EJ25 timing belt / camshaft spin
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This is a discussion on EJ25 timing belt / camshaft spin within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; I am getting ready to replace the timing belt on my EJ25 DOHC. One question I have is about the ...

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    Question Photos for replacing EJ25 head gaskets without removing engine

    I am getting ready to replace the timing belt on my EJ25 DOHC.

    One question I have is about the camshaft locking tools that Subaru sells for hundreds of bucks. I can't afford them, but it does sound like the job is easier by locking down the camshafts so that they cannot rotate when removing the timing belt. This will likely be a one-man job, so I want to make it as easy as possible to reinstall a timing belt.

    My question is, when I remove the belt, will the camshafts on the driver side cause damage when they are released and spin? Sounds like they are under tension and will spin, but do they need to be locked so as not to cause valve damage?

    I am considering trying to rig a camshaft lock using socket wrenches, but am not sure if this is really necessary.

    Thanks for any replies!
    Last edited by ArizonaForester; 07-28-2009 at 09:34 AM. Reason: new title

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    I found this tool on Amazon that may work to hold the DOHC in place when removing the timing belt. Anyone have experience using a Lisle 36880 Dual Overhead Cam Lock Tool?

    If you do a search on google or amazon, you will see this tool - cheap compared to the $$$ Suby wants for their version.

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    Registered User EvoEatr's Avatar
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    There really isn't enough tension on those pulleys if they slip when your removing the belt to cause internal damage...are you also planning on replacing the cam seals or something? Do you need to remove the cam pulleys at all? The only thing I can tell you here is to just double and triple check your timing marks are all on and count teeth if you must...check this out...might be of some help to you.... http://endwrench.com/images/pdfs/2.5Timing.pdf its for an older version of the non-turbo 2.5 but its basically the same procedure.....just make sure to align everything before you pull the belt off it will make things easier...
    Last edited by EvoEatr; 06-09-2009 at 03:58 PM.

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    Thanks much Evo! I guess I needed some reassurance that those valves won't clash when the belt comes off. That link is mighty helpful too, doesn't look too daunting.

    I'm almost thinking of changing the head gaskets too, as I suspect they are likely due (130k on the engine). I heard that it's possible to jack up the engine to replace the HGs, so i'll try to do it with the engine in the car. Fun!

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    Registered User EvoEatr's Avatar
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    No problem man!...Hey listen when it comes to the HG Personally If they arent leaking I wouldnt touch them...contrary to the other 4 cyl. subaru boxer engines of this time period the boxer turbo engines never really developed any "HG problems" I have seen very very few Subaru turbo engines with HG problems compared to the thousands of NA Subarus with HG problems... Anyways If you do happen to replace the HG Personally I would pull the engine (not saying it cant be done in the car but its 10,000 times easier to pull the engine, not to mention pulling these engines are cake)...The SOHC Boxer HG can easily be replaced in the vehicle, but I wouldnt even start a DOHC HG job on a Subaru with the engine still in the vehicle (unless maybe I was doing only one side, and only than MAYBE)...Believe me I work for Subaru...lol..Also remember Cleanliness is key here as with any HG job.....Anyways whatever route you choose to go good luck...and yeah man take a look around a little more on The End Wrench - Information for the Independent Subaru Service Professional there are tons of info./articles on there that Ive found helpful... (By the way judging by your user name do you have a Forester? Or I should say which subie is getting this work your talking about?) NA? Turbo? What year?
    Last edited by EvoEatr; 06-09-2009 at 04:21 PM.

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    EvoEatr - To answer your questions, I've got a 1998 Forester S with a 5-speed and NA 2.5, 132k. Bought it recently, had it checked out at a garage, bought it for $3700 and then the HGs promptly started causing problems.

    So at last, after putting it off too long, I'm in the middle of tearing the engine down to replace the HGs. I'm almost to the cams and am wondering if I can jack up this EJ25 to a suitable angle to replace things in-car. I know you said it's easier to pull the engine but I don't have easy access to a hoist. I'll let ya know what happens..

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    How to replace ej25 head gaskets without removing engine

    Here finally are photos and some advice about changing the head gaskets in a 1998 Forester without pulling the engine.

    See the photo below: a tight engine compartment that makes head removal "difficult" according to the Haynes manual.



    I started out thinking that I would use a hoist to remove the engine, but after talking to a local mechanic who insisted it could be done by jacking up the engine, I tried removing the heads myself without a hoist.

    Background which you are free to skip if you just want the nuts-and-bolts: I bought this Subaru in 2009 for $3700 (130k, 5-speed, "S" model) after having it inspected by a shop. The shop did it for free, which I was surprised by, but not once I realized that that's all their "inspection" was good for: nothing!

    I should have done more research and then I would have noticed the exhaust smell in the overflow tank. Or the bubbles that appeared there once the engine warmed up. Everything became apparent soon after I had used a radiator flush kit and added fresh coolant. My Check Engine Light appeared within 15 miles of doing this, and the engine ran roughly all of a sudden. I went to autozone and had the CEL diagnosed for free: #1 cylinder misfire.

    After some online research, I realized with mounting horror that I likely had a bad head gasket. Chronic problem with the Phase I DOHC EJ25, so I learned. It helped explain the coolant that disappeared every time I drove it, and the CEL. Ok, I told myself, you just made a terrible decision by overpaying for a POS...

    I naively tried Bar's Head Gasket Fix with copper and sodium silicate, and the stuff in a can that looks like brown goop. No dice. So I upped the ante money-wise and bought Thermagasket. It did seem to improve things insofar as the CEL no longer appeared, and the engine ran better; but it still drank coolant and the bubbles in the reservoir were still present. And then a side-effect materialized a day after I used Thermagasket: water pump leak! Apparently not an uncommon side effect of using a chemical head sealer laced with metal particles, especially on an engine with high-mileage parts. At least I removed the hoses going to the heater core before using these "gaskets in a can," thus preventing possible damage/blockage during this experiment in wasting time and money.

    So I was left with either paying $1500-$1800 to a mechanic...or, doing it myself. I've replaced a couple head gaskets before, but never on a DOHC Subaru. I hesitated. Thought about it. And then decided to go for it so that I could save $.

    These sites helped me to prep, especially Skip's Subaru page (2nd link):

    Doing 2.5L Phase I head gasket job myself... - Ultimate Subaru Message Board

    Subaru Head Gasket and Clutch Replacement

    Timing Belt and Water Pump Replacement - Page 5 - ClubWRX Forum - Subaru Impreza WRX and STi Community and Forums

    Good timing belt instructions in pdf format (I printed this out for a reference):
    http://www.endwrench.com/images/pdfs/2.5Timing.pdf

    It turned out to be a straightforward job. Not as bad as it sounded at first, but it did take me over a week to complete (including the two days for machine shop work on the heads).

    Here is the engine looking down from above with the intake manifold and timing belt removed. You can see the heads are close to the frame rails, and there doesn't look like much room to work with.



    Here is a close-up view of the driver side cams with the valve cover removed - again, it's rather tight against the firewall, but everything is accessible with a socket wrench.



    One problem I ran into was removing the camshaft sprockets. If you look at the photo above, you can see the hex portion of the cam that makes a convenient place to hold the cam with an adjustable wrench. With the engine in the vehicle, though, there is not much room for a wrench. I was able to use an 8" adjustable and use the frame rails as a stop, but the first cam I tried this with ended up slipping when I applied torque to the sprocket bolt with my 4-foot cheater pipe. Not good. I think you could use a 1" (25 or 26mm) crow-foot wrench with better results, but no one (not even Sears) had such a size in stock, so I was stuck.

    After much searching online, I found this photo which solved my troubles. I cut my old t-belt in two and then rigged up a makeshift strap wrench. When coupled with the adjustable wrench on the cam, this method worked:

    NASIOC - View Single Post - STI Cam Sprocket/Gear Removal??

    With the sprockets removed, I could remove the cams, leaving only the heads to be removed. I unbolted everything as if I was going to remove the engine (except for the engine-to-trans bolts), and removed the two trans mount bolts in order to prevent stressing the trans when jacking up the engine. I was able to lift either side of the engine about 4-6", which proved adequate to remove the heads.

    Here is a photo showing my method - I removed the upper head bolts first, then unscrewed the lower head bolts until they were no longer threaded into the block. You can't actually remove the lower head bolts because of the frame rails, but you can dislodge the head and then lift it out of the bay with the lower head bolts still in the head (see the lower bolts in the photo). The heads came out very easily this way.



    And here is what the block looks like with the heads removed:



    I was curious to see the faulty gasket, and here it is - it looks like it failed in exactly the same way that Skip's gasket failed, and also the other online examples I have seen. This was the 1+3 (passenger side) head gasket, which is also evidenced by the rust seen in the cylinder in the above photo.



    And here is the old gasket compared to the new one - I got this gasket in a $100 kit off ebay, and the new gasket was obviously better constructed than the original. It's easy to see why these things fail when you see the thin material on the OE gasket.



    After cleaning the mating surfaces, I reattached the heads using the same method as before, i.e., inserting the lower head bolts into the head and then lowering it into the vehicle and attaching to the block. Here is the birds-eye view of both the driver and passenger sides with heads attached:





    As you can see, there is actually enough room to work with here, which is important since you will need to apply a torque wrench to those head bolts and cam cap bolts. Also, you will need to buy this $10 tool, a torque angle meter. This is an excellent way to achieve the precise torquing procedure these heads require. Also, I used a 3/8" torque wrench for its more compact design, although I think a 1/2" version would also fit into the space between the heads and rails.



    I found that my compact digital camera was an invaluable tool to both document the tear-down process for reminding myself later where everything goes, and also to check the timing marks when attaching the t-belt. With the engine in the car, you can't quite see the crank mark nor the side-sprocket marks - but you can set your camera to the macro setting and use it as an "eye" to check your timing marks. Here's how I knew I had the crank marks lined up perfectly:



    Once I had everything reassembled I got in, turned the key and she fired right up! :Banane35:

    So far, everything seems to be fine and the HG issues have disappeared. Also, the engine runs smoother and more quietly, as I replaced the water pump and the idlers and tensioner. My old water pump was on its last legs and looked a bit crusty with rust. I was interested to see that there wasn't much evidence of the gasket sealers I had tried using at first. But there was some crud built up around the water pump, so I could see how the Thermagasket had affected the pump.

    One more tip - be sure to spray PB Blaster on your motor mount nuts a day before you remove them. I stripped out one of mine and spent lots of unneccessary time and money by biking to Sears for a bolt-out kit. It worked thankfully, but what a pain. I really took care removing any bolts or nuts afterward, taking care not to strip anything.

    If anyone has questions, feel free to contact me. I feel this engine would be easier to work on when removed from the engine bay, but it was also quite simple to do this work in-vehicle.

    And now, I can get back to using my Forester for its intended purpose - taking me to places like this!


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    Registered User EvoEatr's Avatar
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    Great Write up!

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    Thanks, also for your help along the way!

    Can I hit you up with one more question?

    I noticed today that I've got an oil drip coming off both valve covers. And then I remembered that I didn't change out the cylinder head "half moon" plugs, but only re-sealed them. They went through the parts tank with the head, so I'm thinking they might be the cause of the leaks. It's hard to tell looking from underneath the car.

    The only other thing I can think of is that I may have been wrong to use RTV Black sealant on the valve cover gaskets. I didn't use much, just a small bead. Should I use any sealant when I re-install new gaskets? I wasn't sure so i decided to go with it, but I'm wondering if it could be causing the leaks.

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    Usually we dont install new half moons when just replacing valve cover gaskets so personally im going to say that prob isnt the source of the leak...We do however use some RTV/fujibond on the halfmoons and where the valve cover goes over the cam tower (just little beads in the corners of these and a run of a bead across the half moons) you shouldnt have used RTV on the rest of the valve cover gasket its not necessacary..Im assuming you also replaced the gaskets around the spark plug holes?If thats your only problem after doing a set of DOHC HG's in the car im impressed..Like I said its not such an easy job to accomplish...

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    Thanks for your thoughts on the leaking cover. I'm grateful that it's my only issue after the HG job. It seemed like tear-down was more difficult than reassembly which helped my confidence as the job went along.

    I went ahead and ordered those half moons today before seeing your reply. Bummed me out that the dealer doesn't stock them, but judging from your response, it doesn't sound like there's much demand. I'll replace them and install new gaskets without sealant except where you mentioned. I did install new spark plug gaskets, but also with just a tiny smear of sealant so I'll check for oil leakage there too.

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    Good Deal! Let me know how it turns out...

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    EvoEatr, I have fixed the leaks with your advice - thanks!! I think some of the trouble might have been the valve cover gaskets from the kit I bought. I got gaskets from the dealership and they seemed a little bit fatter. Also, I replaced those half moons and noticed that the old ones broke apart when I removed them.

    Thanks again!

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    Glad to hear it turned out...I personally have used NAPA VC gaskets before with success..However as im sure your aware subarus can be very touchy with certain aftermarket componants...thermostats, axles, and gaskets just to name a few...Im glad it turned out to be a success....Good Luck with it..Ive seen a couple Subies with over 300k so taken care of they will last you....

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    Timing Belt Alignment Marked do not line up on a JDM EJ25 engine

    I just received a Late 97'/Early 98' ? (Spark plug wire-Date stamp=1997, Newer style T.B. tensioner, Block # 834231) JDM EJ25 BG9 engine to replace one in a 99 OBW.

    After removing the L & R timing belt covers.

    I noticed the alignment marks on the Timing belt only matched up with the 4 notches on the belt cover.
    But the Double alignment marks on the Intake & Exhaust CAMS do not match up with each other !!!!!

    Is this a sign that there was a replacement Timing Belt (Not likely on a 40-60K engine) or a Poor Head Gasket replacment and that I could have interfrerence problems ?

    FYI: I hand cranked the the main shaft CW (With a 22mm breaker bar), I felt resistance (Compression ?) that dissipated, then I continued hand cranking. I only felt a few heavier "Valve Spring" pop's (rotations).

    I didn't hear and Metal on Metal sounds.

    Is this what I should feel ?

    Thanks in advance,
    Last edited by rzazzera; 08-24-2010 at 10:15 AM.

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