Valve Adjustment. Your Thoughts? - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-13-2009, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
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Valve Adjustment. Your Thoughts?

So it just so happens that I was spending a weekend with my GF, my friend and his GF and we were sitting at the restaurant bar waiting to get seated. The girls were talking about their thing and me and my friend were having our little conversation. I started talking about my Subaru and how I had just gotten the radiator fixed (radiator was cracked on the plastic end tank) and that next, I was planning on getting a Valve Adjustment and my belts changed (my long time mechanic told me I should when he changed out my radiator, which I figured it would need it).

My friend used to own a 2002 WRX and was into the tuning world and picked up quite a bit of knowledge about the Subaru world. I was telling him how I was going to contact a local dealer and he mentioned that I should contact a place called "Rallispec" in NJ. They specialize in Subaru, have their own Subaru race team and do lots of custom work, performace upgrades, tuning, engine builds, etc, etc. Figured it was worth a shot considering I need to get the belts done and my mechanic does not do Valve Adjustments. Last night I sent the website an email asking about the work and they replied the next day:

"Andre,

This engine is dual overhead cam and uses a shim and bucket arrangement. Adjusting the valves, unfortunately, is not the easiest thing to do in the car unlike the later single overhead cam engine. The labor cost would be $550 and you are probably looking at around $100 additional in shims and gaskets (valve cover gaskets and cam seals). There would be no additional cost in labor to replace the belts since they need to all come off anyway. Timing belt is around $120 and the accessory belts another $30.

Thanks.
Regards,
Dave
Rallispec"

So my question to all of you is...
1. Do you all think it is worth getting this work done?
2. Is this a good/reasonable price?
3. I'm assuming he knows of the Shim Replacement Tool so that the heads don't need to get removed.

My Subaru:
1998 OBW
Bought with 141,500 miles in December 2007 and now has just over 157,000 miles.

Thanks,
Andre

2006 Honda S2000 (Good Weather Warrior)
1998 Subaru Legacy Outback (Extreme Weather Warrior)
2012 Subaru Forester 2.5X Premium (Wifey's Ride)
2013 Super Cycles Scooter: 1500-Watt Brushless Motor (702 MPGe... Ohhhh the savings!!)
2006 Orbea Mitis - Full Shimano Ultegra (Cycling Road Bike)
2005 Trek 7500FX (Cycling Hybrid)

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-14-2009, 02:36 AM
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I adjusted the valves/shims/buckets on my 97 while doing a DIY head gasket replacement at 180k miles ... 12 of the 16 valves were out of spec and, while I was happy with the way the car ran before, it ran MUCH smoother and quieter afterwards. For me, it was a no-brainer as the engine was disassembled anyway ... not the same situation as yours. With the mileage on your car, though, it probably needs to be done so I'd probably go ahead and do it.

BUT ... it is a fairly easy DIY to check (not adjust) the valve clearances without getting too deep into the engine ... you may want to consider that before shelling out big bucks to the mechanics. It can be done in an afternoon with a few wrenches and a feeler gauge.

Without the special tool, it is necessary to remove the camshaft sprockets and the camshafts in order to adjust the valves, but it is not necessary to remove the heads. Since the quote mentioned cam seals, I'd take that as they are planning to remove the camshafts and not use the special tool (which is expensive).

Other things to consider:

-If the head gaskets have been replaced, the valves may have been adjusted at the same time and don't need to be done again.

-If the head gaskets haven't been replaced and you or your mechanic have any concerns about their current condition ... well you're going to be so deep into the engine you may want to go all the way and do that, as well.

Just my thoughts.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-14-2009, 06:18 AM
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Check them first, if they are way out of spec ... yes you should have them adjusted.

Seems to me if that's a Suby speed shop, they have the tool. Cheapest I've seen the tool is $275. Not sure on the price of the shims. If the valve cover gaskets are relatively new, you can probably get away with reusing them.

If you were inclined to do it yourself [adjustment], you could [in theory] buy the tool, do the job, sell the tool at a discount to someone else who needs it.

Call around to some other shops and see what they would charge, that will give you a better idea of the real world cost in your area.

Here's an endwrench article that may help you decide if it's something you want to tackle.

http://endwrench.com/images/pdfs/2.5EngineValve.pdf
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-14-2009, 08:06 AM
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Andre,

If your head gaskets need to be replaced, you might consider the following procedure for adjusting the valve clearances. In 2006, I replaced the head gaskets in my í97 Outback (2.5L DOHC). When I pulled the heads, I took them to a machine shop for a valve job and pressure test and used the following method to adjust the valve clearances.

Measure the clearance between the shim and the cam before disassembling the cams. Make a note of the difference between each measurement and the specified clearance for each valve. When you take the head to be serviced, give this information to the machine shop and have them measure each valve stem height before disassembling the heads. When they reassemble the heads, they can trim the stem heights to set the proper gap. For example, if you measure the gap for a valve at 0.001 inches too large, the shop can set the trimmed stem height to be 0.001 higher than what they measured before disassembling the head.

Be sure to keep all valve and cam parts in order so they are kept in the same position when you reassemble the engine. Also, check for excessive wear on any parts that may require replacement.

This method worked very well. I had just over 100 k miles on my OB when I did this work. I now have almost 160 k miles on it and itís still running great.

Pete
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-14-2009, 02:32 PM
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To add to my previous comments:

With the timing belt removed, going on to remove the camshafts is a pretty trivial event. So, I wouldn't fault a shop for doing the valve adjustment this way. If, on the other hand, one were taking a Subie DOHC engine in for ONLY a valve adjustment, then I would expect the shop to use the special tool.

BTW, shims are about $7.50-8.00 each. Hopefully, you don't need too many. Very few dealers seem to stock them anymore, so they're a special order item ... which can add 2-3 days to the job.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-14-2009, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the replies... I really appreciate the help.

Although it would be interesting and a learning experience to do this belt and valve adjustment on my own, I don't really want to be the one to tackle it cause 1) I really don't have the time do it nor do I think I would have the patience to do it with the limited amount of time I have and 2) it is starting to get cold out, which is a real PITA to do work in the cold, and 3) I don't have the tools to do this kind of work.

If it wasn't such a substantial amount of work, I would definitely give it a shot, but this seems to be a very time consuming task, which I would much rather pay a shop to do it just to avoid frustration and headaches and potentially screwing something up.

As far as the head gaskets, when I look under the car and closely inspect the edges of the gaskets, they seems to be pretty new (not really sure how else to check them). I was also thinking about taking my vacuum gauge reader and check out what the engine is doing under the certain tests that can be done with the gauge (probably do that this weekend).

I just feel like it would be a good idea to get this done cause I'm really not sure if it was ever done, the car seems that it can run smoother although it is pretty smooth already and also, I'm hearing a ticking noise, which I know can be a number of things, but with getting this done, I know that I can eliminate that possibility of being an out of spec valve.

I've tried contacting a dealer to see how much they would charge for a valve adjustment and they guy just laughing at me and never gave me a price. Just pretty much said that it can't be done and if it is done, it would take many many hours cause the heads need to be removed.

I'll probably try another dealer to see what they say but I will most likely go with this Rallispec place due to the reputation that they have with most local Subaru owners.

Andre

2006 Honda S2000 (Good Weather Warrior)
1998 Subaru Legacy Outback (Extreme Weather Warrior)
2012 Subaru Forester 2.5X Premium (Wifey's Ride)
2013 Super Cycles Scooter: 1500-Watt Brushless Motor (702 MPGe... Ohhhh the savings!!)
2006 Orbea Mitis - Full Shimano Ultegra (Cycling Road Bike)
2005 Trek 7500FX (Cycling Hybrid)

--------------------Previously Owned--------------------
1986 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel (Loud but miss 55 mpg... lol.)
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