1997 Honda Civic EX Timing Belt Replacement

By Jeff Williams

Thanks   Jeff ) When replacing the timing belt of a 1997 Honda Civic EX with a 1.6 engine there are a few things you will want to do while having the front section of the engine torn down. The first thing is to make sure you buy a quality OEM ( Original Equipment Manufacture )  Replacement Timing Belt.

I cannot stress that enough. The last thing you need is a timing belt breaking due to the saving of a few dollars. I highly recommend buying a complete 70,000 mile kit that has everything in it ( ie. belt, water pump, seals ect. ). this will save you a lot of time and millage when trying to collect everything up. Meyers sell's one of the best kits I have seen for Honda Civics.

When replacing the timing belt ,replace the water pump, belt tensioner and even the front main seal while you are in there. Check your serpentine belts for any damage or cracking and  splitting. Now would be a good time to change them out.  It will save you a lot of time and money down the road if you do everything in one shot.

When setting the timing during belt replacement, it is critical that you set the camshaft marks with the pointers on the cam sprocket with the marks on the back plate or engine head and that you see the word  " UP " on the sprocket. Next check the timing mark on the bottom at the crankshaft sprocket.

I use white out to help lighten the mark to make it easier to see. You should see a small arrow on the oil pump housing. Be very careful not to move either sprocket very far to the left or right because valve damage could occur. These engines are referred to in the Auto industry as " Interference Engines " which means to say that they zero clearance between the valves and the piston tops. So if the timing belt breaks, you pay for a new valve job and possibly piston replacement.

Thats why it is very critical to change the belt no more than 70,000 miles. In fact I recommend changing it at 40,000 just to be safe. After you get your timing belt on, its always a good idea to slowly rotate the engine a couple of times and then check your upper and lower marks to see if they have moved on you . Make sure they are as close as possible and then tighten the tensioner bolt down . One more thing. When installing the front main seal, its always a good idea to put a small coat of oil on the lip of the seal so it doesn't tear on start up.

I hope this has been helpful to you and if you have any feed back about this, I would like to hear it. And remember if you have any questions to consult  your repair manual. Chiltons and Haynes make some really good ones. If you get lost or need a question answered, just click on the contact us tab and leave me a comment and I will do my best to answer it and if this article has been helpful to you then please click on the coffee cup icon below to help us keep this site running.  Thanks.  Jeff

If you like this post, buy me a cup of coffee.



Thanks for publishing this articulo, …. I found it very helpful, ….


Hi Luis , Your welcome. Let us know if you need any help in the future . Jeff


Dear Jeff,

Is it possible to check if the (new) timing belt is aligned correctly, with less work than what goes into the full replacement?


We are planning to replace the timing belt, water pump and seals if possible on a 1997 Honda Civic 4-Cyl.
Can we replace the cam seals without removing the cam? Is it possible to dig out the old seals and insert new?


Yes you can . Jeff


how much would it cost to get the head rebuilt and replace timing belt?


approx. 12 to 15 Hundred.


Have a 1996 hONDA Civic with 50,000 miles. It’s an old car but not heavy mileage. Is it worth the investment changing the timing belt. The car runs good and could lat 5 more years. Not sure if it is worth the investment.


Hi Mike. Hondas and Toyotas are always worth the investment. They will run up to but not limited to 300k miles. The timing belt and water pump should be changed out to prevent damage if there is a break in the belt due to the fact it is a non interference engine. Also change the tensioner as well. The kits are available so you dont have to piece it together . Jeff


Some people say to stay away from aftermarket stuff…especially water pumps and tensioners. I can’t decide whoch way to go. OEM kit is about $100 more….????


If you can afford it always go with OEM. Remember that you can pay now or pay later. Jeff


thanks for the info Jeff. Do you have the web address for Meyers? I’d like to purchase a 70,000 miles kit. I’ve googled the name but can’t seem to locate their page. Thank you.


Hi Scollister, here is the web site for the Meyers here in Las Vegas . http://www.meyersautoparts.com/locations.html Jeff

Russell Edghill
May 8th, 2011 at 11:44 am

Dear Jeff: I had my timing belt replaced and afterwards the car was pinging going up hills. I tried to adjust the timing with a light and can’t get the timing marks to line up with the pointer. I was wondering if the timing marks can be off due to the timing belt replacement or if I am doing something wrong. I jumped the 2 pin service connector before I tried to set the timing. I had to replace my distributor with a used one since I replaced the cap and rotor and my car wouldn’t start afterwards. No spark. I guess I shorted something in the original distributor when I bumped the starter to get the rotor screw up to the top so I could put on a new rotor. I also had a hard time getting the plug wires off. The used distributor was put in and the car started right up. Now I can’t get the timing set properly and my car is running rough or idling too slow when I turn the distributor either way to the maximum allowed adjustment. What should I do? Get new wires, plugs or try to adjust the timing again? Why would the timing marks not line up? What can I do to get the car to stop pinging going up hills. If I turn the distributor one way the car is idling too slow. If I turn it all the way the other way it pings. Help.


Hi Russell, the first thing I would do is check out your timing by first setting the crankshaft pulley to TDC. Next take the cover off the camshaft pulley and check to see that the marks are lining up on the camshaft pulley . Then check your distributor to see if the rotor is at the number one cylinder. It is very important that the timing marks are set as close to the pointers and lines as possible. If it is off by one or two teeth that can make a lot of difference. Ask the person who did the timing if he set it right to the mark. Honda Civic have there camshaft positioning sensor in the distributor so if it fails the engine wont run. Most people put the distributor in 180 degrees off so that is why it is easy just to line everything up and check it in one shot. I hope this helps. Jeff


Hi Jeff,
My son just recently had a timining belt changed on his 97 Honda Civic DX 1.6 and now there is a continuous rattle at the front of the engine at all rpm. The local shop where he had it changed is saying the rattle is being caused by the catalytic converter? When he took it in, there was no rattle. Would appreciate any help.


Hi Dave, check the heat shields for the source of the rattle. Also if it is the cat then it can be checked be gently tapping it with a rubber mallet to see if the ceramic grid has broken free. Jeff


Problem: RPM increase in stop-n-go traffic (warm days)
Car: 1997 Honda Civic LX; 4 cyl; Front Wheel Drive; 5 Speed Manual; 172000 miles

I have been experiencing problems with my RPMs. It has happened twice: Last summer, it stalled in stop-n-go traffic after being stuck in traffic for a few hrs, as it reved up over 5,000 continuously..then died. Mechanic replaced timing belt. This summer, again few hrs in stop-n-go traffic, car started reving up over 4,000 continuously…then died. Mechanic replaced ignition coil. A wk later, in also stop-n-go hot traffic, it started reving over 2,000. This time, I was in stop-n-go traffic only for an hr or so. Once car was cruising it seemed fine, rpm back to normal.

I found that keeping it out of neutral, in gear, while the clutch wasn’t completely depressed helped. AC off. The reason I am asking today, is because I will be making a 300 mile trip soon. Any ideas on how to fix this? I found posts that were similar, but really can’t afford to invest hundreds of dollars fixing countless things if nothing works.

Thanks for your time!


Hi Carla, did the previous mechanic scan for codes. Even if the check engine light is off you can still have ” soft ” codes stored. The first thing I would check id the IAC valve, responsible for controlling the idle. I would start with that and check for vacuum leaks of any kind after that. Check the brake boost for vacuum leaks as well. Jeff


thank you for this post i found it very helpfull for me to time my car as i am changing the head an your post gave me what i needed


Hey what does timing set on a 1997 Honda civic ex 1.6 2door I’m changing my belt send pics or something to show me a diagram in the marks or something


Hi Jonathan, The marks are on the cam shaft pulley and backing plate along with the crankshaft pulley with an arrow on the block. Please refer to a repair manual for the exact procedure as to the fact that you are dealing with a Non Interference engine and if the timing is not set right you could damage the engine. Jeff ( Please don’t forget to C-L-I-C-K on all the A-D-S-B-Y-G-O-O-G-L-E as this is how we keep this web site running. Jeff )


I’m not sure where to get a kit like the Meyers one (I live in Dallas). I found one on ebay( http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Civic-1-6L-Complete-Timing-Belt-Water-Pump-Kit-97-00-/270750507670?pt=Motors_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories&fits=Year%3A1997|Make%3AHonda&hash=item3f09fce296) but it’s OEM Spec Thanks.


I just recently had the timing belt changed on my Honda and the mechanic had hell removing the crankshaft bolt. Any tips on how to remove the bolt?


Hi Joe they make a special lock down tool to hold the vibrational dampner while take the bolt out. A 1/2 drive impact will work too . Jeff


Hey Jeff, I currently have a 97 honda civic. I wasnt told by the dealer i bought the car from. He failed to tell me that it needed a new water pump and timming belt. N on top of that i didnt kno i was driving around w/o anti freeze…smh so it over heated. Jeff do you kno how long the job is to put the water pump and timming belt in?


Hi Tiffany, The Labor guide says 2.7 hrs for that job. I would say no more then 4 hrs tops. Jeff

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