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'07 OBXT Ltd. 5EAT, Charcoal Gray; '70 Chevy K10 4X4, 396c.i., lifted; '63 Pontiac Tempest, 326c.i.
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I changed the timing belt on my 2007 Outback 2.5XT 5EAT this past weekend.This thread post serves as a "heads up," BEFORE you get into the job, in order to give you some knowlege on what to expect. I'll post about a few tips I wish I knew before I tore in like a tasmanian devil...

DISCLAIMER: I am not a mechanic by any means. I am a financial advisor who enjoys crank-a-lanking on his vehicles from time to time. This is the first Subaru timing belt I've ever done. My mechanical abilities are lacking -
described as tenuous at best. I will stay away from talking procedurally on how to do your own timing belt. This is a tips-only thread (the kind of tips you'd get from your grand-pappy, although I'm set up on PayPal for the other kind of tips.) Therefore, I am not liable, in any way, shape, or form, for how you use this information. Again, this serves as a heads up, not as a procedural how-to, so I'm only bringing up pinpointed issues.

To my understanding the following tips MAY or MAY NOT be applicable to any 2.5 Liter DOHC Subaru engine - proceed at your own caution. But especially if you have the turbo+automatic application on the WRX, Forrester, Baja, Outback XT, or Sti, and you're doing the timing belt yourself, read on.

First of all, do this job with a friend. It can all be done by yourself, especially if you've done this exact timing belt replacement before. But without some extra hands, and without someone to bounce some ideas off of, you might find yourself in a pickle.

Do yourself a favor and get the whole kit, including the belt, pulleys/tensioners, and water pump. The Dayco kit received plenty of complaints, as well as the GATES RACING KIT (BLUE BELT), so I bought the standard Gates kit. It arrived in the mail complete and contained all hardware (including the hydraulic tensioner, some washers, gaskets, and bolts for replacement.) For about $250 shipped from Amazon or RockAuto, you can't go wrong.

There is a tool needed to keep the upper AVCS cam and lower cam in place while you re-route the new timing belt through the maze of tensioners and pulleys. For the life of me, I can't remember what it is called, but I can tell
you mine was red/black, made of cheap plastic, and probably cost under $20. The job would probably be d*** near impossible for someone with similar mechanical aptitude (or "donk sKeELz" if you're from Compton).
Even with 3 dudes (including myself) holding cams and routing the belt, the cams managed to turn. And leaving the cams in place with the markings lined up was absolutely not an option since the slightest mosquito-fart gust of wind would cause those suckers to turn. Unless you're Macgyver, you probably won't finish this job until you get this tool. Otherwise, if you ARE Mcgyver, use string cheese, homemade nitroglycerine, and nose-hair clippers to figure it out.

When paired with an automatic transmission, getting the crank pulley bolt loose would have been a pain in the bung had you not read this first and not known what to do. But thankfully, for 3 easy payments of........Ok, I'm not going to charge you for the information. Proceed as follows: remove the intercooler (The intercooler is for turbo applications only, but if yours isn't turbo'd, I imagine this is still applicable, sans the intercooler), and just in front of the firewall on top of the bell-housing near the (imaginary) center-line of the car,look for a rubber square-ish grommet. Pull it and set it aside. Have a buddy watch that hole as you go to the front of the engine, and take a breaker-bar and turn over the engine manually on the crank pulley. Your buddy should be watching for another hole that lines with the hole he's looking through. When it comes around, jam a rigid metal device down in there and let 'er rip. Keep in mind, that bolt is torqued to somewhere in the ballpark of 130 ft lbs, so your daughter's Hello Kitty screwdriver might not suffice as a jamming device. I used a thick pry-bar (shaped almost exactly like a flathead screwdriver, just bent at one end) which got the job done. And yes, a breaker bar is necessary for the crank bolt. No offense to your manhood.

Next juicy tidbit: Buy new upper and lower radiator hoses. But the important part is getting new clamps.My stockers wouldn't fit back on the hose when they went back onto the fittings, such as the radiator and water pump fittings. Also, buy a new thermostat for when you've got the timing cover off. I had no clue that was where the thermo is located before I started the job...(An A.D.D. side note: I often marvel at the ingenuity of Subaru engineers. In some areas, they definitely knew what they were doing. In other areas......well,....not so much. Even us dumb Americans have figured out that a thermostat should be easily accessible. But on these engines, they're only easily accessible with a plasma cutter or the Jaws of Life.)

Back on topic, I replaced the oil pump as well when I was under there. If you're the type of guy or gal that wonders, "Hmmm....this oil pump has 105K miles on it. Will the pump make it another 105K miles until the next time I change the timing belt?" then you probably should just replace it. If I had to guess what kind of shape my pump was in when I pulled it off, i would say it was in good shape, based on the lack of any viewable wear. But I'm a risk-averse guy when it comes to the safety of my daily drivers...also, I upgraded to the Sti oil pump, which has an 11mm rotor versus my 10 mm stocker. Doesn't sound like a huge difference, but if you understand what your AVCS system does, then you'll welcome this upgrade. You will lose about a quarter of a quart of oil when you pull it
off. You do NOT need to do a full oil change. (Another side-note, this one more pertinent than my last digression: I borrowed my buddy's OBDII bluetooth port and downloaded an app on my Droid to read every sort of reading you want, whether it is oil temp, tranny temp, coolent temp, fan speeds, 0-60, horsepower, knock, g's....you name it. What I paid attention to specifically was oil pressure. With the Sti oil pump mated to my block, oil pressure was excellent, and my cold-sweat went away.)

Another golden tidbit (for turbo applications only), on your vehicle, you have a tiny diamond-shaped gasket on the bypass/blowoff/recirculation valve thingie (that's the technical term, I swear) that comes off easier than a prom dress. In my town, this gasket is a dealer item only, and takes 7 days to get here. Whoopsie...Be careful! You've been warned!

Lastly, our aluminum blocks strip really easily, so when threading in a few specific bolts, it takes more finesse than your local hipsters walking a slackline. One bolt specifically comes to mind...if you're staring at the car
from the front, (the passenger side is on your left/driver's on the right), there's a bolt/pulley furthest to your lower left (no, not your camshaft!)That's the bolt/pulley I'm talking about........before you put on that last timing pulley/bolt, just after you've put on the timing belt (Yes, the last pulley goes on AFTER you routed the belt), have your beer-bribed mechanic friend pull up as hard as he can on that sucker while you screw in that bolt. (If he's a stud like me, he can lift 3 sweaties and a chihuahua no problem. But I bet he's only human. So just tell him to lift really hard.) As you thread in that bolt, if the tension hasn't been relieved in that specific spot, you will be trying to thread in the pulley sideways, so you will FUBAR your threads in the block. Hello, new tap and dye set!

Wow, i have just wasted 40 minutes typing up a thread that isn't a true, accredited DIY-er. Anyways, hope these tips help you when you're scratching your head on your own Subie. If you have questions, I'm going to look important/considerate by saying, "post comments below and I'll see if I can help you," when in fact we all can see that I'm no mechanic. Try me, though...

Since I created this thread, and I wasn't asking a question, I welcome you to please change the subject of this thread. In fact I dare YOU to hijack this thread. Wanna talk about J.Biebs? Be my guest. Feel strongly
about the role of Calcium III in Systems Neuroscience? Take the floor. Just keep it interesting like the two examples I provided...
 

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Car: 2008 Tribeca, 2010 LGT, Sold: 2005 XT Limited
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+1 on the last idler pulley. I started to strip my threads because I was cowboying it (I KNOW better!), but was able to recover. I believe it is a 10M 1.25 thread, but local hardware store didn't have it. I was able to get the bolt in the head without the belt on, so I went for it a 2nd time, and although the running torque was higher than I liked, it tightened up and torqued down fine, so I called it good.
At 210k I'll get a helicoil to replace it, if I can remember, which is unlikely in 2020.

As I've said in other threads, you can lock the drivers cams with a LIGHT pinch of some vice grips, be careful. Or you can use a 10mm allen to rotate the cams (see Meaty's youtube video).



Tom
 

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The vicegrips didn't work well for me. As soon as I removed the tensioner, the cams slipped a few teeth. So I said F that. AftCG was quick to think of a belt wrench and the 10mm hex key to align the cams. Two sets of hands were needed, but I'd just forgo the vice grips next time and plan on realigning them.
 

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Vice grips work great for me. I even bumped it a few times trying to get the water pump in. I did have to move then a tiny bit to get the belt all lined up. But the 10 mm hex trick needs to be in your back pocket since you can't count on the vice grips for sure. You do have to remove the cover on the upper cam to get to the hex bolt.
 

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'07 OBXT Ltd. 5EAT, Charcoal Gray; '70 Chevy K10 4X4, 396c.i., lifted; '63 Pontiac Tempest, 326c.i.
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Discussion Starter #5
when I was first searching for ideas to keep it all aligned, I did pull off the AVCS cam cover and saw the hex bolt, but didn't have a key large enough. And even with 2 other guys helping me hold everything in place, we couldn't do it. 6 manly hands in about 2 - 3 cubic feet of space is not my idea of fun. So one call to a fellow Subaru enthusiast solved the problem. That tool is pretty nifty, I have to say!

I should ask you guys...when I first started up the car, I heard a funny noise - not quite as bad as rod knock, but sounded a bit like piston slap. I am 150% sure I got all of the timing marks lined up because I checked them twice after the belt was on, and I had the other two guys check the marks as well. Before I changed the belt, the car ran smooth 99% of the time. After the belt, for the first 5 - 10 mins, it had that light knocking sound. Now that I've put on 30 miles, the engine is running very smooth. I swear I'm even running boost quicker in the rpm range too...mustve fixed a vacuum leak or something...anyways, any ideas on what's going on with that noise?

Some added info: Either someone has had that belt off before (I changed the belt at 102K mi) or my XT came from the factory out of time. When i pulled the timing cover off, I was surprised to see my cams off by 1 tooth each side, yet the crank was dead on (markings and belt). I initially thought the car would've ran like s*** if it was that much out of time, but then I remembered the AVCS advances timing up to 15 degrees, so I bet the AVCS was WAAAY over compensating under full boost. (Sidenote: I swear I'm boosting more after doing this belt job...)

Also, another question, haha.....I had a bluetooth scanner hooked up to my OBDII port, and on my maiden voyage after the belt went back on, we watched all sorts of numbers. Of interest, when I went under full throttle, my boost fluctuated in the same pattern EVERY time. Instead of clean 13psi (stock) boost, I would puickly get up to 13, then down to 11.5, back up to 13 for a while, then it tapered off. So basically, it plateaued like it was supposed to, but dipped (or fluttered) in the middle. WTF is up with that? is it a wastegate actuation issue? is that mechanical, such as the springs?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I wasnt very clear in my 2nd paragraph, I want to reiterate that it was very brief on that knocking noise, maybe 10 minutes total. Now that I've ran the car for 30 miles, it is very smooth, and continues to be smooth under all loads (or no load).
 

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It was probably the oil pump priming before it could get oil where it needed to go that made the knocking noise. You said you replaced it.

I'm surprised that the belt was off a tooth. Before I pulled my belt I marked it for the location on the cam and compared to the marks on the new belt. All was spot on. I don't know what to say about that.

Tom
 

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'07 OBXT Ltd. 5EAT, Charcoal Gray; '70 Chevy K10 4X4, 396c.i., lifted; '63 Pontiac Tempest, 326c.i.
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Discussion Starter #8
Tom, good point!!! Can't believe that never even occured to me...I even "listened" through my breaker bar (when the other end was on the engine block) as it ran and determined the noise was on the front of the block, directly above the oil pump. Huh, go figure...also, that would explain why the noise was so short lived...

Thanks for the input!
 

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Buy one of these puppies if you need to change your belt again....

Camlock Tool 1

I did mine this weekend and this tool allows it to be a one-man job. I highly recommend it - worth the $50 I paid in saved time and grief.

Steve
 
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