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In-Car Timing Belt change, tips or tricks to share?

Cam timing belts EA82 tips

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17 replies to this topic

#1 Tmckinl1

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 02:02 PM

The next project I intend to tackle on the DL is installing new timing belts. I've watched a few videos of the process, but they all seem to have the motor out of the car. Any tips, hints or tricks of the trade you'd care to share would be greatly appreciated.

#2 colemanapp

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 02:27 PM

you'll need to pull the radiator out to give you room to change it in car but its easy to do the belts with the motor in the car, but i bet itd be hard to video. I pitch the front timing belt covers after i do the job too. 



#3 ferp420

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 03:15 PM

The covers are the hardest part of the job once there out of the way the next hardest part is the altornator ac and powersteering belts ive changed my timing belts while burried in a mud hole at midnight in the dark in the middle of the desert 20 miles from the house with no tools i had to redo them once i hit.pavement and again when it was daylight and above freezing and i was at my house point being there easy to do and almost imposible to hurt anything if you get it wrong

#4 Dee2

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 04:45 PM

I've changed belts on mine without pulling the engine.  Once I got the belt covers off. I left them off.

 

I didn't remove the radiator either.


Edited by Dee2, 24 July 2017 - 04:46 PM.


#5 idosubaru

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 07:15 PM

It's easy. Have metric tools and get a free FSM online to look at the process.

Replace the pulleys/tensioner, they're even more prone to failure by this age.

#6 jsyme

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 07:48 PM

Tip # 1  just begin the project.

I performed mine with the engine in bay, radiator installed, and AC installed, the skid plate installed and belt covers on.  Now I know better.

I think I removed the front bumper as well but I don't recall if that was to make it easier to see, or another project going on at the same time. (4 bolts and 4 bulb connections. easy-peasy)

 

What I didn't expect was the bolts broken off and /or the stripped threads everywhere.

I had to repair belt pulleys bolts that were stripped. Stripped healacoil  stripped stripped stripped & stripped.

 

I left the belt covers off because it adds SO much time to the off and on process. And the covers tapped nuts were all broken out. the whole thing was held on with "the right stuff". 

It's on my list of things to do after level 54001, so I just burned that list and it don't have to do it anymore. whew . time Freedom.

 

I zip-tie'd the oil sending wire to the dip stick tube to keep it from getting zinged in two places.

 

Results: 

The T- belts are little louder.. I think I took off 25% of their life span just being exposed to dirt and elements, but now I know I can replace the oil pump and water pump very easily on the side of the road if required. not that they are expected to fail, but I know I can.

 

Definitely the hardest part was the covers, then replacing the stripped threads and finding bolts, and the more room that in there the easier everything gets.



#7 DaveT

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 09:37 PM

Anti seize on everything when reassembling. Always replace the idlers or their bearings, they are done or near done when the belts are due.

#8 subnz

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 01:56 AM

Agree removing the radiator gives more room to work and its less likely to get damaged removing pulleys etc

 

While apart its a good opportunity to throw the coolant and flush the cooling system.



#9 djellum

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 02:01 AM

I have done quite a few in the car.  couple in a parking lot.

 

a good leather strap wrench will be your new best friend if you get one.  might seem expensive, but it isn't once you've used one.  cheap rubber ones are garbage, dont bother.  quality or nothing.

 

loosen the crank pulley as a first step, while all the accessory belts are still tight and help hold it.  If its difficult you can prop the bar against the metal below the radiator and turn the motor over (just a bump, a portion of  a second) to loosen it.  kinda dangerous, best to avoid unless you really cant get the pulley to stay put or someone has over torqued the crank bolt.  can strip out a crank if you go the wrong way or something.

 

pull the oil dipstick tube (just pull it out, has an o ring seal that may need replaced), oil sender wire, fans, belts, crank pulley, water pump pulley.  all pretty easy to do, they shouldnt be super tight except the crank pulley sometimes.

 

the real tricks now.

 

use the old belt to turn the cam sprockets, just cut it and you can get a good twist with one end in each hand.  once you get close to the cam sprocket mark it will be easily turned by hand, but before that it can be tough to fight the compression stroke.

 

take a standard deck screw or something similar and screw it into the guide hole on the cam pulley.  just get it to bind enough to stay there strait, usually hand tight, sometimes a little screwdriver twist.  there's a notch in the inner timing cover that you use to line it up, now you can easily see it by looking down through the notch at the screw (or whatever you use).

 

when installing the belt, hand turn the cam to be just a touch in front of the notch in the cover.  not quite 1 full tooth.  the belt should slip on easier like that, then you hand turn it to the mark to take out the tension on the half of the belt that doesnt have a tensioner.  the end result should be - easy belt installation, no floppy belt on the non tensioned side, and the mark should be spot on with the notch in the cover.

 

Dont forget to turn the motor over after installing the first belt.

 

you can start the motor after the belts are on, just to see if it runs right.  You dont need any of the accessories, water pump, alternator and such if you just run it for 20 seconds to make sure its on right (id stick the oil tube back in just to be safe but dont worry about the bolt yet).  saves time if theres an issue.

 

once its all back together run it for a few minutes, then go through the timing covers to readjust the timing tensioners (theres holes but they might have plugs in them).   just loosen both bolts and retighten both bolts.  lets the tensioners adjust to any changes from the belsts settling in.



#10 idosubaru

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 06:29 AM

The crank pulley bolt ca be the trickiest part of the job. It's about the only part that isn't simple and straight forward. 22mm socket. If it's an automatic use a socket extension in the bellhousing access hole at the back of the engine on top. Insert stout screw driver or extension into the bellhousing and into an opening in the flexplate, then loosen the crank bolt as your screw driver will now keep the engine from turning over.

Radiator should be removed for a first timer. It's very tight otherwise and easy to damage the radiator. If you leave it at least try to put a piece of cardboard over it for every time you bump the fins.

Rear Timing belt cover inserts that the bolts thread into routinely break free inside the cover and prevent the bolt from coming out. You'll have to remove those. If you're trying to retain the covers condition then carefully try to pull the inserts out of the co we still attached to the bolt. Or carefully make a small crack with a screw driver so they'll come out.

You can use zip ties to reassemble the covers, making them much simpler to remove next time.

Edited by idosubaru, 25 July 2017 - 06:34 AM.


#11 Subaru Scott

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 10:52 AM

Spray penetrating oil on the cover bolts asap, try to get them from the back where the nuts are. A sharp rap is what you want to break them loose. Just trying to turn them will twist the nuts out of the back covers. Use a wrench, preferably a 6-point, (good luck finding those btw. probably have to order online. Don't get me started about 6-point wrench availability  :angry: ) hold it firmly on the bolt head, and hit it with a small hammer to break loose. If it's too rusted and it strips the nut anyway, get a big screwdriver between the covers as close to the stuck bolt as possible without damaging the covers, and gently pry them apart while at the same time twisting the bolt. The nut will pull out of the rear cover, and you can assemble the same way, twisting the bolt while pinching the covers together with channel locks. This can be done a few times before the hole in the back cover is too loose to hold it anymore, then just use zipties like idosubaru sez. 

The little tensioner springs are NOT strong enough to put proper tension on the belt! The factory procedure involves preloading with a torque wrench and special tool on the cam sprocket. After doing 100 or so like that, I got a pretty good feel for the proper tension. For the passenger side belt, you want to push up on the tensioner pulley with your left thumb about as firmly as you can without hurting yourself while you tighten the bolts with your right. For the drivers side, you want to pry down on the tensioner pulley with a big screwdriver. Not much pressure, really just about the weight of your arm hanging on it, where you just see the belt straighten out nicely, then lock it down. Don't try to be a hero on the tensioner hold-down bolts, you will strip them. just firmly snug up with a 3/8 ratchet. 

The access holes in the cover for re-tensioning the belts was wishful thinking on Subarus part, and they admitted that early on. Depending on the position of the engine, you can actually make the belts looser than before. In an extreme case, if you've got the "clack-clack-clack" of super loose belts and really don't have time to do it right, you can usually shut them up by re-tensioning through the holes, just don't leave home without your tools and a new set of belts...   ;)



#12 Tmckinl1

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 02:26 PM

Outstanding folks. Thank you SO much for the tips and encouragement. I purchased a set of belts and pulleys (Gates brand, I've had pretty good luck with them on other projects) and will start with the PB Blaster a few days before commencing the "rippin' & gougin'". I've done so much to this car to make it road worthy, I'm not going to cut corners now. I'll pull and flush the radiator at the same time. My a/c was the dealer installed version so the compressor sets up high in the engine bay, and the car has manual steering, so no pump in the way there...

#13 idosubaru

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 04:50 PM

you might not have much rust down there like us northeasterners do so the timing cover bolts might not be as bad as we see, pretty much all of them that thread into the cylindrical inserts are seized.  most of these wouldn't move if you let them sit in a wet rag of YIELD for a year. lol

 

Subaru Scott's description above about prying and then pressing them back in is really really good - that's a great description, i've done that a ton of times over the years.



#14 czny

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 10:27 AM

http://www.ultimates...t-tension-tool/



#15 Subaru Scott

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 02:07 PM

"Subaru Scott's description above about prying and then pressing them back in is really really good - that's a great description, i've done that a ton of times over the years."

 

Well, after you've done a gazillion of them...  You know, I raised 3 kids on EA82 timing belt money...

 

Our factory service rep got a little contest going, unofficial of course, for who could change a set the fastest. I had the record, in the midwest region at least, don't know if it was going on elsewhere or not. I could change a set of belts in 17 minutes, 11 seconds. I had it down to a ballet, all fluid motion, no wasted moves. While one hand was pulling off fan belts, the other was wrenching fan bolts. Of course, this was with air tools and a lift, but if I could have made that lift move faster, I could have shaved a lot of time off! Kept all my common tools hung on a piece of pegboard, like a homeowners garage. Service manager hated it! But it was all about speed, and it was way faster than yanking tool box drawers all day. 



#16 Tmckinl1

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 02:49 PM

All done....took me a while to get to it, but with all the great tips and tricks listed here, turned out to be a stress free evolution. Flushed radiator and dropped oil and tranny lube while I was under there.

Next step: new manual steering rack.

Thanks again for the tips, greatly appreciated!

#17 Len Dawg

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 03:59 PM

And to think... people throw these away because they don't know how to do all this...😟 super easy super simple someday there will be no more on the road...

#18 djellum

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 03:45 AM

carefull on the manual rack.  parts stores list the EA81 racks as fitting your car and they dont.  they will be close and can be made to bolt in, but they dont move enough and wont work.  I ended up just getting a rebuilt power rack and I would suggest so for you.







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