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Timing Belt Tips

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Guys, any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm planning on replacing the belt and doing a coolant flush tomorrow.

1) Do you guys know why you have to shave the end of the battery screw in order to hold tension on the tensioner? Why does it have to be smooth on the end?

2) In a video a lady had to use a blow torch to loosen the crank bolt. Did you guys have to do that?

3) Any pitfalls to avoid?

Thank you!
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#1 Lisle heavy mass socket with HF earthquake air impact and high flow fittings, 8 gallon compressor, took off the crank bolt in less than 2 seconds.

#2 If replacing tensioner this is what I do...
Don't bother with the battery bolt..
Remove 10mm tensioner mounting bolt.
when you begin to loosen the top bolt it will slowly pivot down and release tension on belt.

#2 When installing belt, start at crankshaft and install belt without any play from crank to idler to front cam pulley then water pump, once you get to the rear cam pulley the belt will not go on anymore.
You need to take a wrench on cam pulley bolt and roll rear cam 1/2 tooth forward toward front cam...
careful it will jump forward many teeth. Just try and limit this.

mine rolled about 4 teeth forward, lift up on the wrench(hope you ate your wheaties) until you get the belt back to the 1/2 tooth off correct timing, slip on the belt and then carefully roll it back to perfect timing.
Once the belt is on and at correct timing you will have enough slack to slip over the tensioner pulley.

#4 drain coolant from the block also, I didn't and it missed by bucket underneath, I spent forever cleaning it up so I didn't have to lay down it in the rest of the job....🤦‍♀️

#5 If in rust belt state, get a handful of extra timing cover bolts, some of mine were super rusty and I would have replaced if I had extras. Keep in package and return them if unused.

#6 The only cover I removed from wheel well was the small cover with the hole in it to turn crank. I used a side cutter to cut the rivet(cut in between the 2 pieces of plastic. And put it back using 2 big black zip ties(I may just leave it like that forever🤣)
 

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1) No, you don’t really have to. It seems just a way to hold tension on it while you remove / install the tensioner. Honestly I felt like the whole battery tie down thing could be easily skipped, but I did it anyway to stick with the book.

2) No, I would not do that. You really can’t control how hot you’re getting the end of the crank there and you have a crank seal to worry about. Few alternative options:
- Get a big breaker bar, some extensions, the Honda crank holder, and a big pipe. Wear safety glasses. It will come off… you’ll think something exploded, but it’ll come off. This is basically what I do on my IS300.
- Lisle Honda crank pulley removal socket and a powerful impact. This is what I used on our Pilot - came off no problem at all.
- Some folks use the starter motor to “bump“ it with the end of a wrench on the ground. Personally I do not like this idea.

3) Just take your time. This isn’t the job to do with a deadline in mind. Remember Honda assumes you have hands 1/4th their actual size. ;-) Things to keep in mind:

- Make sure you keep up with the crank pulley key. You don’t want it falling out while you’re turning the crank since it also engages the tbelt crank sprocket as I recall.

- You probably want spare wheel well fasteners. The Honda original ones are about the lowest quality ones I’ve encountered and most broke coming off. Amazon has new ones in bulk with assorted sizes for like $10 bux.

- Getting the belt over the last (rear) cam sprocket can be a real pain. You may need to turn it 1/2 a tooth clockwise to get the belt to go on, then rotate it back counter clockwise to the mark to get the tension right.

- Use an inspection mirror to get the proper angle to confirm position of the rear cam.

- You do not have to remove the PS pump from the car, you can just loosen it and move it out of the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks a bunch, guys. I'm sure I will mangle those plastic fasteners. I plan to do this tomorrow and into Friday (we already ate our Thanksgiving dinner this past Sunday). All I have is that special Honda socket thingamajig and a breaker bar. I will take my time. I'm a pretty strong guy so I'm not worried about having the strength to remove the bolt. The bolt on my 2002 Civic was pretty tough, so I imagine this will be worse. I don't even remember why you have to use the battery screw to keep the tensioner in place. The Aisin kit I bought came with a new tensioner, so I'm going to put a new one on. I have only done one timing belt (my 2002 Civic) before, so I'm hoping this won't be too much different. Many thanks for the tips. I will read your posts again when I'm coming on the vehicle tomorrow, and I'm sure the posts will make more sense when I'm at those steps. Thanks a bunch.
 

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The Civic is probably easier but this isn’t a whole lot worse. I’ve done a few 99 era Civics. This is just a little tighter and a few more things to watch but you’ll be fine. Shout if you have any questions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The Civic is probably easier but this isn’t a whole lot worse. I’ve done a few 99 era Civics. This is just a little tighter and a few more things to watch but you’ll be fine. Shout if you have any questions.
Thanks a bunch. I'm hoping the biggest problem will be me tearing up those plastic fasteners and having to use some zip ties until I can order some replacement fasteners. 🤪. I'm glad I have 2 days to work on it. If you had told me 10 years ago that I'd even be attempting this job, I would have thought that I'd quit my job to become a mechanic. I had no idea when I was younger that mere mortals like me could do brake jobs and routine maintenance like this. 😁
 

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The battery tiedown thing is a huge misconception. That's the technique you use for doing the reduced labor job of replacing the tensioner only. When doing a full service of the system you don't need that.
 

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I used the Lisle heavy mass impact socket with my modest CH impact socket, and with the air pressure dialed up to 120 it came off after a few seconds. I wouldn't mess with a torch, as others have said you don't have a lot of control over the heat, and there is rubber in the crank pulley that you don't want to damage. You will still need the crank holding tool to put the bolt on to the correct torque (47 ft-lb plus 60 degrees). A tip: Each point of the hexagonal bolt is 60 degrees. Torque to 47 foot pounds, take note of where a point lines up, then turn so the next point lines up.

Do drain the block in addition to the radiator. The plug is near the drive shaft on the back side of the block toward the right side of the car. You should be able to see it through the right side wheel well. It will be much less messy when you change the water pump. I didn't and there was a mess of coolant to clean up around the timing belt area. Tip: When you're all back together, you'll have air to burp out of the cooling system that may not burp out until the thermostat opens. Just let it idle with the radiator cap open and fill as necessary as the level drops.

I used the battery bolt, but I'm not sure how necessary it was. I think they have grind the tip a little so you don't mess up the threads as it pushes against the tensioner. I did it mainly because I didn't want the belt tension to let go suddenly as I was removing it and possibly nudge the cams out of alignment. I didn't have any trouble routing the belt as brybo86 described. I followed the same order, but I didn't have to move the cams. I had to push a little to get the belt over the tensioner pulley, but no biggie. Do be aware there are small tabs near each cam pulley that help keep the belt in place as you're routing, make sure the belt goes UNDER the tabs.

BIG TIP: This messed me up when I did mine. The pin holding the tensioner isn't all that sturdy. I tried pulling it out with my finger when all was done. BIG MISTAKE! I got it part way out, and the tensioner bent it into a "Z". Took some careful use of a Dremel from down below to notch it so I could break it and get the pieces out. I found out you either have to grip it with Vice-Grips and yank it out quickly, or, before you put it in, squeeze the tensioner slowly in a vise, pull out the pin, and replace it with something harder, like a small Allen wrench.
 

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Your local parts store will have the replacement plastic fasteners if you damage some on removal. I keep bags of them in various sizes and flavors for the different cars here. I can usually save the old ones if I'm careful removing them. There are some handy tools for this, including some dedicated pliers for pulling the pins out, and a cute little forked pry tool for popping the outer part out of the hole after the pin is out. For stuff I go into regularly, I sometimes substitute a fastener that Toyota uses, one with a screw-in (and out...) pin. Appearance is non-stock on the Honda, if such things are important to you, but they are pretty convenient since I can use a power screwdriver to disassemble. Wheel-well liners come out in the spring for cleaning road deicer and cinders out, for instance.

The same good local parts store will also have a battery hold-down J bolt with a flattened J end, handy for compressing the tensioner prior to belt removal, and also quite handy if you miss on getting the cam timing correct the first go around. The service procedure has you rotate the crank several times with belt under tension to verify the cam timing. If you miss getting the timing correct initially, you'll need to compress the tensioner again so you can move the belt on a sprocket. I'll also speculate that letting the tensioner snap full-extended isn't that good for it, plus you'll end up with the tensioner off the engine to compress and pin it again in a vise or with a clamp. The J-bolt trick lets you keep everything still bolted on the engine. I went through some tensioner issues on another car last winter/spring, 3X total, and avoiding damage to the tensioner has moved up my list of Important Things To Consider when doing this job.

I enjoy working on the cars. It's a relatively inexpensive form of therapy, saving $$$ on expert couch time. By the second or third time reworking something I might have messed up or missed, I might need a LOT more therapy though. I'm all for making the jobs faster and easier with simple helper tools, like the J bolt trick.
 

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I used the Lisle heavy mass impact socket with my modest CH impact socket, and with the air pressure dialed up to 120 it came off after a few seconds. I wouldn't mess with a torch, as others have said you don't have a lot of control over the heat, and there is rubber in the crank pulley that you don't want to damage. You will still need the crank holding tool to put the bolt on to the correct torque (47 ft-lb plus 60 degrees). A tip: Each point of the hexagonal bolt is 60 degrees. Torque to 47 foot pounds, take note of where a point lines up, then turn so the next point lines up.

Do drain the block in addition to the radiator. The plug is near the drive shaft on the back side of the block toward the right side of the car. You should be able to see it through the right side wheel well. It will be much less messy when you change the water pump. I didn't and there was a mess of coolant to clean up around the timing belt area. Tip: When you're all back together, you'll have air to burp out of the cooling system that may not burp out until the thermostat opens. Just let it idle with the radiator cap open and fill as necessary as the level drops.

I used the battery bolt, but I'm not sure how necessary it was. I think they have grind the tip a little so you don't mess up the threads as it pushes against the tensioner. I did it mainly because I didn't want the belt tension to let go suddenly as I was removing it and possibly nudge the cams out of alignment. I didn't have any trouble routing the belt as brybo86 described. I followed the same order, but I didn't have to move the cams. I had to push a little to get the belt over the tensioner pulley, but no biggie. Do be aware there are small tabs near each cam pulley that help keep the belt in place as you're routing, make sure the belt goes UNDER the tabs.

BIG TIP: This messed me up when I did mine. The pin holding the tensioner isn't all that sturdy. I tried pulling it out with my finger when all was done. BIG MISTAKE! I got it part way out, and the tensioner bent it into a "Z". Took some careful use of a Dremel from down below to notch it so I could break it and get the pieces out. I found out you either have to grip it with Vice-Grips and yank it out quickly, or, before you put it in, squeeze the tensioner slowly in a vise, pull out the pin, and replace it with something harder, like a small Allen wrench.
Last week I pulled the pin hard and fast with my finger and had no issues.

(a few years ago on Odyssey TB job I pulled it slowly and it got stuck just as you describe.)
I think I used a long needle nose and leveraged it against the block to pull it out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Guys, comedy of errors so far. The manual says to check that #1 piston TDC mark lines up with line on the upper cover. If not, to turn 360 degrees. I lined up the white mark on the crank, then didn't see any #1 on the camshaft pulley view hole. So I turned 360 degreed and I still don't see a #1. Wtf?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I should point out that I removed the drive belt and the drive belt tensioner up until this point. Hopefully turning the crank clockwise is not doing any damage. I read not to turn it counterclockwise. I was really expecting to clearly see a #1 after turning it 360 degrees!!!
 

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Lineup everything you take off so you can reinstall in reverse order of removal.

I would take off all the timing covers first.
makes seeing timing marks 100x easier.

Did you check to see that you can get the crank bolt out already?

I would make sure you can loosen it first. Then finger tight reinstall and continue on, turning crank bolt clockwise to line up timing will tighten a bit further, to remove after getting timing set use any impact you have as it won't be that tight

After timing covers are removed you want to see these marks.
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I have not taken out the crank bolt yet. The manual said to line up TDC with piston #1 first. It sounds like from what you are saying that I can worry about lining up the timing after I take the crank bolt out and the covers. I guess I'll proceed and follow the lady in the 1A auto video (except she is doing a prior generation Pilot).
 

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I have not taken out the crank bolt yet. The manual said to line up TDC with piston #1 first. It sounds like from what you are saying that I can worry about lining up the timing after I take the crank bolt out and the covers. I guess I'll proceed and follow the lady in the 1A auto video (except she is doing a prior generation Pilot).
I would just make sure you can actually break the bolt loose before digging deeper
If using a breaker bar to loosen, make sure you set up the pulley holder tool otherwise it will just spin the pulley
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The hex tool keeps popping off. I'm using an extendible tire iron thingamajig to try to brace it in place. I tried for over 2 hours to remove the pulley but couldn't. I actually chipped off a piece of the pulley!!! I guess I'll go to harbor freight tomorrow and see if they have some better breaker bars. Any advice would be greatly appreciated at this point. I tried bracing the tire iron thing on the lower control arm but that didn't work. The hex tool has enough play in it to make it wobble. I tried using a shim to no avail. I don't want to use the method where you use the starter to bump the engine because that looks nuts. How do you guys get that hex tool to stay on without moving around?
 

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The hex tool keeps popping off. I'm using an extendible tire iron thingamajig to try to brace it in place. I tried for over 2 hours to remove the pulley but couldn't. I actually chipped off a piece of the pulley!!! I guess I'll go to harbor freight tomorrow and see if they have some better breaker bars. Any advice would be greatly appreciated at this point. I tried bracing the tire iron thing on the lower control arm but that didn't work. The hex tool has enough play in it to make it wobble. I tried using a shim to no avail. I don't want to use the method where you use the starter to bump the engine because that looks nuts. How do you guys get that hex tool to stay on without moving around?
You may need a buddy to help hold the holder and make sure it’s fully seated in there, brace it against something strong and the use a long breaker bar with a pipe. I legit have a big 6 foot pipe specifically for this purpose with my Lexus. I used the Lisle impact socket with an IR 2135Ti on the Honda though and it came off in 2 seconds.

Regarding turning the crank after removing the pulley, make sure that key stays in place and doesn’t fall somewhere. Without they key you could turn the crank with the timing sprocket staying loose leaving you out of time.
 
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