1987 Nissan Maxima Timing Belt Tensioner Installation Instructions

Your 1987 Nissan Maxima is equipped with the VG30i six-cylinder, 3.0-liter engine. Engine timing is accomplished using a belt driving by the crankshaft driving the camshaft. This belt uses a spring-loaded tensioner to keep the proper tension on the timing belt. When the tensioner stops doing its job, belt can skip teeth and cause the engine timing to be incorrect, causing the engine to run poorly or not at all. When this happens, the tensioner should be replaced as soon as possible.

Tools Used: Jack, Jack stand, Drain pan, Radiator drain extension, Wrench set, Socket set, Ratchet, Extension, Straight screwdriver, Torque wrench, Gasket scraper, Allen wrench set, Blue RTV, Water pump gasket, New timing belt tensioner

Install Timing Belt Tensioner

Place the drain pan under the cooling system drain valve and open the valve by turning it counterclockwise by hand. Remove the radiator cap by pressing down while turning counterclockwise. Loosen the pivot and adjusting bolts on the alternator, AC compressor and power steering pump by turning the bolts counterclockwise with a socket and ratchet. The power steering tensioner turns clockwise to loosen. Mark the outside edge of the belt and what accessory it drives (AC/Power steering/Alternator) with a pen and remove the belts. Close the drain valve. Move the pan under the passenger side (front) of the engine.

Loosen the lug nuts on the passenger front wheel by turning them counterclockwise with the lug wrench. Place the jack under the frame of the car behind the passenger front wheel, and raise the jack until the wheel clears the ground. Place the jack stand under the frame, and lower the car onto it. Remove the lug nuts and wheel. Remove the clips securing the mud flap to the frame.

Loosen the clamps on the upper radiator hose by turning the screws on them counterclockwise with the screwdriver. There will be four in total. Twist and pull the hose to remove both sections.

Remove the bolts securing the water pump to the engine by turning them counterclockwise with a socket and ratchet. Make note of which bolts came from which hole as they are different in size. Grasp the front of the water pump and pull up and out to remove it.

Turn the bolt in the center of the crankshaft clockwise with a socket and ratchet until the timing mark on the pulley lines up with the zero on the timing cover. Remove the bolts securing the timing covers to the engine by turning them counterclockwise with a ratchet and socket. Remove the covers.

Verify that the timing marks on the sprockets line up with the corresponding marks (arrows or dots) on the engine. Rotate the engine clockwise using the ratchet and socket to correct discrepancies. Remove the bolts securing the tensioner to the block by turning them counterclockwise with a socket and ratchet. Remove the tensioner and return spring.

Remove the bolts securing the tensioner to the engine by turning them counterclockwise with a socket and ratchet, and remove the tensioner and spring.

Install the return spring and the new tensioner and thread the bolt into the tensioner and block by turning it clockwise by hand. Adjust the tensioner by turning it both directions two or three times with an Allen wrench. Torque the tensioner lock nut to between 32 and 43 foot-pounds.

Install the upper and lower timing belt covers, and start the bolts by turning them clockwise by hand. Tighten these bolts to approximately 10 foot-pounds with a socket and ratchet.

Scrape the old gasket material from all water pump mating surfaces on the engine and the pump using the gasket scraper. Apply a thin bead of RTV Blue to the pump surfaces and position the gasket. Apply a thin bead of sealant to the gasket and old the water pump in place. Replace the screws, remembering the different sizes and thread them by turning them clockwise by hand. Torque the smaller bolts to between seven and nine foot-pounds and the larger bolts to between 12 and 15 foot-pounds.

Reinstall the accessory drive belts, paying attention to the direction of rotation and accessory.

Tighten the alternator belt by turning the tensioner bolt clockwise using a socket and ratchet. Tighten the adjuster and pivot bolts. Turn the power steering tensioner bolt counterclockwise with a ratchet and socket to tension the belt. Tighten the idler pullet screw. Do the same thing for the AC belt.

Press the upper radiator hose ends over the fittings on the radiator and engine to attach it. Tighten the clamps by turning them clockwise using the screwdriver.

Refill the cooling system. Start the engine, and allow it to warm up to operating temperature. Check underneath for leaks. Top off the coolant level as needed.

Hang the passenger front wheel on the studs, and turn the lug nuts clockwise by hand until finger tight. Raise the jack to lift the car off the stand and remove the stand. Lower the car until the wheel makes contact with the ground. Torque the lug nuts in a star pattern to 90 foot-pounds. Lower the car.

Tips & Warnings

Used coolant should be recycled. Contact your local parts store for locations that provide this service.

References given are for a truck with the same engine. The procedure is the same.

Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from coolant splashes.

Place blocks in front of and behind the driver side rear wheel to protect the car from rolling.

Never perform this type of work in a driveway.

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