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Thread: Timing belt change

  1. #1
    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Timing belt change

    Is it time to change your timing belt? Most should be done at 60,000 miles. See here for some basic info as well as the link to the chart at the bottom of the page to see when your timing belt should be changed (that is, if your car uses a belt and not a timing chain).

    Always change the belt BEFORE it breaks or starts to slip. There are two reasons for this. One is that a broken timing belt (or one that has severely slipped) in most cars designed these days can do major engine damage. But the other is that it is MUCH easier to change before it starts to slip (or break) as then you don't have to line things up, which can be a hassle. If you use the Gates chart, you will most likely not have such problems, by changing the belt in time.

    When you remove the old belt off the sprockets, be sure that no sprocket can move at all until the new belt is installed. Just a degree or two off can severely affect performance in modern cars.

    Be sure to let no tools of any type touch the belt at any time. If you need a tool to touch the belt, stop, you're clearly doing something wrong. While these belts can pull quite a bit, they are extremely fragile when it comes to them being pinched or forced on, even if just a little, such as being plied on with a screwdriver. And if you do such, you won't see the problem for about 5,000 miles when the belt breaks and then might total out your engine. Do not take a chance by even letting any tools touch the belt at any time.

    Also, if your water pump is on the timing belt, be sure to change it at the same time. Old water pumps have been known to freeze up, and when they do, that can break the timing belt (and ruin the engine).

    Also, when you handle the belt, never squeeze any part of it to any more of a degree then when it's on your smallest pulley that the timing belt will be put on.

    Treat a timing belt like it is very fragile when you install the new one.

    It's time for me to change the timing belt in our 97 Sebring. It's a real hassle, but I've done it once before. Exactly 60,000 miles before. And I need to change the water pump too, which I did NOT do last time, I took a chance and it lasted the 120,000 miles. But it was a gamble and I don't recommend doing such. The water pump will get changed this time.

    In some cars, such as my Sebring, it's also a good time to change the spark plugs. The upper intake manifold has to be removed to replace the three rear spark plugs. But it also has to be removed to replace the timing belt.

    -Don- SSF, CA


  2. #2
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    This is excellent Don - thanks!

  3. #3
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    Wow, you got lucky on that gamble; not changing the water pump the first time. I've done shet like that before and caused myself some serious cussing sprees. I'm due for a change on my 4runner and it is coooold outside.

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  4. #4
    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dom View Post
    Wow, you got lucky on that gamble; not changing the water pump the first time. I've done shet like that before and caused myself some serious cussing sprees. I'm due for a change on my 4runner and it is coooold outside.
    Yeah, in fact, last time, at 70,000 miles (when the Sebring was purchased by Tom while I was at work) the first thing I did to it was to change the timing belt. It now has 129,000 miles on that Sebring water pump and it's still perfect. Doesn't leak a drop or anything.

    Last time, at 70K, when I went to buy the timing belt, I also bought the water pump and gasket. I started to change the water pump, but couldn't figure out exactly how to do remove it (even though I was using the 1997 Sebring Factory Service Manual). The book made it sound easy. Perhaps it would be easy if I could see the hoses that went to it. The pump has to be removed to see anything but the hoses have to be released to remove the pump. I gave up on it and only changed the timing belt.

    This time, I will not complete the timing belt job if I cannot figure out how to remove the water pump.

    I am going to leave the Sebring here in Reno and by the time it gets another thousand miles on it, it will be warmer here as well as time to work on it. The original belt lasted 70K, but I am too chicken to go past the recommended 60K since this 2.5L is an interference engine.

    -Don- Reno, NV

  5. #5
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    Yeah, interference engines have a tendency of forcing you to want to take care of business. That is the exact reason I am procrastinating on my 4Runner, because it's not. I have 100k on the original belt, doh!

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    Yeah, in fact, last time, at 70,000 miles (when the Sebring was purchased by Tom while I was at work) the first thing I did to it was to change the timing belt. It now has 129,000 miles on that Sebring water pump and it's still perfect. Doesn't leak a drop or anything.

    Last time, at 70K, when I went to buy the timing belt, I also bought the water pump and gasket. I started to change the water pump, but couldn't figure out exactly how to do remove it (even though I was using the 1997 Sebring Factory Service Manual). The book made it sound easy. Perhaps it would be easy if I could see the hoses that went to it. The pump has to be removed to see anything but the hoses have to be released to remove the pump. I gave up on it and only changed the timing belt.

    This time, I will not complete the timing belt job if I cannot figure out how to remove the water pump.

    I am going to leave the Sebring here in Reno and by the time it gets another thousand miles on it, it will be warmer here as well as time to work on it. The original belt lasted 70K, but I am too chicken to go past the recommended 60K since this 2.5L is an interference engine.

    -Don- Reno, NV
    That's a debacle....

    I can pull the radiator in my Nissan in 5-10 minutes and have the water pump out (and new one installed) 15 minutes later. It was clearly built to be serviced, whereas the Chrysler (from what you've written) seems to have been built with no thought given to that at all.

    It's one of the reasons why Chrysler's in the position its in right now, in my opinion. Their quality control is also atrocious.

  7. #7
    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    That's a debacle....

    I can pull the radiator in my Nissan in 5-10 minutes and have the water pump out (and new one installed) 15 minutes later. It was clearly built to be serviced, whereas the Chrysler (from what you've written) seems to have been built with no thought given to that at all.

    It's one of the reasons why Chrysler's in the position its in right now, in my opinion. Their quality control is also atrocious.
    I know you don't care for Chrysler, but they have their good points too. But working on them is NOT one of them. BTW, I used to think Datsun was the junkiest car ever made. Everybody I knew who owned one had major problems while still quite new. I don't know if they have gotten any better since they have used the Nissan name.

    Often, easy to work on cars are the most unreliable. Perhaps that's why they are easy to work on!

    In 130,000 miles, my 97 Sebring had only very minor problems and still feels like a new car and it's large gas tank gets great MPG.

    BTW, I have had MUCH better luck with timing belts than with timing chains. This is because I will let a timing chain break before ever changing it. I lost a few cars that way. My 1988 Biretta timing chain fell off at 138,000 miles and I then junked the car.

    But in any car that has an interference engine and timing belt, I won't go a mile over the recommended mileage before I change it. With a non-interference engine, I might take more chances. I did such with my 1981 Capri and the belt broke at 4,500 miles past the recommended 60,000 miles, but that was not an interference engine. But it ruined our night, being stuck for many hours (that was before the cell phone days!)

    -Don- Reno, NV

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    As I recall, the biggest issue with the early Datsuns was horrendous premature body rot!

    Datsun changed to Nissan (here in the US) circa early-mid 1980s, I think it was... .

    I can't vouch for other models but the Frontier pick-up is a fantastic little truck, at least the four-cylinder versions (the six apparently isn't as good). It's also very easy to work on; one of the easiest vehicles to work on I have ever owned, in fact.

    I actually like many Chryslers - I'd just be scared to own one based on what I've seen, including incredibly slipshod build quality (see my earlier posts about the new Challenger).

  9. #9
    Senior Member J. ZIMM's Avatar
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    When my Daughter brought her Isuzu Rodeo, It had about 97k on it. V-6 with a five speed, 4x4, all the bells and whistles on it. I, at that time was not sure when that belt was last changed. I took some of the timing cover bolts out so I could peel it back, and look at the back of the belt for wear on the numbers. It looked pretty good and decided that it could go a little farther. When the time did come, I decided that it was more that I wanted to dig into at that time. We let one of the local shops do the job. $500 bucks later, new water pump and all, I felt good about the car. 5000 Miles later, the water pump went out. I mean bearings and all. It was past the shops warranty on labor, tho it was not their fault that the pump went south. So, this time after tow dollying it back to my shop, I decided to dig into it. It turns out that the nightmare I didn't want to face was not as bad as I thought. It went for another 30k miles before she sold it.

  10. #10
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J. ZIMM View Post
    When my Daughter brought her Isuzu Rodeo, It had about 97k on it. V-6 with a five speed, 4x4, all the bells and whistles on it. I, at that time was not sure when that belt was last changed. I took some of the timing cover bolts out so I could peel it back, and look at the back of the belt for wear on the numbers. It looked pretty good and decided that it could go a little farther. When the time did come, I decided that it was more that I wanted to dig into at that time. We let one of the local shops do the job. $500 bucks later, new water pump and all, I felt good about the car. 5000 Miles later, the water pump went out. I mean bearings and all. It was past the shops warranty on labor, tho it was not their fault that the pump went south. So, this time after tow dollying it back to my shop, I decided to dig into it. It turns out that the nightmare I didn't want to face was not as bad as I thought. It went for another 30k miles before she sold it.

    I agree with Don (see his previous post). When you're already "neck deep" and have taken off the accessories/front cover and all that junk, you might as well do the water pump at the same time, even if it's "ok." A pump is what, $40 or so? I'd much rather replace it prematurely and lose the $40 than have to tear into that SOB all over again!

  11. #11
    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    I agree with Don (see his previous post). When you're already "neck deep" and have taken off the accessories/front cover and all that junk, you might as well do the water pump at the same time, even if it's "ok." A pump is what, $40 or so? I'd much rather replace it prematurely and lose the $40 than have to tear into that SOB all over again!
    I think he said his NEW water pump crapped out! Read his message again! The part where he said "We let one of the local shops do the job. $500 bucks later, new water pump and all,"

    I guess that was one of the rare cases where it would have been better to NOT change the water pump. Sh*t happens, sometimes even to new stuff. But I wonder if the shop really did change it. I also wonder if they used a rebuilt pump, instead of "new". These are reasons I like to do such work myself. Then there's no guessing.

    -Don-

  12. #12
    Senior Member J. ZIMM's Avatar
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    They did show me the old pump that was taken out. It looked good, and it felt good. The only reason that I let some one else do the job, is my health won't let me do the things I used to do. (Five back Fusions & Breathing problems). But when I was in the game, I would have torn into it with no problem. I have had parts failures on clutch jobs, and water pumps as well as a gang of other stuff. And yes, the Water Pump was NEW.
    Last edited by J. ZIMM; 12-10-2009 at 04:59 AM.

  13. #13
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J. ZIMM View Post
    They did show me the old pump that was taken out. It looked good, and it felt good. The only reason that I let some one else do the job, is my health won't let me do the things I used to do. (Five back Fusions & Breathing problems). But when I was in the game, I would have torn into it with no problem. I have had parts failures on clutch jobs, and water pumps as well as a gang of other stuff. And yes, the Water Pump was NEW.
    I've found over the years you have to be really careful not just about "rebuilt" but even "new" replacement parts. Sometimes, the part is complete junk. I try to do a little research (where possible) about the brands with good and bad reps. Failing that, I tend to stick with OEM rather than aftermarket because my experience has been that usually the factory replacement part will be ok (unless the original factory design was flawed, of course!)

  14. #14
    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J. ZIMM View Post
    They did show me the old pump that was taken out. It looked good, and it felt good. The only reason that I let some one else do the job, is my health won't let me do the things I used to do. (Five back Fusions & Breathing problems). But when I was in the game, I would have torn into it with no problem. I have had parts failures on clutch jobs, and water pumps as well as a gang of other stuff. And yes, the Water Pump was NEW.
    Even if you did the job yourself, I assume you would have had the same problem.

    Just bad luck!. But with my Sebring with 130,000 miles on the water pump, I think I now will have better luck with a new one. I am glad I didn't change mine at 70,000 miles! It's still working fine.

    I had good luck!

    -Don-

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    Senior Member J. ZIMM's Avatar
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    In this day and age, you really do not know who made the part. Most parts are now made out of the Country, and then packaged under various Brands. Whether it is NAPA, Auto zone, Shucks, or Isuzu. The only difference is the packaging. I know. At one time I worked for a Company that made a product for Sears, Wards, a couple of local retailers, and their own Brand. It all came out of the same tub.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J. ZIMM View Post
    Whether it is NAPA, Auto zone, Shucks, or Isuzu. The only difference is the packaging. I know. At one time I worked for a Company that made a product for Sears, Wards, a couple of local retailers, and their own Brand. It all came out of the same tub.
    I used to work for a friction material company. We serviced a lot of aftermarket brands - it wasn't uncommon for a production run of a particular item to be packaged in half-a-dozen different suppliers' boxes. We were even supplying other companies who were supposed to be our deadly rivals, & vice versa - that enabled both parties to cover more of the market without needing to tool up for references with very low sales.

  17. #17
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J. ZIMM View Post
    In this day and age, you really do not know who made the part. Most parts are now made out of the Country, and then packaged under various Brands. Whether it is NAPA, Auto zone, Shucks, or Isuzu. The only difference is the packaging. I know. At one time I worked for a Company that made a product for Sears, Wards, a couple of local retailers, and their own Brand. It all came out of the same tub.
    Yep.. another sign of the times; and that America is at best a second world country and on its way to becoming a Turd World one!

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