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Hi there,

 

About to do my timing belt on a 99 forester. Just bought the car used and it has 115K on it. Subaru rec. 105K for new timing belt, but wasn't done by last owner. I really want the car to last and do well and am happy to put some money into preventing rather then repairing. So I am having the timing belt, the water pump and the seals around there (cam shaft seals?) all done at the same time for $800 (Bay Area dontcha know, $100 an hour labor fairly standard). Now, people have also mentioned getting the tensioner and idler pulleys replaced as well. Others have said this is overkill, and one reason for getting a subaru is that it is a great reliable car. Bearing in mind that money is a real factor, but trying to balance with doing the right thing for the car, is the tensioner and idler pulley really necessary to replace at this point? the car is vast majority highway miles, is manual, and has had all services done on it.....

 

Any advice really appreciated!

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I don't think you need to replace those things at the first timing belt change. If you're having the work done at an authorized repair facility, the technician doing the work will check the tensioners and idler pulleys for proper operation (no noise, no binding, no looseness) and will recommend their replacement only if it's necessary.

 

If I were doing the work (driveway mechanic), I'd never replace these things anyway. Instead, I'd replace the bearings if necessary. The bearings MIGHT need replacement at the second timing belt change.

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I'm assuming the tensioner for your Phase II EJ25 is the same hydraulic tensioner that my Phase I EJ22 uses...

 

These are the specs that the tensioner needs to meet if it's still good:

 

It needs to be able to hold 33 lbs of force without moving, and when 33 lbs is exceeded (up to 110 lbs), it should hold it for no less than 8.5 seconds and then sink. Taken from LegacyCentral.

 

I can tell you personally to not put anymore than 110 lbs of pressure on it or you will ruin it. The hydraulics inside it are quite complicated and doing something like putting your body weight on it immediately will cause things to go haywire inside it. I ruined what was probably a perfectly good tensioner this way and ended up paying $75 for a new one.

 

The optimal way to recompress it is to put it in a vise and compress it VERY slowly, you should do it so slow as to take up to a minute before you can insert the pin in it. You can print this out for your mechanic if you like, and insist he follow these instructions.

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