Timing Belt Mystery

I’m doing the timing belt (my first one) on my daughter’s 2001 CRV, and have a bit of a mystery. The engine is a 4 cyl, DOHC (not the VTEC, I think). First, I set the engine at TDC on the compression stroke for cylinder 1 (per Haynes). Then I put matching marks with duct tape between the old belt and all three pulleys (the crank and both cams). Then I pulled off the old belt (and replaced the water pump). I put matching tape marks on the new belt and double-checked that the belts match all the way around. I put the new belt on the crank pulley, matching the marks between belt and crank, and then on the rear cam (again, matching the marks).

Here’s the mystery: With the crank and rear cam marks matching, the front cam is off two teeth. I have the crank and cams aligned as Haynes describes. Does this mean the old belt was off two teeth on the front cam? It was running just fine before, and the old belt is in very good shape.

Would it be better to trust the positioning of the old belt, or the timing position marks?

Thanks much for any advice!!

I wouldn’t trust the marks made from masking tape, too many opportunities for error. I always go by the book, but I prefer the factory service manual.

Try the belt the other way around. Turn it around and see if the marks line up. You probably put it on the opposite way.

I marked the direction on both belts and double-checked the duct tape mark locations. I also put the old belt back on far enough to be sure the marks are right. So I am very sure that the marks correctly show where the new belt would be if it’s the same as the old belt.

“… if it’s the same as the old belt.”

Double check the application for your car’s engine. Carefully count teeth and compare old with new or buy another brand and try it before returning one.

When I put the tape marks on the new belt, I compared the belts tooth-for-tooth all the way around (twice) to make sure the total # of teeth was the same, and that the marks were in the right position.

Update: I have the new belt on in the position the book calls for (which is slightly off from the tape mark of the front cam). The engine turns freely (6+ revs) without binding. Should I just go ahead and put back the valve cover and try running the engine?