Classic FIAT 124 Spider Timing Belt & Seal Replacement
The technical tips listed below are intended to aid in the care of your Fiat 124 Spider and should be used accordingly. They are based on many years of experience but are in no way a replacement for factory recommendations. Seek the professional mechanical assistance for all issues beyond your abilities.
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• For easier access, consider removing the radiator. This will allow better access to the front of the engine. This is also a good time to check the condition of the radiator hoses, thermostat, and radiator cap.
• Next remove the alternator belt and the timing belt cover.
• You will need an impact gun to remove the camshaft and auxiliary shaft gear bolts, and the crank nut. The crank nut may not budge even with an impact! If it does not want to come off, put a socket on it with a long breaker bar, lay the bar on the driver's side inner fender, and crank the engine with the starter for just an instant. The rotation of the engine will undo the nut. *Be certain to do this with the timing belt installed .
• Undo the crank nut first, then turn the engine so all the timing marks line up and loosen the bolts for the cam- and auxiliary shaft gears. Ideally one would loosen the pulley bolts with the timing belt still on, so the gears do not move. Watch out as sometimes the timing gear can slip under the belt. Do not clash the valves into the piston or against each other! If a bolt is stubborn and the gear rotates even with the timing belt installed then you can remove the belt, wrap it all the way around the gear, and hold its ends together with vice-grips. Hold the vice-grips while undoing the bolt with an impact wrench.
• Once you have removed all the gears, you need to remove the seals. You can pry them out with a screwdriver, or punch a hole in them with a nail, and the put a screw in the hole. As you turn the screw in, it will drive the seal out. Be sure to clean up any metal shavings this may have created.
• Use a large socket to carefully drive the new seals in. The crank one may be more difficult, but a little patience pays off. If it is too difficult to install, then remove the seal holder.
• This is a good time to check the crankshaft timing gear for wear. Because this gear is half as big as the others it usually wears more.
• Once all the seals are installed reinstall the timing gears and the crank pulley. Use some blue Locktite on all the bolts and the crankshaft nut.
• Line up the timing marks, lock the tensioner in the loose position (you did get a new tensioner bearing, right?) and install the timing belt. The auxiliary gear points toward the tensioner pivot bolt - or about 1:30 on a clock face.
• Route the timing belt over the pulleys from bottom to top. You may have to move some of the gears slightly to line them up with the belt.
• Once the belt is installed, release the tensioner and let the tensioner spring take up the slack in the belt. You may need to 'help' the tensioner spring to take out all the slack in the belt.
• When all the tension is out tighten both the tensioner nut (17mm) and the pivot bolt (13mm).
Now comes the most important part: by hand or with a wrench, turn the engine over 2 times to be sure everything is lined up well and not clashing.
• Reinstall the belt cover, alternator belt, radiator, and bleed the cooling system (see tech article).
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- Csaba Vandor