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· Registered
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This is my first post on this forum so I hope I don't commit any
newbie mistakes.

I'm replacing the timing belt on my '93 Pathfinder.

I bought the vehicle from a relative who didn't replace the original belt when he should have. The belt didn't completely break, but two teeth broke off completely, and a third was barely hanging on. The driver was doing about
60 mph at the time and said he put the vehicle in neutral (automatic transmission) and pulled off the road without trying to start it again as he was quite certain the belt was gone.

I replaced the belt using an aftermarket belt I purchased at PartSource.
Manufacturer is Continental Contitech.

When I installed the belt I wasted the usual amount of time trying to locate the crankshaft timing mark on the block - I read in another thread that this is a common problem.

When I couldn't find the mark, I did it the hard way by putting the number 1 cylinder at TDC on the compression stroke. I then counted the teeth between the marks on the timing belt and found they lined up exactly with the timing marks on all three sprockets (i.e. both camshaft sprockets and the crankshaft sprocket).

The potential problem started when I installed the belt tension pulley. I followed the instructions in the Chilton manual and found the section on belt tension to be absolutely ambiguous.

The instructions call for you to insert a feeler gauge between the belt and the tension pulley while applying 22 pounds of pressure on the belt between the tension pulley and the left (viewed from the front of the engine) camshaft pulley. After setting the tension the instructions indicate the belt should have moved 2.5 teeth. Of course they don't indicate the reference point you're supposed to use - that or I'm not smart enough to figure it out.

I showed the instructions to several people more mechanically inclined than myself and none of them had any clue what the Chilton writer was talking about. If someone can enlighten me on that issue I would appreciate it.

I found the thread that described the method for setting correct belt tension by setting the tension so that the belt can be turned 90 degrees between the two camshaft pulleys, so that's the technique I used.

Before I installed the tensioner pulley, all three timing marks lined up exactly with the exact number of teeth between each pulley. Once I had the tensioner pulley installed, I found that the top left pulley (again, viewed from the front of the engine) was out of alignment -see video at the following URL:

YouTube - Nissan Pathfinder Timing Belt Replacement.

The mark you see on the block for the crankshaft was made by me. I didn't want to take the skid plate off so I had to make the mark viewed from above
so it isn't necessarily 100% accurate. I can tell you that the piston in the number 1 cylinder is at TDC.

Can any of you tell me if this is normal to have one of the camshaft timing marks out of alignment once the tensioner pulley is on? If it isn't normal, can you offer any suggestions as to what I did wrong?


Calgary, Alberta, Canada

· Moderator
3,604 Posts
IIRC that's normal because the belt being tensioned pulls the cam sprockets slightly apart. It should be fine. :)

· Registered
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you "88pathoffroad".

It was your posts that I found the most informative and I was hoping you would respond.

I can now finish the rebuild with confidence.

One last issue, if you have the time to respond:

Given the belt jumped three teeth (I know it didn't go much further than this because when I replaced the belt I only had to rotate one of the camshafts back about 10-15 degrees), is there a reasonable chance that there was no valve damage?

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