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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I just turned over 100K miles on my 2011 Pilot and got the A4 service indicator. I was all set on paying a mechanic to do the work (I've never taken any of my cars to a mechanic for anything but alignments and tire mounting) but after seeing $1000+ quotes I'm doing it myself. I'm no stranger to doing timing belt jobs, in fact just two months ago I installed a Gates kit (belt, water pump, tensioner, pulleys) on my brother's J30 1999 Accord. I'm not trying to cut corners on my Pilot, however the OEM Honda branded parts are ridiculously expensive. It's close to $500 for the belt, water pump, idler pulley, tensioner, and new bolts.

I'm wondering what the tradeoffs are between installing the complete Aisin kit, or just replacing the timing belt with the OEM Honda part (made by Gates Unitta) and leaving the existing tensioner, water pump, and pulleys alone. I actually just installed a brand new tensioner not too long ago since all the hydraulic fluid leaked out of my original one and was causing a tapping sound on cold starts.

I get it that many people recommend replacing everything because of the labor involved to access the belt, and that's what I've always done, but what's the risk of leaving everything but the belt alone? Are the OEM water pump, pulleys, and bearings going to last me another 100K until the next timing belt service? Or do I just install the Aisin kit for peace of mind?

The one thing that's making me question this is the fact that none of my local dealers (there are at least 8 of them) change the idler pulley, tensioner pulley (adjuster), tensioner, or any of the bolts as part of the timing belt service. They simply change the timing belt, water pump, and coolant. Two independent mechanics I called install the complete Aisin kit.
 

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My local dealer told me they don't recommend the water pump unless they see signs of leaking. They say they've seen those last longer. But if you're due for a coolant flush than you might want to anyway. If you recently did the tensioner then you could probably skip that.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I found several complete Genuine Honda kits on Ebay for around $140. My concern is that none of those parts are genuine Honda parts, but counterfeit. I don't trust any third party sellers on Amazon or Ebay. I have purchased Honda accessories from a Honda dealer selling on ebay, however none of these timing belt kits come from any dealer.
 

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I would do an aisin kit before any of those ebay kits. I think you will be fine replacing just the belt. I just did mine yesterday and skipped the water pump. I am sure it will last until the next belt change. Only suggestion is the weighted 19mm socket for the crank pulley.
 

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I used the AISIN TKH002 kit and feel it was just as good as OE quality. Valve check is part of the service so don't forget appropriate replacement gaskets. I'd do plugs too and check the spool valve gasket.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I used the AISIN TKH002 kit and feel it was just as good as OE quality. Valve check is part of the service so don't forget appropriate replacement gaskets. I'd do plugs too and check the spool valve gasket.
Yeah I got all that, my question was specifically about the timing belt. Another option I considered was buying OEM timing belt, adjuster pulley, and idler pulley, and leaving the water pump as-is if it's not leaking or binding. However, I'm already replacing the coolant as part of the 105K mile service so it's not much extra work for the insurance of having a brand new fresh pump. I think I'm just going to use the Aisin kit.

Are the thermostats pretty reliable on these Pilots? I live in a mild climate 60-70 degrees most of the year, no big mountain climbs so it's fairly low stress on the car. I heard some people replace them but I'm leaning towards leaving it alone.
 

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I'm at 150,000 miles and have not changed the thermostat. I change coolant every 30K. The OE timing belt was produced by one of the major belt manufacturer and I just used the one in the kit. It is a lot of work to get to the TB. Not a lot of extra money to replace WP and pulleys. It is cheap insureance to not have to tear it down again before next service at 200,000.
 

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Yeah I got all that, my question was specifically about the timing belt. Another option I considered was buying OEM timing belt, adjuster pulley, and idler pulley, and leaving the water pump as-is if it's not leaking or binding. However, I'm already replacing the coolant as part of the 105K mile service so it's not much extra work for the insurance of having a brand new fresh pump. I think I'm just going to use the Aisin kit.

Are the thermostats pretty reliable on these Pilots? I live in a mild climate 60-70 degrees most of the year, no big mountain climbs so it's fairly low stress on the car. I heard some people replace them but I'm leaning towards leaving it alone.
I did the thermostat and water pump at 195K for my second service. Easy to get to on the thermostat. Water pump looked good, no signs of leaks and no binding. Due to the age I replaced both of them. Start looking at the condition of your hoses as well and if they are starting to look worse for wear, do them too. One caution, do not over tighten the bolt securing the accessory belt tensioner to the block. If you do, it will shear off and leave you stranded. I've had good luck just snugging it down by hand. If it does shear off, it will most likely shear where the threads stop leaving you a little over .25" to get it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I did the thermostat and water pump at 195K for my second service. Easy to get to on the thermostat. Water pump looked good, no signs of leaks and no binding. Due to the age I replaced both of them. Start looking at the condition of your hoses as well and if they are starting to look worse for wear, do them too. One caution, do not over tighten the bolt securing the accessory belt tensioner to the block. If you do, it will shear off and leave you stranded. I've had good luck just snugging it down by hand. If it does shear off, it will most likely shear where the threads stop leaving you a little over .25" to get it out.
My hoses are all good, basically looks like a brand new car under the hood.

Did you reuse that bolt for the accessory tensioner? Also what year is your Pilot? It seems most of the reports of bolt failure are from 09 or older Pilots and Odysseys, but I can't tell for sure. There's also a very specific step in the Odyssey service manual to torque that bolt properly, and then before installing the belt you have to pump the tensioner slowly back and forth four times. I haven't checked the pilot service manual yet.
 

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My Pilot was a 2011EXL that I traded in this past March with around 198K on it. I did both TB services myself. The first, I reused the original accessory belt tensioner and bolt. No issues up to the change at 195K. When I did this service, the Accessory belt tensioner piston was shot so that unit was replaced with a Continental part. This included the bolt. When reinstalling the timing belt, I had issues with the timing belt tensioner and snapped one of the bolts securing it off. Ended up having it towed to the dealer who removed the bolt, and finished putting the remaining parts back on. The accessory tensioner bolt sheered a day after picking it up. Since I could not locate the correct sized bolt locally or just order the bolt in a timely manner, I purchased a new tensioner assembly from Advanced Auto, and did not over torque the bolt. Lucky for me I did not damage the belt. No issues at all up to trade in. No recourse with Honda on that one since I provided the parts myself. I was out a couple hundred to fix my mistake with the TB tensioner and then another 150 for the replacement tensioner. All in all a lot less out of pocket than paying someone to do it for me.

The back and forth portion on the tensioner is to get that piston moving freely so when you put the accessory belt on, it is able to keep it taught. If you try to put the belt on without doing those steps, it is a real pain. You need to get that piston working so you can get enough slack to get that belt on. This process pivots the tensioner on the large mounting bolt as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
My Pilot was a 2011EXL that I traded in this past March with around 198K on it. I did both TB services myself. The first, I reused the original accessory belt tensioner and bolt. No issues up to the change at 195K. When I did this service, the Accessory belt tensioner piston was shot so that unit was replaced with a Continental part. This included the bolt. When reinstalling the timing belt, I had issues with the timing belt tensioner and snapped one of the bolts securing it off. Ended up having it towed to the dealer who removed the bolt, and finished putting the remaining parts back on. The accessory tensioner bolt sheered a day after picking it up. Since I could not locate the correct sized bolt locally or just order the bolt in a timely manner, I purchased a new tensioner assembly from Advanced Auto, and did not over torque the bolt. Lucky for me I did not damage the belt. No issues at all up to trade in. No recourse with Honda on that one since I provided the parts myself. I was out a couple hundred to fix my mistake with the TB tensioner and then another 150 for the replacement tensioner. All in all a lot less out of pocket than paying someone to do it for me.

The back and forth portion on the tensioner is to get that piston moving freely so when you put the accessory belt on, it is able to keep it taught. If you try to put the belt on without doing those steps, it is a real pain. You need to get that piston working so you can get enough slack to get that belt on. This process pivots the tensioner on the large mounting bolt as well.
All the reviews of the Continental tensioner (and every other aftermarket tensioner for that matter) basically say the same thing, that the bolt sheared shortly after installation. Was it the dealer who installed the Continental tensioner, after finishing the second timing belt job?

I plan to reuse the existing tensioner and bolt. The Honda service manual says to put motor oil on the threads of that bolt and on the back of the bolt between the washer and bolt head.

There's a post somewhere on this site I believe which claims that the cause of the shearing tensioner bolt is the threaded hole air conditioner compressor bracket that the tensioner bolt connects to, and that the bolt ovals this hole over time which allows the bolt to flex. I haven't looked at my engine in detail yet to confirm that this is actually where the tensioner bolts into, but it's an interesting theory. I'll look for it when I do the timing belt.

I actually have a spare Continental tensioner that I bought "new" from Rock Auto a few months ago because my accessory tensioner is slightly chattering at idle, but when I opened the box it was obvious that someone had already tried installing and had returned it. It still looked clean and new, but the hex head molded into the tensioner was stripped. My money was refunded and they didn't require me to send it back, though I may see if I can just transfer the piston over to my existing tensioner.
 

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All the reviews of the Continental tensioner (and every other aftermarket tensioner for that matter) basically say the same thing, that the bolt sheared shortly after installation. Was it the dealer who installed the Continental tensioner, after finishing the second timing belt job?

I plan to reuse the existing tensioner and bolt. The Honda service manual says to put motor oil on the threads of that bolt and on the back of the bolt between the washer and bolt head.

There's a post somewhere on this site I believe which claims that the cause of the shearing tensioner bolt is the threaded hole air conditioner compressor bracket that the tensioner bolt connects to, and that the bolt ovals this hole over time which allows the bolt to flex. I haven't looked at my engine in detail yet to confirm that this is actually where the tensioner bolts into, but it's an interesting theory. I'll look for it when I do the timing belt.

I actually have a spare Continental tensioner that I bought "new" from Rock Auto a few months ago because my accessory tensioner is slightly chattering at idle, but when I opened the box it was obvious that someone had already tried installing and had returned it. It still looked clean and new, but the hex head molded into the tensioner was stripped. My money was refunded and they didn't require me to send it back, though I may see if I can just transfer the piston over to my existing tensioner.
I provided the part and Honda installed it. I've seen that issue with the Honda tensioner as well. Neighbor had their Oddy done with Honda OEM by the dealer and the replacement bolt sheared twice. My thought on it is that the bolt is bottoming out before you reach proper torque and when you do torque it down, it fails. Length wise both the Honda and Continental bolts were the same overall length and thread lenght, both stainless steel. Not sure the grade of the Continental and have no way of checking it.
 

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I've got 272k on my 2009. After both timing belts (at 100 and 200 k) the tensioner bolt broke. for 300k I'm taking it to a different shop. I think I read (after the 2nd one broke) that its a good idea to go back with a brand new bolt, and to lubricate it, and of course torque to spec. I was lucky that I was in my driveway both times. It won't likely be a side of the road repair. Especially if it breaks off flush.
 

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I've got 272k on my 2009. After both timing belts (at 100 and 200 k) the tensioner bolt broke. for 300k I'm taking it to a different shop. I think I read (after the 2nd one broke) that its a good idea to go back with a brand new bolt, and to lubricate it, and of course torque to spec. I was lucky that I was in my driveway both times. It won't likely be a side of the road repair. Especially if it breaks off flush.
272K. Very impressive and a ton of seat time
 

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This is what I used on my 2011.... I replaced all the bolts that have a record of breaking, with OEM bolts. They are cheap.

$164.00 - Aisin TKH002 from Rock Auto
$ 22.00 - Bando 6PK2135 Belt from Amazon (B000CMCNJC)
$ 8.42 - Bolt Timing Belt Adjuster (4513-RCA-A01) OEM
$ 6.50 - Bolt Timing Belt Idler (14551-RCA-A01) OEM
$ 2.70 - QTY (2) Bolt Flange (6X30) for tensioner (95801-06030-07) OEM
 

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In interest of clarity, are these bolts prone to breaking off while the car is in use? Or are we talking about them breaking when reinstalling the idler or tensioner?
 

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In interest of clarity, are these bolts prone to breaking off while the car is in use? Or are we talking about them breaking when reinstalling the idler or tensioner?
If using proper torque to install, they generally break while the car is in use, because of the longitudinal force against the bolt applied by the belt. The idler pulley bolt gets 33 ft/lbs, and the belt tensioner pulley gets 18 ft/lbs, neither of which is that much torque and should never break a bolt. For the two smaller flange bolts on the tensioner, my guess is that they most likely break when people were installing the tensioner, and not using a torque wrench. Those are only get 108 inch/lbs, which equates to 8.9 ft/lbs, which is not much torque at all, and people have a tendency to apply way too much when installing them.
 
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