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Top 3 Timing Belt Tools and Tips

Timing belt maintenance requires precision and patience. One wrong move in belt alignment and the vehicle can experience a number of issues, the worst being bent valves or a ruined cylinder head. Thankfully there are a few tools and tips that help simplify the installation process. Here’s our top ones:


  1. Use a timing belt kit with a water pump – It’s good maintenance practice to replace the pump when replacing the belt due to the amount of labor involved. Often times, the water pump is driven by the timing belt and they experience an equal amount of wear. Using a kit ensures you have all the parts needed for a complete repair job.
  2. Line your timing marks to top dead center per OE service recommendations – Before disassembling any engine for a timing belt change, this step will help keep things in check. It’s also helpful to use touch-up paint on timing locations so they are easier to see.
  3. Remove the spark plugs – It may feel like an extra step, but it ultimately helps make the engine easier to rotate by hand.


  1. Crank pulley removal tool – This handy device is needed on some vehicles to stop the engine from rotating when loosening or tightening the crank pulley. You have to hold the engine still when removing the bolt fastening the crank pulley.
  2. Cam sprocket tool – If you want to be able to keep the timing marks lined up on the cam sprockets when installing a belt, this is a go-to.
  3. Retaining Pins – Many timing belts use a spring-loaded hydraulic tensioner. New ones come with a retaining pin to hold the tensioner in the relaxed position. If you remove the pin once installed, the tensioner will move out and tension the belt.  However, if you are reusing the tensioner, you should place it in a vise and slowly push the tensioner pin back in, using a pin tool to hold it in place.

Remember, every vehicle has specific instructions for timing belt installation, always follow the instructions for a successful install. And for information on tips and tools, check out our timing belt video.