How To Replace a Timing Belt

A timing belt is vital in the performance of a car. It precisely regulates the movement of the pistons and valves inside the car engine in the right order. It synchronizes the turnings of the camshafts and the crankshafts. In modern cars it is also used to drive the car’s water pump too. Although most timing belts on new cars are made to last the lifetime of the car, it is also possible that something can go wrong that will necessitate the replacing of a timing belt. Although this job is mostly done by a trained car mechanic you can also do this yourself if you know your way around a car engine and you have the patience to remove all the parts the should be removed initially before you can reach the timing belt. And since most of the work to replace the water pump is done prior to removing the timing belt, this is also the time for you to replace it to do both jobs at the same time. Be prepared to spend at least a day to do this job. Here are the steps.

  • Make sure that you read your car’s repair manual for the location of the timing belt and the right instructions on how to replace it. You should buy the same type and model of timing belt as the one that is installed in your car. Gather all the tools that are necessary as well as the replacement parts for the timing belt and the water pump.
  • Read the instructions carefully before you attempt to remove the parts to reach the timing belt. The car engine should be totally cool. It will be difficult and dangerous to work when the engine is still hot. Allow the car to cool overnight before working on it.
  • Elevate your car to make working easier. Raise the car on a ramp or jack stands. Make sure that the car is secure and stable before you work on it. Open the hood and disconnect the car battery. The distributor cap should be taken out. Use this chance to clean the spark plugs, too.
  • Place a spanner over the crankshaft bolt and use this to turn the engine around. You have to make sure that the alignments of the timing indicators on the crankshaft or flywheel is properly aligned with the recommended mark on the timing scale and that the index line on the housing for the distributor perfectly aligns with the rotor of the distributor.
  • There may be other components in the car that will make the removal of the cover over the timing belt difficult. If this is the case you have to remove them. Each car model has a different cover style so always consult the repair manual on what parts should be removed. Remove the screws that hold the cover in place so you can remove it out of the way.
  • Make sure that the timing lines of the crankshaft and the camshaft are properly aligned. These also vary depending on the car model and you should note the proper alignment procedure recommended for your car. The alignments should be corrected before the timing belt is replaced. There are index lines or dots that will help you in correcting the alignment.
  • Locate the tensioner for the timing belt and the mounting bolts holding the tensioner, and loosen these without removing them. Move the tensioner away from the timing belt and tighten up the mounting bolts again to keep the tensioner in place. Slide the timing belt away from the sprockets.
  • Slide the new timing belt in the correct position on the sprockets. With the right timing belt this will be done easily that is why it is very important that you use the same make and type of timing belt as the one you are going to replace. Follow the procedure on how to properly fit and tighten the new timing belt to the right tension. Make sure that the alignments that you have done earlier are still in the same position.
  • Use a wrench on the crankshaft pulley to turn the engine by hand for two complete revolutions and make sure that it returns to the zero-degree mark. Replace the timing cover and tighten the bolts securely and replace all the parts that you have removed and replace the water pump.

A special strobe light is used to time the movement of the crankshaft and the camshaft while the engine is running. This is essential to ensure that the timing belt is working properly. Do not attempt to replace a timing belt if you are an amateur as you can do more damage inside the engine block. Consult or bring your car to a qualified car mechanic instead.


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