Unheard of timing belt issue - Acura MDX Forum : Acura MDX SUV Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Unread 5 Days Ago Thread Starter
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Unheard of timing belt issue

On the one hand, I say God smiled upon me and I dodged a bullet. On the other, what a huge pain. So, last September, I did a water pump/timing belt job on my wife's '04 MDX. A couple of months later, we started to hear a tapping sound, but I couldn't pinpoint it. Then, this last weekend, I took my old man and my boys 200 miles out into the west desert of Utah to dig for topaz. Fun was had by all. Fast forward to us getting home, all without any incident, and I go out to hang with my brother for a while.

About 11pm, I get a frantic call from the wife that I broke her car. I get home and sure enough, there is a very loud banging sound when I start the engine. It runs, but when my boy tried to drive it, it died immediately upon going into gear.

Random luck on YouTube directed me to check the relatively new timing belt tensioner and sure enough, it's gone south. So, come Monday I get the part and start tearing things down to be able to replace the tensioner. I get the covers off and the timing belt is shredded and the tensioner pulley FALLS OFF! The bolt holding the pulley in place had sheared clean off right where it contacts the water pump. Since said bolt only connects to the water pump, instead of going through and into the motor, pulling the water pump allowed me to get it out. Now, I'm trying to find that stupid bolt! Aside from spending a couple hours in the salvage yard pulling the junker apart to get one there, does anybody know where I can find one? Searching Amazon, Google, eBay, etc, etc, etc has been fruitless.

Any help would be appreciated.

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Personally I would not source a used bolt after that experience. New from the dealer IMO. Carefully inspect everything before re-using any of it.

What brand of parts did you use when you did the TB? Over on the Honda Odyssey board there have been multiple reports of premature failure when anything but Aisin is used. A failed tensioner is certainly not unheard of there.

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Man I hope the valves are OK! care to share which brand did you use for the kit?

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Maybe you overtorqued it? There are bushings inside the hole of the tensioner where the bolt goes through.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Unread 5 Days Ago Thread Starter
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It was a MOCA brand. Unfortunately, it was all I could afford at the time.

I thought about the possibility of over torquing it, but I used a torque wrench to the specifications I dug up.

I hope the valves are ok too. That's a task I'm not up to doing on my own and can't afford to pay for. I'll throw out an update once I get it back together.

Oh, and thanks for the call on the Acura/Honda dealership. I totally spaced that option.
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FYI...the Aisin kit is available ob Rock Auto for ~$180. Hard to beat.

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If there were mechanical "banging noises" coming from the engine, I'd be very worried about there being valve damage (and yes, that's pretty much a death sentence for the engine, or at least a full head rebuild). The timing belt can't slip far without valve damage, though if the engine was still running, there's some hope.

And on the bolt - I'd suggest just ID'ing the threading and getting some generic grade 8 (or at least "high quality") bolts from your local Ace Hardware store.
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Use a Genuine factory bolt and install it with blue loctite. As you found, too much riding on that part to skimp. Both the tensioner and idler bolts have shoulders - no generic hardware would work.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Unread 22 Hours Ago Thread Starter
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Finally got everything back together. Put fresh fluids in and turn the key... It starts, but it is running really rough and won't stay running for more than 30 seconds. Prognosis... Bent valves. Of course, the wife blames me, but that's not news. I have about 3 months before I HAVE to have another car, so I'm thinking about trying my hands at the impossible (to me) and do a valve job.

Anybody ever done one on the first gen MDX? Tips and recommendations would be appreciated.
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If you bent a number of valves (Likely) the cost of new valves, gaskets, etc. as well as machine shop labor to properly install the new valves and seat them is probably going to be in the area of $750 to $1000 or more.

If the pistons or heads are damaged, double or triple that amount.

As the wise man said: "Your first loss is your best loss"

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You might want to call some cylinder head shops and get an estimate. I removed the head and paid about $155 about a year ago just for surfacing, valve grind, new seals - a general rebuild after the front head gasket blew. I seem to remember it would have been $15-$20 each for any valves that would have needed replacement.

If you do it yourself, figure a couple hundred bucks for a head/intake gasket kit plus oil and coolant. (Taking the head off will most likely cause some coolant to get into the oil passages of the block). Another $75 if you replace the head bolts. More for both if you use OEM Honda parts.

Big, long job but really no harder than the timing belt. Critical to keep the block/head surface clean, clean out the blind, head bolt holes, and tighten the head bolts properly. Also, there are pins that align the head to the block so when you pull the head, pull and all the way out. Don’t rest the head back on the block because you’ll risk denting the head with the pins that protrude.

I suppose you could price a used engine too.

Good luck!
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We’ve all been there, if you wrenched on a car eventually something goes sideways. As noted, lots of videos on how to pull heads and get it running again.

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At this stage you have very little to lose and not overly difficult to remove the heads and inspect them and your pistons for any damage? Once heads are out you can go through them and check the seating surfaces, bent valves, rocker arms etc. You can then determine what is needed or if a replacement head is the way to go? Something i would consider doing before giving it over to dealership or anyone!
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Unread 23 Minutes Ago
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Might even be a good idea to stick a bore scope into the jugs to see if there's obvious damage. If so, you save the effort of pulling the heads in the first place. If there isn't obvious damage, at least you feel better about doing the effort of pulling the heads.

I agree that it would make sense to do the heads (I'd use a shop to recondition them, or might consider sourcing some good used heads if I could get a smokin' deal on a pair).
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