The Steps to Align a Timing Belt

There are many instances that can cause a car to do what is known as jumping time. This means that the timing of the car is off, or the timing belt is in need of alignment. Realigning the timing belt can fix this common problem. The steps or procedure to align a timing belt involve knowing first how to get to the timing belt and this may vary between automobiles.



Take All Steps to Remove Belts and Pulleys to Clear the Way to the Timing Belt

Using the automobile’s manual, make sure that the paths through which you will remove the bottom and top timing belt covers are clear. Do this by removing any belts or pulleys that may be blocking the way, such as fan belts, universal belts, or serpentine belts. Normally there are no hoses blocking the way to the timing belt but if there happen to be remove those as well. You must remember or write down the steps you used to get to the timing belt cover. It is different for different makes, models, and years of vehicles.


Remove the Bottom Timing Belt Cover

You can remove the bottom timing belt cover by locating it on the underside of the engine. Remove the bolts that attach the cover to the engine. Usually there are either two or four bolts securing it. To remove these bolts simply determine which type and size of bolt they are by trial and error, and then use a socket or crescent wrench of the appropriate size to remove them. Using a piece of masking tape, secure all the bolts to it and label the tape to indicate where the bolts belong.


Make Sure the Crank and Camshaft are Aligned

Check the timing marks against the crank and camshaft timing marks. They should be aligned, with their respective timing dots. If the timing belt needs to be aligned than the timing marks will be off. If the timing belt marks are misaligned it is likely that the problem with the car is that the timing belt jumped out of time. Align them using the procedure detailed in the repair manual for your make, model, and year of vehicle, as some cars require different procedures.


Examine the Timing Belt, Tensioner, and Pulley

Look for the timing marks on the timing belt. If they are misaligned the marks on the belt will not line up with the marks on the tensioner or the timing belt pulley. This will give you confirmation that the car is out of time due to a jumped or misaligned timing belt. Make sure that the belt and tensioner are not worn and do not need to be replaced. If either of these parts shows excessive wear then follow the procedure in the repair manual for replacing a timing belt tensioner or timing belt. The procedure listed here is for timing alignment only.


Loosen the Timing Belt Tensioner Bolts.

Loosen the bolts on the timing belt tensioner to release the tension on the timing belt. This can be done by using the correct size and type of socket wrench. To find the right size simply slip different sockets over the timing tensioner bolts. This step is just to align the timing belt and not to replace it. The tensioner would need to be removed in the event of a timing belt replacement.


Locate the Timing Marks on the Timing Belt Pulley

The timing pulley located under the timing belt and timing belt cover, is simply the pulley that the timing belt drives. It is usually found at the top of the timing belt housing but differs on some makes and models. Search the pulley for the number one position. This should be a mark or notch in the pulley and not difficult to locate as the pulley is turned by hand for examination. The mark represents where the number one position on the belt should be, from which all other marks for alignment should be measured when the number one mark on the belt is found and aligned with this mark.


Turn the Timing Pulley so the Number One Mark Faces Up.

With the timing belt loosened turn the timing belt pulley until the number one position, notch, or mark faces up. This will make it easier to align the timing belt. The timing belt pulley is usually very easy to turn by hand for both alignment and inspection. This step is simply to make finding the number one position easier when the timing belt is moved.


Find the Mark on the Timing Belt and Align it with the Mark on the Pulley.

Slide the belt with your hands until its number one mark matches the number one mark on the pulley. Since the tensioner is loosened, the belt should move easily without turning the pulley. With the pulley still, and in the number one position, moving the belt into position is just a matter of lining the marks or notches up. Once this is done the belt is aligned.


Tighten the Bolts on the Timing Belt Tensioner

Re-tighten the bolts on the timing belt tensioner so that the timing belt is firmly in place but not too tight. There should not be any play in the belt for it to slip easily off the number one mark. You can hand test the tension on the timing belt by pushing against it, and the belt should not move when you push. When you pull on the belt the pulley should move with it.


Close the Timing Belt Cover and Reverse the Steps Taken to Gain Access to It.

Close the halves of the timing belt cover and reverse any of the steps used to access the bolts on it. This is simply a reverse of the first steps in the process of aligning the timing belt. This process will vary between different makes, models, and years of cars so refer to a repair manual for your specific car.

This is the basic procedure for a timing belt alignment. Some vehicles will differ in the procedure and placement of the timing belt, and some might have timing chains instead of timing belts. However, the process of aligning the timing belt on any automobile will be similar to the steps outlined above. These steps are a general guide to how to adjust the timing belt on a car. Remember that each vehicle may have different instructions, so it’s important to always refer to the appropriate repair manual for the make, model, and year of your car.