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Premium Member
2000 Subaru Outback Limited H4
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152 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
2002 H6 Outback, LL Bean. 140k miles, car is 6 months or so new to me, no mechanical history on it. I have replaced CV axles, changed all fluids, serviced transmission, replaced filters, etc.

Serpentine belt shredded on the interstate, I took it to a chain shop because it was on a weekend. They replaced the idler and the belt. I asked them to replace the tensioner at the same time, they said it was a waste of money.

Three days later, belt is shredding again. They told me they didn't know what was wrong, and put another belt on it and to go to the dealer.

Took it to my regular mechanic, they said it looked fine, that the aftermarket idler seemed a little big, and that the tensioner had play. They said to drive it until it become a problem, but that it looked fine at the moment. Couple days later the belt starts shredding again.

Took it to the dealer, the dealer told me the aftermarket idler was a problem, as well as the tensioner being too loose. I mentioned occasional issues with steering, because I know that the power steering pump is on the belt. They replaced both the (new) idler and the tensioner, and also replaced the power steering pump.

Now, three days later, the serpentine belt is shredding again. What gives?
 

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Premium Member
2000 Subaru Outback Limited H4
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152 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Crank pulley separation? I just saw a thread about that...
This is something that three separate mechanics could have missed?

Timeline:
1. Chain store (Merchant's Tire & Auto) looks at car
2. Merchants looks at car again when belt strips again, say they watched the belt for 1.5 hours and could not figure out the problem
3. My regular (trusted) local mechanic looks at it
4. Dealer looks at it
 

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Somebody Else's XT
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14,434 Posts
Whatever it turns out to be, three separate mechanics did miss it. Maybe the pulley, tensioner & idler are all fine. New pump, very nice.

Has anyone checked the other driven accessories on this belt? Alt? AC? WP?
 

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Premium Member
2000 Subaru Outback Limited H4
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152 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Whatever it turns out to be, three separate mechanics did miss it. Maybe the pulley, tensioner & idler are all fine. New pump, very nice.

Has anyone checked the other driven accessories on this belt? Alt? AC? WP?
I don't know, I'm just getting hit from every angle here. I don't have any faith in the dealer or the Merchant's. My local mechanic I trust, but he is the only one I haven't given any money too, I just pulled up and he looked under the hood while it was running. I feel like one of the two people I have already given a bunch of money to should be fixing the problem, and since neither the parts or the labor included so far have helped, should probably be giving me some of my money back.

I don't think the power steering pump needed to be replaced, and I don't think the new aftermarket idler needed to be replaced. The dealer takes forever to get parts in, I had a rental for a week ($300), and the dealer's bills was $1200+ for apparently no change. I'm pretty ticked off with Merchant's and the dealer, and pretty ticked off at myself for bringing it to either one of them to begin with. Should have just waited for the weekend to end and taken Monday off.

Any advice for dealing with the local dealer? Any chance I'm getting my money back for anything? :help:
 

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Premium Member
01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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15,477 Posts
Is the belt routed proper?

If the belt is routed correctly, one of the pulleys is bad.
 

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Premium Member
2000 Subaru Outback Limited H4
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152 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
It seems to be routed correctly. Is there some way for them to test which pulley is bad without ordering a new pulley and putting it in? At this point I don't know whether everyone I've been to is incompetent or if this is a difficult problem. I spoke to a mechanic who is a friend and she basically laughed and said it should be simple. Not sure if that's true.
 

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Premium Member
2000 Subaru Outback Limited H4
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152 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Just called the dealer. They really seem to not care. They told me to bring it in on Thursday, that they are too busy today, and the mechanic who did the work is off til Thursday. So back to Enterprise.
 

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Registered
2005 OBW 2.5i, 2010 MB R350 Diesel, 1991 Toyota MR2 | suspension & braking enthusiast
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660 Posts
It seems to be routed correctly. Is there some way for them to test which pulley is bad without ordering a new pulley and putting it in? At this point I don't know whether everyone I've been to is incompetent or if this is a difficult problem. I spoke to a mechanic who is a friend and she basically laughed and said it should be simple. Not sure if that's true.
Take a magnifying glass or microscope and look at the surfaces of all the pulleys. I bet one looks different. Running your fingers along all the surfaces may help too.
 

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Premium Member
03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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18,107 Posts
the idler and tensioner bearings go bad a LOT but, I don't know that they would cause the belt to shred without making a lot of noise first.

definitely the crank pulley should be checked.

Seems to me, this would be a mystery if the belt gets shredded but no one can spot anything wobbling. in what manner does the belt fail? rear edge, forward edge, etc.?
 

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1989 Subaru XT6, 1989 Subaru RX, 2004 Outback 3.0 SUS
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73 Posts
Yes, check the other pulleys. I have seen this once before where a loose tensioner let the belt slide on the alternator pulley and made the peaks sharp as a knife.

Or you could have gotten 3 different mechanics that didn't see a belt alignment problem:28:
 

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2005 OBW 2.5L, 1989 Subaru Justy, RIP Blu
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7,355 Posts
2002 is known for having the tensioner's get tired. They can either self destruct or allow the belt to walk.


Exactly how did someone watch a belt for over an hour, did they have a chair, a coffee machine and a strobe light? When i hear thjings like that i always call it BS.
 

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Premium Member
01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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15,477 Posts
2002 is known for having the tensioner's get tired. They can either self destruct or allow the belt to walk.


Exactly how did someone watch a belt for over an hour, did they have a chair, a coffee machine and a strobe light? When i hear thjings like that i always call it BS.
I don't know about actually watching it for an hour. Seems I would fall asleep after 10 minutes watching spinning pulleys, the flash of the belt ID, listening to the hum of the engine. It could be mesmerizing and knock someone out for about 45 minutes until someone comes along and wakes them up or a horn honks in the shop. That's where the coffee would come in.

Could have been the new guy with nothing to do but stand over the hood. The guy who doesn't know anything but drawing a paycheck from a timeclock. But then again, it would lead to falling asleep. Yeah, BS.


Can you post a photo of the shredded belt? It would help.
 

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Premium Member
2000 Subaru Outback Limited H4
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152 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Well, I saw the Merchant's service manager at 7-11 and he asked me what was going on a few days ago, I told him the basics. He asked me to bring him the parts the dealer removed because he wanted to see them. I did, yesterday, and he and his master mechanic both inspected them (the power steering pump, the aftermarket idler that Merchant's installed, and the tensioner that they said was fine and the dealer said needed to be replaced). They confirmed what I suspected, that there was nothing wrong with any of the three parts. I plan to bring them to another mechanic as well before Thursday to get another opinion.

If that is true, the dealer charged me for $1250 worth of parts and labor that were unnecessary.

Here are some pics.

Subaru Belt Issue - Imgur

I have them in much higher resolution if it would help. The only difference I could see in the higher res pics was the fine shredded insulation is more visible.

Also found that the dealer only put one of the two bolts back on my plastic air intake (or could have been Merchant's, I guess) and they did not reconnect my radiator overflow tube to my radiator! Oh, and they seem to have messed up a ground somehow because now my check engine light (it has been on for a while now, bad o2 sensor) flashes when I use my blinker.
 

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2005 OBW 2.5L, 1989 Subaru Justy, RIP Blu
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7,355 Posts
It looks to me, and this is just from looking at the pics, the belt is maybe too wide or is rubbing. Again, it is not in my driveway so I really cant say. it doesnt look like it is walking and it is hard, but not impossiblle, for everything not to be in proper alignment.
 

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Premium Member
2000 Subaru Outback Limited H4
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152 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
It looks to me, and this is just from looking at the pics, the belt is maybe too wide or is rubbing. Again, it is not in my driveway so I really cant say. it doesnt look like it is walking and it is hard, but not impossiblle, for everything not to be in proper alignment.
:( This is the fourth belt that has shredded since the problem started. First one was the one I bought the car with, 2nd and 3rd were put on by Merchant's, NAPA part I think, 4th one that is on it now is a dealer belt w/ Subaru written right on it.
 

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2009 Tribeca Now - 2004 Outback EJ259 - Sold
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1,069 Posts
Something is definitely out of alignment.

Just glancing at the photo its apparent the belt is aligned correctly on the power steering pump and the passenger idler. (or at least centered)
Its blatantly obvious the belt is not aligned correctly on the alternator, 2nd idler, and A/C.
Can you get a shot of the belt alignment on the crank?
 

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2005 OBW 2.5L, 1989 Subaru Justy, RIP Blu
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7,355 Posts
this is the one time i am out of ideas as i would need to see the car at this point. One of the pullies are out of alignment (this comes up on all the boards with a serp belt from time to time) someone didnt install a idler or tensioner properly or they are going bad.

You may need to get a 3rd opinion.
 

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Premium Member
2000 Subaru Outback Limited H4
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152 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Something is definitely out of alignment.

Just glancing at the photo its apparent the belt is aligned correctly on the power steering pump and the passenger idler. (or at least centered)
Its blatantly obvious the belt is not aligned correctly on the alternator, 2nd idler, and A/C.
Can you get a shot of the belt alignment on the crank?
I will try to get a shot of the crank. The belt looks perfect when they install it, then over about 3 days of driving (seems to be the average) it shifts towards the passenger compartment of the car. The car starts to "chug" and the belt starts to fray and rip.
 

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Premium Member
2000 Subaru Outback Limited H4
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152 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Here are pics in detail, I don't know if they will help or if I need to take off the plastic air intake to get better ones.
Photo Album - Imgur
 
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