Timing belt 1991 Acura Legend

I am the newly proud owner of a 1991 Acura Legend L sedan - purchased recently with only 46k miles. The car had been garaged for a long time, and we have had the basics upgraded - tires, brakes, tune up, etc. We have been told by an Acura dealer that the timing belt should be replaced at 7 yrs - and so it needs to be done now for a cost of $1800. We also took it to our local trusted mechanic who said he would do it for around $600, but that it didn’t need to be done until the odometer reached 100k miles. Who is right? I would be grateful for any informed advice.

Timing belts are affected by age and miles. Since this timing belt is apparently 18 years old, I would take the conservative approach and vote for replacement at $600. I didn’t check to see if this is an interference engine, and if it is, it is even more important to avoid it breaking.

replace the belt with OEM at this age it needs it despite low miles. I owned several Legends when they were being made and they were great cars, but need service as proscribed by factory. when you do the timing belt, do water pump, tensioners (at least check it!) and all the accessory belts. I had mine done in Atlanta at Honda/Acura independent for $500-600…and that is with the OEM timing belt at $80 vs. $40 for a Gates or whatevers…

That belt should have been replaced a dozen years ago, jayhawkroy is right about age, and your local mechanic is wrong.

Also agreed that replacing the tensioners and water pump is a must.

OK4450 is correct, of course.

While your mechanic’s price is good, his technical knowledge and judgment are both poor. How about shopping around for another mechanic who has good prices, good technical knowledge, and good judgment?

However, regardless of who does the job, it needs to be done…yesterday.

I don’t believe that the original belt lasted 18 years, even if garage kept. It would be nice if you could contact the previous owner(s) and find out when the belt was last replaced. It should have been done twice by now.

The belts are rubber and rubber rots with time. If you can find an 18 year old rubber band in one of your desk drawers, try stretching it and see how that works.

The timing and balance shaft belts need to be changed every 6 years or 90k miles, not 7 years or 105k like the later years. Many people also recommend changing the water pump and oil seals at this time. Do all this and you will be good for at least another 6 years or 90k miles, but knowing the last time this was done would be a big determining factor here, especially if the previous owner just had all this done.

Honda’s and Acura’s need special tools to do this work. Some independent mechanics may be able to do this. Most Honda dealers have a special package deal for this service, and its not $1800. Try a Honda dealer instead of an Acura dealer. The engines are the same. Should be around $6-800.

Thank you Keith! - I will search out my local Honda dealer and try to get this done asap at a reasonable price. I did find a 5 year old rubber band wrapped around some computer wires - it fell apart in my hand.

jayhawkroy, redtag, ok4450, and VDCdriver - thank you all for your responses.
I got an estimate today for the works - timing belt, tensioners, waterpump, and accessory belts from local (Manassas, VA) Honda dealer - $1200. What do you think?
This seems very expensive!
Many thanks for your words of wisdom-

Have you looked around for a Honda independent or even regular independent(non chain) for estimates too. Honda dealers still have higher labor(less than Acura though). The truth is their experience with this vehicle or even an Acura dealer is likely lacking as most techs are newish with a few senior experied fellows typically.

don’t believe that the original belt lasted 18 years

I would be unlikely, but even if it is only 9 years, it is time to replace it. Besides, it is a worthwhile investment as we don’t know and the cost of an interference engine belt break is very high. (Has anyone identified this as an interference engine?)

You don’t need a dealer, a good independent mechanic should be find, but it would appear the one you have is not all that good.

Its true that many independent mechanics can do this job, but special tools are required and there are some tricks. For example, Honda engines turn in the opposite direction of most other engines. If the OP goes with an independent, quiz them on how many Honda’s and Acura’s they have worked on and how many Honda/Acura timing belts they have changed. A good mechanic with a factory service manual or access to good information on the peculiarities of this engine and the special tool should be able to do this job.

It is an interference engine and if the job is bungled, it can get serious. One of the tricky parts is getting the balance shafts aligned (that belt should be changed too) so the engine doesn’t vibrate excessively. You got to know just which hole the 4x100 screw goes into when putting on this belt.