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Rav4 - Change timing belt - 1CD-FTV diesel

Difficulty - Hard

Time - about 6 hours working over a pit in a well lit garage. It can be done outside over ramps if you choose a nice day and take suitable safety precautions.

Tools required - After lifting and securing the vehicle you need a selection of spanners and sockets, a suitable light and various pliers and screwdrivers. We used a genuine Toyota timing belt which is available at a discounted price from Lindop Bros. Pm Parts-King for details. The mileage on this car was less than 60k but we had reached the 5 year period. You will see that the serpentine and alternator belt are in perfect condition but if this were the second belt change at 10 years or 120k miles I would change them as a matter of course. They need a visual inspection at every 1 year or 10k miles service.


The 2.0 litre D4D engine in the RAV 4.2 has a belt driven camshaft with a service interval of 5 years or 60k miles. Don't take any chances with this if you have reached any of the time limits or if you have acquired the vehicle with no previous history as the engine will be wrecked if the belt breaks. Its not an easy job by any means as you have to work in a very restricted space but with labour rates as they are, providing you take your time and make sure you check everything there is no reason why you shouldn't have a go if you have a reasonable amount of practical experience. If you are a novice then it would be prudent to get some help or take it on the chin and pay for a garage to do it.


I am breaking this down into bite size modules.

1. Preparation


As you can see in this photo the car and the owner are ready for action. Some of you will know him as Wollaston - the fully qualified lady's hair dresser with his birthday on Christmas day (definitely no relation to you know who!). We have positioned the car with the pulley side over the pit and lifted one wheel on a trolley jack and axle stand. This allows us at a later stage to turn the engine by engaging 5th gear while looking at the timing marks. If you are working off ramps you will have to turn the engine with a spanner when the time comes.

Here I am removing the screws and trim clips to remove the wheel arch cover;


To make access easier, undo the brackets from the ABS pump;


Follow the brake pipes along the inner wing towards the bulkhead and you will see 2 clips. Undo these clips and now there is enough flex in the brake pipes to lift the ABS unit up and to the side to give more access for working and to get at the engine mounting bracket later.

Now you are ready to start with the

Serpentine belt.

Working under the car, look up and you will see the tensioner right at the front near the radiator. This is arguably the fiddliest part of the job as you have to undo the lock nut (blue arrow) in the centre of the pulley and then undo that tensioner bolt (green oval) or "jockey" adjuster to wind the tension off the belt.


I carefully lubricated the adjuster bolt with WD40 (don't squirt it all over the belt) then used a slightly stepped ring spanner for the lock nut in the middle of the pulley and managed to get a ratchet ring spanner to start the adjuster but soon managed to turn it with my fingers.


Only back it off far enough to be able to manoeuvre the belt off the pulleys. Mark the belt with chalk to show the direction of rotation and if there are any cracks or splits bin it trust me you don't want to do this at the side of the road!

Upper timing belt cover

Use long nose pliers to gently squeeze the clips that hold the wiring loom to the cover and ease them forward (circled) then remove the 10mm head bolts and remove the cover it is a fiddle. I tried to get Wollaston to wax his arms for the photo but "no". This cover is a tight fit and you may find it easier to remove the engine mounting bracket first as shown below.


Alternator belt

This is the second poly-v belt and is delightfully easy to remove. Just get a 14mm spanner and ease down on the spring loaded centre bolt and pop the belt off. Mark the D.O.R. with chalk and again if there are any signs of deterioration in the belt, bin it. Although this is easy to get off, don't forget the serpentine belt has to come off first.


Lower timing belt cover.

Fairly straight forward but you will have to remove the spring loaded tensioner for the alternator belt. Just turn the centre bolt anti-clockwise and the pulley pops right off.

Engine Mounting Bracket.

I used a scissor jack and a block of wood to support the engine. Working from the top, use a deep socket to undo the upward facing bolt then go underneath and undo the other two.


You can then undo the hydraulic engine mounting off the inner wing and wriggle that up and out. There are then six bolts in the bracket which hold it on of which the front two (17mm) go through the power steering pump. They are tight and awkward to get at. In this photo you can see a way of locking two spanners together to get some more purchase.


It isn't the best use of tools but it works. Take the remaining bolts out of the pump and slide it up and off the bracket.

Now to remove the bracket, lift the engine by an inch or so and then get an assistant to lift the ABS pump well up out of the way while you manoeuvre the bracket out through the top.

You are now ready to remove the timing belt which is shown in this pdf. Although it describes the process, it probably assumes that the engine doesn't have a car wrapped around it which is why I have described the items additionally;

Timing belt 4.2.pdf

Timing belt insp 4.2.pdf

Timing belt rep 4.2.pdf

We didn't bother removing the glow plugs. Remove the crankshaft bolt with a 22mm socket. I used a long breaker bar and got Wollaston to sit inside with the car in gear and his foot on the brake. With 5th gear still selected, I then turned the elevated wheel to bring the engine timing marks around to the positions shown in the pdf. If you can't see them very well, highlight them with tipex or touch up paint. Undo the two bolts in the tensioner body and allow it to swing to one side and slacken the belt. When the belt is off, check all the pulleys and water pump. It isn't necessary to change any of the pulleys unless they make a noise when you spin them or the water pump unless it feels rough or it shows signs of weeping. NOTE; It is not necessary to remove any of the timing toothed pulleys as shown, this is for engine overhaul purposes only. There are kits available which include the belt and all the main pulleys and a tensioner. Don't take risks as the engine will be wrecked if the belt breaks or comes off. The warning at the beginning of the pdf refers to turning the engine while the belt is off. Doing so risks the pistons contacting the valves and bending them so the simple advice is don't turn anything with the belt off. Take the tensioner to the vice and providing there are no signs of leaking or damage, carefully press the plunger in until you can insert an allen key or pop rivet in to restrain it. Insert it just far enough to restrain the plunger as it is very hard to remove under the extreme tension. When you are ready to fit the new belt, do it in the order shown and try to avoid any slack between the pulleys as you go. This is easier said than done and took me two attempts to get it right. When the belt is on carefully check the timing marks to see they haven't moved. If they have all you can do is take it off and try again but if you envisage where the belt would be if it were a tooth out you will see it will be obvious. If this takes you all day, you must get it right as the camshaft or fuel pump being one tooth out will at best cause it to run really rough. When you are satisfied you have it right, insert the bottom bolt in the tensioner and then turn it until the top one lines up and fit that too. Tighten the two bolts and then pull out the pin that you fitted in the vice it is very tight and you may need a blood transfusion when you have finished knocking your knuckles about! When the belt is tensioned you need to rotate the wheel to turn the engine or if you are working off ramps temporarily install the crankshaft bolt. Don't forget that little dished washer with the lip facing outwards. Turn the engine CLOCKWISE twice to allow the belt to settle then check those timing marks again. When you are satisfied everything is OK you can start to build it back up. Clean all the parts and add a drop of oil to the threads of all the bolts. With all these components, fit all of the bolts first then tighten them. Loosely fix the engine mounting bracket to the engine and then securely tighten them. Lower the engine and then wriggle that engine mounting back in and fit the bolts through the engine mounting bracket. Fit the lower and upper covers, the crankshaft pulley and the belts in reverse order. Note the D.O.R. of the belts and for the serpentine belt it should be firm but you should be able to twist it by near enough 90 degrees on the longest run between pulleys. Refit the ABS pump and the pipe clips then check everything again. Once you are satisfied everything is in place and tight you can start it up. If it whines, you probably have the serpentine belt too tight so check and adjust if necessary.

Checking the belts;

4.2 serp insp.pdf

Serpentine drive belt inspection AC-4.pdf

alt belt.pdf



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