Bad Timing Belt?

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Hello,
The timing belt on my '95 Civic ESi (1.6L SOHC) is about 4 years old, and was used for less than 40K kms (25K miles). But I notice it had deep cracks on the outer (smooth) side, at each gap between the teeth.
The cracks are mostly very straight, and so the belt looks "segmented". They're also deep, going about halfway into the belt's thickness.
I have a feeling this isn't normal. Is it? If it's really bad, how could it possibly have gotten this bad, when it's still relatively fresh and was installed by the Honda dealer? I would really like to prevent it next time.
Thanks in advance..
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sharx333 wrote:

Are you sure you're referring to the timing belt? Here's an illustrated index of the timing belt from the factory service manual. http://media.honda.co.uk/car/owner/media/manuals/CivicManual/pdf/6-18.pdf The reason I have to ask is that I've never seen a timing belt cracked as badly as you describe. If it was, then it would probably break in very short order and the car would no longer be running. Most timing belts fail well before then become cracked as you have described and that is after they've been in the car >90K miles though some do fail prematurely however that's rare.
Eric
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I'm afraid that's exactly the belt I'm referring to. This model is a "domesticated" version of the EX, with basically the same engine (D16z6).
I wouldn't even have seen the cracks if the mechanic hadn't pointed it out when I was having the tires rotated. When I got home, I removed the valve cover and belt cover, and saw the cracks. So this is bad, huh? I wonder what could have caused it... I hear these things normally last a long time.
Thanks for the replies.
Eric wrote:

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How'd the mechanic see it if there's a cover over it? What was he doing under the hood while rotating tires?

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Jim Yanik
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Hello jim. It was on a lift for the tire rotation, and we decided to take it up a little higher to check under it. Using a flashlight, he basically saw just the lower section of the timing belt/pulley. I was skeptical too, at first, thinking the grooves were too regularly spaced apart. But when I got home and took the valve cover and belt cover off... Possibly this belt was put on *too* tight, or was of a quality for which the word "aftermarket" is too kind.
Anyway I would love to do this myself, so I'm looking through the posts and reading the service manual, I still can't figure out how to take that stubborn "special bolt" off...
Jim Yanik wrote:

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As TeGGeR says, an impact wrench is the overall best way. If you can rent a hefty electric one with a socket to match you should be okay. Note that regular sockets must not be used with an impact wrench as the brittle regular sockets can explode. In any event, don't blow off the need for eye protection.
It can be a challenge, but it can be done. Besides the special techniques, I think the special bolt requires special vocabulary. But once it moves the rest is downhill.
Mike
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crankshaft pulley bolt torque spec for my B18 DOHC motor is 130 ft-lbs,so you'd need a impact driver with torque greater than that. (probably a LOT more!!)
My Haynes manual suggests a strap wrench to hold the crank pulley still while using a 1/2" driver socket and breaker bar.
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Jim Yanik wrote:

vocabulary" trying to do it with one of those. bolts lock in there for /way/ more than 170ft.lbs to loosen.
***
to the op, buy the proper holder tool, then sell it on ebay if you don't need it again. or you can rent the factory tool from some honda dealers.
belt replacement is relatively straightforward once you remove the bolt, and get the accessories out of the way. a/c and steering pumps both move without the need to disconnect pipes, even though it may not be obvious at first sight.
when installing the new belt, make sure you tension correctly. google this group on how to do it as it's been posted a number of times this year.
write back if you have questions.
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Thanks. No shortage here of that "special vocabulary". Any other tricky things to watch out for?
Michael Pardee wrote:

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put the cover on. Familiarize yourself with the adjustment (timing and tensioning) procedures. I think one of the links posted here talks about making marks on the edge of the old belt, transfering them to the new belt and using that to verify timing on the new belt. If not, ask for more details.
Except for that forsaken crank bolt the job is really not that much worse than a brake job, and an impact wrench is the easiest way to loosen the crank bolt... especially if somebody else is using the impact wrench ;-) Retightening is not nearly so bad, especially if you have a holding tool. Even with just a strap wrench to hold the pulley you can get enough torque on the bolt.
Mike
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It's a good idea to change the water pump while your in there. The first time I replaced the timing belt on my wife's Civic I never thought to do the water pump, 7000 miles later I was in there again replacing the water pump. The pump cost me $17, I really hated myself for not thinking to replace the WP while I was doing the belt.

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It sounds like the lower timing belt cover was missing;it seems to me that the timing belt should not be exposed that one could see it.
Maybe that's why your new belt is degraded? It was left exposed to the elements by a missing cover.
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Jim Yanik wrote:

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Hmm.. That could be it. I thought it funny for Honda to leave it exposed like that. Since the rainy season began, this car has waded through ankle-deep water a few times, and sometimes it splashes into the engine bay. Could it be that being hot and getting wet caused the cracking? I guess some previous mechanic forgot to put it back..
Jim Yanik wrote:

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sharx333 wrote:

"Mechanic" is too nice of a word for someone who "forgets" to reinstall the lower timing belt cover.
Eric
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Here's an illustrated

... odd that they refer to the drive / driven components as pulleys instead of sprockets.
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sharx333 wrote:

Sure you don't mean one of the serpentine belts for the alternator, etc...?? Normally, the timing belt is covered and you can't see it. I would change any belt that was that bad, timing or serpentine... Slight cracks in a serpentine belt are ok, but if they are half way deep, I'd change it. That belt might run the water pump, "not sure on that model" and losing it is the last thing you want to do. Also, belts always fail at the worst possible time due to "Ruprects Law". MK
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"Ruprect's Law" ??
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sharx333 wrote:

if that were my timing belt, i'd drop everything else i was doing and fix it immediately. seriously. sounds like the dealer either didn't change the belt at all or that it was installed too tight. whatever the reason, that is a very sick belt and cannot be trusted another inch.
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Thanks to everyone for taking time to reply. I posted a photo, if you're curious:
http://hondaswap.com/attachments/general-tech-maintenance/1034d1159641356-my-cracked-timing-belt-treo_093006_001.jpg
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