The tensioner is crucial to the Honda Accord’s timing belt system. After prolonged use, it can wear out after prolonged use and fail to properly maintain timing belt tension. Replacing a faulty tensioner is critical to prevent serious engine damage. In this article, I’ll use my expertise to detail the steps, tools, and tips to replace your Honda Accord tensioner smoothly.
How To Replace Honda Accord Tensioner?
With proper preparation and the right tools, replacing the tensioner can be accomplished in under an hour. Here are the key steps:
Before starting any repair, ensure the car is in PARK (automatic) or NEUTRAL (manual) with the parking brake set. Disconnect the negative battery terminal to avoid any electrical shorts.
Accessing the Tensioner
The tensioner is located on the passenger side of the engine near the timing belt. You must remove components like the air intake assembly, engine covers, and drive belts to access it. Refer to your vehicle’s service manual for the proper procedure.
Removing the Tensioner
Use a ratchet and socket to loosen the tensioner’s center bolt and relieve tension on the timing belt. With tension relieved, remove the mounting bolts and detach the tensioner assembly. Inspect the tensioner pulley bearing by spinning it – any roughness indicates it needs replacement.
Installing the New Tensioner
Clean the mounting surface and install the new tensioner with the original bolts torqued to factory specs. Rotate the tensioner clockwise with a 6mm Allen wrench to set proper tension. Verify smooth rotation of the timing belt. Reinstall all removed components in reverse order.
With the new tensioner in place, use chalk or paint to make alignment marks between the camshaft sprocket, crankshaft sprocket, and timing belt. Turn the crankshaft clockwise to realign the marks, indicating the timing is reset properly.
Start the engine and check for smooth operation and loose bolts or connections. Verify proper belt tension one more time before reinstalling all covers and components. Road-test the vehicle to confirm normal performance.
Replacing your Honda Accord tensioner takes preparation, patience, and meticulous care. But with the right tools and my step-by-step instructions, you can avoid costly repairs and keep your engine running smoothly.
Why Proper Tension is Critical?
The timing belt system keeps the camshaft and crankshaft turning in perfect synchronization. This allows the valves to open and close at exactly the right time relative to piston movement. Even slightly off-timing can drastically reduce engine performance.
The tensioner’s role is vital – it maintains precise tension on the timing belt. A worn tensioner allows too much slack in the belt, which throws off timing and causes:
- Loss of power
- Mechanical noises
Replacing a failing tensioner promptly prevents severe engine damage down the road. Paying close attention to any symptoms and addressing them immediately is key.
Warning Signs of Tensioner Failure
Due to their constantly moving components, Honda Accord tensioners experience predictable wear. Being aware of the common failure symptoms can help you identify issues early:
- Squealing noise – The tensioner pulley bearing may be failing, causing noise
- Loose timing belt – Insufficient tension allows belt slippage
- Belt cracks/damage – Severe wear from slack
- Engine trouble – Poor performance as timing is affected
Catching problems before the timing belt snaps or jumps timing is critical. Once that happens, bent valves, piston damage, and other major issues follow. Stay ahead of tensioner problems and avoid an expensive rebuilt engine.
Tools Needed for Tensioner Replacement
Replacing your Honda Accord tensioner requires some specific tools you may not have in a basic toolkit:
- Ratchet and sockets – For tensioner bolts
- Allen wrench – To rotate the new tensioner
- Torque wrench – Vital for proper bolt tightening
- Timing light – To verify cam/crank timing
- Chalk or paint – For marking aligned components
- Oil filter wrench – If replacing the filter too
Investing in these tools or borrowing from an auto parts store will make your tensioner job much smoother. Rushing through with subpar tools is a recipe for mistakes.
DIY vs Professional Replacement
Replacing a tensioner involves carefully disassembling components to access it, proper installation of the new part, and resetting ignition timing. This complex job requires:
- In-depth knowledge of the timing belt system
- Correct tools for the make/model
- Ability to properly reset timing
Without proper training and experience, tensioner replacement errors can lead to severe engine damage. Hiring a professional Honda mechanic is highly recommended unless you’re an advanced DIYer.
The $250-$500 for a shop to replace your tensioner is money well spent compared to $1500+ for an engine rebuild if mistakes are made. Play it safe and let the experts handle it.
Finding a Reputable Mechanic
Getting quality tensioner service means choosing the right shop:
- Dealership – Most expensive but Honda-certified techs
- Local garage – Ask for reviews and examples of their work
- Mobile mechanic – Convenient option if highly reviewed
The cost difference between shops can be $100+ for the same job. But avoid choosing based only on price – expertise is invaluable here.
Thoroughly research mechanics’ reputation and expertise. Your Honda’s longevity depends on it.
Also Read: What Is The Honda Accord Gas Tank Size?
Maintaining Your Timing Belt System
To maximize the lifespan of your new tensioner and avoid repeat failure, be diligent about maintenance:
- Follow service schedule – Replace belt per Honda’s recommendations
- Use quality parts – Genuine Honda or OEM components only
- Address noises – Unusual sounds indicate wear
- Check tension – Verify that the belt is snug but not too tight
A well-maintained timing belt system can last over 100,000 miles in some Hondas. Stick to the prescribed maintenance intervals and only use top-quality replacement parts from trustworthy suppliers.
Warning Signs of Timing Belt Failure
In addition to the tensioner, the timing belt is prone to wear and failure. Be very alert for symptoms of belt failure, including:
- Unusual noises from the engine bay
- Power loss
- Oil leaks near the belt
- Visible damage/cracking of belt
- Engine overheating
If you notice any warning signs, shut off the engine immediately. Have your Honda Accord towed to your repair shop – driving it risks bent valves and other catastrophic damage.
Cost of Replacing Honda Accord Tensioner
Like most car repairs, the parts are only a fraction of the total cost. Labor times and shop fees make up the majority of the bill for a tensioner replacement.
You can expect to pay:
- Parts – $50 – $150 for a new tensioner
- Labor – $180 – $350 for 1-3 hours of work
- Total cost – $250 – $500 on average
While not inexpensive, this preventative maintenance is far less costly than a damaged engine. Replacing your failing tensioner promptly is a wise investment in your Honda’s longevity.
How Do You Remove The Belt Tensioner On A Honda Accord?
To remove the belt tensioner on a Honda Accord:
- Locate it on the passenger side of the engine near the timing belt.
- Relieve tension on the belt by loosening the tensioner’s center bolt with a ratchet and socket.
- Remove the mounting bolts securing the tensioner assembly and detach it from the engine.
- Refer to your vehicle’s service manual for the full procedure, including safely accessing the component.
- Expect the job to take 30-60 minutes.
How Do I Know If My Tensioner Is Bad?
Warning signs your Honda Accord’s tensioner is failing include squealing noises from the pulley bearing, looseness or cracking in the timing belt, and poor engine performance. A rough feeling or wobble when spinning the tensioner pulley by hand indicates worn bearings. Severe slack in the timing belt or damage to it also suggests the tensioner needs to be replaced.
The tensioner is an often overlooked but essential component in your Honda Accord’s timing system. Failing to address tensioner issues promptly can lead to very expensive engine damage.
Use the information provided to identify symptoms, prepare for the job, and find qualified professionals you can trust for this critical repair. You’ll keep your Accord’s heartbeat ticking for years with the proper tools and expertise.