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Looks like I'm in for this too. Bought a 2003 a month ago and it sounded great. Digging through the PO repair records I found it had been run low on oil and the chains rattled at starting. Dealer notes recommended timing chain replaced at a quoted price of $2300. I changed the oil last night and today I can hear clacking. I was going by the dealer anyway to ask what they though and that's when the clacking was real obvious. The mechanic brought out his stethoscope and said yup, timing chains, though it sounded to the ear as if it could be in the passenger side head.

Couple questions. Can I do this without needing to remove the a/c radiator, or discharge the a/c system?
Is oil going to flood out if I don't drain it first before removing the cover? Or does the pan hold it all?


Is the water pump repair actually part of this, or if a water pump fails can it be repaired without pulling off that front cover? Never mind. I found a video. Water pump replacement requires this entire procedure pretty much. So better do it.

Thanks. I'm sure this thread is going to help. But I'm still sad about this.
 

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Well I tore it down and I'm not sure I see anything wrong. The bushings on the 3 small guides fit a bit loose on the brackets, but that may be normal. (??)

Two dealers said it was cam chain noise. One listened with a stethoscope on the cover and said that's what it was. I don't see any rub marks on the housing. Could the noise have been the small guide bushing movement on it's bracket?

I've only heard a noise I could feel concerned about when I was at the dealer checking it. It was well warmed up at that time.

The PO had taken it to a dealer for a noise problem and the dealer stated it was low on oil, and they recommended chain guide replacement. I found this in the dealer notes looking through paperwork that came with the car. That was ~7000 miles ago.

There is some light burnishing on the outside of the chain edge, what I would expect from the tensioner pressure.

I hate putting $500-600 dollars of parts in this and find it doesn't fix the problem.

Hope someone is watching this thread who can offer some advise.

Thanks.
 

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01 Outback LL Bean
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Discussion Starter #144
A failing tensioner can loose pressure under load and make noise. I assume the noise was not constant?

I would replace the tensioners only, about $150 or so for both and button it back up.
 

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Noise was at idle and goes away when goosing the throttle



I pulled off the passenger side tensioner and small guide. I see slight wear on the guide and more on the tensioner pad. Tensioner seemed fine. Good tension on chain. None of that wear seems significant or that it would result in the rattling noise.

Everything about the tensioner & plunger looks pristine and it seems to work fine on the bench.

Any way to check the oil passages?
 

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01 Outback LL Bean
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Discussion Starter #146
Okay, so idle means low oil pressure and possibly the tensioners can't maintain tension due to an oil leak in the tensioner. When I replaced mine they seemed fine in the static state. Most of my guides were destroyed however because I let it go for so long. Some how it never jumped time.

The tensioners are a known weak point in the H6. If I had taken the time to remove the timing cover on this motor due to a suspicion of timing chain noise, I would not put it back together without new tensioners.
 

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Low pressure to that P side tensioner does sound kind of like what could be going on. The noise was on that side.

I notice the 'do not reuse' bolts on the small guides seem to have been put in with red locktight. Service manual says replace them, but doesn't say anything about using locktight.

Lots of oil deposits on the inside of the cover. Not so much on the engine side, but makes me wonder how dirty oil passages might be, though the passages under the tensioner look perfect.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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For future reference to others, prior to disassembly of the engine, I suggest an oil system flush be used to clean out any carbon if you suspect the engine has a build up. On the other hand, the H6 has been disassembled by many and the engine was clean. So it all depends on the type of oil and regularity of replacement. The cover will have more build up because the air movement from the fans and driving cools the aluminum and therefore the slow running oil that sprays on to it, allowing it to adhere longer and "cook" on the cover's surface. Using a laser thermometer, you can see the temperature difference between the surface of the front cover over that of the valve cover and intake manifold. If the tensioner oil feed orifice is clean, then you can also assume the others are clean.

The constant movement of the parts within the tensioner causes wear. The minute wear allows for a loss of pressure on the pintle. Lose pressure on the pintle, you lose pressure on the chain and get the slapping. Especially after the tensioner warms up with the engine. Expansion and the lower viscosity of the oil after warm up together allow for the loss of pressure. The tension you feel is the spring, but the spring alone cannot hold the chain tight under operation.

If you have pics of your engine and the parts, post them up or a link to them. Would be interested in seeing the shape of the engine interior and the guides.
 

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I tried posting a couple pics but they didn't take. Here is a collection you should be able to see:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmrkFZZE

Can you see those? What do you think? I have only removed the P side small guide and tensioner and considering leaving the rest alone, except for the water pump.

Wear seems minimal to me and looks like they could go another 200k mi. The small guides all have a small amount of motion on their mounts, but that looks normal. These have 115k mi on them. I hate to replace things for no reason as I think if it's not broke don't fix it is in general a good idea. Have to weigh the risk of introducing a new problem by fixing something that doesn't need it.

I agree it would have been good to do a flush first. I guess I'll do that after it's back together.

Your explanation of the tensioners and oil pressure sounds kind of like the only thing that can explain the noise. So I'm thinking I'll just change the tensioners and maybe the tensioner pads.

They say a water pump is good to change at this mileage while I'm in there as well. Also the cover seal.

Thanks.
 

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Just added some more photos of the rest of the guides to that set. The small guides all show minimal wear, the longer ones and tensioner pads a bit more, but not too bad.

Tried to clean of the inside of the cover with some engine degreaser. Doesn't come off very easy.
 

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So I pulled off the oil pressure relief plate and I will check the pump clearances if I can get a stubborn bolt loose.

Is there a procedure for checking the relief valve? I can pressurize one port with air until it starts to flow. What should the relief pressure be?

Do I dare take the end cap off to clean and inspect it? Those are NLA so a good check and restore of this one is in order.

There is a protrusion with an orifice that spays oil on the chain. The oriface was not plugged, but there is a small plastic piece behind it with a tiny screen. That screen is no more. A remaining fragment proved to basically decomposed and turned to dust at the slightest touch. This part does not appear in the parts guides. Must be a part of the NLA PRV assembly. I can't imagine them making you buy a $200 part to replace a $3 screen though.

The manual is pretty clear on what pump gear clearances to check so hopefully no surprises there.

-Well it looks like I don't get to check the oil pump. Those bolts are ridiculously tight. Supposed to be put on with 4.7FP, but even with 30-40 FP they aren't coming loose. One began to cam out so that ends that. No room for an impact driver in there, if that would even work.
 

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2003 OB H-6 _ Quieter-Longer-Life-Experience

We've owned/cared-for our 2003 Outback H6 since purchased new in S-San Francisco in 2003.
I've gathered the Subaru Factory-Repair-Manuals in electric format and followed these meticulously.
At ~195,000 miles, she runs like-new, powerful and very-quiet. I completed the factory-recommended 150,000 mile service, with exceptionally good results ... and have refined my selection of shops down (from 7) to only two (2) shops that I will use for repairs or services that I don't want to tackle (or that require special service tools, etc.).

A GREAT recommendation from a very very bright engineer-mechanic who specializes in preparation of Subaru racing cars, that I very carefully vetted for his level of 'factory-knowledge' ... was to use a special lubricant for our car to give a greater 'lubrication quality' to the H6 or 4 engines.

Here is what I personally have experienced: I have read volumes of factory and after-market technical information on the Subaru H6 engine ... I came across a technical discussion about the changes in oil-pressure/flow from the early H6 up to the newer 3.6 H6's ... and the article described (para-phrasing here) that the oil-flow/pressure design biased increased flow toward the main-bearings in the early H6 engines, with the lesser flow going to the timing-chains & dampeners ... this was changed in later H6's increasing flow/pressure going to the timing-chains & dampeners. Our OB H6 did develop a slight rattle and it was from a failed chain dampener ... this resulted even with 3000 mile oil changes and mild driving use.

Here is what I found to definitively produce a quiet smooth H6 in our car: the Subaru racing prep engineer told me that they 'test' oil when they service the high-output engines ... and when they did they always found "LEAD" in the waste-oil. There is only one place that the Lead can come from, the MAIN/ROD Bearings!! In an effort to prevent Lead erosion in the high-output engines (WRX, BRZ, racing, etc.) the engineer contacted the majority of oil/lubricant manufacturers to find a solution.

HERE is what he learned and shared with me: When oils were reformatted to conform with the need to eliminate the older Zink anti-wear additives due to their propensity to contaminate 'Catalytic-Converters', this left pretty much all modern oils with approximately 30% less lubrication capacity (here I'm summarizing). The shop tried the major retail consumer oils, including most exotic "harder-to-find" oil, and still the waste-oils produced test results with 'Lead', UNTIL the shop tested the TORCO oil formulated with a non-phosphate (catalytic converter safe) oil utilizing their proprietary anti-wear additive: MPZ-02.

I like Mobil-1 Oil, it's available anywhere, and I can afford it :wink2: BUT, after trying the MPZ-02 additive, and then 'LISTENING' to my Subie's H6 engine (in the garage where every 'tick' is loud), I WAS EXTREMELY IMPRESSED!! I do NOT have anything to do with the manufacturer, I'm a retired fellow who worked his way through university while working on the FORD factory assy-line. I've restored a few really old cars and, even so, do not consider myself an "expert" ... I'm always Learning. My friend in Colorado was desperate with his 330,000 mile SVX listening to it's "squeaking valve" ... and after I send a Xmas gift of the MPZ-02 to him the sound completely stopped. I use this additive, it's a bit pricy ($17) but it does what the mfg. designed it to do ... it adds tremendous lubrication to the off-the-shelf oil. If you are old enough to remember the old Oil Advertisements stating that "Pennzoil with Z7" was a top-grade oil, then you may understand that the old Zink anti-wear additives were altered and reduced to keep some of their constituents from "poisoning" the metal-catalyst in the catalytic converts.

OUR 2003 SUBARU H6 Outback has passed CA smog with flying colors (194,000 miles), the engine is not just "quiet" ... it is EXTREMELY quiet, even when warm in the garage! NO NOISE = NO Friction & Wear ... I've been running this for years and "it just works". 0:)
Clipped Link: torcousa.com/torco_product/sep.html

RE: Steering Pumps: I did replace our steering pump with an OEM pump, new Reservoir (the fine mesh plastic screens in the bottom often break from poking with suction bulbs, etc., and allow large particulates of debris to circulated back to the pump damaging it). I run a fine FILTER w/magnet UPSTREAM in the 'low-pressure' return line to the reservoir. I also did replace the original "O-Ring" with an OEM O-Ring for the pumps suction inlet on the original steering pump.

I hope this post won't upset the moderator or anyone ... it really is just an account of my experiences taking care of our Subie for ~15 years and 194,000 miles. This car is like new, inside and out!!
 

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Follow up: I changed the tensioners, guides and chains. I did an oil cleaning flush and fresh oil change. Not sure how much that really cleaned out. I dropped the oil pans and cleaned that out and there was some sludge in the low spot around the magnet. No metal or significant magnetic mush on the magnet. A couple small specs of aluminum that looked like some thread tap debris probably in there since new. All seems good and no more rattle at low rpm observed. I did a 90 mph 5 hr trip (I was late due to forgetting about a time zone change). All was fine, and so good so far.
 

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2001 OB LLB H-6
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Stuck bolts

-Well it looks like I don't get to check the oil pump. Those bolts are ridiculously tight. Supposed to be put on with 4.7FP, but even with 30-40 FP they aren't coming loose. One began to cam out so that ends that. No room for an impact driver in there, if that would even work.
I have dealt with many stuck bolts/screw. Sometimes trying to muscle one out ends in breakage. A gentle tap or four on the head then turn to 'tighten' and tap again many times releases the bolt/screw.

I think what has happened is the thread is caught by compression in a lone-way manner making it almost impossible turn the thread out.

Think of a nail into wood- the shaft is held in place by fibers. A little twist on the nail and it usually comes out with little effort. Same as a metal shaft in metal.

A little red oil or 'lock-ease' and heat source also helps if needs.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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^^^^^ Tapping works sometimes. A small propane or butane torch works also. It has to be a small torch head to keep heat on the bolt head. The heat will transfer through the bolt and aluminum to expand the metal. Do it all the time on ornery bolts, especially Ford exhaust manifold bolts that like to break. You won't harm the pump or block at all. Just get the bolt red and break it loose.
 

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After doing this job I think maybe it would be a good idea to use a section of allen wrench in each bolt and wack it a few times with a hammer before trying to remove them. It takes 5-10x more torque to remove these than they are installed with. I would do that with all the cover bolts as well. Clean debris out of each allen head first. Didn't think to try that before giving up on the oil pump check. Turned out OK because it seems all I really needed to do was replace the hydrolic tensioner to stop the chain noise.
 

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2002 H6 Outback wagon VDC + 2001 2.5 VDC
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Didn’t really want to start another thread but this one is quite a few pages now.
My H6 has always had an occasional cold start rattle (probably 30% of time and is worse as the oil has more miles on it.
I have usually filled with 15w40 (especially in summer) and a few times with 10w40. Normally semi synth. I change it every 4-6k generally as it does a lot of distance work, tows a bit and I do spank it overtaking etc...
the car came to me with 106k and no history. I don’t think it had a huge amount of love in its last years. It’s got 135k on it now..
3 weeks ago as it was very cold here and it was due an oil change again.
I filled with 5w40 (I had it lying around for some reason) it was ok until the weather warmed up on Thursday and then I could hear a subtle rattle, more pronounced on harder acceleration. Today was even warmer and it sounded worse after a 25 mile round trip.
I dropped the oil when I got back a refilled with 15w40. Already quieter

Realistically. I am not going to spend the time or money on the engine at this point. The car is rusty and getting tired everywhere else. It cost me less than 1k, 3 years ago. (If only I could find a nice 1 owner 70k garaged all its life H6 to replace it with)
I just need to keep it going for a few months more and then It will most likely be an engine donor for a VW camper.. when it’s out, all the work can be done.
So. I shall see how the 15w40 holds the tensioner up. And it might have to be 20w50 if not.
Lately it’s doing a 200 mile each way commute each week along with its other running around duties.
I know “thick” oil is a bit of a bodge, but time and money are not worth throwing at this car I am afraid.
Have to admire you guys that spend the time and money on a 200k car. Very few get to that mileage here as the salt they throw on the roads in winter rusts everything badly....
 

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After running around locally for approx 100 miles. The rattle is less, but still there. 😞

Sounds like it’s on borrowed time and I will have to do something with it in the near future....
 

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Have to admire you guys that spend the time and money on a 200k car. Very few get to that mileage here as the salt they throw on the roads in winter rusts everything badly....
It's the same here. Some areas have snow/salt/rust and aren't worth fixing nor are they worth much. For those folks, they know exactly what you mean (I do).

The south and west do not have rust issues, Subaru's last much longer and retain higher value as well so they're worth keeping. I buy my Subarus from there.

The US is 40 times bigger than the UK so there are areas here that don't get snow or treat it with less caustic materials. Americans also drive much further than Brits so we get to 200k quicker, the US is 40 times larger than the UK.
 

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. Americans also drive much further than Brits so we get to 200k quicker, the US is 40 times larger than the UK.
He he he... did 43k in 18 months in my Saab 9-3 turbo up to March last year... sold that car in the autumn, Bloomin good little car that...
 
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