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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I went to a supposedly well-known tuner to have my cams installed. After leaving my car there 3 days, I picked it up and was ready for my 4+ hour drive home. After taking a nap so that I don't get sleepy on the drive.. I started. I didn't exactly baby the car, since according the tuner there was no need.. but I didn't exactly run it super-hard either. I just... *shrug*.. drove it normally.

The car felt peppy, and I was pretty happy with everything. Nothing felt unusual. There was no funny noises, or whine or anything.

In any case... about an hour and a half and 90 miles into the trip, I was reaching a rest stop.. so I slowed down and turn on the heater full blast to remove some of the engine heat. Well, there's this acrid burning smelling. A few seconds later, I hear a loud POP from the engine compartment. Its comparable to the sound of a champagne bottle popping. The car shudders and the engine struggles to stay alive. It drops from a steady 3k.. to a waver 1.5K... hesitates a few more seconds.. then EVERYTHING dies. This is... 3AM in the middle of nowhere. And about 250miles away from home.

I have the car towed to a garage, and greyhounded it home since there was nothing I can do in Buffalo and I had to get back to work and school.

The carnage?

http://www.ryanoneil.com/don/
pix 4-16.

wats left of my car..

The timing belt is STILL IN ONE PIECE. and all the teeth are there and they don't looked chewed up at all. The backside of the timing belt was scorched on the inside 3/4, but again untouched on the outside 1/4. There are a few deep gashes in it (pix 15,16) When we took off the timing belt cover, it was still sorta sitting where it was suppose to be... little tension though. The two idler pulleys that sandwich the main crankshaft pulley are absolutely TOAST as you can see in the pictures. The driver side pulley's grooves are perfect, but the outer ring was absolutely fried. It just broke into two pieces. There were bearings scattered everywhere. We did a valve leakdown test on the front passenger side chamber, and the results are not good. I have bent valves, at the very least in one chamber.

Both Subaru and the tuner have denied responsibilty and rejected any sort of Warranty claim. The tuner asks me.. "how can I have messed that up? What would I have done? How is it my fault?" He claims that the bearings siezed and that its a manufacturer's defect, therefore he shouldn't have to fix it. He also said that since we cannot say it is definitevely his fault, he will not warranty it.

Subaru will definitely not warranty it. They don't know about the cams, but even before that they will not touch it. Why? This is funny. I guess they pulled some sort of Freeze-frame code from the ECU and said that I had too much load on the car. According to the figures.. i was.. at 6300RPM.. yet car speed was 0. My coolant temperature was 9 degrees, manifold pressure was -730mmHG (near vacuum), and the load on my car was 87%. Therefore, they will not warranty it.. especially with my intake, headers, exhaust, etc.

There are many questions.. WHAT THE F!#@$ happened?!? could the belt have been overtightened? Buts its an automatic tensioner so how could THAT have happened? I've gone through the CAm installation instructions and am not sure exactly where he could've messed up to have this catastrophe? I mean, its more than possible... but this tuner comes highly recommended by a many people. The other odd thing is the lack of some signs. I guess its suppose to whine like a cat giving birth or make some sorta noise.. but it didn't! THe only noise I heard was the pop. Granted, my car has an exhaust and its loud.. but its not THAT loud. I definitely would've been able to hear something.

*sigh*. so now help me guys. What should I do? What else could be wrong with my car? Given my situation, recommend various courses of action. I really miss my baby.

Don
 

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Man, that seriously sucks. I think it's pretty obvious that the installer is at fault. Sure, the tensioner is what actually failed and caused the damage, but it most likely wouldn't have unless something in that area was worked on improperly. Or if it wasn't the tensioner, then a cam gear wasn't installed correctly, in which case it should be obvious whos fault that is. Thats pretty messed up that they don't see it that way.

I guess the next step would be new heads, I saw a couple people selling them around here lately for not too much, or better yet, get the shop to replace them. And get em ported/polished while they're off.
 

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This is the picture from Don's web site of the idler pulley that failed.



This pulley is not touched or removed during the install. The one with the caged bearings is the Right had pulley (tensioner). The right hand pulley is the one that is compressed to facilitate the install.

If you take a close look at the picture, you'll see that there are bearings missing from the pulley.

Making a conclusion that the tuner was at fault for a pulley that failed is incorrect. Another instance of this occured while a cobb cam was being installed. The same pulley, different cam, different installer. Subaru Canada accepted the warranty claim.

Wistful, I appreciate your professionalism in this matter, but in the case of the cobb cam install that went like yours, the valves were not bent. It may not be necessary to replace the engine, have you tried to replace just the pulley and install a new timing belt? If not, try that first.

PM me for other alternatives.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
well....

Both pulleys are toast. That sort of needs explanation. Say one pulley failed. That alone would be mildly interesting. But to have TWO pulleys fry like that? The reason that some of the bearings are missing is because they are scattered throughout the engine bay. If you look at the other pictures, you can see various imprints that they left throughtout the timing belt cover.

Anothing thing that needs explanation, I think, is the condition of the belt. why is only the inner 3/4 charred.. and the outer 1/4 untouched? Not to mention the deeeep gashes in the last two pictures. Those gashes were not present in other parts of the belt.

According to the Subaru tech manual and the Cobb cams installation directions, these pulleys are removed when taking off the timing belt or.. in our case.. installing cams. Perhaps there's a reason for this?

I need to, for sure, at least open up the engine, since I have bent valves in at least one chamber.

Don
 

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You can have your car towed to the Amigone Funeral Home now. :run: Just messin with ya. You know I can relate to not having your car.
 

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Whoever touched it last, broke it, especially if they worked on something related. If they took that belt off, then they put it back on, and possibly did it wrong.

I'd call the tuner and say "Sorry, you're on the hook for a new engine." Be professional and polite at all costs, but if they cannot come to an acceptible bargain, hire a lawyer.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
well.. the lawyer idea runs into 3 problems

1) The tuner is located in Toronto, Canada. I have NO idea how international business law would run.

2) The cost of lawyer involvement would probably be as much as new motor anyway. Wouldn't it? i'm not very well versed with the law. If someone can correct me on this, or if the guilty party would have to fit the bill... then... hmm.....

3) We cannot definitively prove it was the tuner's fault. True ALL circumstantial evidence points his way. BUT all concrete evidence is nuked.

If anybody can provide answers to any of these three problems, I'd be grateful.

Don
 

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International - I have no idea. However, legal fees are paid by the loser in most cases, right? Finally, it would probably be interpreted that the last person who worked on the car, assuming the touched the broken parts, was liable for the damage.

MAYBE.

I'm no lawyer, of course, but it might be worth $50 to consult with one who specializes in warranty claims.
 

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Please don't speculate the shop's name. Any i-clubber can attest that is does no one any good to flame a business. Please keep conjecture out of the duscussion and let don ask the questions he needs to get the answers he needs to resolve the problem.
 

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I have to agree, naming isn't productive. But, in this case I think naming my get more of a response then calling a lawyer. This kind of thing is horriable for everyone involved, you have a serious expense on your hand. If you take your car to someone that is supposedly a tuner and they remove and replace the cam belt, then it or a related component fails I think you have a legitament beef. To me they should have inspected the pulleys and replaced anything suspect, but realistically I think they rushed and f$%ked up the job. Hard lesson to learn.
 

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Either way, lets wait till this is resolved and then pass judgement on the tuner. The thread on i-club is going the same direction. I know of at least one guy (personnally) who did the exact same thing with "the other guy's" cams after not torquing correctly. Side note, Don if you want more pictures of Amigone Funeral Home let me know, my folks live right down the street ;)
 

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I've seen similar belt/pulley failures on other cars in the past. It usually happens with absolutly no warning, and is almost always the fault of a bad bearing. Don't blame the installer unless you can prove he did something wrong. While it is neccesary to remove the tensioner assembly, the pulley itself is not touched, only the bolt in the tensioner bracket. It would be nearly impossible to damage this bearing unintentionally.

Looking at the pictures, I can tell you with 95% cetainty that this was a bearing failure, not an installation problem.

The reason the belt is only burned on one side is that when the pulley bearings let go, it allowed the pulley to cock sideways and only rub on part of the belt. The pulley was probably siezed up, and the friction of the belt sliding across it caused the belt to melt.

I've heard of issues with the SOHC belt tensioners having bearing noises when cold... and from the freeze frame data you posted, it seems that the engine was revved hard while it was still cold, (48 degrees F) possibly this could have caused the bearing to start to fail.

Look closely at picture 7. That is the timing belt tensioner in question. It failed because of a bad bearing, not a hydraulic failure... in other words, the pulley failed, NOT the tensioner itself. While there is a right and wrong way to compress this tensioner, it really does not matter in this case, because compressing the tensioner the wrong way would damage the hydraulic portion, and not the pulley. The idler pulley to the left of the crank gear has also failed... which one failed first? Impossible to say, because the amount of heat generated in the belt by one siezed pulley would be enough to destroy all of the idler bearings.

Could the installer have found the bad bearings earlier? Maybe. As I stated earlier, these bearings usually give no warning before they die, and a simple spin test by hand would reveal nothing, because the pulley would be spinning much slower than normal and with a fraction of the normal load.

In my professional opinion, it is probably not the fault of the installer.


I hope this helps.
John I. ASE Master auto mechanic, General Motors Technical Assistance
 
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