GM Malibu/Cutlass 1997-2000

Timing Chain and Gears

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REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



2.4L Engine

NOTE
Beginning with the 1998 model year, the timing chain on the 2.4L engine is different from the chain found on earlier versions of this engine, and it is not to be replaced with a timing chain from earlier model year engines. The timing sprockets were also changed in 1998, and the shape of the chain links matches the sprockets. Engine damage will result if the wrong timing chain is used. The timing chain and the crankshaft sprocket must be marked so they are re-installed (if not being replaced) with the same side facing out during re-assembly.

Before attempting to remove the timing chain, read the entire procedure.

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. Remove the timing chain front cover, as outlined earlier in this section.
  4.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Timing chain assembly retaining bolts-2.4L engine

  1. Matchmark the timing chain and the sprockets outer surfaces for re-assembly. This is important to prevent noise and increased wear on the chain.
  2.  
  3. Remove the timing chain guides.
  4.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Remove the timing chain guides

  1. Make sure all of the slack in the timing chain is above the tensioner assembly, then remove the tensioner. The timing chain must be disengaged from any wear grooves in the tensioner shoe in order to remove the shoe. Slide a suitable prytool under the timing chain while pulling the shoe outward.
  2.  
  3. Unfasten the tensioner assembly retaining bolts, then remove the tensioner.
  4.  
  5. If difficulty is encountered in removing the chain tensioner shoe, remove the intake camshaft sprocket, as follows;
    1. Hold the intake camshaft sprocket with a suitable tool and remove the sprocket bolt and washer.
    2.  
    3. Remove the washer from the bolt and rethread the bolt back into the camshaft by hand. The bolt provides a surface to push against.
    4.  
    5. Remove the camshaft sprocket using a three-jaw puller in the three relief holes in the sprocket.
    6.  

  6.  


WARNING
Do NOT attempt to pry the sprocket off the camshaft or damage to the sprocket or chain housing could occur.



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Exploded view of the camshaft sprockets-2.4L engine

  1. Rotate the crankshaft clockwise, as viewed from the front of engine/normal rotation, until the camshaft sprocket timing dowel pin holes line up with the holes in the timing chain housing. The crankshaft sprocket keyway should point upwards and line up with the centerline of the cylinder bores. This is the "timed" position.
  2.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. The arrows indicate the camshaft sprocket timing dowel pin holes, and the crankshaft sprocket lined up with the centerline of the cylinder bores. This is the "timed" position


NOTE
The timing chain and crankshaft sprocket MUST be marked before removal. If the chain or sprocket is installed with the wear pattern in the opposite direction, noise and increased wear may occur.

  1. Mark the crankshaft sprocket and timing chain outer surface for reassembly, then remove the chain.
  2.  
  3. Clean the old sealant off the bolt with a wire brush. Clean the threaded hole in the camshaft with a round nylon brush. Inspect the parts for wear and replace as necessary. Note that some scoring of the chain shoe and guides is normal.
  4.  

To install:


WARNING
Failure to follow this procedure may result in severe engine damage.

  1. Position the camshaft sprockets onto the camshafts with the surface marked during removal showing.
  2.  
  3. Install the camshaft sprocket retaining bolts and washers, tighten to 52 ft. lbs. (70 Nm) while holding each sprocket with a suitable tool. Use sealant on the camshaft sprocket bolts.
  4.  
  5. Place camshaft aligning dowels or pins through the holes in the camshaft sprockets into the holes in the timing chain housing. This positions the cams for correct timing.
  6.  
  7. If the camshafts are out of position and must be rotated more than 1 / 8 turn in order to install the alignment dowel pins, proceed as follows:
    1. The crankshaft MUST be rotate 90° clockwise off of TDC in order to give the valves adequate clearance to open.
    2.  
    3. Once the camshafts are in position and the dowels installed, rotate the crankshaft counterclockwise back to TDC.
    4.  

  8.  


WARNING
Do not rotate the crankshaft clockwise to TDC; valve or piston damage could result.


NOTE
The side of the timing chain that was marked during removal must be showing when the chain is installed.

  1. Place the timing chain over the exhaust camshaft sprockets, around the coolant pump sprocket and around the crankshaft sprocket.
  2.  
  3. Remove the dowel from the intake camshaft. Rotate the sprocket counterclockwise enough to allow the timing chain to slide over the intake camshaft sprocket.
  4.  
  5. Remove the slack from the chain between the intake camshaft sprocket and the crankshaft sprocket by lifting the chain as the tensioner would.
  6.  
  7. With the slack removed from the chain between the intake camshaft sprocket and the crankshaft sprocket, the timing marks on the crankshaft and cylinder block should be aligned. If the marks are not aligned, move the chain one tooth forward or rearward, remove the slack and recheck the marks.
  8.  


NOTE
If properly aligned, the intake camshaft dowel will slide in easily. If the dowel pin does not fully index, the camshafts are not timed correctly and the procedure must be repeated.

  1. Leave the alignment dowels in place.
  2.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. With the tensioner plunger fully extended, turn the complete assembly upside down on a bench or other flat surface

  1. Reload the timing chain tensioner assembly to its "zero" position as follows:
    1. With the tensioner plunger fully extended, turn the complete assembly upside down on a bench or other flat surface.
    2.  
    3. Press firmly on the bottom of the tensioner housing.
    4.  
    5. Compress the plunger until it is fully seated in the tensioner.
    6.  
    7. Check the plunger length to make sure that it is sticking out of the cylinder the correct amount. Refer to accompanying photo.
    8.  

  2.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. The correct dimension for the plunger to stick out of the cylinder is 0.07 in (1.7mm) maximum

  1. Loosely install the tensioner assembly to the timing chain housing. Finger tighten bolts.
  2.  
  3. Install the timing chain tensioner shoe on the stud.
  4.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Loosely install the tensioner assembly to the timing chain housing. Finger tighten bolts

  1. Apply hand pressure to the timing chain tensioner shoe until the locking tab seats in the groove in the stud.
  2.  
  3. Tighten the timing chain tensioner bolts to 89 inch lbs. (10 Nm). Do not overtighten.
  4.  


WARNING
If the timing chain tensioner is not released from the installation position, engine damage will occur when the engine is started.

  1. Release the timing chain tensioner plunger.
    1. Using a small prytool or other suitable tool, press firmly against the face of the timing chain tensioner plunger.
    2.  

  2.  


NOTE
If the timing chain tensioner plunger cannot be depressed, the plunger is not properly reset and the procedure for resetting the timing chain tensioner should be repeated.

  1. Depress the timing chain tensioner plunger until the plunger is bottomed out in the bore of the timing chain tensioner.
  2.  
  3. Release the tensioner plunger. The plunger should press firmly against the back of the timing chain tensioner shoe.
  4.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Using a small prytool or other suitable tool, press firmly against the face of the timing chain tensioner plunger

  1. Remove the dowels from the camshaft sprockets.
  2.  
  3. Rotate the crankshaft clockwise two full rotations. Align the crankshaft keyway with the mark on the cylinder block and reinstall the dowels. The dowels will slide in easily if the engine is timed correctly.
  4.  
  5. Install the timing chain guides, then install the front (timing chain) cover.
  6.  
  7. Connect the negative battery cable.
  8.  

3.1L Engine
  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. Drain the cooling system into a suitable container.
  4.  
  5. Remove the timing chain front cover. For details, please refer to the procedure located in this section.
  6.  
  7. Rotate the crankshaft until the timing marks on the camshaft and crankshaft sprockets are in alignment at their closest approach.
  8.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Timing chain, sprockets and related components-3.1L engine

  1. Unfasten the camshaft sprocket mounting bolt, then remove the camshaft sprocket and timing chain together.
  2.  


NOTE
If the sprocket does not come off easily, a light blow on the lower edge of the sprocket with a plastic mallet should dislodge it.

  1. Remove the crankshaft sprocket with gear puller.
  2.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Using a gear puller to remove the crankshaft sprocket

  1. Unfasten the two bolts and remove the timing chain damper.
  2.  

To install:

  1. Install the timing chain damper and tighten the mounting bolts to 15 ft. lbs. (21 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Position the crankshaft sprocket onto the crankshaft making sure the notch in the sprocket fits over the crankshaft key. Fully seat the sprocket on the crankshaft using a gear installer.
  4.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Use this type of installation tool to insert the crankshaft sprocket onto the crankshaft

  1. Apply prelube to the sprocket thrust surface.
  2.  
  3. Install the crankshaft timing chain damper to the cylinder block. Tighten the damper bolt to 15 ft. lbs. (21 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Align the timing mark on the crankshaft sprocket to the mark on the bottom of the timing chain damper. See the accompanying figure for timing mark reference.
  6.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Align the timing mark on the crank sprocket (2) to the mark on the bottom of the timing chain damper (1) and the timing mark on the cam gear (4) to the mark on the top of the timing chain dampener (3)

  1. Hold the camshaft sprocket with the timing chain hanging down.
  2.  
  3. Pick up the chain and sprocket and hold the sprocket in such a way that the timing mark is pointing down and the timing chain is hanging down off of the sprocket.
  4.  
  5. Loop the timing chain under the crankshaft sprocket and install the camshaft sprocket on the camshaft. The sprocket will only fit on the camshaft if the dowel on the camshaft lines up with the hole in the sprocket.
  6.  
  7. Verify the timing marks are aligned. See the accompanying figure for timing mark reference. If the marks are not in alignment proceed as follows:
    1. Remove the chain and sprocket.
    2.  
    3. Install the sprocket and mounting bolt loosely.
    4.  
    5. Rotate the crankshaft and camshaft until the marks are in alignment.
    6.  
    7. Remove the camshaft sprocket and mounting bolt.
    8.  

  8.  
  9. Repeat steps 13 and 14.
  10.  
  11. Tighten the camshaft sprocket mounting bolt to 103 ft. lbs. (140 Nm).
  12.  
  13. Lubricate the timing chain components with engine oil.
  14.  
  15. Install the timing chain front cover.
  16.  
  17. Refill the cooling system.
  18.  
  19. Connect the negative battery cable, then start the engine and verify that there are no leaks.
  20.  

 
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