In this article, I’m going to share with you how to change the timing belt on a volvo V50. Any competent home mechanic with a decent set of tools can attempt this job in their home garage using this DIY guide.
- Using The Correct Timing Belt & Water Pump Kit
- The Cars This Cambelt Guide Applies To
- Disassembly Guide For Volvo V50 Cam Belt Swap
- Using The Volvo V50 Timing Locking Tools
- Draining The Coolant
- Fitting A New Water Pump
- Replacing An Idler Pulley
- How To Correctly Fit A Timing Belt
- How To Correctly Tension A Timing Belt On A V50
- Volvo V50 Reassembly Guide Following Timing Belt Replacement
- What To Mix Coolant With For Volvo
- How To Bleed The Coolant System On A Volvo V50 D2
- Volvo V50 Timing Belt Change Guide Video
Changing a timing belt on a modern car is at times challenging, and usually taking several hours to complete.
As it’s so crucial to the running of your engine, sticking to top quality parts that will stand the test of time is always the right thing to do.
Follow along with this written guide or scroll down to the bottom of the page to watch our video on how to do this Volvo V50 Timing Belt replacement.
Using The Correct Timing Belt & Water Pump Kit
For this guide, I will be using a Gates timing belt and water pump kit.
You can find the exact Gates Volvo V50 timing belt and water pump kit here: http://ebay.us/pNuGsg
The timing locking tool set which you will also need to complete this timing belt swap is here: http://ebay.us/LwY1Ti
The car in question today is my frugal daily driver, a 2011 Volvo V50 1.6 D2 Drive. This example has the 2011-2016 D2 engine which has the code code D4162T.
This engine has proven to be a solid, stalwart engine and has over 136k miles on it, and is still pulling strong.
However, it’s time for its timing belt to be replaced which is required every 87k miles for these engines
One of the easiest ways to confirm for sure whether your car has exactly the same engine version as this one, is that it’s the one with 8 valves, a 6-speed gearbox and the dry DPF system.
This Volvo V50 is not to be confused with the earlier Pre-2011 1.6 Drive variant which actually has 16 valves, a 5-speed box and the wet DPF setup.
That earlier model has a different timing belt with a longer maintenance interval, not to mention a different procedure to install it. I think the water pump is the same between the two versions however.
The Cars This Cambelt Guide Applies To
The frugal 1.6 diesel engine in this V50 is actually a Ford built powerplant and used by a lot of different manufacturers.
So this guide applies not just to Volvo D2 cambelts and water pumps, it also applies to the other cars listed below:
- Citroen 1.6 HDi
- Peugeot 1.6 HDi
- Ford 1.6 TDCi
- Volvo D2
- Mazda 1.6D
If you have the Volvo like I do, you can easily check you have the same engine by looking at the sticker underneath the engine cover. I’m not sure if the same sticker will be present on other marques but there’s a good chance it will be.
My Volvo had its last cambelt about 80k miles ago so coming up to due, close enough for me to want to change it anyway.
Okay, let’s get to work changing your Volvo V50 timing belt and water pump.
Disassembly Guide For Volvo V50 Cam Belt Swap
Start off by lifting the bonnet (or hood if you’re across the pond) and removing the engine cover. Also remove the battery cover and unhook the negative terminal and ensure it won’t spring back and contact.
The area we’re going to be working in is on the left side of the engine as you are face to face of the car, so the drivers’ side here in the UK. The timing belt is nestled quite deep in this area as you are soon to discover.
Crack drivers’ side (if RHD) wheel nuts, jack this front corner of your car up securely with additional axle stands, and then remove the wheel.
We find the wheels tend to stick on with our Volvo, so a swift kick should do the trick in removing it. It’s wise to thread a couple of those wheel nuts back on of your resorting to this to ensure your wheel doesn’t go flying and damage anything.
The next task is to remove the arch lining which on this example is a large piece that goes from front to back, with two smaller additional pieces of liner trim. Don’t lose these.
Slip under the car and remove the front undertray from the car.
Store your arch liner and undertray carefully so they don’t deform, or get damaged. These are quite easily torn when not on the car.
Now you will have some visuals on the side of the engine we need to be working on, adorned with its aux belt, pulleys and tensioner.
The timing belt is hidden behind all this so it needs to be removed as follows.
How To Remove The Aux Belt
Start by relieving the aux belt tensioner.
There is likely a special tool to do this but we found a 15mm socket on an extension slotted on just fine and allowed us to lever the tensioner.
You can then put a 5mm drill bit in the pinhole that locks the tensioner off and allows the belt to remain slack.
Then remove the aux belt carefully from the underside.
Now carefully position a jack under the engine to take its weight. Ensure you use a rubber puck or something soft to avoid damaging the sump.
Removing The V50’s Engine Mount
Remove the drivers side engine mount which is currently in the way of access from the top side.
There are 2 large bolts and 2 even larger nuts connecting the engine mount to the car’s chassis and the engine. The bottom ones are the bolts which go into the chassis leg. These are 15mm and the top nuts are 18mm. You may need a deep socket to remove those top ones thanks to the long studs.
Once undone, lift the engine mount out upwards, between the engine and coolant expansion tank. Fiddly but it fits through at a certain orientation.
Now unplug and tuck any cables and wiring out of the way of the area. There will be a few which are currently obstructing the upper section of the timing belt cover.
Unbolt the engine-side part of the engine mount (the remaining part with those two long studs pointing upwards) which is bolted to the side of the engine with a series of 16mm bolts.
Once the bolts are removed you may need to have the upright threaded studs that the other part of the engine mount sits on a few taps with a hammer for it to become loose and removable.
If it’s stuck, don’t force it yet, access will be better once you remove the upper and lower timing belt covers.
Remove The Crank Pulley & Crank Bolt
Remove the rubber cover from the crank pulley and get this out of the way. Then remove the crank pulley bolt with a breaker bar and pop the pulley off.
Unscrew the small captive bolts holding on the lower timing belt cover which I believe are all 8mm and take the lower timing belt cover away.
Then remove the small plastic timing belt guide and crank sensor which are now revealed.
Finally remove the auxiliary belt tensioner from the engine.
At this point you have as much access as you are going to get to change the timing belt on this engine.
Our belt looked in good condition, but then in our experience, they always do until they snap, so don’t lose motivation at this point.
The next step is to put the old bottom pulley bolt back in so you can use it to turn the engine over by hand.
Using The Volvo V50 Timing Locking Tools
Now it’s time to get the timing locking tools in place.
Work from the top. Turn the engine over until you can get the the first and most obvious of the pin tools in, it’s at the top on the cam pulley. There is a hole in it and a corresponding hole behind for the tool to lock it.
There’s another locking position lower down and to your left to lock the injection pump.
Then move to the underside and put the crank pulley locking tool in at the bottom.
If you can’t fit all three of the timing locking tools in place, then your engine isn’t at the correct top dead centre position it needs to be locked in. Turn your engine over again until all three tools can be put securely in place.
A full revolution of this engine from TDC to TDC should be 6 turns.
At this point it can be helpful to put paint marks on the pulleys and the engine for peace of mind. This can also help when you later turn the engine over and confirm that it’s still timed up correctly following the work.
Remove The Timing Belt Tensioner & Cam Belt
Now the cam locking tools are all in place, you can slacken off the cambelt tensioner bolt and remove the tensioner altogether. With the tension removed, you can take the belt out completely.
If we weren’t also doing the water pump, we’d simply take the old belt off and put the new one on. Alas, the next job with the belt off is the waterpump.
Draining The Coolant
Start by getting under the car and removing the bottom plug from the radiator. You will find this facing inwards and on the passenger side of the radiator.
It will make a very big mess if you don’t catch the coolant that comes out with a bucket or a pan of some kind. Ask me how I know.
You will need to use a large Phillips or flathead screwdriver to turn the screw, it’s plastic so be careful not to make a mess of it or you will be annoyed with your past self next time.
It’s also worth noting that the little screw has some retaining prongs on it that prevent it from just falling out even once undone. This gets in the way a bit to be prepared to carefully lever the screw out altogether.
Take the cap off the expansion tank to encourage the rest of the coolant to drain out.
Removing The V50 Water Pump
The next step is to remove the old water pump which you can see on the side of the engine where you’ve just been working.
It is held in by seven 8mm head bolts. Be aware, coolant will be stored in this area so it will likely make a big mess when you remove it. Place another pan below to catch that. Again, ask me how I know.
Your water pump may simply come off by hand once the bolts are removed, ours was quite a bit stiffer than that so we resorted to levering it off with a sturdy screwdriver.
To do this, we went ahead and removed the idler pulley for more access to the side of the water pump facing the front of the car.
Volvo were kind enough to put a few tabs on the water pump, which help you to get some purchase on it when levering, although they may just be there for casting reasons.
With a bit of prying, ours popped off and with it a torrent of coolant as expected.
Fitting A New Water Pump
The next step is to clean the gasket face on the engine side where the water pump seals to ensure the next water pump will also have a great seal and not leak.
The best way to do this is with some very fine 1000 grit sandpaper and a good wipe over to remove any rough remnants of the old water pump gasket.
Looking at the new water pump gasket, you can see that it is designed to be retained by the water pump bolts prior to fitting, which helps as you carefully present it up to the engine.
We like to use the thinnest skim of black sealant on these just to make doubly sure there will be no leaks when it’s all back together, but this is subjective.
Carefully offer your new waterpump up to the engine and get the thread on a couple of the bolts in and turning without dropping them. This can be especially fiddly to do, but persevere.
Once the bolts are in place and threaded in finger tight. Torque all sevel of your 8mm water pump bolts back up to 15nm (or 11ft-lb). It’s very important that these are not over torqued to avoid damaging the block.
Replacing An Idler Pulley
Now it’s time to officially replace your idler pulley with the new one, the new idler pulley bolt wants to be torqued up to 45nm.
While you’re at it, fit your brand new timing belt tensioner besides it in the right position just finger tight. Make sure you know how it’s supposed to go on before you remove the old one.
How To Correctly Fit A Timing Belt
Now it’s time for the delicate and fiddly task of actually fitting the new belt.
The right way to do this is starting at the bottom of the engine at the crankshaft pulley, get the belts teeth firmed up with that and work your way upwards anti-clockwise to the cam pulley keeping good tension on the belt throughout, as this is the pulling side of the belts path.
Once you’ve got it over the cam pulley and the teeth are firmly meshed, follow through the rest of the belt’s path around the tensioner.
Take your time with this, it can require quite a bit of patience, and it must be exactly right. Skipping even 1 or 2 teeth can potentially cause the valves to clash with the pistons and do catastrophic damage to your engine.
Even if they don’t clash, your engine won’t be running quite right and you can probably kiss goodbye to what power it does have and it’s good MPG figures.
It’s disconcerting to know whether the timing belt is positioned correctly once it’s on, but it should be apparent that you couldn’t move the belt onto the next tooth along even if you tried.
If this is the case, your belt is fitted correctly.
How To Correctly Tension A Timing Belt On A V50
The next step is to correctly tension your new timing belt with the tensioner you fitted finger tight earlier.
Have a good look at your new tensioner to be sure of its orientation on the side of the engine. Note the L-shaped pin that is holding the tension off its eccentricity.
You may also find it useful to have a good look at the old tensioner you removed which is easier to look at, being not on the car.
To tension the new timing belt on your V50, you will use an allen key in the offset hexagonal hole within the plastic pulley wheel part of the tensioner.
When you turn this counter clockwise, it will rotate the centre part of the tensioner and it will add tension to the belt thanks to the fact it is on an eccentric.
Now look back at the L-shaped pin which is locking your new tensioner, notice that the pin is wedged between the back plate and the small above pointer it’s located in the hole of.
Think of this kind of like iron sights on a rifle. You need to get the pointer centred in the backplate slot, and when you do, the pin will become loose and can be removed effortlessly.
Start by having a practise run with the allen key. Turn the allen key anti-clockwise in the tensioner on the car with your right hand. Confirm that you can feel the point where the pin becomes loose with your left. Do not remove the pin just yet.
Now, get ready with a spanner for the tensioner bolt in your left hand and do the same again with the Allen key.
When the pin is at its loosest point, use the spanner to tighten down the central bolt of the tensioner to lock it all in place. This will lock-in your tension setting.
Now it’s locked in, simply remove the pin which will be loose to the touch, and torque that central bolt up to 30nm. One of the most intimidating parts of the job is now done. Your new v50 timing belt is tensioned correctly.
It should look exactly like the below, and you can take the same picture to check by slipping in your mobile phone. Don’t forget to turn the flash on.
Now you’re happy you’ve got the belt tensioned up correctly. Go ahead and remove the three timing locking tools.
Check The Engine Is Still Timed Correctly
Turn the engine over 6 times from the crank pulley bolt by hand (with a socket and ratchet) which is a full rotation from top dead centre to top dead centre again, and check they all still line up correctly.
This is where the paint marks you made earlier come in useful.
If it all still lines up correctly, after a full rotation of the engine. Your 1.6 diesel engine is still timed correctly.
Not quite time to celebrate yet, however. It’s all still got to go back together.
Volvo V50 Reassembly Guide Following Timing Belt Replacement
As the Haynes manual famously says, assembly is the reverse of disassembly. Follow the below steps to start reassembling your Volvo V50.
- Refit engine-side engine mount
- Refit chassis side engine mount (50nm)
- Fit top timing cover
- Check wiring is still in the right place, route correctly and plug it back in
- Fit bottom timing belt guide and sensor
- Fit bottom timing belt cover
- Remove old crank pulley bolt
- Refit crank pulley
- Fit brand new crank pulley bolt (torque to 30nm plus 180 degrees, get the car in gear with a friend stood on the brake pedal to do this)
- Refit the rubber crank pulley bolt cover
- Refit the aux belt tensioner (with drill bit still in place from earlier)
- Refit the aux belt
- Retention the aux belt (use the 15mm socket trick from earlier and remove the drill bit)
- Mix your coolant up to spec with softened water
- Refit your coolant radiator drain plug
- Carefully pour your new coolant into the expansion tank at the top until it reaches the fill level on the tank
- Fit coolant expansion tank cap
What To Mix Coolant With For Volvo
Regarding what to mix your new coolant with, the right fluid is actually softened water. This is superior to the more commonly used distilled water because of its stability from a molecular chemistry standpoint. This means it is least likely to leave deposits or corrode the inner coolant channels within your engine.
It’s worth noting that you should avoid using pure coolant too which people often do. Pure coolant actually has a lower boiling point than the correctly mixed solution.
With the car reassembled up to this point and with the new coolant poured in. It makes sense to hook the battery back up and give the car a quick start to ensure everything is in order.
We’d also recommend starting the coolant bleeding process at this stage too.
How To Bleed The Coolant System On A Volvo V50 D2
With the car running, turn the cabin heating up to max to ensure coolant flows through the heater core and air is bled out of this area too.
You will likely notice a considerable amount of displaced air bubbling up in the coolant tank. Let the car run for a little while and keep your eye on the coolant level. Occasionally top the coolant up if it gets low, you don’t want the coolant level to drop below the expansion tank when you are bleeding as the car can be ingesting more air.
While the car is running, it’s a good time to refit that undertray, arch liner and its trim, plus the wheel.
Once that’s done remove the axle stands and unjack the car and do a final tighten of the wheel bolts to spec.
Check your coolant level again now the car is back on the ground and top up again if necessary.
This is a good opportunity to take the car on a test-drive to check your work and also aid in the bleeding of the coolant.
With our volvo V50, it took a lot longer than expected for hot air to start coming through the vents into the cabin. It wasn’t until the car had been fully up to operating temperature for a while that it eventually came through.
So we did a bit of an extended test drive to help it along.
Once you’re happy your coolant if fully bled and the level correct between the markers on the expansion tank the work is done.
Congratulations, you have just changed the timing belt and water pump on your Volvo V50 1.6 D2 Drive and it’s good for another 87,000 miles. You may now celebrate.
Volvo V50 Timing Belt Change Guide Video
If you would prefer to digest this v50 timing belt change guide in video form, you can watch that here.