1996 2.5L Timing Belt Change Questions

The Web is a wonderful source of info - but some of it is contradictory, and some of it is just plain wrong. I don't want to trust some wrong info as I prepare to change the timing belt on my 1996
Outback (2.5L) engine myself for the first time. With 218,000+ miles on the engine, I think it's ready for a new belt (last one went on via a dealership install at 110K miles). So, since this is a valve interference design, I've gotta get it right the first time or nasty consequences result. One of the things I've read online is that I need to use some fancy Subie specific tools to hold the Intake and Exhaust cams in place, especially on the left side, when I go to pull the belt, or the valve spring pre-loading will rotate the cams into a postion where the valves smack into each other and something either bends or breaks. Is that really true in this engine, in the 1996 configuration? The reason I ask is that I've found some additional info about the WRX STi engine that makes no such claim - in fact it says that if you rotate teh crankshaft until all the cams line up to their reference marks, that is a valve neutral position and there's no spring loading. Which is true??? The STi is the same 2.5L block, right?
Help to clear up my confusion, please? Thanks!!
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wcb wrote:

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It may very well be that the practice of creating the marks has changed and older engines may still be a concern as to cams shifting. There also are books with incorrect torque value for the crank pulley as well as some possibly confusing timing marks. There may also be a very good reason to check/replace several other items in that area including the water pump, maybe rebuilding the oil pump, etc.
carl
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Look to www.endwrench.com for your answers and pictures.

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Haven't had the pleasure (?) on a Subie engine, but normally the TDC position puts at least one valve on the flank of a lobe, which means the cams don't normally want to settle there. It really isn't a problem with single cams because the cam will tweak the crankshaft a bit so the cam is happy, but DOHC nearly always settles off a bit.
I've never used a special tool, though. Usually I can get the cam sprocket to stay in place with strategically placed wood blocks or similar "tools." A popular trick is to make marks on the side of the original belt and onto the sprockets to create match marks, using white paint or similar. When you remove the old belt you transfer the marks to the new belt and make sure the marks line up when it all goes back together.
Mike
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Thanks Mike, Ed and Carl!
I found the EndWrench site shortly after posting my question earlier today, and they have a great service article loaded with high resolution pictures about changing the timing belt on the 2.5L engine, telling me that indeed the left side (driver's side) cam is loaded by partially open valves when in the cam belt alignment position. So I will fashion a tool to do the job, either a block of something relatively soft to wedge between the teeth of intake and exhaust cams or something (such as a pair of sockets which I will bolt to a steel plate) that can capture the hex bolts on each sprocket. Looks like that should make the cam rotation a non-issue!
Carl, I am taking your advice, too. I am actually changing the belt along with the water pump, since I can hear the bearing making noise and I suspect it is only a matter of time before it starts to leak. I had all the seals done with the last belt change, but I will definitely inspect them and replace as needed. This car's gonna get to 300K miles; of that I'm certain!
I appreciate the help, guys!
Wayne
Michael Pardee wrote:

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I made the tool myself when I did mine, very easy. I hope this mental picture works for you. I took two pieces of flat steel about 5" long and 1" wide, and around 1/16" thick, welded them in an 'X" shape, then I welded a nut right in the center, the size of the nut doesnt matter, I used one around 15mm, then on the opposite side of the nut I welded 4 small (1/4") hex head bolts, these were welded sticking straight out, in other words the heads were welded to the flat steel. now you have a X with a nut on one side, and 4 pins if you will sticking out on the other side, the pins (bolts) need to be welded so they will slip into the holes on the cam pulley. then you stick a socket on the bolt and you can torque the belt tension or whatever else you need to do. Just remember you have to turn the crank 360 degrees after you do the one side, I had a friend who just lined up all the marks, they will line up even though one bank is 180 degrees out of phase!
Hope that helps!
Jerry
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When the new belt is installed and the tensioner activated be sure to turn the engine over by hand several revolutions and recheck to alignment marks. That will confirm that all the belt/engine marks are aligned. I found some marks appeared to be off about 1/2 a tooth so inspect carefully while looking at the belt at right angles. The factory belt comes with alignment white lines to assist. Ed

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wcb wrote:

Never had a DOHC engine but on my SOHC when I changed the belt, the replacement had timing marks that coincided with the timing marks on the crank and cams. If you find a belt like this it could be of help to insure proper timing.
Mickey
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wcb wrote:

I just did my daughter's a month or so ago. This procedure may come in handy:http://endwrench.com/pdf/engine/FtTimingBeltReplaceF00.pdf
Remco
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