July 4, 2010

Car Talk

Do I really need a new timing belt? Tom and Ray weigh in.

Syndicated columnists

Dear Tom and Ray:

A few months ago, our local Subaru dealership determined that our Impreza needed a new engine, and that it would be covered by the factory warranty. Since the engine was replaced, we've put 7,000 more miles on the car. Now they say we need a timing belt. My question is, When the engine was replaced, wouldn't they have replaced the timing belt then?
-- Bill

Tom: Yes. The timing belt is considered an internal engine component. So a new timing belt would have come as part of the new engine.

Ray: So, there are two possible explanations. One is that they were basing their recommendation on the mileage of the car. Perhaps they just forgot, or hadn't looked up your records and saw that your engine has only 7,000 miles on it. It may be a repair they automatically recommend at certain mileage intervals. That's the innocent explanation.

Tom: The less-benign explanation is that they're trying to get back some of the money they spent giving you a new engine.

Ray: But start by giving them the benefit of the doubt, Bill. Remind them that you got a brand-new engine 7,000 miles ago, and see if they say: "Oh, right! You don't need a timing belt! Uh, how about a new transmission?"

(Car Talk is a nationally syndicated column by automotive experts (and brothers) Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Write to them at the Car Talk Web site.)

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