How to Change the Timing Belt on a 1984 Through 1989 Honda Accord


Before you begin, you must understand that this engine is considered an interference engine. There is a possibility of the pistons hitting the valves if the timing belt comes off while the engine is running. This can easily bend a valve; however, it is difficult to determine if damage has occurred without first replacing the belt. There is one way to check if the pistons hit the valve; although it is not 100 percent reliable, it can save time. When you remove the valve cover, look at the valves. All of them should be touching the lobes of the camshaft. If not, this would indicate a bent valve--in which case, it would be useless to install the belt without removing the head and having it repaired.

  • Remove the driver's-side tire and the splash shield covering the crankshaft sprocket. Support the engine, then remove all the accessory belts and the engine mount.

  • Remove the top timing-belt cover and then the valve cover. Look at the bell housing on the transmission. You should see a rubber plug in the top. Take it out, and you will see a pointer on the bell housing and the flywheel. There are two marks on the flywheel: an "I" and a "T." The marks will be located at one point on the flywheel; they represent top dead center on the Number One cylinder. If you have an automatic transmission, rotate the engine by the crank bolt until the "I" on the flywheel lines up with the pointer on the bell housing. If you have a manual transmission, put the "T" at the pointer. This is important, so do it right and make sure they line up. Do not turn the engine backward, as it will loosen the belt and change the timing marks.

  • Check the camshaft sprocket and look for the word "UP" embossed on one of the spokes. Just above the notation "UP," there should be a small hole. You will also notice a straight-line mark that is 90 degrees perpendicular to its left, close to the teeth. The "UP" mark must be up and the hole lined up with a dent on the cylinder head. The line must be lined up with the top edge of the cylinder head.

  • Remove the crankshaft pulley bolt, the crank pulley and the bottom timing-belt cover. Loosen the tensioner and move it away from the timing belt. Tighten the tensioner slightly to keep it in place. Remove the belt.

  • Install the timing belt, starting with the crankshaft pulley. Guide the belt up to the cam shaft, keeping it tight between the two pulleys. Keep tension on the belt as you go around the oil-pump sprocket and then the tensioner. Before you do anything else, make sure all of the tension is on the left side, between the crank and the cam. Look at the timing marks one more time for accuracy. The "T" mark on the camshaft sprocket with a hole should be straight up, and the line to the left should be lined up with the head. Look at the flywheel and be sure the pointer is lined up with the line next to the "I" on an automatic or on the "T" with a manual transmission.

  • Loosen the tensioner to put tension on the belt. Get all the slack out of the belt by turning the crankshaft pulley counterclockwise about three or four teeth. Tighten the tensioner to 30 foot-pounds of torque.

  • Check your work and make sure you are right on. Rotate the engine clockwise (in the normal direction of rotation) for two turns and see if the timing marks still line up. There should be no binding. Reinstall all parts in the reverse order of removal and you're ready to go.

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