How to Find Top Dead Center on a Honda


In a Honda engine, pistons travel up and down inside cylinders in the engine block and are driven by rods connected to the crankshaft. Top dead center is when the piston is farthest away from the crankshaft. Locating top dead center on the number one piston is critical to many engine overhaul processes such as replacing the timing belt and replacing the camshaft.

Things You'll Need

  • Metric socket set

Locating Top Dead Center

  • Disconnect the ground cable from the negative battery terminal.

  • Locate the top dead center pointer on the lower timing belt cover. It will be just above the crankshaft pulley.

  • Locate the top dead center pointer on the crankshaft.

  • Attach a ratchet to the bolt in the center of the crankshaft pulley.

  • Rotate the crankshaft counterclockwise until the two marks line up.

  • Double check by removing the upper timing belt cover and valve cover. Examine the marks on the upper timing belt pulley. They should align with the valve cover mounting surface.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a long breaker bar on the crankshaft bolt if you're having trouble rotating the engine.
  • Do not try to "bump" the engine (rotate the crankshaft using the starter) while the coil wire is attached to the distributor. High voltage could cause injury or death.


  • Chilton Honda Civic/CRX/del SOL 1984 to 1995 Repair Manual: Chilton Book Company; 1995
  • Haynes Honda Accord 1984 through 1985 Owner's Workshop Manual; Colin Brown; 1988
  • Chilton Import Car Manual 1992 to 1996; Chilton Book Company; 1995
  • Photo Credit O. Taillon Photography:
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