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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I have a 2009 Outback 3.0R Limited that has a pronounced tick at idle. It seems loudest around the middle of each valve cover, but changes depending whether the a/c is engaged and the fans are on (videos will be linked below).

Background on the car:
I'm the second owner, bought it with 60k miles on it several years ago. Original owner kept it garaged and used it for ski trips in Vermont/Massachusetts. Had records showing up to date maintenance/oil changes. No rust despite it being a northern car.

Since I bought it, I've done several modifications, and it's currently at just over 135k miles (had a long commute). Service was either done at the dealer or a local Subaru shop that uses Motul as their oil of choice. I performed the last 2 oil changes myself with the OEM Tokyo Roki "black" filter and Castrol Edge Euro 5W-30 A3/B4, for it's "stay in grade" rating and better resistance to shear since my commute is all fast highway miles. I did have a scare in December where the dipstick read 1.5-2 quarts low, but the level hasn't changed since then, so I think the shop filled it to the typical EJ oil level (4-4.5 quarts), instead of the EZ30 levels (~6-6.5 quarts). I added some oil and changed it shortly after and it's been fine since. It drives great, pulls hard, no check engine lights or anything.

I don't know if the ticking is something to be concerned about, or if I just go ahead and keep driving it, and eventually have the engine rebuilt (far) in the future. The last oil analysis came back looking good (I can post it if requested). Serpentine tensioner/idler pulley/belt are all new.

Videos:
A/C off: 20210713_155817
A/C + fans on: 20210713_160156

The noise isn't quite as loud in person as it is in the videos, but it is noticeable a few feet away from the car with the hood closed.
 

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2020 Onyx
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Serpentine tensioner/idler pulley/belt are all new.
It's great that you included videos - I hope someone more experienced chimes in but did the ticking slowly get worse over time or did it suddenly appear? If it suddenly appeared then what were the circumstances?

What is the sequence of events regarding the tensioner and pulley replacements and this ticking? Was this an attempt to solve the problem, or did you replace those parts and shortly afterwards the ticking started?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The ticking has been slowly getting louder, maybe over the last 6-8 months or so?

I replaced the tensioner + pulley because I noticed some crunchy/growling noises at idle, and knew the bearings were going bad. They were replaced sometime in March/April with OEM parts.
 

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'07 Outback 3.0R LL Bean, '74 BMW 2002, '65 Datsun L320, '99 Land Cruiser
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I, uh, don't hear anything of note in the video. Subaru engines, and just about any engine, can tick a little with age. Usually its valve ticking, but with Subarus might be more piston slap. Just google 'subaru piston slap' and you'll find tons of stuff. It's generally harmless. I could hear it pretty loud in our 2nd gen OB with 2.5 when it was still running fine at 185K miles.
My 3.0R with 170K might have a little, but its not that noticeable. I can't hear anything in your video either though, hah.
 
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