83 Civic Timing Belt Replacement

Discussion in 'Civic' started by Andrew Taki Browne-Kondo, Jul 4, 2004.

  1. The timing belt on my '83 Civic 1500 just broke. I've never replaced a
    timing belt and am looking for some advice. Any answers to the following
    questions will be very appreciated.

    * What's the best way to remove the crankshaft pulley bolt? My father
    mentioned a way to wedge a braker bar against the frame or ground and then
    use the power of the starter to get the bolt loose. Because the pulley and
    bolt move counter-clockwise, I can't figure it out. If I simply stick the
    braker bar on the bolt head and turn the key, the bolt will be tightened.
    Anybody know the trick?

    * I hear the crankshaft pulley is really hard to pull even when the bolt is
    removed. What's the best way to remove the crankshaft pulley?

    * What other parts should I replace when doing this job?
    Andrew Taki Browne-Kondo, Jul 4, 2004
  2. Andrew Taki Browne-Kondo

    Eric Guest

    If the timing belt broke, then it's likely that your engine may have bent
    valves. You can check the valve clearances to look for bent valves as they
    will not seat all the way so the clearance will be rather large.
    As you've discovered, don't use the starter method. It doesn't work for
    Hondas. You may wind up breaking the bolt which can lead to a really bad

    For an '83, I would recommend getting a crank pulley holder tool such as
    this - http://www.etoolcart.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1217
    It's not too bad. Sometimes you need to use a pry bar between the crank
    pulley and the lower timing cover. If you work on the edges of the lower
    timing cover then there should be enough support. Gently pry a little bit
    on each side and the pulley should come off.
    Timing belts are sensitive to oil contamination as the oil will weaken the
    rubber and cause the belt to fail prematurely. Thus, it's usually in your
    best interest to change the cam seal, the front crank seal, and the valve
    cover gasket. I would also strongly consider replacing the timing belt
    tensioner bearing as well (especially on an older car). The water pump can
    be done separately from the timing belt on this car. However, if the shaft
    is showing any signs of lateral free play, then now would be an ideal time
    to take care of it as replacing it with the timing belt would make the job a
    little easier. If you do decide to replace the water pump, then it's an
    ideal time to replace the thermostat as well since you'll be draining the
    coolant (especially if it's nearing the recommended replacement interval of
    75k mi. or 6 years). However, you'll need to find out if there are bent
    valves in the motor before you proceed. If there are, then the head will
    need to come off in order to replace them.

    Eric, Jul 4, 2004
  3. Andrew Taki Browne-Kondo

    Caroline Guest

    Best solutions, in order of quickest:

    Stop by any independent shop and offer $10 to break the pulley bolt free with an
    air wrench. I know of at least two posters for whom this worked fine. (Not sure
    how they got home. Just snugged the bolt up and drove a couple of miles, and
    then at home it came free easily?)

    Rent an air wrench and air compressor and do it yourself.

    Use the hints at




    group.google for "pulley bolt" AND "timing belt" at the alt.autos.honda and
    rec.autos.makers.honda newsgroups and you'll see discussion of the method your
    father described. I'm not terribly experienced, but geez this method gives me
    the willies. I wouldn't do it unless I heard from more people here about doing
    it with your 1983 Civic.

    Which 83 Civic 1500 do you have? 3-Door DX, 3-Door S, 4-Door? Alternatively,
    have you looked at the crankshaft pulley and seen holes in it like item 7 at
    Majestic site http://tinyurl.com/2bg99 ? Or does it look more like item 8 at
    this same site? If it has holes in it like item 7, you might be able to make a
    "pulley holder tool" that does the job fine. Steps:

    (1) Measure the diameter of the holes in the pulley = D below. Measure the
    thickness of the pulley = Th below.
    (2) Buy one 3/8" thick, 1 3/8 " wide, 2' flat steel bar (a surveying stake,
    technically), Lowe's has them for under $4 where I live. Alternatively use a
    piece of scrap iron/steel of similar dimensions.
    (3) Buy one Grade 8 bolt whose diameter is D or a little less and whose length
    is an inch or so longer than Th(?) Fine thread is preferred. Buy one or two nuts
    to match.
    (4) Buy maybe four washers and six inches of rubber hose that will fit over the
    (5) Maybe an inch from the end of the bar you bought at Lowe's, drill a hole of
    diameter approx. D.
    (6) Attach the bar to a lower pulley bolt hold using the bolt. Use the washers
    and hose as a spacer to protect any lips on the crankshaft pulley. Make sure the
    bolt presses only against the bolt hole and not any lip. Orient the bar so that
    turning the crankshaft pulley counterclockwise (looking from the driver's side
    front wheel well) will cause the bar to resist the CCW motion. The end of the
    bar opposite the bolt hole will rest against the ground, preferably on a stack
    of a couple of scrap 1/2-inch thick plywood boards. The ground resists you
    applying torque to the pulley.

    (7) If this configuration does not look good or doesn't work, consider drilling
    a second hole in the bar and attach the bar with two Grade 8 bolts.

    (8) I have read that this can be done with one bolt attaching the bar to the
    pulley. The guy actually used a steel pipe rather than a bar, but it must be a
    high thickness, strong pipe.

    My own 1991 Civic's pulley has 8 bolt holes (IIRC). I used this tool design but
    with two bolts. It is a modified version of a design another poster (Eric) has
    used. Worked great, though I caution you, not all crankshaft pulleys are shaped
    the same. Before my modification (which was adding the washers and hose spacer),
    I chipped off a sizable chunk of my car's pulley. I am installing a new pulley
    this week.

    I used the two, high quality 10-inch long, 1/2 inch diameter extensions and jack
    for support of the breaker bar, as pictured nicely at
    http://www.cadvision.com/blanchas/54pontiac/honda.html . This means you need a
    1/2 inch socket that fits the pulley bolt.

    Do not try this with a 3/8-inch drive. Chances are good that you'll shear (=
    break) the drive.

    I used a five-foot pipe over the breaker bar and had little difficulty breaking
    the bolt free. When it breaks free it is usually "dramatic," so you must brace
    yourself when it does break free. Maybe have an old sofa cushion underneath your
    hands as you push at a distance of five feet. (I rapped my knuckles very
    slightly when the bolt break free.) It makes a cracking sound that will make you
    think you broke something. You probably did not, as long as you go slow and
    check that your tool is holding fine. Dust rose when my car's pulley bolt broke
    free, too.

    I think your car's pulley bolt needs to be tightened to only 83-ft-lbs, but you
    should confirm this with a 1983 Civic manual or maybe someone here at the group.
    Note that breakaway torque is almost always a lot higher on these bolts. I
    figure yours will require around 200 ft-lbs, based on a lot of reading here. It
    could be more.

    http://www.honda.co.uk/owner/WorkshopManualCivic84-87/62sb200/6-20.pdf has the
    steps for a t-belt change on a 1984 Civic, but the 1983 is a little different,
    and torque specs. may not be the same.

    You should change the water pump and maybe the timing belt tensioner and spring,
    too. Also, many people change the crank and cam seals as part of this job.

    Also, I'd double check that your pulley bolt is right-hand threaded. I know the
    ones from the late 1980s and on are, but one never knows with older cars.
    Someone here may confirm.

    Updates welcome. This is the oldest Honda I've seen reported on for a T-belt
    change. Should be interesting.

    Good luck.
    Caroline, Jul 4, 2004
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