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Discussion Starter #1
My first Subaru, purchased in October for 9K with 92,000 miles from a dealer (not Subaru). Looks great, runs great, no prior accidents, we love it - but - has a ticking sound coming from the engine/right front. Was told by independent mechanic it could be a bad tensioner on the timing chain and should be addressed! Back to the dealer, who advised putting in heavy gauge oil, drive 500 miles, repeat and sound should go away.

Did this, (over the winter) but ticking sound continued. In the meantime, fuel pump failed in November and was replaced w/o charge by dealer. Ticking noise got worse so went to a Subaru dealer in February who found the wrong size serpentine belt had been installed which destroyed alternator, pulleys and belts. Back to original dealer who replaced at n/c. A week later, serpentine belt shredded. Back to Subaru dealer who said new alternator was wrong size! Back to original dealer for replacement at n/c.

Ticking noise continues, so yesterday I took it back to the Subaru dealer who said the sound was most likely an issue with timing chain tensioner and will cost $1500 to fix. ($400 just to properly diagnose) I also replaced two pulleys that were going bad for $180.

I relayed this to the original dealer they said I could bring the car back and trade it in for something comparable - that the car was old and obviously starting to need major repairs, and to get rid of it.

So my question is this: I now have a wagon (94,000+ miles) with a new fuel pump, new alternator, belts and pulleys that might need $1500 of work...should I trade this in for something similar or spend the $ to determine the source of the ticking sound/and if needed, repair?

It's probably my last chance to get anything out of the dealer.

Thanks for any advice!
 

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2003 LL Bean Outback H6 and 2019 Outback Base
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I feel your pain.................if everthing else checks out ok.....I would put the money into it....these cars have a history of lasting a long time...and they have not built the car that need NO repairs/maintainence.

This way you KNOW what you have into the car. You could buy a 2010 or 2012..or whatever year and have the SAME problems.

It sounds like the place where you bought it from has NO CLUE how to work on Subaru.....ugh

Maybe you can work out a deal to get some money back and keep it " AS IS" and being it to Subaru.

I know its more expensive this way..........but its done right if you find a good dealership, or another independent shop that specializes in Subaru.

Keep us posted and Good Luck
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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well first, it seems like you had a couple of common, easily fixed problems that were made worse by incompetence. The fuel pump was likely the cap/o-ring problem that can be repaired for about $50-$100, depending on if DIY or paying a mechanic. The serp. belt system has 2 pulleys well-known for going bad. Not expensive repairs there either.

BUT, you need someone to really diagnose this ticking problem well (is it STILL ticking?). Perhaps try a different shop. Post your city, and if lucky, someone here can recommend a good, soob-experienced mechanic. Before dumping this car, at least try to find out if it really has an expensive problem, or just another minor one that has been overlooked.

maybe the crank pulley is bad, or there's some weird sound from air in the power steering fluid (usually more like a whine) or a heat shield is buzzing, etc. Is a CEL on?

If it's a tight exhaust or intake valve, that's an expensive car to do valve adjustment on. But might be fine afterwards.
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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The pre-03 H6s have seen some timing chain guide problems, this would be the 1st 03, so I am going to guess it's not the timing chain.

The timing chain usually makes a rattling noise when there's a problem.

Mine has made a small clicking noise in the rt front for a long time.
 

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My first Subaru, purchased in October for 9K with 92,000 miles from a dealer (not Subaru). Looks great, runs great, no prior accidents, we love it - but - has a ticking sound coming from the engine/right front. Was told by independent mechanic it could be a bad tensioner on the timing chain and should be addressed! Back to the dealer, who advised putting in heavy gauge oil, drive 500 miles, repeat and sound should go away.

Did this, (over the winter) but ticking sound continued. In the meantime, fuel pump failed in November and was replaced w/o charge by dealer. Ticking noise got worse so went to a Subaru dealer in February who found the wrong size serpentine belt had been installed which destroyed alternator, pulleys and belts. Back to original dealer who replaced at n/c. A week later, serpentine belt shredded. Back to Subaru dealer who said new alternator was wrong size! Back to original dealer for replacement at n/c.

Ticking noise continues, so yesterday I took it back to the Subaru dealer who said the sound was most likely an issue with timing chain tensioner and will cost $1500 to fix. ($400 just to properly diagnose) I also replaced two pulleys that were going bad for $180.

I relayed this to the original dealer they said I could bring the car back and trade it in for something comparable - that the car was old and obviously starting to need major repairs, and to get rid of it.

So my question is this: I now have a wagon (94,000+ miles) with a new fuel pump, new alternator, belts and pulleys that might need $1500 of work...should I trade this in for something similar or spend the $ to determine the source of the ticking sound/and if needed, repair?

It's probably my last chance to get anything out of the dealer.

Thanks for any advice!
Sounds like someone screwed up and no one is stepping up to the plate with the hand raised. These cars are super easy to work on and if any of it was due to the wrong belt used the shop that did that work should be fixing all related damages.

94,000 miles you car should be hardly broken in. Fuel pump failure is very rare for Subarus not so much for GM's where running the fuel low almost always results in a failed fuel pump a short time later.

Replacing your car with a new car might be an option if the dealer is giving you major credit. However I would not buy a used car from that dealer if they are in the practice of trashing their customers cars with poor maint.

I would for sure contact subaru directly and get them involved is all of these repairs were done by Subaru dealers. Subaru will step up and sort it out and get the fouled up stuff fixed.
Go here fill out the form with your details Vin# etc they respond within 3 days or sooner.
https://www.subaru.com/shopping-tools/contact-us.html
 

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Just a warning Dealers are looking for clean used cars today because they make FAR FAR FAR more profit selling used cars today due to the high used car values than they do new cars. I would be very leery of the dealer offering to trade you up and out of your car.

Very possible your car is fine
 

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'03 Outback H6-3.0 Black Granite Pearl, base model with cold weather package and cloth seats.
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My 2003 base model H6 had the timing chains and guides replaced early in it's life, due to ticking after it was well warmed up. Usually cars tick until they warm up, then stop, but this problem the ticking started after it was warm. Possibly as the chain expanded due to heat. Warranty replaced both chains and all guides.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you to everyone for their advice and experience - I so appreciate it! I'm taking the car into a local shop today that I was referred to through our neighborhood forum. Hopefully he can get to the bottom of it.

By the way, the Subaru dealer repair people told me just to do a proper diagnostic of the 'ticking' sound would cost me $400+...is it difficult to get the timing chain cover off?

Thanks again - all the replies really help so much!
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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The timing chain cover is easy to get off- after you pull the 75 or so little bolts!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Got it - so it's mostly labor cost.... And in case I wasn't clear before - the 'ticking' sound only starts once the engine is warmed up...
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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more like 40-42 bolts but, yeah, 'tedious' from what I read.

there just isn't a lot of 'community knowledge' on the H6 chain system's symptoms.

wonder if a coil is making a noise when firing, or an injector?

Oh, just the other day I heard a statistic, the average age of cars on US roads is 11 years. Your Outback is not 'old'.
 

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'03 Outback H6-3.0 Black Granite Pearl, base model with cold weather package and cloth seats.
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I think they pull the front bumper, the radiator, fans, etc., to get to the front of the engine to pull the cover and access the chain. Yeah, sounds like a lot of work.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Okay - back from the indep mechanic who advises not to do anything - that the 'ticking' sound isn't loud enough to be worrisome to him. He used a stethoscope and ran the car for 4 hours in his garage and felt the noise was minimal. Did say that the sound could be coming from the fuel injectors...and to get rid of the car if it gets 'really, really' loud...

So I have an indep who says do nothing (do not replace timing chain), another indep who says he thinks it's a timing chain tensioner, and a subaru dealer who says $1500 to open up the cover and replace everything if needed... maybe best to do nothing for a while?

Thanks again for all the input!
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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I would monitor closely for a change in the noise.

If you really want to be sure, when it's time to change the plugs, change the plugs and valve cover gaskets and have the valve clearance checked.

BTW doing all 3 results in a lot of 'labor collapse', the plugs are much easier with the valve covers off, and the covers have to come off to check the clearance.

I will get this done eventually, and I will pay no more than what it costs to change the valve cover gaskets, plus one hr labor plus parts for the plugs, plus the labor for checking the valves minus the labor for pulling and replacing the covers. Just because they are doing 3 things does NOT mean they get to charge for the overlapping labor.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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i suppose the left and right bank injectors could swap places.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I've made a clip of the sound - but it looks like I can't upload it...can I email it to you? I held my phone in front of the hood and (passenger side) and then moved the phone down under the bumper because it seems louder under there... Thanks!

By the way - the dealer (not Subaru) is offering me my $ back but against a trade-in...
 
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