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Replacing Timing Belts and Water Pumps on the Mitsubishi - Chrysler 3.0 Liter V6 Engine

by John T. Blair

Note: before actually doing the job, read the "timing belt horror story" at the end. Also, note that we have a valve guide seal replacement guide which may be helpful.

John, the Allpar staff, and Allpar LLC stipulate that you proceed at your own risk.

1. Jack up front of car, and place on jackstands - I placed the jackstands on the floor pan reinforcement channels right behind the firewall.

2. If going to remove the water pump or intake manifold, drain radiator. (Note, if you haven't changed the water pump before, there is 1 bolt that attaches a bracket to the water pump and to the rear cylinder head. To get this bolt out, you will have to remove the intake manifold as the bolt will not clear the thermostat housing. So be forwarned you will need an intake manifold gaskets and plenumn gaskets. When I did this job the first time, I did not replace this bracket. So I don't have to remove the manifold to replace the water pump. I can't recommend leaving this bracket out, but it reduces the time required to replace the pump by over 1 hour.)

3. Pull serpentine Belt - insert 1/2" tommy bar into hole on tensioner to relieve tension and remove belt.

4. Pull Sepertine belt tensioner - 1 bolt in center

5. Pull Crankshaft Dampener Pulley - 1 bolt (22 mm socket) Note: using an impact wrench is the only way I've found for getting these off. If you impact wrench won't budge it - you can use a 1/2" tommy bar. Disconnect the high tension coil wire from the coil, rest the tommy bar against the lower A arm, and have a helper just bump the starter. I've had to use this on several occassions and it works!

6. Remove AC belt by loosening nut on front of idler pulley then loosen bolt on top of pulley bracket.

7. Remove idler pulley - 3 bolts (15mm socket)

8 Remove the A/C electric fan. There are 2 10mm machine screws that hold the top of the fan to the radiator core support, and disconnect the electrical connection. The fan will lift streight up and out. This gives a lot more room for working with the A/C compressor. Just be careful with the compressor not mess up the A/C condenser/

9. Remove AC compressor from mount - 2 bolts and 2 nuts (15mm socket). Note: compressor can not be moved too far off the bracket until the bracket is pulled. Hang the compressor out of the way with a piece of coat hanger wire through one of the bolt holes in the compressor and wrapping the other end of the coat hanger around the passenger side hood support bolt on the radiator core support.

10. Remove AC compressor bracket from block - 3 bolts (15mm sockets), 2 on top, 1 under compressor. Now move compressor and bracket out of the way and tie off to relieve strain on AC hoses.

11. Remove Front engine mounting support plate from block:

  • a. 4 bolts (14mm socket) - these are pretty long
  • b. 2 bolts (15mm sockets) behind the Power Steering pump pulley. Note: There is an access hole in the pulley to get to these bolts.
  • c. Loosen P.S. pump - 1 nut on back of pump (15 mm socket)
  • d. Remove motor mount:
    • i. Large bolt which goes fore and aft (18 mm socket)
    • ii. Large nut on bottom of motor mount (22mm socket)
    • iii. 2 bolts attaching mt to Passenger fender well (12 mm socket)

12. Remove 3 plastic timing chain covers - 8 to 10 bolts (10 mm socket)

13. With the timing chain covers off the front of the engine, you call see all 3 timing marks, one on each of the camshaft gears and the one of the crank gear. Reinstall the crank bolt, and rotate the engine to align the marks so that the engine is at Top Dead Center (TDC) on #1 piston. The crank mark will align with the pointer on the front of the oil pump, and the 2 cam shaft gear marks will align with the marks on their back cover. The reason for this, is that if anything moves, you can easliy reset everything to the correct timing.

14. Remove timing belt:

  • a. Loosen timing belt tensioner pulley (12 mm socket)
  • b. Use long screwdriver to pry on pulley to remove tension on belt and tighten pulley bolt to hold idler pulley. If you don't intend to finish the car in one sitting, I suggest that you loosen this clamping bolt and releive the tension on the spring. When you're ready to install the new belt, push the tensioner out of the way again, and tighten the bolt. This hold the tensioner in the "no tension" position.
  • c. slide belt off.

15. Remove the water pump, It is held in place with several bolts.

16. I strongly recomend that you replace the crank and camshaft seals at this time also. To replace the cam shaft seals it will be necessary to remove the cam gears from the cam shaft, remove the rear covers. (Note: if the seals are very old and brittle you may want to get some "wear sleeves" to give the new seals a nice clean surface to run on. Otherwise you may be doing this job again in the very near future. (This is the voice of experience speaking!!) - see below for details and photos.

17. Reassembly is the reverse of disassembly. No major gotchas here.

3-liter timing belt horror story and replacement guide

by John T. Blair

For anyone that is about to replace their timing belt I have a very interesting story to tell you. So please take a second to read this before you start your job.

I have an '89 Voyager van with the 3L Mitsubishi engine. I purchased this van used with 85,000 miles on it. I really didn't think much of that mileage, as the Honda civic wagon had 85,000 miles on it. The van was an LE fully loaded, quite a step up from our manual transmissioned, no power anything.

Shortly after purchasing the van it started the usual smoking. To make this part of the long story short, I had to pull the heads and have the valve guides replaced. When I put the engine back together I replaced the water pump, timing belt, and all other belts. Over the next 10,000 miles I had to replace the water pump 3 times - but that's a different story.

Fast forward about 60,000. I had to have the transmission rebuilt at about 150,000 miles. For some reason, after the rebuild, it was leaking. As I was getting ready to take my son back to college, I told him to take the van to the transmission shop to look at the leak. When we picked up the van, my son made it about 10 feet out of the shops driveway and the van died. Turned out the water pump failed (again - this was the third one I'd put on). I had the van towed home and started to tear it down. What I found was the bell on the water pump, that the timing belt rides, on had come off the pump and ground up a lot of the aluminum housing of the pump and the bell. As a result I had to replace the water pump, timing belt, and timing belt pulley.

When I removed the harmonic ballancer, I also noticed that some how the woodrift key had broken and gulled out its seat in the ballancer shaft. So I had to get a new harmonic ballancer. To replace the woodrift key, I had to get the crank gear off. And you can probably guess I broke it, so there's another part I need. I finally get all the parts required to fix the van to the tune of about $500, and put the van back together.


Everything runs great for about 2 weeks. Now the horror story begins. I'm standing in the drive and my wife drives up. The van is making a god awful noise. It sounded like the hydraulic lifters clattering. I check the oil, and there is just some on the dip stick. I put in about 3 quarts. I asked her how long the van has been making that noise. She says, it just started. I check under the van, and it's dropping a lot of oil. Turns out the original crankshaft seal blew.

Other than the fact that I just finished this job 2 weeks ago (it's the same job as replacing the timing belt), I get a new seal and replaced it. I have to remove the crank gear again, and I don't want to break it again. So I talk to some friends, and find out the secret to getting the gear off. You need to get 2 "cat's claws". These are available at any hardware store, and look like flat bladed screwdrivers with the ends turned up at about a 15 degree angle and a notch cut in the blade. They were designed as nail removing tools. You place the 180 degrees apart on the crank gear, and the head will fit behind the gear, so when you pry you aren't prying on the frail lip of the gear (which is what I broke 2 weeks earlier). I have a little trouble getting the seal out, but I get it out and replace it. Put the van back together and everything is fine. I'm starting to get good at this job. (I didn't mention that I just did the same job on my son's girlfriend's car in the intervening weekend.)


About 8 days go by, and I notice a large oil stain in the driveway again. So I get to tear the front of the engine down for the third time in a month. This time, the original seal on the rear camshaft is leaking. (Note: the camshaft seals look identical to the crankshaft seal.) A little older now, I start to see the trend here so I replace both camshaft seals. When I finish putting the van back together I take it for a test drive and go out to dinner. My wife got smart and was a chaperone for a band outing with our #2 son and was gone all weekend.

As I walk towards the restaurant I look back at the van, and it's leaking oil. Well I know what I'm doing Sunday. I pulled the front of the engine down again and try to reseat the front camshaft seal. Put it everything back together and head out to dinner for a test ride. I check under the van and guess what, it's still leaking oil!

So every night for the next couple of evenings I work on tearing the front of the engine down again to find out where it's leaking. The front camshaft seal still! I call some friends and find out that there is this thing called a wear sleeve. The old seal had become hard as a rock and worn a small groove in the camshaft. So I start calling all the local auto parts store until I find one that has the sleeve. It costs about $26 and comes with a tool for installing it. (Note: for the rear camshaft it would work fine, but since the front camshaft is longer, to drive the distributor, it doesn't work. I think I used a piece of PVC pipe as a jury-rigged tool to install the sleeve.) I install the sleeve and a new camshaft seal, put the engine back together. Take it for the same test drive to the restaurant and NO major leak, but I'm still leaking oil! But I can't find out where.


A few phone calls, and I get the suggestion to pull the heads and replace the head gaskets. Great! I get to have more fun. So the following weekend I pull the engine down for the 6th time in almost as many weeks. While I'm in there, I replace the camshaft seals again, and the valve guide seals. Get everything back together and take it for a test drive. No leaks!!!! I keep a close eye on the oil level and the stain in my drive way for the next month or so. I'm not using any oil, and the spot in the driveway isn't getting any bigger. So finally the problem is solved, and confidence in the van starts going back up.

All this was started in September of 2000. A couple of 500 mile trips to pick up our #1 son at college and everything is going great. In March of 2001, my son is having a "Junior Recital". (He's a music major - his main instrument is the clarinet, and he can play a mean sax.) So my wife, #2 son and I swing by my parents house and pick them up and off the 5 of us go, heading to James Madison Univ. for the recital. About a hour into the trip we come up to a rest stop, and my dad asks to stop. I pull into a parking space, and for some strange reason I walk around behind the van. I notice a line of fluid on the ground, in the path that I took to park. As I come up to the passengers door, my wife says there is smoke coming from the wheel well. I pop the hood and oil is pouring all over the ground, and burning off the catalytic converter.

Well the van is hard down. I check the oil. It's about 1 quart low. So apparently the crankshaft seal failed just as I exited the interstate going into the rest stop. Luck break #1. I call AAA to see about getting towed home. They ask how far we are from home as I have a 100 mile limit. I'm 88 miles from home! Lucky break #2. They say a tow truck will be there in a little while. We call our son and tell him that the van died and we won't make the recital. Now we start looking for a rental van. My wife notices that on our AAA card, we can get a discount at Hertz. I call them and ask if they have a Van. Nope. I ask what the biggest car they have is. A Mercury Grand Marquee. That should hold the 5 of us, our luggage, the cake and meat platter we had for the reception after the recital. Only 1 problem, how are we going to get to the rental car place? It's about 15 to 20 miles from where we are. As we're trying to figure this out, a fellow comes up and asks if he can help. We tell him that we need to get to the Richmond Airport to pickup a rental car. He says, "no problem, he's going right past there and will give us a ride." My dad hops in this fellow's van and disappears down the highway. About 10 minutes later the tow truck shows up. No one has to ride back with him. Lucky break #3. So we unload all our belongings from the van and pile them on the curb. We look like a bunch of vagabonds.


About 30 minutes after the roll back leaves, my dad arrives with the Merc. We pile all our stuff in it and head off for JMU, again. We actually make it to the recital with 20 minutes to spare. (It was great!)

Now back home, I tear the front of the engine down again to discover that the crankshaft seal has indeed gone. Now I know about these "wear sleeves" so I start calling around looking for one for the crankshaft. No one has one. Every place I call says they haven't had any call for one. (I find this hard to believe.) I also tell a friend and co-worker, Bob Loomis, about my problem. We both do some surfing on the internet and he finds a company called Micro Sleeve ( in Arlington, TX (800 475-3383) that specializes in making wear sleeves for modern engines.

I call them and they have a sleeve (part # MS 357) for the Mit. 3L engine. It's about $6! (I imagine that their price for the camshaft sleeve is a lot less than the $26 I paid for the one I got 6 months ago.) They also sell an installation tool (part # MST 357) for $17 which I also purchase.


It arrived today, and I started putting the van back together. Their sleeve went right on with their tool, no problem! I haven't finished yet. But it's dark now, so I thought I'd share my experience with you all.

Now the moral of the story. When you change the timing belts, change the camshaft and crankshaft seals. To replace the camshaft seals, it will be necessary to remove the camshaft gear. The camshaft may move on you. If it does, you will need a special camshaft wrench.


I made one out of some old scrap angle iron I had laying around - it was actually part of a bed frame in its past life.) If they haven't been replaced and you have over 120,000 miles on the engine, you might seriously want to think about getting the sleeves for the crank and cam shafts. It's worth the insurance.

In closing, let me pass on a couple of other tid bits.

  1. I don't really know how to get the seals off the crank. I ended up driving a small screwdriver into it. The seal was so brittle that it just crumbled.
  2. I pulled the oil pump to get better access to the seal journal on the crank. But this requires pulling the oil pan.

I hope my little adventure will save some of you some problems. I've seen lots written about replacing the timing bents, but could not find anything about replacing the seals. Now there is at least 1 document that tells you to do so.

I'm also including a sketch of the cam shaft wrench I made, some pictures of the van broken down at the rest stop, some pictures of crank sleeve, and a set of procedures for replacing the timing belt.

- John T. Blair WA4OHZ, Editor/Publisher of The Brickline



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