How to Change the Timing Belt on a Pathfinder

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Changing the timing belt on a Pathfinder is part of the pertinent maintenance schedule. The timing belt should be changed every 105,000 miles. The mileage recommendation is based on the previous use and service history of a Pathfinder with the 3.3 V6 engine. The Pathfinder engine is an interference engine. Should the belt come off or stretch beyond its capacity, the valves and pistons could collide, causing extensive damage to the engine. There are no special tools needed to complete this job, and the recommended time is about three hours.

Things You'll Need

  • Set of 3/8-inch sockets 3/8-inch ratchet 3/8-inch air gun Set of ½-inch sockets ½-inch ratchet ½-inch air gun Set of ¼-inch sockets ¼-inch ratchet ¼-inch air gun Extensions of various lengths in all three sizes Common screwdriver Phillips screwdriver Set of metric wrenches Set of Allen wrenches
  • Jack the vehicle up and support it with jack stands. Remove the splash guard, the radiator, cooling fan, accessory belts, thermostat water hose, water pump pulley, distributor cover and the air intake tube on the valve cover.

  • Remove the crankshaft pulley bolt and the crankshaft pulley. Remove the top and bottom timing belt covers. Once the covers are removed, screw the crankshaft pulley bolt back in. Turn the crankshaft until the Number 1 cylinder is on top dead center. The timing marks should be lined up. Timing marks are located on the camshaft pulleys and the crankshaft.

  • Loosen the timing belt tensioner nut. Turn the tensioner clockwise with an Allen wrench. Tighten the tensioner nut---this will keep the tensioner out of your way while you are removing and replacing the timing belt. Remove the timing belt.

  • Check to see that the timing marks are still properly lined up. Starting at the crankshaft sprocket and moving counterclockwise, wrap the timing belt around the camshafts. Make sure the timing belt is tight between the sprockets on the opposite side of the tensioner.

  • Loosen the tensioner nut. Use an Allen wrench to keep the tensioner from moving while you loosen the nut. Turn the tensioner clockwise about 70 degrees and temporarily tighten the tensioner nut. Turn the crankshaft clockwise two complete turns. At the end of the second turn, the timing marks should line up again. If not, remove the belt and repeat Steps 4 and 5.

  • Put 22 pounds of pressure (with your hand) on the timing belt by pushing in on it at the half-way point between the tensioner and the left camshaft pulley. Hold the tensioner with an Allen wrench and loosen the tensioner nut. Insert a feeler gauge between the tensioner pulley and the belt. If your vehicle year is 1997 or older, the space between the belt and the pulley should be 0.014 ins thick by 0.5 ins. wide. If your vehicle is a 1998 or newer, the space should be 0.020 ins. thick by 0.5 ins. wide.

  • Turn the crankshaft clockwise (slowly) until the feeler gauge moves up to the 1 o'clock position of the tensioner pulley. It will be between the pulley and the belt. Hold the tensioner with the Allen wrench, then torque the tensioner nut to the following specifications:

    32-43 foot pounds of torque: 3.3 engines
    32-43 foot pounds of torque: 3.0 engines up to 1996
    58 to 65 foot pounds of torque: 3.0 engines from 1997 and on

  • Turn the crankshaft (slowly) clockwise to remove the feeler gauge. Remove the feeler gauge and turn the crankshaft until Number 1 cylinder is at top dead center and the timing marks line up. Use your hand to put pressure on the timing belt between the two camshaft sprockets. The belt should move 0.50 to 0.60 inches. If not, repeat Steps 6, 7 and 8.

  • Remove the crankshaft pulley bolt. Reinstall all of the components in the order you removed them. Replace the crankshaft pulley bolt when you replace the pulley. Torque the crankshaft pulley bolt to 95 foot pounds of torque if the year of your vehicle is 1993 or older. Torque the crankshaft pulley bolt to 150 foot pounds of torque if the year of your vehicle is 1994 or newer. Refill the radiator.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure to follow the instructions for the tensioning portion exactly as outlined.

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