How to replace a timing belt on 1MZ-FE

Today we replace the timing belt and accessories on Lexus RX300 with 1MZ-FE engine.

  • Level: Intermediate;
  • Difficult moments: crankshaft pulley removing, spec. tools required;
  • Applicable: Lexus RX300, Lexus ES300, Toyota Harrier, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Windom, Toyota Camry V6, Toyota Avalon, Toyota Sienna, Toyota Estima.
You need the following tools:
  • Socket set (½'', ¾'');
  • Ratchet, at least two – ¾'' – small and ½'' with a long handle;
  • ¾'' extension bars, universal joint ¾'';
  • Torque wrench;
  • 10mm hex wrench;
  • Combination (ring/open end) wrench set;
  • Pliers (combination, long nose, cutters);
  • Long “-” screwdriver;
  • Phillips screwdriver;
  • Small hammer;
  • Stud extractor set;
As well as accessories and chemicals:
  • WD40 or equivalent;
  • Lithium based grease;
  • Thread sealant (medium strength - blue);
  • Tie straps;
  • Screws for gypsum board;
  • A small mirror;
  • Flashlight;
  • Engine Coolant;

The following tools is strongly recommended if you want to make pulley remover tool by yourself:
  • MMA or TIG Welding machine;
  • Angle grinder;
  • Drill.

idlers and belt tensioner

When you replace the timing belt you must also replace both idlers. Replacement of automatic belt tensioner is not required but recommended.

water pump with gasket
The water pump also must be replaced. The pump lifetime is not much more than idlers lifetime. Please buy water pump complete with gasket.
timing belt

And the timing belt. It comes with a sticker on which you must specify the date and mileage at the moment of replacement. 
In addition you need to buy oil seals – front crankshaft (oil pump body) and two camshaft seals.

vane pump belt
If you want, replace alternator/air conditioner and vane pump belts too.

Let's start!

To avoid accidentally damaging the surface of the front fender, I recommend to protect it with cloth. Fix the cloth with magnets.

Disconnect two ground strap connectors. Remove cruise control actuator. Remove engine moving control rod and the upper engine mounting bracket.

Loosen the locking bolt of the alternator belt tensioner, loosen the fixing alternator bolt, turn the belt tensioner bolt until the alternator belt can be removed. Remove the belt.

Place the vehicle on a jack and remove the right front wheel, remove the plastic apron fender (two bolts) to get access to the crankshaft pulley. If it possible, always get the removed bolts in their places to avoid losing them.

Loosen the belt tensioner bolt and vane pump mounting bolt, move the pump up and remove the belt.
It's time to remove the crankshaft pulley. It may be quite difficult, because bolt is tighten very hard with thread sealant. If you have impact wrench, you can try to remove the bolt, but I could not do that, although the maximum torque of my wrench is more than 800 Nm.

Please don't try to remove the bolt using starter or locking flywheel with screwdriver. Such attempts may result in severe starter or flywheel damage.

According to the official repair manual you need to use special tools (SST) from Toyota, but you can make the tool by yourself.

To make an SST you'll need a piece of pipe 50 mm long with outer diameter of 90 mm and the steel strip 30x5 mm in length about 700 mm, two bolts M8 x 60mm.

all dimensions given in millimeters
Fix the tool with M8 bolts to pulley body, rest the handle into the ground and loosen the pulley nut.

After unscrewing the nut, remove the pulley. Don't use hammer or crowbar - pulley material is very fragile. Also don't use two or three-jaw gear puller that fixed on the edge of the pulley. If you notice, the pulley consists of two parts - inner base and outer crown, these parts are separated by a damper, therefore the three-jaw puller can split the puller into two parts or break off its edge.

The best solution is to refine our DIY tool to hold the pulley so it became a puller. 
You need 30x5mm steel strip length of 90 mm. Nut and bolt M10 x 70mm. Nut must be welded to the strip.

Ignore the extra welded edge, the tool was strengthened, because the bolt was tightened incredibly strong.

Remove the 4 bolts and remove the lower timing belt cover and belt guide. Do not lose the crankshaft pin.

Disconnect wire protector clamps, remove the 5 bolts and remove the upper timing belt cover. Remove the alternator bracket.

Remove the two bolts and the nut that holding the engine mounting bracket.

It's impossible to pull out the bracket cause it rests in the body when you try to remove the bracket. To fix this problem we need to jack up the engine for a couple of centimeters (about one inch). Be sure to use wide wooden bar and a rubber to avoid damaging of the oil pan.

bracket removed
Turn the crankshaft clockwise and set the first cylinder at top dead center. To do this, align the mark on the crankshaft pulley with the mark on the oil pump body.

Check that the marks on the camshaft pulleys are aligned with the marks on the belt inner cover. If not, turn the crankshaft one more revolution (picture of the marks will be given below with a new belt). Always turn the crankshaft clockwise.

If you decided to reuse the old timing belt, place the marks on a belt to match three marks on camshafts and crankshaft pulleys and mark the direction of rotation of the belt.

Remove the two bolts and remove the belt tensioner. Remove the timing belt. Remove the upper idler. Using the hex wrench, remove the tensioner idler. Do not lose the washer.

If you decided to use old idlers, then inspect them. Idler pulleys must turn smoothly, if push idler pulley and it will be able to make a couple turns, then there is no bearing grease. Rocking roller axle - strong backlash should not be.

Remove the camshaft pulleys. To keep the pulleys from spinning a special tool is required, but it can be done with the old timing belt and matching wooden board as shown below (secure old timing belt with screws).

how to remove camshaft pulley
Remove the 6 bolts and remove the inner timing belt metal cover.

Drain the engine coolant.

I can't pull out the water pump because of studs. To get the pump out we need to remove the top stud. This will require the stud extractor set. Remove the pump mounting bolts and one nut and remove the pump. Be careful, some engine coolant may leak. Do not forget to remove the old pump gasket.

water pump removed
stud extractor set
Wipe the pump seat on the block. Install a new gasket and secure a new pump. Return the stud in place.

Now we need to replace the oil seals. Remember the depth of old seal. The simplest way to pull out the seal – to use a screw. Carefully type the screw in the center of the seal (between the shaft and housing) and screw it for a couple of turns. Remove the oil seal with pliers. Usually only one screw is enough.

Wipe the seal seat and shaft. Lubricate the lips and the outer edge of the new seal with lithium based grease. Tap the new oil seal in place by your fingers.

Install the inner metal cover (6 bolts, torque 8.5 Nm (75 in.lbf)).
Install the crankshaft timing pulley.
Install the upper idler pulley (torque 45 Nm (32 ft lbf)).
Install the tensioner idler pulley (apply thread sealant to the bolt. Torque 34 Nm (25 ft lbf)).

Check that the idlers rotate freely and the tension idler bracket moves without jamming.

Install the camshaft pulleys (torque 125 Nm (94 ft lbf)).
Please note that the far pulley must be installed belt guide-side out, and the nearest pulley – guide-side in.

camshaft pulley in place

idler pulley in place
tensioner idler pulley in place
Attention! In the photo above, tensioner is just for photos, do not install it before installing the belt.

Check that the camshaft and crankshaft are on marks. Install a new timing belt. A new timing belt has four marks (2 camshaft marks, one crankshaft mark and front mark “FR”). Please obey the belt installation order, otherwise it will be very difficult to install:
  • The mark "FR" (front) with an arrow should look aside the engine;
  • Align the dotted line mark with the mark on the crankshaft pulley;
  • Get a belt to the water pump pulley;
  • Get the belt around the nearest camshaft pulley aligning the mark on the belt with the mark on the pulley and fix the belt on the pulley with a tie-strap;
  • Get the belt to the upper idler;
  • Get the belt around the far camshaft pulley, matching the mark on the belt with the mark on the pulley and fix the belt on the pulley with a tie-strap;
  • Put the belt on the tensioner idler (new belt will go tight);
  • Install the belt tensioner (torque 27 Nm (20 ft lbf)), but do not release the push rod.
Check marks alignment. Especially carefully at the far camshaft pulley (you need a mirror and a flashlight).

crankshaft timing pulley mark

camshaft pulley timing mark

far camshaft timing mark (in mirror)

timing belt "front" mark
If all marks is okey, then it is time to release the belt tensioner pushing rod - pull out the lock. Wait for a while, and check the marks again. Then turn the crankshaft clockwise for two complete revolutions and recheck the marks. If all goes well, then we done.  

Installation is in the reverse order of removal: 
  • Install the engine mounting bracket (the engine must be jacked up again), secure the mounting bracket (two bolts and nut, torque 28 Nm (21 ft.lbf)); 
  • Install the upper timing belt cover (5 bolts, 8.5 Nm (75 in.lbf));
  • Install timing belt guide (cup side outwards and align with shaft pin);
  • Install the lower timing belt cover (4 bolts, 8.5 Nm (75 in.lbf));
  • Install the crankshaft pulley (torque 215 Nm (159 ft.lbf)). I recommend to install the vane pump belt at this step;
  • Install the alternator bracket (torque 28 Nm (21 ft.lbf)). But do not tighten the bolt yet;
  • Tighten the vane pump belt and secure 2 bolts (torque 43 Nm (32 ft.lbf));
  • Install the bracket and the engine moving control rod;
  • Tighten the alternator belt and secure mounting and lock bolts;
  • Install cruise control actuator (torque 8 Nm (69 in.lbf));
  • Take the plastic fender apron in place (2 bolts, torque 8 Nm (69 in.lbf));
  • Do not forget to fill engine with coolant.
That's all. Good luck!


  1. Thank you for a very good description. That brings me to the exchange term in the Lexus timing belt and the description this is what I was looking for.

  2. You don't need to remove the studs to get the water pump out. Just jack up the engine a couple inches. Comes out nicely then.

    1. I agree with you, Kevin. But I am afraid that it can cause damage of the front (vacuum) engine mounting.

    2. Can you remove the engine mounting bolt to allow more movement and prevent stressing the mount? I also heard if you remove the cam gears the stud removal is also not necessary.

  3. this is the best one out there. will share this link with my folks

  4. I agree that this is the best one I've found and the correct TB install sequence. Some others say to start with the rear pulley, but that didn't work for me. I used this DIY and the two-part YouTube video. My additional installation suggestions are to clamp the new TB to the crank gear with a six-inch C-clamp, loop the TB around the water pump, turn the front cam gear clockwise just enough to match the TB line to the mark on the gear, then turn that cam gear counter clockwise to line up with the mark on the belt inner cover and clamp it, too. The small C-clamps worked much better for me than the plastic ties. For the rear pulley, get the TB line on the pulley mark the same clockwise/counter clockwise way and take up the slack below with a ratchet or screwdriver handle jammed in where the TB meets the tensioner. After you've double-checked all the marks, release the spring tensioner and remove the ratchet or screwdriver handle. PS The Gates T257 belt has the same helpful marks as the Toyota/Lexus part.

  5. This is a fabulous presentation. While installing, did you use any of the pulley installer or is it easy to push it and it enters?

    1. Thank you Anthony! I don't used any tool while installing pulley. Pulley enters in place while tightening the bolt, you only need to align the groove with crankshaft pin.

  6. I made the crank pulley tool out of two harware store plates, the kind with the holes, about 4-5 each. they come together to a vee where another small bolt joins them together. Worked great, made a big snap when the bolt loosened. The other sites say use the engine starter, well OK maybe, but how're you going to torque it back on?
    The very next day I was walking and found a piece from a car on the road side. It was from a Ford, was shaped like a yoke, stamped steel, and all it needed to do the same thing was one hole in the right place. I thought that was very odd to find that as I had just spent a couple days of thinking how to make the tool from hardware store parts.

    I've never had an engine so hard to work on for the back valve gasket. I did it but that thick wire harness is just badly placed. I had to take off the rear rods that go to the plenum, from under the car. I don't believe anyone when they say they can change plugs and valve cover gaskets on this engine without taking off the plenum and going through hell.
    This is a very good write up, and I did notice to put sealant on one idler bolt, which I wouldn't have done otherwise

    1. Can you post a photo of your hardware store plate tool?

  7. Good stuff! Looked a little complicated at first (for a newbie like me), but the photos made it easier!

    Circular Technologies

  8. The names strictly denote what materials the belts are made out of: a timing chain is a metal link chain, whereas a timing belt is made of a rubber composite.

  9. Thanks for posting the link. Very helpful. Some skinned knuckles and bottle of wine later, my RX is purring like a kitty. I would add a tip I got from the Haines manual about the order to put the belt on, 1 - crankshaft pully, 2 - water pump, 3 - camshaft pully closest to radiator, 4 - roller, 5 - camshaft pully near firewall, then the tensioner. After that, use a breaker bar and rotate the belt two full revolutions using the crankshaft bolt and then verify that all the marks still line up, like you stated, but just the marks on the pully will line up. The white marks on the belt (if yours has them) doesn't line up anymore, but the pully marks must line back up.

  10. Very informative and great pictures. Just what I needed to take on same job on my wife's 04 Camry this summer. Thanks a million. One question: some manuals say to remove the spark plugs to facilitate the timing belt replacement. I would rather not do this if not necessary, especially since the plugs in the back are a pain to get to. What are the impacts (if any) of doing this job without removing the impacts. Thanks for sharing

    1. Removing the spark plugs just makes it easier to hand crank the motor, it relieves the compression. Also allows you to very TDC if necessary.

  11. Just what I needed. Awesome write up. Thanks.

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  13. I too would like to thank you for your informative post. After 16 years and 180,000 miles, my wife's Sienna finally received the above treatment. Your instructions allowed me to plan ahead to complete the job over a weekend in my driveway. These engines are amazing since all the components were still in remarkably good condition. The toyota coolant is expensive, but the metal inside was still as new. Thanks again![URL=][IMG][/IMG][/URL]

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  16. tell me about the cylinder head camshaft timing. i really need help. what points can i put the inlet and exhaust shafts for both the right and left banks

  17. Great article, just performed this procedure on my 2000 Lexus ES300 187k miles. Bought OEM parts from RockAuto.

    I found the water pump/engine mount studs could be removed with a 5.5mm socket. Removing them was easier than trying to manipulate the engine. I didn't have a 1/4 inch ratchet available so I used a 1/4" box set hex wrench going to a 1/4 hex to 1/4" drive adapter attached to the 5.5mm socket.

    I had bought a $70 crankshaft pulley holder to attempt to remove the crankshaft pulley, but my 300 ft lb impact wrench couldn't loosen it, and manual attempts didn't work. I reluctantly did the starter trick and it loosened the bolt right up. 7/8" socket attached to 25" breaker bar sitting on floor.

    The nut to release the vane pump (power steering) was difficult to access and required a socket with just the right amount of length. Standard socket was too short, deep socket too long, extension way too long. I was able to get to it by using a 3/8 to 1/4 adapter and 12mm socket with 1/4 inch drive.

    The nut that holds the power steering pump is the same thread as the bolt holding the upper timing belt idler pulley. I mixed these up and had to end up taking the crankshaft pulley back off, the timing belt covers back off, and removing and resetting the tensioner. I was able to recompress the tensioner by placing it in a vise and reinserting the pin.

    When I removed one of the water pump nuts, it took the small stud with it which must have been a bleeder line for the coolant because a bunch of more coolant came out and made a nice mess under the water pump. After you drain the coolant through the radiator, move your catch pan under the pump to prevent spilling coolant everywhere. One of the water pump bolts snapped when attempting to torque it to 21 ft lb so I hope there's enough redundancy to hold everything else on and not leak. Worst case if it leaks I'll have to find replacement hardware and use a screw extractor.

    I was a little worried about the drywall screw method of removing the oil seals from the camshafts. The screw seemed to not go exactly through the middle of the seal and scratched the metal of the camshaft post. I will have to see if this ends up leaking. I would recommend buying a nice seal puller rather than using the drywall screw method. It is very hard to get a stubby screwdriver to the far pulley to insert a screw to remove that seal. I also highly recommend using a camshaft pulley holder tool rather than using the old timing belt plus wood block method. Removing the far pulley would have been very difficult without removing all of the extra wiring above the timing belt cover.

    Aside from the snapped bolt, this job was difficult but enjoyable and I had no issues aligning the timing belt. The wording in this article saying the FR mark goes "aside" the engine was confusing. The picture shows it, but to clarify wording, the FR goes toward the front of the engine meaning it points at you while you're attempting to install the belt.

  18. Thanks for your ideas. You can also find the details on Drive Parts Direct, at the Timing Belts Imperial XL Section. Drive Parts Direct aims to provide you with a convenient “one stop shop” for all your Power Transmission component requirements.

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  22. "Loosen the locking bolt of the alternator belt tensioner, loosen the fixing alternator bolt, turn the belt tensioner bolt until the alternator belt can be removed. Remove the belt."
    I'm unsure which is the "locking bolt" or the "fixing alternator bolt" or even the "tensioner bolt" no photos were provided

  23. great write up ! Just finished the timing belt/water pump, crank and cam seals, and bunch of other things under there that needed attention. thanks man !

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  26. When replacing a timing belt, also replace the water pump, tensioner, and pulleys. If the pulleys and tensioners should fail after only replacing the belt, it can cause valve or piston damage and lead to more expensive repairs, in order to have the engine run properly. It is therefore essential to replace the whole set. We only replace the water pump if it is driven by the timing belt (true for 60% of the cars).

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  28. Am doing the cam shifts in cylinder please help

  29. Plz anyone know toyota avalon 2006 v6 engine camshaft timing

  30. can anyone tell me where is the thermostat located i have a estima v6 Camry engine 2004 got the timing belt don but cant find the thermostat

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  32. How do you torque the crankshaft pulley to 159 ft./lb without rotating the engine?

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