The Honda J-series V6 is one of the most reliable engines on the planet. Over the years, the materials and processes used in timing belt manufacturing have allowed Honda to move its service interval to 90,000 miles and then 105,000 miles. I use the 90,000-mile mark as my signal. As a customer’s vehicle nears this indicator, remind him or her that the belt needs to be replaced.
When pricing the job, don’t overlook additional and necessary related sales. The timing belt drives the water pump on these engines. Although very reliable, I would consider it a bad bet to think the pump will last 180,000 miles.
1. Get started by disconnecting the battery and removing the accessory drive belt. On power steering-equipped cars, the pump or pulley has to be removed to gain access (see Photos 1 and 2).
2. As you remove the belts, spin anything that rotates to ensure the bearings are in good shape, and source any needed parts before reassembly.
3. Next, bring cylinder No. 1 up to TDC by lining up the white mark on the crank pulley with the pointer on the front cover. Loosen the crankshaft bolt; this can be a challenge without the proper tool to hold the crankshaft. This hex-shaped tool (see Photo 3) fits inside the crank pulley with an opening that provides access to the crank bolt. With the breaker bar or handle of the tool against the cross member, you can apply the needed loosening torque with a breaker bar and extension (see Photo 4).
4. While you’re there, take a close look at the crank pulley for any signs of wear or separation. It’s not a very common problem, but if you’re ever chasing a report of a noise in the timing belt area, or a slipping belt noise when the belts look good, these pulleys have been known to separate. Look closely with the engine running to see if the outer ring (where the drive belt rides) is running true to the hub. If it’s wobbling, more investigation is warranted.
5. Next, support the engine to remove the right-side engine mount bracket. Remove the dipstick tube if it’s in the way, as well as the previously loosened crankshaft pulley.
6. Remove the timing belt covers. If the model you’re working on uses a timing guide plate, remove the plate from the front of the crankshaft sprocket, making note that the concave side is facing outward.
7. With the covers removed, be sure you have the No. 1 cylinder on TDC. With the lower, outer cover removed, align the dimple on the drive pulley with the mark on the oil pump (see Photo 5) while confirming that the cam pulley marks are in line with the marks on the inner covers (see Photos 6 and 7).
8. Before the belt is removed, your service information will instruct you to hold the tensioner in place to prevent it from extending as the belt is removed. To accomplish this, there is threaded boss provided that lines up with the tensioner pivot arm. The bolt to do the job is also provided as one of the L-shaped bolts that secure the battery. Grind a slight point on the bolt and install it only hand-tight. You’re not trying to compress the tensioner, but rather just hold it in place. This step can be a time-saver if you’re planning to reinstall the timing belt you’re removing. Since the bolt holds the tensioner in place, it won’t be necessary to remove and retract the tensioner.
9. Relieve the tension on the timing belt by loosening the timing belt idler pulley bolt and pulley, and then remove the timing belt. There are two styles of tensioners used on the V6s — one is sealed, while the other has a service bolt on the backside. With the tensioner removed (if it’s the sealed unit), slowly apply pressure until the service pin can be installed (see Photos 8, 9 and 10a-10c).
10. If you have a tensioner with the service bolt, clamp it in the vise by one of the mounting ears with the service bolt facing up. Remove the service bolt and, using a flat-bladed screwdriver in the hole, turn the screwdriver clockwise to retract the tensioner to install the U-shape stopper (retaining) tool (see Photo 11). Take care to prevent spilling the oil.
Note: If either style of tensioner shows any signs of leakage, it should be replaced. Neither one is very expensive. Always keep in mind that the client is expecting this job to hold up for 100,000 miles.
11. With the belt removed, you can now remove the fasteners and replace the water pump. Before you do, don’t forget that you removed the dipstick tube, so if you didn’t seal the hole before, now is the time to be sure you don’t allow coolant to enter the crankcase.
12. When it comes time to install the timing belt, reinstall the tensioner with the pin or stopper tool in place, loosely install the idler pulley using thread locker, and then install the timing belt in a counterclockwise direction following this sequence: Crankshaft pulley, idler pulley, front camshaft pulley, water pump pulley, rear camshaft pulley and tension adjust pulley.
Note: Be sure the crankshaft and camshaft pulleys remained aligned with the marks on the back cover. To aid in this process, we use spring-loaded clips to hold the belts on the pulleys as the belt is routed. With the belt in place, tighten the idler pulley bolt to 38 ft.-lbs.
13. Next, remove the retaining tool or pin from the auto-tensioner. Install the engine mount bracket to the front of engine. If you have a timing belt guide plate, install it with the concave surface facing out. Install the lower cover and crankshaft pulley.
14. Lubricate the pulley bolt and tighten to the proper torque; most go to 181 ft.-lbs., with certain models using a torque-to-yield-type bolt (but you would have seen that in your service information before you started this job).
15. Using the pulley bolt, rotate the engine by hand for a couple of revolutions, always in the proper direction of rotation. In this case, that would be clockwise. This will let the tensioner extend, while letting you confirm the marks are still in line when you stop at No. 1 TDC.
16. If all is well, finish by installing the covers and other parts removed on disassembly. With everything buttoned up, all that’s left is to fill the cooling system with the proper coolant and bleed the system (see Photo 12).