October 23

2005 Acura MDX Timing Belt Tensioner Replacement



Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience, 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about an Acura MDX 2005, there was something going on with the timing belt, what was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, so this vehicle came into our shop, it had a rather loud engine noise, a very very loud engine noise which we determined to be coming from the timing belt area of the engine.

Mark: And what did you discover?

Bernie: Well we discovered that the timing belt tensioner, it’s a hydraulic unit, that is basically an oil filled hydraulic unit that keeps the timing belt tension tight. This unit had failed causing the timing belt to just flap around. It’s a good thing the owner didn’t drive it too long because if the unit actually, you know if were to go too long, the timing belt would actually jump teeth, strip, cause engine damage. So this is what we found. I’ll just go straight into some picture sharing right now and we’ll have a look at some stuff. Here’s a view of it with the timing belt cover off, there’s the timing belt here and there’s the tensioner pulley which is basically a very large bearing and a pulley and that’s the tensioning unit. This is the piece that failed. There’s a little shaft in here and there again as I mentioned, there’s an oil pressure, it’s a sealed unit but there’s oil pressure and springs inside and what happens is it keeps a good solid tension on the timing belt and this unit failed. So we could actually,  if you grabbed this timing belt you could actually flop this thing back and forth, that’s what was happening of course when the engines running, it’s going at high speed there’s a lot of opposing forces. So it causes this thing to flap back and forth causing one hell of a racket. Fortunately, you know there’s enough tolerance built in where the belt doesn’t skip any teeth immediately but it could certainly happen pretty quick. Here’s a view of our car and going on to the actual tensioner. So here’s the unit here, side view unit, this is the, we call it the grenade pin, I’ll explain that in a second and here’s a sort of front view, again there’s that plunger piston at the top view. Now the reason they have this pin here is because this unit is actually kept under tension and after you install the unit, you’ve got the timing belt all lined up then you pull the pin out and then that pops the tension in place. You can also collapse this unit in a vice but we always replace this part, always always always, just because they can fail without warning.

Mark: So the tension adjusted isn’t always replaced with the timing belt or is it?

Bernie: Well if you actually look in a repair manual, at the procedures, they suggest you don’t have to, we always do and this actual belt had been replaced at a shop recently, we actually repaired it for another shop, it was kind of an emergency repair, but they said it had been replaced. I’m not certain if it had been or not, it’s hard to tell the age of a part sometimes when they sit inside covers but he said that they had a complete kit and replaced it. But it’s possible they may not have, but I learned a long time ago I had a vehicle, it was a Hyundai actually, it said you don’t need to replace the tensioner. So of course trying to keep the customer’s cost down, follow the procedure, locked it back in and you can clamp the tensioner down in a vice, put a pin back in, put it in, a day later there’s a horrible noise coming from the engine, the tensioner had failed. So we’ve just learned that there’s just no, for the cost of the part, it’s not worth the risk for us and for the customer.  So yeah, it can be done without it and if you look through a repair manual often it will say as long as it holds the tension it’s fine but again it’s a part that can just fail without warning. So that’s why we replace it.

Mark: So is it fairly common for this part to fail would you say or is it not?

Bernie: Not that often, they don’t fail very often but they do from time to time. We had another vehicle a while back a Mitsubishi of some sort where again that part, that piece had failed and caused again the same kind of horrible noise, so they do from time to time they do but not really common.

Mark: And this is something in all timing chain or timing belt vehicles?

Bernie: No not all timing belt vehicles. Anything newer and I say newer meaning if we go back to maybe the mid to late 90’s they started using them a lot more frequently but not all vehicle even into the 2000’s used them. It really depends on the vehicle but it is pretty common yeah, not every vehicle but most.

Mark: So there you go and how are Acura MDX’s for reliability?

Bernie: Yeah, really good car, you know the older ones do have timing belts so that’s a maintenance item that one needs to deal with but I mean other than that it’s a really solid vehicle you know good for two to three hundred thousand kilometres quite easily without a lot of expense and certainly always a nice vehicle to drive. So, it’s a Honda product so you know generally good.

Mark: So there you go, if you’re looking for maintenance on your Acura in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, they’re busy or check out their  website pawlikautomotive.com or our YouTube channel just search Pawlik Automotive Repair. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thank you Mark.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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