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Timing Belt Change While-I'm-At-Its

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2000 RX 300, 155,000. Not sure if its the original belt or not, but to open it up and be sure, might as well change it. Accessory belts are squeeling so figure might as well do it all.

What all is recommended with a timing belt change? I've done some searches here and see timing belts are pretty rugged, but haven't seen any solid info on the water pump or cam seals. I know those are often changed while the covers are off anyhow for the timing belt, but if they don't have a history of going bad, no need to change them.

I'm a DIYer, so I generally buy parts at Autozone and install them myself. I'm planning on also doing the radiator and heater hoses and a coolant change, so doing the water pump now makes sense, but still don't know if its necessary if they don't have a history of failing.

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2000 RX 300, 155,000. Not sure if its the original belt or not, but to open it up and be sure, might as well change it. Accessory belts are squeeling so figure might as well do it all.

What all is recommended with a timing belt change? I've done some searches here and see timing belts are pretty rugged, but haven't seen any solid info on the water pump or cam seals. I know those are often changed while the covers are off anyhow for the timing belt, but if they don't have a history of going bad, no need to change them.

I'm a DIYer, so I generally buy parts at Autozone and install them myself. I'm planning on also doing the radiator and heater hoses and a coolant change, so doing the water pump now makes sense, but still don't know if its necessary if they don't have a history of failing.

I'll give you my experience and you can chose what you do with it. I have spent my life in automotive work, so am not a beginner. First thing I would say is DO NOT buy aftermarket parts for your RX. You can but OEM parts online for often LESS than aftermarket parts and the OEM parts that T/L uses are some of the finest parts I have ever seen. No comparison to aftermarket parts period! If you are interested in good prices on OEM parts at steep discount, PM me. Whether you chose to replace the W/P and upper idler pulley is up to you, but I cut the parts apart that I replaced (the old ones) with a die grinder and a cut-off blade and they were like new!, at around 130K mi. The one exception was the lower tensioner pulley and it was BONE DRY of grease on the bearing. The amazing part was I mic'd the bearings and they ALL mic'd EXACTLY the same, even though they had obviously run dry for some time. (All balls in all bearings are the same size) The race was perfect also and the bearing was perfectly smooth, though it was bone dry. I believe the reason it ran dry and the others didn't at all is because it is a single row of bearings and all the others ar a double row of bearings. It is the only thing I would encourage you to replace (along with the TB). If you wish further detail, please PM me. Roger

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2000 RX 300, 155,000. Not sure if its the original belt or not, but to open it up and be sure, might as well change it. Accessory belts are squeeling so figure might as well do it all.

What all is recommended with a timing belt change? I've done some searches here and see timing belts are pretty rugged, but haven't seen any solid info on the water pump or cam seals. I know those are often changed while the covers are off anyhow for the timing belt, but if they don't have a history of going bad, no need to change them.

I'm a DIYer, so I generally buy parts at Autozone and install them myself. I'm planning on also doing the radiator and heater hoses and a coolant change, so doing the water pump now makes sense, but still don't know if its necessary if they don't have a history of failing.

I'll give you my experience and you can chose what you do with it. I have spent my life in automotive work, so am not a beginner. First thing I would say is DO NOT buy aftermarket parts for your RX. You can but OEM parts online for often LESS than aftermarket parts and the OEM parts that T/L uses are some of the finest parts I have ever seen. No comparison to aftermarket parts period! If you are interested in good prices on OEM parts at steep discount, PM me. Whether you chose to replace the W/P and upper idler pulley is up to you, but I cut the parts apart that I replaced (the old ones) with a die grinder and a cut-off blade and they were like new!, at around 130K mi. The one exception was the lower tensioner pulley and it was BONE DRY of grease on the bearing. The amazing part was I mic'd the bearings and they ALL mic'd EXACTLY the same, even though they had obviously run dry for some time. (All balls in all bearings are the same size) The race was perfect also and the bearing was perfectly smooth, though it was bone dry. I believe the reason it ran dry and the others didn't at all is because it is a single row of bearings and all the others ar a double row of bearings. It is the only thing I would encourage you to replace (along with the TB). If you wish further detail, please PM me. Roger

Wow, great reply, thank you. I have been using mylexparts.com for OEM stuff. The prices seem reasonable compared to Autozone, and for some stuff as mentioned in another post, even cheaper than Autozone.

Have you seen any issues with the TB tensioners? I usually replace the tensioner with the TB.

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Wow, great reply, thank you. I have been using mylexparts.com for OEM stuff. The prices seem reasonable compared to Autozone, and for some stuff as mentioned in another post, even cheaper than Autozone.

Have you seen any issues with the TB tensioners? I usually replace the tensioner with the TB.

Sam- I didn't replace the tensioner itself even when I went back in later to replace the other stuff. It operated perfectly when I reinstalled it the 1st time and the second time it took a little nudge to go to full tension on it. I probably should have replaced it, but was in the process of finishing up and didn't want to hold the job up. I have checked it since then and the belt tension is good but I would replace it if there were a 3rd time. I doubt that there will be.

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I replaced the timing belt about 3 years ago (90,000 miles). Within a year, the cam seals were leaking and the idlers were squealing. So I did it all over again! At 100,000 miles I decided not to replace the water pump but at 155,000 miles, I would have done this.

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I replaced the timing belt about 3 years ago (90,000 miles). Within a year, the cam seals were leaking and the idlers were squealing. So I did it all over again! At 100,000 miles I decided not to replace the water pump but at 155,000 miles, I would have done this.

On a related subject of While-The Mechanic-Is At It...

I say mechanic, because I am a beginner. My 99 Rx300 blew a rod through the oil pan, so the engine is toast. Initially I thought it was time to look for a new car, but a dealer alternative repair shop said he could put in a JDM motor (under 60K miles) with labor and a 12 month parts/labor warranty included for $3,000. First off, any thoughts on this? Second, other than timing belt, what "while you're at its" should I replace? Can you give me a sense of the approximate cost?

I really appreciate your input. Thanks for all the help!

-Drew

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BTW, is there anything complex to this? I've done the timing belt on a Pathfinder twice and a Camry, and both were pretty straight forward and easy enough to follow the manual. Anything to watch out for?

If I do the cam seals (which I have not done before), can I assume that the valve covers need to come off to get to the cam? And for the RX300, I assume getting to the rear valve cover means removing the intake?

Sorry for all the questions, I want to be sure I have all the parts I might need on hand before I open it up and I don't want the vehicle dead lined for too long.

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Our mileages all vary but with 144k mi on my DIL's RX, there is NO sign of leaky cam seals. Most of the miles have been local miles, (not the best kind of miles) and average care (5k + mi oil changes) and the trans also is original and functions just fine. I changed the trans fluid at 97k mi and it looked like engine oil. I only say this, not to discourage you from doing all those things, but only to say not all peoples experience will be the same by any stretch. My SIL put 360k mi. on a Dodge van without doing HARDLY ANYTHING to it. Almost everything was original when she traded it. . With 180k mi. on her current one, it's the same story. Experiences vary, yours probably will too. To get to the rear valve cover, yes the intake would have to come off. Be prepared that the crankshaft bolt is lock-tighted on and it calls for 150 lbs torque. You will need to lock the C/S pulley and use a breaker bar and the bolt is conventional thread (the reason for the torque and L/T).

Also remember when lining up the timing marks on the pulleys with the belt that the engine slants back, so the timing marks won't be facing directly up. Was the Camry a 4 cyl. or 6? If a 6, it should be about the same, if a 4, probably QUITE a bit different. If you change the W/P, the factory manual says to remove the timing gears. I didn't have to, I just removed the long bolts and tilted it under that lip and it was no problem. If you replace the T/S, it will be a moot point because I assume you have to remove the gears to do the seals.

If you're interested in the parts sources, let me know.

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Our mileages all vary but with 144k mi on my DIL's RX, there is NO sign of leaky cam seals. Most of the miles have been local miles, (not the best kind of miles) and average care (5k + mi oil changes) and the trans also is original and functions just fine. I changed the trans fluid at 97k mi and it looked like engine oil. I only say this, not to discourage you from doing all those things, but only to say not all peoples experience will be the same by any stretch. My SIL put 360k mi. on a Dodge van without doing HARDLY ANYTHING to it. Almost everything was original when she traded it. . With 180k mi. on her current one, it's the same story. Experiences vary, yours probably will too. To get to the rear valve cover, yes the intake would have to come off. Be prepared that the crankshaft bolt is lock-tighted on and it calls for 150 lbs torque. You will need to lock the C/S pulley and use a breaker bar and the bolt is conventional thread (the reason for the torque and L/T).

Also remember when lining up the timing marks on the pulleys with the belt that the engine slants back, so the timing marks won't be facing directly up. Was the Camry a 4 cyl. or 6? If a 6, it should be about the same, if a 4, probably QUITE a bit different. If you change the W/P, the factory manual says to remove the timing gears. I didn't have to, I just removed the long bolts and tilted it under that lip and it was no problem. If you replace the T/S, it will be a moot point because I assume you have to remove the gears to do the seals.

If you're interested in the parts sources, let me know.

I am planning to trade my 2001 RX300 in a year. It has 220,000 kilometers (about 136,000 miles) and has been a great car for me. Because the aircon compressor belt is screaming, I decided to change it. Now I'm thinking I should do the timing belt while I'm at it. It has never been done. Does anyone know if the engine is non-invasive (or whatever they call it when the valves don't hit the cylinder when the timing belt snaps)? I think I recall the parts guy at the dealership suggesting that. If it is the case that there is no danger damaging the valves if the belt goes, then I may just pass on replacing it. What do you think?

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Our mileages all vary but with 144k mi on my DIL's RX, there is NO sign of leaky cam seals. Most of the miles have been local miles, (not the best kind of miles) and average care (5k + mi oil changes) and the trans also is original and functions just fine. I changed the trans fluid at 97k mi and it looked like engine oil. I only say this, not to discourage you from doing all those things, but only to say not all peoples experience will be the same by any stretch. My SIL put 360k mi. on a Dodge van without doing HARDLY ANYTHING to it. Almost everything was original when she traded it. . With 180k mi. on her current one, it's the same story. Experiences vary, yours probably will too. To get to the rear valve cover, yes the intake would have to come off. Be prepared that the crankshaft bolt is lock-tighted on and it calls for 150 lbs torque. You will need to lock the C/S pulley and use a breaker bar and the bolt is conventional thread (the reason for the torque and L/T).

Also remember when lining up the timing marks on the pulleys with the belt that the engine slants back, so the timing marks won't be facing directly up. Was the Camry a 4 cyl. or 6? If a 6, it should be about the same, if a 4, probably QUITE a bit different. If you change the W/P, the factory manual says to remove the timing gears. I didn't have to, I just removed the long bolts and tilted it under that lip and it was no problem. If you replace the T/S, it will be a moot point because I assume you have to remove the gears to do the seals.

If you're interested in the parts sources, let me know.

I am planning to trade my 2001 RX300 in a year. It has 220,000 kilometers (about 136,000 miles) and has been a great car for me. Because the aircon compressor belt is screaming, I decided to change it. Now I'm thinking I should do the timing belt while I'm at it. It has never been done. Does anyone know if the engine is non-invasive (or whatever they call it when the valves don't hit the cylinder when the timing belt snaps)? I think I recall the parts guy at the dealership suggesting that. If it is the case that there is no danger damaging the valves if the belt goes, then I may just pass on replacing it. What do you think?

There have been lots of discussion in this forum about whether the RX300 engine is or not an 'interference engine', i.e. that the valves could, at some point, hit the pistons if the timing belt breaks. The consensus - or at least a number of writers - seem to agree that the VVT(variable valve timing) feature may make the RX300 engine an interference engine because, under some timing scenarios and some piston positions, there could be interference; and there seems to be some argument that, were the VVT not a feature, the engine would not be an interference engine. Many people state that the timing belt should last for 120K miles+, but I have not yet heard of anyone having a broken timing belt nor a destroyed engine due to such break. As a final note, if it were me and my car had some 140K miles and I wanted to keep it, I would change the timing belt. Small cost for big peace of mind.

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Thanks, Paul. I hadn't considered the VVT factor. I suppose the possibility of damage is slight though still there. I think that I am going to go ahead and replace the timing belt. I had some difficulty trying to replace the alternator belt ( frozen adjuster bolt and broken clamp bolt). By the time I had dealt with all that, the parts place was closed and I had to put it back together with the old belt in place. This will, however, give me time to order what I need to replace the timing belt. I hope to recoup the cost when I sell.

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PS. Pauljlc. I see that you have an RX300 as well as an RX350. I have the 300 we have been discussing as well as a 330. I find that the 300, even after 220k, feels much tighter to drive. The 330 seems less responsive. Cornering and handling seem remote. How do you find the 350?

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I must say that I liked the RX300 more than the 350. [The 300 is now in Michigan, and out of my possession - I should change my 'ownership/; status!]. However, on the 'accomplishment' side, the 350 certainly does everything better than the 300 did: it out-accelerates it, out-brakes it, contains more (though I have the '09, which still has struts) and feels there is more sprinkled 'luxury'. But - you are right - the 300 felt more 'together': tighter (probably because there are less 'things' appended), more 'character', some things maybe less luxurious but I felt better made (seat leather, front armrests). Undoubtedly, the RX350 is a better car. But the 300 is a friendlier, more 'honest' car to which one could grow more 'attached'.

I do not regret having the RX350, and I do not think I would want to go back. It serves me better than the 300 did, specially when traveling (pick up, silence, power), and it may well last more with less headaches (transmission, engine seal). It's like remembering an earlier girlfriend - times were simpler, we were too....

I did find the 330 less attractive than the 350. It seems to me that Lexus 'sorted out' the 350 better (as they should since it was later in the production process ) and I expect it will more trouble-free than any RX. It's certainly more powerful, but the engine doesn't like being pushed - I don't know if it is an issue of 'balance' (maybe mine particularly?) or what, but it just doesn't have the smoothness I associate with a higher-end motor. In this regard, the older 300 felt better and, of course, the BMW is amazing (but it an in-line 6, which is always one of the smoothest).

To err slightly from the exact subject, I have just driven a friend's VW Golf, 1.4 compressor+turbo, 4 cylinder, 170HP... I was amazed at the smoothness - couldn't tell it was a 4 cyl. So, generalizing (wrongly) from (inadequate) info., I conclude that the Germans still have the mechanical edge...

Good luck with your car.

Back to your timing belt ... A number of posts describe the DIY approach, and also mention that Toyota dealerships offer great prices on the TB change: same procedure/motor as the Highlander and, very roughly, half the price of Lexus. [by the way, the 350 has a chain timing belt - doesn't need changing - vs. the 330 rubber-like (like the 300) which needs changing.

Where are you in Southern Ontario?

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My 99 RX300 has 218000 miles. I just changed the TB, water pump and seals (second time) The only problem I am having is at idle the A/C cuts on and off. I probably have to clean the idle control valve. Major repairs over its life were, a new "brain", exhust manifold, 2 cat converters, window control switch drivers door and the ignition lock. Trying for 300K.

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