Honda Odyssey Timing Belt Idler

The engine in my 2002 Honda Odyssey quit running last week. The dealer

found that the stationary idler pulley had lost its ball bearings and

disintegrated, causing failure of the timing belt and significant damage to

valves and other engine components. I had the timing belt replaced just

last December.

What would cause the idler pulley to fail? Could it have been something

that was done when replacing the belt, or a material defect? And what is it

likely to cost (range) to repair the damage? Would it make more sense to

replace the engine with a salvaged or rebuilt one?

When the timing belt was changed , the idler (tension) pulley should have been replaced at the same time. Possibly the water pump too, unless your water pump is mounted external on the engine.

Water pumps and timing belts are (as a rule) changed at the same time to save on labor charges.

Had the pulley been replaced you would not have a damaged engine now.

Did you not hear any weird noises (indicating a possible problem) coming from the front of the engine BEfore it died?

I would replace the engine with a ‘new’ rebuilt so as to have a warranty with it.

A re and re with a rebuilt installed will likely be in the $3-4k range depending on your location in the country.

A good used engine is a crap shoot at best, even if it has low mileage. You have NO idea how the engine was previously maintained (or not).

BUT, before all is said and done, I would go back and have a talk with the last mechanic.

The idler or tensioner pulley should be changed when the belt is changed to avoid what you described. If that was done, then you are one unlucky person. If your water pump is driven by the timing belt, that should have been changed also along with the belt.

Get a few quotes for repairing the engine and then a few for a salvage engine.