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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought a 2000 Xterra- manual trans, 180,000 miles for my son about 1.5 years ago.

I have no idea when the last time was that the timing belt was changed.
The previous owner had it for 6 years, and my son now had it for 1.5 years.

Is there a way I can remove the cover and look at it and tell what kind of condition it is in and how much longer I can go?
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Also, I am thinking about my son and I just go ahead and replace it, so it's good for another 100,000 miles or 5-6 years. But I have never done this before.
I can work on cars from 1977- 2005 - brakes, water pumps, starters, calipers, Master cylinders,and changed a clutch on a 77 Ford pick up, fuel pump, etc..
but never opened an engine or transmission.

I did see a few videos and am tempted to give it a try. $75 for a kit versus $600-700 at the shop. If I make a mistake and the teeth are off 1 or 2 spaces, will I damage the valves or anything?
Say I make a mistake and it backfires or something is not right, can I simply remove the cover and check the alignments and correct it without having to take everything apart again?
 

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When you pull the cover off mark the cog wheels on your new belt. And im not sure how many but there should be x amount of teeth between the marks, Its not too hard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ok, I'd like to compare jobs....

Is it harder to take off the upper intake plenum or to change a timing belt? I did my first valve cover gasket replacement, which requires taking the upper intake off. While that was not fun, I would do it again just to save $500.
 

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They are both pretty simple but time consuming. I would say plenum is easyer if the bolts arent completely seized in like mine where. I still dont know how the hell im going to get the stupid thing off. Meanwhile a new set of valve cover gaskets stare me in the eye while it leaks oil =(
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I was lucky to have all 5 bolt come off easily on the intake plenum. On Youtube, if a bolt didn't come off, you just drill the head of the bolt off (vacuum the metal bits), then take off the plenum, then take vice grip pliers and clamp on the screw and twist the bolt like a screwdriver.

if you want a link to this video, let me know - I can find it pretty easy...
 

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I used the bolts off my pathfinder since they have a deeper socket for more torque. Chasing the threads and antisieze will help.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-N920A using Tapatalk
 

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I just did my timing belt and water pump over the weekend. It isn't that bad. Actually, removing the upper plenum was much worse. You do not need to remove the upper plenum to do the belt. Here are a few tips that might help. My timing belt did not have the correct timing marks, and the cam marks did not line up with the housing dimples exactly as I expected. The FSM says there should be 40 teeth in the belt between the two cam marks and there should be 43 teeth between the LH cam (driver's side) and crank timing marks. Don't skimp on components. I got the Aisin kit from Rock Auto for $123, and you will not find higher quality components at any price. Although, the exact same kit for my 4Runner was cheaper on Amazon.

I was in a similar situation where the PO did not know if the belt or water pump had ever been changed. After seeing how loose the belt was and knowing that the tension bearing was definitely original, I concluded that it had never been done. At 130k miles, I feel like I dodged a bullet. The plenum was more difficult for me because the coolant lines were nearly impossible to disconnect. I literally shredded one of the hoses trying to separate it, and bits of it were still stuck to the metal line after finally freeing it. Hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ok, then I have a few questions ( after looking at some forum advice here, Youtube, and the Chilton Manual).

1) Why do I need to remove the sparkplugs to turn the engine by hand to get TDC? I can't believe the pressure would prevent me from turning the engine.

2) One forum here said if a nut is hard to remove (I think the crankshaft pully nut). You can crank the engine a bit while having the socket resting against the frame of the Xterra to break the bolt loose. Is this necessary to replace the oil seal? No way the engine will turn the wrong way and actually break the nut or tighten it?

3) I want to cover all the bases while in this area. So I need to replace the waterpump, timing belt, oil seal (for Crankshaft only?), and tensioner. Anything else?

4) The belt can go on either way (mirror image) right?

5) The manual say NOT to let the crankshaft gear or the camshaft gears move when you remove the old belt. WHY? If you look at question 2, the gear will move, but I should be able to rotate it back to proper place. Or what happens if I make a mistake and need move the crankshaft gears just to get it to align in the right mark on the belt?

6) If the gears are off by 1 or 2 teeth, will that damage the engine? I am sure it will run terrible, then I know something is wrong and can go back and check the belt marks again. But I don't want to so this if valve damage can occur if the teeth are off by 1-2 marks. I am a perfectionist and do check everything twice. BUT I am human too and don't want to do this if damage can occur with it being off ONE tooth.

Anything else I need to be aware of?
 

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Removing the plugs will just make it easier to turn the motor over by hand. Not really needed but it makes it easier to position the cams because they are under tension.

The pulley bolt is really on there. Especially if it's the first time a t belt job has been done. If you don't have access to an impact, the bump start method has worked with varying degree.

Oil seal is not really necessary but should be since you're already there. I did mine every other job. Without a problem, again your mileage may vary.

Timing belt has no orientation. You can use the marks or make your own by counting teeth or transferring the marks from your current belt position.

Drain the block using the block drain bolt. This will alleviate excess coolant from pouring out when you remove the water pump.

Take your time. Also it helps to remove the distributor cap to make sure the rotor is pointing at #1 . It's another point of reference.

You could also replace your cam seals too but that would require you to remove the cam gears. I would leave the belt on when you break loose the bolts.

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Answers:
Cuong covered most of it, but here is a bit more. The reason you don't want the cam gears to turn during/after removing the timing belt is that it can easily snap to a different position. At top dead center on cylinder #1 , some of the valves are open on the other cylinders, and the spring tension can cause the cam to turn to a position where the valve springs have less tension. If this happens, a valve can hit one of the pistons, resulting in a bent valve.

Keep track of the mounting bolts and their locations for the water pump and lower timing belt cover. They are not all the same length.

Using the starter to loosen the crank bolt has never failed me. Not saying that it can't break the bolt, but that thing is a beast, and it would take a lot of force to break it. Tightening the bolt was a bigger challenge. See my recent thread "Loose Timing Belt" for more info on this.

Installing the timing belt incorrectly (off by one or two teeth) will probably not damage the engine if you are hand-cranking it. However, the higher the RPMs, the more risk you have of damage. I wouldn't start the engine until you are certain that all the timing marks line up. After you put the belt on, hand crank it two full rotations to make sure that the cam and crank marks still align with the timing cover dimples and crank TDC mark. The belt marks will no longer be in the right place, so they can only be used as a reference when you initially install the belt.

As Cuong said, removing the distributor cap is the easiest way to make sure that cylinder #1 is top dead center on the compression stroke (rotor pointed at #1 terminal). However, I put the cap back on to protect the distributor while working.

I would not trust Chilton or Haynes manuals. I have heard stories of incorrect torque specifications, spark plug gaps, etc. The Nissan factory service manual has zero errors, and the PDF is easily found for free online.

You will most likely need a pulley puller to remove the harmonic balancer. When you use this tool, make sure that the bolt is loose but still threaded in place. The force required to loosen the pulley can cause it to shoot off the crank like a shotgun blast.

I'll post again if I think of anything else. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I decided to just take it in. Too many variables and if ONE thing is not put back together right, I can damage the engine.
 

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Sooner,
It definitely sounds worse than it is. I've done it twice. Give yourself a day or two, get all the parts in hand before you start, and read some of the many threads here about timing replacement before you dive in. You can do it! Especially if you already did the plenum, that thing is annoying. (It shouldn't take two days but if you have that much carved out, you should be fine.)

Putting it back together wrong won't necessarily damage the engine (as I've also proven by making mistakes.) Of course it's best to go step by step and do it right the first time. I've personally avoided the cam seals for the simple reason that they don't leak (yet).

I found it to be a lot of fun, really. Especially when it starts up again and you know you've done it!
 

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Sooner,
It definitely sounds worse than it is. I've done it twice. Give yourself a day or two, get all the parts in hand before you start, and read some of the many threads here about timing replacement before you dive in. You can do it! Especially if you already did the plenum, that thing is annoying. (It shouldn't take two days but if you have that much carved out, you should be fine.
Agreed!
 
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