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Subaru Repair: How to Change Your Water Pump

Subaru Repair - How to Change Your Subaru Water Pump

To control internal temperature, the engine of a Subaru car utilizes coolant, pressurizing and pumping it within a water channel and radiator setup. Most automobiles have a block and head design. The Subaru, on the other hand, cycles coolant through the engine via water jacks surrounding a primary crankcase. The main pump is positioned at the front of the motor.


For this Subaru repair, you should need about 2 hours. Here are the steps to replace your water pump:


Step 1 – Before proceeding make sure the engine is completely cool (hasn’t run for four hours or more). Gather a socket set, pliers, screwdrivers, a drain pan, and coolant.


Step 2 – Unhook the lower radiator hose so that the coolant can flow out into the drain pan. To release the hose, squeeze together the pinch/crimp hose clamp arms or unscrew the clamps.


Step 3 – Disconnect the upper hose from the radiator. Also unscrew the bolts that stabilize it. Now pull it out of your Subaru by sliding it in the direction of the motor’s top. Remove the radiator with the fans attached.


Step 4 – Release the tension from the air conditioner belt tensioner pulley. Repeat the same for the alternator & power steering drive belt. You can then remove them from the car by pulling them in the direction of the motor’s front.


Step 5 – Before proceeding make sure the crank pulley’s 0* mark is lined up with the index mark on the timing cover! Remove the crank pulley and timing belt covers. Remove timing belt tensioner and the timing belt. Make sure the engine crank shaft and cam shafts do not rotate at all while the timing belt is off. If reusing the belt mark timing marks on the belt with the pulley.


Step 6 – You will see the water pump bolted into place at the lower left of the engine. Use counterclockwise turning on the five or six bolts to disconnect the pump. Pull it in the direction of the car’s front. You may see a little leftover coolant drip out as you move it; if so, wipe it away. Finally (for removal), check the mount location of the pump to see if its rubber gasket is stuck there; if so, remove it and make sure both surfaces are completely clean of any debris.


Step 7 – Put the gasket into the new water pump and place it back at the center of the engine. Turn the bolts clockwise to stabilize its position. You should have a strong seal between the motor and the pump. The bolts should be firmly in position.


Step 8 – Replace the timing belt and tensioner, making sure it is in time (exactly as it came off). Replace the timing belt cover, crank pulley. Make sure the crank pulley is tightened to the proper torque specification. Replace all remaining parts in the reverse order from taking them off. Reconnect the radiator’s lower and upper hoses.


Step 9 – Pour coolant into the radiator, being aware that distilled water will help safeguard your vehicle again corrosion, debris, and rust. Start the car. Keep pouring in fluid until your Subaru cannot take anymore. Place the radiator cap back onto the car. Pour coolant into the overflow tank until it is at the correct level.


Step 10 – Test drive then turn off engine and let cool down and check for leaks. It’s best to use pressure test the coolant system to see if there are any leaks.

Note: Properly gather and dispose of your coolant to safeguard the local Boulder environment.


Your Subaru repair is complete. You should now have a new water pump in your car, and your car’s system should be ready to go.


Subaru News & Information


Now that you are complete with the replacement of your water pump, we can review some recent news stories that may be of interest to you as a Subaru owner:


  • Subaru Outback safety system rated “superior”
  • A 1996 decision that fueled Subaru’s US success


Subaru Outback safety system rated “superior”


A study was created to lower the number of reverse low-speed crashes by analyzing rear crash prevention systems in various vehicles. The research, released on Tuesday, February 20, used a classification system that placed rear safety systems within three categories: basic, advanced, and superior. Six cars were assessed, each of them from a different automaker, all 2017 models with strong sales. The results were as follows:



  • BMW 5 series sedan
  • Infiniti QX60 SUV
  • Jeep Cherokee SUV
  • Toyota Prius hatchback.



  • Cadillac XT5 SUV
  • Subaru Outback wagon.


Various technologies are incorporated into rear crash prevention systems. When a vehicle with one of these systems installed is backing up and gets near another car, sensors either cause the seat to vibrate or caution beeps to sound. Cross-traffic warnings let the driver know about cars approaching from either side as they move backward. Automatic emergency braking systems sense when an object is too close, causing the car to brake if the driver does not do so first (in response to the warning beeps).


The program for assessment of these safety systems was created by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a nonprofit, independent research and informational body that is committed to minimizing fatalities, bodily harm, and property damage that results from car collisions. To be clear, this test looked specifically at damage-prevention without taking into account injury-prevention.


To get a rating of “superior” from the IIHS, a car must have rear autobraking that fares well in numerous test runs at 4 mph – either completely stopping impact or getting the speed down to 1 mph or less (i.e. impact but without damage).


The Cadillac, like the Subaru, received this high rating with all three of the above optional systems – rear cross-traffic alert, parking sensors, and rear autobrake –implemented. The Toyota, Jeep BMW, and Infiniti have those same three systems optionally available; however, when the IIHS tested those cars, they did not respond as well as the Subaru and Cadillac did.


The IIHS performed previous research that determined there are 78% fewer accidents, according to the number of police reports, when rear autobrake, parking sensors, and a rearview camera are in place.


The nonprofit noted that the most critical feature is rear autobrake, since its studies suggest it is most effective in crash-prevention. However, the organization has also found that there are fewer collisions when parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alerts are present, as indicated by insurer and police reports, respectively.


A 1996 decision that fueled Subaru’s US success


Subaru of America, the New Jersey-based US wing of the Japanese carmaker, has seen its sales figures rise for ten years in a row. The numbers have not always been positive in the United States, though. A 1996 decision was central to the success Subaru is seeing today.


In fact, the early days here were challenging for Subaru, to say the least – particularly when Consumer Reports called the Subaru 360 “the most unsafe car on the market.”


Harvey Lamm, cofounder of the automaker, decided to build the brand in places where Consumer Reports did not have many subscribers: rural areas of western Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Washington state, Minnesota, and Vermont. In these sparsely populated areas, Ford Broncos, Jeeps, and pickups were the only four-wheel-drive vehicles available. Subaru entered the fray.


The key moment for the carmaker, though, came two decades later, in 1996. Then, the parent company of Subaru, Fuji Heavy Industries, decided to build in Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive as a standard feature on almost all of its models.


The decision to transition to cars that were only available as AWD was an important differentiating move; after all, Japanese automobiles were known for being front-wheel-drive cars centered on fuel-efficiency. The carmaker created a niche for itself by including 4WD as part of the basic notion of what a Subaru is.


Now, the strongest car segment in the United States is pickups, SUVs, and CUVs. Subaru is in the best possible position, thanks in large part to a strategic 1996 decision.


An honest Boulder mechanic


With strong safety ratings and the ability to take on any snow or terrain, Subaru cars are popular here in Boulder. Despite their durability, sometimes repairs and routine maintenance are needed. When your Subaru must be fixed, you need an honest mechanic. At Independent Motors, 90% of the work we do is repeat business. See our Subaru repair philosophy.

Commonly Needed Subaru Repairs to Help Maintain Your Vehicle

Common Subaru Repairs


Why Subaru Remains Popular


People do love their Subarus. There are many good reasons for that and it’s no wonder they remain a popular brand. Subaru vehicles are well known for their safety, reliability, and fuel efficiency which are certainly what most people are looking for in their commuter vehicles. That’s not to say Subarus aren’t tough, either. Many people buy them because they can handle difficult terrain and can adjust to nearly any weather condition. In a place like Boulder, Colorado where the roads can get pretty perilous during the winter months, this excellent handling is essential. When you need a good all-purpose vehicle with four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, Subaru is a great choice. It’s the most popular brand sold in Colorado for a reason.


Common Subaru Repairs


You’ve got a car that has a great reputation for handling in inclement weather, being safe, being durable, and overall being a reliable vehicle. It sounds great. Your Subaru should last you for years to come. However, inevitably problems will arise. That’s just the nature of car ownership. Everything degrades eventually and it needs to be fixed. While making sure you’re getting routine maintenance done regularly will help prevent some of these major Subaru repairs, know that there is a distinct possibility at least one of these issues will pop up as the years go by. Once you hit a certain point in your mileage, wear and tear damage is inevitable. It’s unlikely you’ll have all or many of these problems, but it’s best to be prepared for the one or two that may strike. Here is what you need to know about the most common Subaru repairs.


Leaking Head Gaskets


The first of many issues common to some Subaru models that isn’t necessarily obvious at first. Make no mistake, though. Driving around for any significant amount of time with leaking head gaskets can lead to big problems. The major indicator that something could be wrong with a head gasket is the loss of coolant. Coolant can leak from anywhere and you may not see it. It could be leaking into the vehicle itself. Coolant that gets pulled into the engine can quickly cause damage due to overheating. Everything from spark plugs failing to corrosion and rust can occur depending on where the coolant leaks. If you’re noticing performance issues, particularly regarding overheating, bring your vehicle in for service right away.


Double Offset Joint Repair


Subarus have a reputation for developing joint issues, especially in the front axle. Many people end up bringing their vehicles in for exactly this type of repair when they start noticing a new clunking sound while driving. Always be sure to bring your vehicle in for service as soon as possible when new sounds begin to come up when driving. This is doubly true if you notice your vehicle is starting to handle differently. You don’t want to lose any precision when it comes to controlling your vehicle for safety reasons. 


Constant Velocity Joint Repair


Here is another one of those issues that can get categorized in the “What’s that weird noise?” department. You may not think about it, but there are many joints under your vehicle that help turn your 3,000-pound machine effortlessly. Eventually, it becomes too much. When you start noticing clicking noises when you turn, it could be something wrong with a joint. Subarus are known for needing CV joint repairs regularly. Any changes in handling or new noises when turning need to be investigated by a mechanic.


Worn Axle Bearings


You may be starting to sense a pattern here. It’s hard to say why there are so many common issues regarding Subarus and the wheels/axles. One reasonable theory could be that people often buy a Subaru vehicle to deal with tough terrain and inclement weather. Driving over all of that with regularity comes at a cost. Axle or wheel bearings going bad give some telltale signs. Again, a lot of it comes down to sound. That clinking, humming, rumbling, and grinding is always a sign of something bad. It just may be hard to tell what joint or bearing is making it. The worst part about worn axle bearings is they may give few signs of anything being wrong until real damage is done. So, don’t delay on getting it looked at.


A/C System O-Rings


Air condition leaks aren’t uncommon in any kind of vehicle, really. It’s one of the more common reasons why someone brings their car into the shop. However, one specific cause of issues in the air conditioning system in Subaru vehicles is the failure of the A/C system O-ring. It’s not an expensive part and it can be replaced by your mechanic relatively easily. However, despite it not being a major fix, a broken o-ring causes the leaking of refrigerant which can have far reaching consequences like causing the compressor to overheat and fail. If you notice any kind of leakage, get it checked out right away.


Oil Issues


A few years back, Subaru had a big problem on its hands with certain models having an oil consumption problem. Essentially, what was happening was the piston rings in these models were failing. This caused the vehicle to consume far more oil than usually necessary. Not only did this necessitate frequent repairs, but it also required an unusually high number of oil changes/replacements for the vehicle. The issue seems to have been settled, and Subaru made concessions like extended warranties for its customers. But, if you’re driving a 2013 or 2014 model, you should be aware of this problem.


Timing Belt Replacement


The timing belt is one of those issues that you will one day have to face, but you kind of dread it because when a timing belt fails, it can mean the end of the engine. That’s why mechanics often recommend replacing it as you approach 100,000 miles rather than waiting for an issue to arise. That’s because when a problem actually occurs, it’s too late. For a while, Subaru vehicles developed a reputation for having earlier timing belt failures in comparison to other brands. This seems to be isolated to vehicles from the early 2000s, but you should never take timing belt issues lightly. If your mechanic recommends replacing your timing belt during a routine maintenance session, you should seriously consider it, especially as you near that 100,000 miles mark.




When you purchased your Subaru, you did so with the expectation that you’d be able to keep driving it for many years to come. You can, but it will take a little work sometimes just like with all vehicles. If one of the common Subaru issues strikes your vehicle, you want to bring your car into the professionals you can trust to do the job right. At Independent Motors, we have decades of combined experience servicing Subaru vehicles of all kinds. If you need repairs done or just some routine maintenance, call us today to schedule an appointment to come in. We’re dedicated to providing you with excellent service at a great price. Our team of experts will make sure you can get your Subaru back on the road.