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Specifically, the Subaru WRX sold in South Africa and Australia is 100% identical. And I mean that South Africa gets the Australian version of the WRX, there's no homologated version for SA.

Well, there is one difference: the service booklet of the South African WRX says the cambelt needs to be replaced every 100 000km (60k miles) whereas the ADM version says every 160 000km (100k miles). The weather and driving conditions between the two countries are virtually identical. The only difference between the two countries is that Australia has 98RON fuel where South Africa has only 95RON. But I can't see how fuel quality could impact timing belt service intervals.

So what gives? Are there good reasons why the same part on the same car, driven in the same conditions needs different service intervals?

  • I can only speculate: - Could it be that the SA-Version gets also sold in nearby African countries, where there are different driving/road conditions? - Could it be that the different fuel qualities put a heavier strain on the timing belt by inducing stronger impacts? - Could it be that there are different laws, especially regarding product warranty? - Could it be that Subarus product development department believes that driving habits in SA differ highly from Australian driving habits inducing heavier strain on the timing belt? – Martin Nov 22 '16 at 12:08
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    Almost sounds like a mistaken conversion between miles and km somewhere. – RemcoGerlich Nov 22 '16 at 12:42
  • Go with the country you're in! Seriously though, compare owner's manual, service manual and the Haynes/Chilton guides and go with the highest average. – KFP Nov 22 '16 at 14:45
  • Usually, the difference in timing belt longevity is due to the material makeup of the belt itself. Standard (100kkm) v Kevlar reinforced (160kkm). I cannot see why they'd do this between countries ... sounds very odd. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 22 '16 at 16:40
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    I'm thinking that, as it stands, this question is likely to garner lots of opinion and very little insight. Personally I suspect either an error, a documentation lag (perhaps there has been a change in Subaru's recommendations that the SA distributor hasn't picked up), or legal issues (who pays for a failed timing belt). But unless luck is upon us and somebody who knows can contribute an answer (with a citation, otherwise it will look like more opinion I fear) we may strike out. Could it be edited to ask about the factors in setting a maintenance interval and use this post as an example? – dlu Nov 22 '16 at 17:40
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I couldn't tell you why there is a difference, but both recommendations are wrong in my opinion. We always recommend changing a timing belt at 80,000 miles. No need to do it sooner and doing it later may cost you an engine overhaul from bending the valves when the belt breaks.

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    Welcome to the site! It would make you answer much more credible if you could tell us a bit about your expertise and how you arrived at that number. In your experience is the factory number used in Australia too high (do you see lots of failures)? – dlu Dec 26 '16 at 21:30
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There are belts, and then there are belts. The dealer should have a list they can check and tell you what parts are on your vehicle and how long they last under normal use. Many dealers do not want to take the time to do this for you, so go by the owner's manual, or here on a forum. It is 100,000 km.

2 lane roads, 12 to 14% grades, heavy loads, stop & go traffic, all put a strain on belts. I have noticed motors and belts in the same vehicles in America last longer. When a motor is ran at max output, as any machine, they wear out faster. That includes belts. Manufactures cheat by listing how long they should last on the high end of use & load. So for flat ground driving good roads, you should be able to add 1/2 over that and be safe. Here you are at max life at the 100,000 km.

When you replace belts, you should have 3 to choose from non-dealer replacement: light, medium and heavy duty or industrial grade. Figure out then how long until you plan to rebuild the motor and buy that belt to save a little. Or rebuild and then upgrade belts to last until the next rebuild.

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It's not only about the timing belt replacement. Subaru Sweden just changed the word miles to km. So, running the same distance, my 2005 Impreza needs two services in Canada and USA but three - in Sweden! Good för business. For them (105 miles = 168 km).

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