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Dan, Auto Service Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 3490
Experience:  GM ASEP A.A.S. 14 years GM experience. Mark of Excellence and Professional Guild awarded.
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1997 saturn: timing chain..liter..the timing marks aligned

Customer Question

How to replace the timing chain on a 1997 saturn sl2 with a 1.9 liter. And how is the timing marks aligned with the twin cam?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Dan replied 9 years ago.


  1. Assemble the timing chain, sprockets, guides and tensioners:

  1. Verify that the crankshaft is positioned at 90 degrees past TDC. The crankshaft keyway and sprocket must be aligned with the cylinder block main bearing cap split line (as viewed from the accessory drive end) to prevent piston and valve damage.
CAUTION: Do not torque the camshaft retaining bolts against the 3/16 inch timing pins as it will damage the cylinder head.

  1. Install the camshaft timing gears, retaining bolts and washers. The letters FRT on the sprockets must face forward, away from the cylinder head. Wrench flats 21 mm (7/8 inch) are provided to hold the camshafts from rotating while torquing the bolts. Torque to102 Nm (75 ft. lbs.).

  1. Bring the camshafts up to number one TDC by rotating the camshaft and sprocket until the timing pins (4.77 mm [3/16 inch] drill) can be installed. Wrench flats are installed on the camshafts to assist with rotation.

  1. Rotate the crankshaft counterclockwise (viewed from accessory drive end) until number one cylinder is TDC. The crankshaft sprocket timing mark will align with cylinder block timing mark.
WARNING: The camshafts can rotate during timing chain installation when the timing pins (4.77 mm [3/16 in.] drill) have not been installed. do not place fingers between camshaft sprockets and chain during timing chain installation.
CAUTION: Two separated silver link plates align the pip marks on the camshaft sprockets and another two paired link plates align the crankshaft sprocket tooth that is located at the six o'clock position. The pip mark on the crankshaft sprocket must be aligned with the timing mark on the cylinder block.

  1. Place the timing chain over the camshaft sprockets and under the crankshaft sprocket.

CAUTION: Excess slack in the chain must be kept to the chain tensioner side (movable guide) of the cylinder block when installing timing chain or the camshaft sprockets will not be correctly timed to the crankshaft sprocket.
  1. Make sure the silver colored link plates are located over the pip mark on the cam sprockets only. The crankshaft sprocket tooth must be pointed directly downward at the 6 o'clock position between the two silver colored links. The pip mark on the crankshaft sprocket will be aligned with the timing mark on the cylinder block.

CAUTION: Alignment of both timing pin holes, crankshaft sprocket pip mark with cylinder block mark, colored links with camshaft and crankshaft sprockets must be correct to make sure the engine is properly timed.

  1. Install the fixed guide. Torque to28 Nm (21 ft. lbs.).
CAUTION: The timing chain should be snug against the fixed guide.

  1. Install the pivoting chain guide. Check for clearance between the block and head. Torque the bolt and make sure the guide pivots freely. Torque to26 Nm (19 ft. lbs.).
CAUTION: The camshafts must be positioned fully forward prior to bearing cap installation.
  1. Install the two forward remaining camshaft bearing caps and timing chain guide. Torque to14 Nm (124 inch lbs.).

  1. Retract the tensioner plunger and pin the ratchet lever using a 3.18 mm (1/8 inch or No. 31) drill. Install the chain tension and torque the two bolts. Remove the drill and allow the tensioner plunger to extend. Torque to19 Nm (168 inch lbs.).
  2. Verify all timing marks for accuracy. Remove the camshaft timing pins.
    1. Camshaft timing verification procedure with engine assembled (front cover on):
      1. Remove cam cover.
      2. Turn the crankshaft clockwise until the mark on the damper pulley aligns with the pip mark on the front cover.

      1. Camshaft timing can be verified with the front cover installed and just the cam cover removed. Turn the crankshaft clockwise until the mark on the crankshaft damper/pulley aligns with the pip mark on the front cover. The camshaft sprocket timing pin holes will align with the timing holes in the cylinder head. Insert 4.77 mm (3/16 inch) drills through the camshaft gears into the cylinder heads. If the timing pins cannot be installed, rotate the crankshaft 360 degrees clockwise. If the pins cannot be inserted and rotating the crankshaft and camshafts slightly (one or two degrees maximum) will not allow pins to be installed, the camshafts are not timed.
NOTE: It may be necessary to remove the right-hand road wheel and splash shield to observe timing marks on front cover and crankshaft vibration damper/pulley.

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