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Doug, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Mitsubishi
Satisfied Customers: 8547
Experience:  Mitsubishi employed and Factory trained ASE certified technician
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2002 Mitsubishi Montero Sport, 3.0L automatic transmission,

Customer Question

2002 Mitsubishi Montero Sport, 3.0L automatic transmission, RWD.
A quick history before the problem occurred..
I was driving my vehicle home on the interstate, it down shifted, and I saw the neutral light was flashing, luckily my rpms didn't go threw the roof or anything, so I pulled over, checked my fluid level and smelled it. it was full, and wasn't burnt. so I legged it home, and the rest of the drive was fine. The next morning however, when put into reverse it made a grinding noise, and wouldn't drive when put into drive(however when I towed it to my shop, it drove onto the trailer, but still no reverse.).
Obviously a transmission was needed. I found one with 70k mileage, and began to drop the transmission, and install a new one. The job was very smooth, and quick, I had a friend help me R&R it.
After installation is where it got weird. I went to start it, and it did turn over to crank, but never start, and still wont.
I've tested spark directly from coils to the wire on each cylinder and I have good spark, I even pulled a plug and watched it arc. I have fuel, I can smell it, and after an attempt to start, I pulled the plug again to confirm that I am getting fuel in the cylinder. I tested fuel pressure form a line, and had 60psi, I thought at first fuel pressure regulator(nope.)
I am really scratching my head at this one. As far as timing, I haven't pulled my crank position sensor, or cam, I'll be honest because I just cant believe that they have anything to do with it, because Im actually getting spark, and fuel.
I'm completely at a loss. The vehicle has 170k on it, Im not the original owner. I also swapped my neutral safety switch from the older trans just incase that was the problem, but to no avail.
One thing I did notice, when turning the key to the on position, all lights but my check engine illuminate. I cant for the life of me remember if this is before of after trans installation, but I want to swear by the fact that it was like that before I installed the transmission.
Im unsure where to start, other than saying its a PCM??? I pulled the harness down to inspect for open wires, but aside from a few crumbling pieces of harness that comes with age, the wires are all neat and appear to be fine.
Your help would be so appreciated, thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mitsubishi
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.


I'm almost curious if you just had some really unlucky timing and had something unrelated fail at the same time as the repair work. There really isn't anything to expect you could have done wrong during the transmission swap.

If you have no engine light that would be a concern of course, however if you have spark consistent on all cylinders then it is likely the bulb just is burnt out... If the pcm were not turning on then you couldn't have consistent spark.

Can we get compression readings to see what the internal health of the engine looks like?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That's what I was thinking!
I believe I can, it will be tomorrow before I can do this though.
My understanding of compression testing is testing all cylinders correct, because the intake in this engine needs to be removed for a majority of them right?
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

I would really prefer all six. If you wanted to just do #1 (accessible with some effort) that would be something, but really the whole picture is needed. If we need to regroup tomorrow that is ok, we will just leave this open.

With the consistent spark it rules out a lot as that means the crank sensor is working, so the pcm etc. I wouldn't expect a fuel issue out of nowhere since it was working fine before the transmission job and failures are rare there.

The only other thing I would be curious about is if you happened to be using a different key for some reason that may not be programmed?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you,
I will definitely get to work on it tomorrow, I'm not familiar with the firing order on this engine. Where is #1 or just the firing order in general and I will start with that one maybe.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

#1 is passenger side, front most cylinder. You can usually cheat that one out without removing the intake, you just have to unbolt the oil filler neck and a bracket for the injector harness in the vicinity, then you can sneak the plug wire out etc.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Alright so just now I'm getting to chance to test compression.
#1 was at 120psi
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also, I'm the not the original owner, but I have never changed keys, and the one I have looks to be original.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.


120 psi certainly isn't terribly "good" but if they were all at that it should run. The technical minimum for running is 129 psi per cylinder... but realistically at 120 psi it should run (just more than likely not well). For reference, normal "good" compression is over 170.

Can we either verify all six cylinder compression or test for ground pulse to the injectors while cranking?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok. Well, I tested all passenger side cylinders they all hit about 130psi, spike to 150psi but instantly drop down to 130psi again.
I'll continue on to the driver side.
And how would I go about testing ground on injects while cranking'?
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

That again should be enough to run. Not necessarily well, but it should run to some extent.

The injectors all have ignition 12V and then a pulsed ground while cranking/rotating. Normally we would unplug an injector and put a noid light across the pins of the connector, however given the access that can be more difficult of course. If the plenum is already off, then you can do this still (or use a test light if you don't have a noid set) connected between the two pins of one injector connector at a time then crank the engine and see if it flashes. If the plenum is already back on then you can use the injector harness connector by the oil filler cap, it has a 12V supply line and 6 ground lines to the injectors.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm using a test light. During this test, am I running my light from the positive terminal, or negative? And since they have 12volt power on if ignition, does that mean only when the key is on, the pulsing like you said?
I'm testing the harness connector
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

You can either use it from the battery positive terminal to the ground pin of the injector connector or you can use it between the two pins of the injector connector. If you are using the big junction connector, then pretty much any wire you pick will be a ground wire (6 grounds, one 12+), so just clamp the test light to battery positive then try a pin at random on that connector.
The pulsing will only be present while cranking (engine RPM translates to ground pulse to the injector). You will see either the light flashing while cranking, the light lit solid while cranking, or no light at all.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I tested from positive terminal to just random pins on the harness connector, with key on, no light. While cranking, no light.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

That's definitely not good. If the connector was unplugged, you are sure you were on the main harness side (not the sub harness that goes to the injectors) right?

If yes... do you have a second key to compare?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
100% positive. Although this test was done while the other connectors on the harness was unplugged, would that affect anything?
The key has the black Mitsubishi topping in it, I got it from the previous owner. No way to know for sure, but I'd say it was.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

The only thing that should be unplugged would be the injector sub harness, then tested at the main harness side of it. You could leave it plugged in and back probe too, no difference.
Look in the drivers door jam, around the shoulder level, do you see a small ~1" square sticker there?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Plugged and put everything back together, tested the connector again, no light or pulse.There is a sticker there,(I bought this car I'm California, currently in Texas.) it has a sticker but all it mentions is a smog test station.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.


The sticker I was looking for is an over-ride sticker for the key... given the age it was a bit of a long shot still being there, but was worth a check. It stands out pretty well, has a small barcode then two numbers one an MR###### ***** other an A######.

If it were there, we could temporarily bypass the immobilizer.

At this point unless there is something additional to add about what transpired during the transmission swap, I don't see any expectation here other than an immobilizer malfunction.
Since you aren't 100% sure the engine light worked before, I would take one last check over the fuses just to be safe. It is unlikely an issue (and more probable the light was burned out before) since you have consistent spark, but doesn't hurt to re-check.

With constant/consistent spark we know there is a good crank sensor signal, and your compression is at least adequate to run. That leaves us only with a fuel related issue to suspect.

At a fuel related issue you have a few possibilities.... of course fuel itself, pump/pressure, as well as cam sensor and immobilizer. We checked the fuel injector pulse and right off the bat see that there is no pulse.... so fuel itself and pump/pressure are pretty much out the window. That leaves us with cam sensor and immobilizer.... and if it were the cam sensor we would get momentary pulse then nothing (not to mention they rarely fail unless aftermarket). With no pulse whatsoever, that really only leaves us with immobilizer or computer issue.

What I would be doing at this point is getting it into a dealer so they can confirm computer operation while they are there, and then reprogramming the key and seeing if things change. That injector pulse had to go somewhere, and unless the harness go downright mutilated somehow (which would be quite a task given the distance from where you were working), we really only have the computers and immobilizer to consider, and the immobilizer (keys specifically) is the only one that is pretty common to randomly fail.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for all the detail.
I did however find the sticker you were talking about, complete with MR and A. The other sticker distracted from the sticker we needed.So what do I do with the sticker numbers?
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

Ah fantastic!

Please provide the A--- number for me

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

Please follow the directions on the attached over ride card I am supplying and use them to input code 4645. Please wrap the head of the key in aluminum foil to shield the RFID signal from the key.
Tell me if you get any immobilizer (green light in dash) response from each input.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I went through all the steps, got a green light each time, and it stayed on for the last one.
Still didnt start.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.


If it went through all steps normally, please try to start it again while checking for injector pulse and see if you get a flash now. Note that it will only allow two starts (The initial one from putting in the code, then one additional start) before you have to enter the code again. Lets see if we have injector pulse while it is in the over ride state.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Well now when key is on, the green light stays on on dashboard, I guess that's letting me know I still have attempts left?Anyways I checked for pulse after the reset and still nothing.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

Right, that is normal. It should go out the next key cycle or two.

So still no injector pulse.... just to be safe, the test light does work OK right? If you connect between both battery posts it does light up right?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
still nothing? Whats even more weird, is like I said, I had fuel on my plugs earlier?And I tested test like just to make sure.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

Yeah that doesn't add up. If the test light definitely works across the battery posts, then you would have to have injector pulse while cranking in order to get fuel on the plugs.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Well for some reason I'm not getting fuel now? I just pulled a plug, and it's dry.
But I had fuel before??
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Still no light, and still no pulse on a working test light.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

That would make more sense.
If you have no pulse even after doing the over ride, then I would very carefully check your wiring and make sure you didn't manage to pinch the harness somewhere or leave a ground cable off etc. If the immobilizer were malfunctioning we wouldn't get a confirming over ride like we do.... which would put us down to a wiring problem or a bad PCM. And a a bad PCM is not just unlikely in general, given the circumstances it is just too hard to accept that it just happened to go bad while the repairs were being made.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok. I'm going to double check all my connections on harness tomorrow topside tomorrow.
One really stupid thing happened the other day. Our "mechanic" pulled all of my fuses under the panel under hood. And then didn't pay attention to where they went. I couldn't find a good diagram, and the one that's on the panel is faded.
Luckily I somehwhat remembered the j case fuses, that's the most faded part, and the deciphered the 10-25 amp fuses. The relays I had no idea. Anyways, I'm thinking of the reason I dont have fuel is because of maybe wrong fuse placement?On the whole. Before I had the fuel problem, I had spark, I HAD fuel, so much, they flooded it to the point it was coming out of the exhaust at one point. Which by aggravated me that he would even continue?
And lets say that I did have compression since I have it today. And you would agree timing should be fine right?
Fuel, fire, air, timing, compression, I mean that's all it needs right?
Is there anyway you think weak starter? I had the whole harness down, it didn't seem pinched.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

Oh boy well that certainly isn't helping matters any.
Hang on a second and I'll get you a chart

Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

Timing is pretty likely OK with consistent compression. It is low, but not so low it would be your issue. If we only had one cylinder reading we could speculate about that, but with all six in 'ok' range, it is really unlikely to be timing.

The starter should only prevent starting (beyond the obvious if it doesn't do anything) if it cranks really slowly, and that wouldn't affect your injector pulse.

I think it would be wise at this point to double check you still have spark on all six cylinders as that is an important piece of the puzzle there and if things changed or we were mistaken before that will open up a few more possibilities.

Still working on the chart.

Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

This is your under hood chart for the 2002 3.0
1-100A 2-20A 3-30A 4-30A 5-40A 6-40A 7-30A 8-30A 9-60A

A-10A B-10A C-15A 4-10A 5-10A

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok. Headed to shop. I'll work on checking on the fuses.
Assuming they are correct, or I correct them, what is next?
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

I only see wiring as realistic expectations after that if your injector ground pulse tests are correct.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
here is a picture of what im working with. I seem to be missing a relay? All fuses look fine/not blown.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

That socket is just for fog lights and not a concern here.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok. Well, after I tested to get power from harness with key on, no light. Trying to start, no light or pulse.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

Where are you testing for power? Across the battery terminals, or probing at the harness? If at the harness, there is no power at the black/red striped wire when measured between it and ground?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok. I am getting a light from ground to the red/black wire. And I am getting a pulse with cranking, dim, the longer I hold it, it spikes and gets brighter for just a moment. Still no start. I left MAF off after reinstallation last night. Also, it is just me testing alone, and the test light doesn't get very bright for the pulses, maybe why I wasn't seeing them last night?
Either way, I do have fuel now. I'm going to test past immobilizer once more, but the most recent tests were done with no tin foil. So immobilizer is out right?
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

We are only concerned with only power on the black/red wire. Flashing would only indicate a weak battery really, it should be constant ignition 10-12V.

The pulse is only desired on the other six wires, and when measure between battery positive and each wire.

If you have fuel pulse now, then we aren't worried about the immobilizer, as its primary action is disabling injector pulse.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have just under 12v on the red/wire with key on. Good.
And the others im unable to test pulse on cranking being alone, but I did have 10.55 on each if them with key on.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

Okay, well that is a critical thing knowing if they are pulsing or not.
Can we go back and double check your spark?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Definitely. I did test spark, BUT, half way through, my car won't crank, it just clicks, like a bad starter. I thought battery at first, but I test it at 12v and when charging 13, still the same click, I can hear a whirring. But while sitting in car replying to you, I tried again to better describe it, but it turned over. And almost caught???
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Now it turns over no problem?
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

Well how weak was it cranking to begin with?
If it was cranking slowly like we mentioned before that is enough to prevent starting.... you crank slow and it pump fuel in there but can't catch, next thing you know you are flooded and things get infinitely worse trying to start it.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I've had a weak, slow start before in other cars, this wasn't weak, unless its just borderline enough to count? Is there anyway to test that other than put another starter on?
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

Before assuming the starter, I would be putting jumper cables to another car on there or a battery charger with starting boost etc.
And when cranking like that I would want the pedal all the way down in case it is still flooded.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I've got the cables on from battery charger, on 200amp Engine start 12V, nothing. Even with throttle wide open, nothing
I smell the gas. And like I just said, I had spark. Its just not catching.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

If you've got spark and fuel, that just really leaves compression unless there is another variable we don't know about. For just swapping the transmission though there really isn't anything else to suspect.
If you shoot some starting fluid in the intake does it catch at all?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Spark tested all cylinders, all are getting spark.
Getting fuel, and I tried starter fluid, it still didnt catch.
The only time I've seen this vehicle remotely close to starting was just earlier when I had the charger on the battery and went to start and the starter clicked over. When I stopped and tried again, I could feel it catch just for a second, but not again since then.
All fuses are back in regular places, I've look the harness from tranny over, and I looked transmission and engine seal, no wires caught or even in the remote vicinity other than drive side 02 sensor, and it is free. I tested compression yesterday, and though it was lower, it still should have been enough like you said.
Something that just occurred. I went to switch gears,(battery charger still on) and I can hear a very loud buzzing noise when in reverse, one time I'm neutral, and in drive and lower.
It goes away after a second.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

The buzzing is normal, that is just the valve body solenoids. They always do that, but it is usually not heard due to engine/transmission noise as it is usually running when you are out of park.

As much as I can't believe it, if you have spark consistently and fuel pulse, I don't really see anywhere else to go but checking the belt timing and ignition timing (checked via the belt).

If you have access to a fuel pressure treasurer I suppose we could check that first, and maybe try scanning for trouble codes in case something is tripped and we don't know since the light doesn't work.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have checked fuel pressure, it was at 60psi last time I checked it. I installed new regulator in hopes it would work.
When in drive, my neutral light is on in dash, which I've always had like that, but would that affect anything?
Is it possible to have bad timing when my crank and cam sensors are responding?
I'll check for codes.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Scanned with mini scanner.
Here are codesP0335- Crankshaft Position sensor A circuitP0116 - Engine Coolant Temp. Sensor 1 Circuit Range/PerformanceP0121 Throttle/Pedal Position Sensor/Switch A circuit Range/PerformanceP0111 Intake Air temp. SensorP0107 - Manifold Absolute Pressure/Barometric Pressure Circuit lowP0204 - injector circuit open cylinder 4
Keep in mind though, I did do a start with sensors unplugged and whatnot so that could throw codes right? One that does catch me is the crankshaft code. Could anything I unplugged affect that?
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

The neutral light being on can mean a few things... If it is lit solid the safety switch is out of adjustment, if flashing it means either a trouble code is set or an overheat condition depending on the flash speed. Neither would cause a no start though (well not without preventing starter operation too).

With regard to timing... Yes it could be a few teeth off and not run, still have compression, and sensors work. Generally speaking if the crank sensor fails lose spark and fuel, if the cam sensor fails you lose fuel.

Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

Crank sensor fault is likely from testing... Thou wouldn't have spark without it. The intake air temp is noteworthy.... The intake hose (and so the maf sensor) is all hooked up right? The engine won't run if that is missing.

Let's clear the codes and see what returns after some cranking.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Well it stays lit in drive, and I don't have a D lit up. So I'm guessing its out of adjustment.So sense we have all of those things it couldn't be the sensors.
Is it unlikely it jumped time just randomly like this?Intake and MAF are an hooked right.
After a couple trues at starting it, no codes were thrown.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

Yep. Just an adjustment for that. You can put the shifter into neutral then loosen bolts and nut on the switch and adjust it until the N lights up and tighten it down, then shift through the ranges and make sure everything correlates again.

Yeah most likely all from things being unplugged while compression testing. I'd give it a few more tries just in case.

It would be really weird coincidence for it to jump time like that bit we don't really have much else to think about of you have consistent spark, fuel delivery etc.

When was the last belt done (they are 60k internal belts)?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I think D light is burnt out too. Adjusted it and still doesn't light up.I'm not sure if timing has been done on this or not. How can I tell, and is there anything to look for?
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

It wouldn't be too surprising if it was burnt out. It is literally lit more than any other bulb on the car, they frequently burn out. Add long as you adjust in neutral you don't need to worry about it.

With regard to the timing, they're is nothing you can do but disassemble and inspect the front end unfortunately. There is an external gauge to the side of the crankshaft, however the cam covers can not be removed easily without disassembly of everything else (well, the driver one will come of but you won't be able to reinstall it). The passenger cam cover should have a removable wedge to examine, but of course that only shows you one side. And the ignition timing you can not see without full disassembly As the reluctor is behind the crank gear.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The driver side on this one, has a small cover two bolts pretty easy access, all you can see is cam really. The belt looks relatively new though, the sprockets haven't been replaced or anything.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

Yeah it's reinstalling the cover that poses a problem for that side. Belt visible condition doesn't really matter, as these look the same at 1000 miles add they do at 100000 miles, that's why records are so important.

Rotate the crankshaft clockwise until the | notch on the face of the can gear aligns to the V notch on the valve cover behind it. Once lined up, look down the front of the engine at the timing scale beside the crank pulley. Where on the scale does the notch on the crank pulley line up?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I did as you said, clockwise till cam lined up. The notch on the crank pulley doesnt line up, the crank notch is a good.. Maybe inch to the left of the scale.
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

That's a bad sign, but could be worse. Take the small inspection cover off the passenger cam cover of you have it (there will be a triangular wedge piece on the top held on with a single 10mm bolt) and see if that cam is off too.

If you don't have the inspection style cover, then rotate the engine two full turns clockwise by hand and see if the marks are still off an inch.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I turned the crank two full times, marks are still off the same amount. What does that mean?
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

That means except for the extremely rare occasion of the crank pulley twisting, the belt has jumped time. This explains the low compression and the inability to start with fuel/spark/"adequate" compression.... as the belt timing being off means the ignition timing is off too then.

At this point all you can do is hope for the best and reinstall (a new belt of course) and compare behavior. This is a valve-bender engine.... however if you were only about an inch off, around 4 teeth, you should be OK if the other cam isn't any worse. When you get to 5+ teeth is when you are pretty much guaranteed to have valve damage. 3-4 is usually passable (they touched, but not hard enough to bend etc).
So from here we would want to do a full inspection, tear down the entire front end to access the belt. From there the actual timing mark on the crank gear can be inspected (just on the off chance the crank pulley twisted and the mark is no longer correct) and the ignition reluctor can be checked too to make sure it didn't move on the crank gear, and of course the passenger cam position inspected as well.
Then if nothing unusual is found a new timing belt can be installed properly aligned and should make things much happier.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok so on the chance that a simple belt installation and retime would fix it, is there anything in particular in a timing kit I should buy.
mostly I'm seeing a belt and a pulley or two
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

Not really. Given what is at stake, I wouldn't recommend going cheap on the belt.... but you don't need a $120 Mitsubishi belt either. A quality belt like Continental will get the job done for half the cost etc.
Generally speaking pulleys and tensioners are rare to fail on these, so I usually just inspect them while I am in there to see if there are any warning signs, rather than defaulting to replacement. It isn't unusual to see the timing components on the V6 last 300k without sweating.
When you take the belt off, unbolt the hydraulic tensioner and leave the mechanical tensioner tight. This way if the belt is tensioned right and there isn't anything wrong with the pulley, it is already tensioned correctly most likely... otherwise there is a special tool required to adjust it.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok well I'm arm deep in timing now.I've got driver side cam on TDC
Working on passenger side.
Is there a certain process I should proceed with. I'm got hydraulic tensioner off with pin in it.
I was just curious as to when I should get the crank on its alignment, and that other cam and at what time to put the belt on?
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

No problem.
Be prepared for the passenger cam to want to slip. It is a real bugger to get it to balance on the timing mark. For this reason a pair of clothes pin style clamps is really helpful.

Start on the passenger cam, then under the water pump and over the drivers cam. Make sure there is zero slack in between the cams. The belt should be tight on both sides of the water pump.

Go down the driver side first in front of the idler, then around the crank gear. You can turn the crank gear anti clockwise slightly to make it easier... it is a very tight fit getting the belt over the crank gear when it is dead on the marks. A half tooth to nearly tooth rotation makes it a bit easier then you can rotate the crank back on mark once the belt is on.
Slide the belt over the mechanical tensioner last, then insert the hydraulic tensioner and pull the pin.
Rotate the engine two clockwise turns by hand and make sure your marks are still lined up. Slide the grenade pin back in the hydraulic tensioner to make sure it is set right (it should slide back in or be very close). If it is not able to go back in, the mechanical may be out of adjustment... the rule of thumb is that the two adjustment holes in the mechanical tensioner should be lined up parallel to the body of the hydraulic tensioner. If you are unsure.... take a photo for me, better safe than sorry.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Define slack in a toothed belt? I can pull the belt slightly between the cams, but not close enough that a tooth would jump',but I can't get a tight feeling either?
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

When the belt is properly installed the slack will be on the tensioner side. There should be zero slack between the cams and the water pump or the driver cam and the crank... absolutely zero slack.
When you think you have the belt right between the cam gears, rotate the cam gears away from each other slightly to take up any remaining slack... if it still looks like it is on marks you are good. If it looks like you are off the marks afterward, you are off a tooth etc.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The little stud on crankshaft pulley, it came off, is that a problem?
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

It depends. The roll pin on the front of the crank gear you mean? If so you need to replace it... without it the engine torque will spin the crank inside the pulley and the belts won't turn.
Also speaking of those... looking at the crank gear the dimple on the face of the gear was lined up to the V notch int he crank reluctor right? We have to watch these as they can slide apart if things were stuck really bad (which it sounds like they were if the roll pin came out).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
replace the roll pin, or the gear?And by dimple, do you mean the hole where the pin was?
Expert:  Doug replied 1 year ago.

If the hole is OK and there isn't a broken roll pin stuck in it etc, then you can replace the roll pin alone. If it is broken off in there or the hole is stretched out etc, then a new gear would be in order.

No, on the face of the gear right on one of the teeth is a dimple. This is the timing mark you should be using for setting the crank. The dimple tooth should also align directly to the V notch in the reluctor plate attached to the back of the gear. If they do not align, the gear needs to be removed and disassembled/checked to see if it can be repaired. If they are lined up, then just turn the crank gear to the alignment mark (raised rib on the oil pump).