Timely Topics Archive

A Monthly Article for Vigor Enthusiasts (7/02)


Changing Your Vigor's Timing Belt (cont.)

Cam Pulley Marks

Camshaft Marks

The illustration on the preceeding page shows the cam and crank marks. Here we can see what they look like in real life.

Once you're sure the marks are lined up, you can slip the new T-belt over the pulleys.

Crankshaft Marks

Crankshaft Marks

T-belt Installation Sequence

Timing Belt Installation Sequence

The illustration at right shows the routing sequence. First, loosen the bolt on the tension adjuster. Then, engage the new belt with the teeth on the T-belt drive pulley, followed by the tension adjuster and the water pump pulley. Finally, slip the belt over the cam pulley. It's helpful to have an assistant hold the belt on the bottom drive pulley so it doesn't slip while you're routing the belt around the other pulleys.

Next, adjust the tensioner. To do this, place the crankshaft pulley on the crankshaft and, turning it by hand, rotate the crankshaft counterclockwise until the cam pulley moves three or four notches. This will put tension on the T-belt.

Then, torque the tension adjuster to 33 ft-lbs using a 14mm socket.

Rotate the crank clockwise back into position and make sure the marks are still lined up. If not, release the tensioner and start over.

When you're sure the marks are lined up, rotate the crankshaft two complete revolutions and check the marks again. Then, turn it another two complete revolutions and re-check. If they're still in alignment, you're good to go. If not, start over and try again.

Putting It All Back Together

Take the crankshaft pulley off again and then install the lower front engine cover using the 10mm bolts. Put the crank pulley back on and, using the special pulley tool to hold the pulley in place, torque the pulley bolt to 180 ft-lbs. If you, like us, have a torque wrench that only measures up to 150 ft-lbs, don't despair. Torque the bolt to 150 ft-lbs, and then replace the torque wrench with the breaker bar and extension. Using a 16 oz ball peen hammer, give the breaker bar three good whumps. Three. No more. No less. Three. That'll be exactly 181.346 ft-lbs, but that's close enough.

Seriously, the exact torque isn't critical here. The important thing is to get it on tight.

Once the pulley is back on, replace the upper front engine cover using the 10mm bolts. From here on out, just re-install everything in reverse order. The belts for the A/C compressor and power steering pump should be adjusted so there is about 1/4" deflection midway along the belt's widest path. The alternator belt can be a "little" looser (the service manual states 0.3" to 0.37"). If the belts are brand new (not a bad idea), they can be installed a little tighter—they'll stretch some as they break in.

Good luck and happy wrenching!

ADDENDUM from Docsteen

Refections on the T-Belt job:

All in all, the job went well. The "Timely Topics" article really was the key.

This is not a job to be attempted by anyone who does not have a few years of meaningful mechanical experience, and a well-developed touch and feel for things automotive. Seriously, Acura's engineers gave a lot of thought to how this engine and its accessory components fit and work together and, indeed, to the entire manner of the under-hood assemblies. If you don't meet their standards with sufficient skill and thoughtfulness about how things fit and work together, you might not solve all the puzzles, and you could screw up your car.

First, I removed a couple of belts (steering and a/c) to start opening up some access space. Next, I removed the upper and lower radiator hoses, and slipped-off and plugged the power steering hoses at the lower radiator tank. (I used the blunt ends of two .375 drills for plugs.) Then I removed the entire radiator/fan assembly (to gain more clearance). Figuring out the electrical connectors and their various brackets is tricky. Clean things and study things, and eventually you will see that all of them are easy, once you see how they unlock. I am not sure I would advise taking out the radiator and fans all as a single assembly. I did that, but in hindsight I think I would have removed the four screws in each corner of each
fan, lifted the fans slowly up through the top, and reached the connectors one at a time. I definitely put them back in the car: radiator first, then the lower hose, then the fans, then the wiring harness and connectors, and finally all the upper stuff. (By the way, I soaked, cleaned, wire-brushed, wiped, re-fit, and re-painted everything as it went back together. It all looks great.)

Take out the entire air cleaner box, and its duct to the injector assembly.

Pay attention to where every screw goes, because they are not just generic screws; nearly every one is a well-thought-out part for a particular fit and function.

Remove the left-facing thermostat housing; you will want the extra space, and you need to replace the thermostat and gasket anyway. (Even the darn thermostat and its gasket have a specific orientation, so examine them closely.) Replace the water pump, whether you think it's time or not; it's too easy to do once you're in there not to do it along with everything else. (When you install the water pump, be sure to put a little sealant on the ends of the bolt threads.)

Eventually, you get to remove pulley bolt. I did mine without a helper, as follows. Set two jack stands to eleven inches. Jack up the car at the front cross member of the frame, place the jack stands, one left, and one right, and then let the car down. I lucked out and discovered the eleven inch measurement by accident, but it is correct. This is just high enough to un-weight the tires some, without lifting them off the floor. The jack stands and the tires together create a very stable environment for the car, at a good height for working under the hood. Take the plugs out so you can
turn the crank easily. (Be sure to put a paper towel or something in each of the plug wells to keep anything from falling in!)

Next, with everything (i.e., steering hoses, wiring harness) secured well out of the way, you can seat the SIRHO50 head (without the bar) into the pulley recess. Turn the crank counter-clockwise until the head is at just about 7 o'clock. Now, you can fit the handle onto the head, with end down through the frame to the floor, and snug-up the handle bolt. Adjust the crank a little so the end of the handle just touches the floor. The floor and the weight of the car will act as your helper. If you do it right, you get a very strong, well-fitted bite to push/turn against.

I strongly recommend a six-point socket. A twelve point is prolly better when it comes to achieving exact torque, but the goal here is to achieve the best fit; with the most steel-to-steel contact you can get.

My first attempt at breaking the crank bolt torque failed. My 2" long, 1/2" drive Craftsman extension cracked straight through; with a clean, loud, distinctive "snap". (If you've ever been there before, then you know what I mean.) So, I dashed out and bought a heavy-wall, deep socket, about three inches long, but still 1/2 drive. (No 3/8 drive tool will do this job, so don't even try. But, 3/4 drive tools are not necessary.)

For a cheater pipe, I used a 1" dia, 60" long galvanized water pipe, $10, with a 1"-to-3/4" reducer, $1, on the end just to improve the fit of the pipe over breaker bar. (The reducer's small end i.d. is the same dia. as the 3/4 pipe o.d., so it fits nicely over the breaker bar, and takes out a lot of the slop/lash.)

Set the socket and breaker bar to about 2 o'clock (under a little tension). Arms and legs together, bring up the force on the tools to the point where everything is "tense", and you're ready to really push; brace your legs, coil your biceps, get a solid grip, and then f*cking break the torque in one full push. (If you are too gradual in asserting the force, you run the risk of causing a failure under twist, either to the tools, or to the bolt. This is basically the same principle as impact tools versus hand tools. I digress.) With everything set up correctly, the torque breaks in one shot, because
the weight of the car is way more than the bolt-torque. After that, it's a cake walk; enjoy it.

Pay strict attention to the way the spacers and timing gear come off the crank end. If you put any of these in reversed, you'll find, among other very bad things, that the accessory pulleys will not be coplanar, and you will have to tear it all down again. (Yup, it happened.)

I used the "150 ft./lb. torque wrench plus three big-hammer 'whumps'" to re-torque, and felt very confident that all was right. So, from that experience, I concur that you really don't need to incur the expense of a torque wrench that reaches 250 ft./lbs.

I used all Acura parts. They are expensive, yes, but when you inspect them closely, and fit them, by golly they are right! (Think Lockheed, not Monster Garage.)

My cam and crank bearings looked great, so they stayed in place. Replacing these just because of the mileage, if they look perfect, is always a judgment call. But too, whenever you change these parts, there's always a chance that removing and re-fitting new ones will cause more trouble that what you had before. I inspected them closely, with a lot of light and a magnifier, and decided to leave 'em alone.

Definitely use a little sealant at the four valve cover gasket "corners", where the gasket goes around the cam. Looking over the original factory gasket, I am pretty sure this was done at the original assembly stage too.

Other than that, take your time, be very methodic, keep the whole work area organized and clean, think carefully about what you are doing, and add an extra shot of quality to your workmanship (e.g., use your 3/8" torque wrench everywhere you can, re-tape along the wiring harness wherever the original tape is brittle, brush some gloss-black epoxy paint around on the sheet metal under the coolant jug, use a small tool to straighten out all the radiator cooling fins, etc.).

Taken together, the job went very well. When I started her up, she purred and ran like a sewing machine. This job eliminates a lot of the engine "looseness" that accumulates very gradually over time. You can really notice the difference. (BTW, I did this job at 103k miles, so I was a little worried about adding many more miles. Not any more: She is good to go!)

I finished around 10 p.m., and took her out around the neighborhood for a while. Once I was satisfied things weren't going to come loose and fly apart under the hood, we went out on the highway. At 80 mph she ran as smoothe as a fast idle in neutral. I was thoroughly impressed; Acura definitely is a quality marque.

So, there it is. Next, I gotta decide what to do about the "Vigoritis" problem with my front seats!!!

Later ADDENDUM from Docsteen

I didn't replace the tensioner before because: (1) it is not identified in the manual as required with the t-belt job; (2) the TT didn't call for it; and (3) it's a fat, sealed Koyo bearing that seems in all repsects to be just fine.

In hindsight, the tensioner should have been replaced, routinely, when the t-belt job was done.

So here is the upshot, from the undiputed "Sweetest Vigor in Texas":

Do the tensioner "while you're in there". A Koyo bearing in an Acura bag, is $55 wholesale, $68 retail (or you can find a knock-off somewhere else for less). It takes three minutes of additional time to replace it. So, although it adds a chunk to the parts cost, the labor savings makes replacing it clearly the best practice. When you throw away the old belt, toss the tensioner too, otherwise you may have to go back in there. It should be done regardless of whether it appears indicated at the time.

Thanks for the additional info, Doc!




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