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Possibly Screwed Up Timing Belt Change

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Nothing will be damaged if you are careful, and take it step-by-step. Locking the cams is convenient, but not strictly necessary to do the timing belt job. It is natural to feel some anxiety, but you should be OK.


Make sure to read the timing belt replacement procedure in the FSM if you have not done so. If you have aligned the crankshaft at the 12 o'clock mark, all pistons will be midway in the cylinder bores, so leave the crank positioned where it is. There is no risk of piston/valve contact as long as the crank stays where it is.


Right now, the valves are in the fully closed position, so you are safe. When you turn the driver's side cam sprockets, remember these little rules:

-only turn one sprocket at a time

-top (intake) should turn clockwise ONLY

-bottom (exhaust) should turn counter-clockwise ONLY


The best tool to turn cam sprockets is a breaker bar (not a ratchet). You want to have absolute control of the position as you turn the sprocket, so a freewheeling ratchet is not good for this. Use a 10mm hex socket on your breaker bar. Note, if you have AVCS, you must remove a cover plate on the top sprocket (three screws) to access the 10mm hex bolt.


Watch this, you will see easily with the engine out of the car:


When I did this job, my new timing belt had alignment marks, which helped a lot. I used some workshop clamps to hold the belt temporarily to the sprockets.


I used a trigger clamp to hold the belt in place on the crank sprocket.



I used spring clamps to hold the belt positioned in the correct place on the cam sprockets. In other words, don't try clamp the sprockets together, just clamp the timing belt directly to the sprocket so the teeth stay aligned as you turn the sprocket to the correct position.



I used two 18-inch breaker bars, each with 10mm hex socket. If you can get someone to assist, it will be easier, but it can be done solo with care. Clamping the timing belt to each sprocket with the spring clamps will keep it from jumping around as you turn the sprocket.


I found it easiest to leave one of the idlers off until the belt was in place. As shown in the video, leave the idler on the lower passenger side unmounted until the belt is in place. Then, install that idler before pulling the tensioner pin.


With the timing belt in place and all marks lined up, turn the crankshaft carefully and slowly for at least two full revolutions. Stop if you feel any interference. Make sure your alignment marks for crank sprocket and cam sprockets are correctly aligned after rotating for the two full turns. You should be good at this point.


One last note, I found that with the silicone fluid in the tensioner being cold, it did not take up all the slack right away. I waited a few hours before starting the car to make sure the tensioner was fully extended.


You can do this job without clamping the belt to the sprockets, that is just the way I ended up doing it. It was helpful since I was working solo.

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