After timing belt change

I have a 98 Honda Accord 4 cylinder with 110k miles on it. It used to be very quite and drives smoothly. I recently had my timing belt and water pump replaced. Right after i got my car back from my mechanic, the driving felt differently. Two main problems, first, every time I stop at red lights or traffic, the car vibrates and you can feel it from the steering wheel. Second, when I start to accelerate and when engine is over 2100 rpm, the engine becomes much louder than before, I feel like I am driving a race car. Other than these two problems, the can seems to drive fine.

I took it back and they told me this is normal and takes time to settle down.

Can you let me know if this is normal after the time belt change or what might have gone wrong?


No, that’s not normal. It should be just as smooth and quiet as before. It’s possible that the timing belt is off by a tooth.

It’s quite possible they forgot to tighten or to put back altogether, one of the motormounts connections. Ask them to doublecheck on that.

"they told me this is normal and takes time to settle down. "

I’d also ask them to check the mounts. But since they told you this I’d be afraid to go back there. This answer is completely bogus - and what’s more they know it. Well, ok. They should know it. Is this a national chain “auto care” place or something?

Don’t let them feed you this kind of BS.

Balance shaft being off. They have to recheck the work.

Sounds like they botched the job and the cam timing is off, or possibly even worse.
The “worse” situation would be if someone installed a timing belt incorrectly without double checking their work before trying to start the engine and the intake valves in the cylinder head bent due to piston contact when the starter motor cranked the engine over.

That’s a worst case scenario and hopefully the problem is simply the cam timing being off a tooth or two.
What I don’t like is the pure BS you were given about this being normal and taking time to settle down. That is absolutely ludicrous and even if the intake valves are not bent due to a mistake it’s also possible that the exhaust valves could burn depending on the cam timing situation. You cannot continue to drive the car like this; period.

I would approach them one time about making this right. If they do not or cannot make it right then it may be time to have someone else look the car over for a diagnosis and demand a full reimbursement.

A test for this would be to place a jack underneath the engine, I ran into this once with a customer, the vehicle came in with a broken belt and we replaced it. Customers complaint was it shook like you described. The customer had the view it was someones fault and not his because he was so meticulous at changing the oil and having it washed through out its life. With the jack we adjusted the front mount and displayed where the mount was worn gave him the estimate for the mount and he happily drove away vibrating. Depending on the engine, the balance shaft being out will produce a power loss while under load and also a check engine lamp (MIL) while engine is running. It is very possible that after 13 years the rubber mount is just collapsed. The top mount usually comes off to allow the belt to go around the cam and the full engine weight rests on the front mount by the radiator core support… that will usually be the issue related to the vibration

Thank you all for the prompt reply.
This is a local guy and I trusted him. I was told that keep driving a few more weeks and it would all settle down. I will take the car back and ask them to recheck everything.

I agree that the timing belt is either off a tooth, or the balance shaft wasn’t properly set when the belt was installed.

Anyone who would feed a customer a line of BS such as that instead of eagerly volunteering to go back over it and see if they made an error is not to be trusted.
Just as bad, they apparently ran it out the door like that and were fully prepared to send the customer down the road with a known problem.

Ask the mechanic how this car is going to fix itself by driving it for a few weeks. The only thing that can happen is that it gets worse.

What’s his logic? He’s hoping you just go away.

I have been working on Hondas for a VERY long time. NO THIS IS NOT NORMAL. TAKE IT BAC AND TELL THEM THE TIMING IS OFF. It is quite EZ to screw up the T-belt job and be “one tooth off” by the end of the job and your car will do exactly what you described. ALSO your honda 4cyliner in the Accord has a BALANCE SHAFT belt as well. This is also a very precise allignment procedure while doing the T-belt service. This will make your cars engine vibrate in an unusual manner after a T-belt job. FAR more likely is that your cam timing is now off one tooth one direction or another. This is THE MOST LIKELY CAUSE OF THIS ISSUE IT IS NOT NORMAL AND WILL NOT GO AWAY…THEY SCREWED UP!!! GO BACK THERE…THATS IT!!! TELL THEM A HONDA MECHANIC SAID THE TIMING IS OFF ONE OR MORE TEETH AND MUST BE CORRECTED. YOU WILL NOT PAYTHEM ONE RED CENT UNTIL NORMAL OPERATION IS RESTORED…THEY TOTALLY MESSED UP. I HAVE HAD TO FIX MORE OF THESE SCREWUPS THAN ICAN POSSIBLY REMEMBER!!!

Furthermore, your “trusted” mechanic has proven unwilling to own up to his obvious mistake. Time to find a new mechanic, preferably one who specializes in Hondas. Check out the Mechanics Files to find a recommended Honda specialist in your area:

I took my car back and he drove it for a while. He said if the timing is off, it would be much worse than what we felt and the car could lose power. He believed that the problem came from the rubber mount. And he’ll do something about it.

Good luck with that. This mechanic fed you a line of BS about this being normal, taking time to settle down, etc and now he’s feeding you another line of BS about the problem being much worse if the timing were off, etc. T
hat one is also bunk because the symptoms will vary based on what exactly is out of kilter here. Cam timing, ignition timing, balance shaft timing, mistake during installation leading to bent valve(s), etc, etc,

You might keep us up to date on this in case this turns into a CYA (cover your axx) job.
This could mean they may charge you for a motor mount when in reality they’re charging you for going back in and covering their tracks.

I’m having the same issues with my 99 accord. Timing belt was changed and now the engine is really loud and sounds like a race car. I’ve taken it back and have been told that it sounds normal. I took it to the dealership and they say it sounds normal. I’m the only owner of this car and I’ve been driving it since day one and the difference of the engine sound after the timing belt change is night and day. I used to love this car, now I hate driving it. After reading some of the comments/responses above concerning this I’d like to get a second or third opinion. Are any of you in the DC area?

It’s a 42 step procedure for the 4 cylinder 2.3 L engine, so it’s gonna be hard for anywhere here to say which of the 42 steps went wrong. Plus the sound you are hearing may be unrelated to the timing belt replacement, just a coincidence. A shop could remove the valve cover and the upper timing cover to expose the camshaft pulley and verify it is aligned at the correct position when the crankshaft is at its tdc position. If the timing belt tension was way off that would likely be apparent too. And they could rotate the engine & look for marks on the timing belt indicating it was hitting/scraping against a cover, etc. That all wouldn’t take much time. There’s another belt for the balance shaft that has to be adjusted correctly too. That might be a more time consuming job.

Another idea, the job requires the engine be supported so an engine mount can be removed. If something went wrong during that process, it could conceivably open a crack in the exhaust system. Ask your shop to do the standard check for exhaust leaks.

If cars fixed themselves there would be no need for a mechanic. Your trusted mechanic is blowing smoke and not much of a mechanic. I had a Ford dealer tech tell me to keep driving my F-150 so the computer could learn the way I drove. I told him computers don’t learn they have to be programmed. A little grease on the drive shaft slip joint fixed my problem. A computer could never do that.

Take car to shop that specializes in exhaust work. They should be able to find issue. If it is obvious, maybe ask other shop why they can’t see it?

Many new cars actually do learn the way you drive, and adjust the engine parameters accordingly, believe it or not. Whether that function is implemented on your F150, don’t know.