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Timing belt or something else?


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13 replies to this topic

#1 rx7speed

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 02:12 AM

Car has about 168k on it and it's an 89 GL wagon. We have owned it for about 5 years give or take but only put about 13k miles on it so far. Unknown when belts changed last.

Was driving home from work earlier and after getting of the freeway I Sat at the light for a moment and then turned green hit the gas and went for a moment then car just dies. The go go pedal just doesn't do anything. Try to turn the engine over and it turns but doesn't even sound like it is trying to start. I know if I put the foot to the floor and turn the engine I get backfire sounds comming from engine bay. Every now and then when turning the engine over it wouldn't even turn over and had to click the starter a couple times then it would turn over again just like normal but still no attempt at actually starting.

Sadly didn't have much time to check it out as it's about oh 10 degrees or so outside right now, and have no tools so we just moved it off the street and will deal with it over the weekend.

Does this sound like timing belt or something else might be the issue? If it is belt how hard are they to change, do you have to take the engine out or can you leave it in place, and is there some sort of guide for it or any special tools required.

Also as a side question what is the difference between the GL10 and the straight GL?

#2 NorthWet

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 02:33 AM

Are you currently getting backfire while trying to crank the engine, or was this a previous condition? If current, that probably means that the left side belt (distributor-side) isn't broken (since it drives the distributor), but still might have skipped some teeth.

My suggestion is to remove the distributor cap and see if the rotor is still firmly mounted: Most (all?) EA82's use a screw to mount the rotor, and it is fairly common for this little screw to back out. If the rotor is OK, see if cranking the engine causes the rotor to turn. (Disable the coil so that you don't electrically stress it.) If the rotor doesn't rotate, the disty-side belt has broken. (If the other belt breaks, you typically will get an engine that tries to start, may even do so, but is hard to keep running.)

You can check the belts by removing the rubber plugs in the belt covers, one on either side of the crank pulley: these are used to get at the tensioner-mount bolts, but also lets you check the belts.

There are excellent write-ups on the Board for doing the belts, so I won't go into that. The 2 most troublesome tasks are to loosen that crank pulley bolt, and remove the small bolts that hold on the timing-belt covers (the nuts are molded into the plastic back covers, and tend to spin when you try to remove the bolts).

#3 NorthWet

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 02:37 AM

And GL!0 is just a gussied-up version with the "10 best options" (not really 10, but that's marketing...). Basically, just a high-end GL. Upgraded interiors, "upgraded" transmissions, usually turbocharged, rear disk brakes.

#4 grossgary

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 07:10 AM

at that age with an unknown history a timing belt is likely and it's a wear item requiring replacement, makes sense to check there first.

ebay kits are like $60 and include a belt and all new pulleys. the 20+ year old pulleys aren't going to be worth keeping, installing just a new belt would not be a good idea.

for example:
http://www.ebay.com/...5b73da4&vxp=mtr

#5 old sub freak

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 12:35 AM

Oh the GL 10's usually have electronic speedo and guages as well..

#6 rx7speed

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 05:14 AM

I'll check this out hopefully either tomorrow or saturday at the latest. Car still isn't home yet as I have no way to tow it. If nothing else if I can't get it home I might at least head out tomorrow to take a look at it see if I can get some more info as the sooner I can fix this bad boy the better as I only have one week left on my job and I do not want to get fired only to lose severance/medical.

To change belts does it require removal of engine? If not does anything else other then the covers need to be removed?

And how does one make sure to get the timing right?


NorthWet backfire is new "Feature" started only once the car just straight out lost power. This happened with no warning or anything just one moment I had power next car was dead. When cranking there is no attempt to start either. Seems to be no speed up, slow down or anything like that when cranking. Only thing I have noticed is sometimes it just won't turn but not sure if thta is related to situation or something else going on as battery might of been getting low.

#7 Indrid cold

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:06 AM

Change belts with engine in car.

Yes, do-it-yourself possible. NO special tools, possibly a cam spanner wrench/socket for setting belt tension but most just make something real quick.

The cold sucks when doing them... been there, lived there, done that.

"AAA"-with extended tow, 200 mile range. Not that unreasonable and peace of mind.

Look on task bar above, "Search" timing belts and read away. It is cumbersome doing them the first time, after that... a lot easier. Possible find USMB member in your area or friend of a friend etc.. Alignment marks for timing, yes you have to align them, read that posts in the "Search".... lot of info....

First step is to trouble shoot, why no startie? Follow Northwet advise and let us know what you found out.

good luck

Edited by Indrid cold, 26 January 2013 - 01:59 AM.


#8 NorthWet

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:35 AM

The sudden quit along with the lack of wanting to start and occasional "backfire" makes me seriously think it may just be a wayward distributor rotor.

The backfire implies some spark plug activity, which implies distributor rotation, which implies disty-side t-belt is not broken. If the backfire is inconsistent, then that implies the timing is varying... so, that points at the rotor not staying in phase with the crank, either through the rotor becoming adrift or the T-belt skipping teeth. (The latter state can happen easily if the tensioner bolts slack off.)

Rotor check is pretty quick and easy.

#9 86BRATMAN

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:31 AM

Happened on my celica last fall, the rotor button screw had simply backed out.

#10 rx7speed

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:34 PM

Just got the car back home. Dizzy rotor rotates with engine nice and smooth with no skips jumps or jerks. the dizzy is nice. It's also nice and tight and bolted into place so it isn't moving very easily .

Then I moved the rotor by hand and noticed it just rotated and rotated and... pulled right off.
Think I found the screw you all are talking about. I have never seen something like that before. Every car I have ever worked on before always has a flat spot in the rotor to prevent it from rotating on it's own. First car I've ever seen where the rotor is held in place by a screw. Easy easy fix though in the end.

So in the end you all are wonderful thank you very much :-)

#11 MilesFox

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 05:44 PM

This happened to me once, after i walked 2 miles home and waited 2 months to tear out the timing belts to find it was just the loose screw.

Here is a hint: The turbo e82 distributor fits and works the same, but the rotor fits on a d shaped shaft, also with a screw. You can consider tht if this one ultimately fails. Not to say that it will, though

#12 NorthWet

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:34 PM

Ya wanna guess how I know what the engine acts like when the screw comes out???

The sad part is I figured it out quickly, but had no tools with me to fix it.

#13 l75eya

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:45 PM

Just for search reference though, not all cars have the screw down rotor. Depends on the distributor if I'm not mistaken, vehicles with the screw down cap have a screw in rotor, vehicles with the snap on caps do not have the screw.

My carbed 87 has the snap on one
The 93 fuel injected Loyale has the screw down one.

To OP, glad it was a simple fix!

#14 NorthWet

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:57 PM

Now that it is running... do what grossgary said. Soon.




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