and stamped valve covers.
Timing belt was broken while running.
No other work has been performed on the vehicle since the timing belt was broken.
Vehicle is not currently throwing any codes.

Things I was told:
Vehicle was running well with no check engine light on prior to timing belt breaking.

Since I’ve taken possession of the car I have replaced the timing belt. The belt shows the appropriate amount of teeth, 44 to the passenger side, 40.5 to the driver side from crank notch. All the ears are present on the crank sprocket, I’ve lined the hash on the rear of the crank sprocket to the hash by the crank position sensor (approx. 12 o’clock) with the keyway facing down. I’ve lined the cam gears up with the belt, with the hash mark on the face of the gear facing

upwards in the 12 o’clock position, in line with the notch in the timing belt cover. In this configuration the tdc triangle on the crank is in the 3 o’clock position, and the tdc arrows on the cams are up and to the right, 45 degrees clockwise from tdc. All pulleys, pumps, and idlers spin freely, tensioner is not leaking oil and takes a couple minutes in a vise to reset with a pin.


I’ve had this timing belt on and off close to ten times, with at least 5 sets of eyes (all car guys and two professional mechanics) to verify timing. I’ve spun the crank multiple times and rechecked timing. Car has occasionally started, but starts hard and runs rough. While attempting to start, and performing the wot/clear cylinder procedure, and then applying half throttle, car pops and back fires violently. All of my experience leads me to believe the car is still out of time.

There are a lot of knowledgeable guys on this forum, I’m hoping one of you can point me in the right direction. I’ve working on cars my entire life, and have an entire professional mechanics shop at my disposal. Any advice would be appreciated. 
 

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@86bratman I've found information that says the 97 was a transition year, and addition information that says the interference motors were not made until the first few months of 97. Either way I was able to confirm that this particular motor is a non-interference motor by the grooves and Subaru stamp on the valve covers, due to the fact that the interference motor valve covers (smooth) can not fit on the older non-interference motors.

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You are describing the 99-01 phase 2 ej221/ej222 with the smooth valve covers. They are a completely different animal. The 97 and 98 ej22e had redesigned pistons that made them interference engines. They still have the grooved valve covers like every other phase 1 ej22e made from 90-98.

Edited by 86BRATMAN

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This is a screenshot from an old Subaru Endwrench publication. Which is official information send to dealer's service department and anyone who subscribed to the publications.

 

Screenshot_20160628-005029.png

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Thank you for your quick reply, I was under the impression that the valve covers were the quick way to tell the difference. Valve covers aside, being that it was made in 8/96, I'm still inclined to believe (hope) the engine is non-interference. I don't have the vehicle in front of me, but I believe the plugs go around the valve cover and not through it. I'm assuming this is the sure fire way to tell if it is a 96 motor in a 97, and non-interference? Thanks

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It is not, there is very little difference visually in the ej22e from 90-98. Give me a couple minutes and I'll see if I can dig up the production date change for the pistons.

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According to opposedforces.com, which is an online version of the Subaru electronic parts catalog, the production date change for the pistons which made the engines interference is 06/96.

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Unfortunately that is the most likely outcome of a timing belt breaking on a 97+ Subaru engine. Verify the timing one more time and then run a compression test to narrow down which cylinders are effected, it's possible that only a few valves were damaged after the break. But I've also seen a broken belt bent ever single valve in a dohc ej25d.

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before you go crazy ripping the heads apart,  take out the cam and crank sensors and test them for continuity ,  and even then they  read good they still could be bad because when the wire gets hot inside the sensor it ex-spans then does not work.

 

better yet check the car with a computer obd2   for codes,  if one  are bad they will not throw the dash light on.

Edited by winginit

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That would be good advice, if the car wasn't getting fuel or spark. The random backfires show it is getting both. There simply isn't enough compression for the engine to run.

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