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I'm looking for the timing belt specification for my 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback. I need the number of teeth that are supposed to be between each mark, as my (replacement) belt came without the white marks. Do I need to use specific tooth numbers between marks on pulleys, or do I just line up the pulleys and then put the belt on however it fits?

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    Is this the single or dual cam engine? SteveRacers answer shows the setup for the dual cam. The single cam is even easier all the timing marks are at 12 o'clock. If you don't have access to SI you remove the lower left idler to R&R the belt. I also find starting the belt on the toothed idler (after positioning the belt how it goes) and turning the engine by hand is a lot easier than killing your self trying to get the belt on. Then you just release the pin turn it over a few times and it's good. – Ben Jun 1 at 3:09
  • Thanks for the advice! This is a dohc engine though. – Cullub Jun 1 at 4:01
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    @Ben oddly, the 2.5 DOHC was the only [USDM] engine available in the Legacy Outback in 1998-99. In 1997, the 2.2 SOHC was available in the Outback Sport, but this is an Impreza chassis. 1996 was the last year you could get either the 2.2 (SOHC) or the 2.5 (DOHC) in an Outback Legacy. Even more ridiculous, the ONLY engine available starting in 2000 for the Legacy is a 2.2 SOHC. until 2005 when the Legacy had an optional 2.5 DOHC turbo. It always pays to check. These cars are literally like Legos; anything will fit anything. My answer was easy - 1999 was a "2.5 DOHC only" year. – SteveRacer Jun 4 at 2:01
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I don't like those "preprinted" marks anyway. You are much better off following the sprocket alignment pictures below.

After the belt is installed and the tensioner properly set, crank the engine over BY HAND (in the running direction) at least four full revolutions, and check that all marks come back to perfect alignment.

I've done dozens of these, and following those silly marks painted on the belt only leads to trouble. Sometimes they are not exactly right from the "belt factory", and sometimes you start with the wrong mark - only to pull it off and start over.

I prefer Gates, Continental, or OEM Subaru, but YMMV. A cheap belt is not money saved. Replace the water pump while you are in there. Same theory. Even though Subaru drives the water pump with the smooth "backside" of the belt [smart move, Subaru] if it needs the belt, it could probably do with a new water pump, and fresh coolant. The best kits come with everything: tensioner, belt, idlers, water pump, gaskets, "grenade pin", date/mileage sticker for the airbox, etc. - even DETAILED instructions on the alignment, torques, and installation procedure. Conti or Gates. Money well spent IMNHO.

Take your time and Good Luck!

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  • Awesome, thanks! So basically, don't worry about counting belt teeth? Just put it on however it fits after lining up the marks? – Cullub May 31 at 10:34
  • @Cullub Yes, that's it. [IMO]. I can't name any seasoned mechanics that use those painted stripes. You still have to line up the notches whether you use the stripes or not. Just make sure there isn't much slack in any span between sprockets. Like Ben said, check and double check, pull the tensioner grenade pin, and crank it over several revolutions by hand. It should all come back in place with perfect alignment. If it doesn't, you have to try again - but the paint stripes wouldn't have helped you much anyway. I think the belts have an odd number of teeth that "walks" the belt. – SteveRacer Jun 4 at 2:08
  • This makes the belt wear evenly, and every belt tooth sees every sprocket slot. It make take hundreds of revolutions fo the paint stripes to come back into alignment., – SteveRacer Jun 4 at 2:13

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