2004 MDX Timing Belt Replaced! - Tips - Acura MDX Forum : Acura MDX SUV Forums
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post #1 of 58 (permalink) Old 04-11-2015 Thread Starter
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2004 MDX Timing Belt Replaced! - Tips

I finally completed my timing belt replacement for my 2004 MDX. First time around at 105K miles, I had dealer do it as I wasn't confident. 2nd time around, due to price increase, I decided it to do it on my own (apparently, my “confidence” has a price). Here are some tips and suggestions that I thought it may be useful if you’re willing to take the challenge. This is not a step by step as I think there are plenty of those on the web but I thought some highlighted tips would be helpful.

1. Estimate the time you think it will take and double it.
I know some of you can do this in 5 to 6 hours. I’m not one of them. I gave myself the whole weekend starting on Friday night. Took 2 hours on Friday, 10 hours on Saturday, and 4 hours on Sunday, or total of whopping 16 hours. However, what I did was I took breaks in between in order to not to hurt my back, have background music on (such as Danza Kuduro) to pretend to be working in the shop with Dominic Torretto, vacuumed and cleaned engine compartment, and cleaned every part that came out before putting it back in. Really took my time to enjoy the process.

2. Get the parts and tools you need far in advance. Have backup tools as well. In addition to the typical various sockets and wrenches, here are some tools that were very useful.

Two ” breaker bars, impact sockets (19mm for crank), PB blaster, craftsman 20 inch ” extension, PowerBuilt crank tool, and 6ft pipe. I got the breaker bars and sockets from Harbor Freight. Some people make fun of them due to their price but things like breaker bar and sockets, they are really good value tools. Use the PB blaster to spray the crank bolt weeks before tackling this job. You can do this by turning the front wheels all the way to the right and using the red skinny straw through the star shaped crank bolt access opening.

Have lot of spare clips. Purchased from Ebay which was much cheaper. You will break the clips when you're taking the undercover/wheel well cover off.

3. Acura vs aftermarket parts.
My default has been always Acura parts as I know they work and they fit. But I came across this kit from Aisin (TKH-002).

The Koyo bearings and tensioner are exactly the same as Acura.

Water pumps are similar except Aisin’s exterior finish is not as nice as Acura/Honda.

I don’t think it matters. Also each fin blades of Aisin are slightly wider.

Timing belt is made by Mitsuboshi who are OEM supplier for timing belt and drive belt for lot of manufacturers. Quality looks very good.

I went with Aisin kit as you can tell.
I also purchased Bando drive belt and Acura thermostat separately.

4. Read and watch the timing belt replacement how to as much as possible before starting. These may not be exact to your model but it’s pretty close.

Robert DIY
Bundy’s garage

I’ve also read the MDX service manual which was not as friendly. You’ll notice that they skip steps as they assume you know what you’re doing. For example, they’ll note “take off front and rear timing cover” but not noting that I need to remove the power steering pump and the drive belt tensioner to do that. The manual also expects you to flip around to different pages to get these things done.

5. Friday night goal – take the crank pulley bolt off
As many have suggested, taking the crank pulley bolt off first is a good idea. You don’t want to be stuck engine taken apart if you can’t get the crank pulley bolt off. This setup (attached 6ft pipe to the breaker bar) made it smooth and uneventful. Soaking the bolt with PB Blaster for weeks helped.

6. Disconnect the battery – or if you’re replacing the thermostat, take out the battery and its casing. Since you’ll be disconnecting some electrical connections, it would be a wise move. Thermostat is connected to the lower radiator hose.

7. Stay Organized.

8. I kept a log so that I can work backwards. Only change in installation order was I did install the crank pulley on back before installing the front and rear TB cover so that I can manually rotate the crank/TB to verify timing is still ok. Also, I always kept checking the timing mark every time I completed a step.

9. When taking the drive belt tensioner off, don’t unscrew the large center bolt all the way. I did and when I pulled the tensioner out, I heard a “clink” and didn’t know what it was until I looked around in the engine bay. Found this white plastic nut that holds the large bolt, probably to make the installation easier.

10. Coolant will come out from the water pump even after draining the radiator. If you’re changing thermostat, coolant will drain out from there as well. Have lot rags and position the catch pan as best as you can.

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post #2 of 58 (permalink) Old 04-11-2015 Thread Starter
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11. Mark the timing mark on the old belt and transfer it to the new belt. Count the teeth between the marks just to make sure it’s dead accurate.

12. Note the location of the jack where I’m holding up the engine (angled diagonally). This is so that I can drain coolant from the radiator. I also read someone’s posting that you don’t need the jack to hold up the engine to take the side engine mount out. This is true but I wouldn’t recommend it as it puts undue stress on the front and rear engine mounts without jack holding the engine.

13. Use tie straps suggested by realfixrealfast for the timing belt install. Worked well but just be careful not to damage the belt when cutting the tie straps off.

14. You do not need to take the spark plugs out. Some suggests to take it out to make rotating the cranks easier but my puny arms managed to rotate the cranks without issue (although I did sweat a little from the exercise). BTW, crank rotates clockwise. Also, your belt marked location will not align after the first rotation since it has different ratio so just make sure to align the timing mark on the pulley and not the belt (I realized this after 4 full rotations...doh!).

15. Make sure the bolt count matches to what you took out (note the organization mentioned above).

16. Double check the work before you go to the next step during installation (I would have hated if I missed to tighten one bolt and having to disassemble again).

17. Funnel tool like this makes filling the coolant much easier. Found out from my idol, Eric the Car Guy.

18. Once everything is installed, at the moment of truth you start your engine and hear this whiny sound, don’t panic. It’s more than likely you have air in your power steering fluid. Steer the car fully, lock to lock, left and right, to bleed the air out of the power steering fluid. Make sure you have some Honda/Acura power steering fluid available as you will lose some fluid if you disconnected the power steering hose.

19. Finishing touch with a sticker under the hood.

20. Don’t forget to brag to your significant other and your friends what you did and how much money you saved. My wife was very impressed. I used the money saved to buy few more tools for other projects.

Good luck and if you have specific questions, feel free to ask.
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post #3 of 58 (permalink) Old 04-11-2015
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Well done! Great write-up with some very nice real-world advice.
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post #4 of 58 (permalink) Old 04-11-2015
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Very nice. Thanks!

2006 Base model
2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 (2053cc's baby)
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post #5 of 58 (permalink) Old 04-13-2015
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Very well organized. It took me a weekend on my mdx.

2004 MDX Touring Nav
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post #6 of 58 (permalink) Old 04-13-2015
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Good job! Nice floor!

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post #7 of 58 (permalink) Old 04-13-2015
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Nice and well organised/documented job. good review for the aftermarket kit.
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post #8 of 58 (permalink) Old 04-13-2015
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wow! well done.
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post #9 of 58 (permalink) Old 04-13-2015 Thread Starter
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Thank you all!

It's probably one of the most complex job I've done so far. Each step is not difficult but can't be daunting if you think about the whole process. Taking the project in small chunks and the fact that I've done engine mount and radiator replacement before helped.

Flooring is by RaceDeck that I installed myself (it's literally like a jigsaw puzzle). I had it for 10+ years and love the fact that it's not cold when I lie on it and all spilled chemicals just wipes off.

Next project.....valve adjustments.
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post #10 of 58 (permalink) Old 09-26-2015 Thread Starter
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After 5 months of procrastination, I just did the valve adjustment. At 229K miles, it was bit late and I knew I had to get it done when my MDX miss fired once when I tried to start the car.

It took about a day in total, half day yesterday and half day today as I cleaned the parts as I reinstalled them.

I watched Eric the Car Guy on youtube multiple times on valve adjustment before I tackled this project. Work is easier than timing belt but it did put lot of strain on my back as I was working the exhaust valve on the rear side. You'll know what I mean when you try.

I also did little different than Eric the Car Guy where I followed the MDX manual which instructed to disconnect the hoses from the throttle body. This allowed to take the intake manifold with throttle body together. The downside is it spilled some coolant so not sure which method is better.

The only hiccup I had was I broke the oil dipstick and one of the PCV hose in the process which will be replace at minimal costs.

Overall, I'm glad I got it done and the MDX does run lot smoother.
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Nice Post!

Did you find loose or tight valves? Did poor idle prompt you to adjust valves?

I'm at 170k+ and have never adjusted valves on my 03MDX because engine runs fine. I'm a great believer in "if it ain't broke don't fix it".

good luck

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post #12 of 58 (permalink) Old 09-28-2015 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TexasHonda View Post
Nice Post!

Did you find loose or tight valves? Did poor idle prompt you to adjust valves?

I'm at 170k+ and have never adjusted valves on my 03MDX because engine runs fine. I'm a great believer in "if it ain't broke don't fix it".

good luck
Most of the exhaust side was really tight to the point where I couldn't get the feeler gauge in. Check engine light for miss fire one time encouraged me to get this done.

I would typically follow your philosophy but I'm also a believer in preventive maintenance. I prefer to "pay now" instead of "pay later" as "later" can get pretty expensive.

Tight valves can really damage it, hence I'm glad I got this done.
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+1. When I did my valves at ~160k (https://www.mdxers.org/forums/73-firs...nt-06-mdx.html) I had several exhaust valves that were tight. Tight valves are bad x2 because they can do serious damage and don't make noise like loose valves, which are at least polite enough to let you know you need to get in there and adjust them. Plus, I seem to recall when I was researching the procedure that some mechanics had noticed that the valves on this engine (or maybe it was it's little sister in the CRV/RDX?) tend to tighten up over time. I feel like this is the kind of thing one should put on the "do eventually" list; probably no rush, but something you want to get around to.
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nice job, total waste of time though. There's never been a confirmed report of timing belts ever failing on mdx. I've written several threads about it. They used to fail all the time on the old honda's that had cheap thin belts though. Now, if you would have freshened up your carpet that would be worthwhile. See my thread on that.
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Great Post 12BlueX, This gives me more confidence, as I will be attempting my first T belt change on mine next year.
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