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Need new camshaft after timing belt replacement?

I had the timing belt replaced on my '99 Toyota Solara 6 cylinder last week and shortly after getting the car back, a loud tapping noise started coming from the engine. I took it back to the mechanic and he found that there was a “wobble” in one of the cam gears, causing it to strike the timing belt cover. He asserted that it must have been that way previously and that he would order the part.

As he was replacing the part, he found that the camshaft itself needed to be replaced as well. There was some explanation about maybe the torque didn’t hold when the cam gear was bolted on, etc., and now the camshaft won’t hold the new gear.

Frankly it all sounds very suspicious. Does it sound like he damaged the cam gear and/or camshaft when he replaced the timing belt? Does he even have to remove the cam gear when doing a timing belt replacement on this engine? I looked at it with him and to my eye it appears the belt should just slide in with the idler out of the way.

There’s no way for anyone here to make much of a guess at this one without seeing the damage.
Just offhand, this sounds like someone made an error and is trying to cover their tail.
(Removed the gear for some unexplained reason and overtightend the retaining bolt on reassembly?)

If you could take some real clear pics of the damaged parts and post them there is a slim possibility that a clearer opinion could be formed.

The only way I can envision a cam sprocket wobbling is if it were for some reason removed during the belt change and not properly reinstalled. While I’d tend to suggest their leaving the bolt loose rather than overtightening, I pretty much agree with OK4450. This one is suspect.

If the cam seals were replaced along with the timing belt, would that explain the sprocket removal?

MCParadise, the cam seals were not replaced.

I still do not have the car back, will request the parts when I pick it up.

I wonder if your mechanic used some home or shop built tool to hold the camshaft and gear in position while the timing belt was removed, and if that tool damaged the gear.

How I don’t know but it is unbelievable not to be related

Update: Happy ending. The mechanic called me just before I picked up the car, admitted he couldn’t explain how all this happened, and asked what I thought would be fair (he was already waiving the labor because he was doing valve cover gaskets anyway). I told him I had checked it out and they should not charge for the parts, and he agreed.

There’s only one slight problem–a little bit of noise because one or more tappets are worn and a camshaft is new. He suggested that he would replace that also sometime when I can leave the car a few days. Should I have that done?

There’s still not enough info known about this problem but I wouldn’t use the phrase happy ending just yet.

Your mechanic can’t explain how all of this happened?

He’s waiving the labor so does this mean he’s charging you for the valve cover gasket job and if so, exactly how much for this valve cover job?

He installed a new camshaft (allegedly) and are we to believe he installed worn tappets to go along with this allegly new camshaft?
What kind of mechanic would install a new cam and throw in bad tappets after that?

All I see at this point are far more questions than answers and a bit of a stench.

The mechanic may not be able to explain how it happened, but I’ll bet my morning muffins he knows. Everything I’m reading about his follow up actions suggests that he knows he messed up, knows how, is doing whatever is necessary to correct it and to make the customer happy.

Everything OK4450 is questioning is valid. But since he’s trying to reconcile his mistake I’d be inclined to suggest continuing to allow him to do so.

I think after this is al oevr with I’d find a new mechanic, however.

It can happen without bad things done by the mechanic. What I can’t believe is replaceable tappets being left in when a camshaft is changed by the dealer. In my own garage at the house I have left things in, but I didn’t care if my old vehicles fell apart the next day or not. They didn’t, but maybe I was lucky and cheap.