Timing belt replacement

mdoneffmdoneff Member Posts: 2
edited March 2014 in Honda
Hi all

I'm a first timer - so give me a break. I was advised by my Honda dealer that I need to have the timing belt replaced - even though it hasn't broke. I have 125K miles. Can't I wait until it breaks? They advised it will cost $750. Called other places and was told could wait until it broke and the price was much cheaper $450.

I also had them check the noisy muffler at the local repair shop - there is a hole in the pipe before the muffler. They want to replace the entire thing including the muffler (even though it doesn't look bad) - Cost $450. I thought it would be about $100.

Sometimes it's hard to know what the truth is - can any of you experts help?

What's the real story?



  • emaisonemaison Member Posts: 60

    Your message will probably get referred to the 'Honda Accord Problems Part2' board. You should check that board out. There are usually a couple of mechanics that post there regularly and I am sure they could give you more qualified information.

    Just to be clear here, I am no expert, but I have owned Hondas for the past 15 years. So take my advice with a grain of salt.

    But my .02, since you asked, is get that Timing belt fixed pronto! I believe 94 Accords have a recommended timing belt change at 90k. If the belt breaks before you change it, you are at risk for some serious damage. I had a college roommate who waited to change the belt and his broke. It cost him nearly $1000.

    I think the price the dealer quoted you for the replacement was a 'tad' high. Was he maybe including a 120k service with that? Usually, changing just the timing belt (and including the new water pump which is normally changed at the same time) has run me about $400.

    I remember my Hondas also encountered exhaust problems when they were getting 7-8 years old. I believe the exhaust has four pieces. Three pipes and then the muffler. I would think you could just replace the bad pipe and muffler but it wouldn't surprise me if all pieces were getting bad. I would get a second opinion. My experience was that just the muffler itself would be about $100.

    Check out that other board, and good luck.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    You are on borrowed time. Thst is a 90,000 miles belt. If it breaks it will be without warning and you will be stranded. You can also damage your engine when that happens.

    It's a smart thing to replace the water pump and the other belts at the same time.

    As far as your muffler...well, if it's the original, it's probably on it's last legs. Probably smart to just replace it since the exhaust system will have to come apart in order to change the pipe.
  • bburton1bburton1 Member Posts: 395
    Just had one changed on a 97 I4 accord for $375 by a dealer. Call around-my quotes ranged from $375 to $750. Have put over 500K on hondas and never have had a water pump problem-this dealer's service guy said they never change them unless there is a leak.

    The muffler price is a bit high also. Don't go to one of the franchise muffler places. Was told about how they have a guy with Popeye sized biceps that takes a huge set of channel lock pliers and squeezes all your pipes and if he can crush one-he gets a bonus. Well took a friend's Mazda to get a muffler replaced at a franchise muffler place and lo and behold-up comes this dude with the channel locks-told him to FO with his toy.

    A resonable price for tbelt and all drive belts replacements would be $400 and maybe $225 for the muffler. Call around.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    About the water pump.

    When everything is apart, the pump is RIGHT THERE!

    No additional labor to change it and if the dumb thing fails a month later the whole thing has to come apart again!

    125,000 miles is a long time for a water pump.

    If it were my car I would change it just for the peace of mind. They aren't that expensive.

    Still, if you're on a tight budget you could take the gamble.
  • lleroilleroi Member Posts: 112
    and water pump on his 92 Accord.Go to a reputable parts store-one who delivers parts to mechanics.Get the name and number of a competent mechanic(home based)-one they sell a lot of Honda parts to.Call him ,check him and his shop out.There are a lot of Honda trained mechanics doing side work or semi retired.The water pump cost under $50 and the belt was under $20.He had the whole job done for under $225.
    The guys who know about Hondas are easy to determine.They will explain in more detail then you want to hear about your problem.The good ones really like to work on these cars.They also know that you will be a customer as long as you own the car.Bring cash and a little tip never hurts.Taking an older Honda to the dealer will break you.I am not a Honda fan ,but I have seen these things run a long time for little money ,IF you find a good "sidejob" not "shadetree mechanic".
  • lugwrenchlugwrench Member Posts: 213
    The manual calls to have it replaced at 90K for your model. It is a good idea to have the water pump replaced at the same time. You are very lucky that you didn't blow your balancer shaft seal. Make sure they install the balancer shaft clip at the timing belt install.
  • mdoneffmdoneff Member Posts: 2
    It looks like I need to have this done immediately
    And that a good price would be between $250-400 (that's a lot better than $750 at the dealer)
    Sounds like I also need to have the water pump and balance shaft seal all done at the same time.
    Muffler system approx cost @225.

    Thanks to all of you for the good advice - I knew I could count on you (I probably shouldn't drive it - except to the repair shop.)

    I just have one question, lleroi - How can you tell a "sidejob" mechanic from a "shadetree" before he does the job?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    He will(or should) install the updated seal retainer at the same time.

    And...lugwrench, he isn't really all that "lucky".

    These seals really don't fail all that often. Still, it was a problem on some cars and the update should be done.

    The shadetree guy might not know about that.

    I've known a lot of "moonlighters". these are guys who do side jobs to make extra money.

    As with anything, some of these guys are excellent and others are butchers. Your recourse if something go's wrong will be limited.

    Proceed with caution.
  • lugwrenchlugwrench Member Posts: 213
    Hey isellhondas, it was serious enough that Honda issued a recall on all 1994-97 Honda Accords to correct the problem. You failed to mention that fact as usual.
  • lleroilleroi Member Posts: 112
    of a chance-but timing belt and water pump replacement is not rocket science.A five min walk around his "shop"and a 10 min chat should suffice.For instance bring up the retainer clip that lugwrench mentions.If he seems to be aware of this delve a little deeper-ask if this is really necessary?etc,etc.If on the other hand you get the feeling this new to him pass.The parts guys can usually eliminate the "totally" incompetent ones.Always get the price up front.Also avoid guys that act like serial killers.The profile I use is thus:40 to 60 age range,clean work area,clean tools,garage or work buildind used exclusively for auto repair,no junk vehicles,pricing that saves at least half.Usually first or second guy a good parts house reccomends meets this criteria.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    You "as usual" have distorted the facts.

    This was never a *recall*. It was a product update. Honda didn't have to do anything but chose to on their own realizing that some cars were, indeed, affected.
  • mikeg61mikeg61 Member Posts: 28
    This is Honda's M.O. They don't recall their cars they issue "technical bulletins" or silent recalls that you only find out about if you ask the dealer. I just sold my 94 Accord. It had 156,000 miles when I got rid of it. Less than 5,000 miles after I had the timing belt and water pump replaced (before the recommended 90,000 service), the seal blew out of the engine. Fortunately, it was in my driveway at the time, as the car lost nearly 2 quarts of oil in under 5 minutes.

    I fought with Honda's customer service for 5 months to get reimbursed for the cost of a second timing belt change, since the new one got saturated with oil and was unable to be reused.

    mdoneff- get the timing belt and water pump done at the same time, and count your blessings that the existing belt didn't break. When they do, the pistons normally hit the valves, and it gets pretty ugly when that happens.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    Well, I can't speak for Honda but five months is a long time. Sounds like they probably should have recognized the problem earlier. Eventually they did contact the owners of the affected models.
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Member Posts: 1,284
    Your dealer didn't install the retainer as part of the timing belt/water pump maintenance? Mine did. I didn't even ask them. I must say, though, that my local Honda store's service department has been outstanding. YMMV.
  • 4bearhug4bearhug Member Posts: 52
    I have the same question regarding recommended mileage for a timing belt replacement on a 96 Acura RL. My car has 88k and I wonder if I'm on borrowed time or can I go longer than the Accord before needing this done? Also, what other parts need to be replaced at the same time, is it just like the Accord or is mine different?

    Thanks for your help. I haven't found any specific discussion of this on the Acura site and hoped you might be able to help me.
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Member Posts: 1,284
    The maintenance intervals should be in the owner's manual. I'd say that you're definitely either on borrowed time or close to it. Get it done.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    The recommended mileage interval for timing belt change on your vehicle is listed here:

  • silvercoupesilvercoupe Member Posts: 326
    Not completely accurate. It shows 90k miles for 97 Honda Accord 4 cyl. and the manual shows 105k.
  • mikeg61mikeg61 Member Posts: 28
    The problem with the balance shaft seal occurred back in 1998, and Honda wouldn't acknowledge the problem when I called them. I've owned Hondas since 1985 and have never had this type of problem, which is why I called. I thought the least they could do was pay for 1/2 of the repair, since the Honda dealer didn't find any issues when the car was apart less than 5,000 miles before. That went nowhere. I did have the clip installed about a year ago, when Honda realized (finally) that they had a problem and the announcement came in the mail. Now the car's owned by somebody else.
  • gmlover1gmlover1 Member Posts: 60
    The best advice I can give to someone who owns a high mileage car is learn to fix it yourself, if you have to pay someone it will bleed you dry.
  • amoralesamorales Member Posts: 196
    Neighbor replaced timing belt on '92 Honda Civic. Orig. broke at 215,000 mi. No damage being it was a SOHC unit. Therefore not an interference engine. He replaced on a Sunday afternoon in about 4 hours and $22.00 for the belt. Best to replace at 90K. I don't know about the DOHC motors. If it breaks may cause severe damage. I prefer timing chain myself.

    Regards to all OHC engine lovers...
  • anon70anon70 Member Posts: 82
    My 93 sentra uses a timing chain and was told by nissan that it never needs to be replaced.

    So why don't car manufacturers go with timing chains? how much more can it cost them?

    Oh, i have 187k miles on my car and havent changed the water pump yet. My mechanic said that i'll know when the pump will START to go bad when i see small drops of antifreeze leaking on the ground. That's plenty of warning to bring it in before you start getting puddles.

    oh, where is the timing belt/pump? do they have to remove the transmission to get to it?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    The fact that 92 Civic is a SOHC engine has nothing to do with whether or not it's an interference engine. It IS in fact, an interference engine.

    Damage does not always occur either. Damage CAN happen. Your neighbor was both lucky and foolish for letting it go that long.

    Timing chains wear out too along with the gears and tenshioners.
  • amoralesamorales Member Posts: 196

    I stand corrected. However that timning pulley turned without the valves hitting the pistons.

    I had a '95 Ranger with SOHC 2.3L and changed the belt at 90K. Timing chains on OHV engines normally last until its time to rebuild.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Member Posts: 1,118
    I personally see nothing but problems with interference engines since I've had at least 3 timing belts break in as many years. This was true even though I replaced them at regular intervals. They all failed at 20,000 miles after replacement for various reasons. So I'm currently afraid of interference engines.

    What are their advantages, & how can we avoid destruction?
  • enetheneth Member Posts: 285
    The best answer is Toyota's - it uses belts on non-interference engines and chains on interference engines.

    Belts have advantages over chains - they're usually quieter, and they're simpler to engineer. Chains last longer - most of the time (ask many Saturn owners about that; at one point, they were well-known for 40-50,000 mile chain breakage).
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    I'm more afraid of bad repairs on my car than what comes from the factory. Why do you think so many replacement belts don't last as long as the originals? Many mechanics are in too much of a hurry to do it right.

    This is one major reasons Chrysler trannies have gotten a bad rap. They use unique transmission fluid that even some dealers don't fully understand. Never let a Jiffy-lube or place like that top off your tranny, they will destroy it.

    One can always go for a pushrod engine and avoid the problem entirely.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    For a timing belt to fail before the reccommended change interval. I can't understand how mrdetailer could possibly have had THREE belts fail at 20,000 miles!

    If a manufacturer says 90,000 miles, they full expect that the belt will probably last a lot longer than that.

    I mean...timing belts aren't a big deal! Just change them when you are supposted to. On Hondas built since 1997, it's 105,000 miles!

    Still, the new CRVS use a chain and I understand the 2003 Accords will too.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Member Posts: 1,118
    Belt one replaced at 120,000

    Idler arm stopped functioning and ate belt 140,000

    Tensioner Arm came loose and stripped belt at 160,000. Cam Seals leaked at the same time.

    This time on another car at 120,000 I replaced the tensioner arms, water pump and seals as well as the timing belt to avoid this fiasco.
  • rlhj2rlhj2 Member Posts: 2
    This may be a little off subject, but can anyone tell me the valve clearance for a 2000 accord 2.3 v-tec?
  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Member Posts: 398
    How often do you change the timing chain of a Maxima? Anyone know?
  • enetheneth Member Posts: 285

    Timing belt replacement is usually not that difficult - any competent mechanic can do the job properly.

    The Chrysler transaxles are another matter - there are those who would have you believe the fluid is the issue, but it is not. Yes, the wrong fluid can cause damage (and note that initially, Chrysler itself recommended Dexron). Even with the proper fluid, the units built before 2000 are still poorly engineered junk that fails despite proper maintenance.

    It is also true that timing belts are better than they used to be (it was about 10-15 years ago that Hondas were well known for eating timing belts at 40-50,000 miles - often taking the engine with them). I know several people who had trouble with Accords and Civics back then.
  • camryv6camryv6 Member Posts: 42
    My timeing belt of my 1989 honda accord makes a winning sound the day I bought it from somebody (not a dealer). I asked the person I bought the car from if they changed the timming belt and water pump and they said yes. Why does it make that winning sound.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    The usual cause is over-tightening.
  • bottgersbottgers Member Posts: 2,030
    A friend of mine and I just replaced the timing belt on my '84 Accord. It had about 85K miles on the exsisting belt, and it looked like it could've easily gone another 20-30K. Since this is an interference engine, I didn't want to take any chances. The job took about 4 hours.

    For those of you wondering about going longer before replacing your belt, first you need to find out if your engine is interference, or non-interference. You can do this by calling your local Honda dealer. If it's a non-interference engine, you can drive it 'til the belt breaks or gets thrown and it won't do any damage to the engine. It may strand you though. If a belt breaks or gets thrown in an interference engine, it's going to do some serious damage. I'm talking bent valves, dented pistons, etc. In these types of engines, I highly recommend changing the belt at the recommended interval.

    Replacing the water pump just because you have access to it is a waste of money. There's no need to replace it unless you know it's bad. It's very common for water pumps to last several hundred K miles.

    The issue of DC auto trannys has come up. While their trannys may not be as good as some others, nobody builds an auto tranny that will last. My Accord has a 5 speed manual, which had the clutch replaced at 160K miles. This car now has 175K miles. How many auto trannies would I have gone through by now? Probably at least 2. I don't know why auto trannies can't be built to last as long as manuals do. The only thing that goes in manuals is the clutch.
  • nato1nato1 Member Posts: 102
    When I had the t-belts replaced on my '94 accord, it also whinned, it was very noticable at first but then became almost noticable (5k miles).
    I myself would disagree with bottgers about not changing the water pump at the same time (provided that the pump is part of the t-belt path). For short money/cheap insurance the water pump can be replaced at the same time as the timing belt (added cost? $50-maybe $100, it would cover the cost of being towed).
    The longevity of water pumps has considerably lengthened, due to better seals and less corrosive antifreeze. Who would want to have to pay for the labor of replacing another timing belt with the water pump when the pump lets go and sends antifreeze all over? I've had the pump replaced with the belts, it's just a question of reliability and what day of the week the pump was made.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Member Posts: 1,118
    It had a surge in some electronic control components. check with the dealers about the reliability of water pumps. Subaru Said reliable, won't change. Mazda said they usually last about 130K on the average. Changed out at timing belt replacement, 120K.

    There's a lot of labor involved in modern cars and timing belts so after several expensive experiences I take care of things when the belt is being replaced.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    There are two theories of maintenance going on here.

    One is Preventative, more or less like fleets operate, or airlines

    The other is "As Needed", in response to a problem.

    Of course, with fleets or airlines, the safety and economics factors dictate a course of Preventative maintenance (in other words, you replace things at certain predicted fail rates, whether they are still good or not).

    With the average car owner, it depends very much on whether a high level of reliability, or long life, are important to you. If you live and drive in Alaska, you might swap out a water pump whether you need it or not. If you are a student on a budget in a big city, it might be completely unnecessary.
  • mralanmralan Member Posts: 174
    Honda's with problems? Hard to imagine on this board. But, the loyalist sure try to cover it up. No bashing like which is bestoyed on the domestics makers.

    One post stated, timing belts have advantages ... they're quiter. No they're CHEAPER to manufacture. If belts are so great why did Corolla change to changes in 98, and now even the great Hondas are changing to chains.
  • bottgersbottgers Member Posts: 2,030
    The reason I said I wouldn't change out the water pump on my Honda just because I had it apart, is because Honda water pumps don't self destruct like those on domestic cars do. It's very common for water pumps on Hondas to last 200K, or even 300K miles before they go. If a water pump on a domestic car lasts 100K, consider yourself very lucky. This also shows up in the price of these pumps. Most domestic pumps can be had for $20 or less. The Honda pumps can cost you anywhere from $50 to $150. You get what you pay for!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    If I had a HOnda with 120K on it and I just excavated the front of the engine for the timing belt, I'd sure put a water pump on it. It's just sitting there in plain view and to do it again later means another excavation.

    If it were an older car where access is not an issue, I might not do it, but on FWD with very tight engine compartments, I don't see why you'd want to take the chance.

    I rather doubt a Honda pump is engineered to go 300K, although a few might make that. Good engineers do not design some parts to outlast the rest of the car by a wide margin. This is wasteful and expensive and probably against corporate cost analysis procedures. If Honda is really doing this and charging $150 for a pump, they should make it last 200K and charge $75 for it, because the number of Hondas going to 300K are certainly less than 1%. It does the consumer no service to overbuild and charge a lot for that.

    Classic example is differentials, when studies showed that differentials were the one major component in wrecking yards that were not being re-used. That is, nobody needed used ones, or at least the demand was very very low in proportion to other powertrain items. Nowadays differentials are not build so massively, and they tend to fail just about when the car is worn out.

    Barring accidents, most cars are pretty much dead at 150K-175K. I think the average age of a car on the road is only about 9 years, so even 175K is optimistic.
  • bottgersbottgers Member Posts: 2,030
    You say less than 1% of Hondas see 300K miles. Where did you get this data? I'd say the percentage is much higher. Getting 300K out of a Honda or Toyota isn't that uncommon now days. 200K is pretty much normal. My Accord has 175K, and it has at least another 100K left in it. It runs and drives perfectly.
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    Shiftright said it very well. While most Honda water pumps probably could last well beyond 120,000 miles, I recently encountered a factory-installed pump leaking at 36,000. Whether doing the work myself or paying someone for the job, I consider it low-cost insurance to replace both the belt and pump once all the componentry on a transverse engine has been removed.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    bottgers: I'm only estimating what is probable. I'd doubt much more than 1% of Hondas, or 1% of any car, reaches 300K miles. The OLDEST 25% of America's used cars are in the 11 year bracket (see Road & Track, Feb 2002), so if we grant the average mileage of these old cars to be a very generous 12,500 a year, we are saying that the most ancient of our fleet is now at 137,000.

    To presume that more than a handful of these old cars will go another 2 & 1/2 times their current mileage (and it will take a car 24 years to do this) is not a reasonable presumption in my opinion.

    We see very few 1978 cars on the road (24 years old) as it is, and I'd bet you that if you stopped each one, you'd be at it for months before you found even one with 300K on it.

    At 1% of a best selling car (Camry, Accord, etc.), we'd have to say that 4,000 of these cars will last 24 years and make it to 300K. I'd say 1% is a reasonable guess of probability. 10% (40,000) sounds like way too many.

    I haven't personally seen a car with over 300K in over 5 years, and I'm around cars, lots, auctions, appraisals, etc. quite a bit, much more than the average lad.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    I've seen a few Hondas with 300,000 miles, but not many. I suspect they are around but the people who own them either work on them themselves or take them to a cut rate shop.

    I once toook in an 87 civic with 356,000 miles. The body was beat and the clutch was shot but it seemed to run well.

    A lot of these cars die in accidents before they get a chance to get the real high miles too.

    And, I think a Honda water pump is more like 50.00.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    You'll all be pleased to know that there seems to be a good deal of evidence that many automakers will be switching BACK to timing chains in their future engines.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,341
    Still, I never can understand why some people make such a big deal out of changing a timing belt. I mean, on a Honda it's every 105,000 miles!

    These same people think a timing chain never causes any problems....dream on!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    Real racing engines use neither...they use gears.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Member Posts: 1,118
    years ago at 125K. They are not idiot proof, and cost a heck of a lot more than a belt to replace.

    ISELL -- Cutrate. I stopped goint to dealers because their service was inconsistent. And, yes, they are often cheaper.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Member Posts: 1,118
    Due to a number of extra labor repairs when other components failes, like seals, idler arm, tensioner rings, and yes water pumps, replacing at a regular interval is what I intend on doing in the future. This last time I told the mechanic to replace anything that would require belt removal if it broke. He replaced the water pump and cam and crankshaft seals. Since I'm taking some long trips, I think it is worth the peace of mind. And it only cost $200 more.
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