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Discussion Starter #1
Got that annoying rattle back from the passenger side of the engine compartment. Quick look last night shows the tensioner I replaced earlier this year (172K) is leaking. No warranty claim since I'm over 12K in miles since it was replaced. So far I've had issues with Honda, Gates and Asian tensioners failing well before what I would consider their lifespan, and that would be 100K or the life of the timing belt. Ordered another tensioner from RA this morning and am going to try the Dayco tensioner this time around. At 186K, if this one fails, I'm just gonna bite the bullet and do the complete TB service. Hopefully this Dayco part will make it till springtime.
 

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So far I've had issues with Honda, Gates and Asian tensioners failing ...
I assume you mean Aisin tensioner. Were those all for the Honda 3.5? Do you recall how long each of those tensioners lasted? I'm struggling with the idea that Dayco is going to do any better than Honda or Aisin. It would be nice if someone that bought the Dayco chimed in though.

BTW, what was the brand of tensioner that just failed? I've heard that even the Honda Tensioners are susceptible to early failure, although my impression is that most of them go 100K.

Thanks for posting.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Spellchecker strikes again. Yes, Aisin was the last tensioner. All were for the 2011 Pilot, 3.5. The original Honda tensioner was leaking at 104K when I replaced my first TB, the Gates made it from 104K to 172K for a total of 68K and the Aisin made it a paltry 14K (now at 186K). I had planned on replacing the Aisin tensioner regardless if it leaked or not when I do the TB service in 14K.

I agree, it would be nice to know what people's experiences are with aftermarket TB kits and tensioners.
 

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So out of the bunch, the Honda tensioner went the farthest. Even though it might not go as long as we'd like, this is as I would expect. The surprise here is that the Aisin tensioner did so poorly. Maybe a bad copy?


There was a thread in here a week or so ago of somebody that changed their TB, only to have it skip a few teeth. Turns out it was a bad NEW tensioner (GATES) that just wasn't holding tension. I'd be skepical of DAYCO, & go back to Honda.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Rocky, I am installing them. Pretty easy process. Remove the rear timing belt cover, remove one screw on the lower timing belt cover to allow you access to the TB tensioner bolts. Remove 2 bolts holding the tensioner in place, install the replacement tensioner with two bolts, pull the pin to allow the piston to come out and put presser on the tensioner cam, replace the covers and you are done.

I have a couple weeks vacation coming up in December. As much as I do not want to do a TB service in the winter, I may just bite the bullet and do my 200K service early and install the Honda TB kit.
 

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Honda does not, of course, make their own tensioners. Not sure who does but probably Aisin. Have been reading many Lexus, Toyota, Honda, Acura DIY forums over many, many years. Also have installed quite a few Aisin and Honda/Toyota OEM hydraulic tensioners. The only problem I have ever heard about was a batch of crapper Gates tensioners.

Your experience with Honda and Aisin tensioners is way out on the end of the bell curve. You say the original Honda was leaking at 104k miles. Did you actually test it? A little seepage is normal.

I’m with Rocky...something is not quite right with this picture.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I did not test the original but it was leaking to the point that the body of the tensioner was wet with fluid. I stopped by my local Honda Dealer and grabbed an OEM tensioner and installed it on Saturday morning. The noise is now gone and after driving a few hundred miles this weekend, it has not returned. The Aisin tensioner looked OK with a little leaking around the plunger but it definitely was not doing its job in temps below 40F. Saturday morning it was 56 and no noise from the timing belt. Had me thinking I was losing it and hearing things. This week we are back down in the low 30's upper 20's so I'll see how the Honda part does. I suppose I could be looking at an idler pulley going bad but that would be a constant increasing noise, not something that comes and goes. Away I'll be ordering up the parts to do my next TB/ Water pump service. They won't go bad sitting on my shelf for a couple months and if I start hearing that noise again, I'll have everything on hand to do the service.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Update on the issues i.e the noise is still there

So it didn't take long to start hearing the noise again. Although not as loud as with the Aisin tensioner, it is still there. My theory at this point is that the Gates timing belt installed 83K ago has stretched just enough that a tensioner is just able to do its job, and if the tensioner is a bit weak, the noise I am used to hearing gets louder. Makes a bit more sense than having the two replacement tensioners fail. That being said, I've ordered up a Honda belt, pulleys and water pump to replace this weekend or next week. I'll do a comparison with the Gates belt and the replacement Honda belt to see if I can see any difference with size. The positive out of this is I can park my Pilot after I get home until I am able to get the TB service done. The negative, well it's winter again. I'll be doing coolant hoses, thermostat and plugs at the same time. Now that I know the trick for releasing the crank pulley bolt I should be able to get this done in well under 8hrs. Heck, I can change the tensioner with my eyes closed now.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Update - Noise Gone

What do you do on vacation days? I did my timing belt service at 186K. I had a couple issues so I was glad I took care of it now. First issue was that my accessory belt tensioner was frozen. I could not move it at all. May be some of the issue with the noise but seeing that it went away when I replaced the timing belt tensioner earlier, I'm not thinking it was much of a contributor. I ended up cutting off the accessory belt and then removing the tensioner. Both were replaced with new Aisin components. I did find the motor mount on the right side (has to be removed to replace timing belt) had a bunch of cracks. New mount ordered from Honda. No issues this time around with breaking free the crank shaft pulley bolt and removing the current timing belt. When placed next to the Aisin belt, it was a slight bit larger. No signs of cracking or other wear, just a bit longer. Off with the idler and tensioner pulleys and on to the water pump. Still no leaks on the original pump. Out it came with the use of a short section of 2x2 and a mini maul. The one thing I was not ready for was the amount of antifreeze that remained in the engine. I drained the radiator to start so I could replace the upper/lower hoses and thermostat, but there was a lot of fluid left in the passages. Coated the front structure and floor with fluid. What a mess. Put on the new pump and torqued the bolts to spec. I wiped up what I could with shop towels and then used the air hose to dry off the right side of the engine.

Reassembly went smooth up to the point where I was installing the timing belt tensioner. I managed to get off centered on the top bolt and sheered the head of the bolt off. Stupid move. I tried a couple things to get it out but could not get on the remaining portion of the bolt with the clearance from the sub frame. Called the dealer who quoted me 100 bucks to remove the bolt and finish the job. They also recommended that I reassemble as much of the engine as possible to keep reassembly costs down. Everything went back on with the exception of the TB covers, accessory tensioner, accessory belt. The crank pulley was refitted and the bolt hand tightened since it had to come back off again. All remaining parts were tagged and bagged and I topped off what I could on the coolant. Called AAA and towed it in. The dealer to my surprise also had no issue with installing the Aisin parts.

Long story short, they had to drop the engine about two inches to get clearance to get the sheared bolt out. I could not do that with my setup. Since they quoted me 100 for labor and the real costs were around 500, the dealer only charged me 200 which I thought was fair since it was my screw up. Got her back home last night and she runs nice and quite. I had to top off the coolant reservoir and will keep an eye on it going forward. I need to get it in a car wash with an underbody spray to get some of that splashed coolant off. No signs of leaks which is good.

So what didn't I get to yet. I still have the plugs, brakes and brake fluid to do. I will wait till I roll 200K on these items since they do not need done now. The engine mount will also be done at that time or earlier if I get a couple free hours. I also have a tire rotation to do as well. I'll have the shop that installed the tires do it this round so they can check the balance as well. No cost service for this.

Had I not messed up with that one bolt, I would have had the entire job done in seven hours which is pretty good. Tear down took me almost 3hrs, there is a lot of stuff that needs removed to free up the right side of the motor to do this job. I was more organized this time with setting up a work surface to hold my tools, new parts, removed hardware, etc. great not to be looking around for lost hardware.

Time to do something a bit less strenuous and brew some beer this afternoon. Cheers to all and Merry Christmas!!
 

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Woohoo now you get that major maintenance crick on your neck to go away for years!

Not looking forward to 2021 when I get to do this job.
 

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Pretty easy process. Remove the rear timing belt cover, remove one screw on the lower timing belt cover to allow you access to the TB tensioner bolts. Remove 2 bolts holding the tensioner in place, install the replacement tensioner with two bolts, pull the pin to allow the piston to come out and put presser on the tensioner cam, replace the covers and you are done.



Do you have to remove the tension on the belt (by turning the pulley?) prior to removing the two bolts holding the tensioner in place? I'm concerned about removing the bolts under tension and messing up the threads in the block.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I did not. No issues with damaging the threads on the bolts or in the block. With my old belt, there was enough stretch in it that I easily got the new tensioner put back in, bolts snug and then could pull the pin to release the piston. Pulling that pin was the hardest part of the TB service.

On the new Aisin belt kit, I struggled to get that top bolt in while lining up the tensioner and holding pressure on it. One of the tips I read was to leave the idler pulley near the front of the engine loose, but if you look at the timing belt diagram, the belt is captive on both cams as well as the crank shaft and directions said to make it taught between the front cam and the crank shaft pulley... Not sure what the loose idler pulley would have bought me. I had a new Aisin tensioner on hand as well. Tried it just to make sure there were no differences between the Honda OEM and the one that came with the kit.

A second set of eyes/hands would have probably been helpful this time. On the positive side, it just cost me a few bucks more and a few days without my ride.
 

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I thought my accessory belt tensioner was bad because I saw a few videos online showing the same knocking sound I had on cold startups. I think some people just don't understand the difference between timing belt tensioner and serpentine/accessory belt tensioner. I ruled that out by removing my accessory belt and still hearing the noise.


I replaced the timing belt tensioner with an Aisin part. It looked identical to the one I removed from my Pilot (all original, built in late 2010) except all the hydraulic fluid had leaked out of the old one. I previously reported in another post that I thought I had a CV axle boot going bad because a while back I noticed the boot on the passenger side axle kept getting coated with oil despite me wiping it off at every oil change. It turns out it was the timing belt tensioner leaking its hydraulic fluid onto the boot below.



The job was very easy. The only challenge is that there's very little space to work with all the small bolts, specifically the hard AC lines in the way. Now that the new timing belt tensioner is installed my engine sounds very smooth. I got about 90K miles out of the original tensioner.. I expected more out of a Honda but oh well at least it wasn't to difficult or expensive.


Unfortunately I discovered that my passenger side engine mount is leaking, and the engine rotates a lot when putting it in drive or switching back to park so I guess I'll be replacing front and rear engine mounts now.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I was able to change my TB tensioner without removing the accessory drive belt or drive belt tensioner. I just removed the top rear TB cover and a few bolts on the lower cover to give me access to the tensioner. My first thought when I started hearing the noise was the accessory belt tensioner, but I too had the oil leakage from the timing belt tensioner down the back right side and could see where the lower bottom of the tensioner was wet with hydraulic oil. I now have the Aisin TB kit / water pump in with a Honda tensioner. She is nice and quiet now.

You mentioned the engine mount on yours. I noticed the right side mount being cracked on mine (remove as part of the TB service) so I ordered a replacement from the dealer. No clunking or engine movement that I am aware of at this point, but it will get replaced when I hit 200K this summer.
 

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I was able to change my TB tensioner without removing the accessory drive belt or drive belt tensioner. I just removed the top rear TB cover and a few bolts on the lower cover to give me access to the tensioner. My first thought when I started hearing the noise was the accessory belt tensioner, but I too had the oil leakage from the timing belt tensioner down the back right side and could see where the lower bottom of the tensioner was wet with hydraulic oil. I now have the Aisin TB kit / water pump in with a Honda tensioner. She is nice and quiet now.
That's exactly what I did. I didn't remove the drive belt tensioner, I just removed the drive belt to rule that out as the source of my noise. I too removed the top rear timing belt cover and removed three bolts from the lower cover. I wasn't sure if I would be able to bend the lower cover enough without breaking because the pin sticks out of the new timing belt tensioner pretty far, but there was plenty of room. I had some trouble removing the pin initially but all you really need are a good set of pliers. I came in from the under the wheel well, on the side of the engine through where I had the lower timing belt cover pulled back. Another little trick I did was tie a long shoelace to the pin to keep it from falling down inside the lower cover, in case I lost grip with the pliers after removing it from the tensioner.



You mentioned the engine mount on yours. I noticed the right side mount being cracked on mine (remove as part of the TB service) so I ordered a replacement from the dealer. No clunking or engine movement that I am aware of at this point, but it will get replaced when I hit 200K this summer.
I first noticed oil under the passenger side engine mount. That's apparently an easy fix and a cheap part ($25 for Beck-Arnley, $45 or so for the Honda part). I'm only guessing the other three mounts are shot too based on observing how much the engine moves when it's stopped in gear and then put in park. I'm just not sure what to use. There are only a few parts where I typically refuse to use aftermarket brands and engine mounts happen to be one of those parts, however the Pilot engine mounts use electronically controlled active dampening to counter the VCM vibrations and they're $370 each from Honda. I can only find ONE aftermarket brand, Anchor, and from what I can tell they're hit or miss. They're only $70 each for the front or rear. I'm not sure how long they'll last but that's a huge price difference so I might just take my chance. From what I can see the passenger side and front mount look to be easy to replace, easy to access. I'm not sure about the driver side mount or the rear mount. The Pilot factory service manual says to remove the rear bank catalytic converter to access the engine mount, which I really don't feel like doing.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I first noticed oil under the passenger side engine mount. That's apparently an easy fix and a cheap part ($25 for Beck-Arnley, $45 or so for the Honda part). I'm only guessing the other three mounts are shot too based on observing how much the engine moves when it's stopped in gear and then put in park. I'm just not sure what to use. There are only a few parts where I typically refuse to use aftermarket brands and engine mounts happen to be one of those parts, however the Pilot engine mounts use electronically controlled active dampening to counter the VCM vibrations and they're $370 each from Honda. I can only find ONE aftermarket brand, Anchor, and from what I can tell they're hit or miss. They're only $70 each for the front or rear. I'm not sure how long they'll last but that's a huge price difference so I might just take my chance. From what I can see the passenger side and front mount look to be easy to replace, easy to access. I'm not sure about the driver side mount or the rear mount. The Pilot factory service manual says to remove the rear bank catalytic converter to access the engine mount, which I really don't feel like doing.
Passenger (RT) is fairly easy to get out. I've found that removing the mount for the ECU will let me move it out of the way just enough to get at the mounting bolts and pull them out. If I remember, unhooking the PS reservoir to move it out of the way helps with the actual bolt that goes through the mount. Use a wood block on your jack to hold the engine in place via the oil pan.

I need to look at the other side, but man, I am really tempted to just live with it until it starts clunking on me. If I can make it another 2 yrs without changing it till I sell my Pilot, then I'll be happy.
 
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