How to Replace a Timing Belt on a 1987 Ford Mustang 2.3L

The 1987 Mustang belongs to the third generation of this series, which was in production from 1979 to 1993. It had a choice of several engines, including a four- cylinder 2.3-liter engine. This engine uses a timing belt to ensure that the cylinder valves open and close at the correct point in the cylinder's compression cycle. The timing belt for a 1987 Mustang with a 2.3-liter engine should last about 60,000 miles before requiring replacement.

Tools Used: Socket wrench set, Torque wrench

Replace Timing Belt

Remove the access plug on the outer timing belt cover with a socket wrench. Turn the crankshaft clockwise to align the timing mark on the crankshaft sprocket with the timing mark on the engine block. The timing mark on the camshaft sprocket must also align with the timing mark on the inner cover of the timing belt.

Loosen the adjuster bolts for the accessory drive belts with a socket wrench, and remove the drive belts. Disconnect the cooling fan and its pulley from the hub of the water pump. Remove the mounting bolt for the outer cover of the timing belt, and disconnect the timing belt cover. Detach the distributor cap from the distributor so you can push the distributor cap out of the way.

Loosen the adjustment and pivot bolts for the timing belt tensioner with a socket wrench. Pull the tensioner away from the timing belt as far as possible and tighten the adjustment bolt to hold the tensioner in place. Disconnect the crankshaft pulley and the guide plate for the timing belt that is behind the pulley. Remove the timing belt.

Install the new timing belt over the crankshaft sprocket, auxiliary drive shaft sprocket and camshaft sprocket in that order. Center the timing belt on the sprockets. Loosen the adjustment bolt on the timing belt tensioner with a socket wrench to place tension on the timing belt.

Turn the crankshaft two complete turns clockwise to remove the slack in the timing belt, and ensure the timing marks are aligned. Tighten the adjustment bolt on the timing belt tensioner to between 14 and 21 ft. lbs. with a torque wrench. Tighten the pivot bolt on the belt tensioner to between 28 and 40 ft. lbs.

Connect the distributor cap to the distributor. Install the guide plate for the timing belt, outer timing belt cover and crankshaft pulley with a socket wrench. Connect the pulley for the water pump and the cooling fan. Install the accessory drive belts and adjust their tension. Start the engine and check the timing of the ignition.

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