How to Replace the Timing Belt on a 1987 Nissan Sentra

The 1987 Nissan Sentra comes with a 1.6-liter engine. The manufacturer has identified this engine as an interference engine. If the timing belt stretches beyond the scope of the tensioner or breaks, the possibility of the valves hitting the pistons and causing extreme engine damage is high. Nissan recommends that you change the timing belt every 60,000 miles or 48 months, whichever comes first. It takes about three hours to change the timing belt on this vehicle.

Tools Used: Set of wrenches, Floor jack, Jack stands, Set of sockets, Long screwdriver

Replace Timing Belt

Disconnect the battery cable and move it to the side. Do not allow it to rest on anything metal. Jack up the vehicle and support it on jack stands. Remove the right lower splash guard using the appropriate socket. Remove the right wheel house splash guard using a socket. Remove the right engine mount bracket with a socket.

Remove the three drive belts. Loosen the lock nut on the idler then loosen the adjusting bolts on the idler until the belt is slack enough to lift off the pulleys. Loosen the bracket bolts on the alternator, then push the alternator inward to loosen and remove the alternator belt. Loosen the lock nut under the power steering pump then loosen the adjusting bolt to loosen the belt enough to lift off the pulleys.

Number the spark plug wires so you know where they go when you put them back on. Pull off the spark plug wires then remove the spark plugs from the head. Stick a long screwdriver into the number 1 cylinder (the cylinder closest to the timing belt). Turn the crankshaft until you feel the piston, via the screwdriver, come to the top of the piston hole. Check the timing marks. If the mark on the crankshaft is not lined up at the 6 o’clock position with the mark on the block, turn the engine over one more time while holding the screwdriver in the number 1 hole. This time, when the piston pushes the screwdriver near the top, the timing marks should line up.

Remove the water pump pulley and the crankshaft pulley bolt using the appropriate sockets. Pull the crankshaft pulley off. Unbolt and remove the upper and lower timing belt covers with the socket. Check the timing marks to ensure they are still aligned.

Loosen the timing belt tensioner nut. Turn the tensioner clockwise then tighten the nut just enough to hold the tensioner in place. Lift the timing belt off the pulleys and discard.

Install the timing belt starting on the crankshaft sprocket then the intermediate shaft sprocket (located to the left of the crankshaft sprocket as you are looking down at the engine). Route the belt over the top of the camshaft then down to the inside of the tensioner pulley, keeping the timing belt tight on the non-tensioned side (the left side as you are looking at the engine).

Loosen the tensioner nut. The tensioner will fall into place. Do not retighten it. Turn the camshaft two teeth clockwise to engage the tensioner. Hold the tensioner so that it does not turn while you are tightening the bolt. Tighten the tensioner bolt to 15 foot-pounds of torque. Reinstall the rest of the parts in reverse order of removal. Torque the crankshaft pulley bolt to 90 foot-pounds.

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