How to Install a Timing Belt in Vehicles

by Contributing WriterUpdated June 12, 2017

A timing belt's main purpose is to turn the camshaft which helps power the engine. The timing belt is wrapped around the camshaft, tensioner pulley, idler pulley and crankshaft. It rotates around these parts and helps keep the engine working. Installing the timing belt on a Vehicles is similar to replacing the timing belt on any other type of Vehicles. The most important part is knowing where exactly to align the belt.

Under The Hood:

 How to Install a Timing Belt in a 1997 Ford Ranger

Rotate the serpentine-belt tensioner and slip the serpentine belt off the pulleys and out of the engine compartment. Rotate the engine clockwise until the timing pointer on the front of the timing belt cover is aligned with the 0-degrees mark on the crankshaft pulley. Remove the crankshaft-pulley bolt using a 19 mm socket and breaker bar. Recheck the timing mark to make sure it has not moved. Realign the mark with the pointer if needed. Slide the pulley from the engine compartment. Remove the four 10 mm bolts that attach the water-pump pulley to the water pump.

Remove the front timing-cover bolts and slip the timing cover off the front of the engine. Loosen the tensioner pivot bolt, which passes through the timing-belt tensioner spring, one half turn. Loosen the tensioner hold-down bolt one-half turn. Rotate the tensioner clockwise, to release the tension on the timing belt, and tighten the tensioner hold-down bolt. Slide the belt off the timing gears.

Align the timing mark on the camshaft gear with the pointer protruding from the inner timing cover near the bottom of the gear. Slip the new belt over the camshaft sprocket, the auxiliary sprocket, and the crankshaft sprocket. Make sure all of the slack of the new belt is on the tensioner side of the belt and slip the belt onto the tensioner. Release the tensioner hold-down bolt, to allow the tensioner to make contact with the belt, and re-tighten the bolt securely. Tighten the tensioner pivot bolt. Check the timing marks and ensure that the belt didn't slip when tension was applied. Repeat the procedure if needed to align the marks perfectly.

Reinstall the timing cover, crankshaft pulley, and water-pump pulley. Reinstall the serpentine belt, and tighten all of the pulley bolts securely. Start the engine and test drive to verify the repair.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • Socket set

  • Pry bar

  • Screwdriver set

  • Drain pan

 How to Install a Timing Belt on a 1997 Sebring

Accessing the timing belt

Lift the front end of the car and support it on jack stands. Disconnect the negative battery terminal and isolate it from the battery. Remove the front passenger-side wheel and the splash guard in the wheel well, saving the nylon fasteners. From underneath the vehicle, loosen (but do not remove) the the power steering pump adjustment bolts located in crescent-shaped grooves. Remove the power steering pump belt. Remove the accessory belt by loosening the adjuster bolt (located underneath the alternator, extending toward the front of the car) and the idler pulley bolt. Remove two bolts each from the power steering reservoir and the coolant overflow tank and move them out of the way.

Position the floor jack underneath the oil pan. With a block of wood between the jack and the oil pan, raise the jack enough to support the weight of the engine. Make sure that the jack is positioned out of your work area. Remove the three bolts from the top of the engine mount. Next, from underneath the vehicle, remove the bolts holding the engine mount in place.

Remove the crankshaft damper pulley (the large pulley that drives both the power steering and accessory belts) by removing the center bolt with a 21mm socket and a breaker bar. Use a breaker bar and a friend holding a pry bar to do this. The damper pulley has grooves in its inner diameter, so have the friend fit the pry bar into one of them while you apply counterclockwise force on the breaker bar. The pry bar should rest against the engine mount bracket while your assistant makes sure that it doesn't slip. Removing the bolt will require upwards of 160 foot-pounds of torque. When the bolt is removed, the damper pulley should come off easily, but may require gentle blows from a rubber mallet.

Remove the engine mount bracket by loosening the four bolts holding it in place and pulling them out by hand. These brass-colored bolts are about 4 to 8 inches long; keep track of their configuration for correct re-installation.

Clear a path to the left timing belt cover bolts by repositioning the power steering pump. Remove three of the four bolts holding the power steering pump to its bracket and loosen the fourth. Two of these bolts are extremely difficult to reach, but removing the upper intake manifold plenum will make it somewhat easier. If you choose to do so, take precautions to re-installed the plenum correctly at the end. Finally, remove the two side timing belt covers followed by the middle cover.

Removal and Replacement of the Timing Belt

Rotate the crankshaft by carefully turning the cam pulleys (the large brass gears)--with the old timing belt attached--in a clockwise motion, until the timing marks located on each of the cam pulleys are aligned. The timing marks resemble white spots of paint and they are to be aligned with a "V" notched on each valve cover. This is much easier if you remove the spark plugs to prevent valve compression. Note: failure to keep the cam pulleys aligned may cause serious engine damage. When the cam sprockets are aligned with the timing marks, the number one piston is at "top dead center."

Loosen the tensioner pulley and remove the old belt. The belt will come off easily, but be careful not to jostle the cams out of their alignment. Once the belt is removed, unbolt and remove the hydraulic tensioner. The tensioner resembles a small cannon firing a rod that applies pressure on the timing belt tensioner pulley bracket.

Using either a bench vice or C-clamps, compress the protruding rod of the tensioner until the pin-hole aligns with the hole on the outside casing and insert a 5/64" Allen wrench until it passes out the other side. Make sure that the Allen wrench is positioned so that you can remove it once the tensioner is re-installed.

Install the new water pump according to the manufacturer's instructions (unless you are skipping this step). Replace the idler pulley and the tensioner pulley with the new ones, then re-install the hydraulic tensioner. First install the timing belt on the left cam gear (nearest the passenger seat) and make sure the ribs of the belt fit snugly in the teeth of the gear. Loosely route the belt around the water pump and the right cam gear. Apply one or two paper clips or clothes pins to hold the timing belt in place on the left cam gear, then remove slack as it passes around the water pump and place the belt as tautly as you can around the right cam gear without moving it out of alignment, then secure it in place with clips. Route the belt around the crankshaft and the tensioner pulleys, making sure there is no slack between the right cam gear and the crankshaft. Tighten the idler pulley to 35 foot-pounds.

Place the points of the bent-nose pliers in the holes on the tensioner pulley and apply counterclockwise torque on the tensioner to tighten the belt. While applying torque, tighten the pulley in place to 35 foot-pounds. If proper tension has been applied the Allen wrench will come out of the hydraulic tensioner without resistance; if it is difficult to remove the key, you must repeat this step. It may help to divide these tasks with a helper working from above the engine.

Install all components in reverse order. Tighten the power steering pump adjustment bolts to 40 ft-lbs and the crankshaft damper puller bolt to 134 ft-lbs.

Re-install the splash shield with the remaining nylon fasteners and install the wheel, then reconnect the negative battery terminal. Idle your car for five minutes to make sure that everything runs well and inspect for leaks.

Items you will need

  • New timing belt kit (including tensioner and idler pulleys)

  • New water pump (highly recommended)

  • Water pump gasket maker (recommended)

  • Floor jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Socket wrench set with metric sockets (10-21 mm)

  • Torque wrench

  • Breaker bar

  • Pry bar

  • C-clamp or bench vice

  • 5/64-inch Allen wrench

  • 4 large paper clips or 4 clothes pins

  • Bent-nose pliers

 How Install a Timing Belt on a Mitsubishi Galant

Disconnect the battery ground cable using an appropriate-size wrench. Set the ground cable aside, ensuring that it does not touch metal. Raise the Galant with a jack and support it on jack stands. Place the block of wood on the jack head, then raise the jack under then engine so the engine is supported by the jack and protected by the block of wood.

Remove the engine splash guard underneath the engine, using the appropriate-size socket. Remove the engine mount bracket, using the appropriate wrench or socket. Using a wrench, loosen the accessory belt tensioner, then remove the accessory belt. Remove the tensioner and its bracket, using the appropriate socket. Remove the water pump pulley and the crankshaft pulleys.

Remove the power steering pump hose and air conditioning hose brackets. Remove the power steering pump pulley, using the pulley remover. Remove the upper and lower timing belt covers, using the appropriate-size sockets.

Turn the crank clockwise, using the appropriate-size socket, until the timing marks on the crankshaft, the camshaft and the oil pump sprocket are aligned. If the timing marks do not line up the first time around, the engine is 180 degrees out and needs to be turned one more full revolution of the crankshaft pulley.

Loosen the timing belt tensioner pulley, using the appropriate socket. Push the tensioner toward the water pump, then tighten the bolt just enough to hold the tensioner in place. Remove the timing belt.

Check the timing marks to see if they are still aligned. Check the oil pump sprocket by removing the plug on the side of the block and inserting a screwdriver into the hole. If the screwdriver goes in 2.4 inches from the cylinder block, the oil pump sprocket is lined up. If the screwdriver goes in only 1 inch, turn the oil pump shaft until the screwdriver goes in 2.4 inches.

Install the timing belt, starting at the crankshaft sprocket and working your way counterclockwise around the pulleys, keeping tension on the belt on the side away from the tensioner. Loosen the tensioner bolt, allowing the tensioner to put tension on the belt.

Turn the crankshaft, using the appropriate socket, clockwise until the camshaft sprocket moves two teeth. Pull the timing belt toward the tensioner, making sure the belt’s teeth are set firmly into the camshaft sprocket’s teeth. Tighten the tensioner bolt to 35 foot-pounds of torque. Tighten the tensioner nut to 35 foot-pounds of torque.

Press down on the timing belt. Measure the amount the timing belt moves--it should be .55 inches when measured from the edge of the rear timing cover. If the tension is incorrect, remove and reinstall the belt.

Install all other parts in reverse order of removal. Tighten the crankshaft pulley bolts to 18 foot-pounds of torque.

Items you will need

  • Set of wrenches

  • Set of sockets

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • 2-by-4-inch block of wood (about 6 inches long)

  • Pulley remover

  • Screwdriver

 How to Install a Timing Belt on a 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer

Disconnect the cover under the left side of the engine with a socket wrench. Remove the cable from the negative battery terminal. Remove the mounting insulator for the engine.

Disconnect the pulley for the crankshaft with a socket wrench, and detach the electrical connector for the crankshaft position sensor. Disconnect the upper front cover for the timing belt.

Release the clamp for the oil line to the power steering pump, and disconnect the bracket for the oil line with a socket wrench. Disconnect the adjusting brace for the alternator, and remove the lower cover for the timing belt. Disconnect the bracket stay for the power steering pump. Remove the flange and support bracket for the engine.

Turn the crankshaft clockwise to align the timing marks for the crankshaft and camshaft. Remove the retaining bolt for the pulley of the timing belt tensioner with a socket wrench. Pry the tensioner pulley away from the timing belt with a suitable pry tool.

Tighten the pulley bolt for the tensioner to hold it in place temporarily. Remove the timing belt. Loosen the pulley bolt for the timing belt tensioner and remove the pulley. Install the pulley for the belt tensioner, and lever it as close to the engine mount as possible. Tighten the pulley bolt to temporarily hold the pulley in place.

Turn the crankshaft clockwise to align the crankshaft and camshaft timing marks as necessary. Install the new timing belt onto the crankshaft sprocket, water pump sprocket, camshaft sprocket and belt tensioner pulley in that order.

Loosen the bolt for the belt tensioner pulley by one-half turn with a socket wrench. This allows the tensioner spring to place tension on the timing belt. Turn the crankshaft two full turns clockwise to align the timing marks once again.

Ensure that the teeth on the camshaft and crankshaft sprockets engage the timing belt, and tighten the bolt on the belt tensioner pulley with a socket wrench. Install the remaining components by performing Steps One through Three in reverse order.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench set

  • Pry tool

  • Timing belt

 How to Install a Timing Belt on a Volkswagen Jetta TDI

Examine all of the pulleys to make sure they are firmly tightened down and in place. Run you hands over all of the shafts and pulleys to verify that the old timing belt has been completely removed and there are no remnants remaining.

Slide the new timing belt over the camshaft pulley and the idler pulley located at each end with the grooves on the belt facing down. Run the belt over the tensioner pulley and under the crankshaft. Come up and over the water pump and under the idler pulley back to the camshaft.

Install the new tensioner onto the pulley. Move the holes on the tensioner so they are on the bottom and tighten down two nuts into the holes by hand. Tighten the belt so there is no slack around the gears and make sure the belts teeth are fully engaged.

Tighten the cam bolt by hand onto the center of the cam pulley. Tighten all of the bolts on the idler pulley until they are snug and secure.

Rotate the tensioner clockwise to tighten the tensioner pulley. Slide a socket wrench over top of the bolt and tighten it down. Turn on the car to make sure the timing belt is moving properly.

Items you will need

  • Timing belt

  • Tensioner

  • Nuts

  • Cam bolt

  • Socket wrench

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