Project Freelander part 3: Timing belts


Latest Posts
An evening with Alex Bescoby
03 December 2023
02 December 2023
Fit a fold down table
01 December 2023
Discovery Td5 Series II
01 December 2023
JLR still in the red
01 December 2023
30 May 2023
Ed's budget-buy Freelander gets some essential engine work : credit: © Ed Evans
Replacing the Rover diesel camshaft and injection pump timing belts is a fiddly and exacting job, but essential, as Ed Evans explains

Need to know

Cost so far: £498.68
Parts: Note there are variations on this engine. Always quote engine number and VIN when ordering parts.
• Camshaft drive: LHP100840, belt tensioner pulley assembly, £27; LHV100160 idler pulley, £10; LHN100760 camshaft timing belt, £21
• Fuel injection pump drive: LHP100550L tensioner assembly rear, £21; MVF100040 fuel injection pump timing belt, £8; LJQ100690 casing seal, £6.
Work safely:
Ensure the vehicle is fully stable and correctly supported before working underneath. Leave in gear, apply the handbrake and chock the wheels that are in contact with the ground to prevent rolling
• Use barrier cream or gloves to protect hands, as preferred
• Ensure the car is out of gear when fitting the flywheel timing pin because this may involve a helper turning the engine by the crankshaft pulleyz
• Ensure fingers cannot be trapped when the engine is lifted, lowered or suspended, remembering that an apparently stable engine can still move if lifting equipment settles into position
Thanks to: Britpart for facilities and Steve Grant for expertise.


Unlike the chain-driven Td4 diesel engine that replaced it, the early Freelander 1’s L-Series Rover diesel engine uses a camshaft drive belt that needs to be renewed every 48,000 miles and, while no time interval is mentioned on the standard service schedule, the typical limit of seven years is about the maximum to ensure the belt doesn’t fail through wear, cracking or oil contamination. Failure can cause serious engine damage, and this applies to any engine with a belt-driven camshaft. While the job of replacing the cambelt is different on each engine type, the principles employed in timing the crankshaft, camshaft and fuel pump are similar.

For this engine, the workshop manual suggests removing the front axleshafts in order to move the engine to one side due to the close proximity of the cambelt cover to the right-hand inner wing (transversely mounted engine). With ingenuity, the job can be simplified, but it’s still bordering on keyhole surgery and, as always, essential to follow the workshop manual torque figures and belt tensioning and checking sequences. Nevertheless, it’s still a DIY prospect and, considering a dealership may charge £800 for the pleasure, it’s definitely worth the challenge and paying just around £100 for the parts (aftermarket prices). Here’s how we did it in the Britpart workshop with technician, Steve Grant. Our timing case was found to be clean internally, as we would expect; however, if oil contamination is found, the timing gears should be cleaned by soaking in solvent before refitting, and the source of oil ingress found and fixed.


Removing the camshaft timing belt

Preliminaries:  The battery  is disconnected, and the engine cover, engine undertray and the air filter box seen here, are all removed to gain access to the two belt casings.

Lower access: This plastic splash shield needs to be removed from under the right-hand front wheelarch to give visual access to the crankshaft pulley and lower timing cover.

Ancillary belt: The ancillary drive belt is now visible around the crankshaft pulley, tensioner and air con pulleys. Timing belt lower cover is visible behind and above crank pulley.

Preparation: The socket spanner is used to ease the tensioner pulley so the ancillary belt can be slipped off the pulleys, leaving the crank pulley free for rotation later.

Pipework: Back up on top, the air conditioning and power steering pipes are released. They’ll stay roughly in position, but can be gently pushed aside for access.

Top cover: We remove the four bolts from the timing cover top half using a compact wrench with an 8mm socket, ring and open ender – it’s a tight space.

Up and out: The top cover is carefully slid up and free. (The date and mileage of the previous belt change is painted on the top edge of the timing case.)

First view: We now see the damper that’s bolted to the camshaft sprocket. The sprocket’s teeth are just visible behind the damper, with the toothed belt running down.

Damper off: The damper is lifted off the sprocket after removing the three Torx screws. We are now ready to set the sprocket to the timing position.

Five o’clock: The crankshaft is rotated clockwise using a socket on its pulley nut until the timing mark on the sprocket (yellow for clarity) aligns with the engine pointer.

Lock-up: Steve fits a timing pin (6.75mm drill) through the gearbox adaptor plate into the flywheel (by feel because it’s barely visible, close to the crank position sensor) to lock the crankshaft position, while I rotate the crank pulley slightly clockwise to help align the holes for the pin.

Crank pulley: Steve releases the crankshaft pulley bolt and the axleshaft stake nut with the socket spanner, while I hold the drivetrain in 4th gear pressing the brake pedal down.

Preparing to lower engine: Before freeing the RH axleshaft from the hub, the RH anti-roll bar link is disconnected and the lower suspension arm ball joint to hub nut (here) is removed.

Axleshaft released: After removing the stake nut, the suspension arm is levered down, releasing the ball joint from the hub. The hub is then pulled outward to release the axle.

Timing exposed: Now there’s space to fully unbolt and remove the crankshaft pulley, exposing the crank’s timing belt sprocket: also gives access to remove the lower timing cover.

Engine support: With an engine stabiliser bar fitted and shackled to the engine’s two lifting lugs, the screw lift is set to just take the weight of the engine.

More removals: We can now remove the right-hand engine mounting (bolted to the body), plus this stabiliser bar, and then unbolt the engine mounting bracket plate (inset).

Underneath: Before lowering the engine, the upper bolts are removed from the lower timing cover, then we move underneath to detach this lower engine tie bar from the subframe.

Pulley clearance: The engine is now lowered to allow the timing idler pulley (arrowed) to be removed from below the body structure. Next, we’ll ease the tensioner pulley (on left).

Content continues after advertisements

De-tensioned: A 100mm length of M6 stud is screwed fully into the tensioner. A nut then tightened against the tensioner pulls the stud back, relieving the internal tension.

Idler off: The idler pulley nut is removed, and there is just sufficient space to lift the pulley off its shaft. The bearing feels rough, so the pulley will be renewed.

Tensioner off: With the tensioner spring still held off, the tensioner’s upper securing bolt is removed, allowing the tensioner pulley and bracket to be lifted off the engine.

Belt release: The timing belt can now be pulled forward off the crankshaft sprocket and lifted out from over the camshaft sprocket at the top of the engine.


Fitting the new camshaft belt

New parts: The new Britpart components comprise the camshaft timing belt and replacement idler and tensioner pulleys. Crank and camshaft sprockets are cleaned prior to rebuilding.

Care needed: The new belt is fed in over the camshaft sprocket avoiding bending or twisting, then fed down and fitted over the crankshaft sprocket using only finger pressure.

Tension: The new idler pulley (top) is bolted in, then the tensioner pulley upper bracket bolt (top left) and pulley bolt are fitted and just nipped up. After unscrewing the stud from the tensioner, the belt becomes tensioned and the tensioner pulley and bracket bolts can be fully tightened.

Timing check: The crankshaft pulley is refitted, with a white mark painted on. With the timing pin removed from the flywheel, the engine is rotated clockwise exactly six times using a spanner on the crank pulley nut. The timing pin should now re-enter the flywheel and the camshaft sprocket mark should again align with the engine mark.


Not quite finished   

The tensioner pulley bolt is again released to allow the tensioner to fully adjust, then it is finally retightened. This completes the camshaft timing belt renewal and re-tensioning, but we should also change the fuel pump timing belt at this stage while the engine timing position is still set, since both belts have the same service interval.


Fuel injection pump timing belt

The fuel pump timing belt on the rear of the engine is renewed at the same 48,000 miles interval. This is also carried out with the engine locked in the same timing position (flywheel locking pin fitted and the camshaft sprocket still set to its timing mark). So it makes sense to change this belt before refitting the camshaft belt’s upper timing cover and other parts that have been removed.

Easy cover: The fuel injection pump timing belt cover at the back of the engine is much easier to remove – all 8mm AF bolts; not forgetting the centre bolt.

Locked up: With the flywheel still locked and the cam sprocket at its timing position, a locking pin (9.5mm drill) fits through the pump sprocket into the engine hole behind.

Hold steady: A half-inch square drive (left), entered into the face, is used to hold the cam sprocket firm (avoids loading the timing pin) while the four securing bolts are slackened.

Tensioner pulley: The tensioner backplate bolt is loosened, then retightened with the pulley raised clear of the belt. Here, we unbolt the pulley to replace it with a new one.

Belt swap: The old belt is slipped off and the replacement fitted with finger pressure. Starting under the pump sprocket, and with the cam sprocket rotated fully clockwise on its slackened bolts, the belt is offered up and the sprocket rotated back until the belt teeth mesh, then the new tensioner pulley and backplate is bolted on.

Tensioning: A torque wrench with square drive applies 6Nm torque to the tensioner backplate, while the tensioner pulley Allen bolt is simultaneously tightened to 44Nm.

Cam sprocket: Anticlockwise torque of 25Nm is applied via the sprocket’s square drive, while tightening the four sprocket bolts to 25Nm (try to use two torque wrenches).


Check and re-tension

The timing pins are now removed from the flywheel and pump sprocket. To check the belt settings, the engine can now be rotated two revolutions clockwise on the crank pulley nut. The camshaft front sprocket timing mark and the flywheel and pump sprocket timing pins should all align again (a helper may be needed to finely adjust the crank position before the flywheel pin will enter). Finally, the belt covers are refitted and all other components rebuilt in the reverse order of dismantling.


Good day’s work

That’s a valuable job completed. The big bonus is that the wagon completed the 360-mile round-trip to Britpart for this work with no issues, meaning our £300 Freelander has proved itself reliable. With money to spare from the overall budget of £1000, there are a few other jobs worth doing, and there’s the goal of of a fresh MoT without advisories to aim for. More in the next installment...


LIKE TO READ MORE? Try our Budget Digital Subscription. You'll get access to over 7 years of Land Rover Monthly – that’s more than 100 issues plus the latest digital issue. The issues are fully searchable so you can easily find what you are looking for and what’s more it’s less than 10p a day to subscribe. Click here to find out more details and start enjoying all the benefits now.