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Questions about timing belt replacement

It’s been 7 years and 98,000 miles since I bought my Honda Accord EX V6 (automatic), and it’s time to get serious about replacing the timing belt. I took a few minutes to read about the process in my Haynes manual. It looks like there are a few opportunities for additional work since several parts need to be removed to make the job simpler. I want to run it past you guys to see what you think.

  1. Since the serpentine belt needs to be removed, I will replace it. This is the first replacement of this item.
  2. Haynes says the spark plugs should be removed to make it easier to turn the crankshaft. I will replace the spark plugs since they have to come out anyway.
  3. Replace the timing belt, idler pulley and tensioner pulley.
  4. Replace the water pump since the timing belt has to be removed to replace the water pump if it fails.
  5. Since the coolant has to be drained, replace the coolant and replace the radiator hoses.

The hoses don’t look bloated or feel soft, but they are 7 years old. Does this seem like a reasonable plan to you? I’ve only read here to replace the water pump when the timing belt is replaced (pulleys too), but the serpentine belt, spark plugs, coolant, and hoses seem like such good opportunities that I should do them, too. Am I going overboard?

I’ve done several and have replaced all belts, the idler, seals, coolant and coolant hoses. It just seems the thing to do since it is relatively easy with the belt off and relatively cheap.

Which seals, RemcoW?

This was on two Subarus engines: The camshaft seals and oil pump seal - that may not apply to Hondas. I forgot how that’s arranged.
Note that it may not even be required on Subarus but overkill is a friend that I indulge a lot. It I can get to it and it looks like it may break, it gets replaced.

I think you’ve got a good plan. I’ll only add that I’d use OEM parts wherever possible. Honda parts have made it 7 years and 98,000 miles, aftermarket parts don’t have quite that good a reputation.

I’ll also mention the tool for getting the bolt out out the crankshaft. Without that tool you’re not going to get the balancer off. Even with the tool, it’s a bear. On my wife’s 2003 Accord I used a 3 foot long breaker bar attached with about 12 inches of extension to the balancer bolt and BOUNCED for a while to loosen it. The extension allows you to bring the breaker bar out past the wheel well, but also acts like a torsion bar and bounces like a spring when you loosen/tighten the bolt.

Use good sense and be careful, you sound like you have it covered.

I think you have a good plan. I always use an electric impact to remove the crank bolt on my Escorts. Definitely replace the water pump and tensioners. I think most Honda’s are interference engines so if a tensioner/water pump failed you’d likely have extensive engine damage. Also if your engine is an interference type BE SURE THE TIMING MARKS ARE ALIGNED PROPERLY BEFORE TRYING TO START THE CAR.

Sounds good, replace any moving parts whenever the timing cover is off. Here are my added thoughts.

You don’t need to remove the spark plugs to do this job, so don’t pull them unless you wanted to replace them anyway.

Hoses are at your discretion. I’m in a relatively mild climate, and I no longer recommend replacement of hoses based on age or mileage. They just don’t fail unless weakened by overheating or cooling system contamination/corrosion. I have customers with over 250,000 miles on coolant hoses that are still in good condition. If you do choose to replace the hoses, do them all, inlcuding the small diameter hoses around the throttle body and do the thermostat too. Make it an all-or-nothing deal.

Use a torque wrench on the crankshaft bolt. If that comes loose it’s a disaster.

I would first suggest that you first try to remove the crankshaft bolt. These can be a real bear to remove. They actually make a special tool that holds the crankshaft so the bolt can be loosened. Because if you can’t get the bolt loose you can’t change the timing belt.


The plan and the advice given sounds fine to me and I will only add this. Once you have it buttoned back together with the belt, pump, etc in place and bolts securely fastened I would advise that you rotate the engine through by hand (ratchet and socket on the crankshaft bolt) three or four times and verify that everything is lining back up.

You might be surprised at how many people, including mechanics, will put it together and crank the engine over while blindly assuming there’s no way on Earth they made a mistake during the reassembly.
The rat-a-tat-tat of valves smacking pistons after the starter motor rotates the engine then reminds them of why they should have done this.

I also strongly recommend making sure you can loosen the crankshaft pulley bolt before diving into this job. The last timing belt job I did was on a Stratus with the Mitsubishi built 2.5L V6 had a pretty tough crank pulley bolt my (well worn) Matco impact could not remove, nor could breaker bars or anything like that. I ended up buying a new impact wrench to get the crank bolt off. For what it’s worth and to risk seeming like a shill, the impact I bought was Harbor Freight’s top of the line Earthquake composite wrench, rated at 700 foot pounds. It took the crank bolt right off after hammering for about a second and has been well worth the $80 I paid for it. I like it better than I ever liked the aforementioned $300 Matco wrench.

You need that special tool for the crank pulley bolt even if you have an impact wrench. You have to torque that bolt back down when done so you will need the tool then. And you need a torque wrench that goes to 186 ft lbs.

I would change the thermostat and radiator cap too. Use OEM.

Thanks for all the comments. I think I may pass on the new hoses and thermostat. I will replace the water pump. If the shop gives me a good price on the hoses and thermostat, I might still do it. And thanks for even suggesting that I can do it myself. I’ll change any fluid, replace the brakes and plugs; just bout anything that I can unbolt from the outside of the engine. But I don’t have the time or tools for this job. And to be honest, I’m a bit intimidated of something as critical as a timing belt. If I was retired and looking for a challenge, I might do it. But this is my daily driver and I need it back ASAP.

Don’t replace coolant hoses unless they are soft, spongy, or bloated. Modern hoses go many, many years and hundreds of thousands of miles between replacement. My son’s 98 Accord (formerly mine) has 198,000 miles and still has factory hoses. My 04 Sienna has 141,000 miles and original hoses and I just took it on a 500 mile road trip to Cape Cod. I just check them at every oil change. If you replace hoses I highly recommend the OEM hoses for replacements.

Don't replace coolant hoses unless they are soft, spongy, or bloated. Modern hoses go many, many years and hundreds of thousands of miles between replacement.

I would replace them if you have to remove them to do the timing belt. If not then leave them alone until needed. I’d always replace them when I did the timing belt on my Pathfinders. Had to remove the radiator and hoses anyways…might as well just replace the hoses.

Not sure on the v6 but on the 4 cylinder, you do not have to remove the hoses or thermostat to get to the timing belt. On out 97 Accord, I replaced all the hoses and thermostat last year for the first time as one of the heater hoses began to leak. The heater hose failed because the seal on the distributor was leaking oil onto it, but the rest of that hose and all others looked good, so you should be OK.

The hoses don’t have to be removed for the timing belt, and the thermostat is on the bottom of the engine on the opposite side of the engine from the timing belt. It seemed worth considering since the coolant must be drained.