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Discussion Starter #1
So I've been following the sticky about doing the timing belt, trying to save myself $500 in labor or so. Any way, I have it all taken apart to where I can get at the old belt but I'm running into my own skepticism and would just like to know one basic thing here.

First of all, when I put the new belt on, is it safe for me to start up the engine for a few seconds without putting everything I took off back in, just to make sure that it's installed properly and there's nothing hitting things that shouldn't be hit? It took me a while to get everything out and I want to make sure it's done right. I think this should be OK, the only thing really removed that I could think of that matters is the alternator and the radiator, and if I only run it for a few seconds it shouldn't overheat.

I'll just mention that I got a factory replacement belt, and I know that I'm supposed to line up the lines on the belt with the punch marks on the cam gears and the crank gear and the ones on the engine that they line up with. I just would like to start it up real fast before putting everything else back in if this is possible.

I am fairly confident of my mechanical abilities but I would just like a sanity check here. This is my first time ever doing maintenance this big, and my first time doing a timing belt for any vehicle.
 

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The best route is to put a wrench on the crankshaft and turn the crank by hand (clockwise in the vehicles I have owned) at least four times over. If anything has been mis-aligned, you'll find it either by hearing or when you find you cannot turn the crank. This way you'll not damage anything. If you wish, you can remove the spark plugs so that you're not fighting compression as you turn the crank, but it isn't necessary.

I would never start the engine without turning the crank by hand first.

Good luck with your work!
 

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The best route is to put a wrench on the crankshaft and turn the crank by hand (clockwise in the vehicles I have owned) at least four times over. If anything has been mis-aligned, you'll find it either by hearing or when you find you cannot turn the crank. This way you'll not damage anything. If you wish, you can remove the spark plugs so that you're not fighting compression as you turn the crank, but it isn't necessary.

I would never start the engine without turning the crank by hand first.

Good luck with your work!
+1.

Also, don't be alarmed if your engine runs slightly rougher than you would expect; it will run a bit more smoothly after you reattach the crank pulley and install the accessory belts.

Best of luck, and enjoy that extra $500 :)
 

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Most garages I spoke to charge around $200 labor for timing belt.
I think the $500 figure was more of a ballpark than a price quote.

A dealership in my area will charge you around $400 labor for full timing belt service on a VG33E, but that also includes replacement of the water pump, thermostat, and belt tensioner.
 

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hey man let me know about how long it took you to do it all and how it works out i'm in need to do mine buta little short on funds and could do it myself just dont want the fus
 

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Discussion Starter #7
OK it's almost 1:30 and I've been working nearly non-stop for the past 11 hours or so (I had already removed everything down to the old timing belts prior to starting on it today). It was worthwhile though, as a poor college student I appreciate saving $500 or whatever. A couple of things I came across though:

I accidentally stripped one of the accessory belt tensioners. So now my power steering is kind of iffy. Basically I couldn't get it off when I was removing the accessory belts, so I just undid the bracket. Well, the new belt is too tight for where the pulley is stuck, so I just put the old belt back on. I'll probably have to order a new pulley bracket I think. I guess I'll just have the dealer put the two outside accessory belts on for me, they have to flush the coolant system and reset the check engine light for me any way.

I noticed my coolant was nearly black when I drained it out. I only drained enough of it out to get to the things I needed to get to, so I think I'm going to have the dealer flush it out for me. Dealing with old engine coolant on this job was not fun, as I only have the apartment parking lot to work in.

Also, is there some kind of trick to getting the radiator fan cowling back on? It was a beast!

All in all, it was a good learning experience. I have never even assisted in a timing belt replacement. In retrospect, however, without a garage and some other tools (harmonic puller, two M6 x 1.00 x 80 bolts and large washers for the harmonic puller, and an impact wrench) and an easier way to collect coolant, it probably would have been better to pay to get it done, but mostly because I needed my truck faster than I was able to do the work. Plus they probably wouldn't have stripped out that tensioner pulley like I did, or they'd at least have to replace it for me. But apart from that, I would definitely recommend doing it yourself. It's a lot of work but it's cheap and rewarding.
 

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... All in all, it was a good learning experience. ...
When I did my first timing belt on my '92 Mitsu, people told me that I could do it easily on a Saturday. TV shows on Spike and Speed also seem to promote the lie that automotive work goes quickly and happliy. I've found like you have, that there are always surprises along the way. Too, my standards are high and it takes extra time.

Congratulations on your successful work!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Oh I also meant to mention, after putting the new belt on and making sure the marks all lined up nicely, I cranked the engine over two complete revolutions just to listen to see if anything was hitting. Nothing was so I decided to start the engine then and there. Everything went fine! I only ran it for about fifteen seconds but this is OK to do if anyone else was wondering.

Also, the timing belt kit from Courtesy Nissan comes with some parts you won't need, like crankshaft/camshaft seals and a new rod for the tensioner to sit on. Just FYI.

Any way, thanks to me for answering my own original question! Awesome.
 
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