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How to: Replace the Timing Belt and Waterpump

57986 Views 21 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  DISCIPLE
This guide is for the replacement of the timing belt and waterpump on any 88-91 CRX (D16A6 or D15B2 engines). Replacing a timing belt is not a difficult task, but it is crucial that it is done correctly. Incorrect installation can result in costly engine damage. If this is your first time installing a timing belt, I strongly suggest having someone with experience in changing timing belts assist you in this task.

Tools needed

Jack and jackstands
2nd Jack or substitute support (I used blocks of firewood piled up)
10mm, 12mm, 14mm, 17mm sockets/ratchet
Various extension bars.
10mm, 12mm, 14mm, 17mm wrenches
Safety glasses

Supplies/parts needed

Timing belt (for your engine application)
Waterpump (Same part for both D16A6 and D15B2)
Timing belt tensioner pulley (optional/if required)
Oil pump oil seal (optional/if required)
Antifreeze (see chart below for quantities)
Cooling system flush kit (if not already installed on the car)
Anti-seize compound for bolts upon reassembly
Cold beverages waiting in the fridge for when you are done.

A note about safety

I cannot stress this enough: Always wear safety glasses when working on your vehicle. Your car is replaceable. Your eyes are not.

Never work underneath a vehicle unless it is supported securely on jackstands.

Antifreeze Capacities (50/50 mixture with water)

CRX DX (Manual) 5.5 litres, 5.8 US qt
CRX DX (Autormatic) 5.4 litres, 5.7 US qt
CRX HF 5.2 litres, 5.5 US qt
CRX Si 5.4 litres, 5.7 US qt

Replacing Timing Belt and Waterpump

First, break loose the lugnuts on the driver's side front wheel and jack up the front of the car. I usually place the jack under the middle of the front crossmember when jacking up the front. Place jack stands under the reinforced lift points on the car for safety. Place the car in gear and attempt to remove the crank pulley bolt (17mm). It is accessible through the driver's side wheel well. If you are unable to break it free, I suggest taking your car to a shop which has a *big* air impact gun and get them to remove the bolt, place some anti-seize compount on it, and then reinstall it to the correct torque. Once you know that you can remove the bolt on your own, you are free to proceed.

The next step is to drain the coolant. Wait until your engine is cool before proceeding. First remove the radiator cap (if your engine isn't cool, you could burn yourself). Next, you will need to unbolt the plastic splash shield on the passenger's side of the vehicle. It is located underneath the car by the front bumper. It is normally held on by 3 or 4 plastic bolts and a metal bolt. (all 10mm). Once this panel is removed, you will be able to see the drain plug at the bottom of the radiator (on the passenger's side). Unscrew the drain plug and drain the coolant into a drain pan. Once all the coolant is drained, replace the drain plug. Next you'll want to undo the coolant drain plug on the engine block. It is located behind the exhaust manifold on the block. Once all the coolant is drained from the block, replace the drain plug and *immediately* put the coolant away somewhere safe (or put it into plastic jugs to be recycled properly). We don't want to kill all the neighbourhood cats and dogs or the fishies in the nearby stream, so be careful with the antifreeze.

At this point, you may flush your cooling system. I used an adaptor piece that allows me to hook my heater hose up to a garden hose. I just hook it up and let the water flow for a few mins in order to flush out any of the loose grit that may be in the system. At this point, some people opt to drain all the water out because they prefer to only use distilled water mixed with their anti-freeze. I'm personally ok with using water from the hose. As long as the water is clean, it shouldn't make much of a difference. Good quality coolants have corrossion protection properties that will negate the effect of any impurities in the water (as long as the mixture is at least 50% coolant).

Next, remove the valve cover by unscrewing the top 4 nuts (10mm), the front 10mm bolt that holds on the engine ground, the sparkplug wires, and disconnecting the intake hose and the clutch cable. Lift off the valve cover and place it somewhere where it will remain perfectly clean.

Place a piece of wood on another jack and place it under the oil pan on the engine to support the engine. Remove the two 14 mm bolts that hold on the engine side bracket.

Move the coolant reservoir out of the way. Remove the 17mm nut and two bolts that hold on the engine mount. Remove the engine mount from the car.

Remove the alternator slider adjustment bolt (12mm) and remove the alternator belt. If applicable, you may also need to remove the A/C belt.

Remove the wheel well splash shield from inside the driver's side wheel well. There should be 4 plastic 10mm bolts that hold it on. You should now be able to see the crank pulley and bolt. Remove the 17mm crank pulley bolt. Remove the crank pulley and the little rectangular metal key. Don't lose the key.

Remove the upper and lower plastic timing belt covers. They are held on by several 10 mm bolts. Be careful not to break the cover when removing the bolts.

You now have a clear view of the timing belt. With a felt pen or white out, mark the timing belt and cam gear and then mark the timing belt and crank gear. This will help you line up the new timing belt to exactly the same position as the old one. Loosen the timing belt tensioner pulley and remove the old timing belt. Take the old timing belt and line it up with the new one and transfer the marks over onto the new one in exactly the same places (with the same number of teeth between the marks).

Next, unbolt the waterpump. It is held on by four 10mm bolts and the 14mm alternator slider bracket bolt. Install the new waterpump and gasket. Make sure that the gasket is lined up properly before bolting the waterpump on. There is a groove on the waterpump for the gasket. If the gasket is not lined up properly, coolant will leak out like crazy. Torque the 10 mm bolts to 9 ft-lbs and the 14mm alternator slider bracket bolt to 33 ft-lbs.

If the timing belt tensioner pulley is showing signs of rust or is grinding and noisy when rotating, you should replace it. Sometimes it's best to remove it so that you can spin it while holding it up to your ear. It should spin smoothly. To remove it, unhook the spring and undo the 14mm bolt that holds it on. Bolt on the new one and hook up the spring again.

If there are signs of an oil leak around the crank pulley area, you may need a new oil seal. (See the post "How to: Replace the main seal (timing belt end)"). Failure to replace this could result in your timing belt being soiled with oil, and could cause premature timing belt failure.

To install the new timing belt, align the marks on the new timing belt with the marks you made on the cam gear and crank gear. Slide the new timing belt on. Tighten the timing belt tensioner pulley. Replace the lower timing belt cover and bolt on the crank pulley. With a wrench on the crank pulley bolt, rotate the pulley counter-clockwise so that the timing belt moves 3-teeth over on the cam pulley. Loosen the timing belt tensioner pulley to create tension on the belt. Then tighten the timing belt tensioner pulley to 33 ft-lbs.

Reassemble everything in the reverse order of removal. I have included the torque specifications below for your reference. Apply anti-seize compound to bolt threads before reinstalling them.

With the car back on the ground, loosen the bleed bolt for the cooling system. Use only 50/50 water and coolant mixture. Fill the coolant reservoir up to the MAX mark. Fill the radiator up to the filler neck with coolant. Tighten the bleed bolt as soon as a steady stream of coolant runs out of it with no bubbles.

Start up the car and let it warm up. Top up the coolant as needed.

Congratulations, you're done!

Torque Specifications

Crank Pulley Bolt 119 ft-lbs
Valve Cover Nuts 7 ft-lbs (don't crank on them!)
Timing Belt Cover bolts 7 ft-lbs (don't crank on them!)
Waterpump 10mm bolts 9 ft-lbs (don't crank on them!)
Timing Belt Tensioner Pulley bolt 33 ft-lbs
Alternator slider bracket bolt 33 ft-lbs
Alternator slider adjustment bolt 17 ft-lbs
Cooling system bleed bolt 7 ft-lbs
Engine side bracket bolts 33 ft-lbs
Engine mount to chassis bolt 40 ft-lbs
Engine mount to engine nut and bolt 54 ft-lbs
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1 - 20 of 22 Posts
I threw this together really quickly... let me know if I missed anything.
Great job!
Another quality writeup by Stickershop... With excellent pictures as well Nicely Done bud.. !!!

toxiclows said:
Another quality writeup by Stickershop... With excellent pictures as well Nicely Done bud.. !!!

Thanks! Now if only we can get all those pics to auto-resize again.... ;)
Man, you sure make it look easy. Thanks for another great how-to. I'll be putting it into practice this weekend, and I have a lot more confidence now. Thanks again.
Can you give some more details and maybe pics on how you got the crank pulley bolt off? I attempted mine this weekend. I put it in 5th gear, but the wheel still turned. I lowered the jack enough to put one tire on the ground. The other wheel just spun when I turned the crank.
It was mentioned that this toolwas a lifesaver and worth the cost:

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Charles said:
It was mentioned that this toolwas a lifesaver and worth the cost:
I own that tool, and yes, it helps *most* of the time. But on this last job, the bolt was in there so tight that I had to give in and take it to the dealership. There really is no replacement for a 1 inch Impact Gun running on a high PSI compressor.

However, my situation was abnormal. The last Honda dealership must've *RAMMED* the bolt on there when they replace the timing belt last time. It was on there with well over 1000 ft-lbs of torque and red lock-tite. Totally unnecessary. This bolt is only supposed to be on there at 119 you should be able to undo it with hand tools. When I reinstalled it, I put anti-seize compound on it and cranked it up a little tighter than spec, just to be safe.
great info!

Can you buy the tool any where?
to get to the crank pulley theres a little circular rubber plug in the splash guard that you can take out rather than removing the whole piece
ok well i have a broken off timing belt and I'm in the process of putting a new one on with new heads and everything i need help on doing the timing and how to set it
I highly recommend replacing the tensioner with the belt. I had the misfortune of the tensioner seizing and melting my timing belt. The result was bent valves. So word of advice, change the tensioner. My car was only 160k miles btw.
ok ok well ill do that also, thanks and i bought a timing light if that helps alot first time doing this and by myself
I'm in the middle of doing my timing belt and cant get the crank pully to stay still. Does anyone have a quick tip to keep it still so I can try and break it loose? Am I going to be able to break it loose by hand? All I have is a socket set and a few ratchets. I can probably get a breaker bar if it will be needed


i got this motor without a timing belt... it was removed by a speed shop in peoria that replaced it w/ a b18. how do i properly install the timing belt w/out screwing up all the work we've done?
Whats the "turn the crank counter clockwise to get the belt to slip 3 teeth on the cam gear"
I guess the tensioner is going to make the cam move appox 3 teeth when the tension is set on it?

Hopefully I can get this timing down lol. I hate dealing with timing.


"My whole life my timing on everything (opportunities, relationships, deals, cars etc) have been off, I suck at the whole timing thing, and of all things I decided to become a mechanic...."
Basically after you know your timing marks are dead on...belt move the crank(ever so slightly counter clockwise)to put a small bit of tension on the belt,then you torque the tensioner bolt.
as for the whole slipping three teeth...umm...forget that.
lol got it, I was just curious, I know on SOHC 2.0 neons you have to set the crank to TDC, then back it off 3 1/2 teeth and when you let the tension out itll slip 1/2 tooth and the timing will be on (3 marks lol)
They can't just make it "Set marks here, slip on belt, release tension, done"

I hate engineers :D
Need some help with my timing belt tension. Second time replacing the timing belt myself on this crx, first time way back when went perfectly smooth. This replacement was due to the tensioner bearing going out. Went through the normal steps and get everything back together and I just can't get the tensioner to work. Connect to the spring that was working fine before tearing down but it doesn't seems to be pulling on the tensioner. What am I missing here? The spring, while connected, is all but loose enough to fall off any position of the tensioner. I tried to lightly add pressure by hand while doing the ("turn, loosen, tighten", put it all back together, start and hear the timing belt slapping the timing cover. New belt has the same number of ribs so its not too big, same spring that was just working before. I'm not sure what else to try.
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