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Old 05-19-2013, 03:17 AM   #1
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Default How-To: D21 Z24i Timing Chain Replacement

This How Too will, hopefully, explain step by step how to remove and replace the timing chain, sprocket gears, tensioner assembly and both chain guides in a very detailed method with pictures and details at each step.

I will focus heavily on how to obtain TDC (Top Dead Center) and how to remove the distributor and oil pump then replace them and keep the engine in time.

I will be doing this repair by removing the oil pan and valve tappet cover so the timing cover will remove easily and not damage the head gasket in the process so plan your parts list accordingly if you want to follow this write-up as performed.

I will also be replacing the Z24i original style water pump/mechanical fan clutch assembly, that is pressed together as a unit, with a water pump for the 280z car that does not have the pressed on fan clutch/pulley. The pump is cheap and is a direct replacement. I am doing this because I am also doing an electric Altima cooling fan install.

The 280z water pump install and cooling fan install will be separate write-ups that I will link too in this article. That way, if you are not doing these two modifications, you can carry on with the installation of your factory style cooling fan and water pump. The timing chain replacement will be the same regardless of the method of cooling you choose to use.


Lastly, be advised that I had use of a lift, air tools and everything else I needed such as parts delivery and a parts washer tank. Even with all of this I spent 10 hours on just the timing chain install. That did include cleaning parts and taking photos. All of that slowed me down some.

If you do not have this available plan on this taking two or three times longer than it did me if you go through cleaning and painting as I did.


Links:

280z Water Pump Install

Altima Cooling Fan Install
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2.4L Z24i, 5spd

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Old 05-19-2013, 03:29 AM   #2
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NOTE: It is highly recommended that you have a small box of sandwich bags on hand and keep your bolts separated and in a bag. Mark the bag as to where the bolts came from.



To replace the timing chain, tensioner and guides on the Z24i engine you will need the following parts and materials:

Necessary Parts list:
- Timing chain set (I purchased the ITM brand part #053-93500 on eBay)
- Timing cover gasket set (if your timing set does not include all of the gaskets)
- Oil pan gasket (Fel-Pro # OS 20042 C )
- Oil filter
- 4qts oil
- Gallon of Coolant/anti-freeze
- Valve cover gasket (if yours is older and may crumble upon removal)


Additional Parts that might need replacing at this time:
- Oil pump assembly
- Water pump assembly
- Thermostat and gasket
- Spark plugs & plug wires
- Distributor Cap and rotor
- Radiator hoses



Other materials List:
- Two or three cans of brake cleaner spray
- Tube of gray Permatex RTV gasket silicone
- Gasket scraper or putty knife
- Necessary tools
- Maybe some sandpaper or emery cloth for cleaning


Tools Needed:
- 3/8" or 1/4" drive ratchet and sockets set 8mm to 19mm
- Socket extensions 3" and 6" long
- Combination wrench set 10mm through 19mm
- Screwdrivers (flat and cross tip)
- Ball peen hammer or plastic mallet
- 1/2" drive long handle breaker bar or long handle ratchet
- 27mm socket (for crankshaft pulley bolt)
- Gasket scraper or putty knife (for removing paper gaskets)
- Pack of utility knife razor blades (for scraping gasket material)
- Pliers of some kind
- Long handle pry bar if possible

***Make plans to be draining the engine oil and engine coolant before you start the job. So you will need drain pans to catch the old fluids and whatever disposal method you have to get rid of it.
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2.4L Z24i, 5spd

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Old 05-19-2013, 03:36 AM   #3
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Here are photos of the parts I used to do my timing chain and guides.

This ITM set looks like quality stuff. The guides are metal backing and feel substantial. I got this complete set for $35.00 from an individual selling it on eBay. This kit usually costs about $70.00. Cloyes makes another good kit if you don't want the ITM set.










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Last edited by Tally HB; 05-21-2013 at 03:22 AM.
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Old 05-21-2013, 03:37 AM   #4
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Ok, lets roll! No pictures necessary for the first few steps. If you cannot get these simple things done correctly then you have no business trying to replace the timing chain.

Once you have your vehicle where you will be working on it place it in neutral and set the parking brake. If you don't have a parking brake use a wheel chock to hold it from rolling. The transmission has to be in neutral or you cannot spin the engine and you will need to do this to install the timing components.

I cannot stress this enough . . . . REMOVE THE NEGATIVE BATTERY CABLE!! Tuck it away so it cannot make contact with the battery terminal. You will be removing the alternator and the hot cable to the alt will act like a friggin' welder if it touches bare metal.

The next thing you want to do is drain the oil and remove the oil filter. Then drain the engine coolant completely. Remove both radiator hoses, remove the thermostat housing if you are replacing the thermostat, remove the water pump and fan clutch assembly and remove the radiator. I highly suggest to remove the radiator as this will give you so much more room to work.


Remove your air cleaner assembly completely. Then remove the valve cover. This will make it easier to remove the intake side spark plugs also.


Remove the four intake side spark plugs so you can relieve the compression. This will make it easy to spin the engine with a wrench and allow you to feel when the #1 piston is coming up on the compression stroke.


I also removed my front grille as I got rid of all of my A/C components and removed the condenser. This allowed me to work through the front of the truck with no obstructions.







With the oil drained it is time to remove the oil pan. To do this you have to remove the cross brace that spans between the two lower control arms. It is easily removed. You will need a 19mm socket on a ratchet to remove the nuts and a 19mm wrench to hold the bolt heads from spinning. Simply remove the four bolts holding the brace to the frame. Tap it off with a hammer.








Once the brace is removed you can them remove the oil pan. You will need a long extension and a 10mm socket on a ratchet and remove all those bolts around the edge of the oil pan. There is a shit load of them. Don't lose these bolts as they are exactly the right length needed. Once all those little bolts are removed you will likely have to tap on the pan to get it to unstick. You might also have to wedge the flat end of a screwdriver between the pan and the block to get it to come loose. Be careful not to muck up the mating surface on the block.

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Old 05-21-2013, 03:38 AM   #5
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Remove the distributor cap leaving all the wires attached to the cap. Pull the two coil wires from the coils. Pull the spark plug wires from the intake and exhaust side spark plugs. Remember where the red coil wire boot went. Mark it if necessary if both boots are black. There is an exhaust side and intake side coil and they are specific to the operation of the spark system.

Set the distributor cap aside somewhere out of the way.


Next, go ahead and remove the alternator. It has two bolts at the bottom ears of the alternator body. One at the front and one behind and then the tensioner system bolt. Three bolts total. Then remove the power cable and other smaller wires at the back of the alternator. Unplug the main harness connector also.

This makes even more room to work.

Remove that water outlet you see just behind the water pump to the side of the timing cover. This is where the lower radiator hose went too. It has a gasket and should be included with the timing cover gasket set.


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Old 05-21-2013, 03:48 AM   #6
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Remove the water pump/fan clutch assembly. It is only a few bolts using a 10mm wrench on most of them. Two of them need a 12mm wrench.

The entire assembly comes off including the fan blade as one unit.


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Old 05-21-2013, 03:49 AM   #7
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The next step is the most important part of this whole job. You need to set Top Dead Center.

Once TDC is set you should avoid rotating anything, crankshaft or camshaft, from this point on to the end.


How to Set Top Dead Center on #1 cylinder:


This is really simple but it must be done correctly or the timing will be off when you finish.

Using your 27mm socket and long handle ratchet, put it on the main crankshaft pulley bolt and slowly spin the engine clockwise (clockwise as you face the engine). As you spin it look for the timing mark on the crankshaft pulley. It is a small "v" shaped notch on the back edge of the middle pulley groove. I have marked mine with white-out so it can be seen clearly.

As you are spinning the engine the mark will start to get close to the "0" mark on the indicator tab. Well before it gets to that mark place a finger in the #1 spark plug hole and feel for the pressure to push your finger out. The #1 spark plug hole is the first plug hole closest to the front of the engine. You can use either the intake side hole or the exhaust side hole. Doesn't matter as they are both #1 cylinder.

If you do not feel pressure pushig your finger out then go around one more revolution with the crank pulley and feel for pressure as the mark comes around toward the "0" mark on the tab.

You must be on the compression stroke to get TDC. The pressure on your finger means the cylinder is on the compression stroke.

So if you feel pressure from the cylinder on your finger tip then it is coming up on the compression stroke. Slowly continue to move the crankshaft pulley till the pulley notch aligns exactly at the "0" mark. If it is past it even an 1/4" inch it is off too much. It must be as close to perfectly aligned as it gets.

This is shown in the photo directly below.










Notice that the cam sprocket alignment peg is at the 12 o'clock position. It must stay there to keep valve timing correct. Also notice how much wear there is at the base of each tooth on the sprocket. This shit was worn out!

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Last edited by Tally HB; 05-21-2013 at 04:34 AM.
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Old 05-21-2013, 04:02 AM   #8
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Now that you have Top Dead Center on your engine, you can now start to remove critical timing components such as the distributor itself and the oil pump. Both of these have to be removed before the timing cover can be removed.

Because the distributor cap is removed you can see the rotor button. Use some white out, or a paint marker, and make a mark exactly where the sharp edge of the rotor button is pointing too. Mark the dot on the metal plate below the rotor button. This reference mark will be important at the end of the installation so that you can verify the distributor is positioned where it was before you removed it. I failed to get a pic of this so I apologize. It isn't critical though as the button can only go on one way. You will see what I am talking about.

There is a single bolt holding it to the distributor shaft. Using an 8mm socket remove that bolt. Lift the rotor off the shaft and set it aside with the distributor cap.

Remove the wire connector that plugs into the bottom side of the distributor body.

You can now remove the distributor itself. It is held by two bolts a the base of the distributor. One is close to the engine the other is kind of hidden but is easy to get too. Use a 10mm wrench to get these.

Once the two bolts are removed simply pull up on the distributor and it should pop out. There is nothing to lose, nothing will fall off. You will be able to then see the distributor drive shaft that connects to the distributor and is driven by the oil pump. Here is a photo below.


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Last edited by Tally HB; 05-21-2013 at 04:43 AM.
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Old 05-21-2013, 04:57 AM   #9
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Take a close look at the drive gear shaft inside the distributor hole. The alignment of that "D" shaped shaft is critical to spark timing. This is where most people screw up.

If at all possible, make some kind of mark, something that you will be able to check for alignment once the oil pump has been removed and put back in.

The alignment of this "D" shaped tip is critical. It must be aligned exactly as it was when put back in.

I cleaned off the old gasket material then I scribed a line across the flat of the timing cover hole for the distributor that was level with the flat of the drive shaft tip.


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Old 05-21-2013, 05:00 AM   #10
Tally HB
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Now you can remove the oil pump assembly. It is four long bolts. Use a 12mm wrench or socket to remove the bolts. They are not the same length so pay attention to them. Also note the orientation of the oil pump itself as it must go back on the same way. It will only fit one way.

You can remove the pump from above or crawl under the truck and get to it. I had the luxury of a lift so I did it from below.



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