DIY Honda Accord, Acura CL Timing Belt & Water Pump Replacement / F23 (With Video)
The Honda F23 series engine is a 2.3 liter, all aluminum block, 16 valve, Single Overhead Camshaft (SOHC) motor used in the Honda Accord (1994 - 2002) and Acura Cl (2.3). Timing belt failure may result in either the intake or exhaust valves bending after contacting the pistons. If the belt has broken, a Compression Leakage test is advised to determine if the valves require replacement. Compression leakage from any of the cylinders (indicating bent valves) will require the removal of the cylinder head. An inspection and rebuild of the head by a reputable automotive machine shop is recommended in lieu of doing it yourself. This DIY article only covers belt replacement.
The belt replacement interval is either 90,000 or 105,000 miles based on the specific model year. Check the owner's manual for the specific service interval. If the mileage is below the threshold but the vehicle is over 7 years old, consider performing a replacement as preventative maintenance (PM). Timing belts cannot be visually inspected for wear. Moreover, a visual inspection would require the removal of the timing belt cover which in itself is time consuming and better spent working on replacement.
A typical timing belt component kit consists of: 1. Timing Belt 2. Balance Shaft Belt. 3. Timing Belt Tensioner Pulley. 4. Balance Shaft Tensioner Pulley.
Gates is an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) supplier for Honda; other OEM's include , Dayco and Continental to name a few. No premature belt failures / problems have been encountered with any of these brand suppliers - therefore replacement with Honda original parts is not necessary. *Note: Honda, Toyota, Nissan, etc. do not make their own replacement parts. They subcontract the manufacture of original and replacement parts and stamp their name on it. If belt longevity is of concern, only purchase a High Saturated Nitrile (HSN) belt within a belt component kit. To avoid a repeat belt replacement job due to a Belt Tensioner Pulley Bearing failure, replace the bearings with the new belts. Aisin
If the cooling system appears murky or has been replaced by anything other than Honda coolant, consider replacing the water pump. Coolant replenishment / replacement with non Honda coolant containing borates and silicates will compromise the pump's rubber seals and aluminum and will eventually fail. If the coolant is still Honda original, a simple drain and fill with new Honda coolant would be adequate.
The valve cover must be removed or raised to remove the upper timing belt cover. A new valve cover gasket is highly recommended to avoid future gasket leaks. If the gasket had never been replaced, using the existing gasket with the valve cover bolt grommets and the spark plug tube seals will more than likely result in oil seepage or leaks. Applying RTV sealant to the old gasket does not work to stop or prevent oil leaks from the valve cover gasket.
Since the F23 engine rotates counter-clockwise and in the absence of impact driver that generates over 150lbs of torque, a Honda Crankshaft Pulley Holder tool must be used to keep the pulley from moving when attempting to relieve tension on the Crankshaft Pulley bolt. However, the Pulley Bolt could possibly be removed with a manual transmission Honda by keeping the car in gear with the wheels on the ground and the parking brakes on.
F23 Timing Belt Part Cross Reference
1997 - 1999
Accord DX, LX, EX
1994 - 2002
1998 - 1999
Video of 2.3L I4 F23 Honda Accord Timing Belt, Water Pump & Component Replacement
The video below provides a step-by-step procedure for performing a timing belt, water pump, camshaft seal, crankshaft seal, valve cover gasket, valve cover bolt grommets and spark plug tube seals replacement on the F23 Honda Accord. Detailed text instructions with photos are available below the video.
Remove the Crankshaft Pulley Bolt
1. Support the engine with a jack. Use a wood plank to prevent damage to the oil pan.
2. If no high torque impact driver is available, and assuming the Honda Crankshaft Pulley Holder Tool is on hand, secure the tool in the pulley. Connect a long 1/2" breaker bar to the tool and lodge the bar to the ground. Otherwise, you can use a high mass impact socket with a moderate powered impact driver tool to remove the crankshaft pulley. like this one
3. Remove the crankshaft pulley bolt with a breaker bar attached to long extension to clear the fender. The extension must be supported to offset the force needed to removed the bolt (usually one's body weight with momentum.)
Remove the Accessory Belts
1. Remove the Power Steering Pump Belt.
2. Remove the Alternator and Air Conditioner Belt.
Valve Cover - Remove or loosen all bolts & detach Plug Wires
The upper timing belt cover cannot be removed unless the valve cover is either removed or tilted up from the upper timing belt cover. If the tilt method is to be used, disconnect (no necessary to remove) the ignition wire for each plug and remove the valve cover bolts.
Set Crankshaft Pulley to Top-Dead-Center (TDC)
Temporarily screw back in the crankshaft pulley bolt and used a ratchet wrench to turn the motor to align the crankshaft pulley top-dead-center (TDC) mark with the lower timing belt cover timing alignment indicator. Set the ratchet wrench to counter-clockwise rotation and with a quick snap of the wrist, remove the tension on the pulley bolt and screw off. If the timing mark is slightly mis-aligned, re-adjust with you hands.
*Note: Easier method of crankshaft TDC alignment. If the spark plugs are removed, the crankshaft can be turned by hand.
Remove the Crankshaft Pulley after TDC alignment.
Remove Upper & Lower Timing Belt Cover
1. Remove the bolts that secure the upper timing belt cover and detach the wire harness recessed in the cover. Pull out the Oil Dip stick and tube. A back and forth twisting motion on the tube will free it loose. After the bolts have been removed, and assuming the valve cover is still on the engine, tilt up the timing belt side of the valve cover to allow the upper belt cover to be removed. A small crowbar can be used to keep the valve cover tilted up while the upper belt cover is removed.
2. Remove the bolts that secure the low timing belt cover.
3. Remove the bolts that secures the side engine mount and remove the mount.
Apply Paint Marks for belt alignment
If the number 1 cylinder is at Top-Dead-Center (TDC) on the compression stroke, the camshaft pulley marking of 'UP' should be approximately or slightly pass the 12 o'clock position. Applying paint marks to the camshaft pulley juxtaposed to the backing plate will allow realignment if the camshaft were to shift after timing belt removal.
Apply paint marks to the three pulleys that drives the balance shafts.
Remove the Balance Shaft Belt and Timing Belt
There are two tensioner pulley bearings secured to the engine through one common bolt stud; the Timing Belt Tensioner pulley and the Balance Shaft Tensioner pulley. It may appear complex or confusing but no too bad to work with taking it one step at a time.
1. Detach the Pulley Bracket Tensioner Spring from the mounting stud on the engine.
2. Remove the Pulley Bracket Nut.
3. Remove the Tensioner Bolt (or Nut) that secures the two tensioner pulleys and remove only the Balance Shaft Tensioner Pulley.
4. Remove the Balance Shaft Belt.
5. Remove the Balance Shaft center pulley (it is attached to the crankshaft and will slide off.)
6. Temporarily re-attach the Balance Shaft Tensioner puller and hand tighten the Tensioner Bolt.
7. Using needle nose or vice grip pliers, remove the timing belt tensioner pulley spring.
8. With the Tensioner Bolt being finger tight, between the camshaft and cranshaft, twist the timing belt 90 degrees. If there was any high residual tension on the belt, the twisting of the belt will remove the tension to ease belt removal and installation.
9. To be absolutely certain on new belt installation, apply paint marks on the belt where the belt meets both the crankshaft and camshaft pulleys; then apply paint marks on the pulleys to match the belt. After belt removal, transfer the paint marks to the new belt. This will ensure that you will not be off by a single cog after installation of the new belt.
10. Remove the Tensioner Bolt, Balance Shaft Tensioner Bearing, Timing Belt and the Timing Belt Tensioner Bearing.
(Optional) Remove Old Water Pump / Install New Water Pump
If the Water Pump is leaking through the weep hole or the bearing seems worn, replacement is advised. Worn bearings can be detected when the gear is hand turned and appears to 'hang' or stop on specific spots during rotation. There are 5 bolts that secure the water pump to the engine. A rubber O ring maintains the seal. If installing a new pump, an installation of a new O ring is advised. Hand tighten all the bolts then apply the final torque with a 3/8 socket wrench. Do not over torque.
Install New Timing Belt & Balance Shaft Belt
1. Install the new Timing Belt Tensioner Bearing, Balance Shaft Tensioner Bearing, Tensioner Bolt (finger tight) and the Timing Belt Tensioner Bearing Spring. Push down the Timing Belt Tensioner Bearing to extend the Bearing Spring and tighten the Tensioner Bolt.
2. Starting from the Crankshaft Sprocket, position the new timing belt on the sprocket (with the paint marks) and fit the new belt on the Tensioner Bearing, Water Pump and the Camshaft. If paint alignment marks were used, check for paint mark match up.
3. Temporarily remove the Balance Shaft Tensioner bearing. The Timing Belt Tensioner Bearing will stay in place but will be slightly cocked. This is okay and don't mess with it.
4. Re-attached the Balance Shaft Center Pulley.
5. Starting from the left balance shaft, attached the new balance shaft belt not disrupting the paint alignment marks. Keep the belt on with the plastic alligator clip. Fit the belt under the Balance Shaft Center Pulley and then to the right side balance shaft.
6. While hold the right side balance shaft belt in place, attach the Balance Shaft Tensioner bearing. Check the paint mark on the right side balance shaft for alignment. If mis-aligned, remove the bearing, adjust the belt and try again. Once everything is aligned, finger tighten the Tensioner bolt.
7. Attach the Tensioner Bracket, Tensioner Bolt (finger tight) and the Tensioner Bracket Spring.
8. With the Tensioner bolt finger tight, apply upward finger pressure on the Timing Belt bearing. This will remove any timing belt slack. Apply downward finger pressure on the Balance Shaft bearing.
9. Tighten the Tensioner Bolt and the Tensioner Bracket Bolt.
Re-install the following:
1. Side Engine Mount Bracket.
2. Lower timing belt cover.
3. Upper timing belt cover with Oil Dip Stick.
4. Crankshaft Pulley
5. Alternator / Air Conditioner Belt
6. Power Steering Belt
7. Valve cover with ignition wires.
8. Side Engine Mount.
9. Add coolant if the water pump was replaced.
10. Remove the engine support jack.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Can I start the motor of my Honda Accord before I replace the timing belt cover?