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Discussion Starter #1
2010 Pilot with just over 150k on the clock. TB service including tensioner was done at 105k which was about 2 years ago. Over the last several months we have noticed an odd sound when the car is started. At first it only happened when the car had sat overnight and after starting the sound went away within a minute. It wouldn't happen if the car was still warm and then started. In the past few months it seems to be making the sound for longer - until normal operating temp is reached. And it seems to happen each time the car starts (but the warmer the car is already the shorter the sound lasts).


Here is a link to a short 10 second video of a cold start in 40 degree ambient temps - https://vimeo.com/317891769
I have video of the car idling with the sound while warming up and more after the sound dissipates if that helps.

I have found other videos online with a similar sound that indicate it is the timing belt tensioner. Apparently the tensioner rattle more when the engine is cold and the sound can go away when warmed up (like my issue).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inCk9me_rpY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SX6VOE64wGw&feature=youtu.be

Before I assume the TB tensioner is the culprit, I wanted to share my video in case you all think I should consider other possibilities.


Reading about Johnjk's tensioner issues here, I have learned that these can fail early and not make it 105k to the next TB interval.


If it is the tensioner, is it an urgent issue or can it get much worse before warranting a replacement? How do you know when to bite the bullet on another TB service or just replace the tensioner only?
 

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Yours sounds a bit worse than mine was. The sound I was getting from mine was more like the belt flapping against one of the idler pulleys (put your hand over a bicycle bell and pull the lever really fast). I did have small grains of timing belt on the surface of the cover and the motor. You can check the tensioner for leaks by pulling the top rear TB cover and pulling the top couple bolts on the bottom cover. Bend the cover out of the way and you should be able to see or get a cell phone camera down on the tensioner to check for leaks. If it is bad it will be wet with small particles of timing belt on it as well. if you have a bore scope, that is even better for getting in there.

My problem ended up being twofold. The Gates tensioner failed (part of my 105K TB service) and was leaking. The replacement I put in (Aisin) did not fail but the noise came back after a few hundred miles. When I pulled the 2nd tensioner it was dry. Replaced it with the Honda OEM tensioner and had no change in the noise. At this point I ended up doing the TB service with water pump (186K) and the Gates TB was noticeably longer than the replacement Aisin belt. I did not measure it, just stretched between my hands. Since the TB service at 186, the noise is gone and she is running great.

I was able to change my tensioners myself in about 45min without doing more than removing the top rear cover and a couple bolts out of the bottom cover. When replacing, start with the top bolt then the bottom bolt when putting the tensioner on. Also, pull the piston pin on the tensioner so it is just catching the piston. You will be able to grab it with some locking pliers and easily pull it out. I compressed the piston in a bench vise using a small piece of oak to protect the polished surface of the piston.

I was concerned the belt would jump a tooth or worse and grenade the engine. Could I have waited a few k more? Probably but I sleep better these days with it done. If it had sounded like yours, I would definitely be popping in a new tensioner at the least.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the response Johnjk. I was hoping you'd chime in. So it seems the sound mine is making isn't exactly the same, but a visual inspection would be in order. I will look into that. Did your sound go away when the car was warmed up? At first I thought this could be an emission issues since it only made the sound before normal operating temp was reached. But then I read somewhere that TB tensioners issue can go away when the engine is warm (not sure why but that's what someone stated).



I have the extended powertrain warranty coverage so I'll need to check to see if tensioners and pulleys are covered, although a leak or other kind of failure would have to be verified for coverage. So if it is something that is covered, then I may pull the cover first as you suggest just to check for my own knowledge.
 

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Mine was most prevalent when lightly accelerating or letting off on the throttle. It was there when cold, but as it warmed up, became more pronounced. On days where it was -5 outside, I would rarely hear the belt. For me the first tensioner was bad and needed replaced so I did it. Had I really listened to the sounds and put it all together, I would have gone after the belt straight away, but I didn't go further in to the teardown to check the belt when I started chasing this mid last year. Lesson learned and no damage done.

At a minimum pull that rear cam cover and start the vehicle up. You should be able to see the belt flapping and get a video of it for your dealer. I also have a bore-scope that comes in handy for getting down in to small areas to check things out. https://www.amazon.com/Anykit-Inspection-Compatible-Megapixels-Waterproof/dp/B07K6GCH74/ref=sr_1_52?crid=1SXGMH24GIQIN&keywords=borescope+iphone&qid=1550584963&s=gateway&sprefix=boresc,aps,299&sr=8-52 This one displays right on my phone allowing me to capture video and still images and it keeps my phone and fingers out of dangerous locations.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I also have a scope that I could use. Will try this weekend.


Interesting that yours got worse when warmed up. Mine acts the opposite.
 

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I had a chance this morning to go by the local Honda dealer. A service advisor and tech watched the video and agreed it sounds like the timing belt tensioner. They said they don't always leak but can fail internally too. Service advisor said their cost for replacing the tensioner is about $750. From what I can find online the tensioner is part 14520-RCA-A01and retails for $180 but can be had for less. So at $750 they are charged the same labor for a timing belt service it seems. But they are checking with the extended powertrain warranty to verify coverage (they think it might be covered but want to check to be sure). Then I'd only have to pay the $100 deductible.


They mentioned that while they were doing that repair that I should just replace the timing belt even though it only has 45k on it. They said for an extra $200 or so it would get me another 105k instead of another 60k with the existing belt (assuming it isn't already strecthed or worn prematurely from the tensioner issue). While I am not sure we'll keep the car for another 60k which would be 3 years (let alone keep it another 105k or another 5 years), I also have my doubts that it will last that long given how long this replacement lasted. At any rate, $200 seems high for just the timing belt as the part is $100 or less (14400-RCA-A01) and they would already have to take the belt off for the tensioner replacement. I will have to see what else they intend to replace for that price (I know it wasn't the water pump).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well it turns out the extended powertrain warranty will cover the tensioner and timing belt. I've got an appointment tomorrow to get that done and will report back.


I also noticed some signs of an oil leak near the dipstick. It almost looks like oil spilled out where the dipstick goes in. This is the same area as the spool valve but I wouldn't think a spool valve leak would extend up the shaft that the dipstick goes in. Maybe some junior tech overfilled the oil during a previous change - not sure if that is even possible.
 

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Well it turns out the extended powertrain warranty will cover the tensioner and timing belt. I've got an appointment tomorrow to get that done and will report back.


I also noticed some signs of an oil leak near the dipstick. It almost looks like oil spilled out where the dipstick goes in. This is the same area as the spool valve but I wouldn't think a spool valve leak would extend up the shaft that the dipstick goes in. Maybe some junior tech overfilled the oil during a previous change - not sure if that is even possible.
I'd bet spool valve.

An oil level overfill aint gonna come spitting out your dipstick. You are likely just seeing some wicking up the shaft.

Spray that area generously with brake parts cleaner and then compressed air, to dry it out.... then re-evaluate. But given the risk of taking out the alternator.... I'd be swapping spool valve gaskets asap.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'd bet spool valve.

An oil level overfill aint gonna come spitting out your dipstick. You are likely just seeing some wicking up the shaft.

Spray that area generously with brake parts cleaner and then compressed air, to dry it out.... then re-evaluate. But given the risk of taking out the alternator.... I'd be swapping spool valve gaskets asap.
Cleaning is a good idea. As you can see from the photos below, it is so dirty there that it would be hard to notice any leak from a particular spot.


front1.jpg

front2.jpg

side angle.jpg

side view.jpg

I guess the location of the grime mostly on the front side of the screws and dipstick shaft led me to think it was some kind of spill/overfill.
 

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That's ugly. Our 2011 with 100k literally looks brand new in that same area. All this talk of frying $400 alternators and $20 gasket fixes made me go inspect ours with a flashlight and a lighted mirror tool. It is dry as a bone.
 

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That's ugly. Our 2011 with 100k literally looks brand new in that same area. All this talk of frying $400 alternators and $20 gasket fixes made me go inspect ours with a flashlight and a lighted mirror tool. It is dry as a bone.
Yup, it's bad. Seeing how clean that same area looked in the video you linked made me think I had a leak because there is so much grime. At first I glanced and saw some grime from the side and thought it might be a spool valve leak. But now that I've taken those photos I'm not sure it's a leak. It seems more like a spill from a prior service. One service comes to mind - when I got home I noticed oil dripping on the garage floor and thought they didn't tighten the drain bolt enough. But upon further inspection there was just fluid spilled all over. For that and other reasons I'm not using those guys anymore.
 
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