Sept. 22, 2015 1:27 a.m.

When my timing belt broke at highway speed, it fragged the lower belt cover, took the crank position sensor hostage, and ended up in the fetal position around the lower crank sprocket.

The car is a '97 Toyota Camry LE with the 2.2 liter balance-shafted four cylinder. The belt blew at 65 mph (around 2,400 rpm) causing all life to cease. I got the car to the shoulder and commenced trying to start it, since I was low on fuel and thought it was just a hiccup. I could not hear the starter since the traffic din was so loud. I tried starting it a couple of times for about ten seconds per attempt. Finally, I opened the hood and stuck my head out the window. Then I heard the unmistakable missing-compression sound of the starter spinning.

Once home, I popped open the timing cover (or what was left of it) to find the belt wound around the lower cog with plenty of glass-fiber shrapnel all over the place. Evidently, the cam seal leaked, thereby allowing the cam sprocket to exhibit a heretofore unknown talent for oil slinging. The timing belt got soaked in oil with predictable results.

Anyway, it's quite the mess in there. I went to the local pull-your-part and grabbed a lower timing belt cover, belt spacer, and crank position sensor, since that got flogged to the point where the belt remains buffed it to a high gloss. Obviously, I will be replacing the timing belt, the offending leaky cam seal, the idler and tensioner bearings (they have quite a bit of mileage on them), and the tensioner spring ( a new one is free with the kit).

What else does the forum think I should replace? How about:

  1. The front crank seal (replaced 100k ago with OEM and not leaking currently)
  2. The water pump (replaced 75k ago with OEM and not leaking currently)
  3. The oil pump o-ring (original and not leaking currently)
  4. The aforementioned crank position sensor (is the present one alive or dead? How does one test a crank position sensor?)

The car has 201k on it and has never stranded me /us before. It could get to 300k if the valves /pistons avoided a co-spatial moment (which I'm 99 percent sure is the case with a 5S-FE motor, except I've never had one let go while driving). It will be interesting to see how the hive would handle this particular case of belt-icide.

KyAllroad SuperDork
Sept. 22, 2015 5:42 a.m.

How exciting.

Two ways to look at it, anything that isn't leaking and seems to work fine on a Toyota 4 banger should keep doing so for the foreseeable future so don't mess with it.

Alternatively, everything you described does have quite a few miles on it so replacing it now should stave off future calamities so "an ounce of prevention".

I'd lean toward the second camp if money isn't too tight.

flatlander937 Reader
Sept. 22, 2015 6:58 a.m.

If you truly want 100k more from it I'd pull the head and have it all checked/inspected since the belt is already off. And just replace your CPS with another OEM. It will leave you stranded if its messed up. You need a lab scope to test. A good one is likely 50x more than a new crank sensor so not making sense to buy one for one time use.

belteshazzar UberDork
Sept. 22, 2015 8:07 a.m.

slap it back together for the lowest possible cost. It wouldn't be substantially reducing your chances of squeezing another 100,000 miles out of it, and if it dies for some other reason you'll be glad.

Javelin MegaDork
Sept. 22, 2015 9:34 a.m.

Use a Continental Pro Series timing belt kit with water pump and just replace everything.

Sept. 22, 2015 9:37 a.m.

Thanks for the input so far. KyAllroad, money for this isn't a big issue because it's a couple of hundred dollars to do it all. Time is a bit of an issue plus we're down to one car and that causes, er, friction. If I can get all the stuff in a timely manner, I can do the work fairly quickly since this is maybe the fourth timing belt I've put on this car.

flatlander937, there's no need to pull the head. I'll rotate the cams with a wrench (there is a provision for that on the cams) and check the valve clearances to be sure. So far, the ones I checked are fine.

beltshazzar, you do realize your advice runs counter to your signature line, right?

Will the car last another 100k? Maybe. Maybe not. Everything works on it, It's still presentable, and we don't think twice about jumping in it and going on a thousand-mile road trip. So we're just trying to ride it out until something goes ka-blam in a big way and it no longer makes sense.

By the way, this car is one of the first '97s. It has a build date of July '96 and the VIN has only three digits at the end (000xxx).

Dr. Hess MegaDork
Sept. 22, 2015 10:00 a.m.

I have that same car. Do the O ring behind the oil pump. Mine blew out on me on the way to work one day. Managed to coast into the parking lot with the motor killed when the oil lite came on 1 block from work. Used 2 gallons of oil to get home (40 miles). If you are into it for a timing belt, it is like another 10 minute job.

Sept. 22, 2015 10:11 a.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: I have that same car. Do the O ring behind the oil pump. Mine blew out on me on the way to work one day. Managed to coast into the parking lot with the motor killed when the oil lite came on 1 block from work. Used 2 gallons of oil to get home (40 miles). If you are into it for a timing belt, it is like another 10 minute job.

Ironically, this has been a problem with front-mounted Toyota oil pumps for years so I was leaning that way anyway. The dealer is literally around the corner on Brand Blvd and they only want a few bucks for the part. Did you use anything like Hylomar on the O-ring or just install it dry?

Sept. 22, 2015 11:33 a.m.

Just discovered the oil pump shaft seal leaks as well. Hard to tell with all the oil flung around so the pump comes off regardless.

Dr. Hess MegaDork
Sept. 22, 2015 11:51 a.m.

I just installed it dry.

I know where Brand Blvd is. I used to live behind GCC.

Sept. 22, 2015 11:53 a.m.
Javelin wrote: Use a Continental Pro Series timing belt kit with water pump and just replace everything.

Just ordered the Aisin full kit from RockAuto. Aisin makes the water pumps for Toyota. I've had horrible luck with non-OEM pumps and had to change one after a year. The bearings /tensioners are made by them and it includes a Mitsuboshi belt which is the OEM manufacturer. The Aisin kit also includes the pump housing.

Sept. 22, 2015 12:46 p.m.
Dr. Hess wrote: I just installed it dry. I know where Brand Blvd is. I used to live behind GCC.

I know you were an old Dynamiter. Or was it Hoover?

Dr. Hess MegaDork
Sept. 22, 2015 2:29 p.m.

Dynamiter. Beat The Bell Out of Hoover!

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