Subaru Legacy Mechanical problems(possibly blown Gasket)?

I have a 1997 Subaru Legacy which seems to be running quite rough. The way it drives is comparable to when my last car had a blown Gasket, but not nearly as
bad. I had thought it was a potential blown head gasket, until I realized the timing belt was soon due to be changed. I did some googling and Some of the symptoms of a needing to be changed timing belt was similar to how my car is running:Mainly being a ticking sound, slight misfires , but no oil leakage I can notice. When taking off in first gear, the car takes a while to pick up even if my foots hitting the floor on the gas, it does eventually pickup, but it's quite rough and driving the car overall can be quite 'jerky'. The ticking noise does often occur. A few weeks earlier the car wouldn't start up properly and was blowing petrol smelling smoke out(hasn't happened since).My question is, is this likely due to the timing belt needing to be replaced, or what could it be? Any help/Hypothesis's are welcome. Cheers.
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On 6/11/18 9:18 AM, raw422 wrote:

My thought would be that it's a digital rather than an analogue situation.
There really aren't any symptoms of a timing belt "needing" changing. It works right up until it breaks at which point the engine quits.
It's not like the increasing fouling of spark plugs which deteriorates performance more and more- or the gradual aging/hardening of windshield wiper blades that increasingly smear.
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Wade Garrett wrote:

As the timing wears, it stretches and that throws off timing. The OP never mentioned taking his car into the shop for a timing job. Other symptoms can be poor fuel economy, smoke from exhaust (since it isn't getting burnt), sluggish acceleration, hard starting, backfiring or pinging, rough idling, and low power because the worn and stretched belt causes mistiming. Missing teeth on the belt means the belt slips at higher RPM causing odd behavior above, say, 2000 RPM. A bad tensioner (or idler) causes squealing, rattling, or a flapping noise along with driveability issues under high load or high RPM. If the belt is not properly tensioned, mistiming can result.
A ticking noise (which the OP mentioned) is a sign of a worn timing belt. The ticking could also be due to low oil pressure to a hydraulic lifter or a bad lifter which will effect mistiming on that cylinder. As the engine warms up, the valve lifter noise gets quieter but may not go completely away. Sometimes replacing a quart of engine oil with a quart of Seafoam (alcohol, naphtha, kerosene) or Marvel Mystery Oil (light oil, wintergreen oil), or a mix of them, and some in the fuel tank might help. Basically you're cleaning the engine. Since these thin the oil, wait for the tick noise to go away (if it does) and then do an oil change.
Putting ethanol in gasoline wasn't to help your engine last. Quite the opposite. It was to continue qualifying a federal subsidy to corn growers, move corn oil from cattle feed (that caused atherosclerosis) to human consumption (oh great, we die sooner), and instigated during the "global warming" contrivance trying to figure out how to further tax humans (since the Earth for its thermal fluctuations and Sun for its gamma radiation fluctuations that affect cloud cover cannot be taxed). Supposedly reduces emissions but at the expense of your car while creating more carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) and oxygenates must be added to reduce the carbon monoxide from the combustion of ethanol. Ethanol causes more smog, not less (proven way back in 1995 - API vs EPA). Harder starting and lower mileage (due to lower energy density), corrosion of metal, degradation of rubber and plastic parts, settles out of gasoline which attracts moisture, and reduced engine life. Using ethanol'ed fuel in small engines results in a carb job in a couple years.
The OP never mentioned if he got an OBD2 reader so he can see any history of events (whether or not an error got generated when the ECM decided there are enough events or with enough severity to flash a light on the dash). The light only comes on when the ECM decides the situation is really bad but that doesn't preclude problems up to then.
There are many symptoms of a failing timing belt or tensioner. The question is whether the driver notices them or not. Some drivers just turn up their radio when their car makes more noise. Seems the OP has sufficient symptoms to warrant taking his car into the shop.
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On 6/11/18 12:29 PM, VanguardLH wrote:

Guess I better not give up my day job and take that part-time mechanic's slot that was offered to me;-)
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