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'98 Legacy Outback
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, reporting back after 3+ hours in the garage re-seating my timing belt, one of the camshaft sprockets was off a tooth or two, and the engine was wobbling just a bit when idling. (My friends didn't notice and called me crazy, but it was there. Really.)

One of the trickiest parts when a buddy and I replaced my timing belt this summer was removing the crankshaft pulley bolt, since we didn't have a chain wrench, nor the preferred tool to hold the pulley in place. We ended up MacGyver-ing it with a breaker bar, hammer, length of rope, and two 3in socket extensions.

This afternoon, I was by myself, and had heard on another forum of an interesting way to break the bolt loose. Simply extend the length of a breaker bar using a piece of pipe, set the far end of the pipe on the ground, and MAKE SURE that the bar is on the driver's side and ratchets when lowered (CW), but snags when pulled up (CCW). Then, all you have to do is bump the starter once or twice, and it's loose!

I know this is probably a common method, but I hadn't heard of it until last night, and I thought it was pretty cool. Hope this helps fellow DIY-er's. :cool:

(In case you're curious, the re-seating went well, and the engine now runs flawlessly. I couldn't be happier with it!)
 

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littleodie914 said:
Hey guys, reporting back after 3+ hours in the garage re-seating my timing belt, one of the camshaft sprockets was off a tooth or two, and the engine was wobbling just a bit when idling. (My friends didn't notice and called me crazy, but it was there. Really.)

One of the trickiest parts when a buddy and I replaced my timing belt this summer was removing the crankshaft pulley bolt, since we didn't have a chain wrench, nor the preferred tool to hold the pulley in place. We ended up MacGyver-ing it with a breaker bar, hammer, length of rope, and two 3in socket extensions.

This afternoon, I was by myself, and had heard on another forum of an interesting way to break the bolt loose. Simply extend the length of a breaker bar using a piece of pipe, set the far end of the pipe on the ground, and MAKE SURE that the bar is on the driver's side and ratchets when lowered (CW), but snags when pulled up (CCW). Then, all you have to do is bump the starter once or twice, and it's loose!

I know this is probably a common method, but I hadn't heard of it until last night, and I thought it was pretty cool. Hope this helps fellow DIY-er's. :cool:

(In case you're curious, the re-seating went well, and the engine now runs flawlessly. I couldn't be happier with it!)
That's one way to do it. . . .:eek:
 

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2006 Outback XT Ltd
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Nice job! That's how I remove almost all crank bolts if I'm working in my garage. I've had a few Toyotas that wouldn't budge even with the biggest air I could use.

I had to use the "traditional" method with my wife's Honda since the engine spins CCW and the threading on the bolt wasn't reversed. It took a custom 5 foot breaker with me hanging off the end of it to get it loose. When it finally went it sounded like the whole **** car snapped in half. There were a lot of :13: stares around the garage until I verified it was just the bolt coming free and not something much more expensive :)
 

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#define said:
Nice job! That's how I remove almost all crank bolts if I'm working in my garage. I've had a few Toyota's that wouldn't budge even with the biggest air I could use.

I had to use the "traditional" method with my wife's Honda since the engine spins CCW and the threading on the bolt wasn't reversed. It took a custom 5 foot breaker with me hanging off the end of it to get it loose. When it finally went it sounded like the whole **** car snapped in half. There were a lot of :13: stares around the garage until I verified it was just the bolt coming free and not something much more expensive :)
That's kind of funny to hear that, the single hardest crank pulley bolt I've every had to deal with was on an Acura 2.5 tl. I thought I was going to break the bolt off for sure, then all at once it let go. I ended up with a ridiculously long cheater bar as well, scary stuff!
 

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Would this come out easily with an impact wrench? Or are the only two options to use the subaru special tool or this bump-the-starter method?

Are there are any risks of damaging the starter or other components using this method?

I may be tackling my first timing belt in the spring, so just trying to collect as much info as possible.
 

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chuchu said:
Would this come out easily with an impact wrench? Or are the only two options to use the subaru special tool or this bump-the-starter method?

Are there are any risks of damaging the starter or other components using this method?

I may be tackling my first timing belt in the spring, so just trying to collect as much info as possible.
Personally I would not do the "starter bump" method. But I've never tried it either, I'd be too afraid of something happening to the starter, flywheel, crankshaft perhaps. . . . who know's; just my opinion though. The way I've always done it if I didn't have the special tool is to use a strap wrench or worst case scenario use a chain wrench. You have to be seriously careful though if you use a chain wrench because if can easily ruin the crankshaft pulley. Best to use the holder tool, but strap wrench with the nylon strap is a great alternative. :2:
 

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chuchu said:
Would this come out easily with an impact wrench? Or are the only two options to use the subaru special tool or this bump-the-starter method?

Are there are any risks of damaging the starter or other components using this method?

I may be tackling my first timing belt in the spring, so just trying to collect as much info as possible.
Sure, it's possible. But the damage would be much less expensive than what could happen by using an impact on it, imo. Transmitting the banging of an impact straight through the crank into all the bearings, etc. I've done the starter trick about a dozen times and have never had a problem. It only takes the shortest "blip" of the starter to break it loose. Use at your own risk. :D
 

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2014 OBW 3.6R Limited, 1997 OBW 2.5L Auto (sold, but not forgotten), and 1991 Ford F150
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chuchu said:
... Or are the only two options to use the subaru special tool or this bump-the-starter method?
There is another option:
On the rear top of the engine on the passenger side, remove the inspection port plug, rotate the engine by hand until the slot appears, and insert a screwdriver into the slot to lock the crankshaft. One can then remove the crankshaft bolt with a breaker bar and pipe extension.

Even if one removes the crankshaft bolt with the starter method, you will still need to do the above when reinstalling and torqueing the crank bolt.

I've used the starter method a few times and it works well. One warning: make sure the socket is solidly on the bolt head before bumping the starter. Otherwise, you risk it slipping off and rounding the corners of the bolt head.

12369AA011 Crankshaft pulley bolt $4.55
804505060 Crankshaft Key $2.32

Also, for those with a manual tranny, I've read of putting the the tranny in 1st gear and having an assistant push down the brake pedal while one uses the breaker bar with pipe extension.
 

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I've done a few timing belts on various cars. Using air is always the preferred method, but I've done the starter trick a few times too. Like it's been said, it won't work on Hondas because the engines turn CCW, but they usually have a slot on the bell housing to hold the flywheel with a big screw driver. You need to prevent the crank from spinning on almost anything when installing the bolt though (unless using an impact wrench). Sometimes it needs to be torqued beyond what the impact can put out - air cooled VW engines for instance need to be torqued to about 300ft-lb :eek: (now that I think about it, it's the flywheel side bolt, but still...)
 

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The O.P didn't mention how he held the pulley to torque the bolt back down when he was done.

A chain wrench won't damage the pulley of you wrap it with a length of belt first. Cut it so it meets end to end around the pulley then give it a couple wraps of duct tape.

I wouldn't say there is no chance of damaging something with the starter bump method but when you realize the loads that are transferred to the crank with normal driving, it's not as scary ;]
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
RobLog said:


There is another option:
On the rear top of the engine on the passenger side, remove the inspection port plug, rotate the engine by hand until the slot appears, and insert a screwdriver into the slot to lock the crankshaft. One can then remove the crankshaft bolt with a breaker bar and pipe extension.
Does anyone have a picture of the inspection port? I can't seem to find it on my engine. (98 Outback, 2.5L DOHC)

The last time I used a strap wrench to hold the pulley, I snapped right through the nylon, and returned it the day after I purchased it. :eek:
 

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littleodie914 said:
Does anyone have a picture of the inspection port? I can't seem to find it on my engine. (98 Outback, 2.5L DOHC)
Here's one that should help:


Pull off the hose leading to the PCV valve and look near the wiring connector for the IAC. The plug has a half-inch knob you can grab with pliers. It's easier to reach if you disconnect the iac.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
KarlGustav said:


Here's one that should help:
(Picture removed)

Pull off the hose leading to the PCV valve and look near the wiring connector for the IAC. The plug has a half-inch knob you can grab with pliers. It's easier to reach if you disconnect the iac.
That's perfect, thanks. And sticking a screwdriver in there while torquing the bolt won't cause any damage? I think the pulley bolts are usually torqued to 130 ft. lbs., I just want to make sure I'm catching on something that can withstand that kind of abuse. :p
 

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littleodie914 said:
That's perfect, thanks. And sticking a screwdriver in there while torquing the bolt won't cause any damage? I think the pulley bolts are usually torqued to 130 ft. lbs., I just want to make sure I'm catching on something that can withstand that kind of abuse. :p
Your screwdriver will break before the teeth on the flywheel will.
 

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I'd suggest using a large screw driver, or if you have a half inch drive socket wrench extension you can buy a socket that is a large screw driver bit at Sears.

Also, the screw driver should be inserted all the way down to the root of the teeth on the flywheel so you are working against the thickest part of the tooth. If you don't have a helper to hold the screwdriver, use some kind of packing like cardboard wrapped around the head of the scewdriver to hold it in place as you slowly apply torque to the nut.

I used this method without drama on a couple of 5 cylinder Audis where the torque spec is in the 300 ft lb range.
:cool:
 

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I used your technique for removing the crankshaft pulley. Works pretty good. I made a ST (special tool) for retorqueing. I'll post a photo if it works. I have a automatic so I need to hold it tight for the 130ft. lbs. of torque.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
subeedo said:
I used your technique for removing the crankshaft pulley. Works pretty good. I made a ST (special tool) for retorqueing. I'll post a photo if it works. I have a automatic so I need to hold it tight for the 130ft. lbs. of torque.
Yea, I have an automatic too. The screwdriver to lock the crankshaft trick worked just fine! :D
 

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Many asian crank bolts have Loctite. The best and Acura V6 only way is heat the bolt cherry red to melt the Loctite. Then let it cool a minute. Repeat. Comes out easy. Yes you will need a new crank seal, but you were going to do that anyway...keep a jug of water to cool the pulley...I've read of guys with 1" airguns doing it the hard way, but no one I've read has snapped the bolt.
 
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