The timing belt is one of the most important components of a car’s engine. It’s not so much that it makes the engine actually run, but it coordinates the piston’s movements such that it transfers powers into the transmission. The timing belt also drives the alternator and water pump. A broken timing belt will not only result in your car’s inability to run its alternator and water pump, but it will cause major damage to your engine, especially if the car is running at high RPMs.
Honda recommends replacing the timing belt on the 1995 through 1997 Honda Accord every 90,000 miles in normal driving conditions, and every 60,000 in extreme climates. While this is usually a job that you would want an experienced mechanic to do, you can actually do-it-yourself with a few tools.
You will need a jack, jack stands, a replacement timing belt and tools. You can also get a new water pump, as you will be removing these components anyway. Mechanics usually recommend replacement of all other belts, to save on time and labor costs.
- Jack up the car and set it on jack stands. You will need to remove the right front wheel and splash shield. Turn the crankshaft, lining the marks on the pulley to the “O” mark on the timing belt cover. You can use the floor jack to support the engine while you’re working on the timing belt.
- Take out the motor arm bolts, and rotate the arm upward and out of the way.
- Remove accessory belts (water pump, alternator) and the dipstick tube. You will also need to take out the crankshaft bolt and pulley. Now you can dismantle the timing belt upper cover and lower cover.
- Loosen the tensioner belt, pushing it away from the old timing belt. You can use the bolt to keep the tensioner away.
- Check if the timing marks are aligned. The sprocket is required to have the keyway pointing upwards. The sprocket’s back should line up with the corresponding markings on the engine block. These have teeth, which should line up with the mark’s at the two o’ clock position on the head.
- Remove the old timing belt and install the new one. Start installing it on the right side, which is away from the tensioner. Then, go from the crank toward the right cam, and then toward the water pump toward the direction of the left cam, and then around the tensioner. At this point, you should ensure that the tension is toward the right side of the car, and away from the tensioner.
- Loosen the tensioner and let it tighten the belt, after which you can tighten the tensioner bolt.
- Inspect the timing marks. These should still be aligned properly. Turn the motor two turns, and align the timing marks again. If they are still properly aligned, you can loosen the tensioner, so that it will take up all the slack.
- Tighten the tensioner to 31 foot-pounds of torque.
After this, you can install the components you have removed in reverse order. Be sure to tighten the crankshaft bolt to 181 foot-pounds of torque. Remember to note down the mileage at which you changed your timing belt, so you can do the same maintenance when the next change is due.