Is my mechanic right or wrong?


My mechanic replaced my car’s timing belt, but when my engine seized because the timing belt had jumped, he took no responsibility for it. Should I still trust him as my mechanic?

Q. I have a 2009 Subaru Impreza. I took it to my local repair shop because of a small oil leak that came up when it hit the manifold, but the mechanic said it was being caused by a worn seal behind the timing belt. He replaced the seals and timing belt at a cost of $680. Three days later, I tried to start the car, and the engine seized. I towed it to my garage and was told I needed a new engine. He said it looked like the timing belt had jumped but took no responsibility for it, saying that the mechanism controlling one of the pulleys on the timing belt had broken. The cost of a new engine replacement plus additional parts is going to run about $2,700. I have always trusted this mechanic, and he has treated me well. I would like to trust him now, but I am a little hesitant to do so. What do you think?

A. These engines have a history of problems with the timing belt tensioner. In my opinion, it is the responsibility of the technician to carefully inspect all the related parts when replacing the timing belt. I believe the shop needs to replace the engine with a used engine of about the same mileage at no charge or replace with a new engine where you would pay the difference between new and used.


John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician. Email your car question to