Changing timing belt - change seals and gaskets too?
August 12, 2011 2:15 PM   Subscribe

When changing the timing belt on a 2000 Acura Integra, is it important to change the seals and gaskets at the same time?

I'm getting quotes on getting the timing belt replaced on my 2000 Acura Integra (LS if that makes a difference). Shops are quoting me different prices based on whether I get the seals and gaskets replaced at the same time. It looks like about a $250-$300 difference, and I'm not sure what this even means, let alone whether it's worth this difference.

One shop explained that "where the camshaft and the crankshaft connect - those are the seals that are replaced" and that doesn't mean too much to me.

Bonus question: the car has about 99,000 miles on it, and is late for the 90,000 mile service, but a little early for the 105,000 mile service - should I try to combine these services into one larger service, or just do the 90K service now and do the 105K service 15K miles later?

And one more: I need four tires too (expensive day!) - is it important to get alignment done at this time?

Thanks in advance for your excellent advice!
posted by faustessa to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Anecdotal story: I once had a Volvo 245 which broke its timing belt at about 375,000 miles. The mechanic suggested that I get those bearing seals replaced at the same time. His argument: leaking oil eats away at the timing belt, and will cause it to fail again prematurely. Seeing as how I didn't expect this car to last much longer, plus I was broke, I told him to skip it, so he did. Damned if the car didn't run to just over 400,000 miles before the nearly new belt broke again, thanks to its daily bath of leaking oil from camshaft seals. I'd go ahead and replace the seals if I were you.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:25 PM on August 12, 2011

If you're buying four tires from a place they really ought to toss in the alignment for free or a nominal fee. They should at least check the alignment and show you a print out from the machine if one is needed.

If they're putting on the tires without aligning them, you need to find a new tire shop.

If your seals and gaskets are 11 years old and have 100,000miles behind them, then I'd get the gaskets and seals done. (Assuming you haven't done them before?) They're not going to last forever, and you don't want them to go on the highway.

Lastly, I'm not sure what they DO on a 90k and a 100k service, but at this point I'd just do one, not two.

Good luck.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:26 PM on August 12, 2011

Er wait. Don't want the belt to go on the highway. Seals TEND to go slowly and trickle. But do them anyway. You get the idea.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:27 PM on August 12, 2011

Response by poster: Update if this helps: one place (which seems best so far) says the gaskets are nowhere near the timing belt and so you'd never do these two things at the same time.
posted by faustessa at 2:30 PM on August 12, 2011

I'm not sure what gasket you mean then. Not the timing cover gasket? There's a valve cover gasket I think, that you'd probably want to do... I think that it needs to come off anyway. I could see the argument for swapping the gasket on the water pump while you've got the thing off, since you need to slacken the timing belt to remove it on some models.

Like the previous poster said, a lot of the work is opportunistic. There are parts that you can't get at without the belt off, so it's not a bad time to do them.

Just make sure the pricing is reasonable.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:37 PM on August 12, 2011

Best answer: one place (which seems best so far) says the gaskets are nowhere near the timing belt

I'm not sure what gaskets are being referred to, but note that the gaskets and the camshaft / crankshaft seals are not the same parts. The camshaft is at the top of the motor and has a big gear on the end, with a seal behind it to keep the oil in the engine. The crankshaft is down at the bottom of the motor, with a big gear on the end and a seal behind it to keep the oil in the engine. The timing belt connects those two big gears so that the movements of camshaft and crankshaft, and everything they're internally connected to, are precisely coordinated. Those seals are RIGHT THERE next to the timing belt. If they start leaking down the road, you'll have to pay for all the timing belt labor all over again, and then some. If they don't leak, you'll have saved $250-$300. Do you feel lucky?

If they're trying to sell you oil or transmission pan gaskets, then yeah -- those you can defer.
posted by jon1270 at 2:47 PM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

jon1270 is correct.
If they're putting on the tires without aligning them, you need to find a new tire shop.
Tires don't get aligned. The hard parts in the suspension get aligned, so that the wheels point in the right direction. Replacing the tires doesn't change the alignment.

Now, a bad alignment will cause tires to wear unevenly, so if the tires are wearing funny, you ought to get an alignment. But if the tires are just worn out, no need to get an alignment.
posted by gjc at 3:44 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

If the seals/gaskets are replaceable now for a much lower price, because they're already doing most of the labor to do the timing chain, then yeah, do it.
posted by davejay at 4:07 PM on August 12, 2011

I haven't heard about replacing the seals, but I have been told in the past to replace the water pump when replacing the timing belt, because most of the labor cost for the water pump replacement involves removing the timing belt, so it is significantly cheaper if you have it done at the same time (and the water pump is a part which may end up dying on you before too long)
posted by markblasco at 5:21 PM on August 12, 2011

Best answer: You want to at least get the alignment checked. Over time the rubber bushings that actually hold the suspension pieces to the car wear over time and the springs will sag a little bit. Over time this all adds up and needs to be readjusted to make sure your tires are still at the right angle to the road for optimal handling and especially braking. Now the differences are small and the suspension setup on these hondas is really, really good and not prone to drifting over time. YOu might well not actually need an alignment but if the parts have moved a little so that they are now at the edge of the acceptable range, they move OUT of range while you are driving on your next set of tires and they only last half as long as they should. Checking it about every set of tires is generally a good idea and who much is a set of tires compared to the alignment cost? How lucky do you feel? I get the alignment checked when I put tires on any vehicle, better safe than sorry, and it does affect how well the car handles and brakes.

ON the engine, get the seals changed but make sure they show you the old ones, not actually changing seals and gaskets but charging you for it is a common scan and once the engine is sealed up not even the best mechanic can tell if the seals where changed. It is cheap insurance and most of the cost of changing them is in the labor getting to them. The actual parts are usually 10-25$ for each one. They should also changed the water pump as well and maybe the tensioner for the timing belt. On a honda (ok, acura but it is pretty much a really nice honda civic under the skin) that isn't giving you any trouble other than this just get both services done now and get back on the regular service schedule. You have one of the best Cars honda ever made during the period when Honda was at the top of their game, by staying on top of maintenance you might have a million mile car and if you do sell it later good maintenance will keep the price up and unmolested late model acura integras are hard to find and starting to command a bit of a premium. Good luck and make sure you get the old parts pack and if you have time hang out during the procedure and have them show you what is going on at various stages, it will both keep them honest and you will see what it just makes sense to do all this work at once.
posted by bartonlong at 6:41 PM on August 12, 2011

Best answer: On most cars it is normal to inspect the front crankshaft and camshaft seals while replacing the timing belt. When you have the front of the engine apart they're right there but generally neither are particularly easy to remove. (You have to be very careful to avoid scoring the crankshaft and/or camshaft when removing the old seals, etc.) If you don't trust the shop, you're screwed: it's easy to remove perfectly good seals and abrade / nick them so they can show them to you and say "see, they were worn!" and the layman can't tell..

For my era Honda Civic (1997) the rule is: if it isn't leaking, don't replace it; the theory being if they've lasted 60k+ miles they're not one of the ones that'll fail early and all the other ones will probably outlast the rest of the car. YMMV on Acuras, but they are both Hondas, after all. I'm 60k miles past the timing belt change and it still leaks not a bit.

However, it is standard practice to replace the water pump while you're in there. Water pumps never ever ever last the life of the car and when you have to fix them you have to, you guessed it, remove the timing belt. Since they're already in there, have drained the coolant, etc., it's generally the cost of the water pump (for my car, a whole $50) plus about 15 minutes of labor to replace it. It's a no-brainer. Do it unless you know the pump was recently replaced (and if so, they should've changed the !@#$ timing belt while in there).

Re bonus question: does any of the 105k service require removing the parts they'll remove for this one? If so, do those things on this visit. (Example: they'll have the valve covers off, so if valvetrain needs a checking over at the 105k, why not do it while they have it open.) Other checks like brakes or whatever can be put off.

Re alignment: if your old tires wore unevenly in a pattern NOT due to improper inflation, get an alignment. Otherwise you'll just be ruining a new set of tires. If your old tires wore evenly or wore only in the middle (underinflated) or equally on both outside edges (underinflated) then you can safely skip the alignment. Honda sedans of that era tend to only get munged up on front alignment but anything is possible. Tire rotation by a previous owner can mask which end is misaligned (when going by wear on the tires).
posted by introp at 7:05 PM on August 12, 2011

Best answer: I own a '99 Integra. I've done the timing belt 2x myself (and wrenched on every part of the car, I enjoy working on cars).

"where the camshaft and the crankshaft connect - those are the seals that are replaced" - This doesn't make any kind of sense, to me. The camshafts and crankshaft are connected by the timing belt.

They ought to inspect the camshaft seals, however. But, if they are not leaking, leave them alone. Literally only the first 10 minutes of the timing belt job are common with the camshaft seal job, this is not work you need to do ahead of time just because they are "in the area."

The shop could replace the valve cover gasket after they open the valve cover, just for your peace of mind (the gasket is not terribly expensive). I've had my valve cover off several times, however, and never replaced the gasket. No leaks.

Be sure that they replace the belt, tensioner, AND water pump with OEM parts. You do not want to mess with aftermarket for any of these parts. The B18B1 is an interference engine, it will grenade itself if the timing belt snaps. I did not replace the water pump the first time I did my timing belt, and only got 40,000 more miles (half the timing belt service interval) out of the car before the water pump began leaking, causing me to lose another saturday doing the work and spend money on parts. If a shop is doing the work, most of the cost is labor, so definitely have them do the pump while they are in there.

Finally, if you are allowed to bring the parts yourself, I'm gonna plug Del Rey Acura as the best place to order OEM Acura parts online. I've never had a problem with them in 3 or 4 transactions. Just plug Del Rey Acura into google.
posted by no1hatchling at 9:53 PM on August 12, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everybody. The shop that made the big deal about the gasket issue did that in response to comparison shopping, "oh, if they're giving you that price for that service then they must not be doing the gaskets and seals, and we can do the service without the gaskets and seals for $300 less." This sounds pretty hinky after what everyone is saying. I think I'll go with the most reasonable sounding, best-reviewed shop, the one that says they'll inspect the seals and replace as necessary.

Bonus question resolutions: going to go with the 90K service for now, and get the 105K service later, going to get alignment done when new tires are put on.

Super-bonus: now I feel better about sinking this amount of money into such an old car. Even though I love the car and would not be excited about getting a car payment, I did have to pause when I added it all up. I appreciate all the Integra/fancy Civic love here.
posted by faustessa at 2:40 PM on August 13, 2011

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