Timing Belt noise, 1989 Subary GL Hatch

A couple weeks ago ai stopped in at a place where a guy has been selling used Subys for about 15 years. The girl behind the desk came running out
and said, "I had one just like this!"
Picking the guy's brain, he mentioned that the timing belts one these cars were good for about 50,000 miles, because they were barely bigger than a fan belt. He also said, you can tell when they're going, because the distributor shaft will make a chattering noise that will get louder as the belt deteriorates.
This morning (2AM; for those of you who don't know me, I deliver newspapers and bought the Suby just for this mission) it was 12 degrees; I started the car and after about 10 seconds I heard a chattering noise from the engine; it lasted about 10 seconds and then stopped. I didn't hear it again the rest of the run (about 3 hours).
So, I guess we're looking at replacing the belts. Of course, it happens during the coldest part of our winter here. I was kind of hoping to wait till spring.
Only estimates I have so far are ~$300.
The real question I have here is, do I have much time before having to replace the belts? He seemed to indicate the chattering would be continuous when the belts need replacing; this is the first time I've heard the noise in a month of driving the car. I'm hoping it's just because of the cold, however I have started the car on colder mornings and not heard the noise.
He said the good thing was that this engine will just coast to a stop when a belt lets go, but my 'paper route' is in the middle of East Overshoe and "coasting to a stop" at 3AM at this time of the year isn't my idea of fun!
And my AAA isn't paid up, either...
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Me thinks you should be more careful whose brain you pick. :O)
No way on anything he said about the timing belts. Your engines distributer would not do that if the belt was going to break. It's driven by the cams which are driven by the belts. Belts can make a clean break with nothing to warn you.
The noise you are hearing is likely a small solenoid thing with hoses going to it on the passengers side, top of the engine. I've never looked it up, but mine will make a chattering noise, if my car sits for awhile and especially if it is cold. It sometimes won't stop until I accelerate out of the driveway.
If you are really worried about your timing belts, the only thing you can do is replace them.
Bob Noble http://www.sonic.net/bnoble ----- Original Message -----
Newsgroups: alt.autos.subaru Sent: Monday, January 21, 2008 04:19 Subject: Timing Belt noise, 1989 Subary GL Hatch

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On Mon, 21 Jan 2008 19:34:43 -0800, Bob Noble wrote:

Well, tonight I started out with no noise. One-third of the way through there was a light rasping sound, and 3/4 of the way through it was quite noticable.
I think I'll call the shop today and get the belts changed. Yeah, I am that worried about it! ;)

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On Mon, 21 Jan 2008 19:34:43 -0800, Bob Noble wrote:

In the shop now! ;)

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