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Hello Team,
I wanted to provide my perspective on replacing the timing chain, chain guides, and tensioner (plus additional parts). I used the Helm's Factory Service Manual (FSM) to perform the repairs and of course the many posts from this forum.

First of all, I don't know how some individuals have done this job in 8 hours and reading that techs do this in 3-4 hours? Sure, maybe with a lift it is easier. I am pretty mechanically inclined, but this would be my first timing chain job. It took me 2 Saturdays (8/4 & 8/11, ~20 hours total) and half a Sunday (8/12, ~6 hours) to finish this job. I performed the repair with the engine inside the engine bay, as directed in the FSM. Working with 2-3 inches of room is not fun at all. The FSM and online Honda/Acura parts websites don't do a good job of including all of the bolts on the timing chain cover/case cover. For instance, there was one huge bolt and goes through the chain cover that i did not see on the FSM. I felt like a lot more bolts came off than the FSM or online diagrams showed. I had to jack up the engine high enough to remove the bolts using a piece of wood and a floor jack on the oil pan as instructed. I felt like I was on the verge of snapping something but it held. The VSA/brake lines were in the way and so was the wire loom. I actually got stuck installing the VTC Oil Valve Assembly (installed new part), so i had to remove the bolts attaching the VSA module and wiggle it out of the way some. Back to removing the bolts off the chain cover - there was one bolt above the VTC oil valve assembly that I missed initially so I was attempting to pry the cover off. I thought this was normal because the Hondabond is some tough stuff and does an excellent job of sealing and preventing leaks. Also reasoned that prying would not be an issue since the Hondabond would conform to the imperfections on the mating surface since it does not use a typical paper gasket. Rechecked and found that middle bolt above the VTC oil valve assembly (15830-RBB-003). Taking off the 3 bolts from the oil pan was very difficult. Not enough room for your hands plus socket and ratchet. The Hondabond didn't help as it was tough to remove.

Second, installing the new timing chain was a pain. It was tighter than the one that came off by half a link (stretched, but surprised not more). I had to have my brother assist holding down the camshaft sprocket with a box wrench and then the VTC actuator with a box wrench so that the timing marks on both intake and exhaust sprockets aligned with the colored links set at the dot marking on top to ensure it was TDC. Once he took off the wrenches, the timing chain skipped because it was so tight. The FSM stated to install the chain first then do the guides. I decided to install the guides first then try to line up the colored marks. Of course once the tensioner was put on (with pin still in), you couldn't move the chain. I uninstalled the tensioner and we aligned the colored links and my brother held this position by using box wrenches on the camshaft sprockets (intake + exhaust). Then I installed the chain guides and tensioner as quickly as i could. It worked!

This is where things get interesting. I had everything lined up. The dot indentations were in between the 2 colored links on both the intake (VTC actuator) and exhaust sprockets, as well as at the crankshaft. Tensioner pin removed and chain was nice and tight with guides installed (including the top guide at this point). To install the crankshaft pulley, you had to torque down the bolt to 49 ft lbs, then mark the bolt and the crankshaft pulley so that the bolt turns another 90 degrees. Had to use a breaker bar plus a hollow metal pipe to do this (which is how I remove the bolt). I heard a loud snap/thunk when tightening it (same as when removing). Checked the mark on the bolt and pulley, maybe halfway there. Tried again, but would not budge. At this point i was using a lot of force and was afraid, but the FSM said to turn another 90 degrees. I added more force and heard another super loud snap/thunk. Checked the bolt and the pulley marks and they lined up perfectly. I then proceeded to check the timing marks on the sprockets and to my utter shock, the colored links moved and were not aligned at the top dots/indents. Of course the timing chain cover bolts were all on, with Hondabond sealed and cured. I almost cried because I did not want to do this job again. I was telling myself i knew i should have paid the dealer $2,000 to do this job. I tried to collect myself and I decided to check the timing marks on both sprockets and at the crank. Everything lined up perfectly, just not the colored links. I went on a google search and couldn't really find anything here. All I have been seeing is that the colored marks need to line up or your timing will be messed up. I did another google search and located one about Mustangs where it stated that because the chain has so many teeth and the sprockets have less teeth that the chain links would move position and eventually line up after X revolutions. I'm not sure where the logic is with the colored links having to match in between those dots/indents. They are just links. Maybe to see after the initial set up if they jump? Anyways, I marked one link and marked its position in relation to the sprocket. The link was not in the same position after 1 revolution. I should have taken out the spark plugs, as rotating the crank was burdensome. I think the links reach the initial position after an even amount of revolutions (2, 4, 6?). However, after maybe 4 revolutions, the best i got was the colored links off by 1, as in the dot was to the left of both colored links. I was so pissed and already prepared to scrap the car/engine as the issue arose at startup at the end of July and would not start. Sounded like chain slap. I was prepared for valve damage, but wanted to take a $500 gamble instead of paying $2,000 at the dealer and then having them tell me my valves are bent and need to take off the head and pay another $2,000. I finished putting everything together and started the car on 8/12. The engine started up with no issue! It runs so much better now and the idle is perfect whereas prior to this it would kind of bounce slightly around 750 rpm. Also, the acceleration and power delivery is much smoother (before it felt like i was using cheap gas, or had bad coils, misfires). Engine is quieter as well (although i did not adjust valves). I did not replace the VTC actuator because I felt uneasy using an open ended wrench to hold the camshaft lobe then unbolting the VTC actuator bolt. At first startup, there was a slight rattle (which i thought could be the VTC actuator). Second startup after sitting overnight there was a louder rattle. I started this morning and there was not rattle. I've already replaced/fixed most exhaust rattles but it could be something resurfacing. Doesn't make sense for it to be coming from the engine since it didn't rattle this morning. I'll have to look into the oil pump/balance shaft chain/guides/tensioner repair as well. Will monitor the rattles at startup closely.

End rant/story. Probably the most stressful repair I have done so far.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I just wanted to update this on the rattle, in case I forget to or if anyone is interested: After the first 2 initial startups, there are no more rattles present! Approximately 7 cold starts later (sitting overnight 8+ hours, and 8+ hours sitting at work). The engine is super quiet, healthy, and responsive. Perhaps the initial rattle(s) were due to the parts not lubricated and the car was drained of oil for ~2 weeks. I did lubricate the new chain prior to installing. I replaced the VTC Oil Valve Assembly with a brand new genuine Honda part (15830-RBB-003) as well as the Spool Valve Assembly with a brand new genuine Honda unit (15810-PRB-A03). Perhaps these were starved of oil as well, although I coated the o-rings in new oil and tried to fill with oil where I could. Regardless, engine is rattle-free.
 

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Great job for accomplishing this task, I would never try to attempt something like this.

Out of curiosity isn't the timing chain last the life of the vehicle granted everything was well maintained? I remember when I removed mine for type s vtc gear everything was solid with very minimal wear if any at all.
 

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Congrads on getting the job done!

My first time I broke the VTC actuator trying to wiggle it out.

The second time I did the chain (on my new car) I ended up using a small pry bar to bend the brake lines out of the way to get it out.

I didn't remove the oil pan when I did my chain. But those three bolts holding the timing chain cover on to the pan are a really big pain to get out.

For me the worst bolt was the 10mm that was on the top of the TC cover and closest to the body of the car. I had to saw off a 10mm wrench short enough to clear and then pop it with a screw driver to get the bolt loose. Not enough room even for my stubby so I had sacrificed one of my craftsman wrenches... which subsequently got exchanged at my local sears (oh wait... what store?)

For the gears, there's a special tool to buy that locks the cams in TDC on the opposite side of the chain. That made timing the engine SOOOOO much easier.
07AAB-RWCA120

Except for the fact I forgot to remove the one on the intake cam and broke the sensor wheel which had my correct timing on the chain side show up as being off on the computer side. That was a few days of screaming and crying.

But any way you describe it....

YOU SURVIVED VICTORIOUS!!!

Congradulations
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys! K20trick - Yes, should. Lol. My TSX burns oil and I believe that was one of the root causes. Of course, I added oil in between changes (2 quarts) but I guess it wasn't enough monitoring on my part. The 2008's (even 2006+) only have a TSB for burning oil. The earlier models had recalls and the blocks were replaced I believe. If i wanted to go this route, it would be very expensive, so I decided to just add oil. It's $3.70 for a bottle/quart of the genuine Honda 5W-30 synthetic blend at my local dealer. In the end, the tensioner was over extended. I'm not sure how as the chain was stretched only half a link (maybe 1 tops). It could have failed also seeing as I have 198k miles on the engine. Or maybe half a link is enough to over extend the tensioner. VTC gear is fine in my car and no rattles :) Sent back the part and got a refund so this repair was cheaper than expected.
 

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Thank you Thank you! I'm glad I didn't mess with the VTC actuator. I just wanted to finish the repair and I was going in blindly thinking the valves could be ruined. Didn't want to spend so much $ on a car with 200k miles, but glad I did the repair and I should be good for at least another 100k without another major repair (knock on wood). Also, If I wasn't without a car for 2-3 weeks, I would have changed it. My garage was full so I had to do this in the driveway and both weekends it was like 95+ degrees out. I have a motorcycle so that's how I commuted to work, but when it rained (and it rained often those 2 weeks) it sucked getting rides back and forth.

Yes, removing the oil pan would have been another huge job in itself. I did it per the FSM which did not mention removing the oil pan. Similarly to you, I just removed that clip for the line and wiggled in my box wrench or ratchet. Tough, but worked. If those 3 bolts had a higher torque setting, I would have stripped them and not have gotten them out. Thankful they were small bolts that require 8.7 ft lbs to tighten. The hondabond made it seem like much more when untightening.

I think for the top bolt I used a box wrench, and somehow it worked for me. I'm sure I tried from underneath the car and then from above in the engine bay. Luckily, that wasn't as bad as your experience. Lol, yeah trust me, I know. Work for corporate. Still there...


Cheers to fixing our cars!
 

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200k miles isn't anything with these motors as long as their maintained well, IM happy you got it fixed, 2 quarts is sure a lot to burn and excessive I remember when my rsx-s burned a quart every 1k miles still ran like a champ though. Luckily this tsx has been well maintained so far, Im lucky to even get .5 quart burned every 3-5kmiles.

The three bolts sealed with hondabond on the passenger side is definitely a paint to get right, luckily for me that seal was slightly leaking, not enough to cause any issues but it was refreshed with new seal, so basically knocked few birds in one stone, vtc gear, and valve adjustment.
 

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Agreed, I've just had to put in a lot of work in to maintain it more than I would like. Even with the failed chain/guides/tensioner and burning oil, the engine has been revived. I'm going to monitor the oil levels like a hawk with the new chain, but in the event that I need to replace it again, I will be more experienced and I also purchased and installed all new timing cover bolts. Should be easier the next time as the old ones were somewhat rusty and starting to round.

I think I have been watching too many youtube videos and reading up on the forums as I'm really interested in turbo-ing the car. Would be good practice.
 

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I removed my cylinder head two years ago chasing a missfire code in cylinder number 3. It was a very time consuming process and you're absolutely right there isn't much room to work on the timing chain side of the motor. I remember sorting through all of my 1/4" ratchets trying to find the narrowest one to fit between the frame and timing cover. Eventually I bought some Craftsman speciality flat ratchet that helped A LOT. My timing chain stretched only 3-4mm I forget exactly and it had 135-140K on it.
I replaced a lot of stuff while I had it apart. Machine shop resurfaced the head along with doing a valve job, new valve seals, timing belt, tensioner, timing guide, 45 degree VTC, oil cooler from RSX type-S, water pump, RSX type-S water pump housing, RSX alternator, new headstuds, valve cover gasket, and a few other things I forget...hahah

I do remember running into some clearance issues with the subframe and oil pan, I ended up unbolting the subframe a little so I could lower it some.
Thats interesting you didn't need to adjust your valves, honestly I had to adjust mine 5 or 6 times until I got them perfect, that was time consuming!

My 08 TSX has 162K on it now, and it runs great. I change my oil every 5K miles and the engine consumes a quart of oil every 3.5K , which isn't too bad. It's probably the piston rings.

Like you I'd really like to see a acura tech do the job in 3-4 hours, HA! Maybe after he's done it a dozen times. :wink2:
 

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Dang, you should be good for at least another 150k miles. I thought about using those ratcheting wrenches, but they are wider than standard box/crescent wrenches so that was no go. Definitely needed to bust out the assortment this time. Oil cooler? How is your auto trans holding up? I haven't changed the cooling system parts yet. Maybe I will during the next coolant drain/refill.

I read somewhere where it stated not to adjust valves if they sounded fine as it may make it worse. Sounds legit considering you had to adjust it many times! Did you end up reusing the valve cover gasket and not adding hondabond each time? Sounds like a pain.

I just had to add a quart of oil in, burns 1 quart every 1-1.5k miles. I also read somewhere where a bad vtc oil valve assembly and spool valve may increase oil consumption which is why I replaced both parts, but looks like it didn't help. Probably right, piston rings. Is there a reason why you didn't replace yours if you already had the head off? Not looking forward to that job, maybe when I get a viable back up car.

Yeah, tell me about it. Trying to replace the rear suspension arms (all). Like the fronts, they will need to be cut off with a sawzall as the bolts are fused inside the bushing sleeves. Nothing goes according to plan.
 

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Dang, you should be good for at least another 150k miles. I thought about using those ratcheting wrenches, but they are wider than standard box/crescent wrenches so that was no go. Definitely needed to bust out the assortment this time. Oil cooler? How is your auto trans holding up? I haven't changed the cooling system parts yet. Maybe I will during the next coolant drain/refill.

I read somewhere where it stated not to adjust valves if they sounded fine as it may make it worse. Sounds legit considering you had to adjust it many times! Did you end up reusing the valve cover gasket and not adding hondabond each time? Sounds like a pain.

I just had to add a quart of oil in, burns 1 quart every 1-1.5k miles. I also read somewhere where a bad vtc oil valve assembly and spool valve may increase oil consumption which is why I replaced both parts, but looks like it didn't help. Probably right, piston rings. Is there a reason why you didn't replace yours if you already had the head off? Not looking forward to that job, maybe when I get a viable back up car.

Yeah, tell me about it. Trying to replace the rear suspension arms (all). Like the fronts, they will need to be cut off with a sawzall as the bolts are fused inside the bushing sleeves. Nothing goes according to plan.
Yeah she should be good for a while. I’m still on my stock clutch at 162K as well, waiting for that to go.ddddddddd2 Then I’m going to build the transmission to get this sled to move!
This is the craftsman flat rachet I used that helped with the limited space issue.
https://m.sears.com/craftsman-51-piece-max-axess-chrome-plated-alloy/p-00929309000P
I added the OEM RSX-S oil cooler to keep the temps down.

I had to adjust my valves because my head was completely disassembled. You’re right though if they aren’t making a bunch of noise don’t touch them. I didn’t Hondabone the valve cover until I finally got them adjusted right.

I had no intentions of replacing the rings. It wasn’t the main problem I was trying to fix. Honestly, I would just buy a used jdm k24a2 for 1K from a importer before replacing the piston rings. Makes way more sense financial.

I live in the salt belt also and doing exhaust or suspension work always sucks big time.
 
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