How to Change the Timing Belt in Kia Cars

by Contributing WriterUpdated June 12, 2017

They have also cautioned that this is an interference engine in which a timing belt failure would be very likely to cause catastrophic damage. The reason for this is that the engine is built with close tolerance and the valves would strike the pistons. Belt failure is seldom due to fatigue, but rather to the amount of stretching experienced over time.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Timing Belt in a 2003 Kia Spectra


Raise the front of the vehicle and place jack stands under the subframe to the rear of the front wheels. Lower the vehicle onto the stands. Disconnect the negative battery cable using a wrench. Mark the spark plug wires using the white marker for reference when reinstalling them.

Pull the wires off the plugs by pulling and twisting the boot. Do not pull on the wires, as you could damage them. Remove the spark plugs using a spark plug socket, short extension and ratchet. Break the water pump pulley bolts loose using a socket, but do not remove them. They are easier to break loose while the belts are still on the vehicle.

Rotate the engine until the hole in the power steering pump pulley lines up with the bolt at the 9 o’clock position. Loosen the bolt with a socket. Do not remove the bolt. Loosen, but do not remove, the nuts at 5 o’clock and 8 o’clock, located just under the power steering pump pulley. Loosen the adjusting bolt for the power steering pulley bolt adjuster by turning it counterclockwise to relieve the tension. Remove the drive belt from the power steering pump and the air compressor pulley.

Check the radiator support or under the hood for the accessory belt diagram. If none exists, sketch a diagram of the belts. Loosen the alternator mounting bolt and turn the adjusting bolt counterclockwise to relieve the tension. Lift the alternator belt off the pulleys. Remove the water pump pulley bolts using a socket. Remove the crankshaft pulley bolts using a socket. Slide the crankshaft pulley off the crankshaft snout. Slide the guide washer off the crankshaft snout. Remove the upper and lower timing belt covers using a socket.

Turn the crankshaft clockwise until the timing mark on the crankshaft sprocket lines up with the timing mark on the block at the 12 o’clock position. Check the timing marks on the camshaft pulleys. The left sprocket, as you are facing the front of the engine, is the intake camshaft. It has a “I” on the camshaft sprocket. The right sprocket is marked with the letter “E.” The timing marks are lined up when the letters on both camshaft sprockets are lined up with the timing marks at 12 o’clock. The marks are notches in the top of the head. If the marks are not lined up, turn the crankshaft clockwise one full revolution. All three timing marks will line up.

Remove the tensioner bolt using a socket and ratchet. Remove the tensioner pulley, the tensioner spring and the timing belt. Make sure the timing marks are still lined up. Check the tensioner pulley to ensure it operates smoothly by spinning it. You should not hear any grinding noises and it should spin freely. If not, replace it. Measure the tensioner spring. If the measurement of the free length of the spring is not 1.40 inches, replace it.


Reinstall the tensioner pulley and the spring. Install the tensioner bolt. Rotate the tensioner pulley clockwise so it faces away from the guide pulley. Tighten the tensioner pulley bolt enough so it does not move.

Install the timing belt starting at the crankshaft sprocket. Work the belt counterclockwise behind the idler pulley, then over the top of the camshafts. Keep tension on the belt between the crankshaft pulley and the right camshaft pulley with one hand. With the other hand, route the timing belt behind the tensioner. Hold the tension on the non-tensioned side and loosen the tensioner bolt at the same time. Allow the tensioner to put tension on the belt.

Tighten the tensioner bolt to 28 to 38 foot-pounds of torque. Turn the crankshaft clockwise slowly two turns. All three marks will line up on the second turn. Apply a load of 22 pounds between the two camshaft pulleys. The belt should deflect 0.36 to 0.45 inches. If not, repeat the tensioning procedure.

Reinstall the timing belt covers. Tighten the bolts to 6 to 7 foot-pounds of torque. Slide the guide washer onto the crankshaft snout. Slide the crankshaft pulley onto the crankshaft snout. Install the crankshaft pulley bolts and tighten them to 9 to 12.6 foot-pounds of torque. Reinstall the water pump pulley. Tighten the bolts to 9 to 13 foot-pounds of torque.

Install the alternator belt. Tighten the mounting bolt to 27 to 38 foot-pounds of torque. Tighten the adjusting bolt to 14 to 18 foot-pounds of torque. Install the air compressor/power steering pump belt. Rotate the power steering pulley until the hole in the pulley exposes the bolt. Tighten the bolt to 27 to 39 foot-pounds of torque. Tighten the nut at the 5 o’clock position to 14 to 19 foot-pounds of torque. Tighten the nut at 8 o’clock to 24 to 34 foot-pounds of torque. Tighten the tensioner until the belt turns no more than 90 degrees when twisted between the pulleys.

Install the spark plugs and torque them 18 to 22 foot-pounds. Install the spark plug wires using the marks made earlier to identify them. Lift the vehicle and remove the jack stands. Lower the vehicle. Reattach the negative battery cable.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Set of wrenches

  • White marker

  • Spark plug socket

  • Socket set

  • Short extension

  • Ratchet

  • Torque wrench

 When To Change the Timing Belt in a Kia Sportage


The timing belt on a Sportage ensures that the engine's valves are timed properly, allowing the engine to operate as efficiently as possible.


On the Sportage, a timing belt is used. Unlike timing chains, timing belts are not good for the life of a vehicle. They must be replaced per your maintenance schedule, just like any other wear item.


While a timing belt needs regular service, it is less expensive than the timing chain used in some vehicles, and the part is also easier to change.


Kia Sportage models with the single-cam engine have an interference engine, meaning that if the timing belt breaks or slips, the mistimed valves will come in contact with the pistons, which can damage the valves, pistons and other engine components. Sportage models with more than one cam have a noninterference engines, meaning the engine simply will not run if the belt slips or breaks.


Allowing your Sportage to go more than 60,000 miles between timing belt services is like driving on borrowed time. While your timing belt is being replaced, consider having your water pump replaced as well. The water pump is easily accessible during a timing belt replacement, so having the water pump serviced simultaneously can prevent future headaches and save money in the long run.

 How to Replace the Timing Belt on a 2005 KIA Spectra

Disconnect the cable from the negative battery terminal with a socket wrench to ensure you don't inadvertently start the engine. Raise the vehicle and support it on jack stands. Remove the engine cover, right wheel and side cover for the right wheel. Detach the accessory drive belts, water pump pulley and upper cover for the timing belt.

Turn the crankshaft pulley clockwise to align the groove on the pulley with the timing mark on the lower timing belt cover. Disconnect the pulley and flange for the crankshaft with a socket wrench. Remove the lower timing belt cover and timing belt tensioner. Detach the timing belt from the pulleys.

Turn the crankshaft clockwise to align the timing marks for the crankshaft and camshaft. Install the timing belt tensioner with a socket wrench. Place the new timing belt onto the crankshaft sprocket, idler pulley, camshaft sprockets and timing belt tensioner in that order.

Turn the timing belt tensioner clockwise to apply tension to the timing belt. Press the tension side of the timing belt with moderate force. The tension is correct when the deflection of the timing belt is about 0.2 in. Tighten the mounting bolts for the tensioner to 20 ft. lbs. with a torque wrench. Turn the crankshaft clockwise by two full turns and align the timing marks once again.

Attach the lower timing belt cover and tighten its mounting bolts to between six and seven ft. lbs. with a torque wrench. Connect the flange and pulley for the crankshaft. Tighten the bolt for the crankshaft pulley to between 123 and 130 ft. lbs. Connect the upper timing belt cover and tighten the mounting bolts to between six and seven ft. lbs.

Install the water pump pulley and accessory drive belts with a socket wrench. Attach the right wheel and side cover for the right wheel. Replace the engine cover and connect the cable to the negative battery terminal with a socket wrench.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench set

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace a Timing Belt on a Kia Rio

Place the drain pan under the radiator drain plug, open the plug and allow it to drain. Close the plug. Loosen the four nuts on the water pump pulley but do not remove them yet. Loosen the adjusting bolts in the alternator and the power steering pump with a wrench, push them away from the belts and remove the belts.

Remove the bolts securing the fan shroud to the radiator support using a 10 mm socket. Remove the four nuts on the water pump pulley, then remove the fan and shroud as an assembly. Remove the bolts in the crankshaft pulley using a socket. Loosen and remove the crankshaft bolt using a socket.

Remove the top radiator hose. Extract all the 10 mm bolts securing the top and bottom timing covers and remove the covers.

Install the crankshaft bolt temporarily. Use a socket on the bolt and turn the crankshaft clockwise until the mark on the crankshaft sprocket aligns with the timing mark on the block at the 12 o'clock position. Look at the camshaft sprockets and make sure the left sprocket has the "I" facing straight up and the right sprocket has the "E" facing up. At the same time, notice that there is a line on each sprocket adjacent to each mark--make sure they line up with the notch on the cylinder head at 12 o'clock. This allows for perfect alignment. If they do not come close to aligning, rotate the crankshaft one more time and they will align.

Loosen the tensioner bolt and push the tensioner away from the belt. Loosely tighten the bolt to maintain position. Remove the belt.

Install the new belt starting on the right side away from the tensioner. Keep all the tension on the right side. Loosen the tensioner bolt and allow it to apply tension on the belt. Do not tighten the bolt yet. Rotate the engine two turns clockwise and re-align the timing marks. Tighten the tensioner bolt to 35 foot-pounds.

Install the timing belt covers. Remove the crankshaft bolt and install the crankshaft pulley. Reinstall the bolt and tighten. Install the radiator shroud and fan as an assembly. Place the fan on the water pump pulley, install the four nuts loosely, install the bolts in the fan shroud and tighten.

Install the belts around the crank pulley, water pump pulley and alternator and pull the alternator up to tension the belt and tighten the bolts using a socket. Tighten the water pump pulley nuts using a wrench.

Install the belt on the power steering pump, pull the pump out to tension the belt and tighten the bolts. Install the upper radiator hose. Fill the radiator with antifreeze.

Items you will need

  • Drain pan

  • Antifreeze

  • Ratchet

  • Set of sockets

  • Set of wrenches

  • Common screwdriver

More Articles

article divider