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Changing timing belt on an '03 GT

3159 Views 33 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  ajerimez
Hi all, I just registered. I'm in the middle of changing the timing belt on my 2003 GT and am stuck on removing the heavy engine mount bracket on the passenger side. It has prongs that keep grabbing the center motor mount and I can't seem to be able to raise or lower the engine enough to remove the long bolts that hold it in place (they're loosened but captured inside the bracket).

This has been a difficult job - have already removed the front bumper & cooling system to get access to the power steering pump bolts and other bits.

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Any advice would be appreciated. As you can see I procrastinated on this job until the timing belt started losing teeth at 130,000 miles - motor started running rough but miraculously the belt didn't snap or jump time.

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Also, as an aside, I tried to register at PTCruiserLinks but the captcha doesn't work at the admin seems to have gone on permanent vacation in 2018.
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1966 Crown Coupe, 2016 200 S AWD, 1962 Lark Daytona V8.
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Welcome to Allpar. Get the factory service manual. I don't think that the P/S pump has to be disturbed.
It is a big job the first time you do it. Once you know what tools and procedures work the best, the job gets much easier.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you! I've been following the factory service manual, which does instruct to remove the bolts holding the power steering pump to the mount but not to disconnect the power steering hoses.

At this point I've got the forward-most bolt out of the mount bracket but the other two are trapped between the bracket and the frame rail, and there doesn't seem to be enough play to wiggle the mount bracket out. If I raise the motor any higher I think it might damage something.
 

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Welcome to the forum :D

As you have already found out about doing that job, it's an area that you don't want to tear apart again, at anytime in the near future.

IMO, you should also consider replacing: timing belt, tensioner and idler pulleys, water pump, 2 cam seals, crank seal, new center motor mount with OEM bolt.
 

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IMO, you should also consider replacing: timing belt, tensioner and idler pulleys, water pump, 2 cam seals, crank seal, new center motor mount with OEM bolt.
Any motor mounts / trans mounts that are easily accessed at the time would be the time to do it. Any wear item that hides deep in that beautiful PT jungle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I got the timing belt & water pump kit from Modern Performance with the blue racing belt and most of the parts you mentioned, including the cam seals. Will very likely replace the center motor mount, I think it's sagging and the rubber looks cracked. If the crank seal is worth replacing I'll do it too.

I just can't figure out how to get that damn steel bracket off! Starting to think I might as well drop the engine.
 

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Any motor mounts / trans mounts that are easily accessed at the time would be the time to do it. Any wear item that hides deep in that beautiful PT jungle.
The center mount is buried in the frame rail, and best to replace it while doing the timing belt work.

The upper & lower torque struts also have rubber inserts that wear out, but they can always be done later.

Hey Rick, don't you still have the step by step photos you could share with him?
I never had any step-by-step photos.

But there are many that have done the job and didn't have to remove the engine.

Todd would likely know how to help him, but I haven't seen him over here for a while now.
 

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. . . .I just can't figure out how to get that damn steel bracket off! Starting to think I might as well drop the engine. . . . .
There is a thru bolt that attaches the engine mount bracket near pulley end to body. You place floor jack with wood block between jack pad and oil pan. Lift engine slightly and remove thru bolt. I am thinking you have to lower engine so that crankshaft center line drops below body to gain access to strut bracket. You would need to have the front wheels raised on ramps and / or jack stands. See attached image.

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I got the timing belt & water pump kit from Modern Performance with the blue racing belt and most of the parts you mentioned, including the cam seals. Will very likely replace the center motor mount, I think it's sagging and the rubber looks cracked. If the crank seal is worth replacing I'll do it to.

I just can't figure out how to get that damn steel bracket off! Starting to think I might as well drop the engine.
OK, I've replaced that centre mount on 2 PT's and you will absolutely need to put a trolley jack under the engine oil pan , insulate it with a suitable block of wood to control slipping....then bring the jack up to contact the oil pan and give it one more pump.....Hopefully you have already removed the batter and battery tray and then you can access the gearbox mounting bolts (2x). Remove those bolts and let you jack down a few inches only. Now you should be able to use brute force (or a jemmy bar with a cloth around the tip) to move the whole engine to the right in the engine bay. Then viola, you will be able to remove those pesky bolts you are having trouble with. BUT FIRST use a large felt pen to run around the outside of the mount to identify its possition in the chassis as the bolts do allow some lateral movement and it's best to reinstall as per the factory assembly.
This will also give you a whole lot more space to get at everything else and to remove/replace the bolts that hold that damned great cast iron assembly that holds the AC Pump etc. etc.
I don't even bother to de-gas the A/C as I've managed to remove the top mount several times using an assortment of sockets, extension bars, ring spanners etc.
One of the best favors you will do yourself is also to buy a set of swivel ended ring spanners which allow you to get into all kinds of spaces in the PT engine bay designed for "space challenged" mechanics lol.

Good luck
 

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2003 PT Cruiser GT
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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Thanks all for the suggestions. I've thought about this a lot and I'm going to pull the motor after all, I don't think there's a satisfactory way to do everything that needs to be done with it in situ. Shouldn't be too difficult with the lift, I've already got most of the hoses & wiring disconnected and just need to pull the half-shafts and a few other remaining items. Anything else I ought to address while the engine's out?
 

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Cam and crank seals while you're in there. You ARE planning on the water pump and tensioner replacement, along with the belt, right? And replace that stubborn center mount and BOLT if you can find one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Yes, the water pump and tensioner came with the timing belt kit. Have the cam seals, will have to order a crank seal, will order the center mount as well. Does the bolt itself really need to be changed?

EDIT: While the front end is torn apart I'll go ahead and replace the LCA bushings, which have been clunking ever since I bought it. Have a set of Prothane bushings that I'll use unless the consensus is there's a better alternative.
 

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Yes, the water pump and tensioner came with the timing belt kit. Have the cam seals, will have to order a crank seal, will order the center mount as well. Does the bolt itself really need to be changed?
It should be, and with an OEM, don't use the one that some aftermarket center mounts include.

There have been reports of those bolts breaking and the engine drops, then you have a worse mess trying to fix.

It's been several years, but the last time I checked that bolt was less than $10. It's not worth the potential consequences later just to save $10 now.
 

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I just wanted to leave a suggestion here in case it helps anyone else in the future.

I've just finished this myself. That cast iron bracket is a monumental pain in the butt. I uttered plenty of swear words under my breath, getting the bolts in and out, and getting the bracket in and out.

What I figured out is that those 3 big bolts that hold the cast iron bracket to the engine don't have to come out all the way. They're sitting inside 3 big horizontal tubes that are part of the cast iron bracket. (See 2 images I attached). They only need to be loosened up enough to get the bracket off of the engine. After that, they'll be sitting loose inside those tunnels. (see photos) Having those bolts rattle around in those little tunnels is a pain, yes, and may make it a bit more awkward to maneuver the bracket out of the engine compartment, but jacking the engine up and down so far, just to get those bolts above or below the body of the car so they can come all the way out, is not necessary. I'm always afraid of breaking parts while I'm moving the engine up and down, potentially creating even more work for myself.

When I went to put it back in, I put the bolts back in their "tunnels", masking taped them into place, got the bracket into place, and then removed the tape and tightened the bolts. Still a huge PITA, but not quite as bad as moving the engine high enough and low enough to get the bolts back in while clearing the body of the car.

From the manual:

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I found this image on the internet, to show you the "legs" or "tunnels" that the bolts are sitting in. The tunnel is not threaded, so once the bolt is no longer grabbing the engine, it's just loose, and you don't need to remove it all the way.

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Thanks for the suggestions. Yep, that's the bracket that I couldn't manage to wiggle-out. Finally got the motor out and am glad to have enough room to do a proper job, the lower timing cover was filled with dust and sheared teeth and there's no way I would have been able to properly access everything otherwise.
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The motor is on rubber mats on a Lineberry type dolly. Bottom is soaked from leaks around the pulleys and the transmission so some cleanup and new seals are next.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Looks like the timing belt wore a gash into the front of the engine block where it exited the crankshaft sprocket - anybody else seen this?
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Looks like the transmission control solenoid has been leaking too, is it possible to replace the gasket or will the whole unit need to be changed? Trans shifts fine.
 

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Some 2.4L had worn crankshaft thrust washers that allowed too much axial play. The crankshaft could move in & out causing this. If this is the case, a good used engine (short block) is probably the best way to go.
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I would replace the sol pack assy & gasket if it is leaking ATF+4. Unless you can prove that the leak is just the gasket.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
I tried grabbing the crankshaft sprocket and pulling / pushing as hard as I could, there was no play in it so hopefully it's not the thrust bearing - maybe the belt was just stretched and loose? Next step is to pop off the sprocket and change the seal because it does seem to be leaking from around there.
 
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