How to Replace the Timing Chain on a Ford F-150

by John Stevens J.D.Updated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Wrench

  • Flathead screwdriver

  • Harmonic balancer puller

  • Torque wrench

  • Water pump gasket

  • Timing chain cover gasket

  • Gasket sealer

  • Antifreeze

  • Engine oil

Ford has been producing the Ford F-150 for decades. However, even the F-150’s durable engine is not immune to wear and tear. Over time, an engine’s timing chain stretches, causing the engine to run poorly. In extreme cases, the chain can break and the engine won't run at all.

Drain the radiator and the engine oil. To drain the radiator, turn the drain wing-nut located at the bottom of the radiator on the engine side of the radiator in a counterclockwise direction. To drain the engine’s oil, turn the bolt located at the bottom of the oil pan in a counterclockwise direction with a wrench.

Disconnect the radiator hoses and remove the radiator. The radiator hoses are attached to the radiator with hose clamps. Loosen the screw located on each hose clamp with a flathead screwdriver, then pull the hoses away from the radiator. Newer F-150s are equipped with electric fans that attach directly to the radiator. Trace the electrical wires from the fan to the fan’s plug, then unplug the fan. Remove the bolts that hold the radiator to the engine bay with a wrench, then lift the radiator out of the engine bay.

Remove the engine’s accessory belts. The Ford F-150 uses different belt configurations, depending on the year the truck was produced. Older F-150s use one belt per each accessory, such as power steering, the alternator and air conditioning. Newer F-150s use one belt to power all accessories. Regardless of which belt setup is installed, removal begins with loosening the component’s brackets to slacken the belt. Systems that use one belt require that only one accessory bracket be loosened; systems using multiple belts require each accessory bracket to be loosened. Locate the adjustment bolts on the accessory’s bracket, then loosen them with a wrench. Once loosened, slide the belt or belts up and over the fan assembly if so equipped.

Remove the fan (and the fan’s pulley if working on an older F-150). The fan is held in place with four bolts located through the center of the fan. Remove the bolts with a wrench, then pull the fan away from the engine to remove it. Once the fan has been removed, slide the pulley off of the water pump.

Disconnect the heater hose from the bottom of the water pump and remove the water pump. The heater hose is the smaller of the two hoses, which are attached to the water pump. The water pump is attached to the timing chain cover with a series of bolts around the pump’s circumference. Once the bolts have been removed, pull the water pump away from the engine.

Remove the crankshaft pulley and the harmonic balancer. The crankshaft pulley is attached to the face of the harmonic balancer with several bolts. Remove the bolts and pull the pulley away from the harmonic balancer. To remove the harmonic balancer, first remove the large bolts that run through the center of the balancer, then attach a harmonic balancer puller to remove the harmonic balancer from the nose of the crankshaft.

Remove the timing chain cover and the timing chain. The timing chain cover can be pulled away from the engine once the bolts surrounding the face of the cover have been removed with a wrench. Remove the timing chain by first removing the large bolt in the middle of the top sprocket, then sliding the timing chain sprockets away from the engine.

Position the new timing chain over the camshaft and the crankshaft. Note there are two circular indentations on the face of each of the two timing gears. The mark on the bottom gear must point straight up, and the mark on the upper gear must simultaneously face straight down. It might be necessary to turn the crankshaft to achieve this positioning. If so, insert the crankshaft bolt removed in Step 6 and turn the bolt with a wrench.

Insert the bolt through the center of the upper timing chain gear and tighten it to 30 to 35 ft. lbs. of torque with a torque wrench. Clean the surface of the timing chain cover where the cover meets the engine block, then place a new gasket onto this surface with a gasket sealer. Rest the timing chain cover over the timing chain, then insert and tighten the timing chain cover’s bolts to 12 to 15 ft. lbs. of torque.

Install the harmonic balancer by positioning the balancer onto the nose of the crankshaft and turning the balancer’s bolt in a clockwise direction. The pulley can then be attached to the balancer with the pulley’s bolts.

Install the water pump with a new gasket coated with gasket sealer, then tighten the pump’s bolts to the front of the engine. Reconnect the heater hose to the bottom of the pump.

Slide the fan pulley over the water pump, followed by the fan (if applicable). Connect the fan to the water pump with the fan’s four bolts.

Install the engine’s accessory belt or belts. Place the belt around the appropriate pulley, then pull the accessory away from the engine while simultaneously tightening the accessory’s bracket bolts.

Install the radiator into the engine compartment using the radiator’s mounting bolts, then attach the radiator’s hoses. Close the radiator’s drain wing-nut at the bottom of the radiator and fill the radiator with antifreeze. If the fan attaches to the face of the radiator, pug the fan back into its outlet.

Insert and tighten the oil pan’s drain bolt, then pour new engine oil down the oil dipstick tube. The oil lever should be between the “Add” and “Full” marks on the tip of the dipstick.

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