It all started innocently enough...
Mazda recommends changing the timing belt every 60K miles on my 2K Protege.
Since we were approaching 87K on the odometer, I figured it was about time
for a change. I purchased the timing belt at Oreilly Auto parts for $43,
and waited for decent weather.
The removal of all the components went fairly smoothly, save for two of the
pulleys. The water pump pulley can be a real pain. An easy solution for
those of you without an impact wrench, which includes me, is use two
wrenches. This will get you all but one bolt off. I used a screwdriver
wedged between two bolts partially extended to hold the pulley steady in
order to remove the third bolt. My next obstacle was the timing belt
tensioner spring, I inadvertently rotated the tensioner too far the wrong
way when trying to remove the spring and stretched the spring out of spec.
Not to fear, the next day I was able to purchase a replacement from the
local Mazda dealer for $9. What a rip-off!!! I could have bought it over
the web for $3. But when you gotta have it, you gotta have it. Be careful
of the camshaft sprockets when removing the belt, I put a scratch in one of
them with just the button on my shirt sleeve. I can see a novice really
screwing these things up by trying to remove the belt with a screwdriver or
something. A hint that someone posted earlier of marking the old belt and
transferring the info to the new was quite helpful in lining up the sockets.
The crankshaft pulley was the next big pain of the project. After a lot of
pullin, tuggin, an cursin... I did a Google search and discovered the trick
of placing the breaker bar against the ground and clicking the starter to
remove the bolt. It worked like a charm!
Wrestling the new timing belt onto to the sprockets while trying to keep
everything line up can be a big pain. My left camshaft sprocket kept
wanting to rotate one tooth when trying to line things up. I ended up using
a velcro strap on one of the camshaft sprockets to hold the belt into the
appropriate tooth spot while lining everything else up.
One of the things with my engine is that you have to remove the valve cover
in order to change the timing belt. Mazda recommends changing the valve
cover gasket. Mine was in pristine shape, so I decided to pass. You need a
little gasket sealer on the edge of the valve cover when you reinstall. $3
at you local auto parts store. Also, a torque wrench is needed to torque
all those bolts back. Valve covers are less than 100 inch pounds of force
All in all, the project took two days and $55. A lot cheaper than going to
the pros if you can afford the time and have the patience. There are, of
course, a lot of steps I didn't mention here. My old timing belt looked
pretty good. It probably could have lasted way more than 100K miles. But
I'm sure Mazda has their reasons for the recommended change interval.
California models are not recommended a change until 105K miles for whatever
reason. The haynes manual was quite helpful, but the information was
somewhat lacking for my 2K model year. I did discover the motor mount I had
to remove was torn in one spot, so I'll have to replace it soon. That
probably explains my engine vibration at idle.