Home TroubleshootingEngine Subaru Timing Belt Replacement Cost – How Expensive Is It?

Subaru Timing Belt Replacement Cost – How Expensive Is It?

by Kelvin Yates

Do you have a Subaru but you can’t remember when was the last time you did your timing belt service? This is really unfortunate because you should always keep on track when you did your services. Or, if you just purchased a Subaru, you probably want to know the Subaru timing belt replacement cost. We are going to discuss all that in this article and more.

Doing regular maintenance on your car is key in keeping it in good working order. Especially, if it is such a sensitive component like the timing belt. Timing belts are key in making the combustion process successful and allow your car to move seamlessly. That’s why they need to be serviced on time and you should always keep notes on when was the last time you did your maintenance. Because we are people and we forget.

The same is for any other regular maintenance that you do to your vehicle. When you change the tires, you should take a note of which year and month it was. Since their characteristics are limited both from the mileage perspective and their age. Another example is the oil change. Because oil should be replaced frequently and you should never run your car with old or high mileage oil. This can cause a number of problems. And so on. But you shouldn’t worry, as we will cover everything.

In this article, we are going to learn what is a timing belt and what does it do. Then we will learn the symptoms of a bad timing belt. After that, we will discuss the Subaru timing belt replacement cost. So, let’s dive into it.

What Is A Timing Belt?

The timing belt is a component of internal combustion engines that connects the camshaft and the crankshaft. This is necessary to have a proper combustion process. That’s since there isn’t anything else that can connect the crankshaft with the camshaft in overhead cam engines.

In these engines, the camshaft is not in the center of the engine like in pushrod engines, but on the top of the engine where the head is located. That’s why they are called overhead cam engines.

But why is this belt is called a timing belt in the first place? Well, it is a timing belt because it adjusts the timing of the engine. When the timing of the engine is right, the engine is working in perfect harmony.

Subaru timing belt replacement cost

If the timing is missed by a millimeter, the engine will not work properly and you will experience misfires and overall poor engine performance.

And if the timing is completely messed up, the valves and the pistons will collide. When the valves and pistons collide, there will be carnage. And this carnage is going to be expensive.

Why I’m telling you this? It is good to know because this belt is crucial for you as an owner if you don’t want to pay thousands of dollars on repairs.

When you track your maintenance and replace your belts and other components on time, your car would be in perfect working order and you will avoid paying a lot of cash for these repairs to be performed. But what about Subaru timing belt replacement cost? We will cover that in a bit. But first, let’s discuss when this belt should be replaced to avoid some permanent engine damage.

When Should Be This Belt Replaced?

This is the question that bothers a ton of car owners. And that is the question when should I replace my timing belt? This question is a bit tricky to answer. However, we are going to elaborate for you in-depth to have a clear perspective.

Timing belts are usually changed between 60 to 90 thousand miles. There is a big gap between these timeframes, so why is that so? Because not every belt lasts 90k miles. Some of them require premature change due to low-quality production. After all, not all belt manufacturers are offering the best belts out there.

Another factor is the age factor. Remember that these belts are manufactured out of rubber and other durable materials that allow the belt to survive working under these conditions. But as the years go by, the materials are starting to lose their characteristics. The belts become brittle and develop cracking on them.

If you see that your belt has cracks, then you know that you have to replace it with a new one. That’s because it can snap at any given moment and ruin your engine. And the last factor is uncertainty. If you bought the car as a used second-hand vehicle, you don’t know its history. You don’t know when this belt was changed and by whom.

In this case, the best thing is to inspect first the condition of the belt. If it’s dark black and looks fairly new. Then you don’t need to replace it at once. But if the belt is grey and all cracked out, then you know that this belt needs immediate replacement.

But what about Subaru timing belt replacement cost? Well, we are going to cover that in a bit but first, let’s learn the symptoms of a bad belt.

Symptoms Of A Bad Timing Belt

As with every component, when the timing belt is failing, it starts to develop symptoms. Some of these symptoms are visual and can only be accessed by visual inspection. Meanwhile, others are interfering with the work of the engine. But which are the symptoms of a failing timing belt? Let’s find out.

Cracks Start To Develop

One of the first symptoms that indicate a failing timing belt are the cracks that start to develop on the belt. These cracks will be all over the belt and will be a clear indication that there is something wrong with it and it needs to be checked immediately.

If on close inspection, the belt has cracks from one side to the other, then this means that it cracks between the teeth. This cracking is mostly prevalent on old belts.

Since the belt material is made out of rubber. This rubber, when it ages, it starts to show some cracking on the outside. When you see that your belt is showing this symptom, you know what you are dealing with.

You need to look for Subaru timing belt replacement cost and learn more about the costs that are involved. Which we are going to cover a bit later. And also learn more about the places that can perform this work professionally.

Change Of Color – Subaru Timing Belt Replacement Cost

Another symptom that is a dead giveaway that your belt is failing is the change of color. When you get a new timing belt, the color is dark black. But if the belt is old, this color will change to a grayish color.

This symptom is also prevalent on timing belts that are old and replaced who knows when. If you got a used vehicle and you noticed how the belt is all cracked out and the color is grayish, this means that the belt needs replacing as soon as possible.

Look online for Subaru timing belt replacement cost, and learn more about the costs that are involved in this procedure that we are going to cover in a bit. Also, learn more about the places that you can take your car to do this job quickly and effectively.

Timing belt replacement is not simple and needs to be done properly. Before you decide to give someone this job, make sure that you check online and see their reviews. This is the best indication for you to know where to look and know where to take your car to.

Missing Teeth

This is another symptom that can be detected from a close inspection. Open up your hood and check the condition of the belt. Turn on your flashlight and give it a good look.

If the belt is missing some of the teeth, then this is not good. This means that the belt could jump and mess up the timing of your engine.

You don’t want that to happen. When some of the teeth are missing, it means that this belt has done its service. Now, the time has come for you to retire it. If you don’t retire the belt and replace it with a new one, it may jump, but it also can snap. If it snaps, as we said, it will damage the valves and will bend them. The worst damage can occur on high RPMs.

This is because the belt is spinning so fast, and as it spins, it’s going to snap and the valves will be stuck open. When the valves are stuck open, they will come to contact with the pistons. And this means carnage in your engine and massive repair bills. That’s why when you make a visual inspection make sure that everything is ok. If it isn’t, then you should replace the belt.

Ticking Sound When The Engine Runs

Another symptom that is very common when you have a timing belt-related issue or a timing belt that is failing is the ticking sound that it makes.

This sound is very different from all the sounds that your car is producing and you can clearly see that the belt is making this sound.

This is the case because the belt is very old and its teeth are almost gone. This sound clearly shows that when the belt is in contact with the camshaft gears, it makes this sound.

It can trick you before you notice it. But after you notice this sound, you will not be able to ignore it. This sound means that the belt has to be sorted and you need to fix your Subaru. Look online for Subaru timing belt replacement cost to learn more about the prices that are involved in this job. Later in this article, we are going to answer this question and help you out sorting out your issue.


If the timing chain has jumped, there will be misfires. So, what does this means? This means that the valves are not perfectly lined up with the combustion process. They open and close at the wrong time.

Opening and closing at the wrong time will cause misfires to happen. These misfires can be heard as popping sounds from the exhaust. But if you let your engine run like this for a long time, these problems can become more serious and some valve damage can be created.

You don’t want valve damage on your engine, as this will cost you a fortune to fix. That’s why when you notice misfires, the best thing to do is to check the condition of your belt and also the spark plugs and coils. Since both these components can cause the engine to misfire as well.

This symptom can be a tricky one because misfires, most of the time, indicate something wrong with the ignition and not something wrong with the belt. That’s why if everything is ok with the ignition it is a good idea to check the condition of the belt and see if it’s missing some teeth.

If it is, then it clearly jumped and the timing has changed. In this case, the best thing is to look online and learn more about Subaru timing belt replacement cost to learn more about the prices.

Rough Idle – Subaru Timing Belt Replacement Cost

The rough idle along with the misfires are another issue when the timing is bad and the timing belt has jumped timing.

This is a clear indication that something is wrong with this engine. But similarly, it’s hard to diagnose just like the misfire problem. At first glance, it is hard to connect this problem with a timing issue,

Most people will think that it’s the ignition or fuel injection. Or, unadjusted valves issues will be another symptom for this problem as well.

But an experienced mechanic will know whether or not these systems are working properly. If they are, the culprit of this problem should be looked at elsewhere and that is at the timing of the engine.

If the engine has bad timing, these two symptoms are a dead giveaway. That’s why you should consider this symptom if you are experiencing some rough idle or overall rough engine work even if you press on the gas and speed up.

Smell Of Gas From The Exhaust

This is another symptom of bad timing. If the timing is bad, the combustion will not be completed and some of the gas will be left unburnt. For example, if the exhaust valves open too early, they are going to suck the unburnt fuel that is injected into the engine.

This, in other words, translates to rough engine work, misfires, and whatnot. There could be also some damage inside of your engine if the valves are touching the pistons.

This smell of gas should be code red for you and your Subaru. You need to take a look at Subaru timing belt replacement cost ASAP and learn more about it. We are going to cover that in a bit.

Emission Control Test Failure

Another problem can be also the emission control failure. For example, you take your car to register it, the technician there will measure the exhaust gasses and your car’s exhaust will be flooded by unburnt fuel. This will ruin your emissions and you will fail the test.

You will not be able to register the vehicle until you solve this problem and address the issue. Nobody is going to let you register a vehicle that pollutes that much. Especially in California where laws are extremely strict and they ban all cars that pollute more than normal.

The best thing, in this case, is to troubleshoot and see what is making the problem. Let’s say the problem is caused by your timing belt. The best thing to do is to learn more about the Subaru timing belt replacement cost and learn how much is it to replace the belt. And that is something that we are going to cover in the next chapter in detail for you to have a better perspective of what you should expect.

Subaru Timing Belt Replacement Cost

And we finally came to the main part and that is the price for this sort of work. Deciding to replace the belt is probably one of the best decisions that you made. I’m saying this because this will make sure that you don’t have any issues with your car in the long run. And that is no bent valves and broken pistons. Everything will work as it should. But what about the price. How much does it cost to replace a timing belt in a Subaru?

The typical Subaru timing belt replacement cost, if you have an Outback, for example, is going to cost you around $650 in total. And that is around $350 for the parts and $300 for the labor.

Replacing the belt should only be done by professional mechanics. And most shops are leaving this job only to their best and most experienced people.

This is the case because if a millimeter of the timing is messed up, there could be catastrophic engine damage. Now, the shop will have to get a new engine for their customer. This is a relatively expensive mistake and nobody likes to take their chances of messing things up. Because it’s going to be bad for both the shop’s reputation and the customer satisfaction.

But either way, you should always look to go to the best shops for this business. Because maybe you will be that unlucky guy that had his valves bent because of a rookie mechanic. That’s why you should always go for the best. You may end up paying more but the service will be excellent.

Cost Of Repairs If Your Timing Belt Fails

Since we covered the cost of replacing the timing belt. It is a good idea also to cover what will cost you if the belt snaps. Since this is also an option if you delay your service. And you do not service your engine in the right intervals that the dealership told you to do. There are consequences, unfortunately. So, let’s discuss them.

In case, if your timing belt snaps, your engine will instantly shut off. This will be the case because the camshaft that is on top of the engine will stop spinning. But the lower part which are the pistons and the crankshaft will still spin. And you can imagine what is going to happen.

Subaru Timing Belt Replacement Cost

The valves on the head are open and the pistons collide with the valves. This is something that you don’t want to see because in the engine, everything would be messed up and the metal will crumble.

Not only the pistons and valves can be damaged, but the whole block can be in danger because some of these valves may end up in the cylinder walls. Also, the heads are most likely to be damaged as well.

The repair for this damage, if it’s repairable, is going to cost more than $2,000. So, the best option in this situation is to go for a new or used engine.

A new engine is going to cost you between $3,000 to $5,000. If you go for a used one, you can end up paying $2,000 if you harvest one from your local junkyard.

And the best option is to go for an old motor that has low miles. This way you can be sure that this engine is good.

Timing Belt Facts: What You Need to Know

  • A timing belt plays a crucial role in the operation of your engine and its failure can be catastrophic.
  • The timing belt’s function is to keep the mechanical timing of the engine, ensuring that the intake and exhaust valves open and close at the exact precise time needed.
  • Timing belts are made with high-quality rubber and reinforced with nylon chords, and are under precise tension.
  • If a timing belt is not set up properly or breaks, it causes the valves to open at the wrong time and leads to major engine damage.
  • The cost of replacing a timing belt is not just about the belt itself; a timing belt kit consists of the belt, idler pulleys, and a tensioner, all of which have bearings and the ability to fail.
  • Labor on most timing belts is between 3-5 hours, putting the total cost between $400-1,000, but declining the replacement of the water pump at the same time may lead to further failure and additional cost.
  • Every vehicle equipped with a timing belt has a manufacturer’s recommendation on when to change it, usually between 70,000 and 90,000 miles.
  • Older, low-mileage vehicles should also be considered for a timing belt change because time also degrades the rubber.
  • Timing belts rarely give any warning of impending failure, and the belt should be inspected for cracks or signs of aging.
  • When in doubt about the timing belt’s service history, it is always better to change the belt.

Conclusion – Subaru Timing Belt Replacement Cost

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to timing belts. We learned what a timing belt is and what is the purpose of the timing belt.

Then, we have covered all of the symptoms that are associated with a bad timing belt. And these were the cracks and change of color. After that, there were the damaged teeth and also if your belt has jumped the timing, you may experience misfires, rough engine work, and overall poor performance from the engine.

And lastly, we have covered the Subaru timing belt replacement cost in detail. We also mentioned what are the probable costs if your belt snaps and these costs are enormous. That’s why you should change the timing belt regularly and avoid these types of situations.

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