Timing belt and water pump?


my 2003 Acura CL only has 45,000 miles on it, but the dealer says I need to have the timing belt and water pump replaced–a $900 repair. I know Acura says 7 years or 100,000 miles, but I have such low mileage that I’m hoping I don’t have to do this now. I’m also trying to cheap out and skip the water pump, which I know is a bad idea. but when you don’t have $900 you don’t have $900! thank you.

First, its not a repair. You repair something when it is broken. Doing the timing belt is maintenance. Its in the same family as changing the oil - but I’ve never seen anyone call that “repair.”

Ok - so at $900 it feels more like a repair. But you should do it. The problem is this. When a timing belt breaks it doesn’t give you any warning. One second your car is running. The next second it isn’t.

In your case, you engine is an interference design. At the very moment the belt breaks (without warning), not only will your car immediately stop running, but your engine will also be destroyed. If you think $900 is too much just wait until you see the estimate for a new engine.

So just do it.

BUT: you don’t need to take this car to a dealer. Ask around among people you know for a good, local, independent mechanic. Some of these might specialize in Hondas (which is Acura). It will all cost you less money.

The problem with not doing the water pump is that its the same labor required to do the timing belt. (The labor is most of the cost of this job). Imagine you do the belt and 6 months later the water pump starts leaking. Now you’ve cost yourself a lot of money in trying to save a little. The water pump shouldn’t actually add all that much cost.

Rubber ages with time. Continue ignoring the manual at your own risk. Be prepared to spend $3,000 or so if it breaks.

You’re overdue, so it should be done ASAP. $900 is on the high side, so try an independent shop. The CL is a snazzed up Accord, so plenty of independents have surely done this job before and can give you a better price.

Watch your tachometer. At 70 mph in OD the engine turns 2,500 rpm +/-. That is probably 2 turns of the crankshaft per foot of forward motion. The crankshaft likely turns 60 revolutions per foot in 1st gear. When idling the crankshaft turns with no miles being registered on the odometer, Most low mileage cars are operated in town with a great deal of idling and operation in lower gears. Possibly an engine clock could be incorporated into the ECM on cars.

If the belt breaks, your engine is ruined.

Think of it this way. Even at 8 years old the belt probably won’t break tomorrow. But it’s like playing Russian roulette. At 8 years old there is one bullet in the cylinder and 5 empty chambers. When the car is 9 years old there will be two bullets in the chamber, then 3, then 4.

The rubber rots with age, that is the reason for the time limit. The timing belts tend to break more often in cold weather. Every broken belt I have seen, broke during or right after a winter storm, but that is no guarantee that yours will make it to winter.

If you choose an independent mechanic, find out how many Honda/Acura timing belts he has done and if he has the special tools. For $900, you should be getting the timing belt, the water pump and the balance shaft belt and any oil seals required.

2640 rpm at 60 mph would be one turn of the crank per 2 feet of motion.
Just saying…

I really should have taken a picture of that 9 year old timing belt I helped change. It ripped apart just from the force of removing the crank pulley bolt. It’s just rubber with some thin metal wires in it. The rubber on this one was so age-weakened that it pulled apart like hospital gauze. That’s not something you want happening when the engine is running.

If others are correct and your engine is an interference engine, I agree that getting the timing belt done is a good idea just to be on the safe side, because if it is an interference engine and it breaks the engine is going to suffer significant damage. I also recommend changing the water pump and any tensioners associated with the timing belt, because if the water pump or a tensioner seizes the engine goes out of time and disaster strikes. If you have the tools and are mechanically minded you could probably do a timing belt yourself with the assistance of Chilton’s or Haynes manual. The manuals will give you step by step instructions with many pictured illustrations. If you want to try this yourself I’d suggest buying the manual and studying it for a few days to be sure you understand everything prior to dis assembly. I’ve never done a timing belt/water pump on an Accura, but have done several on my Ford Escorts and it usually takes me about 4-5 hours from start to finish on them without rushing.